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Sunday, November 21, 2004

Short week, short entries. I probably should have got some work done today, since there will only be three working days this week, and then the first of December comes up so quickly afterward. But, you know, I didnít. All I wanted out of this day was to sprawl in front of the TV and watch NASCARís final race of the season, the one that would decide the championship. Thatís all I wanted, seriously.

Two years ago Iíd never watched a race from start to finish. Even a year ago, after I started getting into the sport, I had a kind of casual interest. Most of that interest was generated by the fact that my two nephews watched it, and this would give us one more thing in common. Now itís different. I watch because I like it, and if I can work it into a conversation with a fellow fan, Iím happy. But Iíll keep watching anyway.

Itís the last thing I expected to be interested in. I know less about cars than I do about almost anything you can name. And I really donít have much of an interest in how engines work, although Iím sure that would be useful knowledge to have (in some parallel universe where I had time to explore things that hardly matter to me). Iím interested in the drivers, and the crews, and the teams, and the history.

Stock car racing doesnít have the long history baseball has in American sport, but in a little over fifty years itís made up a lot of ground. Like baseball, itís a sport where individual performances make the differences, but only within the team concept. And of course it has those colorful origins in the magical world of moonshine running. Whatís more American than that?

For some reason I have the vague sense that my interest in racing is something I have to be mildly ashamed of, or at least something I should take lightly. Thereís a weird sense that it costs me something to admit it and write about it, as if it were a less worthy interest than, say, post-deconstructionist art or lyrical existential poetry. I have to get over that.

16 November 2004

Cloudy afternoon.

Anyway, what I like about watching a race is that it has within it the same kind of personal one-on-one confrontations that a baseball game features. It started as a regional sport, and remains somewhat that way still, so thereís a sense of community, even a sense of family, among the participants. Plus, thereís speed. And crashes.

And thereís a sense that although luck plays a big part in winning and losing, itís possible to make your own luck. I like that. It fits into my philosophy (although I would probably turn out to be a little luckier in my job this week if Iíd worked a little harder on it today).

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Can you imagine my dismay when the power went out with about 15 laps left in the race? At that point there were still three drivers in contention for the championship, and I was furious. For about thirty seconds. Then the power came back on and I watched the end of the race, with David at the other end of the phone. That was even better than watching it alone.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Aftermath
"I'll try not to obsess about it, but you know me. I'll have sleepless nights anyway, so I might as well be worrying about things that matter."

Three years ago: Grounded By Choice
"They come to this country in droves, just to earn minimum wage at airports letting people smuggle nail clippers on board."

Four years ago: Huge orbs, bores hug, shrub ego
"Frankly, I'm not as enthusiastic about the political process as I was before all the ugly rhetoric of the last two weeks. And if you look too deeply below the surface, nobody comes out of this looking like Abraham Lincoln, or even Bill Clinton. More like Rutherford B. Hayes."

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