This page is our forum to give our two cents worth about a variety of subjects related to current events, our experiences, interests or observations. The way we figure it... if you have a website, you have to have a place for Rants & Raves. After all, everyone else does.

Our Experience in the "Big Apple"

If you've visited our pictures page, you saw photos of our recent trip to New York City. It was such a wonderful experience, I recently sent this letter to the Editor of the New York Times. I'd like to share it with our visitors here, as well.

To the Editor:
Last week, my wife and I brought our two boys (ages 9 and 7) to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and as many sights of the city as we could fit into a two-day whirlwind tour. After years of saying we were going to do it "someday", with the events of the past few months it was important to us to make this the year. We've given to the relief fund, flown our flags, worn our ribbons and said countless prayers. For us, being there for this special event meant more than giving our children a memory that will last a lifetime, it was a way for us to show our support and best wishes for the people of New York. We're not important people, we didn't have a lot of money to spend, but by being there we hoped to send a message to both the people of New York and those who would seek to take away our freedom and way of life. This holiday, we chose to give thanks that we live in a country where, just two months after such a devestating tragedy, we could get into our car and drive to your city, walk about freely and without fear, and have such a wonderful experience. As Americans, we are all truly blessed. This letter was the only way we could think of to personally thank you for making our visit so extraordinary. The people we met were very friendly and helpful, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome. We've already decided... we will be back. So, to all the people of the city of New York, our sincerest thanks, our warmest best wishes and may God bless you all.

Chris, Kyra, Dustin & Grady Oaks
Findlay, Ohio

Racing Safety

The deaths of Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin over the past year and a half have cast a dark cloud over NASCAR, I believe unfairly. Since these high-profile accidents, reporters have been questioning the safety of racing in general and stock car racing in particular. What bothers me is not that NASCAR's safety record is being called into question, on that front they can defend themselves pretty well. The fact is that if you calculated the percentage of deaths (or even serious injuries) to number of miles driven in NASCAR's history and compared that to injury and fatality statistics on the nation's highways in general, it's not even close. Winston Cup drivers alone will race a combined nearly 750,000 miles this season alone... with one fatality, and perhaps a couple of injuries serious enough to keep a driver out of his car for a few weeks. This at speeds that are three times those on the nation's interstates. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that there aren't improvements to be made in stock car racing safety, and I'm certainly not minimizing the tragedy of any injury or death on the track, but let's not create an urgent problem where there isn't one simply because a high profile, popular driver was the most recent victim. To their credit, NASCAR is taking their time making improvements to racing safety because they recognize that doing it right is more important than doing it right now.

No, what bothers me most about reports and criticisms of racing safety is that they're coming from reporters that six months ago didn't know a stock car from a, well... stock car. They have no background in the sport, have no idea what it involves, where it's been or where it's going, and yet somehow feel that they are qualified to pass judgement on an organization that has taken pretty good care of its drivers over the past 50+ years. I actually saw a political cartoon in the paper the other day with the headline "NASCAR to put black boxes in their cars" along with a picture of a coffin. Is this supposed to be funny? Is it supposed to be some sort of witty social comment on NASCAR's supposed lack of concern for driver safety? If so, I'd like to ask the artist "Just what is it about installing crash data recorders in race cars that's such a bad idea?" Will they not provide valuable insight into the dynamics that are present during an accident, or do you have all the information you need already to pass judgement on that? It's a rhetorical question, since I think I already know the answer. I would be curious to know how much that cartoonist actually knows about the sport. If he's ever been to a race, talked to a driver, or even watched them on TV. Or does he just assume, like most Americans, that the media are giving him all the facts he needs to make up his mind. The problem is, most of those doing the reporting are, I think, just as clueless.

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