Rally Racing in the 100 Acre Wood

Rally Racing in the 100 Acre Wood

This weekend I traveled to Salem, Mo to be steward for Rally America and the rally in the 100 Acre Wood. This car rally is a stop on the national tour of the rally America Championship as well as the Regional Rally Championship. There are two regional road rally races – Trespassers Wil on Friday and 100AW on Saturday. The national rally is both days combined.

Coming into the Holiday Inn Express looked like walking into the land of Pooh. The rally committee had decorated the lobby with lots of stuffed animals including Piglet, Pooh and Eeoyre. The hotel workers all sported 100Acre Wood Rally T shirts. It was great to see such community support for the event.

Registration and Technical inspection was held at the Dent County fire house. I was enjoying the 70 degree weather. I met up with several old friends and fielded the question about when Cherokee Trails will run again.

Just as we posting the seeded start order, the fire department advised us that we were under a tornado watch and hail was expected. They wanted to get their fire equipment back inside before the hail hit. We gathered up our stuff quickly and headed back to the hotel. It was raining buckets soon but I never saw any hail or tornados. It did however get very cold very fast.

The start of the rally on Friday was in Potosi, Mo at the Lions club park. Subaru and Mitsubishi had big displays of their racing equipment. NOS and red Bull were passing out free samples.

41 cars started the rally. By the end of the day, most were still running. Front runner and crown favorite Travis Pastrana was not one of them however. He crashed his car on the last stage of the day. Many of the fans at the final MTC were very disappointed not to get to see him come in.

Saturday, during the Parc Expose on the downtown streets of Salem, snow began to fall. By the time we headed out to the stages, the main highways were covered in snow. While the rally cars had little trouble with he snow and winter driving conditions, the workers and officials had a bit more trouble.

The talk of the day was which rally tires to use. Some teams chose snow tires while others gambled with running gravel tires. The early stages had little snow after the course opening vehicles had gone through so gravel rally tires were mostly the right choice.

I am sure Richard Miller can give some winter driving tips for Ford Mustangs after running his 5.0 Mustang on BFG all terrain tires. While these make good gravel tires, they are not so good on ice and snow. I have these same tires on my four wheel drive Jeep so I know he had fun.
Surprisingly the northern stages had less snow than the southern ones. Since it kept snowing mostly of the day as the rally moved south, there was more and more snow on each stage. Those afraid of winter driving need not apply for a race like this one.

The transit to the final two stages was so bad that the course opening cars had trouble making it there. One of the medical staff ran off the road and had to be helped along by one of the sweep vehicles.

Most of the racers had little trouble with the snow covered stage however the leader in SP slowed a minute to drop him to second place. Winter driving skills were put to the test both on the transits and on the racing stages.

The last stage of the day ended up being cancelled due to ice on the low water crossing. Several of the workers were not able to transit the stage to their worker positions. They became stuck along the route and the decision was made to end the rally while they were recovered.

The fans in Salem, braved the cold and snow to come out to the courthouse square for the Mountain Dew Spray of the winners. Salem does not allow open containers of alcohol making a Champaign spray illegal. The victory party was continued at the Eagles Nest west of town.

Car #43 Block / Gelsomino again won the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. This is the fourth time that Block has won this rally. Following Block were Car #20 Comrie-Picard / Durant finished 43.1 seconds back and Car #34 Foust / Beavis finished 58.6 seconds further back.

Emergency Electrical Repairs

Saturday afternoon I got a call from my friend and business partner Nicole. She had no water! The well that supplies her house also supplied water to the house next door. Well the house next door no longer has power so she no longer has water.

Her landlord was busy and did not have an electrician on call for emergencies. So she called me knowing that I have an electrician’s license.

I studied the system for a bit and figured out that we could run a temporary extension cord to the well house and get water.

Today I went back and ran a new service from the landlords workshop to the well house. This involved digging a trench and adding a new breaker to his breaker box.

After a few hours work, we had a permanent solution to the lack of power situation. Nicole now has water again and a much more reliable power source for her well pump.

Finding the right Video codecs

h264, mp4s and AVIs oh my!

My son Will is doing a video for his media class.  He borrowed our friend Jenny’s camera.  This all seemed simple enough.  Just download the files and edit them right?  Not so fast there!

None of our computers had the right codecs to even play the files.  And his editor program would not even recognise them as videos.  It seems that they are stored in something called h264 or MP4 format.

I hit sourceforge for a converter program.  I quickly found and downloaded a MP4 to AVI converter. The program error ed every time I clicked on a file.  I dug through the advanced trouble shooting to find it only worked with h263 files whatever those are!

There was a procedure to convert h264 files but it was too complicated for us to follow and we were missing some of the software.

As we grew more frustrated and the deadline was fast approaching we tried a different approach.  We used the camera software to upload the videos to You tube.  Then I used a capture program to convert from You tube to AVI.

This worked pretty well but was very slow.  Especially having to wait for Youtube to process the file.  Eventually Will got all his files uploaded and converted.  He then loaded them on his thumb drive and brought them home.

Then he discovered that his home computer, the newest and fastest one we have, would not play the AVI files!  He still needed a codec.  After some googling and a lot of reading on the Miscrosft site I found wmplugins.com.  This site had the instructions for finding the right codec and had the codec in an easy to download and install package.  Thank you WMPlugins!

The story does not end there however, because today eh got to class and his files still would not play on the school computers.  And he does not have rights to install a new codec.  Hopefully his teacher will help him sort it all out.

Filling out Tax Forms

I have finally taken time today to sit down and fill out my tax forms.   I like using the Tax Cut software form H&R block.  It seems more intuitive to me than Turbo Tax.  Plus I have all my old data in Tax cut so it is easier to import last years tax data than if I switched to Turbo Tax.

I have 1099 forms from Google and and couple of other clients to put in as income and a ton of business expenses to off set them.  Looks like I will be getting a small refund.

Now I have to see if it is better to include my son’s interest income on my tax form or make a separate one for him.  I love having tax software to run multiple scenarios.  I am always amused at people who stress over whether they should take the standard deductions or itemize.  I just run both ways and see which one gets me the best return.  No stress; just trial and error.

Free Safety Slogans?

Stupid ways to improve Workplace Safety.

I noticed that the most common search term associated with workplace safety is “free safety slogans.” Is this how most people are trying to improve work place safety? Probably.

When I worked in industry as a safety director, I was often told I needed to reduce injury rates and then not given any budget to work with. I was still able to reduce our TCIR from 24 to 3 over a three year period.

I still get irritated when I see companies trying to improve workplace safety by reacting to accidents and injuries. It really annoys me when I see employees blamed for getting hurt. Yes employees do stupid things sometimes, but they often have very good reasons for doing them.

When I first took over as Safety Director, I got a lot of experience in taking people to the hospital. We had about two injuries a month that required medical attention. Consequently, I spent a lot of time in the waiting rooms with injured employees.

I found that they were always angry about something. They were either angry at a spouse, a friend, a relative or the company. But the injured employee was always angry about something. They never meant or expected to get hurt; they were always just trying to do their job the best they knew how. And they were then angry or guilty that they got hurt. And they knew that they would get more guilt added by their supervisor when they got back to work.

In her book You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay says that 95% of the time injuries are the result of anger or guilt. When an injury occurs it is the sub conscience’s way of getting attention to a feeling that is really not of benefit to the body.

To truly improve workplace safety, we don’t need to be looking for a new free safety slogan; we need to be looking at the root cause of accidents and injuries. We need to look at the state of repair of our equipment, the policies and procedures that are in place and the emotional state of our workers.

Many injuries are caused by employees being aggravated that the machines are not working properly. This aggravation may come from a design flow or simply wear in the machine. Often there is a disconnect between maintenance and production on what constitutes a well running machine. The maintenance worker may assume the machine is fine if it performs most of its basic functions. However, if the machine is not operating at its full potential, then the production worker may become aggravated at not being able to make its production goals.

Policies and procedures are critical in reducing work place injuries. As one free safety slogan says; “It is not enough to know safety, you must practice it.” If your policies are not being followed, then they are not worth the paper they are printed on. Policies and procedures are too often used to punish people rather than to promote correct employee behavior.

Work instructions and procedures must be written to instruct employees in the safest and most effective way to produce the highest quality product. If any of these elements are missing the procedure is ineffective. If employees are not following the procedures, they you must find out why and correct the issue or the procedure. See my article on why written procedures are important for more information on this subject.

The most important single factor in reducing accidents and improving workplace safety is creating a positive emotional environment for employees to work. Happy workers will produce more products at higher quality levels and they will not get hurt as often.

There are many factors that influence the emotional well being of employees. Having to deal with stupid free safety slogans is probably one of them. Every time they look at a sign with a safety slogan and them look back at the job they are asked to do they either see that you care about their safety or you care about looking good on a spread sheet.

So instead of looking for new safety slogans, let’s start looking at how we can reduce the aggravation level of our employees. How can we make their work environment more conductive to making good product? How can we better educate them in the right ways to do a job? How can we better reward them for good behavior instead of providing hidden rewards for taking short cuts?

When we start to focus our workplace safety energy and resource to creating a better work place environment, we will be able to stop focusing on accident prevention and injury response. Lets all work together to find ways to improve the emotional environment of the workplace and stop looking for stupid free safety slogans.

Have a safe and productive day! How’s that for a free safety slogan?

link: Occupational Health & Safety

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