|CLICK and CLACK
by Tom & Ray
Dear Tom and Ray:
In our clubhouse parking lot, I
came across a car that was left with the engine
running, keys inside and doors locked. Security
was not able to help find the owner. I mentioned
this incident to friends, and someone said that
if I had put something, like a potato, in the
tailpipe, the engine eventually would have shut
off. Would this really have happened? Would it
have caused any damage? - Mary
TOM: It certainly would have
happened, Mary. Assuming the exhaust system is
intact and not leaking, you can stop an engine by
plugging up its exhaust outlet.
RAY: If the exhaust gases
cant escape from the cylinders, then
theres no room for the fresh gasoline and
air to get in. So the engine gets starved for
TOM: Of course, if you leave it
running, it could run out of gas, and then run
the battery dead.
RAY: So its a judgement
call, Mary. A car with a properly functioning
cooling system wont be harmed if it sits
and idle for hours.
TOM: But if the car is in a
place where its unsafe to let it idle -
indoors, or near people, in a place where it
might be stolen - or if its clearly
overheating, then plug up the tailpipe and kill
the engine. The owner may have to get a
jump-start later, but the tow truck presumably
will be there anyway to help him break back into
his car and get his keys.
A SPORTING VIEW
By Mark Vasto
A Fitting End
described as taking pleasure in the suffering of
others. In recent years, this would appear to be
a sort of national pastime -- the rise in
popularity of reality shows, where people are
forced to eat insects and act like idiots for the
amusement of others, would be one such
illustration of the concept. Rooting against the
luxury tax-laden roster of the New York Yankees
would be another.
Schadenfreude isnt about
people needing people, its about people
reading People magazine and delighting in the
handiwork of the paparazzi. ("Meg Ryan looks
terrible in a bathing suit! Feel good about
Last month, on the final day of
the NFLs regular season, one might think
that there was a particularly high level of
schadenfreude for fans of the Packers -- or
anyone else who dislikes Brett Favre, Eric
Mangini or the New York Jets. And while you can
be forgiven for thinking that way, to waste too
much time reveling in that emotion is to miss the
real story of the season, namely, the legendary
run of Chad Pennington and the worst-to-first
Ejected from the Jets
cockpit after the signing of "Top Gun"
Favre, Pennington found gainful employ two days
later in Miami. After throwing for more yardage
but ultimately losing a gutsy contest to Favre in
the first game of the season, Pennington provided
real leadership to the team, engineering a streak
of nine wins in 10 weeks. The scheduling gods
cooperated, and Pennington strode into the
Meadowlands to face his old team, the winner
progressing to the playoffs.
At the end of the day, it was
Pennington with helmet held aloft, three
touchdown passes to Favres three
interceptions. The next day, the 39-year-old
Favre was getting an MRI and Mangini was
scrolling through the want ads.
Long derided for having a weak
arm, Pennington has never been anything but a
warrior during his time in the NFL. Chronically
overlooked (Pennington wasnt selected for
the Pro Bowl this season, a ridiculous omission
that only a fantasy-football geek would support
... there is more to winning than statistics),
watch for Pennington to be named league MVP. Just
like the game in the Meadowlands, it would be a
fitting end for Penningtons season.
"Thats how it is
with sports and athletics, and thats the
only way fate would have it," Pennington
said, after the game. "It truly wasnt
No, it wasnt about the
suffering of the Jets; it was about the passion
of Pennington and the AFC East champion Dolphins.
Schadenfreude had nothing to do with it.
NASCAR THIS WEEK
By Monte Dutton
Surprising no one, Talladega
(Ala.) Superspeedway was the star of
NASCARs postseason statistical review.
With the intricate drafts
amping up speeds on race day, competitive laps
exceeded 200 mph in both the spring and fall
races. The 2.66-mile track produced the fastest
race speeds in all three major NASCAR series.
Jamie McMurray turned the
fastest lap in the tracks April 27 race,
averaging 201.64 mph. On Oct. 5, Juan Pablo
Montoyas 200.56-mph lap was fastest.
By comparison, the fastest
Daytona lap was Brian Vickers 192.15 on
July 5, and the next fastest track was Atlanta
Motor Speedway, where Dale Earnhardt Jr. turned a
186.01 lap on March 9.
Nationwide Series lap was 198.15 mph by Kyle
Busch on April 26, and Jason White turned a
195.81 mph Craftsman Truck Series lap on Oct. 4.
NASCARs so-called loop
data monitors total passes, throughout the field,
during races. In the October race, Talladega had
12,416 such passes, while the April event had
Next, once again, was the
circuits other "restrictor-plate
track," Daytona, with 6,921 passes on Feb.
17 and 5,697 on July 5. The Aug. 3 race at Pocono
(Pa.) Raceway featured 4,636 passes through the
Through the "loop
data," more interesting facts emerged:
"driver rating" is derived through a
formula that weighs the data. Kurt Busch had the
largest decline in driver rating, falling 25.9
points from 99.7 in 2007 to 73.8 in 08.
The most improved
driver, statistically, was David Ragan, whose
rating improved from 56.1 in 2007 to 81.8. Next
was Ragans Roush Fenway teammate Greg
Biffle, who improved from 76.4 to 93.4.
In the 2008 regular
season, Kyle Buschs driver rating was
112.0. In the Chase, his rating fell to 83.4.
By Sam Mazzotta
Theres a Will ...
DEAR PAWS CORNER: Is it
possible to include a pet in your will? I saw all
the controversy about Leona Helmsleys dog
inheriting her money on TV. Im not rich at
all, but I do want my two Chihuahuas and my
parakeet "Bobby" to be well cared for
if I should pass before them. -- Beryl in Ormond
DEAR BERYL: It is possible and,
in fact, recommended. The American Pet Products
Manufacturers Association estimates that 69
percent of American households own at least one
pet. Of the 2.4 million Americans who die each
year, statistically, many of those who pass away
are pet owners.
Even if we arent wealthy,
we still leave stuff behind when we die,
including (and especially) pets. Adding a pet to
your will is important -- its less about
leaving the pet your money as it is about making
sure a pet will be cared for after youre
The online estate-planning
service ItsMyLife.com (www.itsmylife.com)
recommends that pets be protected in writing, as
part of your will. Verbal agreements can easily
The company is offering its
"Pets Letter of Wishes" for free
through Valentines Day, and its other
estate-planning documents are available at a
You dont have to go
through a service -- you can add a provision for
your pet in your existing will, or create a will,
simply by writing out your wishes on paper and
having a witness agree to and sign it. But I
recommend an attorney look over any will,
regardless of how or where it was made, to make
sure it can be carried out with few problems.