--- What's New - November 2, 2002 What's New - December 18, 2002  

in the world of drag racing

Fast Mouse Fast Mouse

The latest update as of November 5, 2002

Got time for five minutes with Bobby Thunder? Okay, how about ten? Okay, okay... less than an hour... guaranteed.... almost. Bear with me and let's just see how much ground we can cover in the hour or so remaining before I drag my tired old carcass off to work today.

So what's been happening to you this year? The website has only been updated a few times, months apart, and you haven't been seen at a race track more than a few times all season. What's happening?

It's literally been a year from hell. Last December we made a major change at work, switching to a completely different operating system and making some radical departures in the way we did business. Because I work in a unionized environment, with several layers of management above me, and the company is owned by a branch of the government, the amount of input from people on the "ground floor" (i.e., me and my co-workers) was almost nil.

Three months of chaos, frustration and a very steep learning curve gradually levelled off as spring arrived. Then, the turnover of personnel began, and it's still happening. From day to day, I'm not sure who's still working, who's gone, who's coming and where the next disaster will occur. Factor in an unsettled situation at U.S. west coast ports and we're barely keeping our heads above water.

The old joke about the light at the end of the tunnel being a train coming could not be more appropriate right now. As the year end looms, burnout is setting in for some workers, allowable hours of work per year limits are getting close for others, and the training of new workers is still ongoing (and running short of candidates).

Weekends off are as distant a memory as the past summer. Days have flown into weeks, weeks to months, and before I knew it, another year has nearly passed. Aside from the first weekend of the NHRA points meet at Mission in May (when I was working the graveyard shift, going to the track each day and didn't get more than a few minutes sleep all weekend), the only time off I had all year was for the Northwest Nationals at Seattle in July.

That event was probably the least enjoyable race I've attended in years, as my declining health (more on that subject later) severely limited my mobility, and the weather (which wiped out Sunday's eliminations) made the weekend more ordeal than ideal. Topping it off was missing the one time only telecast of the event on Canada's sports network (TSN).

You really haven't answered the question about the lack of updates on the website

All of the reasons (aka: excuses) listed above are part of the problem. It's hard to get energized enough to get much done on the web when you're always only a few hours, or a phone call, away from going to work. Time to eat, sleep and work have used up nearly every available hour this year. The laundry, dishes and unpaid bills pile up until they threaten to consume every inch of space in the kitchen and closet. The unreturned emails, faxes and phone messages pile up. After a while it gets to the point where you just want to turn off the world, so to speak.

Compounding all of the above was me not being in the drag racing environment, and not seeing any chance of being there. While I still followed the action on the web, on television, through National Dragster, Dragster Australia and SpeedZone magazine, I found my all-consuming interest in the "sport" was slipping.

The Northern Thunder website became too much of a burden also. A web guru told me several years ago (and I really, really wish I'd listened to him then) that I should just concentrate on a few subjects and not try to be everything to everyone. Get rid of the areas of the site that seldom had visitors, or used up too much time to justify continuing. That started a major mental wrestling match as to which direction I should take the site.

In the end, as so often happens, I did nothing. Just let the site wither away and stop. For a time I tried working on a major re-design of the site and got bogged down with the learning curve required to take it to the next level. Not enough time, not enough spare brain cells to absorb the knowledge required and just not enough interest to pursue that course.

So where do you go from here?

All the way back to square one. Literally. At the moment (before I upload this page), there's a total of two pages and eight images on the site. The six, or seven thousand images and 1500 pages that once resided on the SuperWebHost servers are back where they started on my home computers.

Over the next few months I'll start putting it all back in place, minus the results, points standings, and statistics pages. The "For Sale" section may be brought back, but unless I can commit the time required to keep it current and relevant, I won't waste anyone's time by doing it in a half-assed manner.

The "Backfire" page will probably be back, but it's a very time-consuming exercise (lots of editing required) and it's dawned on me that posting people's e-mail addresses on it has served the spam-bots well (for that I'm truly sorry). The "Cartoons" section is something I'm nervous about bringing back (copyright holders are getting increasingly nasty about unauthorized use of their work), and for the same reasons, the "Press Clippings" and "Marketing" section may be curtailed.

Now for the photo problems. Again, we have copyright issues to deal with, and the complete lack of quality of any photos I've taken. Most of the photo galleries, including the drag babes will be back, but they're going to take some serious time to properly present.

Anything I've missed? The "Racing Team" section needs a ground-up reconstruction, the "Top Ten" pages could come back a lot sooner, the "What's Old" archives will need some serious work and then we come to the quasi-hosting service I've done for Dragster Australia and SpeedZone magazines. What about them?

That's a tough one to answer at the moment, as DA has changed ownership this year and I haven't been in touch with the new publisher, Geoff Crisp, about the use of his material. As for SpeedZone, I'm not really sure where I stand with Dean Murdoch, as I've let him down badly this year, missing almost early deadline and leaving him in the lurch possibly once too often. We'll just have to see how both of those situations develop.

For now though, we'll have to close off this update and head off to... you guessed it.... work. Looks like another burner of a night, with the first rain in what seems like months on the horizon, and four ships scheduled to start between tomorrow night and Saturday. Needless to say, none of the containers for those ships are sorted, half of them are still on railcars that we haven't had time or room to process, and I'm so sick with what appears to be a cold that I can hardly think straight. (No, I'm not going to give the punchline to that setup... you can fill it in yourselves).

More tomorrow.

Black Bar
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