Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two New California Venues
On the Crease: Pheasant Run G.C.
Highway 99 through the heart of California makes a person think of John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. It's hot and dusty, with mile after mile of asphalt running through flat farmland.
On every road atlas I've seen, the little municipality of Chowchilla is right on the crease, that dividing line where California is split in half, northern on one page, southern on another. As a result, pre-GPS, it was easy to miss it. Now, however, it has begun to prosper.
Pheasant Run is next door to The Lakes RV and Golf Resort, as well as The Lakes Real Estate project. The RV segment offers two free rounds of golf with a night's lodging: So for $45 or so, you garner $120 worth of golf during the week.
More on this later.
Trinitas hasn't opened to the public yet, but when it does, it's going to be a winner. At the moment, it's in a holding pattern while it clears the various hurdles its county commissioners have set. More on this soon.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Month Away
My USPS gig came to an end on Sep. 26, and all sorts of things hit the windmill: I ate something bad the 24th, lost it that night, and spent the 25th in bed. I did make it in on the last day.

Then my 89-year-old mother fell and broke her hip. It has been one thing after another: apparently the painkillers are too strong, and make her crazy.

So...I'm on my way to Calif. to try and help take care of her. The docs say she needs 24/7 care, but we can't afford that, and my sister has a farm to keep up.

Tomorrow I arrive there, and we'll see what happens. Say a prayer for elderly folks who break bones. It can be fatal 10 % of the time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Party Is Over

The RNC has met, the cast is dyed. We had the smell of teargas in the morning, a la Apocalypse Now.
I watched a lot of the proceedings from the 13th floor of the 75-year-old St. Paul Post Office. From the 11th floor, minions of the Secret Service spread through the city. Next office from ours, U.S. Postal Inspectors deployed to help protect the convention. Through binoculars, I could see inflatable 3-man Coast Guard boats patrol up and down the Mississippi, machine gun mounted on the bow. They plodded about a mile below and above where the RNC was meeting, a block from the River.
The uproar didn't affect us much. Oh, I changed the route I drove home to miss a peace march, and it was so much faster than my regular route I continued that way. Security forces were everywhere. Watching one group of 20 heavily-laden officers leaving a fleet of vans, I noted "I'll be lonely when all these uniforms are gone."
Sure enough, once the hootin' and hollerin' was done, the pontificating pontificated, the punditry punned, downtown St. Paul was much quieter. Restauranteurs who had licked their chops and raised their prices for the thousands of visitors ended up licking their wounds and having sell-it-before-it-rots specials: the conventioneers were no-shows. Week-old sushi doesn't sell, even in the midwest.

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

Perhaps it's appropriate that the week before the GOP showed up, the Northrop Grumman Bell Wringer showed up at my cubicle with a come-hither suggestion. In a conference room down the hall, he advised me that my time with the USPS would end on Sept. 26.
It's a relief, in a way: I can sign up for Social Security and get out to take advantage of all those golf specials. So, California and Nevada, here I come.

I have a 31' Prowler in Calif. I need to work on to get into shape for hauling around, and need to make a decision on a tow vehicle. After that, I'll be visiting courses, working with Golf Today and other magazines, and seeing what happens.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Lot of Bull

Actually, Pum is one step away from a bull. He was, er, divested as a young'un, and is now an ox.
He's a Holstein, mostly white with some black markings, and he is big. When I saw him in the Cow Barn at the Minnesota State Fair yesterday, I was amazed. He stands around 6 ft. high at the shoulder, and weighs in at some 2,500 pounds. Head and shoulder above the cows that were also on view, I thought he was huge. (I've since learned that a Holstein bull can weigh 3,000 plus pounds.)
Pum is one half of an ox team. The other half is Kin, who's some six inches taller than Pum. They were raised on a farm in New Hampshire that also grew (guess what)? Pumpkins.
I won't tell you about Pum's trip to the Fair, except to say he walked most of the way from North Dakota with the Orlin Ostby family. You can read about it here.
I chipped in five bucks for a commemorative button, to help defray the family's costs of the trip (they walked alongside Pum). Their homemade wagon, I'm told, had wheels that were 150 years old, although the axles were through metal braces. The original Red River carts had wooden axles that went through wooden braces, and squealed so bad you could hear them five miles away.
Pum isn't going to walk home pulling a wagon, however. He's hitching a ride in a wagon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Update

Except for one disaster hole where the wheels not only fell off but rolled away in all directions while the body of the wagon crashed to the ground, the horses galloped off and the camera rolled throughout, last night went well. I bettered my best score on the Gold 9 at Emerald Greens by 3 strokes (the counter stops for people with my enormous handicap at 10 strokes per hole), lost two balls, found two.

I was a happy hooker for sure, though. At one hole I put it all the way across the adjoining fairway. My recovery shot was good, though, and I hit my next shots well also, and ended up with a triple. It could have been much worse.

Golf at times is like riding a three-part seesaw. You have a long game, a mid-iron game, and a short game. Now that my mid-irons are coming along (at the end of the season, of course), my short game is faltering. I twice missed putts of under two feet.

But, apparently my new rules for playing (see yesterday) are paying off. Too bad I didn't learn them at the start of the league.

Oh, and on the 9th hole last night, my playing partners--Ron, Tom and Neil--finally made comments on my form. It turns out they think I'm not playing the ball far enough forward, and I always aim right. Setting up according to the trio, my drive on the 9th tee went straight down the middle; my second shot ended up about 30 feet short; I bumped over on my chip, but ended up with a 5 on a par 4, so I was happy. Then I asked them, "Why'd you wait so long to comment?"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Party´s Over

My golf season--the first league I´ve ever been in--is coming to a close tonight. I´ve suffered from cold weather and a few rainy outings, one or two really hot days, and many nice ones.

I had hoped that, with retirement from everyday toil in the offing, this frequent shot of golf might help me get a little better. As I look back on my skill level, I might, maybe, be a leetle bit more accomplished.

Of course, I'm still in the D flight. To move up to C, I have to:

  • Shorten my stroke
  • Set up by opening my left foot a little, rather than parallel to my right
  • Swing a lot easier
  • Put my putting on autopilot, rather than thinking
  • Practice chipping for distance
  • Avoid lifting my head on impact
  • Keep my weight, as Sam Snead recommended, in the saddle (on my heels), rather than toe dancing (ending up tippytoe). Actually, opening my foot seems to help with that.

It has been fun, which is the important thing. And I´ve discovered I´m really accomplished at one hole in particular: 19.

Next I'm heading for Calif., then the Golf Today magazine tournament in Las Vegas at the Suncoast Hotel and Badlands Golf Course. Three days driving to Jamestown, Calif., a few days visiting my mother, one day to Las Vegas, three days visiting my son, his wife and daughter, then three days driving back through the Rockies.

My only concern is my left eye. Since I suffered from Bell's Palsy, that one gets tired more easily than my right. On a long trip like this one, I'll be using drops often, wearing my dark glasses, and being cautious. We'll see. I may have to adjust my distances.

While I'm visiting mom, I'll try and whip my Prowler 31' trailer back into shape. I bought it in 2000 while I worked in San Jose, as a cheap way to live in Silicon Valley on a contract tech writing job. It paid for itself in a year by costing half what it would have cost to rent even a studio apartment out there. Then my brother, while he was in the last stages of colon cancer, was able to stay in it in warm weather. Since 2003, it's been parked on my sister's farm near Jamestown.

I'll have to see whether I can fix various parts on it--the rear door, for example, is ripped to shreds. Wheel bearings will need greasing, at least. I'm hoping there aren't any open seams where water has leaked in. Etc.

If I can get it working, I'll use it for awhile after I retire. If not, I'll have to buy something else. Time will tell. It always does.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Throttling back throttled myself
Once again, I avoided using the driver in favor of my trusty 2-iron. But when my first shot put the left-turn blinker on and launched itself toward a watery grave, I began to question the strategy.
I can't blame anyone but myself for my problems. It may have been caused by overswinging, but my shots ran long, or short, or left, or right. On 9, I had a straightforward 150-yard shot from the middle of the fairway, and somehow ended up hitting it off the toe to end up under a pine tree almost opposite me.
One par, on an island green, was the only bright sequence. I putted past about 8 feet on my second, then canned the return. Most of my putts were short, however, which is something I seldom do: I'm of the "no guts, no glory" genre, usually long.
I had individual good shots, but on balance I sucked lemons. At least I remembered to bring socks--one of my playing partners hobbled around without any because he refused to wear his dark socks from work. I expect to see him on the cover of Gentleman's Quarterly as starting a new trend. No plaid pants were in evidence this time.
Next week, I'm going to continue to leave the big and bigger sticks in the bag. We only have two more weeks of league, and then I'll have to find some other outlet for my golf madness.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An Iron Sufficiency
On a par 72 course, you should have 36 putts: 18 holes times 2 putts. Which means half your score should be from the green area. You've heard the saying, "Drive for show, putt for dough." It makes sense.
I've always been a good putter, and I've gotten chipping and pitching in a little better shape this year by playing on the league at Emerald Greens near Hastings, Minn.
So last night, I decided to try and use a little course management. I would only use my 2-iron for driving (I hit it about 185 when I connect), and hit at about 75% throttle (which actually helps me hit it longer).
I have to say it worked. If I hadn't had one putt stop on the lip; if I hadn't lost one ball in the middle of the fairway; if I hadn't blown onto a sloping water hazard; if I hadn't been so impatient to finish I reached across the hole to tap it back into the cup--and missed! Without those ifs, I'd have beaten my best score on the Bronze, instead of being one stroke over (because of the missed tap on the last hole).
On the plus side of the ledger, I chipped in from the fringe twice, once with a 6-iron and once with a 7; blasted out of the sand within 5 feet; pitched within 10 feet from longer than 50 yards twice; and just doggedly kept advancing the ball, even while my teammates were blasting gorgeous 250 yard drives.
So, yes, I will continue to avoid the woods, because that strategy helps me avoid the woods.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Quick healing
I always lose to the golf course anyway, but last night it made a physical assault on me: first fall went to Emerald Greens (but I'm going best two out of three). When I turned to walk down the fairway after my second shot on the par 4 dogleg left 3rd hole, I stepped in a pit about 18" deep and crashed to the ground on my right side. It didn't hurt (much) and I walked the last six holes. Over dinner, though, it tightened up and began to ache, enough that I couldn't get to sleep for about an hour. I had visions of having to go into work on a crutch or cane.

I guess I'm a quick healer, though. On waking up, I could walk without pain, go up and down stairs...the whole bit. Thank goodness.

When I had my skull operation to relieve pressure on the facial nerve during my Bell's Palsy attach in 2005, I was out of the hospital in three days, despite the doctor's telling me I'd be in five to seven. (They wanted to give me morphine while I was in ICU, but after I'd seen what it did to my brother while he was dying of colon cancer, I took a couple of ibuprofen instead and held an icepack to my throbbing head.)

One of the things they did to me was install a titanium plate in my skull. I'm still a little chary of shaving it and all, but it's probably tough enough to take that. In fact, about six months after the operation a 200-pound bruiser slammed into me playing volleyball (you can't tell some people that's supposed to be a noncontact sport) and we bonked heads. It sounded like two coconuts being clapped together, and when the noise died away he was out cold.

As he sat up, groggy, I offered the sympathetic observation, "You don't want to do that: I'm titanium-enriched."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Everything but...
I have the shoes, big sneakers I used to wear for volleyball, but which work fine for golf.
I have the Superman golf pants (see below) I wear for work, with legs I unzip when I need to rush to get to my tee time. (No telephone booth required.)
I have the golf shirt, portraying golfers and galleries on a collared green-tinged t-shirt material.
I have the golf hat, today the red one with Barcelona imprinted on it, but often the khaki one that has Golf Today, in honor of the magazine I write for.
I have the dark golf glasses, able to spot my ball in any rough...not.
I boast golf attitude, the knowledge that on a good day I can hit the ball long and straight.

The only thing I lack is golf aptitude. Like so many people today, I have the attitude, but not the aptitude. But I'll keep trying.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Superman golf shorts

Since I´ve been in this golf league, I´ve wanted to wear shorts a few times. However, I leave a "business attire only" job as a tech writer for the Postal Service at 4pm, and tee off a few miles away at 4:40. That doesn´t leave a lot of time to change from slacks to shorts, and if the men´s room stalls (or phone booths) are occupied....
So, when I saw a pair of slacks for under $15 that can unzip the pantlegs to result in shorts, I snapped one up. Very nice. They easily zipped off, so I could pull the remnants over my shoes while I waited at a stoplight. And this morning, when I fumbled bleary-eyed to zip them back together for work, they went without a hitch. I recommend them.
My Supergolfer shorts. Now if they could only improve my game.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Almost a birdie
Island par-3 green, surrounded on three sides by water and only a narrow walkway of earth, into the wind about 110 yards. I hit an 8-iron right straight at the flag, and onto the green about 30 feet from the hole.
I can putt pretty well, so I'm always confident. I lined up my stance and gave it a firm poke. It curved a little left, as I'd expected, but not...quite...enough. It hit the edge of the hole and banked left around the rim, ending up about a foot away. Just another 1/4 inch left, or a little slower, and it'd have gone in.
That would have been the first birdie on a par-3 for our foursome this year, if it had sunk.
Talking about wind, on the prairies wind is just another hazard an architect has to plan for when designing a course. Last night was sunny and warm, and the breeze was kicking the flags around as if it was shaking dust out of a rug.
I use an old brass-bladed putter. It's able to hit either right or left-handed, and when I'm snug against a tree trunk or other impediment (often) I can sometimes use that to escape. After watching Ken Venturi give a sand tip once, I even used it to free myself from a greenside sand trap.
I point my left elbow at the hole, then do a little forward press, draw the blade back and release. The results are usually pretty good. It's about the only part of my game that's consistently above average. I think I'll keep it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy 3rd of July
No big plans this weekend if you don't count a trip to Taste of Minnesota, or a look at fireworks. No golf, though, or traveling.
When gasoline is jacked up to over $4 a gallon, one does tend to think a little more about where they want to go bad enough to spend the money. A family reunion or wedding, perhaps? Maybe a carpool to a sporting event.
Those long, aimless "go for a drive" days of the '50s are gone. Mom was usually the instigator, after working all week at Lockheed. Dad would pack my brother and sister and I into the back of whatever Studebaker or Ford we owned, and we'd go over to Santa Cruz from Los Gatos, or to Santa Rosa from Eureka, or just about anywhere.
I'd sit in the back with a high school history book "liberated" by the sons of my parents' friends. I'd look out the window, then read, look, and read some more. (By chance, I attended the school that used that book later on, and boy did I get good grades in history.)
Jouncing along in the back of the car, though, must have zapped me with the travel bug. Now that I'm about reaching the age I can head out, though, without worrying about the world of work, gasoline is heading for the stratosphere.
But you know something? I'm going to head out anyway. Maybe I won't travel for four or five hours just to spend the afternoon, but the open road still beckons me. And there'll be a golf course along it often enough.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Women's U.S. Open in Edina, Minn.

Here it is, the second day of the Open at Interlachen Country Club, and I've succeeded in avoiding all of it. One of the fellows who plays in my golf league bought a weekly pass for himself and his wife, and took this week off from work to attend. He took 126 photos the first morning, and by now has probably passed the 1,000 mark.
Another man on my league foursome went over on Tuesday. His biggest conversation piece was riding the big orange school bus from a parking gathering at an Edina shopping center over to the course. "I don't know how I used to ride for two hours to get to school," he marveled. "I couldn't do it today."
And then another pal offered me a free ticket, and I turned him down. It would just aggravate me to watch these 105 pound gals rocket it out there 275 or 300 yards, when I'm lucky if I can get it 225. I'm better off spending the time working on my own game.
I don't understand the attraction of watching someone else play. But then I've only been to two or three pro baseball games and one pro football game in my life. Never ever to a basketball matchup. I did attend a Senior tour event near Sacramento in 1999, the Raley's Gold Rush Classic. That was at the Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills.
Interlachen is the course that Bobby Jones is reputed to have bounced a ball off a lilypad on his way to winning the 1930 U.S. Open on his way to winning the Grand Slam. He'd already won the British Open and British Amateur, picked up the Open here, then finished it off with the U.S. Amateur. On the 18th, just as he started to swing, two girls ran across the fairway. He saw them out of the corner of his eye, flinched, and topped the ball. It hit a lilypad (some say it didn't), and ran on up for him to make a birdie.
There's a plate in the fairway commemorating that--although there are no more lilypads. It's rumored that every year, on the date, members of the course try to replicate the feat.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What a weekend in the Great Northwoods
Fewer than 100 miles from the Canadian border, less than four hours from the Twin Cities, for two days my pals and I shared 9 holes of golf at Hoyt Lakes Muni, followed by 18 at The Quarry, one of Minnesota's premier courses.
Saturday, we drove straight to the course and telephoned our host, Jim Whittington. "Jim, where are you? We're ready to go."
By the time he realized where we were, and we checked that they were allowing carts after a torrential rain (6" in 24 hours) two days before, the hunt was on. Jim keeps his cart there on the premises, so he hopped in his truck and ran over.
Hoyt Lakes is that sort of town, a tiny hamlet of around 900 people. Originally a town established by Erie Mining in 1954 to service workers in the firm's taconite plant, homes were assigned to families on the basis of their ranking in the company. Executives got 1500 square foot homes with attached garages, while the rank and file could start out in 900 foot domiciles with detached garages.
As the mining industry faded, the town's future became bleaker and bleaker. Lately, however, with the increased demand for steel, they're starting to build workforces up in this area.
The course itself has raised greens throughout, perhaps because they want to keep them above the melting snow. They were in good shape except for one that suffered some winterkill. On that, large blotches of dead areas would bounce your putt around pretty well.
The nearby woods serve in place of Out of Bounds markers: go in there, and you'll be penalized enough by losing your ball.
As usual, I was unerring with my Minnesota Wood-Seeking Golf Balls. I left no jack pine unjacked. The ball bounced back at me so often, I felt like I was practising tennis against a wall.
It was a good warmup for The Quarry at Giant's Ridge, however. That is a magnificent venue torn out of the North Woods to patch the scars left by mining, gravel quarries and sandpits.
It's built on mountains of waste tailings. You shoot out over more waste onto greens that are sculpted and polished.

The woods are nearby here, too. I went through at least two sleeves playing in a Best Ball match in which we went to 4 under at one point, only to fall back to 3 under.
On 11, a par 3, Doug, one of my playing partners, drove onto the back of the forward-pitched surface and watched as it trickled down toward the cup. It stopped about 2 feet from winning a brand new Harley-Davidson. "I'd have learned to ride a motorcycle if that had gone in," he promised. As an experiment, I dropped a ball next tohis ball mark but about a foot to the right, and it trickled down to within a couple of inches. Of course, another inch and it would have ended on the other side of the green.
Giant's Ridge serves skiiers and snowmobilers in the winter, then opens up The Quarry and The Legend in the spring. Both of these courses are great places to play, highly recommended by a number of magazines. If you're ever in the neighborhood, give them a try.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

3/4 power at the Links
I've been told it's a lot tougher for a tall person to be a good golfer than it is for a short (sorry, height-impaired) one. Add extra inches to armbones, and the swing becomes a lot longer.
The math isn't perfectly correct, but let's say one person's arms are 24" long, while a taller type stretches to 30". The formula for circumference (the distance around a circle) is diameter x pi. So let's say the diameter for person one is 48", and person two is 60".
Person one=48*3.14=150"
Person two=60*3.14=188

If you measure the swing from the top of the backswing to contact with the ball, let's say that's 75% of the circle, or 150*75=112, while 75% of the longer swing is 141. That means you've got roughly 29 inches more to make mistakes in with the longer-armed person.
So yesterday I decided to try and swing shorter. I guaged it by where my left shoulder pointed. When it was aimed at the ball, I would unleash.
It seems to have worked, to some extent. I was able to knock 10 strokes off of last week's score. Oh, I putted and chipped fairly consistently, as well, and that helps. On one par 3 I chipped my second shot, missing the flagpole about 1/4 inch, and coming to a stop 8 feet away off the fringe, then banged it back and in for a par.
It's just awfully difficult to hold back instead of grippin' and rippin' on these.

This just in: I advanced from Tail End Charlie last week to third in my flight (D) this week. Woohoo; I garnered another golf ball for my efforts.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I´ve always known I´d shoot my age someday, but I always thought that meant I´d live to 135. Today, however, I´ve accomplished it. I just didn´t know it would be on 9 holes.
We played the Platinum nine at Emerald Greens near Hastings, Minn. It wasn´t raining for the first Tuesday in two weeks, but the elements made up for it with wind. In that flat Minnesota farmland, where the only thing slowing it down is a barbed wire fence, the wind kicked up dust, fuss, and anything else. Even the birds were walking. My playing partner, Texan Ron, drawled "This isn't the worst it can do."
Platinum is the toughest and longest of the four nines at EG, with one hole at 632 yards from the blues. From the whites, the hole at 576 yards played hard, and then the fact I kept hitting it sideways really didn´t help. I don´t know whether I was lifting my head or setting up too far away or what, but I hit far too many shots off the toe.
After my drive on the big kahuna, I was right on the OB line, so whacked it toward the fairway. Grass slowed that shot down, and when I took my next shot--sure enough, away it went OB. Damn.
About the only thing that made the day any fun at all was my putting. If I could start my play on the greens, I´d have a great day. I sank 8 footers, 10 footers, even one long, twisty 30 footer; then on 9 I chipped, bounced off the flagstick with backspin that drove it right into the hole. (Of course, the swing before that I´d completely whiffed.)
So, swing thought for next week is: Keep your head still, stupid.

Thoughts about RVing with the gas price crunch: I've dreamed for years about retiring, then going on the road in a trailer or motorhome, playing golf at different places, visiting friends and families, seeing new places. Now, though, when they talk $6 a gallon gas, it gets a little trickier.

The chart at left shows how much it costs to drive 10,000 miles at different mpg and the new horrendous prices. Get 12 mpg, and with gas $3.89, it costs $3,241.67; at $5.99, almost $5,000. If you could travel at 20mpg, those same 10,000 miles would be a little less than $3,000. At that price, if your pension is $1,000 a month, one quarter of your income would be spent on fuel alone. So perhaps a little less travel will be called for.
Remember when you were a kid and left food on your plate, your mom would scold "Eat it. Don't you know children in India and China are starving?"

Well, we should have left those vittles on the plate: those children didn't starve. Instead, they grew up, and now they all want to drive one of their new status symbols. Which drives our gas price up.

Unfortunately, I cleaned my plate. So I'm looking at smaller trailers and smaller tow vehicles. The Casita 17' seems like an option, since it's got a 6'3" height, and that's exactly how tall I am.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Remains of Bell's Palsy
In April, 2005, I was beset by an attack of Bell's Palsy. Three years later, I'm still smiling the same crooked smile you'll see at the above link, albeit not quite as much.
If I get tired, my eyelid on the left side droops and I've developed a habit of cradling that side of my face in my left hand.
However, it is a lot better. Part of it may be from my eating papaya, believe it or not. It seems that fruit has a substance in it, papain, that tenderizes meat and may regenerate nerve cells. So, since my droop is caused by damaged nerve cells, papaya may be helping. It doesn't hurt, and the papaya juice is very tasty.
As for my golf yesterday, it rained, I played to match, and scored much worse than last week.
Perhaps next week things will ease up, moisturewise. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Soddenly this summer

Today is the third Tuesday I've hit the links at Emerald Greens. The first was a little cold (we've had four days over 70 this year, when normal has 16 days by mid-May), the second was total rain from start to finish, and today promises to be wet as well.
The Postal Service league I'm in doesn't let a little thing like rain (or sleet, or dark of night) stay them from their appointed round. Lightning, maybe.
So last week I bundled up in my yellow and black rain jacket, hoisted my red and white umbrella, and away I went. I probably looked like a lanky bumblebee huddling under a psychedelic mushroom, but I stayed somewhat dry.
It was, "Put the umbrella down, hit the ball, pick the umbrella up." For some it was in a driving rain, in others a steady drizzle.
I was surprised to cut my stroke total down by 9 from the first week in the league. New course, new 9, rainy day, but the putts began to drop, and my countenance, at least, became sunny.
I have added a set of rain pants to my attire. I bought these at a local workman's supply house named Kaplan's, along with a pair of $11.99 Dickies jeans. Or should I call them denim trousers? I know denim is a derivative of serge de Nîmes (coarse cloth made in Nimes, France).
At any rate, I am ready for the fall (of rain). If it stopped, I would be very pleased.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Committed to Golf

Starting Apr. 29, every Tuesday afternoon at 4:58, I'll be teeing off at Emerald Greens golf course near Hastings, Minn. Yep, I've joined a golf league with some of my friends at the USPS office in Eagan, Minn.
I'll be interested to see how well my shoulders and knees hold up. For years I've been a volleyball fanatic, but have had to cut that off now, since both sets of joints are showing the wear and tear. My shoulders wake me up at night aching, while my knees only act up when I try to climb stairs or get up off the ground or a low chair.
Meanwhile, I'm on a mission to decide what sort of retirement equipage to invest in. It's always been my dream to travel, either in a trailer or motorhome, but now the recent run-up in the price of gasoline threatens it.
I've lived frugally for years, but my house is paid for, my Honda, etc. I owe very little on my credit card, and plan to take care of that shortly.
So...do I keep the house and just get a little trailer to tool around in? Sell the house and buy a smaller place or a summer trailer, then travel in winter?
Buy a VW camper?
I think I'll go golf.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on Bell's Palsy

Here's a look at what I went through with my eye, starting with http://rvgolfer.blogspot.com/2005/05/this-treacher-body.html. I've written several things on my blog.

No exercises, although I ate a lot of papaya on the off-chance the papaicin in it would help the nerves.

I started out wearing a patch, but segued on to getting the eyelid sewn shut. That was worse than the operation on my skull (which I've since learned may have been only a way for the surgeons to make a buck): the eye doctors put a sheet over my face with a little hole in it for the eye, then worked through that while I lay there.

They roughened the edge of the eyelid so it would heal together, then sewed it shut and put small foam marshmallows on the stitches so the thread wouldn't pull through the eyelid, but took those off after a couple of days. (I looked like a rad punker with all the body attachments.) A few months later they opened the eyelid up again, snip, snip.

I've since learned that this might cause problems with the tear ducts, btw. I'm reading "The Dry Eye Remedy" by Robert Latkany.

It could have been much worse. It could have been a stroke or something.

It has been 3 years since this happened, and I'm back to about 90% of what my face could do. No problem driving, working or exercising. This year I'm going to try biking again, to see how good my balance is.

I wear glasses, so bought a pair of big dark glasses that cover my regular ones. They were $19.95 at Walgreen's. If you look close, you can see the dark glass opening at the temples as well as in front (for peripheral vision). These help keep the glare down, important when you are outside.

I use drops 4 times a day, then an ointment at night. I did sleep with a patch on for awhile, but have stopped now.

I've been getting into video, so it didn't affect my eyesight. The VA has me come in about once a year, just to check.

Another place to learn about Bell's Palsy is on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

March Madness

It's early March, 2008, and Minneapolis just got hit with a spring snowstorm. These are bad because folks let their guards down, and then things happen.
In my case, I'm driving a rental car while my Honda body is repaired after I hit a wall to end a slide on a patch of ice. So this morning, I put the recycles in back of my house and walked around to the rental parked in front.
Just enough snow covered a patch of ice next to the house to make it like greased lightning. My feet went out from under me and I crashed down on my back. I was lucky: I don't think I broke anything, and I didn't hit my head, or if I did my heavy winter stocking cap took the brunt. I did hit my right elbow. It is swelling and I can't lift a cup of tea to my lips.
One of the other gents at work also fell on ice, spraining his knee. And a sister-in-law of another fellow badly sprained her ankle in a fall on ice.
I think I just want my ice in cubes from now on.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Golf Show Video

The Twin Cities Golf Show is a done deal, with a lot of vendors showing everything from the latest in down-filled pillows to special wallets designed to cure sciatica. (Leave the money out, and you won't have that aching bulge.)
Oh, sure there were golf products galore. I videotaped the Smart Stick, a twin-laser stick designed to help you get the correct swing plane, and the Tee Towel, a handy piece of fabric with the correct foot positions and ball placement marked to make a repetitive swing easier.
This is the first golf show I've videotaped. In fact, it's only the second show I've done: the first was the TC RV Show earlier in the month.
I videotaped at this one all three days it ran. When I checked the tape after the second day's work, the camera had totally messed up the sound. There was endless static, and instead of outputting 6 or 7 complete clips into the editing suite, each burst of static fooled the software into thinking it was a new clip. By the time I turned the equipment off, the software showed 150+ individual clips.
Sunday I went down with new equipment, and a new tape. After reviewing it during the show, and last night, it appears to be good. Once I get it edited, I'll put it on this website.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Airboarding the Eelpout

Wikipedia defines waterboarding as "a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. Through forced suffocation and inhalation of water, the subject experiences the process of drowning in a controlled environment and is made to believe that death is imminent."
Every year in February (this year beginning Feb. 15), during the International Eelpout Festival in Walker, Minn., fishermen and women will practice the technique of airboarding.
That is, they will drag unwary or unlucky fish to the surface and throw them onto the ice until they can be weighed en masse. The choicest of those fish will end up hanging from racks near the festival tents during the festivities, gasping for oxygen for minutes if not hours before they die. Take a look at the photos at www.eelpoutfestival.com to see.
I don't believe it's torture, any more than the Justice Department believes it's torture when they subject a person to waterboarding. After all, festival-goers are trying to win prizes for the most fish, or the greatest weight or something, and they're just eelpout, after all. While the Justice Department is just trying to capture the most terrorists, or the greatest terrorist or something, and they're just Muslims.
It isn't that the eelpout, or burbot, is valuable. Even though, again according to Wikipedia, the burbot's liver--which is six times the size of the average freshwater fish's-- is also 3-4 times more potent in vitamin D, and 4 – 10 times more potent in vitamin A than 'good grades' of cod liver oil."
Apparently it's such an ugly fish it deserves to die by slow strangulation, hanging, gasping its life away. Because for these critters, death IS imminent.

Monday, February 11, 2008

RV Show is over, Golf Show coming!
The Minneapolis St. Paul RV show was held at the Convention Center in frigid Minneapolis from 2/8-2/10, with vehicles from $1500-$450,000 on display. I attended Friday night and videotaped various units and some interviews, then did some rough edits on Saturday, following up with another session Sunday to try and fill in necessary information.
All of this footage I plan to assemble into at least one show for Minneapolis Telecommunications Network, and I'll probably break that down into a number of shorts to plug into the 'net.
In the next few weeks I will get together with some of the vendors to add extra information.
Meanwhile, I'm going to try and get permission to videotape the Minneapolis Golf Show starting 2/22. This will allow me to interview some of the pros and course managers from a wide variety of venues, both in the Twin Cities and outstate as well. Plus, perhaps I'll get a chance to play with some of the new equipment.
Again, I'll put together a show for MTN and some shorts for the 'net.
Keep an eye here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Layered Look
When the cold weather hits in Minnesota and other northern tier states, we begin to apply layers of clothing. If it's clean, the air spaces trap warmth next to the skin. That's the same reason a birdbath gets so much traffic in winter: the feathered friend must keep his or her feathers clean because if they should get oily or matted their thermal factor disappears.
If you don't believe this, wear your down jacket in the rain until it gets soaked. All the thermal ability disappears. And if you wash it the wrong way, you may mat the down and remove the fluffiness. (Use a down-friendly detergent, and toss a couple of tennis balls in to keep the feathers from matting.)
Layers, however, must be applied in the correct order, and pulled up or down over the previous layers.
In the case of a male, at the bottom is the underwear shorts, followed by the t-shirt.
Next in order of appearance are the socks (optional, now or later), then the long underwear bottom, followed by a long underwear top.
Now, if you didn't put your socks on before your long underwear bottoms, pull on warm socks and bring the ankle part up over the long underwear legs.
Drag your shirt on and button it.
Last, climb into your pants and tighten your belt over the bottom of the shirt.
There, now you should be proof against the stray spare zephyr or other.

Monday, January 14, 2008


It isn't as if my being follicly-challenged is of recent origin. I remember 15 years ago attending a Halloween party, and being offered my choice of tacky wigs out of a large punchbowl. From the lime green, blaze orange and mange brown offerings, I selected a bright red nylon hairpiece on a stiff fabric back that perched as snug on my slick pate as a baseball in a dimestore leather ballglove.
The part in this assemblage began over my left eye, but when I turned my head suddenly, the part remained the part of the first part, while my head became the part without the first part. I had turned west, but like some stubborn furry compass card the hairpiece kept its original position, the part a fabric needle that pointed north and south, bisecting my head from ear to ear.
Then there was the time in a local discount store when a Latino gentleman explained in broken English that he was looking for something to prevent hair loss. I walked down the pharmacy row, looking at the various products, and helped him choose among two or three Rogaine goos. My last act was to pull off my baseball cap, point to my scalp, and offer glumly "I don't know whether I'm the right person to ask, though."

Recently I walked into a warm hallway from the frosty outdoors, pulled off my stocking cap and then...I tossed my head.
Was I waiting for the sensation of hair brushing back and forth across the back of my neck, the way it did in the psychedelic 70s?
Was there some sense of recovering long-gone follicles, waves of hair gone by?
Perhaps I was enjoying a sensation of "phantom hair", the way an amputee gets an itch in a dearly-departed limb?
I don't regret the lack of hair. Instead, I live in hopes it may portend the future, sort of a reverse take on reading the future in the entrails of a chicken.
After all, my father and brother were graced with full heads of hair, which they both took to their graves at 56. My paternal grandfather, on the other hand, enjoyed the sun on his bare scalp as long as I can remember, and died at 96. Perhaps the resemblance in hairlines foreshadows a resemblance in longevity. One can only hope, can't one?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

No more roller derby

So far, in my roller-skating career, I have:

Novice Skate
  1. Skated around a falling buddy, laughing at him, then when I looked up, saw I was going out the back door. I flew across the alley behind the rink, unmoving, scaring the devil out of a driver in the alley, and myself

  2. Hit the rails at the edge of the surface in an attempt to stop, at which point I flipped upside down and over, to land in an elderly lady's lap

  3. After those two occurrences, I thought learning to stop would be wise. Told the toe stops on my skates were actually brakes, I put them _both_ down at speed and suffered the consequences

  4. Experienced Skate

  5. At a rink in Long Beach, I was hit from behind by a shipmate in the Navy who was doing a crack the whip in a low crouch. He knocked my feet out from under me, I landed on my derriere. I made it back to the base all right, but could barely get out of my bunk in the morning. After walking to the hospital ship and climbing the long gangway, I ended up in traction for a week

  6. A few weeks later at the same rink, gliding regally along, I saw a skate wheel sail across the floor in front of me, and wondered what poor soul had lost it. A split second later, my front-wheel-deprived skate hit the floor and I realized who the afflicted party was. Between insight and impact, I got my arm up to protect my face. Next morning saw another struggle out of my lower bunk. Cupping my right arm in my left hand to protect it, I traveled to the hospital ship docked three piers away. Two bones in my elbow had broken, so the doctor gave me a sling, and told me to exercise it for 30 minutes every day "so the joint doesn't calcify". For two months while it healed, I was the designated compartment cleaner.

All before I was 19.

So, when you pencil in names for your roller derby team, I beg you: LEAVE ME OUT!