Sunday, July 27, 2014

(Not) Finding Bigfoot

I am watching the season finale of Finding Bigfoot. The episode is called, "Biggest Search Yet," so I'm guessing they capture the beast, and needed to make this a special two-hour episode.

See, I am being facetious with that comment (my ongoing joke with my wife is that THIS is the episode they finally find him!), but despite my overall skepticism around Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, etc., I have no problem suspending disbelief when it comes to the subject.  This includes Bigfoot-themed movies, regardless (usually) of how awful they might be.

In my 2010 post about having Bigfoot dreams, I noted the source of them being a belief in the being from my childhood. I was an impressionable child, willing to believe just about anything a reasonable-sounding adult was willing to believe. So movies like those from Sunn Classic Pictures really had me going.

Today, I call myself a skeptic, and not just of mysterious monsters, but of everything, by the true definition. That is, make a claim that I haven't heard of or formed an opinion on yet, and I'm going to want you to back it up, and as Carl Sagan would say, the more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary the evidence I'm going to need.

But I still find Sasquatch an interesting subject, and the only reason I can figure is what I said about suspending disbelief. I suppose I can in other subjects, too. I enjoy some good ghost movies, despite my disbelief in them.  Ghost-hunting reality shows, on the other hand, I have no time for.  And while I find the Bigfoot hunters just as silly as the ghost chasers, I still get a kick out of watching them.

Perhaps it's the degree of my skepticism, and that it hasn't yet reached 99.5% certainty of its non-existence. Whereas I find all psychics and mediums to be frauds and/or delusional, ghost-hunters as kidding themselves, and a host of other things too obviously ludicrous to mention (although I'll mention one to give you an idea; dousing), I'm ever-so-slightly open to accepting that there is a small chance of a species similar to ours, yet capable and wanting to keep hidden.

Then, when I read what I just wrote, I think, "That's ridiculous," and get close to 100% disbelief, and my skepticism is again equal to my skepticism of all other things paranormal, supernatural, etc. For a while, anyway.

I guess it's like this: If I saw a psychic and was impressed with something he did (like say something about my deceased grandparents that I wouldn't think he could know), I would think, "Nice trick, but I'm not buying."

If I were dared to stay in a "haunted house" for a nice little fee, I'd gladly accept.  Then, upon hearing scary noises in the dark, I'd think, "Hmm, weird noises in an old house. How original. Come out, come out, wherever you are, ghosts!"

But if I were alone in the woods, and I came upon a Sasquatch, while I might try my best to think, "Man in an ape suit," my guess is I would probably shit my pants.

And that's the difference between my Bigfoot skepticism v. all the others.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

2014 USBC Open Championship

This will hopefully be the beginning of my posting more often again. I used to try to post once per week; then tried to make sure I posted at least once a month.  Now I don't even necessarily rush to get an 11th-hour post on the last day of the month just to keep that going.

The main reasons for the fewer posts are: 1) I've run out of ideas that take more than a couple of sentences to cover, and 2) I've used Facebook to express my couple-sentence thoughts. 

It's a lot like the songwriting I used to try to do.  When I was younger, I would just write, and even if I felt the writing sucked, I'd just go with it.  It eventually, however, turned into less and less writing because instead of just going with it, I'd wait to write until I had a complete thought to go with.  Those became less and less frequent until I did virtually no more writing.

I don't want blogging to go that route.  So instead of, say, waiting until I have my complete post about technology and hobby sports (bowling, softball, and golf, for example), I'll start the thought here and just go with it.  I won't complete it today, but hopefully will piecemeal it until it's a "finished product."

I had remembered an old newspaper clipping a friend of mine had saved on the sudden increase of sanctioned 300 bowling games.  It was largely due to advances in ball technology, lane technology, and relaxed rules. 

You might think the article was from the early 2000s. It could also be from circa 1992 when reactive equipment became the norm.  Or perhaps you remember the short-oil trend of the late '80s that saw a spike in perfectos. (My first and only sanctioned 300 was from this era.)

In fact, the article was from circa 1983, and when I find the image in my old cell phone, I'll reproduce it on this blog (or have my friend re-send it). The reason at the time was the advent of urethane balls like the original AMF Angle, and I would also guess that lanes, even though still nearly 100% natural wood, were much more consistent with their resurfacing.

So look for that in the near future.  

I also wanted to discuss my 2014 experience at the USBC Open Championship, which was my most successful yet.  Even though scores are up this year, I was quite pleased with my 1857 score in all events. Some of the success came from bowling with bowlers who were more on the same page with regard to how we were playing the lanes.  Part of it was the slightly easier conditions. Part of it was that I truly have become more educated and just better at bowling on a sport shot.

While it was by far my best Open Championship yet, by 153 pins in fact, I have plenty of reason for optimism in future tournaments as well.  I attribute that largely to the education I've received from bowlers like my Pro and old friend, who gave me post-tournament tips in starting out better.  You'll see from my scores that I had poor starts in each of my events, largely due to leaving splits, either of the wash-out type (e.g., a 2-8-10 split), or from going through the nose.

Cashing in every event was very gratifying.  Doing so despite averaging 166.33 in my first games gives me hope for better things to come.  

Here is my final scoresheet:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

It was a pretty darn good Memorial Day weekend.  Golf and leisure time with friends and my wife. I just finished mowing the lawn and had a 16 oz. Grain Belt Nordeast on a less-than-full stomach. I can feel it, although it will take one more to count as a "buzz."

I rarely drink past the buzz phase.  Perhaps because the gut-rot of too many beers or the headache that comes later are a part of the reason.  Mostly, however, it's simply that I don't need any more than a good buzz to feel good.  I don't get the appeal of drunkenness beyond that.

I especially don't get it for those whom it makes violent, weepy, pass out, or anything other than simply happier than they were before drinking it. I've seen so many types, and I just don't understand why they'd drink past the "happy" state if they knew it would lead to something bad.

Yeah it's easy to wonder and judge and all that. I'm trying to come up with an analogy, but nothing comes to mind.  Perhaps watching Vikings games. They make me happy, until eventually, they blow it and break my heart.  And yeah, NFL football is close to an addiction. So I should know better and just turn the TV as soon as it becomes apparent the Vikings might blow the game.

That actually wasn't a bad analogy, even if tongue-in-cheek.  I'll try to come up with a better one, but first, I'll crack open another one.

Thanks to all who have served, by the way. I don't drink to forget, and I won't forget.  Cheers to you.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bad Hockey Dad Rears His Ugly Head

In my Debate Dad post, I mentioned how I was once a bad hockey and basketball dad. Long story short, I couldn't keep my mouth shut, trying to coach from the stands to my older son, now 19.

My eight-year-old is playing hockey, as is his six-year-old brother.  I don't ever have to get on the younger of the two as far as effort is concerned.  He's more competitive in team contact sports.

The eight-year-old, however, needs to be reminded to put out full effort when he's in a game, even though at that age, they still aren't keeping score.  I remind him that his team still wants to do well, so they need his help, and that it's more fun playing hard because it makes better things happen for you.

He enjoys playing goalie more than other positions, and today got to play two games of it in the season-ending jamboree. Whether playing goalie or as a skater, he has a similar tendency as his older brother: he looks at me regularly throughout the game. As I told his older brother when he was playing hockey, and then basketball, I tell him to focus on the game and don't look at me.

His younger brother only occasionally looks my way, and it's typically a short "thumbs-up" or something similar, before continuing straight back to the action. Eight-year-old gets the thumbs-up quite often, too, but you can tell there is a difference in his glances my way. It's a sort of look for approval, and this is where Bad Hockey Dad comes in.

Whereas I should just always be giving him the thumbs-up when he looks my way, and save the "don't look at me so much" talk for after practice, I far-too-often use those moments as coaching moments.  I'm not yelling out like I did with my older son, but try to use hand gestures, like pointing at the puck, or cranking my arm, to get him to focus on the action and pick up the pace a bit.

Even that doesn't sound so bad, but today, with him playing goalie, I made a fool of myself by trying to show him goalie positions after one goal was scored on him.  He was struggling just a bit, and there was one series where he had the opportunity to drop on his pads and perhaps smother the puck, but he stayed on his feet and eventually the other team batted the puck in.

I often forget that he's an eight-year-old, and thus incapable of remembering every piece of advice I throw his way prior to a game or practice. While I'm not actually angry with him, when I'm trying to show him these things during play, I'm sure I come across as being upset or disappointed.

My antics today moved him to tears, even yelling audibly back to me, "Daddy, stop!" While he was yelling that in my direction, the other team scored another goal, with him looking my way instead of at the action on the ice.

I felt like I was Vic Morrow's character in The Bad News Bears.

So here I sit, contemplating how I'm going to be a better hockey dad, coach (even though I'm not one of his hockey coaches, I do coach him in baseball), role model, and just plain father. Right now, among all of the thoughts in my head at 3:48 am, I think the key is to make sure I allow sports to be fun for him, be there to play with him, and use the positive moments to coach with.

Duh, right? It's absolutely humiliating to know that it took being called out by my tearful child in the middle of a hockey rink to finally figure it out.

Monday, January 27, 2014

YMCA Distractions

When I'm working out with the free weights at the YMCA, I try to minimize the grunting by internalizing the intensity.  Most of the noise I make is from exhaling with each rep, finishing the last rep sometimes with a hint of a grunt, and sometimes accidentally setting the weight back a little loudly.

So while I'm not perfect, I think my gym etiquette is probably good enough to not lose my membership if I belonged at Planet Fitness. At the YMCA today, the fellows around me all would have had their memberships revoked.

The funny thing is, while all of them were plenty strong for the average guy, they were not the gym-rat types one might expect these noises to be coming from.

Well, maybe one of them didn't make a gym-rat-type noise: he was singing aloud to his iPod.  Badly. And like Rusty Griswold said to his parents about their rendition of "Mockingbird," I wanted to say to the guy, "That sounds made-up!"

An other guy grunted with every rep.  Dude, the tenth rep where it was life-or-death to get that bar off your chest, I can understand. But reps one through nine?  Please.

The third guy slammed the Smith Machine weights down after each set as if the last rep made his arms fall off.  There's an old adage that I subscribe to that goes like this: If you have to drop the weight, it was too heavy for you.

I would cut the guys some slack, because I certainly would not want any footage of some of my weight-room antics from my young adult years.  It was mostly walking around with imaginary lats, but other things as well that I still try to forget.

These guys, however, are much older than my 21-year-old self.  One of them, in fact, is older than my 47-year-old self.  I'll try to figure out how old the song he was singing is next time we cross, paths.

Early money has it being an '80s hair-metal song.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Winter Fun

The old saying, "Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it," is appropriate for me this winter.  I was hoping for some early chilly temperatures so that I could get an ice rink built in my backyard.  When the right time came - a reasonably mild day followed by four days of well-below freezing temperatures - I hastily put it together.

I learned a few things, some from advice that I didn't take.  Not that I was stubborn or felt smarter than the advice-givers, but rather that I realized I needed to hurry to beat the oncoming freeze, so I took a couple shortcuts. They were:

1. I didn't affix the boards to each other.
2. I didn't lay the tarp as tight against the boards as I had hoped to, in part because of #1
3. I tried at first to use cheap tarp, and thankfully soon realized I needed something better
4. I didn't measure exactly the slope of our back yard
5. I didn't buy Rebar as my main type of support stake initially

Not too bad, as it turned out, but the errors above made the project cost a little extra and take a little extra time, but it was fun, and sometimes you just have to learn your lessons yourself.

As for being careful what I wish for, the rink has so far seen limited action, because the "early winter" has brought a lot of snowy days and too-cold-to-skate days for the little Mites in our family.  But it's been a blast so far, and a hit with others as well.

Lastly, my sons' skating and playing skills have improved dramatically.  They may last longer in the sport of hockey than I originally speculated. One thing I've read about practice time seems to be true: small areas for hockey practice are ideal for learning the game.  Our rink is 22' x 32', which is good for their ages, but will likely have to increase slightly for next year's version.

One unexpected pleasure of the rink: the homemade, hand-held Zamboni is a lot of fun to use!

Friday, November 15, 2013

One-chord Pop Songs

One of the tenets of pop songs is the repetition.  I love a good four-chord song.  Three chords and the truth works for me, too.  Even two-chord songs are OK. (Paul McCartney's Helen Wheels comes to mind, as does a song by my oldest son's band, Void in Reality, called Matchbook, coming soon to iTunes.)

I can't, however, handle one-chord songs for more than a minute.  

Tonight, as I cuddled with my eight-year-old at bedtime, The Guess Who's American Woman came on the radio.  I like the guitar riff and Burton Cummings' vocals.  For about a minute.  Maybe less.

Then it's like nails on a chalkboard. While chewing on aluminum foil.

No, it's more like your older brother holding your head under water (I presume, not having had an older brother).

It's like a claustrophobic being locked in a dark box, I would imagine, beyond a minute.

What I'm trying to say is that it is more than just a pet peeve. I get quite irritated, physically even.

Yeah, OK, technically it's not just one chord.  I believe it's actually three.  But you would never know just by listening to the music track. And maybe that's why it hurts to listen to.  The exact same riff over and over and over, even while the chords are supposedly changing.

Born in the USA is the same, but is an exception.  It's nowhere near my favorite Bruce Springsteen song, but I can handle it. Probably because the chord is played with variations throughout.

Paul McCartney's Old Siam, Sir is another.  Love it, for about a minute.  Then it starts to piss me off. It's E-minor the whole way, except for the guitar solos.

A goal of mine is to find, or write, a one-chord song that I truly enjoy. I might end up dying trying on that one.