Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thirteenth Golf Game of 2009

Steve Seyfried and I went out to The Rookery this morning for a round of golf. We played together a few years ago, but haven't had a chance for another game, until now.

Steve and his wife founded and lead the Rehoboth Summer Children's Theatre, a group for which I was once on the Board. We've become friends. Our wives are friends. Our kids are friends.

We were paired with brothers-in-law from the Washington suburbs -- Mike and Web. They were fairly good players; Mike had a nice steady shot and Web had a potential to crush long shots, though he also had a potential to go astray.

I started out fairly strongly and, despite some slips, had a good front nine. I even birdied the ninth hole to finish at 47. Of course I then hit a disastrous nine on the Par 5 tenth hole. That set the pace for the back nine, I'm afraid. Despite a par and a few good holes, I fell back into bad happens and took 58 strokes to get home with a final score of 105.

I was a little disappointed with myself, but there were hopeful signs and some good strokes. And we had fun.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Age is Different in Different Ages

I spotted this interesting photo on the old-photo blog Shorpy the other day and it has stayed in the back of my mind. I realized why today, during a meeting of the Delaware Population Consortium.

The picture was posted by a reader called Dana and it includes some of his or her forbears. It is from 1902 and includes four generations of a family. From the left, Great-grandmother at 65 years, Grandmother at 47 years, baby at six months, and Mom at age 19 years.

It has stayed in my mind because I am 47 years old this year. But That Grandmother looks more elderly than I do or than any of my contemporaries. and Great-grandma looks much older than folks I know who are now in their 70s and 80s.

At the meeting of the Delaware Population Consortium today, we were reviewing population projections for the state out to the year 2040, when we predict a much older population. We talked about how many people will be around 100 years old and speculated that at some point the age of retirement -- the age that we think of as "old" -- will have to go up.

Looking back at this picture, I realize that at different times in history, the stages of life -- youth, middle age, old age -- come at different ages.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Twelfth Golf Game of 2009

I joined my friend Michael for 18 holes this afternoon at his new country club -- Maple Dale Country Club in Dover. Maple Dale has been trying to bring in new members and they have offered a pretty good deal for young families. Michael and his wife and sons took advantage of it for the club's golf course, pool and other amenities.

Neither of us played very well. In fact, I would say that nothing went right for us if it wasn't the case that almost every tee shot did in fact go off to the right. We were slicing more than a deli worker at a thin-meats convention.

I eventually straightened out some of my tee shots, though not soon enough. But I played poorly otherwise, wasting good iron play with poor putting.

It's no excuse, but I must say that the Maple Dale course offers some real challenges. It was first built in 1925 and it has some old-fashioned aspects. There are some fairly deep sand traps and mature trees that block your second shot should the first go wide (which many of ours did).

That said, on the few holes where I did hit a straight first shot, Maple Dale was great fun. The fairways were in fine shape, as were the greens. A second shot off those fairways could be very satisfying.

I finished with a par on the par-5 18th hole. I hit a driver shot well down the fairway and followed with a very pleasing long second shot with the hybrid 3 wood. I hit the third -- a 7-iron -- a bit left, but pitched the fourth onto the green and made the putt.

That's how the game is meant to go.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eleventh Golf Game of 2009

Another Sunday morning and another 18 holes of practice golf at Old Landing Golf Course. Old Landing is quite affordable, particularly if you are walking. And I do like to walk, for the exercise.

For this practice game, I decided to only grant myself two mulligans (do-overs, for the non-golf-addicted), one on the front nine and one on the back nine, That's about normal for a friendly round and I thought I should try to stick to that.

My first nine weren't too bad. But for a mess of putting on the big par-5 seventh, I would have been under 50. I had a par and some good drives. I was mostly happy.

The back nine were not as good to me. I started poorly and found a distressing tendency to hit slices from the tee box as my legs tired. I carded a 57 to finish the round at 109. That's about my average over the last year.

It was not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning. I plan to play in Dover on Monday afternoon, and may get out again later in the week. So I'm glad to spend some time working on my game. And I was glad to get some more exercise.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blast from The Past: Lunar Landing Edition

It was 40 years ago today that Apollo 11 lifted off to begin the mission that would put the first humans on the Moon. Today began a week-long celebration, of sorts, that has at least two newspapers here in Delaware asking for reminisces from readers about the Moon Landing.

And NASA has released newly restored footage of the first moonwalk. That restored material is included in the video below.

I found this, by the way, as part of an interesting report on the release on the NY Times blog The Lede.

I was seven years old in July of 1969 and my memory of the Moon Landing has me, for some reason, in a classroom at Woodacres Elementary School, in Bethesda, Maryland. I would have been a first or second-grade student that year, but I would think that school would be out in July.

Perhaps it was a summer school session; I have a memory of one summer when I was quite small when we did some sort of summer school, or perhaps a summer program at the school. I remember brown-bag packed lunches eaten under a tree outside.

If it was in Woodacres Elementary that I watched the Moon Landing, then I think it was the case that I was suffering from a scratched cornea that day and was shortly taken off to the eye-doctor, who applied a temporary eye-patch.

I had been struck in the eye by a thorn-bush branch that whipped back into place as we walked through the woods near our home. There would probably have been a line of us -- I was one of seven kids -- and I think whoever was ahead of me brushed past that branch causing it to spring back at little me.

I think I remember not being able to see what the hell Niel Armstrong was doing when I watched the Moon Landing. In fact, looking back at even restored footage, I'm amazed at what we were impressed with on our television screens back then.

Anyway, that's what I think is my memory of the Apollo 11 mission. I hope my Mother and Father can correct or corroborate my recollection. I have found lately that my memories of childhood are at least partly productions of my imagination.

What happened 40 years ago, in my memory, is recreated from the scraps that remain in memory from the little I saw and heard from down below the big people. The right side of my brain is playing with those scraps and creating new dramas, comedies, and mockumentories for me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The College Tours Continue

We're in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, this morning, getting ready to stop in at Cabrini College to collect Christina. She's just finished two weeks at The Rock School, an intensive ballet program in downtown Philadelphia which houses its students on main-line college campuses like Cabrini.

We took yesterday for a pair of college campus tours with Colleen. We started the day at Villanova, just down the way from Cabrini, and finished up at Lehigh, about an hour north of there, in Bethlehem.

They are both very nice schools. Both are largely gothic, architecturally, so I was in Dad-with-camera-heaven. It made one of the young tour guides nervous. She felt she was going to have to wait for me each time I became fascinated with a steeple or a hilltop view. I assured her I could catch up and that the tour was for my daughter -- not me.

The photo above right is from one of the libraries at Lehigh. It is, I believe, a "quiet room" there. I loved that room; three stories of open shelves with spiral stairs and an amazing sky-light, stained-glass, dome.

Time will tell if either school appealed to Colleen enough to want to apply. I liked them both. These campus tours are bittersweet for me; I realize what a great opportunity college can be and how much more is offered these days. And I realize how much more I might have gotten from my college experience had I been a bit more mature.

At Villanova, our guide pointed out an archway where it is said that you can hear a whisper in one side of the arch around on the other; sound is carried along a carved-out channel. Two kids in the group decided to try it out, but it didn't work -- both were listening neither was whispering.

At Lehigh, we came upon the university's wrestling team. They were manhandling their wrestling mats into a rented truck parked facing up a steep grade. The mats didn't quite fit. I have my doubts that that exercise ended well.

Lehigh is built on the side of a small mountain. There are many steps and inclines. But also great views. If nothing else, students there have no trouble staying in shape.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm Not At All Surprised

Lewes/Rehoboth area restaurant Crabby Dick's is on a web site's list of 40 Unfortunately Named Restaurants. It is posted along with places named things like "My Dung" and "The Chocolate Log." The web site it's on -- Manofest -- is not particularly mature.

Locals will recall the rolling brouhaha this sign caused a few years ago. When Crabby Dick's first opened on Route One about halfway between Lewes and Rehoboth, the sign often featured messages like this. The thinly veiled double entendre (single entendre?) messages generated complaints in the local media from parents who didn't want to have to explain them to car-loads of kids.

The sign eventually settled down to milder messaging a while back. But folks still remember.

And a hat-tip for spotting this, by the way, to the excellent The Grammar Vandal blog.

Tenth Golf Game of 2009

I couldn't help myself. I went out Tuesday evening for a late practice game at Old Landing. I had the urge and so I decided to start after dinner and see how far I could get.

I was pleased with the front nine. I worked at not over-swinging and hitting for the yardage I can get instead of the yardage I wish I could get. I granted myself a few Mulligans -- do-overs -- so take this with a grain of salt, but I did the first nine in 46. I see a pace here that could get me under 100.

The second nine did not go quite as well. It was starting to get dark and the flies and mosquitoes were out in force. As a result, I was rushing my shots, trying to move along and out from the swarms. My scores reflect it.

I had to stop after the 16th and 39 strokes. Had scored under 15 on the last two holes (a par 4 and a par 5), I'd have broken 100. That's possible. But not that night. It was too dark and the bugs were too many.

That's not what chased me off the course, though. I stopped when the sprinklers came on.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ninth Golf Game of 2009

Andy and I played a round yesterday at Ocean Resorts Golf Club near Ocean Pines, Maryland.

Our two families planned to meet in the afternoon in North Bethany for beach, dinner and fireworks with my parents and several of my siblings, so the two of us planned a mid-morning tee-time that would have us on the beach sometime after lunch.

Like the roads around here on summer holiday week-ends, the course was crowded with tourists -- an unfortunate number of them non-golfers. We made the mistake of not starting off ahead of a foursome who had an earlier tee time, but who had offered to let us go. A mistake of southern courtliness, I expect.

This group was also behind other slow groups, so I can't fault them. And, we eventually played through on the back nine. But the slow pace of play gave us too much time to think between shots, which can be a bad thing.

I lost my fight to break 100 on the front nine, which featured some poorly played holes. On the second, I got cocky and tried to force a driver shot of the tee. On the fourth, which is a devilish hole that fools you, I tried to be too perfect and splashed my second, wasting a decent tee shot. And I tried to get too cute coming out of the sand a penalty and a drop later; I rocketed the ball instead clear across the green and into two-foot tall wasteland grass. That's another and another one-stroke penalty.

On the other hand, I managed a par on the seventh hole. It turns out that a decent, straight drive, and clean approach shot, and careful putting will pay off.

The back nine was somewhat better. I had a birdie on the sixteenth; not my first-ever, but the first in a long time. Otherwise, I settled into a steady mediocrity, which is better than careening between bad and worse, as I have done in the past.

I believe in looking for positives and the positive that I take away from this game is this. In the past, I've noted that, while over-all I play poorly, I would have one or two shots the felt right and flew true and those were "the shots that keep you coming back." yesterday, I had a few holes that I played right and gave myself a chance to do well. Now I have "the holes that keep me coming back."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sarah Palin: Quitter?

Sarah Palin has announced that she will not run for reelection as Alaska Governor. And she plans to resign from her post later this month.

There is speculation that she plans to start soon on a run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. Oh joy.

There's a quote in the NPR story on this that caught my eye.
She said she had decided against running for re-election as Alaska's governor, and believed it was best to leave office even though she had two years left to her term.

"Many just accept that lame duck status, and they hit that road. They draw a paycheck. They kind of milk it. And I'm not going to put Alaskans through that," she said.

Excuse me? Weren't you elected to do a job? Isn't that job to run the government of the state of Alaska? For four years?

Leaving now, with the job not finished, seems like cheating the people of Alaska; leaving them behind to seek something better for yourself. That's not cool.

Maybe if you were closer to the end of your term, or we were actually in the 2012 cycle and you were clearly going to be the nominee. This early, though, just seems selfish.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

R.I.P., Shoe the Cat

A week ago, we said a final goodbye to our older cat, Shoe. He was about 14 years old and his kidneys were failing. We tried to rally him for several weeks, but he gave us clear signals last week that it was time to rest. So we let him go, though it was a terrible moment for all of us.

Shoe came to us when Colleen was about three. We were newly moved into our bay Breeze Estates house, with our first cat, Patches. He was handed off to us by a co-worker of Karen's; a small, thin, black kitten with a large patch of white on his breast. He had already been named by Colleen, based on his having climbed into a shoe when first arriving in the house.

Shoe was a rambunctious kitten. He liked to race around, roll over, play-fight and cuddle. He was long and lean, with an extra long tail. As he aged he kept his playful nature, but more often settled into an elegant repose -- stretched-out long but with head held high and his two front paws crossed gracefully in front of him.

His name changed over the years. "Shoe" became "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo" when the girls were very young. That was shortened for a while to "Shooby." later, we started calling him "Shubert" and eventually "Bert," which is the name he used until the end.

Bert was a great buddy. He greeted us in the morning with a happy purr. He was a great lap-cat, often making his way from person to person in the evening to make sure that he shared time with each of us. He insisted on play-fighting with me each morning before I left for work. his signature move was to head-butt your foot, pressing his head into the top of your foot and rolling forward over the foot and into the "rub my belly" pose.

I should say something about Bert's purr. I have never heard a more hearty purr. At times we worried that he might choke on it. He always seemed to be purring.

We're honored to have spent part of our lives with him. Thank you, Shoe. Sleep well.

Half-Year Books-Read Update

I'm using a site called GoodReads to track my reading this year. At the halfway point of the year, I can report that I have read thirty books so far this year. I'm about half-way through number thirty-one. Twenty-seven of the thirty-one books have been library books. I have purchased four.

Looking back at last year at this time, I see that my pace of reading is almost the same. On June 30 last year I had finished thirty-one books and the ration of library books to purchased books was exactly the same.

I guess I'm predictable.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's Next? Space?

One of the great things about my little city of Lewes is that it is home to a University of Delaware research campus. It features a constantly renewing population of marine scientists from all over the world. That adds an international spice to the town.

When we moved to Lewes, that campus was The College of Marine Studies -- "CMS." At some point, that got changed and they started calling it The College of Marine and Earth Studies --"CMES." I never could get used to that name and so I didn't use it.

As it turns out,
it was prescient of me to not learn "CMES" because CMS/CMES is now The College of Earth, Ocean and Environment -- "CEOE."

How do we pronounce that?