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After 227,000 miles

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Back in 1995, after the Volkswagen Jetta I had slammed into a deer, I got a new car, a 1994 Ford Escort. It’s been getting a bit long in the tooth, and when I took it to a garage for state inspection on Monday, the evaluation wasn’t good — there was an area of rust with the frame that would have to be repaired. That would be very expensive. So it was time to say goodbye.

I used personal time at work to take Tuesday afternoon off and today. And began hunting. First I went to a credit union to apply for a pre-approval on auto loan. With that, I secured a number on how much was possibly available. It was plenty, way more than what I would need to get the sort of car I would be looking for. After that, I began hunting for types of car in the price range I was looking for. There weren’t many. I think one of the effects of the Cash for Clunkers program is that it has shrunk the used car market, driving prices up on what’s available. Then the other problem is that with the economy sputtering, lots of people are holding on to their cars that are 4 to 7 years old.

I found an interesting one Tuesday afternoon, but when I drove to the dealership to check it out, it was already sold. That taught me the lesson that I ought to call first and confirm what I see  on the internet is still at the dealership.  So I returned home and searched more. My search last night gave me two decent leads, with the best lead being a car with a single owner, no accidents on the Carfax report, and having only been driven about 16,000 miles a year. The only real disappointing part was that it was an automatic, I would have preferred stick, but with the lack of vehicles in the price range and which looked to be in good condition, I couldn’t let the transmission be a hindering factor.

So I called that dealership and checked to make sure it was in. It was, in fact it had just recently been posted on the website, and I was the first to call about it. It was too late then for me to make the drive there, but I said I would try to get there about half an hour after they opened in the morning Wednesday. More research found me another potential car to see at another dealer, I called them as well and said I would try to be there early in the afternoon.

But when I went to the first car, I was quite pleased. It was in excellent condition and the test drive was fine. The other car I had thought to maybe go look at had 25,000 more miles on it and was a year older. It was cheaper and a stick, but I didn’t feel the difference in price was enough.

So I went ahead and bought a Ford Focus today.

It was long and stressful for me. Interacting with people produces anxiety in me and this had a lot of anxiety with the money that would be committed to a vehicle. I did my best to cut down on that anxiety by get pre-approval on loan, although the dealer ended up finding another lender with a better rate and offer for me. But having that pre-approval gave me confidence that I knew I could make a deal for a car I wanted to buy. So that helped me feel confident in dealing with the salesman, I didn’t end up feeling like I was being manipulated or led around by him. And that’s because I made it very clear and very quickly that I was looking specifically at that car, I wasn’t going to be interested in any other sorts of ideas. So he and I teamed up to let me examine the car and then once I decided that I would buy it, we got the financing arranged.

But wow, I drove that Escort for 16 years. It was something of the last large tangible link to my dad who died in 1996. So I’ve been almost grieving at times today. It felt weird shifting the gears on it, the rattles it made were almost like the sound a person makes when their breath gets funny from trying not to cry too much. I thought about my first serious girlfriend and the time I spent driving to her, the times she rode in the passenger seat.

Now all that is going away, that tangible part of the memories.

I sometimes rub my hands across the top of my head. I’ve been rubbing myself a lot today. It’s a twitch I get when I feel a lot of emotion and stress, like I want to wipe it away.

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Sukceseto

September 20, 2011 2 comments

I finished reading Gerda malaperis at lernu.net yesterday.  I can’t say I consistently worked at it. I had first read some of the early chapters a few months ago, then returned to reading it every now and then the last few weeks.  I’ve also been reading La Hobito and for whatever reason yesterday, reading Esperanto just felt a lot easier. A lot.  Correlatives are slowly sinking in through the repetition of reading them and working out their meanings. There are still places and uses where I hesitate, but not nearly so many and I know that I’m getting stretches of reading where I’m not really translating things into English, I’m just reading them as Esperanto and they make sense.

It also felt like I understood more of what was being said on the Radio Verda podcasts I listened to while driving to work this morning.  I’m also starting to have short phrases and sentences pop up in my head during the day, although I might still be some distance away from being able to produce speech and/or writing in Esperanto with any speed.

The regularity of Esperanto makes things so much easier though.

I had a dream last night where I think I heard and spoke a little bit of Esperanto. Also had a short stretch of lucid dreaming, where I became conscious that I was dreaming. The funny thing about it was that there was no one else around at first when I became conscious of my dream state. Then eventually I saw a couple of riders on horseback, one of whom was using a weedwhacker to to cut weeds down on a road bank.

Don’t forget your shoes

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I was able to go out and play a round of golf on Saturday. I felt kind of excited about it, realizing the problem I had been having with the left arm bending, hoped to be able to hit some solid shots and assess better what effect the changes in the grip and stance were having.

But I forgot my shoes. I had taken them out of the car and forgot to put them in before going to the course. So I ended up playing in sneakers, which isn’t so bad except for the fact that sometimes your feet will lose grip when you swing. I think I had 6 or so swings that my right foot slipped when starting the downswing, a couple of times it resulted in big huge pulls to the left.

Other than that though, I had a good solid round of ballstriking. Unfortunately because of the slipping foot problem, I had four ugly holes on the day. But the other 14 holes were par, birdie, or bogey.  5 greens in regulation, and usually fairly decent short game shots around the green, except for one hole, hole 3.  5 pars, 1 birdie, 8 bogeys, but 12 over on the ugly holes. So a 91 because of the ugly holes. If I had kept those to double bogey, then it would have been an 87. And a bit more confidence in the putting stroke on some of the putts inside of 10 feet, then it’s maybe 85 or so.

So overall that’s very encouraging. I was striking the ball well and the change in my stance has made me feel more confident that I can aim at  a target and hit my shot, a ball with some fade to it.  The only times I came badly over-the-top in a swing were the times my right foot slipped.  Everything else was much better about having the right elbow get in towards my hip. My hands also felt more comfortable in the strong grip position I’m now using.

Now it’d just be nice for my left shoulder to continue to thaw and for me to get better extension on the backswing — that would help me get some more distance with the clubs.

keep that left arm straight

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Had a bit of lousy sleep overnight. I woke up a little after 1, didn’t fall back asleep until around 2:30, then the rest of the way after that was a series of strange dreams and brief wakeups.

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I had a blackberry smartphone for the last 2 years, but decided it was time for an upgrade. I went with a droid and I’ll tell you this — touch screens kick ass.  I realize that blackberries probably now have touch screens, but anyone who has ever used a trackball for a long period of time will know what I mean about how much it sucked when trying to view webpages.

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Finally, about the thread title.  I used some time off,  5 vacation days after the Labor Day holiday. Weather was really bad Tuesday through Thursday of last week, so that was no good, but the weather was decent enough the last 4 days and  I golfed each day.  For Saturday’s round, I made an adjustment to both my grip and stance. I’ve been looking for a way to cut down if not eliminate a problem I have, that sometimes I will still route the club way to the outside and pull it in — that results in bad yanks to the left, and even worse if I also flip my hands, close the clubface and hook it.

To combat that, I decided to strengthen the left hand in my grip, because doing so seems to put my left wrist in a position where it doesn’t want to flip and release the club. The stance idea I decided on was to open up my stance with all my clubs. Previously, I’ve kept my stance open for wedges, the 8 and 9 irons. 6 and 7 irons would play with a neutral stance, then below that I would begin closing the stance. Closing the stance with longer clubs makes it easier to get extended on the backswing.  Unfortunately for me, it also makes it easier for me to swing over the top. I’ve always fought that tendency and it’s been somewhat worse due to the left shoulder’s problems. Sometimes to protect that left shoulder, I throw the club outside and rotate my body around.  So I figure if I get the body already open, I can prevent that from happening, and I just need to focus on bring the back of the left hand pulling through the ball.

It worked really nice on Saturday. Best day of driving on the year. I kept hitting the ball towards my aiming point and would then see it almost always fade softly to the right. I only had one bad pull on the day, and only one drive that was a bit too much slice to it. Irons on the ground were a bit of a struggle though, I struggled some with too many fat shots. But I was encouraged.

Sunday was a nightmare. I couldn’t hit anything. By accident I hit a few decent shots, but everything else was a mystery.

Monday’s round started off about the same. Just a nightmare of bad ballstriking. Irons, driver, everything, I was rapidly losing confidence that I might ever hit a good shot again. At one point during the first 6 holes, I thought back about a time when I had a huge struggle much like this. Now if I had been really sharp, it would have clicked right then. Instead that thought just festered while I stewed over what was going wrong and I couldn’t figure out, and bad shot after bad shot was taking place.

Then on the 7th tee, where I tried hitting 4 iron because of a tight driving area and not wanting to lose my golf ball, I hit a weak slice that came of the heel of the clubface. I felt like flinging my 4-iron as far as I could, but stuck it in my bag and began walking. When I put the bag on my shoulder, it hit me. My left arm wasn’t staying straight. Due to the open stance, I had begun reaching for more distance on the backswing and my left elbow began flexing. For me, that is deadly.

And the fix was there. Bam, straight left arm, I began making solid contact again.

Now it’ll just be nice for my shoulder to continue improving and for me to get back a full backswing with the open stance.