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The almost unexpected

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment

All year long, my golf game has been erratic. I’ve been capable of putting together some decent holes, then crapping out a string of cruddy holes. I’ve been scoring low to mid 90s mostly, sometimes getting in the upper 80s and sometimes stinking it up into the 100s.

But I suppose the last few weekends I’ve been out there, it seemed like a certain thought was working well for me, if I used it, to let me hit the ball solid and mostly straight. Not perfect, of course, because I’ll never be good enough to hit perfect to near-perfect shots, but very noticeable on how good the results would be so long as I had that thought in mind during my pre-shot routine and during the shot. 

So I went out for a round of golf this afternoon, as usual, by myself, open to joining up with anyone who might have the misfortune of crossing my path. I didn’t warm up any, didn’t play the 1st hole terribly, but screwed up a bit with a 3-putt double bogey. I then parred the second hole, the birdie putt just coming up about an eighth of an inch short of being a birdie. I parred the 3rd and 4th holes, then bogeyed the fifth, putting me 3 over par and I then joined up with a couple of guys waiting to play at the 6th. 

Feeling a bit nervous at having my swings being witnessed, I slowed myself down and reminded myself of that swing key which had been working well. I hit a great shot, tracking right towards the flag, but a strong breeze knocked it down some, and I was on the front of the green with the flag in the back. I 3-putted from there for bogey. At 7, I 3-putted again for bogey. At 8, I made bogey. Then I parred the 9th hole and finished my front-9 in 43.

Still, I was feeling good. The 3-putts were frustrating, but I was fairly pleased that I was striking the ball solidly for the most part, the ball was flying pretty straight most of the time towards the target.

Hole 10, I smack the drive and almost right away just reach down and get tee out of the ground. I knew where it was going. I then put the pitching wedge on the green, 2 putts and par.

Hole 11, short hole, I hit hybrid to put in the fairway, straight down the middle. I hit the second shot a touch fat, then didn’t chip well, 2 putts, bogey.

Hole 12, not a great drive, but down the middle. I hit the long second shot really pure, too pure, it ran through the green and off the back. I got it up and down for par.

Hole 13, I smack the hybrid with the draw I wanted and get it set up for a 7-iron into the green. I set it up to hit a draw, started it at the right-center of the green, but it didn’t draw much. Still, easy 2-putt, par.

Hole 14, 7-iron, tiny fade towards the pin on the right side of the green, nice little 8-foot putt and a birdie.

That’s when I noticed if I got even par the rest of the way, I would shoot 79.

Hole 15, smack the driver perfect, reach down for my tee while the ball is still flying. Hit a great second shot with the hybrid. Then hit the lob wedge a tiny bit fat, it catches the front bunker. I don’t hit a great bunker shot but it gets on the green. 2 putts and bogey.

Hole 16, good tee shot, terrible second and third shots, but lucky enough I’ve a par putt from about 4 feet down hill and hard break right. I sink it calmly.

Hole 17, pin’s on the left. I go through my routine, set it up to start the ball at the center of the green and draw it back to the hole. I nail it. Maybe too good because it ends up about 20 feet past the hole. 2 putts and par.

Hole 18, smash drive, not a bad second shot, decent wedge on to the green, 2 putts and closing par. 37 on the back, 80 total. 80. Almost broke 80.

I was so calm during it all. I felt so good. I knew I could hit those shots. I didn’t hit them all, but I hit a lot of them. And no matter what happened, I went to the next shot and played it without fear. I walked off 18 in a strange combo of belief and disbelief. Disbelief that after this year I went out and fired an 80, with a 1 over par 37 on the back.

Belief in how I felt it. I knew what the good swing felt like. That I could play. It’s a feeling I’ve rarely known. It’s almost as good as being in love and knowing it beyond any doubt.

new toy

October 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Fairly inexpensive new toy as well. I picked it up for 20 dollars and it’s been interesting to carry it around in my pocket for the last week and a half. It’s also been an interesting motivator.

It came about from something my brother said a couple of weeks ago, about how many steps a person takes a day. It seems that according to a 2004 study, American men take around 7200 steps a day and American women 5200. The average number of steps has probably been declining as the world has become more technologically advanced — many stand up and move around jobs are now done by machines, we’ve got cars to carry us places, we’ve got a lot of games that can be played in front of television and computer screens, it’s becoming a world where you can sit down almost all day.

To add on to this, earlier this week a study out of Britain was published in which a very strong link was found between how much sitting a person does and how likely that person was to be overweight/obese, to develop type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. That effect isn’t entirely offset by doing the 30 minutes of exercise 3x a week or even by a near-daily exerciser: the problem seems to be prolonged sitting. The important thing may be for a person with a sit-down job to stand up every hour and move around some — provoke the body into a more physically alert state.

Anyhow, about 40 years ago, an idea that got big in Japan was that a person should try to get 10000 steps per day, which is a little less than 5 miles if the length of an average step is about 2.5 feet. I’ve been trying to do that since I got a pedometer Tuesday afternoon last week. I came up a little short the first full day with it, about 9750 steps. But since then I’ve been over 10000 every day and have a high mark of over 34000 last Saturday when I took a walk in the morning, then did a fair bit of walking cutting and hauling some wood for winter, then golfed in the afternoon (the round of golf was worth around 13500 steps).

It requires some commitment to get to 10000. To do it during the week, I need to do 3 short walks spaced throughout my workday. I also in between those walks use the bathroom, just as a way to have me at least stand up and move every hour or so. Then I need to do a walk after work to push me over 10000.

More anyhow, this seems to be inspiring me to work again at recovering the fitness and strength I’ve lost over the last 2 years. I find it somehow more relaxing to look at the pedometer and think, “Let’s get to 12,000.” Then it doesn’t matter how fast I do it, just take me and my thoughts and walk with them. It seems to have helped my insulin sensitivity too. Before the pedometer, I was using 22 to 24 units of Lantus for basal. I’m now down to 17 units. There also may be another metabolic effect happening too — when I first got going, I was having some trouble with my blood sugar plummeting during the walks. I would have to consume 20 to 40 grams of carbs to fuel walks of 30 to 60 minutes. But last evening I only needed around 10 grams to fuel a walk/run that went 1 hour and 15 minutes. That’s still more carbs than I used to need a few years ago, when if I had thing right, I could run for almost 2 hours without needing any carbs. But it’s a move in the right direction, if last evening was an actual change and not just some sort of weird outlier. I really hope though it is a sign I can get back to where I was a few years ago, feel good that I could go out and do a run and not have to worry that my blood sugar would plummet.

I also need to get that back if I do ever get myself motivated enough to put the training in for a marathon. It would just make it a whole lot easier if I’m not having to dump carbs into me for the whole 26.2 miles, but only need to do it over the last 10 to 13 miles or so.

As a point of comparison to how much a pre-modern era lifestyle person would walk, a study was done with a group of Amish in Ontario. In that study, the Amish men averaged around 18000 steps a day and the women averaged around 14000. An Amish person would be averaging over 6 miles a day on foot.

—-

Ahh, the shoulder. Still not fully healed, but slowly making progress and maybe the progress is picking up in pace. Earlier this year, I was able again to do a pull-up, although from the top I couldn’t lower myself, I would have to let go of the bar and drop to the floor. To hang on and drop would cause too much discomfort in the front of the shoulder. That has gone away and this week I found I can again do 2 pull-ups in a row. Nowhere near as many as I once could do, but it’s improvement. Still can’t do chin ups because there is too much discomfort, although I can now grasp the bar in the chin up position and gently ease myself down towards the bottom position. So that’s progress too. Maybe I’m in the home stretch, maybe inside of 6 months it’ll nearly all be forgotten. Pretty much only those who have suffered frozen shoulders will understand and know just how much I look forward to the day of having a fully functional arm and shoulder again.

this and that

October 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Every day it’s a little darker than before, it’s going to be a bit of a haul to get to spring next year.

I golfed 9 holes alone on Saturday. It felt a bit revelatory about how sometimes it’s very useful for me to play on my own. I focused a lot better on every shot I had, and it paid off — shot a 43, 7 over par, which is about 4 to 6 strokes better than I’ve been averaging around over the summer. I tried to keep especially in mind a certain swing thought — the image of the back of my left hand leading through the hitting zone and swinging down the target line. It may have really helped to keep me from flipping my hands, which has plagued me terribly this summer. Over and over I get into bad stretches and when I finally slow down and think, I realize that hands have been flipping.

Anyhow, at the first hole, hit a fairly decent drive, overcooked with a tiny bit too much fade, but had a good lie in the right rough. My 8-iron was pulled a bit left, hit the front tip of the green and ended up just off the green to the left. I played a good chip shot to a couple feet away from the cup and made par.

Hole 2, was one of my worst holes of the day. I blocked my tee shot way right, had to settle for punching out underneath a tree to around 200 yards away from the green. I then hit a pull hook 4-iron across the fairway and over into the left rough, about 100 yards from the pin. I then hit a good wedge to the center of the green and 2-putted for bogey.

Hole 3, lost my tee shot to the right some, was forced to hit a low 4-iron underneath some tree branches and got it about 30 yards from the hole. I then hit a high lob wedge to about 8 feet from the cup, 2-putted for a bogey.

Hole 4, finally got my tee shot started down the left, but didn’t put any fade on it, there was a slight draw on it and it rolled into the fairway bunker on the inside corner of the dogleg. I hit a 6-iron thin out of it and it left me about 50 yards to a front pin location. At the 4th, you don’t want to put the ball up behind the hole when the pin is up front, so it was a somewhat delicate shot. I hit a lob wedge nice and high, it landed on the front fringe, bounced forward and ended up about 5 feet left of the cup, pin-high. My par putt just leaked a bit too much and it was another bogey.

Good drive at 5. Right over the 150 yard pole in the fairway. I found the ball about 115 yards out. A 9-iron was struck solidly and I was left with little more than 20 feet for birdie, but it wasn’t an easy putt — there was hump coming off the bunker that I had to putt over and on the other side of the hump, it was start going downhill and right. I left my putt stopped just short of that downslope, but I made the par putt.

Hole 6 I struck a hybrid nice and solid, put the ball in the center of the green. 2 putts and another par.

Hole 7 wasn’t very pretty. Drive wasn’t very solid and sliced some right. I then hit a 6-iron to get me to around 190 yards from the green. Another 6-iron off a downhill lie was pulled hard left. Fortunately I had just enough room from a tree on the left and I again used the lob wedge to good effect — the shot ended up 8 feet from the hole, and from there 2 putts for another bogey.

Hole 8, not the greatest drive, in the fairway but short. From a long way out, I hit the hybrid and left it in a good spot short and right of the green, good spot to chip at the pin in the towards the back middle left. But I did choke on the first chip, hit fat behind the ball and had to chip again. The second chip was good, about 4 feet from the hole and I sank that for bogey.

Hole 9, didn’t hit the 4-iron solid, well short of the green and I got bad luck on the lie. It sat down on a bare patch with a tuft of grass behind the ball. I elected to try 9-iron, I swung hard enough to make sure I got through the grass, but with the shot playing thin off the bare lie, the ball ran through the green and into the rough behind. My chip from there was about 5 feet from the hole and I missed that putt, so I ended up with a double bogey.

But overall it was a good 9 holes, I thought well out there and kept a good mood while playing.

—-

League bowling has been a real struggle the past two weeks. I’ve had 3 games under 100. And I haven’t rolled anything under 100 since I was a teenager. Part of it has been the struggle with the noisy environment. But when I rolled 4 games on Sunday for practice, I think I figured out some other stuff that was going on and causing me to continually miss my targets.

I suppose the first mistake going on was that I had gotten a bit too aggressive with trying to roll the ball harder than what it is optimal for me. I wasn’t really letting the ball swing behind me, I had gotten to where I would try to pull it up higher behind me, and that was throwing off the rhythm. Another adjustment I made was a tip I picked up from a bowling video on Youtube, the professionals all turn the thumb down on their lead arm, it helps to open the shoulder on the arm with the ball. But it took me 25 frames of practice before I finally put all of that together. In the 3rd game of practice, after 5 open frames and only 38 pins, I then began rolling the ball better and finished with a 109. Not great, but after a half-game of 38, not bad either. Then I kept working on I was doing in the the last 5 frames of the 3rd game and took it into the 4th. In the 4th, I was at 81 after 5 frames and shot 154 total. So the last 15 frames I shot 225 — if I can roll like that, I can average around 150.

The hard part will be to keep my focus in the league environment. We’ll see what happens.

—-

I’ve been doing a lot of reading in French again. My comprehension is a lot better now. I believe at least some of the improvement is due to the work I’ve done with Esperanto — Esperanto has really helped to open up my mind to how the word order of sentences can be different. That’s very helpful in some French sentences, where pronoun objects some before the verbs. For a long time, I had to read those sentences in a time-consuming way, figure out what was what and then flip it all around into English. Now I can more frequently read those sentences without needing that, I can see the pronoun objects and verbs and just know what it all means, what’s doing what.

Listening comprehension is still rather sucky though. I guess I just need to do more work with listening to stuff I can understand and practice understanding what I do faster and faster. And maybe there is progress there too. For a long time, I couldn’t really lead books aloud in French. I could sound out the words, but I would lose the meaning of the words. It was frustrating. But the last few night I’ve noticed that I can read more and more sentences out loud and know what it all means while I read aloud. So that’s progress. But I read slower than what native French speakers speak at, so there’s still some climbing to do.

I’m also working some on production by copying and sounding out sentences from Assimil New French With Ease and La Petit Prince. One great thing about improved comprehension with the La Petit Prince, I can understand the humor in it much better now.

That improvement has been a help to the mood. Maybe still I will never really conquer French or absorb it, or become friends with it, but I’m still making progress. So I keep telling myself it’s not impossible, I can learn it, no matter how intrinsically defective I may be, no matter how my style of learning may not be all that conducive to how languages ought to be learned. Oh well. I can be stubborn some.

But yeah, again, about Esperanto. I really think now that for people who come late to the language-learning business, Esperanto is a good investment. It really helped me become comfortable with how everything doesn’t need to be SVO like it is in English. Esperanto can really help to break free from ingrained structure which might be more rigid in an adult brain. You can handle it much easier in Esperanto with how everything else is so regular, now easy it is to recognize what are nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs. In a French sentence, even when you start to get towards intermediate levels of comprehension, you can have a real struggle figuring out what is doing what. There’s le. It’s an article, here comes then noun. Whoops, no wait, that’s a verb following it, it’s a pronoun object. Now what’s it a pronoun of? You don’t have those beginner ambiguities in Esperanto.