Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017 in Review

source: steemit.com
Season's Greetings. As this will be my last blog entry for 2017, I'll include  my personal highlights for the year.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday - see you in 2018.
  1. First place, Chinese-Japanese Labor Day Tournament, 740 and under division, National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nevada.
  2. First trip to Europe, cruise to Italy, Spain and France. 
  3. New job position/promotion in June. 
    source: LinkedIn
  4. First 600 series in bowling, highest women's average in Wednesday league. 
  5. Power outage, December 15, 2017, 9:51 pm to December 16, 2017, approximately 5:30 pm. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

2017 PBA WSOB Chameleon Champion - Liz Johnson

source: PBA
Televised today on ESPN, and streamed live on ESPN3 on November 18 (see November 5 entry), a big congratulations to Liz Johnson for winning her first PBA title, the Chameleon Championship,

The Chameleon Championship was the 2nd of 7 tournaments in PBA's World Series of Bowling at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada.

2017 has been a terrific year for Liz. She won her 4th consecutive PWBA US Open title (see August 6, 2017 entry). She had to battle way up the stepladder as the 5th seed to defeat 4 bowlers to do it.

Kelly Kulick was the last female to win a PBA title (Tournament of Champions) in 2010. She defeated Chris Barnes, 265-195.

It seems nearly every time PBA announces a tournament winner on Facebook, there is a litany of complaints that the tournaments should be televised live.

As I said in my February 7, 2016 entry,
I'll put it gently. The 20th century ended 15 years ago. There are too many other sports venues with larger markets where bowling cannot compete. Not going to happen.

Suggestion: Wait a week or so and watch it on PBA's YouTube channel. Nearly all the televised matches can be found there. 

Or, subscribe to xtraframe. Yes, it will cost money. If you're that much of a bowling enthusiast, then it's as much value as a Hulu or Netflix subscription.

I'll close with thoughts on men who comment about opening PWBA events to men for equality's sake.

My rebuttal: it isn't equality.
It's why you don't see men playing women's volleyball, basketball, hockey, or sports. In other words, most women physically cannot match in size and strength to men.

However, when a woman like Kelly or Liz does win, are you threatened by the idea she is better than you?

Below is video of the match. If you watch to the end, you'll see how happy Wes Malott and Anthony Pepe are to see Liz win.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Split Conversions at 2017 World Bowling Championships

4-6-7-10 split, a.k.a. 'The Big Four'
To pick up from last week's Gutter Bowler's awesome YouTube bowling videos of the 2017 World Bowling Championships, check out the meticulous editing on split conversions.

As the video is 9 minutes long, this should give you an idea of how many splits were bowled under tough lane conditions (39 foot Beijing).

Sunday, December 03, 2017

2017 World Bowling Men's Team Championship

source: Bowl.com
Bottom Row: L to R: Tommy Jones, Jakob Butturff, Chris Via
Top Row: L to R: Chris Barnes, AJ Johnson, Marshall Kent
source: bowlingdigital.com
Chinese Taipei Men's Team, silver medalists

Congratulations to Team USA, Men's for their gold medal versus Chinese Taipei.

Chinese Taipei is known for their unique spinner style. It is not without its critics, and rather harsh ones. Below is YouTube's Gutter Bowler's video:

If you have some time, take a few minutes to read the comments on the YouTube page.

Fear, ignorance, and most of all, ethnocentrism is alive and well.
UPDATE: 8 December 2017
Thankfully, the vitriolic comments posted last week have been taken down.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Philadelphia Eagles Touchdown Celebration - 2017 November 27

source: NFL
Touchdown celebrations are often grand, showy and loads of fun. While reading today's Twitter feed, I found 2 separate shares of the same video from the Philadelphia Eagles-Chicago Bears game.

These gridiron guys know how to have fun. Last month, they got recognition for last month's home run celebration.

But for us bowlers, we consider today's one of the best celebrations of all time, thanks to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and his teammates.

Keep it up Eagles. Due to copyright issues, I can't post the video, but here's the YouTube link: https://youtu.be/vPEToRIa5rg

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Return of The Sharper Image

source: Wikipedia
After a 9-year absence, high-tech gadget/lifestyle retailer The Sharper Image, which opened in 1977 and closed in 2008, returned from the dead with a new store (now owned by Camelot Venture Group) in New York's Times Square.

For me, The Sharper Image meant a lot more. It was my first full-time employer and my first job when I moved to San Francisco in 1983.

The experience gained from my 8 years there set the foundation for my current career - a mix of finance, operations, asset protection and customer service.

Today was particularly bittersweet for 2 reasons:
1. Birthday of a longtime friend who didn't work for The Sharper Image, but worked as a vendor contact to another friend/former colleague/ex-boss.
2. Berkeley visit to see former colleagues who are mother and daughter. The daughter hired me and was my first boss.

Reason #2 is why this Thanksgiving week will be difficult.
The mother is now in hospice care in her Berkeley apartment. The same Berkeley apartment where I met her for many Saturday lunches and was my Thanksgiving dinner destination for 8 years.

After a 20+ years absence, I'll come back to where it all started.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Gordon Edgar Downie - 6 February 1964 – 17 October 2017

source: allmusic.com
Gord Downie
Tragically Hip fans knew day the would come. Doesn't make it any easier (see also August 21, 2017 blog entry).

On October 17, Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie passed away after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in May 2016.

Before his death, Gord penned his final album, Introduce Yerself. It reached the top of Billboard Canadian Albums this past week.

As described in Wikipedia, Introduce Yerself is a double album consisting of 23 songs which Downie has described as each being about one person in his life.

Take a listen.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

2017 ESPN3 Live Streaming Schedule - World Series of Bowling

Bowling fans - set your calendars. See below listed schedule.
As it was last year, ESPN3 will stream live (online only) the World Series of Bowling finals from Reno's National Bowling Stadium (cable or satellite subscription required).

If you miss any of them, not to worry. All events on the schedule will be aired on ESPN (dates not yet announced).

Bowlers will include Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, who participated in his first WSOB in 2015.
source: PBA.com

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Joe Thomas Barrett IV - The Ohio State University

source: Eleven Warriors
J.T. Barrett IV
One of the most dramatic comebacks in Ohio State football history took place yesterday against the 2nd ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.

All led by 5th year senior quarterback J.T. Barrett IV.

Down 14 points within the first 5 minutes of the first quarter, the Buckeyes trailed as much as 18 points to mount an impressive comeback in the last 5 minutes of the game.

To give you an idea of how much Penn State dominated for 3 quarters, here is the scoring summary:

source: Ohio State Buckeyes
J.T.'s final stats:
Rushing: 17 times for 95 yards.
Passing: 33 completed passes of 39 attempts, 0 interceptions, 328 yards, 4 touchdowns.
He completed his last 16 passes, 13 of them in the 4th quarter.

Video highlights here:

Ohio State moves up to 3rd from 6th in the AP Top 25, week 10, 2017 season.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Relax, Release, Repeat

source: personalbuy.com
thanks Ken and Cel for the inspiration
Since the purchase of my new bowling ball in July, I'm having difficulty adjusting to it.

My averages in both leagues are down - as much as 10 pins so far this season.

I'll save you the 20-plus reasons why I'm in a slump. The root cause: differences in fit between my new and old ball.

Without being comfortable with the fit, I failed to execute 3 simple but critical components of bowling: relax, release, and repeat.

It resulted in developing bad habits such as grabbing, tugging, muscling, and awkward finish at the foul line.

I put in some extra practice this week and made an adjustment on where I placed bowling tape on my thumb. I'm hoping I'll pick up (spares especially) from where I left off at the end of spring season.

It's a long season, so I have some time to figure it out.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A Fond Farewell To Matt Cain

source: Zimbio
Two weeks ago, former San Francisco Giant pitcher Ryan Vogelsong retired (see blog entry September 17, 2017).

Yesterday, it was Matt Cain.

Drafted out of high school in the 1st round in 2002, he made his MLB debut in 2005. At the age of 33 (today's his birthday), he made the decision to end his career with the same team that gave him his start.

There isn't enough to say how much Matt's 13 years with the Giants means. He will forever remain etched in team history for his perfect game on June 13, 2012 - the first and only perfect game (to date) in the Giants franchise.

His last start yesterday was the perfect way to end a stellar career. 5 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 0 earned runs.

The Giants lost the game 4-3 to the Padres but it did not diminish in any way Matt's emotional farewell. The waterworks began as soon as the dugout hugs started. Tears flowed freely when I saw 2nd baseman Joe Panik in tears. Then toward the end, the long hug with fellow ace Madison Bumgarner.  I lost it.

Goodbye, Matt. We are going to miss you so much.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Star Trek: Discovery

source: CBS
While not a die-hard fanatic, I consider myself an avid follower of the Star Trek series.

I was one that eagerly waited for months to see tonight's premiere episode of Star Trek: Discovery on CBS.

I found the first episode very promising. Of course it helps when one of my all-time favorites, Michelle Yeoh (see November 18, 2007 blog entry) is cast as Captain Philippa Georgiou.

Is it so good that I'll cough up the CBS All-Access subscription fee?

And yes, the subscription fee is in addition to your already overpriced cable bill.

Episode 2 is already available now. What I'll probably do is use the 7-day free trial later in the week to squeeze in Episodes 2 and 3. Then I'll stick the crowbar in my wallet to endure endless ads (ad-free is $4 more) to watch the remaining episodes.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ryan Vogelsong retires as a San Francisco Giant

source: Ezra Stone / Getty Images
"...I don't know where I'm gonna be at next year. Or what the front of my jersey's gonna say. But I do know one thing. I will always - always - be a Giant."

--Ryan Vogelsong, October 4, 2015, San Francisco's last home game of the season.

If you're a regular follower of my blog, you already know I'm a huge Ryan Vogelsong fan. My September 23, 2012 blog entry titled "Resilient - Ryan Vogelsong" got the attention of Ryan's wife Nicole on Twitter.

Knowing he wouldn't be with the team after the 2015 season, Vogelsong signed a 1-year contract in 2016 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2017, he failed to earn a roster spot with the Minnesota Twins and made the decision to retire.

This past week, the San Francisco Giants signed Ryan to a 1-day contract so he could officially retire with the team that drafted him in 1998 as a 5th round draft choice.

In a season that has had a lot more lows than highs, it was a very nice distraction to see Ryan back in a Giants uniform wearing his familiar #32. He threw 3 warmup pitches, waved to the cheering crowd with a couple of pats to his chest acknowledging his heartfelt appreciation.

I'll close with a YouTube video I shared on my June 5, 2016 blog entry:

Yes, Ryan, you are forever a Giant.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Woeful Weekend Without Wins

Oklahoma defeats Ohio State, 31-16
It was a big fat goose egg for all my sports teams this weekend.

NCAA - Ohio State, ranked #2 at gametime, lost to #5 Oklahoma, 31-16. The game was close (3-3 at the half) until the 4th quarter. Then Oklahoma took over.

PBA - US lost to Europe for the 5th consecutive year in Weber Cup, 18-12. As a big fan of Team Europe's captain Dom Barrett, the loss didn't sting so much. Of course, it helps to have the entire team return from last year (Martin Larsen, Jesper Svensson and Stu Williams).

There's a lot to be said about having bowled previously in Weber Cup. US newcomer/2017 PBA Player of the Year EJ Tackett was manhandled in a singles match versus Stu Williams.

MLB - In what has been the worst season in 32 years, the San Francisco Giants lost to the Chicago White Sox 13-1, and today, 8-1.

NFL - Kyle Shanahan's coaching debut with the San Francisco 49ers results in a 23-3 loss.

It was an 0-for-4 weekend. Ugh.

Tomorrow's another day. And a new bowling season of Monday night league. You can't win if you haven't experience loss.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dexter's Bowling Shoes - The HT 9 Black/Grey

source: dexterbowling.com
A new bowling season begins for both my Monday and Wednesday leagues after Labor Day.

Like school supplies, bowlers are in the process of ordering new equipment (shoes, balls, wrist guards, towels, grip sacks) or maintenance on existing equipment (ball resurfacing, shoe sole and finger grip replacements).

Me - I ordered new soles (sliding and braking) for my Storm SP2 603's. This will be my 3rd season with these shoes.

I'd replace my Storm shoes with the Dexter HT 9 (pictured above) in cool Ohio State Buckeye colors in a heartbeat.

But I won't. Why? They don't make them in women's sizes.

I could probably wear the smallest men's size available, 6.5, but my last experience with men's bowling shoes the fit was too wide.

And this is my biggest gripe with women's bowling shoes, especially the higher performance kind.

The color selection of Dexter's The 9 men's sizes come in 4 other colors: 
  • Black and silver 
  • Black and orange 
  • Black and red 
  • White and black
Guess how many color selections are available for the women? 
ONE. In white, silver and girly lilac. 

On Dexter Bowling's Facebook page a few weeks ago, they asked women their thoughts on what other combinations they want. I prefer black, but would really like the accent color to be something other than pink or purple.

If Dexter is reluctant to carry more than 2 color combinations for women in The 9, then at least offer a selection of colors to choose. A semi-custom option with Linds shoes are available at bowlerstore.com.

I'll likely retire the Storm shoes after this season. I hope by then there'll be more color choices available in Dexter's SST and The 9 line for women.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Run Flat Tires No More

source: TireRack.com
Pirelli Cinturato P7 Run Flat Tire
My right rear tire went flat yesterday.

When I had my 2004 325i, all I had to do was call AAA, a technician would arrive within 30 to 60 minutes, remove my flat tire and replace it with my full tire spare in the trunk.

Not so with my current 2012 BMW 328i. The OEM tires are run flats with no spare.

One of the arguments for run flats: a full tire spare adds to the car's weight and ultimately the performance.

I drove my 2004 325i for 12 years. I never noticed the lack of performance with the full tire spare. Then again, I don't drive like Dom Toretto.

The best reason for run flats is that when the tire goes flat, you can still drive on them for up to 50 miles at 50 mph to the nearest place to get the tire situation addressed.

So what.

Dealerships and tire centers won't repair run flat tires because the integrity of the structure cannot be guaranteed. They advise you replace the tire. Based on most of the BMW car talk forums I've read, you can repair run flat tires, but you're on your own.

Many have also commented that run flats drive rough, wear out sooner, are harder to find and more expensive to replace. They end up replacing with standard (non-run flats) tires. Which is what I've decided to do.

As my 328i now has over 52,000 miles on it, the tires on my car were due to be replaced anyway. I ordered 4 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ from Costco this morning. I'll also order a tire repair kit or 2 to keep in the car as a 'spare'. If I replace with the same Pirellis I have now, I have to spend at least $100 more than the Michelins, and pay 3 to 5 days for a rental car.

Hopefully, the Michelins will be in tomorrow and my out-of-pocket costs for the rental won't be more than 2 days. I'm already out almost a grand for the tires. It's an expense some aren't willing to make. I am.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Steel Toe Boots - First Pair

source: Amazon.com
Avenger Women's Steel Toe Hikng Boot
Since I began my new position in June, many of my work duties are no longer exclusively 8 to 5 sitting in a cushy, air conditioned office.

On customer visits I make 1 to 3 times a week, I wear 1 of 3 women's polo shirts (2 black, 1 royal blue) with our company logo. For those visits to car dealerships, I wear slip resistant clogs (see July 9, 2017 blog entry).

Next month, I'll be handed off another account. Not a dealership, but one of the industrial kind. The visit will require me to wear a hard helmet, safety goggles, safety vest, and for the first time, steel toe boots.

I spent most of Friday night perusing the work clothing/shoes brands (Red Wing, Wolverine, CAT, Timberland, Skechers). Like premium quality bowling shoes, women's choices in steel toe boots are limited. I won't need to wear them too often, but would like them to be comfortable yet durable.

Boots should come in next week. Let's hope my choice 'works' out.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

4th Consecutive PWBA US Open title - Liz Johnson

source: PWBA.com
Liz Johnson, 2013, (no US Open in 2014) 2015, 2016, 2017
PWBA US Open Champion
To win a professional bowling tournament is difficult. To win the same tournament 4 consecutive times is tremendously difficult. Liz Johnson did exactly that, winning her 4th PWBA US Open. This is Liz's 10th major title.

For you clueless league hacks that think you can do this, read on.
Here's what Liz was up against for 2017's US Open:

1. 114 bowlers (not including herself) bowl 4 rounds, 8 games each (32 games) in the qualifying round.
2. Top 24 bowl 3 rounds, 8 games each (24 games) in match play.
3. Top 5 bowlers go to the televised stepladder final.
4.  Liz makes it in as the 5th seed, averaging 225.38 for 56 games.

Liz climbs her way up the stepladder, defeating Nicole Trudell, Valerie Bercier, Erin McCarthy and top seed Daria Pajak. The oldest of the 4 bowlers Liz defeated is 27 (Erin McCarthy). Liz is 43.

Let that sink in for a moment.
  • 32 games in 4 days. 
  • Bowl with a 218.34 average - this year's cut line to make it to match play.
  • Bowl another 24 games in 3 days.
  • Defeat 4 bowlers on TV to win the championship.
The most I've ever bowled in a tournament is 12 games in one day. With a fat handicap.

Tell me now you still think bowling isn't an athletic activity.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Singer/Guitarist Michael Johnson, 1944-2017

source: mjblue.com
Michael Johnson
I found out this past week one of my all-time favorite singers, Michael Johnson, passed away after a long illness at his Minneapolis home on July 25. He was 72.

To most that knew anything about Michael, it was his pop ballad, "Bluer Than Blue", released in April 1978, the same year I graduated high school.

Randy Goodrum wrote the song. Mr. Goodrum also wrote Anne Murray's "You Needed Me" and co-wrote Toto's "I'll Be Over You".

"Bluer Than Blue" was one of those songs that made me stop, turn up the volume and listen. It was sad, soulful, and sung with restraint in a powerful way. It became, and remains one of the most impactful songs in my life.

The song was on his first of his 5 albums (Michael Johnson Album) with EMI America. I bought all 5. After EMI America, Michael shifted his focus to country music.

To find out more about Michael's music history, go to his website, http://www.mjblue.com

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Team Malaysia - 2 PWBA Titles in 2017

source: PWBA
Sin Li Jane
Congratulations to Malaysian bowler Sin Li Jane (also known as Jane Sin) for winning the Pepsi Lincoln Open, her first PWBA title.

It was Jane's second attempt at her first PWBA title in as many weeks. She lost to her teammate Siti Rahman in the PWBA Wichita Open.

Malaysia's presence this summer is very much like Team Singapore's was last summer.(see blog entry July 3, 2016 - Jane was a stepladder finalist).

Here is Jane's championship match:

And here is Siti and Jane battling it out in the PWBA Lincoln Open:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Throw It Like A Girl

source: PWBA
2017 PWBA Orlando finalists
L to R: Birgit Poppler, Danielle McEwan, Liz Johnson, Stefanie Johnson
Earlier this month, finalists for PWBA's Orlando Open were announced. The stepladder finals will air on CBS Sports Network Tuesday, August 15, 5:30 pm Eastern Time (8:30 pm Pacific Time).

Like basketball, tennis, volleyball and swimming, it's great to see women competing at the college and professional levels get recognition for athletic skills and abilities once given exclusively to men.

A recent example is University of Oklahoma softball pitcher Paige Parker. Last month, a video that went viral demonstrated how much respect she got from Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera when she threw a few warmup pitches to him.

While not quite the power Paige had in her pitches, professional women bowlers can throw it fast too. Below is the PWBA Orlando Open group stepladder finals. The slowest speed was 14 mph. Most ball speeds were in the high 15 mph range, some as high as 17 mph.

Keep in mind the women shown bowling likely weigh no more than 150 pounds and throw a 15-pound ball - same as the men. The heaviest allowable weight for a bowling ball is 16 pounds.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Slip Resistant Shoes For Work

Klogs Women's Naples
Shortly before I took off for Europe in mid-May, I got promoted to a new position. I'll still work from the same office, but will spend more time in the field making visits to customers in San Francisco, Peninsula and a few in the South Bay.

A lot of those visits will include frequent but short visits to the parts departments of auto dealerships. As I'll be walking around slick service areas, it was time to invest in a new pair of sturdy, comfortable and slip resistant shoes with a little style. (No Doc Martens or SAS)

Another must have for the shoe: flexible upper sole to retain control and feel when I'm driving (stickshift with clutch).

I first considered dressier walking shoes but found they looked too much like running shoes. I then shifted my focus to the kind of shoes nurses and restaurant workers choose: the almighty, utilitarian, slip resistant rubber soled shoe.

The winner: Klogs USA Naples in Black Oiled Leather.

First time I put on the shoes - cushion, comfort, support and traction at the same time. Much more comfortable and secure than the Dansko clogs I thought about bringing out of retirement. The Klogs insoles are removable but I wouldn't dare remove them. There would be no cushy feel and forgive me for the pun, no soul.

Transition phase from old to new job officially ended Friday. New shoes will get the real test on Wednesday, when I go on another round of car dealership visits.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

New Bowling Ball - Storm Match Up Solid

Storm Match Up Solid  - released June 16, 2017
With the fat payouts I got from 2 first place finishes from my Monday and Wednesday night leagues, it was time to give myself a birthday present.

I picked up yesterday a new bowling ball, a Storm Match Up Solid.

It replaces as my 'strike' ball the Storm Wipe Out (very similar colors) I bought for my birthday in 2015. The Wipe Out will still be used, but has been demoted to spare ball status.
Storm Wipe Out, June 2015
My first Storm bowling ball was the Tropical Heat, purchased in December 2012. It became my spare ball when I got the Wipe Out. As my bag carries only 2 balls and is stored in a car with limited trunk space, I retired the Tropical Heat when I got the Match Up Solid. Now scarred and scratched, the Tropical Heat sits in my study until I'm ready to part with it permanently.
Storm Tropical Heat, December 2012
All 3 balls - Tropical Heat, Wipe Out and Match Up Solid are from Storm's Hot Line, a lower mid performance ball line.

For me, the more expensive high performance balls are too aggressive for my controlled and straight bowling style. I need the control as converting spares and a few splits are very important parts of my game.

My shoes (also Storm, partially showing in the Match Up Solid picture), on the other hand, are in the premium line. I find them to be good value because the soles and heels if/when worn out can be replaced.

Admittedly, I am partial to Storm because most of my favorite professional bowlers are Storm staffers (Danielle McEwan, her boyfriend and recent 2017 PBA Oklahoma Open champion Marshall Kent, Liz Johnson, Sandra Gongora, Shayna Ng and Jazreel Tan - to name a few).

The coolest part about Storm bowling balls are the fragrant scents. Tropical Heat was orange creamsicle. Wipe Out - spearmint, and my latest and greatest, Match Up Solid - bourbon pistachio. Individual results vary on how long the scents last. Mine wear off pretty quickly. Probably because I bowl so many more practice games than the average league bowler.

Fragrant scents and fancy ball colors may not improve your game, but they sure do look and smell pretty on the ball return.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

San Francisco Pride Weekend 2017

source: sfpride.org
San Francisco's Pride Weekend took place this weekend. The first festival took place in 1970 with approximately 54,000 attendees.

This year's festival (47th) estimates 2.3 million attendees.

Pride. In the name of love. Take it away, Bono.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

USBC Bowling Academy

source: Bowl.com
Summer season began on my Monday night league last month. Wednesday night, 2 weeks ago.


As it is with the beginning of the season, there are bowlers completely new to the sport and there are bowlers that are returning after an extended absence.

If after those few weeks you find your game isn't where you want it to be, a great resource is the USBC Bowling Academy page on YouTube.

For a more extensive library, go directly to the USBCBowlingAcademy.com website.

In my April 23, 2017 entry, I talked about relaxed grip pressure and loose arm swing. USBC has 2 videos that discuss those very subjects.

On relaxed grip pressure:

On loose arm swing:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Transportation in Italy, France and Spain

traffic in Rome
Pictured on the left is a typical traffic day in Rome. No surprises here. Nothing's orderly and lots of horn honking.

When we got back from Italy, I couldn't help notice that New York traffic seemed tame compared to Rome.

Cars in Western Europe are much smaller than what most drive in the United States.
Parking spaces are few, if any, in the central part of the city are small and difficult to get into. Most trucks, SUV's and mini-vans are used for commercial or business purposes.

Personally, this was nice to see. I have never been a big car person and I haven't owned an automatic transmission since 1988. I'd estimate 75%-85% of the cars I saw were manual stick shifts, including the minivans.

motor scooter parking
If you don't drive or take public transit, many get around by scooter. I saw a few older ones with some rust, but most were newer and in good condition.

Most of the United States is very car dependent so it isn't likely we'd ever see anything like the photo.

As much as I love having a car, I'd be willing to drive less if we had public transit systems that are much more reliable.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Western Mediterranean Vacation - Norweigan Cruise Lines

source: Norweigan Cruise Lines
It's been hectic since I returned from vacation almost a week ago.

After a day at the office, it was back on the road with suitcase and laptop in tow to head to the greater Sacramento area (Auburn) to train for my new position at work.

When I returned from Auburn, it was the San Francisco USBC Championships yesterday and today. Considering I hadn't bowled in 3 weeks, my 9-game tournament average was still above my season (book) average.

I fully intended to write about the logistics of the vacation (the flight, hotel room, cruise ship room, food on ship, shore excursions at port, etc.), but I'm fried. Details to come in future posts.

For those of you that saw my vacation photos on Facebook and are interested in taking a similar vacation, I've included a screenshot of our cruise package.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Position Round Roll-Off Drama / First 600 Series

1st 600 series, May 3, 2017
In league bowling, a season begins and ends like a school year. It starts in August or September and ends in early-to-mid May.

My Monday night league at Bel Mateo ended last week. Wednesday's league at Classic Bowl will end this week.

In the first half of the season (September to December), both teams finished in the top 10. In the bowling league world, any finish below the top 4 is the equivalent to those lame participation awards youth leagues give out so no one's egos are too bruised. Your team still gets cash payouts, but not nearly as much as the top teams would receive.

We improved considerably in the second half (January to May). Both teams ended the regular season in first place. Monday's team, a 1/2 game margin. Wednesday's by 2 games. The top 4 teams then bowl each other to determine final standings - also known as position round.

Monday's team needed to win 2 games to finish first. We swept. Our wins were so close that our opponent's total pin count was only 7 less than ours.

Wednesday's team needed to win 2 games to finish first. Despite achieving my first ever 600 series, we won only 1. It was now a tie. Sudden death roll-off time. Team to win best 2 out of 3 captures first place.

We lost the first sudden death game. Had to win the next 2 to retain and finish in first place. Like Monday night position round, every frame was an intense battle. Held firm and won the final 2 games.

After position round, the final night is roll-off and sweepers. Roll-off is the 1st half winner versus the 2nd half winner to determine league champion. Jason, my Wednesday night teammate for the past 6 years, was my opponent in last Monday's roll-offs.

Sweepers is the chance to earn cash payouts for high bowling scores of the night. It gives individual bowlers a chance for some extra cash if they bowl well. Nice way to end the season, too.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 California USBC State Championships

2017 California USBC Adult Championships
Country Club Bowl - San Rafael CA
As I did this past November, I bowled a state tournament. November was the Cal USBC Seniors tournament. Yesterday and today, the Adult Championships.

The lane conditions for this tournament were the most difficult I've bowled since my butt kicking at a local tournament that included young PBA phenom Darren Tang.

For this straight bowler, that's bad.

I bowled a dismal 391 on my team squad yesterday. In my first game this morning in doubles (see above photo), the struggle continued - 127.

Not to panic. I still had 5 games, and my team had the entire lane pair to ourselves. For me, it made for predictability and a faster pace. In other words, a lot less paralysis due to overanalysis.

Finished 3 games. On to singles. Made an adjustment on how I held the ball. It worked well. Bowled 213. Got a pink pin (given to women who bowled 200+). My teammate Monica got one too. She also killed it in brackets and sidepots (over $200).

My next 2 singles games weren't as high, but well enough that I finished with a 522 scratch series, 55 pins above my average. Tournament continues through June 18, so on the very remote chance I cash out, I'll have to wait until then.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Relaxed Bowling Grip Pressure

source: USBC Queens
Carolyn Dorin-Ballard
Last week, I reached a new personal scratch series high, breaking the previous one I made 2 months ago. I also bowled 2 of 3 games of 200 or more.

This week, in the 6 years I've bowled 2 leagues, both teams are in first place. Monday, 1/2 game lead. Wednesday, tied. Position round for Monday night is tomorrow. Wednesday night league, next week.

I attribute this season's consistency to 2 easy adjustments my dense brain should have figured out years ago. Especially since the same principles can be applied to throwing a softball, gripping a bat and shooting a basketball - all sports I played long before I began competitive bowling.

Relaxed grip pressure and loose arm swing.

I couldn't do either until I added more tape to my thumb to maintain a snug fit. A loose fit forces a bowler to grab the ball and/or muscle the throw.

With some cool techno background music, here's how the elite women bowlers do it.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

2016 - 2017 Bowling Stats - Season to Date

Monday night, Bel Mateo Bowl

Wednesday night, Classic Bowling Center

The above screenshots are taken from my Monday and Wednesday night leagues. It's my guess most bowlers don't know their weekly statistics, or like me, never really looked at them. Or you don't care because you're there for fun. Game and series score ranges are consistent across both leagues.

This past Wednesday, I set 2 personal records, 2 games above 200 in a series, and scratch series of 575. I have a total of 5 games of 200 or above for the 2016-17 season. Of the 5, I bowled 3 of them in the past 2 weeks.

Season in both leagues will end in 2 weeks, just before I head to Europe. Both teams in currently in 2nd. If we hang on, we'll be in contention to bowl for the bigger bucks in position round.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Give Back Box

source: GiveBackBox.com
As I prepare for next month's trip to Italy, Spain and France with new comfy shoes and another anti-theft bag, I need to clear out what will be replaced.

I recently found out the pile of boxes I've accumulated from countless online purchases I've made over the years can be put to good use through a donation site called Give Back Box.

Give Back Box's mission: The purpose of Give Back Box® is to provide an effortless and convenient method of donating your used household items. Give Back Box not only provides an easy way to be part of a truly good cause, it gives a secondary use to corrugated boxes and guarantees they will be recycled.. So this is an all-round CSR & Sustainability solution that costs you literally nothing.

The process is extremely easy. From the Give Back Box webpage, click the link to print out a UPS packing slip. Affix the packing slip to the box you'll use to return clothing, shoes or handbags.

My first donation - 3 year old backpack from eBags. I'll receive a $25 credit toward a future purchase. I've posted a screenshot of the other participating merchants.

Box hoarder no more.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

South Carolina Basketball - Final Four x 2

source: ABC News
Dawn Staley
South Carolina Women's Basketball Coach
source: Sports Illustrated
Frank Martin
South Carolina Men's Basketball Coach
Congratulations to the South Carolina Gamecocks Women's and Men's basketball teams for making it to the Final Four.

The men's team lost yesterday to Gonzaga yesterday in one of the semi-final games, 77-73.

A few hours ago, the women's team defeated Mississippi State 67-55 in the championship game.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Buzzer Beater Victim 25 Years Apart - University of Kentucky

source: NCAA
Christian Laettner, Duke University
To Ashley Judd and longtime Kentucky basketball fans, please look away.

March 28, 1992.
Duke versus Kentucky, NCAA East Regional Final.

In overtime, Duke power forward/center Christian Laettner catches a 70-foot pass from (source: Wikipedia) from Grant Hill. Laettner dribbles once, turns around and from the the free throw line sinks the winning shot.

Final score: Duke 104, Kentucky 103.

March 26, 2017.
North Carolina versus Kentucky, NCAA South Regional Final.

Game is tied at 73-73. With less than 15 seconds left in the game, Kentucky's Malik Monk (source: Ricky O'Donnell, SB Nation) sinks a 3-pointer to tie the game. North Carolina regains possession with 7.2 seconds remaining. North Carolina forward Luke Maye receives the pass inside of the 3-point line. Shoots, scores with 0.3 seconds to win the game 75-73.

March Madness, indeed.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

ESPN's E:60 Pin Kings

source: Vanity Fair
L: Alex DeCubas R: Kevin Pedersen
After spending most of the day watching March Madness, I switched to ESPN's E:60, a sports newsmagazine similar in concept to ESPN's excellent 30 for 30 series.

Originally aired in August 2016, Pin Kings is the story of wrestling teammates Alex DeCubas and Kevin Pedersen of Palmetto High School in Miami, Florida.

Without giving away too much, their careers after high school went in drastically different directions. Click here to read about the truth-is-stranger-than fiction story from ESPN writer Brett Forest with additional reporting by Jon Fish.

Here's the trailer: