Sunday, July 30, 2017

Singer/Guitarist Michael Johnson, 1944-2017

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,

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.