Recently Read Books

  • A Delicate Truth- John Le Carre (fiction)
  • Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Fiction)
  • The Expats - Chris Pavone (Fiction)
  • An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankel (Fiction)
  • Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
  • The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
  • LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
  • Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman (non-fiction)
  • Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
  • Lawrence in Arabia (Non-Fiction)
  • In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helpren (Fiction)
  • Lesson in French - Hilary Reyl (fiction)
  • Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction)
  • Venice, A New History- Thomas Madden - (Non- Fiction)
  • Life is a Gift - Tony Bennett Autobiography
  • The First Counsell - Brad Meltzer (Fiction)
  • Destiny of the Republic - President James Garfield non-fiction by Candice Millard
  • The Last Lion (volume III)- William Manchester and Paul Reid (non-fiction, Winston Churchill)
  • Yellowstone Autumn -W.D. Wetherell (non-fiction about turning 55 and fishing in Yellowstone)
  • Everybody was Young- (non-fiction Paris in the 1920's)
  • Scorpion - (non fiction US Supreme Court)
  • Supreme Power - Jeff Shesol (non-fiction)
  • Zero day by David Baldacci ( I read all of Baldacci's Books)
  • Northwest Angle - William Kent Krueger (fiction - I have read 5 or 6 books by this author)
  • Camelot's Court-Insider the Kennedy Whitehouse- Robert Dallek
  • Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More Great News Stories

Treat Em Like Dogs.  Republican US Congress candidate from Iowa, Pat Bertroche, an Iowa physician, while discussing how to handle the immigration problem said:

"I think we should catch 'em, we should document 'em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going," I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can't I microchip an illegal"?

I really hope this idea does not catch on.  The next thing you know, the Lovely Sharon would be pushing to put a microchip in me to make sure she knows where I am and where I am going. However, with all the sex scandals in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, maybe we should microchip all those folks in congress.  Remember Larry Craig, the wide spreader senator caught passing foot signals in a Detroit airport men's room.  The secret service could have used the microchip tracker to follow the wide spreader and on their walkie talkies you could have heard:  "Senator Craig is in stall 3 of the men's room by gate 37 in concourse D.  Better check it out."

Dead Guy on a Motorcycle.   This is truly bizarre from Huffington Post:

Morticians at a Puerto Rican funeral home chose to display the body of David Morales Colón on his Honda motorcycle rather than in a traditional casket, as shown in the video below.   Colón, 22, was murdered last Thursday in his San Juan neighborhood. . For his wake, the Marin Funeral Home dressed the young man in his typical riding clothes, helmet included, on top of his beloved motorcycle.

Check out the video of the dearly departed:

So if it is proper to be displayed at your wake doing something your good at,  I suppose  when I go to the great beyond I will be propped up by a urinal at my wake.

Arizona "Stop a Mexican Law".    Although I am totally opposed to this bill, believe it to be not only racist, but un-American, if it is successful in stopping the in flow of illegal aliens, the law could be used by other states and cities for varying purposes.  Consider:

San Francisco -   There are some illegal Asisans working in sweat shops in the Bay area.  Pass a law and pull over anyone who looks Asian. Oh, that could be half the city.

Minnesota- Anyone who looks Norweigian should be pulled over.  You never know, could be illegal.  If you see a Norweigian driving a Fjord truck, you know there is trouble afoot. (I really hope you are quick enough to understand that extremely hilarious reference).

Utah -  Anyone who looks like or sounds like a Democrat, pull em over, and asked for their Republican party card. If they can't produce it, send em to New York.

More Utah -  Any woman who walks around with 5 other similar looking women with french braid hairdoos, no makeup and long blue dresses, accompanied by 65 kids, could be polygamists, pull em over.  Oh, they are polygamist, so we just leave them alone.

Washington D.C. -  Anyone who looks or sounds like an ahole, should be pulled over, could be a member of congress.

Boob Blogs   Now here is something I could get behind: A Bard College blog is prompting students to take their shirts off for the world to see. Called Boobs@Bard, the site hosts nine pages of naked torsos. That's right -- just boobs.   Maybe next posting I will take my shirt off.   I  am pretty certain I could get my Utah pals Gordon, Dennis C, Mark P, and Steve R to do a boob posting.  Keep checking.

Well enough of the news for today.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Begats

I spent last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Palm Desert. I had not been down for a couple of weeks and I must say it was a pleasure to be back. When I left Salt Lake on Wednesday night it was raining hard and had been raining hard all day. When I woke up Thursday morning in Palm Desert, the sun was shining and it was beautiful. While the Lovely Sharon was sound to sleep dreaming no doubt of me, I had a cup of coffee out on the patio watching the humming birds and a mother finch feed her newborns in the early morning sun. During my extended weekend I played three rounds of golf with the Lovely Sharon. I had not seen her for almost three weeks so it was so nice to see her, give her a few kisses and hugs and have her beat the tar out of me at golf.

In our first round of golf it was just the two of us. We played the Ironwood North Course, a par 70 course. Sharon shot 72. I will not embarrass myself or you by reporting my score. My first nine was an acceptable 41 but my back nine was undoubtedly one of the highest scores ever shot on the back nine of the North Course. But nonetheless, it was fun. After golf and a doctor appointment for Sharon, we bought shoes. No, these were not golf shoes and no they were not shoes for me. So I assume you have figured out they were non-golf shoes for the Lovely Sharon. We bought three pairs at one shoe store. Now we have to look for outfits to match the shoes. I cannot remember ever buying a pair of shoes for myself and then concluding that I had to buy an “outfit” to go with the shoes. I can never recall thinking that not one pair of pants or not one shirt I owned would be wearable with the new shoes I just bought. But for the Lovely Sharon, buying shoes is like the “begats” in the Bible where Moses begat Aaron and Aaron begat so and so, and so on. The purchase of a pair of brown shoes begats the need to purchase a matching outfit. The purchase of white shoes that are identical to the brown shoes except for their color, begat the need to buy a different outfit and so on. At one store I stayed in the car and took a short nap while the Lovely Sharon went in the store to return pants or a blouse or something, I forget which. When she got back in the car I learned that the return of that piece of clothing begat the purchase of still another pair of shoes. For the Lovely Sharon, purchasing shoes is an Old Testament religious experience. For me it also an Old Testament experience, kind of like the plague of locusts.

After all that shoe begatting we had a nice dinner with friends at the Club. Actually, initially just the Lovely Sharon and I were sitting at a table looking at the menu when two friends saw us and asked to join us. We welcomed their company. So our presence in the grill room begated dinner with friends. After we ordered, one of their friends walked in and we asked him to join us. So, yes, you have figured it out, the couple who joined us begated still another dining companion. The dinner conversation was lively and was about golf, sail boats and the NFL draft. What a terrific evening. A few glasses of a rich red Zinfandel with hints of berries lubricated the conversation.

On Friday we played golf with friends Joe and Margaret. Joe and Margaret are members of Ironwood Country Club but are also members of Green Hills Country Club in Millbrae, CA. Green Hills was designed in 1929 by Dr. Alister MacKenzie who was also the course architect of Cypress Point and, together with Bobby Jones, the course architect of Augusta National. I have played with Joe a couple of times this year and once or twice last year. Playing with Joe begats stories. I love his stories. Joe grew up in San Francisco and as a boy caddied at the San Francisco Golf Club (Course Architect, the famous A.W. Tillinghast). Joe caddied several time for Harvie Ward, the great amateur golfer of the 1940’s and 1950’s who won two US Amateurs, a British Amateur, the Canadian Amateur and many other tournaments. Joe told me that when he was a boy, the caddies were allowed to play the San Francisco Golf Club on Mondays. He described some Monday golf games in which Harvie Ward would play with the caddies. The caddies would play their collective best ball against Harvie’s best ball. They would play for quarters. I assume Harvie did not pay out too many quarters to the lads. I don’t know why but the thought of a world famous golfer, playing with and against caddies for quarters, seems to reflect what is wonderful about the game of golf. Folks, famous and not so famous, playing golf together, not for fame or fortune but for the love of the game. I asked Joe what kind of a fellow Harvie was to be around. Joe said Harvie was delightful and treated the caddies well. What a nice thing for Joe to have woven in the fabric of his life, an interaction with Harvie Ward.

Harvie Ward played 8 or 10 times in the Masters. He seemed to have a charmed life until the USGA determined that due to a financial arrangement with his employer, he was no longer an amateur. His employer was Eddie Lowery, a wealthy car dealer. It is interesting to note that as a 10 year old, Eddie Lowery was the caddie of Francis Ouimet, who in 1913, as a 16 year old, won the United States Open. This action against Harvie Ward by the USGA triggered a spiral down fall for Harvey. He basically gave up the game, went through a number of wives and divorces and turned to alcohol. Ultimately, he moved back to his home state of North Carolina, married the right woman, gave up drinking and turned his life around. He started playing golf and teaching golf again. One of his students was Payne Stewart. His story is one of being on the top of the world, a tragic down fall and then redemption. He died in 2004. The life and story of Harvie Ward is compelling to me.

If you are interested in Harvie Ward there are two books that discuss aspects of his life. “The Match” is a terrific book about a four ball match of amateurs Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi playing against Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson at Cypress Point Golf Club in 1956. I read this book a few years ago and then reread it again a couple of weeks ago. This is a capitvating book about what may possibly be the greatest golf match in history on one the most famous golf courses in the world.  The match started out with the four players, the caddies and the sponsors of the bet watching.  By the end of the match an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people had heard about the match in progress and were at Cypress Point to watch history.

The other book you should read is listed above in my recommended books, “A Son of the Game” by James Dodson. I have told some of you that over the last two years I have become email friends with Jim Dodson. I have never met him in person or even talked to him on the phone but we have emailed each other a number of times during the last two years. Jim has written books about Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan. He has written books about travels with his daughter and travels with his son. He wrote a book about gardening. He worked for Golf Digest for 20 years or so. A native of North Carolina Jim moved back to the Pinehurst area (the town of Southern Pines) a few years back. “A Son of the Game” is essentially a sequel to “Final Rounds” that I read in 1996. I probably purchased and gave out 15 copies of Final Rounds over the years. A “Son of the Game” was published last year and I am currently rereading it. It is wonderful book about the forces of life, friends and acquaintances that drew Jim back to North Carolina after 20 years in Maine. Included in the book is a description of Jim’s interaction with Harvie Ward. Jim was lucky enough to have a friendship with Harvie and to have seen him turn his life around. Harvie gave Jim’s teenage son Jack golf lessons. The last time Jim visited Harvie, Harvie gave Jim a putter to give to son Jack. Not long afterward, Harvie passed away.

I have referred “A Son of the Game” to many of you and have bought several copies that I gave to a few of you. I recommend that you read this book. Feel the bond of family, the gravitational pull of the land of Jim’s boyhood calling him back home, and rekindle what golf means to so many of us. Sometimes when we play a lot of golf, we lose some of the thrill of the game.  We lose the feeling of awe of holding clubs, of hitting balls and walking fairways and the other aspects of the game that have compelled us to undertake this endeavor of golf.  It is more than a game.  It is more than a sport. It is a way of life, it is a way of thinking. it is an act of being. Jim Dodson's writing has a way of making you remember, clearly remember, why we play the game.

On Saturday, Sharon and I played with Linda. Linda is a beautiful, fun loving southern bell. Her significant other is Artie, a former PGA tour player who is now a famous golf teacher with the Jim McLean Golf Schools. Artie is a joy to be around. His has a lifetime of golf stories and is an expert golf instructor. Sunday morning before I left for the airport to fly back to Salt Lake, Sharon and I had breakfast at Ironwood. After breakfast I ran into Artie who was getting ready to play golf with Linda. I told Artie I was struggling with how to start my downswing. Artie told me to look at Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons of Golf.  He said the answer was there.  He told me to search the end of the book for the proper sequence of the swing.  He told me to look for it, to search for this part of the book on my own and then to talk to him about it when next we met. Fortunately I had two copies of the book, both in Salt Lake. I must say, I could hardly wait to get off the plane in Salt Lake to look for whatever wisdom might be contained in the Hogan Book. I spent Sunday night reading Mr. Hogan.

So it was a golf and golf related weekend for me. I loved it. Golf begats friends. Golf begats relationships and golf begats stories to cherish.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Best Thing Dick Cheney Ever Did

Dick Cheney. Can’t those words just fade away into the abyss of American History? He just seems to keep spewing out stuff that you normally see from the south end of a northbound horse. He is like a lingering cough, you can't get rid of it and it makes you want to spit all of the time. Yesterday he was on the Dennis Miller show and they were discussing Cheney’s go “F__K” yourself episode. If you recall, on the Senate floor in 2004, Dick Cheney had a run-in with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). After the two argued over Cheney's ties to Halliburton and President Bush's judicial nominees, the then-vice president told the senator to "go f__k yourself.” Last night on Dennis Miller, while referring to the “go f—K yourself” comment, Cheney said:

"That's sort of the best thing I ever did."

I agree with Cheney. After serving as Vice President of the United States for eight years, even in his own analysis, the best thing he did was to tell someone he disagreed with to “Go F__k Yourself”. What a legacy. What a thing to be proud of. Just think about it:

Teddy Roosevelt was famous as a trust buster and the father of the National Park Systems. FDR’s legacy was dealing with the great depression and World War II. Ike helped the country normalize after WWII, Reagan was known for many things including to help end the cold war. But Dick Cheney, by his own admission while assessing his Vice Presidency concluded, “the best thing I ever did” was tell Senator Leahy to go “F__K” himself.

Oh Dick, Dick Dick. No wonder I continue to ponder the question whether your name is really “Dick” or do they just call you that?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Should We Do About Guns?

The gun issue is one of those issues that stirs the soul. Some people are opposed to guns being owned by citizens, other are opposed to any restriction on gun ownership, including registration or limitations on the carrying of guns concealed or not concealed into any place. Other folks fall somewhat in between these positions. The second amendment to the US Constitution simply reads as follows:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

What exactly do those words mean and who does it apply to. Does it apply just to the federal government? Since it is the US Constituion does it mean the federal government shall not pass laws that infringe the right keep and bear arms? Can a state pass a law that infringes upon the right to keep and bear arms?  Is state control of guns prohibited under the 14th Amendment? Is the requirement for registration or a permit in order to own a gun an infringement under the second amendment? What are arms for purposes of the second amendment? When the constitution was adopted, arms were basically musket rifles, not assault weapons or personal rocket launchers. Is a stun gun an “arm”? Is a hand grenade an arm? What is a militia? Is Militia a state military force, a federal army, five rednecks from the movie “Deliverance”? Am I, as an individual citizen, a Militia?

Some believe that the Second Amendment provides an absolute, personal right to bear arms that may not be burdened with permits or registration requirements. Others contend that any right to bear arms is subordinate to ensuring public safety. Another argument is that the Second Amendment simply restricts the powers of the national government and grants the states the right to maintain a militia separate from a federally-controlled army.

In the court case District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) the United States Supreme Court considered whether the District of Columbia’s (Washington D.C.) could adopt laws (city ordinances) which generally bars the registration of handguns (which essentially means hand guns are banned); which bars carrying a pistol without a license; which requires that all lawfully owned firearms be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes? The Court concluded that the Second Amendment does establish an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense and hunting. The Court concluded that the D.C. gun ban was unconstituional. At the same time, the Court recognized that the government can regulate gun rights. The Court said its decision should not be interpreted to question the right of government to: prohibit felons and the mentally ill from owning weapons, prohibit guns in schools or public buildings, ban certain categories of guns not commonly used for self-defense, and to establish certain other conditions on gun ownership.

Remember that Washington D.C is not subject to any state law, it is subject to federal law. In an upcoming case, McDonald v. Chicago, the US Supreme Court will consider whether Chicago’s ban on handguns is Constitutional. The question in the McDonald case is similar to that in Heller referenced above, which challenged a handgun ban in the District of Columbia. However, unlike Washington, D.C., which is governed directly by federal law, the challenge to Chicago's gun ban comes to the Supreme Court under the Constitution's 14th Amendment, which protects fundamental rights against infringement by the states.

Many states righters argue that the federal government ought not control us but that the states ought to have the right to make laws that concern its citizens. However, the anti-gun control folks don’t want the states to impose gun laws of any sort. That is what the McDonald case is about. The plaintiff’s claim the state (in this case the City of Chicago) ought not to be able to ban gun ownership. It will be interesting to see what the outcome in the McDonald case will be.

Early this month Arizona adopted a law allowing people to carry a concealed weapon without requiring a permit. Any person - a crazy, a felon etc, can carry a concealed weapon without having a permit.

I for one want some reasonable gun registration requirements. I don’t want the insane or felons to be legally walking around with concealed weapons on unconcealed weapons for that matter. I don’t want it to be ok to bring an assault weapon to church. I don’t want my neighbor to have 40 assault weapons in his house. If I want to check out the book Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from the local library, I need a permit (a library card). Should it be easier for me to obtain a high power assault rifle than it is to check out a library book?

Should Al-Qaeda sympathizers (not actual terrorists but sympathizers) who are US citizens be able to purchase an unlimited number of assault weapons without registration so that we don’t infringe on their rights to keep and bear arms?

Should a 13 year old be able to purchase a high powered rifle without parental approval?

Are there no lawful restrictions under the second amendment?

I believe a person ought to be able to buy a gun for protection or for sport. But for the life of me, I cannot understand why there should not be common sense limitations against certain types of weapons or common sense registration requirements.

I normally try not to discuss political issues in this blog but there are a number of subjects that I think are worth addressing and the gun issue is one. I understand there are different views than mine. If you feel strong one way or the other on this issue, please leave a comment on this blog.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Mussings

It is Sunday morning and I awoke to a quiet house in Salt Lake. I must have had a restless night inasmuch as my bed sheet is on top of the blankets rather than under the blankets against my skin. How did that happen? It wasn’t all wadded up. It was laid out fairly orderly but was on top of the blankets. The normal order, working from the top down, is bedspread, blanket, blanket, sheet and then me. I usually remove the bedspread when I go to bed so it is, again from the top down, blanket, blanket, sheet and then me. But when I woke up this morning it was, from the top down, sheet, blanket, blanket, me. Did I do some bed cover rearranging in my sleep? Was there a poltergeist in the house over night?

I haven’t seen the Lovely Sharon for a couple of weeks so the weekend has been somewhat lonely. Ran some errands yesterday and played the guitar a little. I am reading a collection of golf stories written by PD Wodehouse. The book is entitled “Fore: The Best of PD Wodehouse on Golf”. These stories were written in the 1920’s and there are lots of references to mashies and niblicks and things of golf past. The interesting thing is that the characters in the stories strike similarities to folks we deal with now, almost a century later. You may recall that PD Wodehouse wrote the Jeeves, the butler stories. I loved the stories as well.

I drove to McDonald’s for a breakfast burrito to go. I paid for the burrito ($1.08 with tax) and drove away. I ordered no drink or anything other than a single breakfast burrito. As I drove away I looked in the sack and there was a straw. If I ordered no drink, why was there a straw? I don’t know. Was it a trick? Was it a suggestion by the McDonald’s employee that I should have ordered a drink to wash down the burrito? Or was it merely a mistake? All the way home I thought about this rogue straw. My in depth analysis came up with no logical reason why the straw was included in my order. Certainly the napkin that was included was a welcome addition to the bag and had a useful purpose for me. But the straw? When I arrived back home and took my breakfast burrito into the kitchen, I poured myself a glass of orange juice from a carton in the fridge. I turned on the TV, sat down at the table and opened my burrito. I then looked at the straw and then at my orange juice, back at the straw and then it hit me. I opened the straw and put it in the garbage. What did you think I was going say? I don’t drink orange juice with a straw at home do you?

Have you notice that the green color of springtime grass is different than the green color of summer grass? Its more green, its looks fresher. It kind of makes you realize the new beginnings of spring have arrived. Is it truly a different shade of green, a more vibrant green or does it look so inviting and different because of the contrast from the brownish/yellowish grass we have had since autumn? The new spring grass makes me want to plan my summer. It makes me realize that many things I wanted to do last summer or the summers before did not get done. Things like a drive to Monument Valley on the Utah- Arizona border with its majestic red rock buttes. A golf trip to New Mexico. Another drive across the dirt road pony express trail through Tooele County into Nevada. This year I am gonna do one or two of these things.

Well I am going to go edge and mow the front yard for the first time this year. I will put on my Ipod, sing along with Sinatra and enjoy a sunny spring day.

Best Wishes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Do I Start The Downswing?

I am ready to scream. Not a little quiet scream but a full out blood curdling scream that will wake up the Neighbor’s Dog, who at, 4:34 am, is no doubt sleeping next door dreaming about bones or squirrels or whatever dogs dream about. (Hey I think I will do a blog about dog dreams, I better jot that idea down,) If you have read this far, you are likely wondering what has caused me to want to break the morning peace with screams. I will tell you what; the downswing. Yep, that part of the golf swing that starts once you have taken the golf club away from the ball and now you want to swing down mightily at the ball praying for a beautiful shot of solid contact, fierce velocity, beautiful flight altitude and absolutely perfect direction. What causes me to want to scream is the very simple question:

“How does one start this downswing?”

But first, a little background. Up through 7 or 8 years ago, I was a semi decent golfer. Not great, but decent. I played to a 10 handicap and could in fact play to my handicap. From time to time I won my flight of various club events at my Utah club and my Palm Desert Club. However, over the years starting, maybe 10 years ago, I developed some back problems that I won’t detail but needless to say, it became hard to make a good backswing and equally as difficult to make a good follow through. Prior to this time, I did not think about the golf swing I just swung the club and hit the ball and more times than not the ball went where I had intended it to go. But in an effort to regain lost distance due to back pain and flexibility issues I have done the worse thing an amateur golfer could do. I have read dozens of golf instruction books, hundreds of golf instruction articles and tips, and taken lessons from several different golf professionals in two states.

When I was playing my best, I was told my swing looked liked the odd swing of Jim Furyck. Now, I am told my swing not only looks like the swing of Charles Barkley, but that I actually make Charles’ swing look good. People laugh at my swing, belittle my swing and turn away so they don’t have to watch my swing. So over the last few years I have become not only a bad golfer but the subject of scorn and derision and a source of visual pollution on the golf course.

With the background set, I must tell you, I have forgotten how to start the down swing. I have literally asked 500 people how they start the down swing. I have asked playing partners, golf pro’s, strangers on the driving range. Many people really don’t know how they start the downswing and my question gets them to thinking about their own downswing which results in an immediate loss of their own fine swing.

Last summer I had a colonoscopy procedure. As I was laying butt up on an exam table wearing nothing but a hospital gown and comfortable shoes, affixed to a min-cam, surrounded by nurses all of which were presided over by Doctor John (a member of my Salt Lake Club and very good golfer and a first rate butt explorer), I turned to him in a drug induced state and groggily asked: “Doc, how do you start your downswing?” I don’t recall his answer.

I have read so many instructions manuals and articles and tried so many swings that I have truly forgotten what I used to do. My personal authentic swing is gone. My relationship with the Lovely Sharon has suffered as a result of my search for a golf swing. Sharon, as you know is a first rate player who does not overly contemplate her golf swing. Dozens of time she has heard me proclaim that I have figured out what I was doing wrong or that today I am going to try a new swing. It has gotten to the point that she brings an air sick bag along when we play together because she knows that I am going to talk about some new swing or tweak of an old swing and it will make her sick.

She has actually started hiding golf magazines from me. When we go to the book store, she steers me away from the golf book section to the section of how to make your marriage work books. She has threatened to have The Golf Channel removed from our cable TV. Some men hide their boozing or their trysts with other women from their incumbent spouses. I have resorted to hiding my attempts at new golf swings from the Lovely Sharon. I tell her I am going to the library or to afternoon mass and then sneak to the driving range.

I have tried the one plane swing, the two plane swing, stack and tilt, Don Traham’s lift the club up swing (the catcher’s mitt and the tree), natural golf, short back swing, long back swing, swing like a ferris wheel, don’t swing like a merry-go-round, swing somewhere between a ferris wheel and a merry-go-round, swing in a barrel, don’t break your wrists too early, break your wrists early, and so on.

Now when I take the club back and get to the top of the swing, I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I just leave the club at the top and go putt for awhile or get a cup of water and then come back later and pick up where I left the back swing (at the top) and try to move on from there. Two weeks ago in Palm Desert, I woke up around 2:00 am and started re-reading Hank Haney’s 1999 instruction book called something like “The Only Golf Lesson You Will Ever Need”. Hank, as you no doubt know, is Tiger Wood’s coach, Mark O’Meara’s coach and is now on The Golf Channel with “The Haney Project”. He is always ranked as the number one or number two golf teacher in the US alternating positions with Butch Harmon.

So at 2:00 am on that particular morning I was trying to discover what Hank instructs concerning the starting of the downswing. I had high hopes for golf enlightenment. Like the Dalai Lama, Hank would provide me with guidance, with enlightenment if you will, for a proper downswing. I was skimming the book to find advice on the downswing. Eureka, I came a across a page with several photo’s of pro golfer Mark O’Meara. The first photo had a caption that read:

“Mark starts his downswing with a lateral shift to the left.”

There it was the, answer. Succinct and simple.  Start the downswing with a lateral shift toward the intended target. I now knew the proper trigger for the downswing. Life felt sweet. I considered waking the Lovely Sharon up to share my new found knowledge, but wisely decided against it. Like a Mormon missionary, I wanted to put on a white shirt, dark trousers and a name tag, and spread the gospel of the downswing.

Since I now knew the proper trigger to the start the downswing, and since I was already awake, I might as well continue looking at this golfing bible of Prophet Hank Haney. So I looked at the next picture of Mark O’Meara. It was on the same page, and was directly adjacent to, the first picture that was now my holy grail of downswing knowledge. The caption under the second photo read:

“Mark starts his downswing by dropping his arms.”

What? How can that be? Two pictures side by side, two captions, two different triggers for the downswing? Hank what are you doing to me? I am so glad I did not wake the Lovely Sharon up to give her the good news. I felt panic set in. I started sweating. My heart was racing. In a maniacal manner I continued looking through “The Only Golf Instruction Book You Will Ever Need” . Twelve pages later I found a sentence that almost made me cry. It was more information from the erstwhile Dalai Lama about the downswing. Here Hank said:

“Of course you start the downswing from the ground up.”

Oh my. I have been betrayed by my golfing Lama. In one single golfing treatise Hank has advised me to the start the downswing with a lateral move, then he tells me to start by dropping my arms and finally I am instructed to start my downswing from the ground up. For heaven’s sake Hank, no wonder Tiger resorted to cavorting with dozens of women. You have so confused him that he has forgotten where he lives and who he is married to. In a state of total confusion he has wandered aimlessly from woman to woman trying to figure out how to start his downswing.

I need to look for another instruction book, another golf tips article, or another instruction show on the golf channel. My quest continues. I will leave the Lovely Sharon to her sleep of the innocent, but for me, I will continue on.

Now let me think again, “How do I start the downswing?”

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Masters

Master’s week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Typically, I watch the entire TV coverage of the Master’s and I have been doing this for many years. One of my personal goals has been to, at least once in my life, attend the Masters. I know a number of people who have had the good fortune of attending the tournament. When you watch the Master’s on television, you are overwhelmed by the beauty of the course. The emerald green grass, the trees, the flowers, and Rae’s Creek meandering through the property. After a little research I learned that Rae’s Creek was named after John Rae a former owner of the property who died in 1789.

After watching the tournament on TV for all of these years we all know the holes almost as well as we know the holes on our own golf courses. We know where the problems are.  We know where the pro’s absolutely cannot miss a shot. We know that the pin position of the par three 16th hole on Friday is short and right and if you are three feet left of the hole, the ball rolls some thirty feet down the hill. We know that on Sunday the pin on 16 is on the left side of the green and if you miss a little right the ball will trickle to the hole.

We know you can’t miss short on the par three 12th hole or the ball will roll into Rae’s Creek (except for Freddy Couples in 1992).

We know the chances for eagle on 13 and 15. In short, even for those like me who have never been there, we know this course. We love this course.

This year’s Thursday round was one of the most exciting Thursday rounds I can remember. Tom Watson and Freddy Couples on top of the leader board, it was like a time warp. Friday and Saturday rounds were equally exciting. Mickelson holing out on a par 4 for an eagle followed by another eagle and almost followed by a third eagle. However, I found Sunday’s round to be more than exciting, it was a thrilling roller coaster ride. Birdies, eagles, bogey’s double bogies. When Freddie put his tee ball in Rae’s Creek on number 12, I almost cried.

I was so glad that Mickelson won (after Freddie was out of it) but Phil made me crazy all day. On the par 5 second hole, the pine stamen fell out of the sky in the middle of his putt, the ball hit the stamen and  went offline. What is the chance of that happening? A million to one? I thought that was an omen that meant Phil would not win. He hit several drives into the middle of forests but yet salvaged par or birdie each time. In some of the forest spots Phil was in I was reminded of the book Baggar Vance.  If you recall, hero Rannulph Junuh hits a drive into the medieval forest and has a vision of prehistoric things and sounds and that results in an awakening of his true "authentic swing". He achieves enlightenment.

I am pretty certain Phil achieved enlightenment on number 13 yesterday. The TV camera angle was perfect. It was behind Phil in the trees, looking through the opening to a green 200 yards away surrounded by a creek. It was almost mystical, Phil was in the shadows looking out to a sunlit fairway and beyond that the green which was also in the shadows. His ball was at rest on a pile of pine needles. As he prepared to swing and go for the green, I was yelling at him “Don’t do it Phil, layup, don’t do it!” But he did it and he hit the perfect shot. It looked mystical,  and it felt mystical to me. I was watching by myself in Salt Lake and I actually jumped out of my chair when he pulled this shot off. When he was interviewed later, I was surprised he was so matter of fact about this shot. He said it was no big deal; he had a 3 or 4 foot opening. No big deal? A pile of pine needles, trees ahead of him and all around him, a creek and then an elevated green 200 yards away. I know the PGA Tour advertisement that says “These guys are good” but for heaven’s sake this was spectacular.

When Phil was on the 18th hole 3 shots clear of Lee Westwood, I still thought he would screw it up. When he hit his second shot to 10 feet I finally relaxed. It was over and Phil won his third green jacket.

When Phil hugged and kissed his wife (who as most of you know has been battling breast cancer for a year), I started crying with them. It “was” mystical and it was magical and its why those of us who love golf do indeed love golf. It’s a battle that can never be won. We might play up to our ability occasionally and above our ability on rare occasion, but we ultimately hit it in the trees, feed it to the fishes or miss that 18 inch putt. If the best in the world sometimes cannot hit the fairway when it counts, what chance do we have? None

More Interesting News

Here are a couple interesting news tidbits

Dead Passenger

Weekend At Bernie’s Revisited. April 6, 2010 Huffington Post - A 91-year-old German man has been refused entry to a flight in Liverpool's John Lennon Airport - because he was dead. The recently departed man was brought to the airport by two relatives on Saturday, sitting in a wheelchair and sporting a pair of sunglasses. Staff became suspicious when the man did not respond to questions by airport staff. His relatives, two women aged 41 and 66, were arrested. The couple was believed to be attempting to flout repatriation fees for the dead man. Bodies being repatriated by air are required to be contained inside hermetically-sealed zinc-lined coffins and require paperwork to travel in the hold.

The dead guy wearing sunglasses while he was dragged through the airport. Unbelievable. When we all watched the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s” it was funny but thought that would never happen. Well guess what, it did happen.

Stun Gun Dating

The Salt Lake Tribune - 04/10/2010 08:11:58 PM MDT.   Provo » A Brigham Young University student has been arrested on suspicion of using a stun gun on a woman and trying to handcuff her. Stetson Hallam was booked Thursday night into the Utah County jail on third-degree felony charges of aggravated assault and attempted kidnapping. The 20-year-old BYU sophomore is accused of pinning the 19-year-old woman to the ground and trying to handcuff her after incapacitating her with a stun gun Tuesday at an apartment complex where both live. Police say he had pursued the woman romantically, but she had no interest in him. They also say he was the woman's home teacher in their Mormon church ward.

When I was courting the Lovely Sharon, I took her to dinner, I bought her flowers, I spoke words of romance to her. Call me stupid but I never considered using a Stun Gun on her. Just think of the money and time I could have saved if I had just used the stun gun on her and then handcuffed her. These BYU dating techniques might be worth trying. Maybe I will try them next year on Valentine’s Day.

Mich. fugitive found in Pa. bar in hospital gown

Monday, March 22, 2010 (03-22) 12:34 PDT Pittsburgh (AP) --   A fugitive wanted for bank robbery in Michigan is in custody after police say he walked out of a Pittsburgh hospital and into a bar wearing only his hospital gown, with an intravenous needle still his arm. Authorities say police were called to JR's Bar Friday night after 20-year-old Elbert Lewis Thompson II walked in from Allegheny General Hospital. Thompson was taken into custody a short time later. Police in Vandergrift say Thompson had been detained by officers after fleeing a traffic stop there, about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. He was initially hospitalized after complaining of feeling sick and losing consciousness. Thompson is wanted in Oakland County, Michigan, for armed robbery and other charges. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

This sounds like a joke doesn't it?  " A man walks into a bar in a hospital gown..........."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Coffee Filters

I woke up at 4:17 a.m. I have a 7:30 a.m. phone conference with another lawyer in Salt Lake and some investment bankers in New York. Between now and then and I want to read the online news, read some email and documents related to the phone conference, write in this blog, and have a cup of coffee. Although, coffee is listed last in the list of tasks set forth above, in actuality, the first thing I want to do is make coffee so I can drink a cup while I do the other things. I walked into the kitchen put water in the black Cuisinart coffee maker and looked for the paper cone-shaped coffee filters. There weren’t any. We keep the coffee paraphernalia in a two shelf lazy-susan type of cupboard under the coffee pot. In this cupboard there is creamer, decaf coffee, regular coffee, travel coffee cups, sweetener and there are supposed to be filters. There are no filters. It is now 4:19 a.m. and there are no coffee filters in the coffee paraphernalia cupboard.

We have to have filters somewhere, but where? I look in the food pantry cupboard. I pull everything off the several shelves, guess what? No filters in there. I look in the drawer where we store baggies, garbage sacks etc. Surely there must be coffee filters in there. Oh contrar, there are no filters there. I then thought they must be in the storage pantry in the garage. I walk into the garage, open the pantry cupboard and I see all kinds of stuff in there but I don’t see coffee filters.

When we buy coffee filters at Costco, they come in 500 packs wrapped in clear plastic. You can’t miss them if they are on a shelf. If we buy the filters at a regular grocery store we buy the No. 4 cone-shaped Melitta filters in a green and red box. You know the brand. If you think cone shape coffee filters, you think of that green and red box. Those boxes hold a 100 filters. If you have a boxed stored, its distinctive green and red package is unmistakable. You see that box and you know what’s in it. I can find no green and red box of No.4 Melitta cone-shaped filters anywhere.

A scary thought comes to me, and I mean really scary. I need to wake up the Lovely Sharon (it’s now 4:30 a.m.), and ask her if we have any coffee filters. This is a highly risky thing to do. She does not like to get up early. She was at a birthday party last night attended only by women. Some 50 to 60 women were supposed to be there. Before the party I was told there might be some professional women golfers in attendance since the two birthday ladies were previously professional golfers. I was asleep when she arrived home so I did not hear the details of the party. It occurs to me that if I wake her up at 4:30 to ask if we have any coffee filters, the rest of the day will not go well. But I really would like to make me a cup of coffee. Yesterday’s filter is still in the coffee maker but it is still wet and filled with yesterday’s coffee grounds. There is no way I am gonna do a reuse. There have to be coffee filters somewhere in this house.

I am pacing around bare foot in a tee shirt and boxer shorts. They are nice boxer shorts. Sharon bought them for me for Halloween. They are black silk with ghosts and the words “Boo” printed all over them. Ok forget that, my shorts are not the issue here. The issue is the evasive coffee filters and my emotional dilemma of whether to wake the Lovely Sharon up or not. To be honest, I don’t know what to do. It might be safer to wake up a neighbor at 4:30 to see if they have any filters. But if I do that, I will have to put pants on. I really don’t want to put pants on at 4:30.

No I have three options, (i) wake up the Lovely Sharon, (ii) forget the coffee, or (iii) look one more time. If I go with alternative 1 what would be my strategy? I could tiptoe into the dark bedroom and nudge her awake. I have done this before and I must say, it usually does not go well if it’s before 7:30 a.m. She would not doubt ask “what?” in a sleepy but irritated voice. How would I respond? I guess I could say:

“Are you ok? You must have been having a bad dream? By the way do we have any coffee filters?”

If she was having a bad dream this could work. If she was not having a bad dream, I would be toast. I decide the “wake up” the Lovely Sharon alternative is in fact the worse alternative. I then consider not having coffee. This too is not an acceptable alternative. I decide to make one more search of the garage pantry.

I open the pantry door. I move stuff around, I look behind stuff. I see bottled water, chips, diet coke, crackers, and Fig Newtons. Hey wait, the Lovely Sharon is always hammering on me to eat better but yet I discover a hidden stash of Fig Newton cookies in the garage pantry behind a six pack of Perrier water. Maybe I “should” wake her up and discuss the Fig Newtons. What is she going to say?

“They are not mine. Someone must have broken into the garage and left them.”

I don’t think so, but I decide to let the Fig Newton issue alone and keep searching.

I see something. It’s not the Costco plastic package of filters nor is it the green and red Melitta box of filters. It’s an orange box of something. There are actually two identical orange boxes of something. The same size and shape as the Melitta box. I pick one up and read the label- Connaisseur # 4 cone coffee filters. There is a happy looking sun printed on the box. I know just how it feels. I now feel happy too.

I go back into the house and make the coffee. All things are right in Mudville. Now, on to reading the morning online news. Have a good day.