Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Use a Woman’s Driver and Other Golf Tips

Why should you read about making golf easier from someone who's happy when he doesn't lose a sleeve of balls each round? Good question. I only offer that it's my dad's advice and not mine, thereby guaranteeing its validity; and that it's cheaper to read this blog than buy some gadget on the Golf Channel at 3 in the morning. You know you've thought about it.

I’ve been around golf for about 15 years, most of which were spent at the driving range with my dad, caddying for three years, and one summer stint as the Sports Authority "Golfmaster" in Paramus, NJ. I didn’t play on an actual course until I was in college and even that never amounted to more than 4 rounds per year.These days during the golf season, I will play 3 rounds each year (if you count the 9-hole Paint Branch course or the 18-hole par 3 Burke Lake course).

If that doesn’t do it, you and I both know that like any addicted golfer, you will read tons of articles and advice in Golf Digest, Golf Monthly, Golf Magazine, Maryland Golf Magazine, Golf Tips, Golf World, Golfweek, Links Magazine, Golf Illustrated, the Golfer, T & L Golf, and Pros and Hackers. There’s no need to read these rags if you follow my father’s simple tips on making a good swing. Do note that distance control takes a long time to master, but this should get you started.

Take an athletic stance and get ready, for what follows are golfing tips to live by…until you read another set of golf tips.

Feel free to skip the rest of this entry and just watch Tiger do his thing.

1. Don't get advice from someone worse than you, like this blogger. This can't be repeated often enough.

2. Keep your head down. Certainly nothing revolutionary, but it’s impossible to swing well if you move your head. Don’t worry about following your ball instantly off the tee. You have playing partners to follow your ball, plus, you should still be able to catch the ball’s flight after your follow-through. Get this…if you hit it straight, it should be easy to find. It’s what makes golf a good walk (unspoiled) no matter what Mark Twain wrote.

3. Swing your club like a pendulum, brining it back and then forward along the same path and to the same point from which you started (following through of course). When you’re at the driving range, try swinging the club and nicking the top of the golf tee on the downswing many times. This will reinforce by sight and sound where the clubhead should be each time.

Ben Hogan, owner of the best swing that golf has ever seen.

4. Don’t go overboard with the length of your back swing. The farther you bring the club back, the more that could and will go wrong with your downswing. Without getting into the golf academy talk of timing your shoulder turn with your hip turn, it’s easier to control your club with a shorter backswing. Try a 3/4 or even 1/2 swing. Hitting the ball straight is better than gaining a few extra yards and being in the rough.

5. Let the club do the work. Your swing should be fluid and easy. Muscling the ball by increasing your swing speed will only hurt the result. There’s a reason the longest hitters on the PGA Tour don’t require muscular builds to hit the ball 300 yards. Like a baseball pitcher, success is all in your mechanics. When you increase your swing speed, all of those mechanics are thrown out of sync, making your ball slice or hook.

Exhibit A for it's all about the mechanics and not about your body shape: John Daly.

6. Relax and let’em rip. When you’re getting ready to swing, remember to keep your head down and visualize the pendulum.

7. My own advice is to visit the driving range on a regular basis if you're starting your golf career because no advice or lessons will do you any good if you don’t regularly use them. I have never paid for golf lessons so I shouldn't speak about them, but I will. When I've overheard a golf pro's words of advice, it always seemed like too much information to think about for a golf swing.

Sad but true story: The woods in my first “real” set gave me trouble because they were (obviously) shorter and required a different swing than my irons. Ever the stubborn golfer, I figured the easiest thing would be to use a wood that was shorter and closer to the length of my long irons. To make a much too long blog entry short, I now use my SO’s graphite driver from her old set because I can swing it like my graphite irons. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.

8. When you feel comfortable enough that you’ll make contact over 90% of the time and get the ball in the air, no matter how far (nor straight within reason), play on a course as much as time and your bank account allow. The greatest lessons are on the course and having to play each ball where it lands and hit a variety of shots. At least play a par 3 course. Nobody there is a superstar and you’re not expected to play like one. Plus, it allows me to use my foot wedge several times.

9. See Step #1.

Good Luck!

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

I'm the Rocky Marciano of the Colesville Road/495 Off-ramp

My commute is filled with several road rage inducing merges and rude drivers, though to be fair, sometimes there's a driver with a hint of decency. Today's disjointed commute rant involves the poor signage for the outer loop of 495 on southbound Colesville Road/Route 29.

Only three signs alert drivers of the 495 exit.

Sign #1 states the exit is 9 miles away (it ends up being 8.6 but who's counting).

I have no qualms here. It gives a nice early warning that the Beltway is several miles away and that you're heading in the right direction.

Sign #2 states the exit is in a 1/4 mile.

This isn't enough notice. Another sign should appear at least a mile before the exit so inexperienced drivers know they should get to the right to prevent a cluster(-f) at the exit's ramp. There are many traffic lights through White Oak approaching Silver Spring and earlier signage would prevent last minute exit lane merges. Ah, who am I kidding? Even with the best signage, rude drivers will still try to cut over within 1/4 mile of the off-ramp.

Sign #3 marks the off-ramp to the outer loop of 495.

Some drivers wait until this sign to come to a complete stop in the right through lane on Route 29 and wait for a chance to cut over. You're not kidding anyone. 99% of the drivers at 7 in the morning know the exit's location and they should have gotten over earlier. It's these drivers that keep me playing GTA III when the mood strikes.

Let the record show that nobody has cut in front of me within 1/4 mile of the off-ramp. I'm the Rocky Marciano of the Colesville Road/Outer Loop of 495 off-ramp! Nobody will get in front of me, nobody. I shall always be undefeated.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Annual Passover Videos

This weekend, Members of the Tribe will be visiting friends and family to partake in the Passover Seder. Slowly becoming a tradition on my blog (because the first and last one was in 2006), here is this year's crop of Passover videos, now embedded for the lazy:

20 things to do with all of that leftover matzah.

A hilarious gangsta Passover rap...word.

The best Passover rap video about the plagues.

A weak Had Gadya race. My family plays by different rules...Baltimore rules - how many verses you can make it through on one breath, no need to repeat the chorus. Of course, my SO won it at her first Sedar in Jersey. I'm still bitter.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fool E-ZPass Once, Shame On It. Fool E-ZPass 633 Times, Shame On You

If only Frank Maier wasn't so greedy. If only he had gone through the E-ZPass system without paying 632 times and not 633, he would be sitting pretty. He is the top E-ZPass abuser in Delaware owing $4,748 in tolls and $30,000 in fees that were racked up from January 2005 through October 2007. Maier has nothing on NJ's top abuser Stephen Shells, coming in with 1,444 violations mostly from the Parkway. Shells is on the hook for $1,700 in tolls and $36,000 in fees...something the Dulles Toll Road needed to look into enforcing back in 2005.

E-ZPass works really well...that is when you finally reach the E-ZPass only lanes.

I've enjoyed E-ZPass from the start when I battle the I-95 corridor from Maryland to the NJ 'burbs just outside the City. It makes me feel sort of special when I pass those unlucky travelers who have to fork over cash at one of the many traffic-inducing tolls. Using E-ZPass also lets me forget that I pay $16.50 to go from MD to my parents' home at the end of the Turnpike, and $14.50 on the way back because I don't hand over cash during the drive. There is an alternate route to avoid most, if not all, I-95 tolls, but it'd add at least 35 minutes and 45 miles to the drive.

With the Popemobile (and I suppose the Pope) in town this week, allow me to use this space as a toll abusing confessional for a non-Catholic. I too have avoided paying a toll. During my undergrad days I tried figuring out what to do for a summer job. At my parents' coaxing, I drove down to the Jersey shore for a day of job hunting. What better place to be than the beach with disposable income for the summer? I never did find a job I liked because I didn't want to stir caramel all day long.

Where was this French toll basket when I needed it?

Anyway, at some point during the trip, I was getting off of the Parkway and didn' t have 35 cents in exact change to throw into the toll basket, but the only two lanes open were for "Exact Change." Seeing no other options including this one mentioned in the Times, I just drove right on through, half-expecting a swarm of cops to stop my car on the other side. For the next few weeks I waited to receive a letter about abusing the toll collection system, but nothing arrived (and still hasn't until this blog post perhaps?). The cost of printing and sending such a letter would cost more than the 35 cents anyway.

I have a long way to go I if want to become NJ's top E-ZPass offender. It's always good to rationalize.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Last Few Days To Get The Best Coca-Cola

Only a few days remain for you to get your hands on the best tasting Coca-Cola of the year! In order to be Kosher for Passover, the soda is made with pure cane sugar instead of corn syrup.

This blog explains the ingredient change in far better detail including this nugget and accompanying picture:
Every late March and early April, for the two to three weeks leading up to the celebration of the Jewish Passover holiday season in the United States, Coke fans living in major metropolitan areas with large Jewish populations get their Real Thing, if only for that brief fleeting period. According to Jewish law, nothing made with chametz (any of a number of proscribed cereals and grains, including corn) during passover may be consumed — so in order not to lose sales from observant Jews during that eight day period, a small number of Coca-Cola bottlers make a limited batch of the original Coke formulation, using refined sugar. Needless to say, stocks run out quickly and fans of Passover Coke have been known to travel many miles seeking out supermarkets with remaining caches.

The cap to a taste bud orgy.

For some reason the Howard County supermarkets I frequent do not offer any Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola. They have the usual sampling of Manischewitz food and Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda (the best ever!), but no 2-liter bottles with yellow caps. Leave it to my old Montgomery County neighborhood supermarkets around Bethesda (the KosherMart in Rockville always has tons available) to bail me out as I just purchased a few yellow-capped bottles of Coke to enjoy soda nirvana.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Don't Play This Guy In H.O.R.S.E.

Seriously, you have no chance of beating him. Sure the ball bounces a lot easier than a normal basketball, but these shots are impressive. I haven't even shot around in a few years so I'm not about to compare myself.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thanks for the Memories and "What Not"

For the last five years of my working adulthood, my commute has changed in length, time, and route. The only constant for the drive home has been listening to the "Radio Gods" Don and Mike Show on WJFK. Sadly, today is Don Geronimo's (aka Michael Sorce) final show as Mike O'Meara makes it his own on Monday. Before the whole FCC crackdown on language and content, this show was spot on (thanks chef Ramsey). Even after the extremist censoring and Don's wife passing away, Don and Mike were entertaining enough to make my drive home seem less annoying.

Two years ago I actually participated in one of their contests and of course failed. You were given a random topic and had to talk about it for 30 seconds without pausing. I took a chance and got through. After remaining on hold for a good 10 minutes, I was suddenly on air and told to talk about Riverdance. Immediately I talked about its surprising popularity. That idea lasted for maybe five seconds before I thought of extending my talk to other popular forms of dance. About 10 seconds in they hung up on me because I had paused too long trying to transition from line dancing to the macarena. For a moment we connected.

So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, goodbye,
I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye.

Now my drive home becomes less enjoyable when I get north of Route 198. It's at that point that I would switch to 105.7 for the show's simulcast as 106.7 becomes static. But I won't get to listen to Mike's new show because 105.7 now plays the Ed Norris show or Orioles games. No thanks. Plus, 105.7 won't even play the last hour of Don's final show today because of Orioles pregame. Just pathetic.

Back on point....I'll definitely miss Don and give Mike a fair chance on his own...that is until I'm north of 198.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sportstalk 980 Updater - Al Galdi - Is Annoying

I've talked about my dislike for almost all of Sportstalk 980 (WTEM) because it could be so much better, especially if the general manager started by removing the inane John Thompson. (Did you hear him talk over (and ruin) the play-by-play call of Mario Chalmers' 3-pointer in the championship game?) During my morning drive, I flip between the Junkies and Steve Czaban's show. It helps that I fit both demographics and tend to agree with a lot of Czaban's arguments. However, the second he goes to a sports update by Al Galdi, I change the radio before Galdi utters his first syllable because I can't stand his voice. If Bergenfield's resident coach John Minko did the updates, I wouldn't change the station.

I find it hard to describe Galdi's voice, which I suppose makes it unique and why he's on the radio. I'll give him that much. But it's its uniqueness that makes me want to drive into a Beltway median. The first thing I notice is that he sounds out of breath, only speaking for 3 seconds before breaking for air. His speaking never gets into a rhythm or cadence because of the frequent breath breaks. When he does speak, he sounds like a robot with a cold speaking through its metallic nose.

"I love Al's voice, but then again I am a robot," said Nintendo's Robotic Operating Buddy.

Just as my Carl Kassell post has become a sounding board for his dislikability (work with me) with 15 comments, this post serves to vent my general annoyance with Galdi. I would love to look, I mean listen, past his voice because he's a fellow Terp alum, but he is on the radio so all I have to judge him by is his voice. He does a fine job writing the sports update and I understand he has to talk about anything Redskins whenever possible, but maybe someone else could read what he wrote.
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New Layout...Do You Like?

You may notice a few changes around these parts now that I finally took the big leap into an easier to customize template. I kept the basic layout, but made the font darker and bolder. I also gave myself an original title picture at the top. Thanks to the programming folks at blogger, no longer will I have to do some heavy duty HTML work when I want to change something in the sidebar. Nowadays the blog looks best using Firefox.

Do you like? I sure do.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Cleanest Bathroom You'll Find

I arrive for work early. I mean really early. As in before sunrise if I get myself out of bed before 5:45. It lets me beat traffic on Route 29 and usually lets me deal with Beltway slowdowns before they become Beltway stoppages around Georgia Avenue. I'm one of the first people in my office and almost certainly the first male on the floor.

One of the perks is being the first male is I get to use the uber-sanitized men's room every morning. It is by far the cleanest bathroom I get to use during the day. Granted, the bathroom at home is clean and I know the only other user, but it's not bleached, chlorinated, and nuked with cleaning supplies every evening. Plus, the home bathroom's daily quality naturally goes down because of my presence.

I like Mr. Bean's bathroom layout in case of blockages. (YouTube clip)

The early morning men's room smells clean, looks clean, and feels clean (or was that too much information?). It's nice knowing I don't have to worry about bathroom disease horror stories to start the day. I don't take the low amount of germs for granted because I still follow good public bathroom sanitary safety, but the chance of getting sick is at its lowest each morning. Of course after 9 AM all bets are off. At least this bathroom doesn't put me in situations where I have to walk around with my pants down just to see what I'm doing.

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