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Daily Archives: December 2, 2013

My Columbia Omni-Tech jacket: Cheating Winter

My wife and I used to ski quite a bit, in fact I still have a our skis up in the attic awaiting the day when we can hit the slope once again – kids (and bicycles) have changed the equation.  When my last winter coat, a bright yellow American Eagle ski jacket that had lasted more than a decade, got on my wife’s last nerve, “we” decided to go shopping for a new one.  God bless my wife, she likes me dressed, well let’s say in a more businesslike manner.  I, on the other hand, prefer to be warm in the winter.  We ended up in the ski jacket section of the store and I settled on a Columbia Sportswear Omni-Tech Lhotse 3-in-1 jacket.  The shell is waterproof yet “breathable” and comes with zip up underarm vents and an adjustable powder skirt.  Truthfully, as far shells go, it’s like most very nice ski jackets.

columbia-sportswear-lhotse-omni-heat-mountain-parka-waterproof-3-in-1-for-menThe best part of the jacket is the inner liner…  Built with “Omni-Heat” technology, it’s a reflective, fluffy (almost feels like downed) layer that is supposed to reflect and retain body heat, the claim is that it offers 20% more warmth.  That last bit is from the website…  Now for the real-life practical what’s it really like story:  It’s like cheating winter.  The jacket is warmer with just a tee-shirt on than with a long sleeve shirt.  The reflective inner layer works.  Ah, the wonder of technology…and cash.

I lucked out though.  I picked mine up on the clearance rack because it was missing a button on the collar – I saved $50.  The beautiful thing is the button was stuck inside the flap of the jacket so I just pulled it out, pressed it back into the hole with a pair of extra-long needle nosed pliers and voila…  Good as new.

After all is said and done, if you’re a fan of winter but can’t stand being cold, I cannot recommend this jacket highly enough.  It is a perfect winter coat.

Giving My Best On The Little Things Matters…

I bowl on a league with a very dear friend of mine, his wife and the widow of another long-time friend.  We aren’t great bowlers but we’re pretty good for our league and we have a great time every other Sunday night.  We’ve been bowling together now, with only one change in the roster, for upwards of a decade now and the best we’ve ever mustered as a team was a second place finish last year but we’ve always finished in the top half of somewhere between 15 and 18 teams.

Two weeks ago was a pretty rough night for us.  We were fourth going into the night but were absolutely waxed by the 11th place team – they took 5 of 7 points (2 points per game and 1 point for totals).  We dropped all the way to seventh place.  This meant that last night’s game, if we want to realize our goal of another top five finish, was seriously important.

I showed up early and carried our team in the first game with a solid 225.  Even with less than average performances by two team members, we cruised to an easy victory.  My good fortune continued through much of the second game and the two others warmed up as well.  I started running into problems on that second game though – my back started aching.  This is quite normal after Thanksgiving weekend at the in-law’s house.  Their bed is simply too hard and my back can’t take more than three days (it’s worth it, just so you know – my in-laws are awesome).  Even with the sore back I managed to throw a 190 and we cruised to another easy win.  Things were looking good and we were virtually assured five points.

For the final game I really struggled.  My back hurt so bad that I became nauseous a couple of times.  I asked around, to no avail, for some Tylenol and in the end just had to suck it up and push through it.  In the second frame I started stretching my back, touching my toes from a seated position.  That helped a little but I still found it tough to throw a strike ball.  By the fifth frame I’d narrowed the source of my pain down to my hip (left side) so I began setting my left leg on an unused stool at the end of our table.  This helped a lot and by the seventh frame I started to find my groove again, though mainly threw spares (I’d had a tough time bending down to get into the proper arm slot and that messed with my follow-through).

The game was tight.  We traded leads back and forth and entering the tenth frame we were behind – and they were sitting on a mark or two more than we had.  I am the lead bowler on our team and my buddy Dale is the anchor so I wanted to start the last frame off right, to give us some momentum.  I was sitting on a strike from the ninth and I knew I needed to put up a good tenth for us to have a chance – the only question was whether to continue hedging the pain or to completely suck it up and bend over to hit the proper arm slot.  I opted for the latter.

My first ball was excruciating and my back cracked on the way down but I stuck with the shot.  My ball rolled directly over my mark and hit the pocket solid.  The pins exploded back – a perfect strike.  I’m sitting on a double.  I waited for my ball to return, trying to keep my weight straight up and down – less pain.  My counterpart on the other team left three pins up.  After his shot, I bent over with a wince to pick up my ball, got set and swallowed hard.  As I passed the tough spot on the way down again I concentrated on my mark – only on my mark.  I hit my slot again and about half-way down the lane my ball broke again, as it had for the first two games, right into the pocket.  The pins exploded again, with the messenger launching across the lane to pick up any stragglers.  A turkey, three in a row.  Looking back, I don’t even know what my counterpart did – I don’t know if he picked up his spare or not because what he did wasn’t important.  What was important, was what I did.  One last shot.  My ball returned…  I swallowed hard again and got set and focused in on my mark…  Just my mark.  I didn’t even feel the pain on this last one, dropped down into my slot and let the ball rotate off of my fingers as I lifted up hard for the follow-through.  The ball rolled right over my mark – I knew it was a strike before it was a quarter of the way down the lane.  The pins exploded and I was walking back to my seat before the last one went down.  As I reached my seat, my buddy Dale reached out with a high-five and said, “That was huge”…  Dale had a great tenth as well and we went on to win by something like 20 pins.

So, why go to such lengths for something as petty as a fun bowling league (it’s not even sanctioned)?

I give it my best until I’ve got nothing left on the little things because when the big things roll around, giving my best is simply natural.  It becomes what I do, it’s as simple as that.

Ten years from now when I’m going through a tough time with something like work, will I look back on that day at the bowling ally for inspiration?  Of course not, but that night will matter nonetheless.  When I’m sitting between a rock and a hard place I’ll dig deep and give it everything I’ve got because that’s just what I do.  Every little triumph over that sissy inside me who always wants to give up matters at some point later on down the road.