I rode on the trainer Saturday morning, my wife by my side, huffing and puffing away, sweat splashing on the floor. It was a good ride – I’m farther along this year than I was last year at this time and I’m ready for spring – even if I’ll have to wait a month and a half for it to get here. Later in the day my wife, daughter and I played a couple of dice games, then we went to the furniture store and picked up Chinese from our favorite spot before we settled in to watch a movie.
Sunday, my wife and I rode the trainers again (it’s been incredibly cold) and had a nice day together. We played a few games of Qwixx and then settled in for the football game between KC & Cincinnati. Shortly after halftime I went outside to cook my chicken for the week’s lunches, then on to steaks for dinner. Our daughter was heading over to her boyfriend’s house and we headed to the bowling alley for an evening of great laughs and fellowship with friends.
And all of this on top of our experience Saturday afternoon/evening that I wrote about yesterday.
My friends, my life and the way I live it can be summed up very simply with one lesson I learned long ago in recovery. There is a straight line between me being happy and me drunk on a bar stool with the end result being me having given everything that is good in my life up, drunk and in the gutter. At some point along that line, I put glass to mouth and I’m lost. There is no space between that first drink and me drunk at the bar. Zero. That’s not where I lose, though. I actually choose to drink after I’ve lost the argument to the committee inside my head that thinks a drink would be a good idea. So that’s my point of no return, not losing the argument, though; having the argument in the first place.
I had to learn how to not allow the argument between the melon committee. And that’s how I win. At everything.
From my relationship with my wife and kids, to work, to play, to… everything. Though granted, I’m better at some things than others! The point is I can work that same concept with anything. On one side of the straight line is me, happy. On the other is me miserable. All I have to do is figure out where, along that line, I need to not let that one asshole in the melon committee who wants the cheap thrill to win and I can live a great, happy, peaceful and content life. That’s all I ever wanted when I quit drinking in the first place. Nothing grandiose, just good.
Recover hard, my friends. We only get one lap and we want to make it the best possible lap there is.
This might take a minute, but if you’ve lost a parent and you miss them like I miss my dad, this post will be worth the read. Grab a cup of coffee and sit with me for a few. I’ll do my best to make it worth your time.
My dad passed away January 21, 2014 from Alzheimer’s and wet brain, a double-whammy of dementia.
I miss him a lot more than I expected I would. I miss golfing with him. I miss taking him out to dinner. I miss the look on his face when we’d tear into a Big John’s Steak & Onion sandwich, the closest thing Michigan has to a Philadelphia Cheesesteak (henceforth referred to by its real name, the Philly cheesesteak). Most of all, I miss the pep-talks. He had a way of helping me through life with just the right amount of toughness and love… I thought I was ready for his passing, but with each year that goes by – I’m trying to put words to the emotion – I don’t miss him more, I remember the good stuff and our bond (as flawed as we could be) more intensely. I miss him, but in a good way. It’s not that I spend my days wallowing in the guilt I should have done something differently before he passed. I miss the things we did on a regular basis together, know what I mean? I love what time we had. We did good with it, as busy as I was.
With that background out of the way, here goes.
My wife and I purchased a mattress a few months ago. I offered to go to a medium for my wife’s benefit. I prefer a softer mattress, but she’s always said she likes a little firm for a mattress. Too firm causes me intense back pain, but I was willing to risk a compromise for her. My wife decided, in the last couple of weeks, that we should look into taking advantage of the 120-day swap-out policy that came with our purchase so we went to test the soft mattresses yesterday afternoon. The process of picking the right one out of three took more than an hour and a half. We left nothing to chance and spent ten to fifteen minutes on each, laying in our normal sleeping position. I was great with two of the three, but my wife liked one in particular, so the salesman started to work on the details of swapping ours for the new one, plus the price of upgrading to the next level up.
Where this gets interesting is we’d made a couple of missteps on the purchase (mainly purchasing the mattress online, but still giving our salesman credit for the sale) that made the swap nearly impossible. Our salesman took us to the store manager and assistant manager to see what could be done. He gave the information to the two managers and the assistant manager bowed out of the discussion to take care of other matters. Chris, the main guy, went to work on the issue and figured out how to work around the difficulties we created and we were just about to wrap up when my wife mentioned that we knew a couple of people who had worked with the furniture company that had previously owned the building we were in. Chris asked who, and before she could answer, I said, “my dad”.
He said, “Oh, who was your dad?”
I responded, with my dad’s full name.
Chris’s jaw dropped. “Your dad was my mentor on my first day in the furniture business. When I introduced myself, he said ‘I know who you are. I used to do business with your dad. I’ve known you since you were this high [puts his hand at the level of his knee]’.”
Now, you expect a line like that from a salesman, and Chris had clearly been a salesman before ascending to store manager – maybe he embellished the relationship, say he knew of my dad… but he jumped right in with details that only someone intimately familiar with my father would know. The type and color of sport coats he preferred, including a green jacket he’d wear during Masters Week (the golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia). “Oh, man, your dad loved golf!”
“He straightened me out on a drinking problem I had back then, too. He said he had a son who had major problems.”
That was me. I probably had between five and nine years clean and sober at the time Chris met my dad.
Then he went on to say, “And your dad would straighten me right up! One day I’d really tied one on the night before and I reached for the register and my hand was really shaking, so he reached into his pocket and pulled out a few dollars and said, ‘Go get a coffee [next door] and straighten yourself out. Don’t be a bum, capisce?’
Jesus, that was my dad to a tee! And the “capisce” (pronounced capeesh)? Not only had my dad mentored Chris, the two spent serious time together.
Chris, my wife and I spent another half-hour talking about my dad and the profound impact he had on our lives. My wife was patient and wonderful and I could feel my dad there, as if he had his hand on my shoulder. I felt a comfort I hadn’t felt in years.
Chris left us with Ron, our salesman, so we could work out the details of pick up and drop off of the old mattress and we worked our way over to the payment counter.
A short time later, Chris appeared behind the counter, a smile on his face and said, “The details are all worked out with corporate. You’re family to me, so I spoke with them and it’s all done. I’ve managed 13 stores in my career and I wouldn’t have been there without your dad.”
That was it. The tears were welling up. I couldn’t help it. I thanked Chris for talking with us and for bringing my dad back for a bit. With the paperwork done, we said our good-byes and went our separate ways.
If everything hadn’t turned out exactly as it had yesterday, I don’t know how God could have made that happen, but it would have been a lot harder…
My dad reached out and gave me a hug yesterday. And thank God. I needed it.
I was fired up to bowl last night. I woke up looking forward to knocking some pins down with my friends… I envisioned three big games and breaking last week’s funk.
And I completely blew it. The first game wasn’t horrible, just a bit below my average, but the next two were crap. Thankfully the team bailed me out and we still took five of seven points.
Toward the end of the last game when I couldn’t buy a strike, Noel asked if I wanted to stick around after and throw a few bonus games. I was more than enthusiastic about figuring out exactly what in God’s green earth I was doing wrong.
The first game was no better than the last two, but in the second game, as I was struggling to get the ball to the pocket, I got a little low as I set to take my first step, as I had for years and I thought, “no, you’re supposed to be more upright” and I stood a little taller… and then it hit me; “dance with the girl who brung ya”. I had the same issue with golf, always trying to change my swing to get the perfect angles and bend at the waist rather than swinging the way I’d always hammered the ball…
I went back to my old approach for the third game and cranked out four strikes in a row. I opened in the fifth, barely missing my spare, then two more strikes, an open and a 9-spare, and struck out in the tenth for a cool 221.
The lesson? Too many damned YouTube videos on bowling instead of just bowling and sticking with what I do well!
Now we start getting technical. In my last two posts I covered equipment and we started working on throwing a hook, why the hook is so important, release and targeting to take us from a 100 average to the 150s. Now it’s time to turn it up a notch.
The equipment stays the same, relatively speaking. A decent strike ball and a spare ball, though you can add a urethane ball (that hooks less), or something stronger, that really hooks. For now I’m leaning toward a resin reactive, the latter, at the moment. My Scorpion is great, but it’s really more for medium oil than heavy. I took my wife and daughter out last weekend to a bowling alley we’d never thrown at before and the lanes were a little drier than what I’m used to and my ball absolutely hooked up and was deadly good. Normally I stand four boards right of center (board 16 for righties, 24 for lefties) on Friday night and send it dead at board 7… and I can still bring it right into the pocket that far left. On the strange lanes I was standing with my right foot on 31 and aiming for 14 and I could miss a little left and bring it right back. It was quite fun throwing like a righty on the medium oil…
The point is, that’s how a ball is supposed to react. The lanes have more oil on Friday night so my ball doesn’t hook up like it should unless I slow the speed way down. A more aggressive ball would fix that issue. And that leads us into the main topic; improving from the 150s to the 180s.
Getting to a 180-ish average is a lot harder than going from a 100 to a 150 because there’s no room for error once you’re trying to hit the higher scores. Even though you’ve improved considerably, now you need strikes and spares because with open frames, you run out of game in a hurry. What we’re going to concentrate on for the next weeks into months is practice and dialing in our strike shot, but more important, picking up spares.
If you look at a lot of today’s bowlers, especially the two-handers, they’ve got one shot: super high-revs, big hook, and a powerful explosion of the pins… unless they miss high or a little low and they leave corner shots, which they can’t pick up because they throw too much hook to get a pin into the corner. The really good bowlers will flatten their hand and throw their strike ball straighter, across the alley but that’s the hard way, as I recently found out. I did that for years (and I wasn’t anywhere near “really good”, I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of buying a new ball). A plastic spare ball makes spares infinitely easier – and why do things the hard way when you don’t have to?!
This is why I bought a plastic spare ball that won’t hook much. After using it for two weeks and trying to getting accustomed to a ball that barely hooks, I can say it easily adds 16 to 20 pins to each game. Picking up a 7-pin (10-pin for righties) is almost automatic where I really had to concentrate and hit a perfect shot to get into the corner. If I pick up two spares that would normally be open because I didn’t make the perfect shot, I’m shooting on a spare instead of an open. There’s your extra pins.
So, practice is going to be the key to getting all of this dialed in over the next several weeks to where your shots are repetitive. Pick your lines and dial it in… and then switch up bowling alleys so you get used to switching up for varying conditions.
Most important, though is this: have fun.
The Lock Screen and Background photos on my computer are both shots of my Venge.
Normally, I don’t even think about it when I turn my machine on, but about this time every year I can’t help but long for the days of blasting down the road in my finest bibs on the Venge in my favorite red & black Affable Hammers jersey… man, I’m excited for the new season to start.
We’re into the dead of winter, now. It’s ugly and looking worse with morning temps 30 degrees below freezing (that’s -17 C for those speaking European [that’s a joke, of course]). It’s going to be a while before we’re looking at short sleeves, but March is on the horizon and we’ll be able to get outdoors to stretch the legs out pretty soon.
In the meantime, all I can do is go into the bike room and lift the Venge up to feel its featherweight awesomeness. It’s all ready to go, too. New bottom bracket bearings, headset that’s perfectly clean and lubed, new chain, new cassette, new chainrings, new rear derailleur… it’ll feel like a new bike on Venge Day 2022.
The beginning of the recovery process is tricky and fraught with difficulty in sticking around long enough to emerge from the din of addiction. After that, we have to make it through the haze, the fog, the mist, and finally the overcast before the clouds finally start to part. Being an impatient lot, the pull to escape is the battleground in our melon.
However, if we can work through that we’re rewarded for the effort. Shortly after the 9th Step is begun, we feel a peace we didn’t know was even attainable… and this after the 5th step that lifts the weight of addiction off our chest. We are finally free, and life is good. We find that sticking with it, one day at a time, has changed us completely.
Then we work with others and pass on what we’ve learned. And we find peace and contentment… and the whole point of the Twelfth Step: I’m not the same person I was when I started.
We change our focus from the self-centric to helping others. Once we get out of ourselves and find that we’re of good use to the world, well, the experience mustn’t be missed.
Then we practice the principles in everything we do… and we become good at that.
The clouds part and the sun shines down and we can bask in the glorious light. We find that life got immeasurably better while we weren’t watching. We realize we no longer need to “keep coming back”, we want it.
And life gets better. It gets so good we think it can’t possibly get any better… then we realize it does, all on its own.
We realize the miracle has happened and we don’t quite know what’s next but we look forward to it. When did it happen that I stopped dreading what would happen next? When was it I stopped worrying about the other shoe dropping? I can’t recall, but it happened… and I know why it happened! If a shoe drops, I know exactly what I will have to do:
I pick it up.
Recover hard, my friends. It does work if you work it, and for that I am grateful.
I almost ran a cyclist over this morning on the way to work. The Number One reason riding a bike on the wrong side of the road is stupid.
I have a 50 minute commute into work in the morning. Four miles on a surface street, 40 miles on expressways, then four more on surface streets to the office. It’s a little longer than I’d like, but I love where I live so I put up with losing two hours a day in commute time.
This morning I headed out like any other winter morning. It was 8 degrees out (-13 C) and we’d gotten a decent amount of snow the day before. The roads were almost cleared but not quite. I was on the road at 5:15 am.
My commute was boring as usual until that last four miles. I exited the expressway and took a longcut that avoids a train crossing because once Daylight Saving Time goes away, there’s a slow train that blocks my normal way in on Tuesdays and Thursdays… and Wednesdays and sometimes Fridays. It’s better to add a half-mile and use a road that has a natural bridge over the tracks.
Along that road I see a cyclist on the bike path every morning. This morning, however, he was riding his bike with a single solid headlight on the wrong side of the road – he was riding directly at me in my lane and because of the snow and slush on the road, he was well too far into the oncoming traffic lane. The headlight confused me and the perspective was all off… I couldn’t tell how fast he was approaching because he was heading right for my passenger side headlamp. There was no perspective.
I only caught that it was person on a bicycle heading toward me in my lane a few seconds before it would have been too late. I eased over into the oncoming lane to miss the idiot and all ended well, but if there’d been a car coming the other way preventing me from swerving out of the way, he’d have been a hood ornament – or he’d have shat his pants when I slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop and he’d have run into me. Either way, he loses.
Folks, I put eight to ten thousand miles a year on one of my several bicycles and I look out for us more than your average motorist by an order of magnitude… and I still damn near ended one of my brothers in wheels’ life because he was a nincompoop.
DON’T F***ING RIDE YOUR BIKE IN THE INCOMING LANE OF TRAFFIC. It is the opposite of “safer”.
Here endeth the public safety announcement.
I’m pretty sure I know what my last words will be. The only question is when they’ll be uttered, or “thought” if that’s all I have time for…
I’m looking at either, “Oops”, “Shit” or “Watch this”…
My life’s goal is to skid into my casket in a cloud of dust shouting, “Wow! What a ride! I don’t have anymore left. I’m out.”
I don’t know if it’ll work out that way but I do know this; when my number is punched I’ll be able to go out knowing I gave having a good, fun life everything I had. That will be good enough, and for that, I am grateful.
Recover hard, my friends. We only get one lap.
Article: Is Finding a New Normal In the Workplace Impossible? Are These People Living in a Bubble Somewhere? It’s Bad Enough I Feel Sorry for Them…
I started reading an article a few days ago that had me scraping my jaw off the table with a spatula. Behold:
We’re entering the third year of a global pandemic that’s brought unprecedented changes to work.
Despite many employers’ hopes, a full-time return to office-based work is looking highly unrealistic as the omicron variant pushes back return-to-office plans once again for millions of workers. And, given the way the current labour market shifted power to employees, pre-pandemic work structures are likely to become a relic.
Yet for all that seems certain, there is still so much we don’t know about how our working environment will evolve in 2022. This time last year, many people expected 2021 to bring a degree of stability, perhaps even the smooth rollout of hybrid work. The emergence of new variants of the virus blocked this – and may well continue to do so in the months ahead.https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20220104-future-of-work-2022?utm_source=pocket-newtab
Reporting like this makes me wonder exactly what the hell is going on out there in the east coast bubble (granted, this is a BBC article, but reporting out of either US coast is the same). We don’t live like that in flyover country. We’ve been back to the office, most of us at least, for more than a year – especially after the vaccines achieved widespread distribution. Hell, I went back to the office after just five weeks (May 2020), a full six months before the vaccines were even available to the elderly… I’d been back just shy of a year when I was finally eligible to get my first shot – just three days after my age group was approved.
“A full-time return to office-based work is looking highly unrealistic” they say? That article is less realistic as far as my experience goes. My second favorite is “pre-pandemic work structures are likely to become a relic”. This is entirely untrue, Don Quixote! If you’ve been living in the bubble that developed those gems, allow me to enlighten you to the report that will follow in the near future: “Unexpectedly, 75% of the country returned to normal two years ago; experts flummoxed, yet again and we’ve been missing out”.
Perhaps it’s as simple as reporters not spending time outside the bubble? Perhaps it’s the need to be in full-time panic mode that blinds the establishment (the “establishment” is short for “the political class, bureaucracy, and their cheerleaders in the left-wing press) from what’s really going on – and let’s be honest, this need to be in full-time panic mode is driven by “the establishment” and its desire to milk the pandemic for everything it’s worth. I don’t have the answer to why, even fully vaccinated and boosted, people are freaking out about the moronic variant. For those who actually, you know, follow science, omicron is the best news we’ve had since Project Warp Speed punched out a vaccine five times faster than Anthony Fauci said could be done.
And that brings us to the bow on top. I live in Realville, just outside of Normalton, USA. We’re more than halfway through bowling season and I bowl on two leagues… there are only a few people left who wear masks (and by a few, I mean that literally – three). Five people at a table that’s too small should we all decide to get a bite to eat at the same time. You know how many outbreaks there have been? Not a one. Not even a rumor of one. If someone is sick, they stay their sick ass at home. And guess what? Nobody gets sick! Interestingly, as well, you don’t see any of us normal folk walking up to the masked minority and saying, “Hey, we’re all in this together… why don’t you take that mask off now?” We just leave them be, even though science has shown they’re virtually worthless unless they’re N-95, KN-95 or barely better than worthless for the surgical variety. Cotton and fabric masks are finally being reported for what they are (and always were); facial decoration.
If you think a life of isolation and this doom and gloom is a necessity in the age of Covid, especially if you’re vaccinated (even better for you if you’re not and you’ve recovered from a previous case of Covid – you’re almost three times less likely than a vaccinated and boosted person to end up in a hospital if you catch it again)… look, if you’re that afraid you should continue your hermit’s existence. If you have any of the comorbidities that Covid takes advantage of, by all means stay hyper-vigilant; you have to be careful and do your thing to stay on the right side of the grass.
In the meantime, we normal folk are back to enjoying life again (or at least giving it our best through the din of the over-hyped panic). Join us. The water’s great.
It’s cold as a well diggers di… erm… hands outside. It’s cloudy, windy, crappy, sucky… and generally not nice.
But spring is just around the corner, baby! Let’s get fast today! Hit the trainer and bust out a record ride today. Let’s get it done, my friends!