Tuesday, April 22, 2008
You would think that a traditional sport like golf would be more sedate, more civilized, and it is to some degree, except for the bloodlust for gizmos. What I mean by golf gizmos are the endless training devices, DVD's, GPS locators, clubs, big-head drivers, exercise videos, swing analysis, golf balls and more. It's a river of stuff that really is a service to the addict, the golf addict, who believes his or her game is just one gizmo from playing stratch golf, or at least to break 90. It's truly an amazing industry that caters to the golfer who is desperate to play the game they can't play. It's almost cruel the way these golfers are preyed upon by these marketing guys who know what button to push to sell tons of these lousy golf training devices. The truth is, almost none of this stuff really works or it only works for a short time, that is until the bad habits creep back into the game. Do people really improve their golf score over the long run by using all these new-fangled gimmicks? I don't think anyone knows because like snake-oil salesman of old, the guys who market this stuff get the money and then leave town before anyone has figured it out. I watch the golf channel sometimes and I find this infomercial laden broadcast amazing with new products to improve scores every week. It's just not possible, but it doesn't matter, because desperate people are willing to do almost anything to lower that score. I've never seen a sport with so much to buy, but that must be because the older people who truly have the money, play golf a lot, and poorly I might add. I don't fall for this, I'm a bad golfer and I know it, and I know there's nothing I can do to change it overnight with some gizmo.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
A year ago, during a very windy day, something blew into our backyard and was caught in the fence. It was like some kind of inflatable round thing from what I could see. In reality, it was a portable baby shade, like you might put a baby in for some time at the beach. Since we don't have a baby, it was useless and I was hoping that someone that it belonged to, might grab it and take it back. Much to my chagrin, a month went by and it remained in a conspicuous place near the fence. It got to a point where some of the neighbor kids began to play with it and found any number of unintended uses for it. I got tired of looking at it, but there it became a part of our backyard. I never paid any attention to it through Summer, into Fall and right through Winter. I was going to throw it away, but the kids convinced me not to. It had a life of it's own, this round baby shade blowing around the back yard looking for it's rightful home. Some good fortune came my way about a week ago as gust of up to 40 miles an hour lifted this thing out of my backyard and onto the street. Imagine the joy I felt as I saw this baby thing blowing downhill, down my street, and was gone in a couple minutes. I finally was rid of something that had no use, but no one had the guts to throw it away. So a stiff wind carried it away to bless someone else for a time. I would guess that some new kids have adopted it as some sort of plaything, or even better, a baby is being shaded by it instead. It's great to let nature take care of some pesky junk, freely, quickly and without guilt.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I was giving the dogs a treat, like I do everyday, and it was one shaped like a bone. Then I stopped to think, are the dogs fooled by these shapes or is it simply a matter of smell to them. After all, dogs are very sensitive in the sense of smell, so why would they be taken in by a phony shape? These dog treats are typical and pervasive throughout the pet stores of America, these various bones shaped treats, some like t-bone steaks, others like bacon strips, maybe sometimes a cat if it's really different. And after much ridiculous thought on this, I've concluded that dogs have no idea of what something is shaped like. It's like that old Far Side cartoon where the dog owner is talking to the dog and all the dog hears is blah, blah, blah, Sparky, blah, blah, blah. They only hear their name, everything else is ignored except for what our voices are saying without words. I think it's the same with the shapes we create for dog food and treats, they have no idea. So why do we make things like this? Why not makes them into round blobs? Why do we bother making something that makes no sense to an animal? And unfortunately, I have no conclusive answer for this. As opinionated as I am, I haven't any idea why we feel the need to make something look like what a dog would want for real. It must be for the owner then, creating something that we feel better about feeding the pooch. We must feel better about giving a dog phony bacon, fake steak, or a formed bone mock-up instead of a round blob treat. As a multiple dog owner, I find the relationship between man and dog a strange give and take relationship, and I don't understand it completely as we're not on the same page in language, food or really anything, but yet it still works! Hmmmm...
Monday, April 14, 2008
I was watching The Masters golf tournament, but only the final round. As the shadows were getting long and the tournament was coming to a close, I thought about the difficulty of golf. These really are the best players in the world and even they have a lot of trouble with the game at times. It's interesting to see the way a game can go south even for this high caliber play. As frustrating as the game of golf can be, it's got to even be more so for those who play everyday. It obviously drives them to try even harder and that's always been the nature of the game, it seems to draw people forward if they take it seriously. The course looked so beautiful and green, and how fun it might be to be there someday on a Sunday watching the exciting conclusion. I'm such a hack golfer but it sometimes makes me feel just a little better when I see the best, the practiced, the pro, stumble down the fairway like I do. In that sense, I know the game is truly the master as no player can ever be. It puts everyone to the test with all the variables in both conditions and ourselves. That's probably why people are drawn to golf because the reward can be so great and yet the defeat can be so frustrating.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
It's one of those sad aspects of life, that we all grow older and eventually pass on. Very recently, my Grandmother passed away and I wasn't sure I would even talk about it here as I try to keep things lighter, a little more fun. But I must say something about what a wonderful person she was. On Sunday mornings like this, church was the order of the day and I'm sure it was the high spot of her week. It was there that she lived and in some ways still does I'm sure. She wasn't one of those seat warmers at church, she really believed. That belief guided her and my grandfather throughout their lives. Like all of us, they were not perfect, but the goal of life for them was to be more like Jesus everyday, and they really lived it. They didn't just talk about it, they really lived it. How refreshing is that in today's world? You would have loved to have them as neighbors and friends, people you could always count on. My Grandma was so kind to us children, my sister and my cousins that we would all say that she was a role . That ing extended to my dad and my aunt who are some of the finest people you could know. They also took care of many foster children during their life understanding that there were people who needed help, and opened their home like few do. Some of my memories are staying at my grandparents house in Snohomish, Washington and seeing my smiling grandma and grandpa coming out to meet us. They always set me up in a small room where I slept on a mattress and it was kind of my special place. I remember how she made jam and cooked for us guests, which had to be tiring! But she never complained, she was always willing to pitch in. Her kitchen and home were lovely and the smell of baked goodies permeated the air. The yard, the tire swing, the cherry trees and the slugs were a source of interest to me as a boy and my grandma explained those things to me too. I loved my Grandma Bolduan even though we lived far away, she always had a kind word for people and malice toward none. I will miss her and the world is certainly poorer in her abscence. But as she believed, a better place after life was coming in which she now enjoys some wonderful rewards which she certainly deserves as a faithful servant here. So it's not all sad, a wonderful life that was lived as life should be is what's left, a legacy that will have influence for decades to come.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Even though we are technically in spring here in Minnesota, the weather is not cooperating. Over the last couple of days we've seen snow like you do at the beginning of winter, a slushy mix but thick enough to remain on the ground. Here it is mid-April, and we still have the look of winter. I'm sure the animals are a little confused as well, the birds are making a lot of noise like they don't know what's going on. In Minnesota, the possibility of snow remains until early June, we have had some snow that late. Of course, that's a freak occurance, but it still punctuates the wild swings of climate that we have here near Canada. In fact, the problem is those Canadian blasts of cold air that collides with the warmer fronts from the south. And it would seem that this year, the pattern of weather makes this all the more possible. I like the change of seasons here, but every once in a while we get an extended winter either early or late making it seem like it's almost 6 months long. So there, I've complained about the weather in Minnesota. I talked to a customer yesterday who lives in Jacksonville, Florida and he brought up all the good reasons not to put up with the weather we have here. He was right, a person could live anywhere, but life's roots are sometimes deep where you live, and like the frozen ground, it keeps you planted in places where the weather is sometimes less than desirable.
Friday, April 11, 2008
I'm not a fan of our local TV news these days, with the lack of any hard news and the constant babble and goofball surveys, it makes it hard to watch. I started to think about what it was like, what I could compare it to, but I kept coming up empty, until I thought about a medieval court. It really isn't that much different in many ways. First of all, you had the anchor people which are usually a man and woman, this would be the king and queen. And like the kings and queens of old, they would be dispensing the way things were, regardless of the facts. Sometimes having a political angle, today's teleprompter readers have a script, not unlike what the Queen of England gets from the Prime Minister these days, the same thing, it's provided for her. They really are nothing but figureheads, no real analysis goes on, like inbred familial despots. The next important part of the newscast would be the weatherguy, and he corresponds to the court jester. He's a fool who has no idea what's going on with the weather, but makes witty banter with the king and queen. Along with that, he knows he's always the first to go in a crisis, after all, who needs the village idiot when times are really tough? He's funny, he's dopey, and has a bunch of meteorlogical education, but is poor at actually getting it right. The sports part of TV news would be like the guy who covers jousting, feats of strength and so on. His opinions are largely ignored, but he can't lie about the reality of what happened on the field. Last, but not least, is you and me, the viewer. We are the serfs, the great unwashed who are supposedly too stupid to figure it all out by ourselves. They think the way they spoon feed the news is all we can handle. That's why I think many serfs like me rebel and get news solely from the Internet. And why not? It gives you what you need to know when you need it, and you then can make your own opinions instead of getting them stuffed down your throat. In fact, one local newscast refers to their web site so often that I just figure I should just go online and forget the TV broadcast. It's a technological dark age when it comes to TV news, just dismal.
Monday, April 07, 2008
One of the artists that has explored life's journey and then turned it into a musical idea is Van Morrison. He's one of the people that lets his life experience bleed into how he writes music. I've heard many of his songs and the thing that comes through is an honest estimation of life and the human condition. There really isn't a particular angle or something he's trying to sell, it's a sometimes stark look at life in some great music. I'm not really talking about the really early works, those were mostly a pop music thing, I'm talking about the recordings in the late 70's up to today. I love the way he speaks in such greatly crafted tunes with that voice that one would not immediately say was beautifully lyrical. But the beauty of Van's music comes through with telling a story, a condition in a way that becomes something easy to sing along with. Two of my favorite recording's are Into The Music and Moondance, how predictable! It's not like I listen to it all the time, but Van Morrison really speaks to life and doesn't seem to care if it's commercially acceptable. He has something to say, and he's going to say it regardless of whether it sells a ton. Now maybe that's because like some artists who have made a lot of money can relax and really think about life and music. I'm glad some are as thoughtful as this, which is one of those functions of music, to express an emotion, a thought and something about the common experiences we all have in life. In a day where everything is in your face, so harsh, it's nice to be able to hear a thankful voice that causes us to think more deeply too.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Well, it finally happened, Spring arrived late here in Minnesota and everyone started the fair weather cram. What I mean is, we here in the northern US take to the 60+ degree weather as a signal that summer has begun and it's time to make up for hibernation. Immediately today, people were riding bikes, taking walks, conversing with neighbors, and kids were playing like the end of last summer. It was like turning on a light switch, and that switch is going to stay on until the first snowfall again. I personally went bike riding although there isn't much to see out there except for dead fields of brown and gray. April must be the ugliest month in Minnesota where there is no green and a general lack of color paints it's own bleak picture. But I must say that as I was riding along, I muttered to myself how beautiful it all was. I must have such low expectations after an especially long winter, that almost any landscape devoid of snow would at this point be beautiful. I didn't see any wildlife today except for a few birds that have been very noisy every morning like they should be. The sun is now suddenly high in the sky and the evenings are stretching out later and later. It good to see the change of season, as it is so pronounced here with such extremes, but this transition to Spring has to be the best.