Saturday, December 08, 2007

37th birthday

For my 37th birthday, my buddy Jay gave me a golf practice net to replace my old raggedy one.

I gave myself the gift of a trip to the family physician for a good ol' check-up. Better safe than sorry some times, after all.

The golf pro also noted that abdominal weakness is one of the challenges I face in my golf swing. So I've programmed my Treo to nag me on weekends to work on that a bit.

I'm not one of those "couple of hours in the gym" kinda guys. But here lately I've been veering more toward the lazy end of the spectrum, so a bit of balance seems in order. Trekking is harder when you're out of shape.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

golf lesson update

This week's lesson was pretty upbeat. My daily practice has enabled us to continue moving forward.

We spent some time fine tuning my full swing, working on:

  • stable knee flex
  • rear end up into a more stable position
  • ending my backswing when my chin is touched by a certain spot on my left arm/shoulder

Then we moved on to putting for the first time. I gravitate toward a dragon claw grip, which he told me to keep, because it seemed to work just fine when we made a few changes:

  • ball position more forward in my stance
  • eyes not so far back from the ball
  • feet square inside the width of my shoulders instead of so wide

These are just the highlights, of course. We touch on a a variety of points in the lessons, but make it a point not to leave with me having to focus on "the 97 simple steps to ideal ball contact" or anything.

He told me to plan on bringing in at least a 3W & 5W next time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

golf lesson time

I love playing bad golf, but have decided to see if I can learn how to play somewhat *less bad* golf, and have taken a few lessons.

Just for giggles, here are a few highlights so far...

A teaching pro from one of the local (amazingly nice) courses has set up an indoor training facility with the full treatment of cameras, computers, & such.

In the first lesson, he had me work on three things:

  • grip change
  • mindfulness of where my hands are located when I stop my backswing
  • posing for the cover of Golf Digest in my finishing position

Since I surprised him by actually doing daily work on the three homework assignments, we moved on to a new list based on where my work had taken me. So for the next few weeks at least, my focus during practice is shifting to:

  • placing a penny, tee, or other small object between the bottom right pad of my left palm and the grip to see if my hands open up, allowing it to fall
  • keeping my arms in front of my chest instead of opening up at the end of the backswing
  • beginning my address position with a new wrist position, addressing something of a wrist cock that was breaking my posture from the outset

Other details come up during the lessons, and we give them varying amounts of attention. But so far much of this amounts to the two of us working on translating ideas into language and concepts that fit my brain well.

He noted pretty quickly that my day job as a programmer forcing me to think analytically all day contrasts with how I'm inclined to approach golf. Talk of clock positions and such don't seem to connect with me as well as body sensations, visual cues, etc.

When I first walked in the door a few weeks ago, he mentioned a six month time frame to make a change to someone's golf game in general terms. I'm coming at this process in terms of "oh, I think it would be nice to play golf better" instead of "fix my slice" or some other specific goal-directed approach.

I have no idea whether that makes his job easier, harder, or what. But so far we look at what I'm doing on the video/computer system, study it in various ways, and keep making tweaks. It's a fascinating process, really.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

first time flying my new HobbyZone Aerobird 3

A local guru took me out for my first introduction to RC flying this morning. He brought along his Aerobird Xtreme (big honkin' plane), and I had my smaller but still formidable Aerobird 3.

I experienced no crashes, no damage, and three successful landings! I snagged some of our morning outing with my Treo 650P's built-in camera, producing the following videos (and a few others):

A perfectly good take-off...

Any landing you can dodge successfully, right...?

Juggling the camera during a hand launch...

A quick pre-flight check...

Aerobird Xtreme (in yellow) and Aerobird 3 (in orange), ready for action...

Damage free after some fascinating newbie aeronautics...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

built a solar cooker today

This afternoon we built a funnel-style solar cooker from household stuff & plans found at

The notion didn't hit us until the afternoon, so the first test ("How hot can we get this water?") was pretty brief. Performance seems impressive so far.

We used:
  • a cardboard JVC I'Art 27" flat screen TV box
  • about 2/3 of an ancient bottle of Elmer's glue & a roughly equal amount of water (way more than we wound up using) spread on the cardboard with a basting brush
  • Bell 1-qt jar, spray painted glossy black (because we didn't have any flat black on hand)
  • Reynold's Wrap Heavy Duty aluminum foil
  • box cutter (aka "utility knife")
  • printed copy of instructions (because returning constantly to the web during construction is just impractical)

My brother-in-law is pretty enthused & wants to take a crack at something similar, and I can't blame him. These puppies will be handy for recreation & the next inevitable hurricane.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

PyCon all up in my veins

First off.... Yes, yes, I know I don't update blogs consistently. I haven't had a bunch to say on the "trekking" angle for a bit, what with Winter & all. But all that's a-changin'....

I drove off to PyCon 2007 in Dallas, TX (right down the road from where I was born a life time ago) and crashed at the Marriott Quorum to see what other Python junkies look like. (More attractive than average, I found to my complete surprise!)

I went with a simple plan:

  • I took no computers, no books, and nothing that could seriously distract me from the actual conference & general having of a good time.
  • I sought out volunteer opportunities, and did a few hours as a session chair Friday. This turned out to be a great idea, a chance to meet some really cool people and help them get through some public speaking without having to worry about anything but the presentation.
  • I gave away to random attendees these spiffy little credit card sized multitools with my name & a link to a website I'm putting up soon. People love multitools, and I love seeing the looks on people's faces when they get one gratis & unexpectedly.
  • I figure I at least briefly talked to a significant percentage of the people in attendance, if only to be friendly while in the elevator.
  • I also attended various talks & hit the jython BoF. I aim to try to help that project out any way I can, and tried to get a feel for the current state of things. By the looks of things, if nothing else, I can write documentation.

I made the trek in a rental Pontiac Grand Prix, arriving in Dallas after dark, which translated to an additional four hours of driving lost in a clusterf!ck that frankly John Crichton would've had trouble navigating.

By the time I arrived at the Springhill (because the Marriott bumped my roommates & me at the last minute, forcing us to crash in one hotel for the night & live out of the car for most of the next day in a limbo state of sorts), I swore that once I left, I'd never step foot in Dallas again.

Once I was at PyCon, I was over it in about 15 seconds. heh

One of the first talks was Visual Python in Computational Physics, presented by some students at the University of Dallas and their professor Dr. Richard P Olenick. This was, without question, one of the coolest things I've seen sober. Whoever hires these guys when they graduate is in for a treat.

In between conference rates & a couple of roommates, having a bed to sleep in turned out to be one of my more reasonable expenses during the trip. The roommates thing worked out pretty well, and as they'd bought new Macbooks (one the day before he arrived, and the other a full two days before), they were able to entertain themselves! ;)

As for my own entertainment, I talked, ate, and drank with lots of random people, and the local night life proved ample. Fortunately, an old friend from back in the day called me up to show me how the locals party Friday night, and my nose for food & conversation took care of the rest.

I recently found myself nailed to the floor by acute bronchitis, so my body wasn't all the way back in prime, which makes for a hard trek. In between that & the weather, my conference experience included no golf. :(

I've got more to blog about later, but all in good time....