Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Fear

One of my coworkers recently wrote a blog post in which he talked about a concept called "The Fear" and how it manifests itself with regards to his writing. This paragraph really grabbed my attention:

He (Hunter S. Thompson) often wrote about something he called “The Fear” which became nearly its own character in his work on many occasions. Masked as paranoia from substance abuse, “The Fear” seems to be much more than that. It is a crippling condition, for a writer especially. What happens to us when we can’t write? How many of us worry that, no matter how hard we work, we won’t “make it?” This effect is compounded especially by those who believe in us. Failure means we let them down as well.

This got me thinking about The Fear in my life. It has only taken me about 27 years of life to come to the realization that I would ultimately like to work in the golf industry, but I am not sure in what capacity.

To give you an idea of the internal monologue that I take part in almost daily, I'm going to borrow a portion of my coworkers blog post (hey, imitation is the finest form of flattery, right?).

What do you want to be when your wife finishes law school? A golfer. But how will you make money? I want to own a small business in the golf industry. Tell me more. I want to have a club-making business. Isn't that a niche market? How many people buy custom fitted/built clubs? I'm pretty sure, not many. But what if I was a traveling club builder and traveled to the golfers instead of them coming to me? Is that a feasible business plan? Probably not. I've found very few in my online research. You could be a golf pro/teacher. Sure, that is a possiblility, but to be certified I'd have to go back to school, and the only program of the sort in Colorado (where the wife and I would like to live after law school) is in Colorado Springs and is a 5 year masters program. Plus, there is the hurdle of getting my handicap low enough to even get into the program. And do we want to saddle ourselves with more student loan debt? Why not work for one of the big chains, like Dick's Sporting Goods or Golfsmith? Maybe, but will it fulfill my inner desires? It would get your foot in the door of the industry? Mmm, okay, that sounds like a good compromise. But I'd probably start out at about minimum wage, as a 30-year-old, while my wife kickstarts her law career. Do I really want to restart our lives like this? You could work at a golf course. Sure, but I don't have any real training for that. I'm not very mechanically minded and have no knowledge of the inner workings of golf course management, so I doubt I could be a part of the grounds crew. How about working in the pro-shop? But I'm not a pro, so I'd probably have to go the school route for this one, and the pay would be similar to working at a large sporting goods company, with an equally large portion of the public vying for very few openings. You could always play the lottery, win a huge jackpot, and buy your own course. EUREKA!!!!

So, my options pretty much boil down to three categories: go back to school for 5 years, rack up more debt, and hope for the best; start at the bottom of the food chain with a large sporting goods company and try to climb the corporate ladder; and/or start my own small business that has a statistical probability of failure. And the wild card option would be the lottery route.

So.........the score is currently "The Fear": 1, Eric: 0.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

When the government protects us from ourselves...


Case in point, a story from the UK Times, titled "Social workers out to scupper 13-year-old girl’s round-world voyage"

Mike Perham sailed into the record books yesterday as the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly but his entry is under threat from a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Laura Dekker, who wants to make her own round-the-world voyage. Today she will find out whether the Dutch courts will let her do it.
Laura’s parents have agreed to her plans, but the Dutch Council for Child Protection is so concerned about the potential dangers of the trip that it has asked Utrecht District Court to grant it temporary custody of her so that it can keep her on dry land.

WHAT DID I JUST READ!?!?!?!? They want to have custody of the child because her parents are allowing her to pursue her dream of sailing around the world? Are you kidding me? From all accounts that I have read, there are no accusations of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect.

So on what grounds do they have to seek custody? I did a Google search on the "Dutch Council for Child Protection" and found the Youth Policy in the Netherlands website where I found this tidbit of information:
Child abuse in the Netherlands is approached primarily as a family, medical or psychosocial problem. Criminal law only appears in the case of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse. The provisions of the Dutch Criminal Code are tailored to these forms of child abuse. Unless deliberate harm to health can be demonstrated, legislation provides no opportunities to prosecute parents who have neglected or psychologically abused their child.
So, the government officials are now able to predict the future. They are basing their request on the POSSIBILITY of harm occurring to Laura on her voyage.

The Council for Child Protection fears that her plans could be linked to a need to impress or win praise from her relatives. “Laura has divorced parents and it is very normal for a child of this age to be very local to the parent [he or she] was living with,” said Richard Bakker, a spokesman. “How much does she identify herself with her father, who is a good sailor?”

So, parental rights should now able to be overridden by the FEARS of what COULD occur in the future? What kind of precedent does that set for the Netherlands? Will a parent lose custody of their child because they drive a car that could possibly crash, thereby injuring their child? What if they feed their child junk food too often? What if their child is obese? What if, what if, what if?
This is a perfect example of how government mission creep always leads to the trampling of the rights of the citizenry. Once everything is abusive, nothing is abusive.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Omaha Metro Championship-- Day 2

Day two of the Omaha Metro Golf Championship started much the same as day one---a two hour rain delay. Which is good for me, as I am not a good morning golfer. I used the extra two hours to go grab a breakfast sandwich at Burger King and to find my swing.

I got to the first tee at 9:10 am and met my playing partners for the day, Cliff and Rob. I felt as though my swing was in tune, so I took out the driver and put it down the left hand side of the fairway. I topped my approach shot, which left me about 110 yards to the pin. I caught my third shot square and over shot the green. As I went looking for my ball, I realized that OB was only about 5 paces off the back of the green. I made my way back up the fairway, dropped my ball, put shot number 5 on the green and, in my frustration, three putted for a dreaded 8. (2 strokes lost -- penalty + distance, 1 extra putt =3)

Luckily, I was able to clear my mind of the amazingly poor quadruple bogey on the first hole and was able to strike a good drive down the right side of the fairway rough. I had about 210 into the par 5 green, so I put my second shot in front of the green, chipped on, and two putted for a par.

On hole number 3, I put my 5-wood in the fairway, and landed my approach onto the green. But, the pin was tucked in the back of the green and I three putted for a bogey 5. (1 extra putt)

The fourth hole was a 160 yard par 3. I missed the green on my tee shot, chipped on, and two putted for a bogey 4.

I was unable to play the par 4 fifth hole as well as the day before, where I scored a birdie, and took a bogey 5 after missing the green on my approach, chipping on, and 2 putting.

I did however clean up my front nine with four consecutive pars on holes 6, 7, 8, and 9, which gave me a total of 43.

My back nine was much less eventful as the front, with scores of bogey on holes 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17 and 18. I took a par on the par 3 14th and a double bogey on the par 5 16th, for a total of 45.

I carded a total of 88, which was about 4-6 strokes over what I could have potentially scored had I not had the out of bounds penalty on the first hole and had I not three putted two of the holes. I did, however, limit myself to one blowup this round and I had the personally impressive four hole stretch of pars.

After the round, I was proud of myself for improving my score by 6 strokes from the previous round and I would later find out that I was one of the few players in my flight to improve their score on the second day.

I hung around the clubhouse as the rest of my flight trickled in and was pleased to discover that I had tied for day money ($65), which, when combined with the skin from the previous day ($50), was enough money to win back my entry fee.

I was, however, unhappy with the way the tourney was structured, when I discovered that at least 4 of the players in my flight had handicaps under 10.0 and that had I played to my full potential, the best I could have placed in my flight was 5th. There were over 20 strokes difference between my score and the winner of my flight. Had the bottom three flights been structured similarly to the top two flights, with the flights being determined by the scores from the first day, I would have placed 2nd in my flight, with the top 4 players in my flight coming in as the 8-16th place finishers in the third flight. It is a little late to worry about it now, but it is something I may suggest to the tournament organizers for next year.

All in all, I felt very pleased with my performance that weekend. I struck the ball quite well. I also learned that my short game is in need of some practice, but considering how often I play and practice, I was able to hold my own. I ended the tournament in 10th place in my flight (out of 24 players) and in about 100th place out of the 156 competitors in the tournament. I'm not sure if I will play in the tournament next year, but I am sure glad that I got the opportunity to do so this year.

Random thoughts

The further we get from the 80s, the more I love the music.

I will probably never be able to enjoy a movie on anything less than a 90" screen now that we have our movie room.

I have not idea how people ever enjoyed a movie before IMDB was at their finger tips to help figure out from where we know random characters.

I love my new 56 & 60 degree wedges that my wife gave me for my birthday.

Can't wait to go to Estes Park over Labor Day weekend and hang with my family (but don't tell my mom or dad, it is a surprise for their anniversary).

My current favorites:
TV comedy--Psych
TV drama/action-- Generation Kill
Podcast-- The Dan Patrick Show
Movie-- I Love You, Man
Blog-- The Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan
Song-- "You Make My Dreams" by Hall&Oates
Band-- Chickenfoot

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Every day, while our receptionist is taking her lunch break I answer the phones at the front desk. It is a very simple task, which allows me ample time to read the news of the day. I usually prefer to read the news on MSNBC because I like the way their front page is set up. I also like to read their news stories and have an internal debate with their liberal bias in my mind.

Today, I read two stories that highlighted one of my biggest beefs with "big government". I despise big government and one of the main reasons is that when government gets involved in the lives of its citizens, its citizens start to get develop a sense of entitlement.

Exhibit A is a story titled "In the red, U.S. school districts cut yellow buses", which at face value seems relatively harmless. But, within the article I found this gem:

As a mother of two, Feleccia Moore-Davis is accustomed to the usual back-to-school swirl of new supplies, new clothes and new routines. But this year, that final flurry of summer is accompanied by an unusual worry.
Moore-Davis does not yet know how her children will get to school.
Last month, the financially pressed Houston-area school district her two daughters attend decided to end bus service for students living within two miles of schools. Now Moore-Davis is contemplating the bustling intersections and streets without sidewalks the girls would have to navigate if they walked to school, and wondering whether her own work schedule can be reconfigured for drop-offs and pickups.  
(emphasis mine)

The story continues on about the problem many schools are facing with budget shortfalls causing school administrators to find ways to save money. And one way that many are choosing is eliminating the busing of children who, in this example, live within two miles of school.

Maybe I'm jaded, having grown up in a small town, where walking to school was no big deal, but I find it unbelievable that this parent feels entitled to have someone else be responsible for getting her children to and from school. Government involvement in education is so entrenched in the American psyche, that it is such an inconvenience to this parent for the school to suggest that she figure out a way to get her kids to and from school, even though they live less than two miles away from the school.

Would she be less concerned if the school were to eliminate a teaching position or two to save money? What if they decided to not buy new library books, or update the computers in the computer lab or library? From where would the savings come if she were in charge? My libertarian mind would argue that spending any money on transportation is ridiculous.

If the education of her children was so important, she wouldn't bat an eye, but would instead buckle down and figure out a way to get her kids to school, no matter what. She would sacrifice. She would come up with a solution, whether it is a community car pool, or switching shifts at work, or asking a neighbor or relative to help. But no, she will just complain. She will be the squeaky wheel and hope that the "what about the children, won't anyone please think about the children" plea will get a politician to throw more money at the problem.

The second story that caused me to feel sad was a story about a group of people in Wyoming who have banded together to stop a property owner to develop his land into a wind farm, because it will ruin their view. Their "not in my backyard" mentality is based upon their feeling that they are entitled to an unblemished view of their surroundings.

Kenneth G. Lay, a founder of the group, said its members aren't opposed to industrial scale wind development in places such as Wyoming's eastern plains, where landowners are actively marketing their land to wind developers. But the group doesn't want a big wind farm in an area it describes as "scenic, multiple-use landscapes."

You know what I would tell ol' Kenneth? Tough shit. If you don't want anything blocking your "scenic, multiple-use landscapes", then buy the property. And who gets to decide that one of the "multiple-uses" of the landscape isn't to harness the wind? Not the owner of the property. No, that would give the owner too much freedom. And we can't have that.

The problem with Kenneth and his group, is that if they don't get their way, I'm certain they will attmept to use the strong arm of government to impose their wishes, because as the article informs us, "We think there needs to be a responsible siting process that is going to balance a lot of interests that everybody has," said Lay, who spends his time on his ranch neighboring Grant's while not working in Washington, D.C., as treasurer of the World Bank, so I'm sure he has some D.C. connections to help him out.

I'm not an anarchist. I believe that the government has legitimate roles in our lives. But it is a fine line between having a role and running our lives. And when a majority of our citizenry feels entitled to having the government solve every little problem that faces them, then we no longer are living in a free society.

Government involvement in our lives has made our society and our citizenry soft. It causes us to lose the rugged independent streak that made this country great. It allows us to pass the buck, to let someone else figure it out. To throw piles of money at the problem. Or, if that doesn't work, get the government to "fix" the problem by stomping on someone else's rights to pacify your entitlements.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Omaha Metro Golf Championship--Day 1

This is a breakdown of my two rounds during the Omaha Metro Golf Championship. I will breakdown my successes and failures on the course for the two days, and in doing so, hope to learn more about myself and my golf game.
During the two weeks leading up to the tournament, I went to the driving range about a dozen times. At the range, I was able to hone in my ball striking with my irons and eliminate the snap-hook in my driver and fairway metals that had been plaguing me all summer. During this practice period, I carded my first sub-80 round of golf (at the Tregaron Golf Course), as well as two of my best rounds at Champions Run Golf Course, a 41 and a 42. These scores and the time at the practice range gave me confidence going into the tournament.
Through this time, I was also working on building up my mental confidence on the golf course. I have been applying pressure to myself on the golf course by betting on my score and playing a skins game against one of my weekly playing partners, who is a better golfer than I am. In doing so, I hoped to be able to be steadier and more consistent on important tee-shots, approach shots, chips, and putts. By having money on the line during my rounds, I was able to put myself into a competitive frame of mind, instead of just hacking my way around the course. I was more focused on each shot and developed the ability to not let bad shots or holes affect the rest of my round. In short, I felt like I had prepared myself for my first real test on the golf course in years.
The morning of August 15, 2009, I awoke much earlier than I usually do on a Saturday in anticipation of my afternoon round. Then I looked outside and discovered that Mother Nature had different plans for the day. It had rained quite heavily that night, and showed no signs of clearing. After watching the weather report, I knew that the sunny, cloud-free weather I had hoped for was not going to happen. I attempted to keep myself occupied that morning, and went out to the course at about 11:00, with a 12:50 tee-time ahead. Once at the course, I was informed that there had been a two hour delay for the morning rounds, and they were going to have a shot-gun start at 3:15. So I grabbed lunch, and set out to the driving range to loosen up. After hitting a pile of balls, I headed to the putting green to get a feel for the speed of the greens.
Finally, 3:00 rolled around and the morning golfers started to trickle in. At about 3:30, they sent us to our tee-boxes, and, as luck would have it, my tee-box was the furthest from the club house. I arrived at hole number 15 winded, but ready to compete. There I meet my playing partners, Doug and Dave. Doug was a 40-something wood floor installer and Dave was a 60-ish retiree.
I struck a 5-wood down the middle of the fairway of this par 4, leaving myself about 160 yards into a blind green. I missed the green with my approach, chipped on, and 3 putted for double bogey. (Unforced errors for the hole: 1 extra putt)
Hole number 16 was a lay-up par 5. I played a 7 iron off the tee, and pushed it left. I had a tree in the way of my layup, which caused me to punch out. I had about 230 into the green, over a lake, so I hit my hybrid short of the greenside bunker. I chipped on and two putted for a bogey 6.
Number 17 was a 210 yard par three. I pushed my tee shot right of the green, and it ended up underneath a pine tree. I opted to punch out, since an unplayable drop would still leave me no shot at the green. After punching out, I chipped onto the green and proceeded to 4 putt from 15 feet for a quadruple bogey. (Unforced errors: 2 extra putts. Unlucky break: 1 ball under a tree. Total = 3)
The finishing hole of number 18 was a dogleg right par 4. I struck a great drive that cut the corner of the dogleg, but missed the fairway. I struck a nice 9 iron, which landed on the green, for my first green-in-regulation of the day. I 2 putted for a nice par. I left that green happy that I did not allow the previous hole’s quad-bogey get me down. (Blow-up demon: 0, Eric: 1)
Hole number 1 was a straightforward par 4. I put my drive in the left hand rough. My approach came up short, so I chipped on, and 2 putted for a bogey.
On hole number 2, a 494 yard par 5, I hit a monster drive down the right hand side, which ended up in the rough. I left the approach short, chipped on, and 2 putted for a text book par.
I got my second straight par on the par-4 3rd by hitting the fairway with my 5 wood, getting a green-in-regulation with my 9-iron approach shot, and 2 putting.
The par-3 fourth hole played 161 yards. I made the smart play by missing short right, but goofed up by 3 putting after chipping on. (Error: 1 extra putt)
My best hole of the day came on the 373 yard dogleg left par 4 5th. I hit my 7-wood into the middle-right of the fairway, which left me with about 140 yards into an elevated green. I pured my 9-iron right at the pin. The ball landed about 8 feet in front of the pin and released toward the pin, just missing the cup, and stopped about 2 feet past the hole for a kick-in birdie. I would learn the next day that this birdie would earn me one of four skins for our flight, which earned me $50. (+1 stroke I was not expecting to get back)
Following that nice birdie, my next tee-shot would come to rest against a large tree. I punched out, into the fairway, missed the green with my approach, chipped on, and two putted for a double-bogey 6. (Unlucky break: 1 ball against a tree)
The last par-5 of the front side was the easiest at 453 yards. I unleashed a great drive down the left handed side of the fairway, which gave me about 200 yards into a bunker protected green. I laid up short of the bunker, left my chip well short of the pin, and took my second 3 putt, for an inexcusable bogey 6. (Unforced error: 1 extra putt)
I rebounded on the 8th, a 151 yard par 3 with a forced carry over a large lake, by missing the green with my tee shot, chipping to about 4 feet, and tapping in for a par.
I finished the front side with a bogey after hitting the fairway, by landing my approach in the greenside bunker, splashing out, and two putting, giving me a 6-over par 42 (which was exactly what I wanted/expected to score).
I entered my remaining 5 holes with high hopes, only to run out of steam and a shoe full of blisters.
The 10th hole is a dogleg left par 4. I landed my drive in the fairway, put my approach onto the green, and then took another 3 putts to get the ball in the hole. (Unforced errors: 1 extra putt).
I hit a poor 7-iron off the tee on the three shot par 5 11th. I then got timid with my second shot, which came up well short of my target, which caused me to lay up short of the pond that guarded the green. My fourth shot carried the green. I then chipped on, and two putted for a double-bogey 7. (Unforced errors: .5 tee shot + .5 fourth shot = 1)
I used my building frustration on my tee shot on the 12th hole by spanking a drive down the middle of the fairway, which left me about 130 yards into the green. I left the approach short, chipped on, and two putted for a bogey.
The par four 13th was an extreme dogleg right, with some very large trees and a creek which guarded against big hitters attacking the green from the tee-box. The smart play is to hit a 200-220 yard club into the middle of the fairway, leaving a mid-iron into the green. I pushed my hybrid to the right, cutting the corner a bit tight, and, according to the spotter stationed there, hit a tree, which caused my ball to careen into the creek. I took a penalty drop and attempted to punch out through the trees, but caught it fat and my ball stopped short of the fairway. I then advanced my ball up the fairway. My approach carried the green long, which lead to my chipping on and two putting for my second quadruple bogey of the back nine and my first snowman of the day. (1 tree between my ball and fairway + 1 penalty stroke + 1 unforced error poor punch out = 3)
By the time I reached the 14th tee-box and my last hole of the day, the wheels had come flying off the proverbial cart, and I was mentally and physically exhausted. I left my 9-iron tee shot well short of the green, but I made a nice chip and two putted for a bogey 4.
I carded a 52 for the back nine, which gave me a total of 94 strokes. I entered the day with the goal of shooting an 85, so I was 9 strokes past that mark. And after tallying up the extra putts and unlucky breaks from the round, I could have potentially shot an 82. But, alas, it was not to be. I exited day one of the two day tournament well away from the lead, but feeling fairly proud of myself for not allowing the early 4 putt to completely derail my round. I had one birdie and four pars about which I could be proud. And I had played the front nine exactly as planned. I went to bed that night, knowing I could and would improve my score, as long as I didn’t have to go to the hospital the next morning and amputate my blister-laden feet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Date Night

Went on a date with my wife tonight. It was a long time coming and I believe we both had a great time. As much fun as it was to have my sister stay with us this summer, it will be nice to have it be just the two of us again. (And Brodie, of course).

Since the beginning of our relationship, Rach and I have always been quite comfortable just hanging out together. One of our favorite past times is watching television and/or movies. It is even more enjoyable on the projector we bought, which allows us to watch a 90" picture and listen to our 5.1 Dolby surround sound system in our basement. It is nice to look over and watch her watching the tv, with her face lit with the ambient light. It is one of life's simple pleasures.

Tonight, we ate dinner at Chili's, which is a restaurant we have not enjoyed for months, since there is not one near our house. Of course we started with the chips and salsa, which is always tasty. Rach had a mango margarita and I had a Miller Lite. We both ordered the Buffalo Chicken salad, which was very good. And we ended with the molten chocolate cake. How very suburban of us, no?

Then we went over to the movie theater and watched the movie (500) Days of Summer. It was the perfect date movie as it was not too "lovey-dovey", which I don't like, and it was not too "shoot-em up" which she doesn't like. It was a very good movie. The script was good, the acting was good, the soundtrack was great. All in all, it made for a great night.

Tomorrow the in-laws come in for the weekend and then Rach starts back to school, so it was a nice way to cap off the summer and have a little bit of fun.

Omaha Favorites (so far)

My wife and I have been living in Omaha for a little over a year and I must admit that the town is starting to grow on me. Here are some of my favorite aspects of Omaha

  1. Monday afternoon golfing @ Champion’s w/ Brandon and Scott.
  2. The Metro Golf Championship
  3. Watching Hochevar pitch with the Omaha and KC Royals
  4. the Henry Doorly Zoo
  5. Chicken and bean taco @ Cali Taco, pulled pork sandwich @ Heartland BBQ, & carne asada tacos @ Alvarados.
  6. Schramm State Park and Standing Bear Lake with the pooch
  7. Wenninghoff’s Farm Market
  8. the theater room in our basement
  9. My sister’s summer living with us
  10. 4th of July fireworks in our neighborhood
  11. Concerts—Jim Gaffigan (w/ Ron), the Script (for free), OAR, Mat Kearney (w/ my sisters), DMB (in September w/ my cousins)
  12. Nationwide Tour’s Cox Classic golf tournament
  13. the Sarpy County Fair & Demolition Derby
  14. Home grown fruit and veggies from my wife’s grandma and aunt & uncle.
  15. All of the visitors we’ve had—in-laws, wife’s grandma, aunts & uncles, and cousins, Mich & Gen, and my family.

We have two more years in Omaha, and I hope to make the most of our time out here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Starting slowly

Self reflection: my composition skills are a bit rusty. I have unsuccessfully tried to write two posts, but have been unhappy with the results. So, I have decided not to rush the process and will try again tomorrow.

It is finally time...

For me to get off the sidelines and finally put my opinions where people can read them, critique them, and challenge them. It is my plan to make a blog entry at least once a day.

I have enjoyed being able to use Facebook & Twitter status updates to express myself, but have always felt limited by space.

I also apply a heavy filter to my Twitter and Facebook writings due to the audience. I do not feel like alienating my friends and family by forcing my views/opinions/thoughts onto them via their news feed. I would rather have people show up on their own, when they want, and if they want. goes nothing.