Meditation: Ego

Ego is Latin for I. That is it. It takes on a much broader meaning, much like karma did, when it is applied to everyday life. Egotistical is a very negative description of a person’s behavior. It is used to describe a person that is excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself; self-centered. The ego is what makes us try to justify our existence, and explain why we are here. Of course, we are here, just by a quirk of fate, because are parents decided to become intimate, at that exact moment. I have often wondered, why that is so hard to accept. Is it just the thought of our parents making love, that we try not to think about. However, those are the facts Jack. One definition of ego, states, that it is the mental organ of justification. Does this mental organ of justification, take on a whole new life, when there are many egos involved? I think, when there are many egos involved, that the justification syndrome goes out of control. I think we have just defined an organization.

An organization is an organized body of people with a particular purpose, especially a business, society, association, etc.. I will not get into specifics, but an organization is formed because a group, in some cases, can achieve more than an individual. Once the organization is formed, there are leaders, within the organization, that help achieve the goal. The other members of the organization will vote on proposed ways of achieving the goal, and will contribute their time and sometimes money, in achieving the goal. Sometimes the goal is to help members with the organization, or it can be to help the general populous, that are less fortunate or infirmed. Once the goal is achieved, that is where the problem can arise. Some organizations may develop some type of natural evolution and really need to maintain their group. In many cases, once an organization accomplishes its goal, it has to create a new problem, to keep its existence going. In some cases, the heads of these organizations, make a substantial salary. They have a big incentive to keep the organization viable, and to convince the membership that they are needed. There can be many officers in an organization, and when these egos are threatened with a loss of substantial income, they are going to find many ways to justify their existence. I call this, the multiple ego syndrome, trying to survive. This is very true, when the organization has been set up, to help the members of the organization. Once the goals are met, the organization needs to take a lesser role. Instead, the leaders of the organization will create problems, in order to justify their existence. This is when egos go out of control, and the membership of the organization will suffer, rather than getting any benefit.

The single ego is rarely a problem. A person may try to justify their existence, by trying to make themselves seem important, but in the long run, they really do very little damage to the general public. They may be obnoxious, and not very much fun to be around, but they are pretty much harmless. However, when egos unite, and their existence is threaten, public beware. The greater good is not being served, and we need to move far away from such thinking. Once an organization accomplishes its goals, it needs to step back, be happy for the achievement and either go into a lesser maintenance mode, or completely disband, and create a new organization that is really needed, to solve a totally unrelated problem. In order for an organization to continue to do some good, the organization needs to become selfless and suppress the ego urge. I am not too sure that multiple egos are capable of doing that.

Meditation: Karma

We have all heard of karma. The literal definition of karma is action, work, or deed. The world thinks of this word in much broader terms. To look at it from a Western point of view, karma would fall under the sayings of ” you reap, what you sow, or positive thoughts will create positive outcomes. The Eastern world wants to have good karma so they will have a happier rebirth. One has to have a belief in rebirth in order to make that work. Karma is associated more with eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. You rarely hear the word karma by itself. Most of the time people refer to something or someone having good or bad karma. Some people have the idea, that if you do good deeds, then good things will happen to you. They also believe, that the reverse is true. Remember however, that karma is an act, and really does not impact the future. Is the idea of karma just another way of trying to keep individuals in line, much like the idea of heaven and hell in Christianity. Then, there is the belief that karma is tied to causality, not to be confused with casualty. Causality is defined as the relation between a cause and its effect or between regularly correlated events or phenomena. In other words, the type of action you take, will effect the next action that is taken. By the strict definition of karma this really is not true. So does karma exist?

Of course, karma exists by the simple definition of action. We take action everyday, and those actions will have consequences, that will either be good or bad, or possibly neutral, for lack of a better term. It is how we feel about those actions, that may be the true karma. That may be what this is all about. Can we feel good about every action we take, and when we don’t, why is that. Why do we do things that we do not feel good about? I don’t know the answer to that one, just yet. Is that what true enlightenment really means? Always doing things that you feel good about. Karma is in the internal world, and in my view, has nothing to do, about the outside world, or your future actions. Does karma or action stand in the way of true enlightenment. Should we just be about inaction as much as possible, and meditate 8 hours a day. It’s a thought, but I don’t think I will be doing that, in the near future. I find it interesting that such a simple word has such a wide and diverse meaning. The literal meaning, does include, work and deeds. There goes work, getting in the way of things, again. You should feel good about the work you are doing, and the deeds you do, on a daily basis. Karma, I believe is quite simple, and I am not planning on a rebirth any time soon. I think we need to take away the power of karma. No more internal judgements of our daily actions. Isn’t this what it is all about, no judgements. Then we should feel good all day long. I am feeling better already.

Food: Hawaiian Style

I spent July 7th, until July 16th, in Hawaii, and it was quite an experience. We stayed on the island of Oahu, four letters, three syllables. It is the third largest island, behind The Big Island( they were up all night thinking of that name), and Maui. We stayed at the Aulani Hotel, which is a Disney Resort. We had a wonderful time, and there was lots of eating and drinking, especially the drinking. A very popular drink in our group, was the Mango Mojito. The name just rolled off your lips with ease, even when your lips did not exactly work all that well, after the third one. The drink went down just as smoothly. The beer was excellent, with many Hawaiian brews to choose from. My favorites were the Longboard Lager, Bikini Blond Lager, and Pete’s Island Wheat. Needless to say, I did no driving, while on the island. Overall the food ranged from good to excellent. There was one extraordinary dining experience, but will save the best for last. There were some surprises, and disappointments, so lets get them over with. The surprise was, there were not that many seafood choices. I expected this to be a seafood feast, but this was not the case. Beef and pork took center, stage at most restaurants, that we went to. The most disappointing experience was the Lua, we attended, on our first night there. Some of that has to be attributed to Covid. Instead of a buffet, you received two prepared plates. One was a salad plate, with macaroni salad, and some greens, and vegetables . Then the entre plate, had some pulled pork, baked chicken, fried chicken thigh, with some sticky rice, and some broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. They did not have any sauces to go with the food. The only thing they had was tartar sauce. Do they put tartar sauce on chicken and pork in Hawaii? I did not go for that and did not care much for the sticky rice. Stinky rice is what I would call it Although the entertainment was very good, the food experience left a lot to be desired. They did make a great Mai Tai, although not quite as good as those Mango Mojitos. They were potent enough to make it difficult to walk back to the hotel, but we made it. Now, lets get to the good stuff.

Other than the Lua, the food overall was excellent. The food at the resort was very tasty, ranging from an almond croissant to a smoked salmon bagel, for breakfast. The coffee was excellent to start the morning. The favorite eating place at the resort was called Off The Hook. Their wings and chicken fingers were great bar food. One night the feature was barbecued spare ribs with mash potatoes and the ribs were tender fall off the bone delicious. Across from the resort was a restaurant called the Monkey Pod, which, by far had the freshest and the best seafood. Their pork tacos were to die for, with raw jalapenos on top. They also had jalapeno mashed potatoes, which is something I will be making myself. For desert they had these cream pies, strawberry, chocolate, and mango, which were some of the best pies I have ever tasted. The most outstanding dining experience though, came at the restaurant, Senia, in the heart of Chinatown, in downtown Honolulu. I started the meal with a martini know as the Buttoned Up, that was very smooth going down. After drinking it, I was probably incapable of buttoning up. We had a private room for 8 and we all experienced the tasting menu of July 14th. It was a dream come true for my taste buds. There were nine items and each one or two were paired with a particular wine. The whole meal included various vegetables, caviar in a sauce with one raw quail egg, Kanpachi, which is a sushi fish, venison tartare, Scallops and a beef selection. Everything tasted superbly with each dish getting better and better. The wines were perfect for each dish. The desert, looked like various bird eggs, that you just popped in your mouth, and this wonderful sweet creamy nectar, would just explode all over your taste buds. Then the meal was finished off, with various chocolate cordials. Overall, it was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had. The wait staff was so informative, as they explained every dish, and every wine that was served. It was a great vacation for many reasons, but the food and drink made it one of the most festive experiences, that was much needed, after this year and a half of pandemic life. Still, it was good to return home, and get back to a normal routine. The blogs should return at their normal rate and yes, I will still write about the Pirates. Too bad, I don’t have the Mango Mojito any more, to make the job easier.

Meditation: Just a Speck

The world population is approaching 8 billion people, and it is predicted that number will be reached in the year 2023. It is estimated that human civilization has been around for about 8 to 10 thousand years. The total surface area of the earth is 197 million square miles. It has been estimated that the earth has been here for about 4.6 billion years. In about 2 years if you are still living, you will be one of 8 billion people, in the world. The reality is, we are just a speck in the big picture of population and time. There is no room for debate on this point. This doesn’t even take into consideration, the universe and other worlds. These are the facts, Jack. When someone lives into their nineties, people will say that the person had a good long life. Long in comparison to what. I guess it is, when compared to other people, but certainly, to nothing else that has existed on earth. Even though people do not want to think about this, but it is hard to totally ignore it. It certainly can make someone feel insignificant. What are some of the consequences of these cold hard facts?

Does such a reality cause people to do things, to try and create a more “significant” life? Sometimes, this can lead to doing something for the good of the people. It can also lead to behavior that creates attention to someone, with not any good coming from it. It can lead to trying to get as much power and money as possible, at any cost to yourself and other people. It goes back to another topic of fame and fortune. This feeling of emptiness can lead to pursuing illegal or violent endeavors. The bottom line is this, no matter what happens in your life, we are all eventually going to end up in the same place, the end of life. This is really what people have a hard time facing. One way of trying to deal with this extreme vastness in time, space and population, is to create two perspectives. It is simply looking at the big world, and then the small world. The big world is what we have just been discussing. The small world is your world. The world of your friends, family, and loved ones. How should we handle the big world? If can be ignored. There is not a lot of support for this view, but I see nothing wrong with it. If you ignore something, then it really does not have an affect on you. It is fairly easy to do. Don’t watch the news, and don’t think about the problems of the big world, such as climate change, violence, economic issues, war, and all the other issues on the big stage. This doesn’t mean that you would even spend your entire life ignoring the big world, but a 2 to 5 year hiatus, can do wonders for the psyche. Another way to handle the big world is to embrace it, but don’t let big world problems, get you down. Realize that you can not change a lot of what is going on, accept that fact, and move on. Now, lets get to the small world.

This is your world, and you can do anything you want with it. The best thing to do with your world, is to stay involved, and stay in touch. These are the people, and the things that you care about. This is the world that time forgot. This is the world that you can feel, see, and respond to everyday. It is the world where you want to be. It is the place to savor everything that is good. It is the definition of knowing what you want to do each day in your world. Your world allows you to be yourself, and enjoy all the things in life. There can be setbacks in your world, but this is the place where you can get support to deal with these setbacks. Not everybody can change the big world. Can one man really make a difference in the big world? Many people think so, but I would argue the point. You have to be an exceptional person, and there will be many sacrifices made, especially in your world. Is it all really worth it? I am not too sure. What I am sure of, is that I can make changes in my world, that have and will make my world a better place. For me, that is enough and is definitely is worth it.

Golf: U. S. Open Impressions

Yesterday, Jon Rahm won the U. S. Open in grand style, by birdieing the last two holes. He played a great round of golf, and was a very deserving winner. I watch some of every round in this U. S. Open, and the entire final round. This was one of the best Opens in a long time. The venue was set up perfectly and the weather co-operated by not having a lot of high winds. The leader board was crowded with some of the top players in the game, and some regular tour players, trying to make the big splash. In the middle of the final round, there were about 10 players within two shots of the lead. Everybody seemed to be going along just fine, when all hell broke loose on the back nine, and just about everybody fell apart, except Rahm and Lois Oosthuizen. It wasn’t until Oosthuizen took a very aggressive line on 17, and knocked his drive in the hazard, and barely missed a par saving putt, that you felt that Jon Rahm had the victory. I have to give Oosthuizen some credit, for taking the aggressive route, and really trying to make birdie on that hole, but unfortunately it did not work out. During the final round, there were many players, who had a chance to win, but none more so than Bryson DeChambeau. When he almost made the hole in one on No. 8 to take the outright lead, I thought we were going to have a repeat champion. Then after making a par on the par 4 10th hole, he decided to take 40 blows on the last 8 holes to fall all the way to 26th place. Bryson characterized his back nine as having bad breaks and just being “golf”. Let’s take a closer look, and also go back to Fridays round.

Bryson blamed a lot of his back nine on bad luck. I attribute his horrible back nine to some of the worse thinking I have ever seen by a top player. I am not talking about bad thinking on one particular hole, like Jean van de Velde did at the final hole of the 1999 British Open, where he made a triple bogey, when he only needed a double bogey to win the tournament. DeChambeau’s bad thinking, is an overall bad approach to the game. It showed up on Friday, when he tried to reach I believe the first par 5 on the back nine in two. He hit a great shot, but it was just short, and rolled back down the hill about 50 yards, into a sand filled divot. That was a very bad break. This was time to take your medicine, and hit a nice little lob wedge, right into the throat of the green, which would have put him about 30 to 40 feet, right of the pin, for a birdie putt. Instead, he tried to hit the ball directly at the pin, over a bunker. He chunked the shot, right into that bunker, and exploded the ball over the green, and was lucky to chip back, and make a bogey. Then, when he drove it into the rough on Sunday, on the same par 5, instead of trying to get the ball back in the fairway, where he probably could have gotten home in three, he continued to hit the ball down the rough and wound up making a double bogey 7. He has a philosophy, that he can hit any shot he pleases, and get away with it. He has done this, in other tournaments, as his whole game lacks any type of strategy. When things go wrong for Bryson, he calls it just golf, and really learns nothing. Unless this philosophy changes, I do not see him ever winning another major. Only time will tell, of course. One things for sure, it is not for the lack of a golf game.

My overall impressions of the tournament were many. These guys make a lot of putts and shots around the greens. One of the odd things about this Open, was the number of truly great shots from fairway bunkers. Many times, the player who hit from the fairway bunker got closer to the hole, than his playing partner did, from the middle of the fairway. I am not going into specific instances, but it was interesting to see, that all the rough was not created equal. There were some spots that were particularly thick and then other areas where it was not near as penal. I am not talking about areas that were trampled down by the fans, speaking of which, it was also interesting to see players, trying to hit in these areas on purpose, rather than the fairway. It shows you, even the best players in the world are affected by hazards, that are close in play. It seems like no matter who you are you are not immune from the pressure of the U. S. Open. You saw it all Sunday, drives out of bound, impossible lies in bunkers, shanks, and even balls stuck in trees. Now, that’s bad luck Bryson. There are many golfers who have been in contention over the years that just don’t seem to be able to seal the deal. You have to wonder are they really trying to do anything different or are they just looking for the answer, too. In the end Jon Rahm stood out as the best player of the week, and took home the greatest prize in golf, the United States Open.

Golf: Stories, The 90’s

In the 90’s, I went full circle, when it came to golf. I played a lot for the first 4 years, then hardly played at all for 19 months, and finally, went full bore at the end of the decade, as I played on my first professional tour. My years at Rolling Hills will be included in the 90’s stories, even though I joined Rolling Hills Country Club in September of 1986. I went to putting left handed in the the 90’s. During this time, my veterinary practice had its greatest years, that would continue into the 2000’s, until I sold it, in 2004. I would not record a hole in one during the decade, which would mark the only decade that I did not have a spectacular shot. Even though I did not record a hole and one in the 2010’s, I did get an albatross, in 2017. I did hit a lot of good shots during my years at Rolling Hills.

I spent 7 full golf seasons at Rolling Hills. The odd thing about my play there, is that I holed out more shots from the fairway during those years, than I did anytime before or since in my entire golfing life. I did not make a hole in one but I eagled every other hole there, with exception of the long par 4 17th hole. Some of the hole outs were fairly long shots. A 3 iron,(remember that club), from 200 yards out on number 9. Various wedges on numbers 1,2,4,6,10,11,12,16, and 18. Short irons on 5,8,13, and 15. During the 7 seasons, I had 20 hole outs of 50 yards or longer. I saw many odd shots at Rolling Hills. Once one of my playing companions hit a high pulled iron into a tree to the left of the 8th green, we saw two things drop from the tree. I thought it was just some leaves on a branch. When we got up to the green, we saw his ball and a dead squirrel. Knowing my profession, he wanted to know if I could revive it. I saw many shots that were hit to the left of the 18th green, hit a retaining wall, or the clubhouse balcony, and bounce onto the green. This tee shot on the first hole, however, tops them all. There was an electrical tower, just to the left of the first tee. Odd isn’t it. In one of the club events, this player started his round, by lining a low left hard hit heeler. The ball hit a brick, that surrounded a flower bed, just to the left of the first tee. It flew straight up into the air, to the top of the electrical tower, and noisily rattled around. It flew out of the tower even further to the left, then it hit the awning of the pro shop, and bounced across the practice putting green, where people had to scatter, and wound up about 25 yards to left and behind where he had teed up. Since this was an event, the putting green had to be cleared so he could hit his second shot. Even though I enjoyed my years at Rolling Hills, golf was becoming something, that I was not enjoying, so I decided to take a hiatus from the game. I remember when I made the decision. I was sitting in the men’s grill, on a rainy Sunday morning, waiting to see, if we would get to play, and suddenly, it was like I was the only one in the room. Everybody was talking to other people, and for once, I was not talking. It just hit me right then, that I was going to quit. About 2 weeks before we had just qualified to go to Orlando for the National Oldsmobile Scramble, in late September, early October. I knew that would be my last golf, for awhile. Everybody was shocked, that I was going to quit playing golf. Some thought I joined some kind of cult, and had to give up something to belong. Some thought I was devastated by my 4 runner up finishes in the club championship.

Why did I give up the game for awhile? Like most decisions, there were a lot of little things that just added up. I had hit a wall in playing the game and was getting frustrated as hell. There were many other reasons, some not even related to golf, but I knew I just had to get away from the game. First, I always knew that I would take it back up, in fact I continued to hit balls, and I did play in various scrambles, and did get a chance to play Scioto Country Club. I played about 6 rounds of golf over that 19 month period of time. I really did not miss the game at all. I ran 5K and 10K races every weekend, and I had lots of other things to do to keep me busy. In fact looking back on it, the only mistake I made was coming back too soon. I should have waited until the spring of 97, to start playing again. Once I came back, I was still having the same problems I had, when I left the game. It was then, I decided to putt left handed, and that started a nice turn around. I have lefty in me, as I throw left handed and my left eye is my dominant eye. I turned 48 in 98, and many senior tours allowed you to start playing on them, at the age of 48. I played on what was called the Tornado Tour, beginning in the spring of 98. It was in the eastern part of Ohio and it played the events on Wednesday or Thursday. I played on that tour for 4 years until it went belly up and actually won one event. I still don’t know how I did that, but it had no carry over affect in future competitive endeavors.

As the nineties came to a conclusion, I was firing on all cylinders in every aspect of my life. I was keeping a brutal pace for someone just about to turn 50. I admit I was loving every minute of it, but in the end, I really could not get it together on the golf course. By the end of the next decade I was ready to quit the game again, and this time for good. Instead I decided to start blogging in 2010 and have kept playing every since. I felt there was some kind of unknown quality about the game, and there was a better and easier way to play the game. I am still looking.

Golf: A Very Interesting Video.

I watch a golf instructional video the other day, in fact it was probably about 3 to 4 weeks ago. I can’t find the site that I watched the video. I think I get e mails telling me when this site posts something, but I can’t find it on my Word Press site, which doesn’t surprise me. Anyhow, this was a golf instructional video about putting. It was done by a couple of pros from England, and they were in the US, shooting this with a pro, who had invented this putting aid. It was a flat piece of material with one side wide and the other side just wide enough that if you put 2 tees at the end of it, on either side, it left just enough room for a ball to pass in between. I assume there was some kind of an alignment aid at the end you struck the putt. The idea is to strike the putt between the tees which looked to be about 3 inches ahead of the ball. One of the English pros used the aid. He read a putt of about 7 feet. He read the putt to break about 3 inches to the right. Everything was set up, so that the device was aim at his projected target. He struck the first putt and hit the left tee, and of course, the ball caromed off, and stop way short. The pro made the adjustment and consistently put the ball between the tees at a good speed. However, his read was bad, and he missed all the putts low, by about 2 to 3 inches. He hit about 3 putts, so it was very obvious the read was wrong. The putting instructor reset everything to play more break. This time, when the pro took his first putt, he hit the right tee barely, and it threw the ball off line. He made the adjustment again and started to put the ball through the tees consistently. This time, although the putts were better, with what I call perfect speed, he was burning the left edge of the cup. When he hit one putt with dying speed, the ball fell into the hole. This device was to give a golfer proper feedback and groove a perfect stroke. This was not what I found interesting about the video. I am sure this device is great and it did what it is supposed to do very well. Here is what makes this video interesting, and extremely fascinating.

Remember, this was a PGA professional, who was doing the putting. He read the putt, and until he putted the first ball, we did not know that he had under read the left to right breaking putt. This type of putt is always more difficult, it seems for a right handed putter. His first putt hit the left tee, which means he had pulled his putt. However, this combination, of under read and pulled putt may have found the hole. By watching all three putts miss on the low side, the instructor moved the aim point about another 2 inches to the left. Naturally, there was a break in the action. When the pro hit the first putt with the new line, he wound up hitting the right tee, and again the ball was taken off line. He barely grazed it. He got right on track with the second putt, but his first couple, just grazed the left side of the cup. He died one in on the third putt. There it was on video, the famous disconnect, that I have seen all my life. Even with an experienced pro, something inside of him, which he did not realize, told him the putt was going to break more than he read. Even though he was trying to put the ball between the tees he pulled the putt on what most likely was the proper line, and didn’t even know it. Even with more knowledge, and a better, but not perfect line, he pushed the putt, on what would have been the line to take for the putt to go in with perfect speed. How does some part of us know this, but we can not communicate it, to what I call the conscious being? I have no clue to what the answer is, to that scenario. What happens to me a lot of times, in that situation, when my read is wrong, I will simply hit a weak putt. Nine times out of ten, the putt will wind up short, and drifts off in the opposite direction that I thought it was going to go. Is our subconscious that good at reading putts, and we don’t even know it. This is one conclusion that I have drawn from this. Is there a way to tap into such brilliance. Maybe Jack and Tiger already have, but just aren’t telling us. I don’t really think so, because they spent a lot of time reading putts. The purpose of the device, and the video was to show that the pros get feedback, so they know what they are doing. That may be true, but it showed a phenomenon that may be the key to finding great success on the greens.

Food: Recommendations

I am never one to make many recommendations, when it comes to food, or food products, because tastes can be so variable. What is delicious to one person may make another person throw up. However, I have come across some products that are so good, that I do feel obligated to share them. None of these foods are going to come under the heading of healthy eating, but they can be under the heading of good eats. There are 3 things that I have found to be very tasty, and a fourth that I have changed the way I make it.

Frozen pizza has come a long way, and many brands are at least, palatable. The DiGiorno Hand-tossed version is outstanding. The grocery store we go to, only seems to carry the peperoni version, but I am sure there is just a cheese version. That is the one I would recommend, and then just put on your own toppings. The interesting thing I find about the cooking instructions, is that the oven is only pre-heated to 375 degrees. Most frozen pizzas, want you to have a much hotter oven. The directions tell you to put the pizza directly on the rack, but I never do, in case there is a cheese over flow. I have a pizza tray with holes in it, that I put in the oven when it is heating. I use the convection oven, when cooking the pizza, and cook it according to the directions for 18 minutes. It is so tasty, that I will be ordering take out, only in a pinch. Have had it numerous times, just to make sure the first time was not a fluke. The first time, I was shocked on how good this frozen pizza tasted. The crust was delicious.

If you like scalloped potatoes, but don’t like to go though all the hassle of making them, try the Idahoan Homestyle Scallop Potatoes. They make other versions with cheese, bacon, and sour cream, but the homestyle seems to be the best. The directions are simple, just combine their ingredients,( which look disgusting by the way) with milk, butter, and water, and put it in the oven at 450 for 25 minutes. This transforms these disgusting looking ingredients, into a very tasty dish of scalloped potatoes. The only thing I add to the concoction is pepper, before I put it in the oven, because we like pepper. The other casserole potatoes, for whatever reason, are not quite as tasty. They make a lot of other products, that I can not vouch for, but the homestyle scalloped potatoes are very good. It has become a regular side dish at our table. The only negative, is the regular size only makes enough for 2 people. They do make a family size version, which I have never tried.

Then, there is the greatest invention since sliced bread, the Haagen-Daz Vanilla Soft Dipped Ice Cream Bars. There are a lot of great ice cream bars around, and lets face it, it is hard to screw up chocolate and ice cream. The Haagen-Daz ice cream bars are tasty, but not any better than other high end ice cream bar. What makes these bars so great is, as you are eating them, the chocolate does not flick off the bar. Praise the lord, a miracle has happened. Every ice cream bar I have ever eaten, the chocolate coating is falling off with practically every bite, and making a big mess. The chocolate on these soft dipped bars, adheres right through every bite. Every once in awhile a side chunk may come off, but it is nothing compared to the other bars. The chocolate is dark and delicious, and you get it with every bite of vanilla ice cream. I am eating one, right after I am done with this blog.

Finally, there is popcorn. I have been a microwave popcorn junkie for 25 years or longer, but after reading about how bad it is for you, I am back to popping my own again. I guess, it is all that stuff that is congealed in bag that, is going to kill you. After all these years I hope it’s not too late, to reverse the damage. When I decided to go back to popping popcorn the old fashioned way, I got on the internet, to see what methods were deemed the best. After reviewing many of them, here is the method I use, that so far has worked out well. I use my 8 quart pasta pot. I put in about 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil and 1/3 cup of popcorn. I do not preheat the oil. I cover the pot and turn the gas burner to high. I then wait to hear the popcorn, start to pop. As the popcorn starts to pop more, I tilt the lid a little to let the steam out. I will give the pot a little shake, only one time. As the popping slows down to a near halt, I will turn the burner off, and wait until at least 5 seconds when there is no popping. Remove the lid and dump the popcorn in a large bowl. No butter, just salt, and I am eating popcorn. This method seems to pop all the kernels, with no burning. I have only tried two brands Jolly Time and Orville, with Jolly Time winning hands down, for taste and kernel texture. I will try some other brands in the future.

There you have it, four things I have found to be quite tasty and and easy to do. Hopefully the pandemic will go in the right direction, and food will become a more festive part of our lives again, with more to experience, and write about. Enjoy.

Meditation: Results

When you read or hear anything about life, or life coaching, it is always about the journey not the destination. It is about the process, not the outcome. This subject, results, could have been written under any of the titles, that I discuss. Food, how does it taste? Golf, what did you shoot? Sports, what was the final score? Meditation, what are the benefits? All the answers to those questions, have nothing to do with the process, but the results. On your job, you need to have results. What is the bottom line? Every boss has said, at one time or another, I do not want to hear about any excuses, I want results. We all want to get to our destination, whatever that may be. People set a goal, and some will have a plan to achieve that goal. The best laid plans can go awry, due to many unforeseeable circumstances. This philosophy, that what’s important is the journey, or the process, is just a way to help handle failure. I am not too sure, if that’s the reason, that coaches try to get their clients to think this way, but to have this results only attitude, is not something that is going to improve your health.

There is no question, the sports fan is at the top of the list, of the results only philosophy. You will see many fans tweet, that if my team does not reach the championship game or series the season is a failure. Now in professional sports you are really fighting the odds. There are 30 to 32 teams in each of the four major sports leagues. That means, that with everything being equal, there is only about 3% chance, that your team is going to win the championship. Now, we all know that everything is not equal, so there are going to be some teams that have a better chance than others, to win the title. The teams that do win the title, seem to have some process, or plan, and when it succeeds, then everybody tries to copy them to some degree, with various results, that are usually not as successful as the original team. One thing about the process it is not ignored, especially in golf. In fact the process is given too much credit, by some professional golfers, who have had success in the past. They have a had a great stretch of golf covering years, and run into a bump in the road, and will change coaches, and swings, to see if they can recapture their previous success. Sometimes they don’t even need a bump in the road, to completely revamp their swing, supposedly, trying to get better. The best example I know of this, is Tiger Woods. After winning the Masters by 12 shots, he changed his swing. Now because he went on to have great success, that decision is not questioned, as much as it should be. There are many other examples of this in golf, the most recent is Rory Mcilroy, who is going through this process right now. He is only ranked 11th in the world, I would be changing my swing, too. Is it really the journey, and process, and what are we to do if the results are not what we want?

To get the first part of question out of the way quickly, the answer is a resounding no. If this kind of thinking helps you, then go ahead and continue, but do not delude yourself into thinking, that results do not matter. The one factor that is forgotten about, when there is any successful outcomes, whether it be on a small or short term scale, or a large or long term scale, is luck. Yes, that’s right good old luck. We never give luck enough credit, whether it be good or bad luck. The reason for this, is if we think luck played a major role in our success or failure, it takes the results, out of our hands. It can also, make it seem like all the hard work we put in, may have been wasted, if we were not lucky. Instead of being grateful for our good fortune, we brush it under the rug, and try to forget about it, because we do not want to lessen our accomplishment. This doesn’t really lessen the accomplishment, it is just our perception. When our luck is bad, we don’t talk much about it then, because it looks like complaining. If it is not the journey or the process that is important, how are we to handle the less than desirable outcomes or failures. You have to handle failure with acceptance. In other words you almost have to be happy to fail. This will not stem your desire to succeed, but it will allow you to move on, and possibly try again, or move into a totally new direction, with a new plan. It is the process that allows you to try and find your path. There is that fine line between having faith in yourself, and continuing on the journey, or finding a new path toward a different life goal. It is the hardest part of the whole process, of finding your way through this life. Results are important, but the most important part of any result, is what you do with it once you get it.

Sport: Pittsburgh Pirates 2021

In a few hours from now, the Pittsburgh Pirates will embark on the 2021 season. This will be the first full season of the Ben Cherington-Derek Shelton regime. The predictions for this season are dire. One headline read, the Pirates embark on their 2021 season, and they are going to be terrible. One person on MLB Network predicted they would lose 115 games, which would be one of the worst seasons in Pirate history. This is all because the Pirates are on the rebuild, or are they? When pressed about this, Ben Cherington has refused to say the word rebuild, and nobody seems to notice. If the Pirates are rebuilding and/or tanking, why didn’t they get rid of everybody. They only made 3 trades, and yes, they added a lot of prospects, to the point, that they have moved into the top 10 of minor league systems. But they still have Adam Frazier, Colin Moran, Kevin Newman, Gregory Polanco, Jacob Stallings, Erik Gonzalez, Richard Rodriguez, and Steven Brault. With the exception of Polanco, all of these players have value, and would have brought even more prospects to the team. The one excuse that is made, is that these players will have more value at the trade deadline, and will bring even more prospects, as the Pirates languish in last place in July and August. The other reason given for such a poor season this year, is how bad the Pirates were last year. They had a record of 19 and 41, which would compute out to 51 and 111 for a 162 game season. In my view, the Pirate management looked at last season as a lost season, anyway. Instead of trying to win games, management decided to evaluate talent for 60 real games, and I think they succeeded. During the 60 game season, they played players all over the place, and used a different batting order, almost everyday. This led to some surprising cuts at the end of spring training. The most surprising in my view was Geoff Hartlieb. He has looked very good at times, and last year had an ERA+ of 127. Obviously, at least for right now, the Pirates feel they have better options in the bullpen, than Hartlieb. The same thing can be said for Edgar Santana, another pitcher with decent major league experience and an ERA+ of over 120,the last 2 years that he pitched. Not putting Cole Tucker and Todd Frazier on the opening day roster, is significant. What kind of season do I think the Pirates are going to have?

I think this team will play right around .500 baseball, and with any luck will finish with 85 wins. Now things won’t have to be perfect, for them to do this, but a few things will have to break their way. The rotation is very thin, and they will have to avoid any more serious injuries, like what’s happened to Steven Brault. He looks like he may be able to return in June, but who knows. The infield is solid and hopefully will have some improved hitting from Frazier and Newman. Moran at first base may be a disaster, but I think Phillip Evans may wind up as the regular first baseman, and Todd Frazier may come up and fill some of that void. Hayes at third, will be solid, no matter what he hits, and hopefully he reaches full potential this year. The outfield does not have a lot of depth but again Evans and Adam Frazier can fill in there, but I hate to see Frazier move off 2nd base, where he really seems to have found a home. Hopefully, Brian Reynolds can get his hitting stroke back, and I am confident he will. Then there is Gregory Polanco, the 11 million dollar man. Hopefully he does not run into anybody and end their season like he did last year. Since 2014 he has had 3 decent seasons for the Pirates and 4 horrific seasons either due to poor play or injury. He practically destroyed his body, sliding into second base in 2018, and has not been the same since. He has become the project of the Pirates hitting coach, Rick Eckstein. If Polanco can stay healthy and have a 2 to 3 WAR season it will go a long way in helping the Pirates, be a competitive team. The bullpen should be solid, and it will be interesting to see how Shelton handles the various arms, and how the Pirates are able to finish close games. I think one of the biggest keys, will be if Richard Rodriguez can develop into the main high leverage guy, and if he doesn’t who will. We will all see what happens with this young Pirate team. Every 10 games I will do a blog on how the season is going. I watch every game they play when televised. I also watch the game with no sound. I am not going to listen to Joe Block, ask questions, that my grandson would ask, who is just learning the game. Could this season be one where they might lose a record number of games? Maybe, but I do not think so. See you at the 10 game mark. HAPPY OPENING DAY! Let’s go Bucs!