Tag Archives: Golf

Helping Out

In addition to the newsletters I’ve published over the years, I’ve also done some promotional work for various businesses and reasons. This was a flyer I put together for a fundraiser at Simi Hills Golf Course, where I learned to play at 46-years-old. This means I’ve been playing golf for 26 years, which I have a hard time believing. Of course, when I became a first-time, adoptive father at 55, it definitely put a cramp in my style and I’m only now reaching a point where I think I might have time to play and practice a bit more frequently. Not sure I’ll be able to afford it, though.


A Caddie!

Alliance Shoot-Out For The Arts – July 7, 1997

I just came across this picture, which was taken at Sherwood Country Club, in Thousand Oaks, California, about month after my 50th birthday. I had been golfing less than four years at the time. I was not scheduled to play in this tournament. In fact, I was actually working as a volunteer.

My job was to stand at the gated entrance to the club to see who had arrived, as they would have to check in with the guard before they could proceed. I would then radio ahead so people could have all the correct names of who was arriving and could both address them properly and provide them with name tags and goodie bags. Toward the end of the arrivals I got a call on the radio.

“Rick. Did you bring your clubs with you?”

“Of course I did. I always have my clubs in my car.”

“Well . . . you might have to play. Hang on and I’ll get back to you.”

Might HAVE to play? Oh, please, please don’t throw me in that briar patch! I knew the base fee for this tournament (it was a fund-raiser) was $750, which was a major reason I hadn’t even considered for a pico-second picking up a club. Never mind Sherwood is a rather exclusive club and I’m hardly an exclusive person. I was beyond excited.

The Sixth hole at Sherwood Country Club
PAR 3
The 186-yard par-3 is the signature hole of Sherwood Country Club. You are greeted by a spectacular view over seven pools and 14 waterfalls with beautiful mountains set as the back-drop. The tee shot is all carry over the water to a green that is only 21 paces deep, so make sure you have the right club, or par will become unattainable.

Shortly afterward I got the call. Come on down. We need you to fill out a foursome. Needless to say, I hightailed it to the clubhouse, prepared to play a course I had never even dreamed of playing. When I arrived at the clubhouse I was told there were no more carts available and, rather than driving the course, I would have to walk. However, they replaced the cart with a caddy. Although I hadn’t been playing for all that long, I’d never considered having someone to carry my bags and help me decide on how to play the course.

Unfortunately for me, the guy I got was pretty new to the course and really didn’t know it that well. If I recall correctly, he even cost me a stroke or two because he didn’t know what wasn’t visible on one of the holes. But, he also carried my bag and raked traps, etc. Regardless, I got to play one of the more exclusive clubs in the world . . . for free!! And it included everything that came with a paid spot; loot bag, snacks (Dole played a major role in the food side of the tourney), and a damned good meal after playing. I think I shot in the low nineties, though I don’t remember perzackly. It was, after all, over 22 years ago.


Golf and Cognitive Dissonance | Systems Savvy

I wasn’t sure if I could “re-blog” one of my own blogs using WordPress’s “Press This” widget, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve also updated this post somewhat. I added the flier depicted below, which I found in a box I’ve been holding onto for entirely too damned long, and made some minor text fixes.

One more thing. The situation I wrote about in the original post I’m re-blogging (six years ago yesterday, btw) has likely gotten worse. At best, nothing much has changed.

Seeing what appears to be the recent appearance of members of the Military tending the flag at virtually every golf tournament, I find myself wondering what it says about the direction of our cultu…

Source: Golf and Cognitive Dissonance | Systems Savvy


What’s In A Name? III

It’s no secret I have a complicated relationship with the game of golf. Not so much with actually playing it (though that’s a bit of an issue as well, having to do with injury and becoming a father) but more with the history and cultural positioning of the game and its adherents.

Golf has never been a game “of the people”. It can’t be played on the street on in a sandlot. There’s no such thing as a pickup game of golf. It takes up a lot of space; generally fairly expensive space as well. If you figure a starter can get out a foursome onto the course every fifteen minutes, then during the longest days of the year, it’s still only 256 golfers per day. Hardly a huge contingent of users. I’d wager an average-sized park, which likely takes up less than one-tenth of the acreage a golf course requires, provides recreation for more than that number.

So, let’s essentially agree golf is somewhat exclusive, even elite in some ways. And, rather than belabor the point, check out this article in Ebony magazine from 2016. It may still be fairly exclusive, but it’s also quite lucrative, considering how many people play.

However, all this is merely setup for my point, which I will now address. I was watching the final round of the 3M Open yesterday (I still record most golf tournaments in case I want to watch) and noticed something that has always amused me somewhat. I’m referring to the names of many of the players. There are a lot of them who have what I think of as rather strange, somewhat hoity-toity, names.

I’ve looked at the elite players of other sports and there just aren’t names like many of these. And, I think I’ve figured out what makes a lot of them stand out. Many players have first names that are generally used for last names, e.g. Johnson, Mackenzie, Davis, Grayson, etc. Here’s a list of the ones that stood out to me the most, taken from the PGA’s FedEx Cup rankings as of today.

What this has to do with race and class, I will leave to y’all to suss out. I’m not interested in making too fine a point here. I merely wanted to share this minor bit of trivia that has stood out for me. Besides, doing a truly good job of opining on diversity and economics would require more time than I’m willing to put in at this moment. Also, this is the first time I’ve tried to put some sense to it. It likely won’t be the last . . . as I’ll likely refine my thinking over time. I’d be happy to hear what you have to say.

PS – I only used American players (with—I think—one Canadian).

Below are some of the names I’ve noticed.

Beau Hossler
Bronson Burgoon
Brooks Koepka
Bryson DeChambeau
Charles Howell III
Chase Wright
Chesson Hadley
Chez Reavie
Cody Gribble
Davis Love III
Grayson Murray
Harris English
Hunter Mahan
Johnson Wagner
Keegan Bradley
Kramer Hickok
Mackenzie Hughes
Morgan Hoffmann
Patton Kizzire
Smylie Kaufman
Webb Simpson
Wyndham Clark
Xander Schauffele


Sport of . . . Old Farts?

My father took up golf late in life and he wanted me to golf with him. I was 15 years old, which means he had to be about 38. He wanted me to golf right-handed, but I was a dominant southpaw and I refused to do it. Reluctantly, he got me a left-handed beginner’s set of clubs. I even took lessons—if memory serves, I took one lesson from Cary “Doc” Middlecoff at what was then called The Joe Kirkwood Jr. Golf Center . It was on Whitsett Ave., just North of Ventura Blvd. It’s now called Weddington Golf & Tennis. Read the second paragraph at their website’s home page for a little history on the site.

Cary “Doc” Middlecoff, somewhere near his heyday

My golfing did not last long. At 15 I had started to surf, which seemed so much more challenging at the time. Besides, golf was for old men and surfing was a young person’s sport. I gave up golf, though I hung on to the left-handed beginner’s set of clubs the old man had purchased for me. I even used them once-in-a-while to hit a bucket o’ balls.

Fast forward 31 years. I had been working at Rocketdyne for maybe three years. My first year I was a “job shopper”—a temp—working on the FMEA/CIL* document for the Space Shuttle Main Engine program, in anticipation of a return to flight after the Challenger disaster. I then was hired in as a full-time employee, working in the Fight Ops team. I was fortunate enough to be in the Rocketdyne Operational Support Center (ROSC) when Discovery lifted off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39 on September 29, 1988.

I had helped design the layout and overall configuration of the ROSC, and being there for that launch was my reward. I didn’t know enough about the operational parameters of our engines at that time to understand exactly what I was looking at that morning, but the room was filled with displays showing engine performance as Discovery lifted off and ascended on its approximately 525 second flight to LEO.

Flight Patch for STS-26 | Return to Flight after Challenger | Space Shuttle Orbiter “Discovery” | OV-103

That evening a bunch of us went to celebrate the successful launch and our nation’s return to space flight. We were elated . . . to say the least. We went across Victory Blvd. to a restaurant called Yankee Doodles. Somehow, I got into a conversation with the person who turned out to be the Manager of the SSME’s Program Office and, once he found out what my role had been (and that I had a Juris Doctorate; a Law degree) he offered me a job. After some discussion with my current management, I decided to take it.

It wasn’t long before the team I was now on decided to have a golf tournament, and they of course wanted me to play. Not because they knew anything about my golf game (how could they?) but because they needed warm bodies to show up on the course, as well as pay for the round, prizes, and food. I was reluctant; after all it had been over 30 years since I’d actually played and, in fact, I don’t believe I had ever played on a full-size course.

I decided to give it a try. I don’t remember what I did for clubs because, by then, I had rid myself of that old beginner’s set. I remember going to Simi Hills Golf Course and hitting some balls. Honestly, I can’t quite remember where that first tournament was played, but I know I got hooked . . . bad. I had my uncle’s friend make me a set of golf clubs and I began practicing with a vengeance. I cobbled together a newsletter for the course, filling it with ridiculous and comedic stories. I showed it to the General Manager and told him I could do that for them every month.

The 18th Green at Simi Hills Golf Course

He told me to go ahead and, shortly after, I was hitting as many balls as I wanted on the range and, a bit later, going out on the course with the GM and the Head Pro – getting tips and playing lessons for free. I eventually was able to play for free as well, as long as I didn’t try to abuse the privilege by playing during peak hours. Within a fairly short time I had my index (similar to handicap) down to 12. I was well on my way to becoming a single-digit handicapper, but it was not to be.

I started having back and hip pain and, even with going to a Chiropractor and seeing my doctor about it, nothing was helping. Little did I know what was coming. Just before New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1999, I had an attack of sciatica that had my wife calling 911 to have me transported to the nearest hospital. I was on crutches for a month, and a cane for two months after that. I still experience numbness/tenderness in my left foot and don’t expect it will ever entirely heal.

Fortunately, I eventually found Robin McKenzie’s wonderful book, “Treat Your Own Back” and, after religiously doing the stretching he recommends, for weeks, I was back on the course and healing rather nicely.

Now, I don’t remember if it was before or after my back problems, but I became good friends with one of the professional golfers at Simi Hills, and he was involved with a company called Golden Tee. They had opened up a practice facility at Moorpark College and were planning on building a new golf course in the hills just below the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library here in Simi Valley.

Me and good ol’ Paul What’s-his-name practicing our putting

As you may surmise from the graphic I’m including in this post, I had a really sweet deal with Golden Tee. Unfortunately, the guy on the left of this picture (his first name was Paul; I don’t remember his last name, and I think he’s moved on to that 19th hole in the sky. Suffice it to say, things got real ugly. I found the record of a court case where Golden Tee sued the Ventura County Community College Board . . . and lost. Actually, I think it was right around this time I experienced my bout of sciatica and, shortly thereafter, decided (along with my wife, of course) to adopt our first child . . . but that’s another story.

* Failure Mode and Effects Analysis/Critical Items List


What a Short, Familiar Trip It’s Been!

This isn’t a WordPress theme designed for showing lots of photos, but I’m going to share a few from the drive.

Finally! I think I ordered the tickets for tomorrow’s final round of the U.S. Open, at Pebble Beach, at least eight or nine months ago. The day has arrived and we left Simi around 12:30 today, after a quick lunch at Mod Pizza. We drove up in Steve’s brand new Ford Edge, taking the 5 North to Santa Nella, which is somewhat East of Gilroy, which everyone knows is the garlic capitol of the world.

As we drove North I was pleased to see there are still some carpets of wildflowers dotting the hillsides, and I managed to snap this photo of some poiple flowers somewhere between Mt. Pinos and Tejon Pass.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve traveled this route and, even though descending from the Grapevine into the San Joaquin Valley portends a fairly boring drive for the next few hours, I’ve always enjoyed this part of it.

As a young man, I must have hitchhiked up and back from the Bay Area dozens of times; many of them were up the 99, before the 5 was completed. The first few years after completion, the 5 was faster, but depressingly boring. Here’s where those two roads diverged in a yellow field.

We passed this raceway, which we at first thought was the Buttonwillow Raceway, but it turned out to be the Kern County Raceway Park. It seems, from the highway, like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but the map shows it’s actually not far from Bakersfield. In case you didn’t know it, Merle Haggard was born in Oildale, a small town just North of Bakersfield. Back in the late sixties, I spent a week in Oildale one day, but that’s another story involving a school bus and an anti-war demonstration in San Francisco.

The two cups of coffee I had for breakfast, and the beer I had at lunch, finally caught up to me and we had to make a pit stop in Kettleman City.

According to Wikipedia, “The San Joaquin Valley has been called ‘The food basket of the world’, for the diversity of its produce. Walnuts, oranges, peaches, garlic, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, hay, alfalfa and numerous other crops have been harvested with great success.

Steve and I had no trouble identifying grapes, corn, and cauliflower, but I originally thought these trees were almond trees. However, after a reverse image search, we’re pretty sure these are pistachio trees.

We arrived and have checked in. We’re watching the end of the 3rd round. As soon as it’s over, we’re walking across the parking lot to have dinner at Pea Soup Andersen’s. After that, we’re heading to the Paraiso Brewery in Los Banos. Tonight is comedy night.

I’m hopeful I can capture some of the beauty of the course at Pebble tomorrow. We’ll see.


119th U.S. Open

Tomorrow, Steve (my former colleague, great friend, and gym partner) and I are heading up North for the final day of the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, California. We’re going to head out a little after noon and hightail it up to either Santa Nella or Gustine, CA, both of which are East and a wee tad North of the Monterey Peninsula.

I have been to Pebble Beach once before, about 18 years ago. We went to the AT&T and stayed in Carmel-by-the-Sea, where I purchased a boar bristle shaving brush that is as lush and comfortable to use today as it was when I first purchased it. Wasn’t cheap, but I have no doubt it will last another twenty years, which is probably longer than I’m going to last, as I’ll be 92 by then!

I’ve seen a few nice courses in my life; even played a few of them, but I’ve never played Pebble. It is, however, surely one of the most beautiful places on Earth. One of my enduring—and moderately painful—memories of that tournament has to do with the pictures we took. Upon returning, we took our photos to Costco for processing. Back then photos were all just left in their envelopes in a big box on the counter and people were free to rummage through the box and find their own photos. Unfortunately for us, someone found, and took, our photos. They never returned them. I’m hopeful I can get a few pics this time around, though there are plenty of wonderful pictures available, so it’s no longer terribly important to me to have photos . . . unless it’s a selfie with Tiger or Phil in the background.


Thirty Years Gone – My Old Man

Eddie Ladd with his bestie, Fred DiBiase

Eddie Ladd with his bestie, Fred DiBiase

Thirty years ago today my father suffered his fourth, and final, heart attack. It happened while he was undergoing the insertion of a Swan-Ganz catheter to monitor the functioning of his heart subsequent to his third heart attack. He did not survive the procedure. While I don’t have a truly eidetic memory, I am cursed with a reasonably healthy ability to picture things in my head. My memory of that night haunts me to this day.

The last time I saw him, he was being wheeled out of his hospital room toward the catheterization laboratory at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Panorama City, CA. The man who had brought me into the world, who had carried me in his arms into my bed when I’d fallen asleep in the car,  who protected me, and who had — despite his disappointment and distress over many a choice I made in my crazy-ass life — stood beside me and sacrificed much for me, was scared. I didn’t like seeing it then and I don’t like remembering him that way now.

My old man was old school. Born in 1924, he would have been ninety on November 7th of this year.  He was the fourth child in his family; the first born in the United States after his mother and three older siblings were finally able to flee from the Ukraine and join my zeyda (grandfather in Yiddish), who had emigrated eight years earlier and finally saved enough money to bring them to Chicago. His name at birth was Isadore Edward Wladovsky and he was raised on the South side of Chicago, where he attended Washington High School.

He did not graduate, choosing instead to join the U.S. Navy when he was in his senior year. He had turned seventeen on November 7, 1941, one month before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He completed boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. I don’t know a lot about his service, other than he was on at least one Murmansk run; a very dangerous voyage through the North Atlantic bringing supplies to the Russians via the port of Murmansk. He also wrote and drew cartoons for the ship’s news bulletin. I used to have faded, crumbling copies of some of them, but they have either disappeared or are in a box somewhere in my garage. The highest rank he achieved was Radioman 3rd Class. I remember a short vacation in San Diego when I was in my early teens and we went down to the docks to view one of the ships where they were providing tours. We were standing alongside the ship and he was able to use his knowledge of Morse Code to read what one of the Naval vessels was signaling to another.

Arctic Circle Crossing Certificate

This certificate was given to each man aboard the William H. Webb upon crossing the Arctic Circle

Every father has a chance to be a superhero for a while and mine was no exception. When he carried me in his arms as a toddler, I was invincible, and when he tucked me into bed I was safe and secure. He was the strongest man alive as far as I was concerned and he could do just about anything. Once he even convinced me, after demonstrating the fine art of blowing smoke rings (he was a Pall Mall man at the time), that he could create a smoke piano. To this day I swear I saw all 88 keys on that grand piano!

Unfortunately, time burnishes off the luster of perfection and, more likely than not, children realize their parents are — much to their horror and consternation — merely human beings; flawed, imperfect, and capable of making mistakes.

Such was my experience. I’m not sure when it happened, and I’m reasonably certain it had as much to do with my rebelliousness as anything else, but the day inevitably came when I suddenly realized how “stupid” he had grown. After that, we didn’t get along all that well for a long time. Part of the problem, no doubt, was my father’s very conservative upbringing and his propensity to criticize and seldom praise. I was expected to excel and when I didn’t, there was hell to pay.

He had a quick temper and, in today’s world, I’m reasonably certain he would be, at best, a candidate for anger management. He was quick to strike and, when he did, it was frequently with the back of his hand. If I fell to the ground to avoid the blows he wouldn’t actually kick me, but he’d push me around on the floor in frustration. To be fair, it didn’t happen often and I never suffered more than bright red hand marks on my back or – sometimes – my face. My mother often came to my rescue, screaming at him to leave me alone. He once took a swing at by brother, who ducked, and ended up hitting the youngest son of a neighbor of ours. That didn’t go over too well and I think he was so mortified he decided it was time to stop with the corporal punishment.

I also think he was haunted by the many fitful nights he spent aboard ship in the North Atlantic, knowing they were being shadowed by a German Wolf Pack and could be torpedoed and sunk at any time, a fact made evident by the ships around his that suffered such a fate. Survival in those waters was very unlikely and I can’t imagine it was easy to get any real deep sleep. On those occasions my mother would ask me to wake him, I learned very quickly not to be within striking distance, as he came out of his sleep as though General Quarters was sounding.

Despite our troubled, angry, and frustrating relationship we loved each other and, thankfully, in the two or three years prior to his death we were enjoying a growing closeness — even a budding friendship. We had worked together in the business he started, which transformed from Ladd Meats to Edward Ladd & Sons, my brother having joined it years earlier.

He took up golf late in life and became a scratch golfer. He wanted me to golf as well, but the grief he gave me over being left-handed (I tried to learn right-handed, but just couldn’t get comfortable with it) and the proximity of the ocean, where I had learned to surf, doomed that venture to failure. I didn’t come back to golf until I was 46, nearly a decade after his death. I have few regrets in my life, but one of them is never having played a round of golf with the old man. I drove him around in a golf cart many times, but never played back then. Shortly after I started playing, I went to Porter Valley Country Club, where he had been President of the Men’s Club one year, and had played there a couple times a week for many years. They still had his picture on the wall and gave me a cart to drive around the course, which I did, trying to imagine him playing each hole.

We buried him in his favorite golf clothes, clutching his favorite putter, which we believe he would have liked. I’ve been told the groundskeeper at Porter Valley lowered the flag at the Club to half staff when he learned my father  had died. I think it choked me up more than any reaction I heard about.

Eddie Ladd

The Old Man at About 50

After he died, I can’t recall how many times something good would happen to me and I wanted to let him know, sure he would be proud or excited for me. Anyone who has smoked and quit knows the feeling of absentmindedly reaching in one’s pocket for a pack of cigarettes, only to discover there’s nothing there; then remembering you’d stopped smoking. That’s how it felt – only worse – when I wanted to share something with my dad, and the realization he was gone would hit me. The hole in my heart dropped down to my stomach and it took a few minutes to shake off the hollow feeling it brought.

About two or three years after his death, I dreamed I ran into him on a cliff overlooking a beach. I don’t know where the beach was, but in the dream we spent the entire day together, exploring caves, sharing a meal, and talking. We talked about my life and he assured me he was fine and happy to see I was doing well. I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t believe I was really talking to my father. However, I do believe I was putting a few “ghosts” to rest by dealing with some of the unfinished business from my perspective; some of the things we never got to do together. It was the best dream I’ve ever had and I remember it to this day. Not in great detail, but definitely in terms of how it made me feel.

He left little of material value, save a moderate life insurance payment that went to sustain the family business, which provided for our mother and our sister who was, I believe, just entering her last year of High School or who had just graduated and was still living at home. I got a piece of jewelry and some clothing, some of which I kept for many years afterward. I still have the pendant, which was custom made for him by an old friend of mine. One of the non-material things he left me was an ability to recognize absurdity and the willingness to comment on or satirize it. He also had lots of silly sayings the family still refers to as “Eddieisms”.

He was a hard worker who was able to move from behind the counter of a small deli in the Grand Central Market, to owning a small truck with which he would purchase and transport distressed merchandise to some of the poorer markets and butcher shops in and around L.A. He was a peddler, once the “broken hot dog king” of the City. He had a wonderful singing voice and many times, during the shows our temple, Valley Beth Israel, would put on for the congregation, people swore he was lip-syncing to Sinatra. He wasn’t. Most everybody he knew loved him and, true to the stormy nature of our relationship, I many times referred to hm as a “lovable asshole”.

To say I miss him would be both an exaggeration and an understatement. I don’t think about him every day. It serves no good purpose and I have a life, a wife, and two young children who still depend on me being with them every day in many ways. Nevertheless, he will always be a part of my life and there are numerous times when I think of him. I would give anything to be able to tell him how much I love him and how much he remains a big part of my life and who I’ve become.


Who Needs Progress Reports?

Brain in light bulb

Working Out Loud – What a Bright Idea!

I recently posted a little bit about a presentation I gave entitled “The Crowd, The Cloud, and Working Out Loud”. One of the examples I’ve always given when explaining the value of working out loud (sometimes referred to as “Observable Work”) is that of eliminating monthly progress reports. Most anyone who’s had to do these knows how time-consuming they can be and how much of the information meant to be conveyed by them is lost or distorted as it moves up the corporate power structure.

The whole idea of working out loud is to make the things we’re doing more (and more immediately) visible to those who need or can use such information. In this way, less fidelity is lost in translation and useful  information and knowledge are available quicker than with conventional methods, which generally take more than a month before they get filtered, rehashed, and finally communicated.

At any rate, I am currently working on a short introductory paper on the usefulness of an Earned Value Management System (EVMS) and, in doing so, I was searching through some of my old papers, etc. I came across a status report I sent to my managers at what was then called Boeing North American, Inc. – Rocketdyne Division (part of the Boeing Defense & Space Group) on October 1, 1999. Interesting, the subject is “August 1999 Status Report”, so it looks like information lagged even further behind than I have been thinking.

The sections of the report are Accomplishments, Issues, and Performance Improvements. In each of the first two sections there’s some serious stuff being addressed regarding our effort at the time to complete 10 High Pressure Fuel Turbopumps for the Space Shuttle Main Engine. I find it somewhat fascinating to read this stuff after almost 15 years have passed.

However, what really stood out for me is the final entry under Performance Improvements. As I have indicated, I’m not a big fan of status reports . . . and here’s what I had to say in that section:

Probably lots of little things. Nothing significant I can remember. Oh! I’ve started using a 7-Iron again to chip around the greens. I chipped in for a birdie on number 10 at Simi the other day. That was an improvement.

Although I have no specific recollection of writing that bit of important information, I am not surprised. Clearly, I did not take the authoring of status reports any more seriously back then than I do now. Neither should you.


The Pleasures of Walking

For almost a quarter century I have spent my life planted behind a desk, working and playing with computers and the online (Intra and inter) world. I exercised once in awhile but, for the most part, was content to delude myself into thinking exercising my intellect was sufficient. I knew it wasn’t true, but there was so much to learn and so many things to do, I just couldn’t get off my ass and get the exercise I needed.

This is not the entire truth. Shortly after my 46th birthday, I was summarily drafted to play in a golf tournament being conducted by the Program Office where I worked. I reluctantly agreed and decided it might be best to prepare — that is go to the driving range and hit a few balls — something I had only done once since I determined golf was for old men back when I was 15 years old.

I played in that tournament and within a short while found myself returning to the range on a daily basis. I was hooked. So I got some exercise — I stretched, swung, and walked a fair amount. I did almost every day, sometimes all day, for a few years. You can walk a lot playing 18 holes of golf; as much as five miles (if you play what they call “Army” golf — left, right, left) and I liked to carry my clubs.

Unfortunately,a few years later a crippling attack of Sciatica put a giant crimp, and an indeterminate hold, on my ability to play the game. That was followed shortly thereafter by a decision to adopt, which pretty much ended golf for me. So, for the most part, I’ve remained behind a desk.

Last month, with the entry of our oldest to middle school, which now makes it necessary for our girls to be taken to schools separately, I made the decision to walk our youngest to school each morning. I purchased some walking shoes online, downloaded an app to my phone for keeping track of my walks, and set off to change things a bit.

I should point out I’m now 66 years old and all those sedentary years don’t just drop off in the face of moderate activity, like they used to in . . . say . . . my thirties. Nevertheless, I’ve been pretty diligent and, save for Thursday mornings when I have a Rotary Club breakfast meeting to attend at 7:00 am, I’ve walked my daughter to school every day.

We pass by a flood control channel, populated by this forlorn basketball, every day. I've named it Wendy and now think of her asWilson’s cousin. On this day she was accompanied by these two ducks, who my daughter decided would be named Molly and Junior. I doubt we'll ever see them again, but it was good to see some life in the channel.

We pass by a flood control channel, populated by this forlorn basketball, every day. I’ve named it Wendy and now think of her asWilson’s cousin. On this day she was accompanied by these two ducks, who my daughter decided would be named Molly and Junior. I doubt we’ll ever see them again, but it was good to see some life in the channel.

The walking is still a bit tiring, even though it’s only a mile I’m covering round trip. What I have discovered, however, is the difference in perception from when I’m in a vehicle. Most of us probably don’t realize it, but when we’re in our vehicles the majority of our senses are either stunted or deprived of input.

We see, but most of the things we look at are related to either safety or arriving at a particular destination. We can’t afford to actually pay attention to much else. We hear, but almost all aural input comes from inside the vehicle, unless someone honks at us or an emergency vehicle approaches, siren screaming. We smell little, save for the occasional wafting of BBQ, hamburger, or other food odors. We touch and taste nothing.

Not so on foot. One of the first things I noticed was the houses and yards of my neighbors. Sure, I’d seen them all before many times, but not with the clarity I’m seeing them now. I hear sprinklers, vehicles, children on bicycles and scooters, crows foraging, and other birds singing. I can smell the grass or even stop and smell the roses (or other flowers), and I can touch and taste anything I feel like, though I doubt I’ll be doing much of the latter.

The point is, walking puts you in the middle of things, whereas driving kind of puts you in a layer sitting on top of things. A vehicle serves as insulation, a cocoon of plastic, rubber, and steel. You can roll up the windows, turn on the radio or CD, and sever all but the most necessary of ties with just about everything around you. This isn’t possible when walking. You walk in the same layer as everything around you. Even the vehicles that pass are an important part, because you have to ensure they don’t impinge on the layer you’re in and end up seriously ruining your day.

Another benefit for me is I get to hold my daughter’s hand on the way and her incessant and zany questioning about my preferences amongst lists of things she will provide for me (“would you rather eat Jell-O or be a Zebra?”) becomes more like a game, and less of a distraction. So this walking thing is clearly beneficial for both of us, in at least two ways. I believe I’m going to continue this behavior. You should try it.


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