Monday, February 05, 2018

I Love My Mother, but.................

I buy groceries for my mother each Sunday after church. She is 92. She leaves me a phone message with her list and I stop at the Baker’s on Saddle Creek and Leavenworth on the way to her apartment. It’s not a long list usually, maybe a dozen items, and it’s usually fairly predictable. And every so often, I will need to do a secondary stop at the HyVee since Baker’s does not carry the 39 serving Nestle’s chocolate mix she wants. And this is fine. And by the way, Bakers is the only supplier of pina colada yogurt or the broccoli salad that she likes. Or sometimes I will make a pharmacy run for vitamin supplements, or other medical supplies. But I cope with all this because she is, well, you know, my mother.

Every so often, though, Mother will throw a grocery list curve ball that disrupts my understanding of life and decorum and tradition and from which it takes a while to recover. A staple on her grocery lists for years has always been Honey Nut Cheerios. Two large boxes. For years. I know exactly where to find them in the cereal department. The large boxes are on the bottom shelf about half way down the aisle. So out of nowhere and with no warning about four months ago, Mother decides she wants Corn Flakes instead. Not Honey Nut Cheerios which is the norm, the custom, the historically recognized breakfast cereal. But two boxes of Corn Flakes. “Why now?” I wonder. Is it something I did? Is this my fault? What’s next, Shredded Wheat? Rice Krispies? Cocoa Puffs? This is way out of my comfort zone. But I persevere. I adjust to the changing circumstances of life. I search for and locate the Corn Flakes. I pass by the Honey Nut Cheerios in the aisle and I feel them looking at me wondering what is wrong. But I keep right on going until I get to the Corn Flakes and get two large boxes. All is well. I’ll be okay.

But today, Mother’s grocery list called for one box of Honey Nut Cheerios and one box of Corn Flakes. And I’m not even used to getting the Corn Flakes yet. Sometimes the burdens we must bear can be overwhelming. But I shall persevere. I will adapt. I will go along as the dutiful son. And I haven’t even gone into the time she asked me go get “about three” bananas.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Our Ancestors Played with Hairy Balls

Chapter 20) Our Ancestors had Hairy Balls

Ball Selection – This is a serious matter. Covers, compression, construction, spin-rate, and dimples. Golf balls are round. Smooth round doesn’t fly through the air all that well so early golf geniuses added cuts and scrapes, bumps, and later, dimples. Dimples have been round, square, and hexagonal. They may be shallow or ever-so-less shallow. Turbulence and laminar flow are concepts in modern golf ball design and jet aircraft flight.
History of the Ball 1486 to 1898: wooden, hairy, featherie, gutta, and Haskell. Wooden – pretty self explanatory; they used beech. A guy with a pocket knife carved them. Hairy balls? An advance. I wonder if there any possible jokes there? Both the hairy and the featherie were leather covered and filled with cow hair, and later chicken or goose feathers. Made while wet, the hair, feathers, and leather shrank and hardened when dry. The gutta was made from dried sap of the Malaysian sapodilla tree and was the first one-piece ball. I don’t think the Malaysians were big golfers though. I could be wrong. The evolution from cow hair to feathers was not a change Darwin paid attention to, but the gutta advanced golf and lowered handicaps everywhere, traveling farther and straighter. In fact, golfers noted the more nicks and bumps on a gutta ball, the farther and straighter it traveled, leading to the modern dimples. The Haskell is so named for the guy in 1898 who first wound long rubber strands into a ball and noticed it bounced pretty high. It was covered with the sap of the balata tree, and voila!, a balata covered golf ball. Balata has since met its evolutionary dead end. That pretty much covers golf balls from 1486 to the later twentieth century. I once removed the cover of a 1950s wound ball and stretched the continuous rubber band around our house in Sheridan, Wyoming. As I remember, it went around that three-bedroom bungalow four times. It had a steel ball bearing at the center. A later development of the wound ball was a liquid center. Modern golf ball design gets a bit more complicated.

History of the Dimple – There’s nothing like a dimple on the cheek of a cute girl, or guy, depending on which way you swing, so to speak, or on a golf ball. From the whack marks on a gutta to the modern Isocohedronic pattern on a Titleist, dimples make everyone smile. An internet spreadsheet list every ball, every dimple configuration and number, and the characteristics thereof (see I found this from a University of Budapest article on golf ball dimples: “The number of dimples and nodes (dimple sizes) is not arbitrary. The optimum dimple number has been defined at about 350 to 450 per ball, but the number of dimples can vary from 252 to 500 dimples per ball. Some of the most popular number of dimples, according to Tibor Tarnai, an engineer at the Technical University of Budapest, are 332, 360, 384, 392, 416, 420, 432 and 480, all of which are found in commercial balls. There is also a tendency to produce dimple patterns with the highest order of symmetry, leading from the Octahedron pattern, which divides the golf ball’s surface in eight identical triangles to the Icosahedron pattern, created by Titleist in 1973, dividing the ball’s surface into 20 identical triangles.”
Covers - Balata, Surlyn/Ionomer, trionomer, or urethane covers. Balata covers are rare these days. Surlyn and the ionomers are the most durable; urethane affords more spin. Surlyn is made by DuPont which says, “Surlyn brand resins are unique ionomer-class molding and extrusion materials created from DuPont proprietary acid copolymers. Starting with selected molecular weight grades of copolymers such as ethylene/methacrylic acid, DuPont adds zinc, sodium, lithium or other metal salts. Acid neutralization results in the formation of ion clusters (hence the general term, "ionomer") within the resulting polymer matrix.” Urethanes “ are made by the exothermic reactions between alcohols with two or more reactive hydroxyl (-OH) groups per molecule (diols, triols, polyols) and isocyanates that have more than one reactive isocyanate group (-NCO) per molecule (diisocyanates, polyisocyanates).” So, there you go: surlyn covers are hard and durable, urethanes are softer.

Construction - 2 piece, 3 piece, 4 piece, and now even 5 piece. Layers of soft and hard materials make a difference according to the swing speed of the golfer so you get more distance in a drive or more action around a green depending on how much you compress the ball with the strike of the club, that is, at which layer your club no longer compresses the ball. Golf Week says, “Three-piece balls used to feature threads of rubber or elastic wound tightly around the core. The cores of today’s balls are generally wrapped with synthetic rubber or plastic. Some Titleist balls, for example, use thermoplastic resins called ionomers. Nike surrounds its resin-center ball with synthetic rubber. Other balls are referred to as “dual core” because the core and the next layer or layers are all made of synthetic rubber. As of 2012, the most complex balls contain five pieces, including the cover. TaylorMade produced the first five-piece ball, containing a small rubber core surrounded by three progressively firmer layers made from synthetic rubber, HPF 1000 (an ionomer resin) and thermoplastic, respectively.”

I do not currently believe the color of a golf ball is a significant factor; however, I think studies should be done on the variations in color and how that affects the motor-neuron- synaptic firing sequence when mentally processing the golf swing -- just in case.

I play found balls, that is, balls I find while playing. And given the numbers of bad golfers out there who buy decent golf balls, no shortage of decent lost balls exists. When I play, I will often walk along the edges of tree lines, or higher grass cuts, with my eye searching for that glimpse of white, yellow, or orange that could be a ball. There are a select few “ball rich” environments I tend to concentrate on like the right side of hole #14 at Shoreline, or the long grasses along the creeks of most courses. I think this harkens back to the days when I learned to play on a sand green, nine-hole course, carved out of McCracken’s pasture in Friend, Ne. I couldn’t afford to buy balls, so I’d bike the two or three miles out there and look for balls in the farm fields bordering the course. One time, Barb McCracken, brought me a glass of water when she saw me out there. I liked her. This has afforded me the chance to hit hundreds of differently manufactured golf balls. I play a variety of balls. I do avoid water balls though.
If you do the permutations of dimple patterns, size, depth, cover compositions, compression, spin rates, construction elements, you come up with about seven trillion possibilities which is about seven trillion more than the average 10 handicapper can process. So close your eyes and just grab a box of Pinnacles, Srixons, Titleists, or Callaways, or virtually any brand, off the shelf and go forth. You are most likely not discerning enough to notice the difference. Advanced golfers and/or anal-retentive personality types – see Ch. 12.