Isn’t "100% chance" an oxymoron?

I had to laugh. Listening to local radio this morning on my way to work in the pouring rain, the weather guy said “there’s a 100% chance of rain today and a 70% chance of rain tomorrow.” Now, in my book, 100% is a whole lot more than a chance. Am I crazy? Is it supposed to make us feel better, as if there is a chance it won’t rain? If I tell someone they have a 100% chance of failing their driver’s test if they crash while taking it, is that better than telling them failure is certain? Maybe the weatherman didn’t want to be wrong, as they usually are, so he used the word chance to give himself some wiggle room, despite the fact that it was raining at that very moment (and has continued to rain all day long). I just had to chuckle.

Poor grammar, atrocious punctuation, unbelievably awful spelling, they are the bane of my existence. I am reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, and thoroughly enjoying it. She is my latest idol. I thought I was alone in this world, but Lynne has made it acceptable to “come out” as a grammar stickler; now I find we number in the thousands. I am delighted! Unfortunately, I’m as much a spelling stickler as I am a grammar stickler, to my children’s chagrin. My current pet peeve is the incorrect use of “less” when “fewer” is the proper adjective. There are FEWER calories, not less. There is less fat, but there are fewer carbs. Advertisers like the way it looks on a package when it says “LESS FAT, LESS CARBS”, often putting “less” in large letters with the words “fat” and “carbs” on top of each other in smaller type immediately following the word “LESS.” It has advertising appeal, though it lacks grammatical correctness. That’s my current pet peeve. Although, the complete absence of adverbs in common speech today ranks a close second. “Easily” and “quickly” have vanished from usage; they have been replaced by “easy” and “quick”. It’s enough to make a grown woman cry. If you feel as I do about these abominations of grammar, read Lynne’s book. You’ll love it. Or you’ll find, as I have found, that though you consider yourself a grammar nazi, you make mistakes; you use semicolons incorrectly – or not at all; you suffer from comma anxiety, wondering if you’ve used too many – or not enough. It has caused me to reread practically everything I’ve written herein – and to edit accordingly.

Now, I’m going to head out into the 100% chance of rain that is thundering down (literally – thunder and lightning fills the sky every few seconds, and rain is pouring down so hard I can’t see across the street), and make my way home while I ponder missing apostrophes, misused commas, and forgotten adverbs. Ciao!

Blogs rock!

I have never been one to keep a diary or journal. Though I love to write, even imagine myself actually writing a bestseller some day, I have never found journaling appealing. When I first heard of blogs I asked myself “why?” Blogging sounded so narcissistic. But lately, blogging has been in the news. It turns out many corporations have begun to use blogs as a sort of public relations tool. Supposedly, a blog by a corporate VP puts a more personal face on the organization, as opposed to the slick press releases that are often viewed as simply spin. Blogging has become a staff communication tool for corporate executives as well. In theory, employees get a peek inside the mind of the executive separate from the plethora of memos and directives for which management is notorious. These bits of information piqued my interest in blogging. I wondered if perhaps the library could use blogging to facilitate a “connection” between staff and management. A lack thereof is something the staff complains about on a regular basis. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of burden it would place on management if they were required to write something in a blog on a regular basis. We are all already overworked and perpetually backlogged. So, I decided to give it a try myself first before suggesting it to my fellow management team members. To my surprise, I actually look forward to posting to my blog – so far. I suspect there will come times when I am far too busy to continue regular postings and dates between posts will become farther apart, but for now, I am enjoying it. I find myself thinking of various topics for posts as I lay in bed at night awaiting sleep’s arrival. And now that I blog, I find myself drawn to blogs of others. Some are just egotistical ramblings not worth reading, while others are riveting. I strive for the latter, but would be satisfied if the random reader stumbling across my blog found them simply mildly interesting.

On that note, using Nathan Harrison’s (my son’s college roommate) blog as a starting point, I find myself captivated by not only his blog, but by those to which he has linked. It’s an opportunity to see inside the mind of kids my son’s age that we adults don’t often get. Reading the various blogs, and the comments attached to them, I find myself impressed with these kids. They are bright, thoughtful, informed, and articulate. Perhaps these particular “kids” are not the norm. I like to think otherwise. Far too often we adults write teenagers off as self-absorbed, indulgent, superficial, and rude. Read these blogs and comments, look past the occasional profane comment, and see how passionate these young people are about the issues that matter to them. For that matter, read them and find out what those issues are. It’s been heartening and enlightening. I feel a little like I’m spying on these kids. I hope they don’t mind an old fart like me peering into their world. If they realized the positive impact their blogs have had, they’d likely welcome more “mature” readers. Keep up the blogging, kids. And thank you for allowing me into your world. Maybe they’ll eventually read mine and understand my generation just a little better. What a tool blogs are!

Rainy days and Mondays

It’s been hot here in Sandpoint. Unbelievably, blisteringly hot. For weeks. In the course of a normal summer, we get our 100+ degree days, but they are not the norm. We may have two or three strung together like paper lanterns on a patio during a summer party, but rarely do we have a week of them. Our typical summer temperature is 80-ish with a few 90-ish days sprinkled in for good measure. This has not been a typical summer. We’ve had more 100+ degree days than we’ve had in the 21 years I’ve lived here. Our typical daytime temp has been in the mid to high 90’s. Definitely not what one imagines when thinking of the Pacific Northwest.

Yesterday, all that changed. It rained. I awoke to a blessedly cool drizzle noiselessly watering my lawn, my garden, my flowerpots. It was wonderful. I’m not one normally given to odes about rainy days. In fact, as a California native who grew up on the ocean, I love the sun, summer, and hot days on the lake. But for some reason, these past couple of weeks I found myself longing for rain. Everything was beginning to look brown and dead and no amount of watering seemed to help. It’s amazing how quickly cool, rainy days can change all that. It rained all day yesterday and has been raining pretty much all day today. And suddenly, the lush, green scenery is back. My front lawn is thick and green. The back lawn, which was really looking thirsty, is basking in the rainfall, returning to its normal hue. The trees seem to be reaching higher, as if to thank God for His gift. Rain.

I never thought I’d be so happy about a rainy day. Sleeping at night is so much easier. The rain pattering quietly on the deck outside my bedroom door is like a lullaby, making drifting off to sleep so easy. I don’t wake up hot and sticky despite the fan going next to the bed (it’s never hot long enough to justify air conditioning). The squirrels have returned from whatever cool, shady nook they take to when the temperatures rise and are playing tag on my front lawn. My cat has even started acting like herself again, running like a kitten from one end of the house to the other, chasing imaginary mice or cats. I love the rain. Now, if this keeps up too long, I won’t be loving it for long. But for now, it’s a welcome respite from the abnormally hot days we were suffering through. If we could just go back to sunny days in the high 70’s after this little rainy spell it would be perfect.

Rainy days and Mondays don’t always get me down.

10 under and closest to the pin

That was our team’s score at the end of the day. The best news is, I didn’t suck. Well, I didn’t really, really suck. Let me tell you about the day.

After spending far too long frantically arranging the pick-up of my youngest son’s new Alienware computer (the one he’s taking to college) from FedEx Ground, I found myself running late. An hour behind schedule, I picked up my daughter-in-law and sped off toward The Highlands Golf & Country Club in Post Falls, ID. We arrived about 15 minutes before check-in. Plenty of time! I went in and got my rental clubs (remind me not to do that again – they weren’t even a matched set!) and paid for some range balls. Shannon (my daughter-in-law) and I went to the range in search of my oldest son and the rest of our team. We didn’t see them so we just set about hitting balls. I pulled out a 7-iron and started banging balls. As expected, my first few attempts were pathetic. I couldn’t get the ball in the air to save my life. But a few more whacks and suddenly the shots were flying high and straight. I was amazed. I still had it! Over ten years since I’d played and my swing was still there – for the most part. It kept going back into retirement every few shots, and required a lot of concentration to coax it back into action, but it was still there. I had hope. I kept banging the 7-iron until I felt fairly confident with it; then I pulled out the driver. The last time I attempted to play golf, I couldn’t hit the driver to save my life. I expected nothing better this time. Was I in for a surprise! I actually hit it decently! Oh, I had my share of pulls to the left, shots that didn’t get very far off the ground, and some slices, but at least half the shots were acceptable. They’d play. I was ecstatic. This was better than I had hoped for. I had even gotten some compliments from some of the guys on the practice tee (Shannon and I were the only females) about what a nice swing I had and how far I hit the ball. Just like the good old days! Suddenly, time was up. It was time to get into our carts and head to our tee-off hole. D-Day.

The tournament was a scramble. All four team members hit their tee shot and the best one is selected. Then all four team members drop their ball where the best shot landed and hit from there. Again, the best shot is selected. This pattern is followed for each shot until you put the ball in the cup. To prevent the team from being carried solely by the great player(s), you have to use at least two tee shots from every person on the team. That meant that at least two of my tee shots had to be playable. Given my performance on the practice tee, I wasn’t worried about being able to contribute.

My team consisted of 3 guys (my oldest son and two of his friends) and me. Our “ringer” was Stu. Stu is an amazing golfer. He plays scratch golf. For the uninitiated, that means he plays at or below par. Apparently, just last week, he played The Highlands and shot 6 under. I was sufficiently impressed. On the same tee with us, but playing first, was my daughter-in-law’s team, consisting of her, her office partner, and two friends of his. Here’s a shot of the gang (sans me).

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Shannon’s team teed off first. They had at least two decent shots from which to choose. Then it was our turn. Tommy went first. His drive went to the right, into the trees. Then Dana. He hit it pretty well, right of middle. Then Stu. Stu knocked the ball dead down the middle in perfect position. Then it was my turn. What a joke. That swing I had on the practice tee had fled in fear. It was nowhere to be found. My shot went left and low. This was not a good sign. Okay, “first tee jitters” I told myself. I could only hope that was the case. My second shot was not horrible, but it didn’t help. I was beginning to believe that the practice tee and the course were actually in two different dimensions. Again, Stu carried us. I think we all putted and came close, but I think Stu put it in the hole. This was pretty much the way every hole went. We all hit our tee shots; Stu’s was the best. We all hit our fairway shots; Stu’s was the best. At least when it came to putting we all contributed pretty evenly. I made some great long putts and blew some short ones. Tommy and Dana made their share, and Stu made more than his share. I did finally have some pretty respectable tee shots, and easily found two of mine to use. At the end of the day, without mulligans, we were 10 under. We blew a par 5 that we should have eagled, and a par 4 we should have birdied, but we had a blast.

The teams that won were over 20 under. They had bought mulligans and “string”, which we did not. Mulligans meant they could have a “do over” on as many shots as they had bought mulligans. The string thing was new to me. If you had a putt, for example, that missed the cup by the length of the string or less (about 18″) you could count it as good if you had bought string. Geez, we had several of those! But we played without gimmicks and finished just 3 back of Shannon’s team, that had bought 6 mulligans. I didn’t feel too bad about our performance. I hope Stu didn’t mind playing with such a hacker. He didn’t seem to. He was very congenial, and I enjoyed talking with him about his business (roofing contractor), his education, golf background, etc.

Oh, one more thing: on an 86-yard (for women) par 3, I hit a sand wedge to the very front edge of the green. I didn’t know, until we got to the green, that this was the “closest to the pin” contest hole for women. Well, there were no names on the card yet. I put mine on it since, though I was 15 feet from the cup, I was obviously the closest so far. It was a hole where you had to fly over a big gully that may have intimidated some people. Miss it short and you’re in the gully; miss it long and you’re OB. Well, apparently, no other women hit the green, because I won “closest to the pin”! I’d never have expected that! I got some nice prizes, including a $20 Starbucks card. At the dinner they had drawings – and I won again! So, I made out. It was a really fun day. Thanks Belfor for a great tournament, and thanks Stu for carrying my sorry butt for 18 holes.

There is only one downside to my playing in this tournament. I have the golf bug again. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, or afford it, but I have to find a way to start playing regularly again. I still really love this sport, and I want my swing to come back permanently.