Tuesday, May 31, 2005

NASCAR - Coca Cola 600

Watching the Coca Cola 600 on Sunday night reminded me there is not a more entertaining or well-executed enterprise than NASCAR. I had the opportunity to attend the 2005 Daytona 500, which in combination with the final turn Jimmie Johnson victory, have made for two of the more exciting sports finishes of the year.

Attending the 500 was an exhausting experience, but certainly worthwile. If you attend a race, remember the following:

- Buy your tickets in advance. NASCAR (espically Daytona) is a sellers market. We scalped tickets by the finish line for slightly over face as the race was about to begin, solely because we knew the scalper hocking on the corner (creepy, I realize).
- Scout the seating layout. Buying tickets in the lower rows of the backstretch is a waste of $$$, as you are facing the sun and have a limited view of the track.
- The event is BYOB, but in transparent plastic bags or flexible coolers. Would have saved us the cost of the 16oz. cans of Miller Light in the race, but somehow it added to the experience.

NASCAR fans are the most brand supportive lot of individuals I have ever seen. To attend and NOT have a race-related shirt/hat/denim jacket/hightops makes you stand out. Suprisingly 70-80% root for Dale Jr.

Bring sunglasses and a jacket, even if it is 80'. The track speeds whip up quite a frenzy, and as the sun sets the temperature drops.

I also learned that Dale Jr., in spite of his notoriety and currently poor season, is an amazing driver. He came from 30 cars back to challenge for the win at Daytona in the final 20 laps. It was unbelieveable, and NASCAR fans recognized his efforts and offered appropriate cheering and support.

Will I watch every race? No, but I will follow and support NASCAR, it is a great experience.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Morning Round

This morning I had the opportunity to play a solo round of golf, which is one of the truest forms of sports enjoyment. Nothing is better than being the first person on a golf course, before the mowers, which leads to a very introspective round and well thought-out (if not well executed shots). I did ride a cart, but would have preferred to have walked. Nonetheless I was treated to my fair amount of dew and left numerous dew streaks on the grees. When the greenskeeper cuts the sixth green, he'll be the only other individual to view the 20 foot birdie I curled in.

The thoughts that go through my head while playing early are comical. I somehow talk myself into laying up on a par-5 over a lake (Jerry Pate during yesteday's Senior PGA should have taught me otherwise) and after pushing a tee shot right on another par-5 I can easily remember and deadpan, "this is the bunker that lost me the club championship". Granted, that was easily five years ago, but is the golf-equivalent of a self-inflicted bad beat.

As I finished at 8:30 and saw the line on the first tee (being Memorial Day) I couldn't have gotten off the course faster. Nice how a two-hour round has become a privilege, and the uninterrupted shots don't let the multiple snap hooks settle too deep in my psyche.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Moore's Law

In an earlier post I mentioned Moore's Law, it's benefit to society, and the overall feel-good nature that technical advances are turning over at a steady 18 month cycle. To some extent, I feel the premise was an agreed-upon act of manufacturing/commercial entities to maximize profits. The "steady stream" of advancement makes it easy for companies to offer new products, satisfy the demand of the market, and release a new/advanced version down the line for a comparable price and reduce the price of the preexisting units. The 2005 version of "lather, rinse, repeat". Isn't it odd that consumer related technology has never had a "major" breakthrough where prices drastically decreased in a short amount of time, or a technical product had the "wow" factor, far bypassing all competitors?

Maybe I'm just upset I filled my 4G iPod.

Scramble is Miserable.

Yesterday I had the "opportunity" to play in a Captain's Choice golf tournament. By "opportunity" I mean at the 11th hour someone backed out and I wanted to replicate the feeling of a six-hour traffic jam.

The course that hosted the event specializes in golf outings (awesome). Squadrons of carts pointed in a myriad of directions, an ample supply to keep the three (!) courses clogged.

I can't overly complain about the golf or the tournament (or the matted driving range, multiple roads crossed between holes, the pushy beverage cart girl - I really want another Diet Coke after I refused one three minutes ago) because I knew what I had signed up for by entering.

The big joke of the day was the PA system utilized by the course to ready everyone for the event and send them on their merry way. No decent golf course should ever employ a PA. Like the other 90% of golfers, looking to enjoy a casual round, really care that mulligans are $5 and hamburgers are available after the round. Golf is/was meant to be a minimalist exercise, not 250 laps around the track at a flea market, which is the impression I get from any use of a PA.

We won the event. I got a 15 yellow Pinnacles and a ball-scoop. No shit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Having been afforded the privilege to golf for the majority of my life (going on nearly 20 years), I've seen the game evolve for the better/worse in a multitude of ways. Nothing was better than getting to the course @ 6:30 when school was out, being first off the tee, in complete seclusion, the first to render footprints in the dew down the middle of the fairway. Finshing the round by 9:30, the whole day was still for the taking, be it a non-golf related event, or back out for another 18, 27, as much golf as one could take in. While I did not belong to a completely private golf course, golf was not the egalitarian American sports centerpiece it has become, and was more relaxed and less rushed. Some trends I have found disturbing in the American golf landscape.

- Exaultation of the grandiose over minimalism. Forced carries, multi-tiered greens, demand for putting surfaces stimping above 10+, what could almost be termed "Extreme Golf" (the cliche's cliche'). I find it refreshing to play a classic course with fairways that bend, rather than jut, and don't mind if trees overhang holes to block pin positions, requiring working of the golf ball. A classic layout does not whore the blind shot or risk/reward mentality that prevades newer courses. By risk/reward, I don't mean a good shot played to an exacting pin location, rather a pin tucked in the elbow of a sloped green where a slightly errant strike carried green, fringe, deep rough, hazard in the span of 5-10 yeards. Hazards should be reached in an extended fashion, especially if the hazard is in the direction of a collection area.

My round at HarborTown (tic) comes to mind, as it required skill, course management, and creative thought. To succeed on a course of this nature requires the backwards thinking (green to tee) called for by Nicklaus. A well executed shot is not solely determined by distance (or carry as of 2005), but by shape and remaining swing (not yardage). "Swing" means the remaining shot must be played with a certain amount of spin, characteristic of a full swing or a 3/4 clipped approach. Shots from the rough must take into account lie and carry/roll, but when not played at the hole present the opportunity for recovery.

When I played at Hilton Head, I thought my brain out to the tune of 79. Did I follow my credo the entire 18 holes, hell no. But it was easy to see after playing a hole and viewing backwards from green to tee, what the hole dictates and where mistakes were made, delivering a penalized understanding for shots poorly played and poorly contrived.


As mentioned in my initial entry, I have an extreme dislike for all things associated with The Cheesecake Factory. Reasons include:

- The mosque architecture it employs, which provides no inference to the horrible food it serves. I used to have the displeasure of looking at one of the "domes" on the mosque from my residence, until the marvels of time erected another condominium complex that blocked the site line.
- The menu. TCF menu is 65 pages long, when it does not even need to exist. You could order anything you could possibly ever want, they have it all. Fish, meats, salads, or to be more exact, "something shitty with a four lb. side of mashed potatoes".
- The white elephant ripoff. Do people eat at TCF because they like the middle-school gymnasium ambiance, or have no problem with the overpriced tripe they pass as entrees? If I may offer advice, skip TCF, save 60% on your meal, and eat the Country Fried Steak at Bob Evans or Ponderosa, at least that comes with a salad bar.

Consulting Identifications

Anyone who has been in consulting any extended period of time can identify with the following annoyances:

- Anyone wearing a button-down short sleeved shirt ("I give up on life" outfit).
- A button down yellow shirt of any sort.
- The fat guy who breathes heavy on the elevator.
- Anyone who enters/exits an elevator at floors one level apart.
- The person who refuses to wear headphones when listening to music (normally of the 1981-1987 genre).
- Anyone who suggests The Cheescake Factory for a work function.

Don't get the wrong impression, I really enjoy my job, and am thankful for the intelligent people with whom I work, but there are some real knuckleheads in the public sector.

Titleist 905

Last weekend I had the opportunity to research and purchase the Titleist 905, upgrading from my current Titleist 983 (K, Fujikara Speeder Shaft, 8.5' loft). Unlike my prior club purchases, I took the time to swing different models on a swing monitor. My suggestions:

- Budget a good two hours to get a thorough feel for what club you are looking to purchase.
- Wear comfortable clothing (workout gear)/ Don't go dressed like you are heading to the first tee at a decent course, or 200 driver swings will leave you as sticky as a July afternoon at Hains Point.
- Have no preconceived notions as to what you want and will eventually purchase.

Initially, I told Steve (owner, Fredericksburg Golf Center) to give me the 905T, Fujikara Stiff, 8.5', which is the extension of my old 983K. Before even swinging, he told me it wouldn't be the club I would purchase (yeah right, I'd been hitting the equivalent for two years).

I got on the monitor, which charts swing speed, launch angle, club angle into the ball, ball spin, distance, carry, and overall composite score. After a few swings with the Fujikara K, I was launching the ball at an angle of 4' (shit!), which got it in the 270-280 distance range, but went against the grain of current driver technology (endorsing carry over roll). Steve attested (which I believed), "Carry is guaranteed, roll is not". Very true, as I have never gotten good roll in the pond left of #2 at Birdwood. Another such anecdote that I believed, but would have called BS had I not been purchasing from a long-time friend who always hooked me up on clubs, was that Vijay was hitting a 10' driver.

After literally 160-200 swings and hitting a myriad of drives (all Titleist), I ended up purchasing a 905T with a super-stiff Grafalloy shaft with a low kick-point and 2.8' tourque and 10.5' loft! NEVER the club I would have grabbed off the rack.

Ultimately, with drivers being so advanced, purchasing without a trip to the launch/swing monitor is flushing $$$, and don't laugh at the Smurf-blue shaft of my driver, it hits the ball a ton.

Call Forwarding?

I find it ridiculous that Sprint/AT&T/Verizon don't offer call forwarding when you switch to a new carrier (correct me if I am wrong). Moore's Law dictates eventually all companies will have homogeneous phone plans, so you would imagine one/all of the three would offer a distinct service as an identifying/unique factor...like call forwarding. Text messages, pictures, drunk-dials can be whisked around the globe, but you can't let my friends know I've changed numbers?

Maybe I shouldn't complain, it is a good method for shrinking the radius of one's circle of friends.

Good Morning! (5/25)

Good Morning!

My name is Ryan, I am a consultant in Washington, D.C. for a large consulting firm. Welcome to my forum for discussing everything and anything of interest/annoyance, to include:

- Strong-arm Comcast Tactics
- Laziness of cellular phone carriers
- My abhorrence for The Cheescake Factory
- Golfing accomplishments and course shortcoming I have encountered