Saturday, 13 April 2019

Five-Pin Bowling Tips for Average Bowlers

As a much-improved average bowler, I've some five-pin bowling tips.  There's so little on-line about five pin, probably because it's just big in Canada, that even a greenhorn who learned a few things has a contribution.

Ten months ago I was bowling about 110 per game.  Then I started bowling almost every day for exercise and to not feel embarrassed playing in a league.  With about 25 sets of three games bowled per month, the average moved up to 170.   (BTW a fast pitched set of three games burns just under 200 calories, making room for more cake at dessert.)

TIP 1:  Practice.
That's pretty obvious but that's what made the difference.  Some people have a naturally good aim but even someone like me can catch up with practice.  (If you join a league and do extra practice bowling that isn't a pre-bowl, you can probably get discounts.  Bowl BC has a card that gives any league player 3 for the price of 2 games.)

TIP 2:  Use the marks on the lane to aim
People kept telling me this but I didn't believe them.  Instead, I'd aim for the pin.  My score jumped the day I finally used marks.  Aiming for the nearby mark is easier to correct than aiming at the far away pin, since you likely look down briefly while throwing and then re-focus to release the ball.

TIP 3:  Watch how others in your league make the approach, and make your own choice.
It seems all the hot shot bowlers have a similar style but that's not true of regular league players with scores in the 100-200 range.  Some run up three steps, some stand at the foul line.  Some fire the ball like a bullet, others let it idle down the lane.  Some have a whisper ball and some let it land with a clunk.  I've even seen good scores consistently coming from some in a handicap group that shot the ball from between their legs.  There seems to be an ideal form for top bowlers, but there are so many other things the average bowler can do to improve, don't fret form.

TIP 4:  A faster ball quite often takes out extra pins.
Older skilled  bowlers usually have to take it easy but it's still true that a faster ball adds a few points.  I've been told the 2-5-2 position shouldn't be overthrown, but that's an exception.   Every few dozen games when I'm trying for the last 2 pin, the ball drops in the gutter and jumps back out to take out the pin.  A slightly off-centre knock on the headpin can take out two to five pins.  After a fast ball, one flying pin may miss the outside 2 pin but still get it after bouncing off the side wall.  The slow roller  often leaves one or two pins behind, despite a tight aim. Every other game, I have a shot that takes out pins on one side and also the number 2 pin on the far side. Sometimes, I don't even see that other 2 pin fall down.  Apparently a hard hit pin from the first side can hit the string of the other 2 pin.  The string moves just enough to trigger a point.  (Points aren't recorded by the pin-to-floor contact but by the motion of the string over a drum).

TIP 5:  Try a longer back-swing.
I see good bowlers with a short swing but for me, it works better to have a longer back swing.   I even let my arm rotate a bit to free the backswing to reach pretty much up to shoulder height.  The reason for this is I find there's a tiny faction of a second before releasing the ball when I can fine-tune the aim.  I don't know about you, but I like a chance to patch my mistakes and that fractional second of awareness that comes from a longer forward motion, gives me that chance.  A longer backswing, gave me a change to aim twice, once for the big picture and once for finer control.   A side benefit of the longer backswing is that the ball picks up forward momentum, without extra effort on your part, while dropping from shoulder height.  That ball, being a little faster,  may take out more pins.

TIP 6  Lose the Curve Ball
Apparently a curve ball is the key to top scoring in ten pin bowling.  From what I've seen, that's not true for five pin.  It's untrue, even though I know some strong bowlers who throw a curve and do very well.  A strike with a curve ball is the result of correctly calculating two motions instead of one motion.  Why make it complicated?  Incidentally, a fast ball with a spin doesn't have enough time to curve far.  (A better bowler than me says I'm partly wrong.  A quick ball goes mostly straight but having a little spin helps the head pin to flick sideways, but I haven't seen it.)

Tip 7:  Keep a calm place in your mind
I know this is important but haven't mastered it.  Having a quiet picture of the pins down there, a picture that doesn't get jostled as I move forward and move the ball into the backswing, seems to help.   Treating the backswing as an incidental awareness while I focus on the joy of releasing a tight well-tracked ball, seems to help.   Holding the picture of those lovely black marks on the alley in mind and treating all the physical activity up to the release as background chatter, seems to help.  The common feature is "a calm place in your mind".  Someone did MRI scans of pro and amateur golfers making a shot.   The amateur brain lit up everywhere with concentration.  The pro just lit up in a few spots.

Tip 8: Everything you do to deliver the ball that doesn't give the ball direction and motion is style, not bowling.  You can stand at the foul line, move your hand back, then let it fall forward while letting go of the ball and do quite well.  Most of your points come from the last fraction of a second before you release the ball.  Remembering this can help.  Improve the last quarter second of every shot.

Tip 9:  Animal spirits
Animal spirits, energy, a feeling of health and eagerness seems to help a lot.  How I look after the rest of my life and my weight and exercise and relationships,  helps me bowl better.  A run of dispiriting shots tends to make the next shot poorer too.

Tip 10:  Luck
I've asked some bowlers how much of their score is luck.  One says 20%.  A second thinks more.  When I look at my spreadsheet for the last six months, games range from 118 to 264.  Roll with the punches and enjoy the occasional great game too. For peace of mind, I look for tight shots.  If all the balls were close to where I meant, I'm pretty happy even if the score is disappointing.     When you get two or three head pins, you may feel bad, but I feel good.  The points are low but the skill is high.

Footnotes:  Some other little things:  Don't wear a tight shirt sleeve that can't move freely.  Empty your pocket on the side you shoot from so you don't bump your wallet while delivering the ball.   Avoid slippery fingers by using a damp cloth, or working up a sweat, or by blowing on your fingers before picking up the ball.   Remember to show courtesies to the bowler to your right.  Remember there are some lighter balls available, if you ask, and if you really need it, there is a ball made with a thumb hole.  (If your wrist is weak, that's helpful, but the flat spot at the finger hole will often cause your ball to wander left or right.  Let your bowling neighbours give you tips.  (They may not be right for you or you may not be ready to listen to them, but sometimes I learned from them.)

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Goodbye LIttle Brother, Hello Big Brother

One-baby-families summon big government.  Demography rules and it means "goodbye, little brother, hello Big Brother".  The math is easy.  You can explain it to a kid in Grade Three.  After two generations of one-kid-only, this is what you get:  No brother and no sisters.  No cousins.  No aunts and no uncles.   Say goodbye to a support system  and shared values outside the nuclear family of three. Going to church as a family for Thanksgiving, and singing Christmas carols with people from your neighbourhood, saying the Lord's prayer and singing "God Save The Queen" before class, cheering for the same hockey teams, watching Bonanza and Ed Sullivan Sunday nights and talking about it Monday morning: It's all extinct or trending there.

We need family and community.
Today's alternative has to be collective. 
The top candidate is The Deep State. 
A close second and gaining is the shame-chamber of Social Media.

The generation I'm looking at is the one coming right after the precious snowflakes now in the news for their petty rage.  These young adults will have no kinfolk, just parents and step-parents, and tons of grandparents.  Demography is merciless.  These folk will ask for more government and get it.  They will join digital tribes and mobs in exact measure as the family shrinks.  We need family and community.  This is today's price.

Goodbye little sister, little brother.
Hello Big Bro.

Monday, 5 November 2018

I prefer popular government to gentry rule

Those baying against populism must prefer unpopular government.     You've heard "Trumps rise proves how dangerous populism is for democracy" (NBC)  Enough of that!  I'm thinking back to Barack H. Obama's fund-raising trips to LA.  The secret service shut down entire streets for his cavalcade to by-invitation-only celebrity luncheons in gentry homes.  I compare that to crowds of ten and twenty thousand streaming out to hear Donald J. Trump in person.  Tickets free.  No roads closed. You don't have to show your wallet to get in.  In other words, a populist appeal and one unprecedented in my lifetime. .  

At the end of the day, and by that I mean by tomorrow night, we'll know if popular is coming out ahead.  Trump has been flying out for one and even two GOTV talks with hearty endorsements every day.    Congress folks will be glad of the ride on Mr. Trump's coattails.

Trump's Rise Proves How Dangerous Populism Is for Democracy

Trump's Rise Proves How Dangerous Populism Is for Democracy

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Village idiots are back

Thanks to social media, the exercise of power has reverted to our neighbours, our digital neighbours. Doxing, shaming, hounding and generally keeping everybody in line is the new norm. We are giving up the freedom of the city and reverting to our old ways, pre-industrial village ways. The exercise of power is the character of government. Although parliament and congress retain powers of taxation and death over citizens, the social media village has its own laws that have garnered greater and more immediate reach. We’re at the beginning of this digital atavism. Until protocols are built to guard freedom of choice on the privately run webs, we will be pushed a little further into the night, away from civility (”Civitas”, Latin word for “city”) and towards paganism with iphones. ( “Pagus”, Latin word for “countryside”)

Monday, 18 June 2018

Sunday, 10 June 2018

English language competency by culture and race: California education stats 2017

Here's the source for the California department of education charts:!/vizhome/PercentofStudentsMeetingorExceedingStandardsonSmarterBalancedAssessment2017/Sheet1
hat tip to Ace of Spades.

The legend:  "Grey" is in the middle, average for all students.

Native American
Mixed race

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Playful means Clever. Dog likes to go sleighing up hill and down hill on his own

You know you'll want to show this video clip to someone else.

In the same spirit and the same season, this Russian crow gets the same results with a jar lid.
Carry it back up the roof and do it again.

Which brings me to a book recommendation:  Octopus
These mischievous, big-eyed, distributed-brain creatures are from the mollusc family with snails and clams and what not.  They separated 600 million years ago from the stream that led to crabs, spiders and bugs  and from the stream that led to fish, canaries (via dinosaurs), puppy dogs and humans.

Along with squid and cuttlefish, they are the only members of their family tree with what we call brains, some 200 million neurons distributed down the arms and to the steadfast eyes.  Meet your first aliens.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Six seconds to live: General Kelly

The NYT is shocked to learn that General Kelly is a patriot.  You can figure from this they knew the Obama people were not.
Quoted at the link:
"For all of the talk of Mr. Kelly as a moderating force and the so-called grown-up in the room, it turns out that he harbors strong feelings on patriotism, national security, and immigration that mirror the hard-line views of his outspoken boss," Baker warns.

I was moved moved to read this selection from a patriotic speech by General Kelly:

"It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated. You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives.I suppose it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. No time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. 
By this time, the truck was halfway through the barriers and gaining speed. Here the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were, some running right past the Marines, who had three seconds left to live.For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines firing their weapons nonstop. The truck’s windshield explodes into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tear into the body of the son of a bitch trying to get past them to kill their brothers – American and Iraqi – bedded down in the barracks, totally unaware that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder-width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could. They had only one second left to live, and I think they knew.The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty. Those are the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight for you, and as amazing as this selfless act of sacrifice may seem, it is the norm. In all the years I have been both enlisted and an officer of Marines, I have praised them and have chewed them out. I have promoted them and unceremoniously disciplined them. I have hung decorations on them and court-martialed them. I have visited them mangled and broken in military hospitals around the country, in lonely defensive positions across Iraq, and in brigs. I have known thousands of them over nearly 40 years, and I can tell you without hesitation or qualification that I never met one who would have run from his post that morning."

Thursday, 19 October 2017

C02 Climate Science Not "Settled" But Settling Fast. A Dozen Tweaked Models Now Show Doubled C02 Response Is Smaller, Or Trivial.

The left side of the chart is Chicken Little territory. The data points added to the right of the shaded trend-lines are thought provoking.  Tweaked models and sober second thoughts are more credible.  This was originally published with data to 2013.  The update dramatically extends the pattern to 2017 although the sources vary.   h/t  smalldeadanimals

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Digital Swamp Has Overtaken The State. Welcome to The New Village. You May Be A Target.

We have rules to govern the state: Elections, rules of order, recorded votes, pages of policy minutiae, backed by threats of force, but now the digital swamp is bigger than the state and it's unruly and snoopy.  You may have more to fear from "unfriending" and blocked twitter accounts than from the state. 

In village and tribal settings, we bump into all our neighbours every week. We are often blood relatives  and take great interest in their sexual unions, their work and kids, their status, beliefs and deeds.  We like to reinforce beliefs and behaviour by shaming, story-telling, kinship rules, force of habit and brute force. 

For groups much above 100, policy trumps relationships to maintain order.  Impersonal structures develop to safely form beneficial groups of towns, cities, states, parties, armies, guilds,clubs, and NGO's.  This includes double-entry bookkeeping, secret ballots, money, reading skills, concepts of "citizen, constitution, corporation", and the rule of written law.

But now we’re back in a village, a global village, thanks to the speed of light. It just got personal again.   Social media, twittering and texting, internet and email have shrunk the world electronically.  Linked-in people may be thousands of miles apart, but the digital time to connect  is less than a second and the cost is less than a penny.   Connect means “reach out" and “like”.  It also means, “Target” and "Hack."

What’s next?  Thousands of people who care little about me are now my neighbours in time and effort but not in place.  They vote me up and down at will when I appear in the digital swamp. Most of the news and fake-news is about this phenomenon.  Trump is attacked for culture, not for policy.   The news media are players. The parties are players.  So are bakeries. So are restaurants, billionaires, and corporate giants.  So is the state.   This is the wild wild west and if you’re lucky, you’ll just be un-friended for speaking your mind.  Your safety, your job security, your wealth and your reputation are visible in the digital swamp and you may lose them.

Yeats wrote, “What rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem?”  For a few hundred years, the state helped keep order but the digital swamp is now bigger than the state.  The rules are unwritten.  What is next?  

New forms of government, cultural government are in the wings.  I want them to stay clear of my liberty to do what's best for my and my family.  Yet I want safety, fairness and community strength.      "It could be heaven.  It could be hell".