I was 67, healthy, and I had free time. My future could have taken 2 paths: stagnating in place or moving forward. I chose the latter and I chose physical challenges.
Since I almost drowned as a child, my first endeavor was conquering my fear of the water and learning how to swim. In the beginning, I was afraid to stand in 3 feet of water at the YMCA's warm-water pool. Then I graduated to the indoor pool where I learned to do the freestyle, the back stroke, and now the breast stroke. Of course, I didn't do this alone. I was and am being taught by a patient and wonderful coach. Swimming burns calories, keeps your muscles toned, and gives you a chance to meet others.
Next up was a self defense course and I found Legacy Martial Arts in New Garden, PA. I'm the second oldest student there. The oldest student earned his black belt this year. If all goes according to plan, I will earn my black belt when I'm 70. Currently, I'm a red belt and I'm 69. I've learned how to do forms, punch hard, kick hard, and break boards. Tang Soo Do Karate is a physical challenge but I'm up to it. My knees give out from time to time but I won't quit.
And that's what life is all about--not quitting. It's never too late to learn something new and it's never too late for some form of physical activity.
If you have any questions, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Of all the things to do in London, I think the most important is to see a play or musical. I've been trying to get tix to the Globe Theater (the one in London, not Stratford) but everything seems to be sold-out.
The one show and theatre in London that I wanted to be at was the 25th anniversary show of Phantom of the Opera at the Albert Hall with Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess.
Of all the things to do in London, I think the most important is to see a play or musical. I've been trying to get tix to the Globe Theater (the one in London, not Stratford) but everything seems to be sold-out. AMEX wanted to charge me $395 each for tickets that had a $50 face value, so that was right out. I'm hopeful I can grab some cheap tickets on the day of the show.
Anyway, off to Merry Olde England ... for a day of training in UK MoD stuff and a visit to a supplier.
By Bob1 in Bob's Blog 1Did you every hit a golf drive perfectly? I did and that is the last time I went golfing.
My experience with golf was limited to par-three courses. On those courses, usually less than 200 yards a hole, one used an iron to get to the green and a putter to finish the hole. I could use irons and putters but any club with wood at the end of it and I was lost.
One Summer day during college break, I went golfing with two friends on a par 72 course. It wasn't my idea but I decided to give it a try. So, I picked up the bag of clubs from the garage and we were off. That bag contained a couple of woods, irons, putter and the dreaded driver. The 8th and 9th holes are the only ones I remember from that day. I had just teed off at the 8th hole with a wood and sliced the ball sharply into the woods. Normally, I would tee off with an iron but I thought I wood try the wood. That's all I remember from the 8th hole.
Next was the 9th. It was a 300 yard hole with an elevated tee. As we looked down to the green, we saw two golfers on the green putting out and one waiting in a golf cart just off the front of the green. It was my turn to tee off and I was waiting for the trio to clear the green. The other members of my threesome told me to tee off because I wouldn't get anywhere near the green. They jokingly said anyone on an adjacent hole was in danger not the threesome on the green. I thought about it and walked over to the bag and pulled out the driver. I was determined to keep it in the fairway even if I had to dribble it 50 yards. I took a measured swing and hit the ball. No grass was flying, no dirt, no divot. I looked to each side to spot my ball and couldn't see it. Where'd it go? I asked. My friends said it was still going in the air and straight for the green. We all watched it head for the green . . . and that golf cart. The three of us began yelling fore at the golfers in front of us. And then it happened. My ball landed, not in the fairway and not on the green. It landed on that golf cart a few feet from hitting the guy in it. I had driven the ball about 290 yards on the fly directly at the hole--with my driver. If the golf cart hadn't been there, the ball would have rolled close to or into the hole before it stopped. All of us were stunned. The threesome in front of us couldn't believe the ball came from the tee. My threesome--including me--couldn't believe the ball came from me.
I don't remember if we finsihed the last nine holes that day. If we did, I don't remember anything about them. All I can see is that ball banging off that gold cart and nearly beaning someone. That was it. When I got home, I put the bag of clubs in the garage and never took them out again.
By Bob1 in Bob's Blog 1Sometimes, you wake up in the morning and you just know it'is going to be a bad day. I've had those days, but until July 2018, I never had a bad month. At the beginning of July, my air conditioner died. Of course, the next couple of days were in the mid-90s and so was the inside of the house. The air conditioner was replaced on July 3. Then, on July 4, my hot water heater declared its independence and died. That was replaced on July 5. By Monday July 9 everything in the house was working--except the furnace which still needs replacing--and I felt great.
Things were going so well that I decided to show the kids in Karate class how crouches should be done. Wrong move. Something clicked in my left knee and before I knew it I was on the ground. A couple of the adults must have thought I was having a coronary and came to my assistance. "I'm OK," I told them and limped back to the peanut gallery in back of the class. I don't do crouches anymore. It took 2 weeks for my knee to recover with the help of some knee exercises.
It's not over yet. Towards the end of the 3'rd week of July, I developed an infection. Talk about pain. By the beginning of the next week, I was on an antibiotic and the infection was over. That week I tested for my next belt in Tang Soo Do karate. Believe it or not, I passed the test and I am now a red/blue belt. One more and I'm a black belt candidate. I guess in the worst months, there is a glimmer of light.
Finally, on July 31, my main television died. Hey, I'm still breathing and it's August.
By Bob1 in Bob's Blog 1About 20 years ago, I wrote the following entry for my commercial site and I always wanted to touch up the language a bit. The title Just Call Me Johnson, is a take-off on the comedy sketch Don't Call Me Johnson which is still funny. In reading this entry, remember in the 1970s, personal computers and mobile phones were still in our future. So here is, as it happened: Just Call Me Johnson!
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In 1971, when I first moved to the Washington D. C. area, I lived in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Greenbelt area surrounds the major intersection of Kenilworth Avenue and Greenbelt Road. Looking north, if you imagine this intersection as creating four geographic areas, the town of Greenbelt would be located in the upper right hand area. Within the town was a small shopping center called Greenbelt Plaza. In the upper left area of the intersection, a larger shopping center called Beltway Plaza was located. Our story begins at Beltway Plaza.
One day, I took my car to the car dealer to have some maintenance done. In the afternoon, I realized that I didn't have any cash and I needed to cash a check to pay for the work. From past experience with the car dealer, I knew that they did not take the American Express card. So I walked from my apartment to Beltway Plaza where my bank was located. I arrived at the bank shortly after 2 PM. The lobby service had closed at 2 PM so I stood in line behind a car waiting to cash a check. When my turn came, the teller told me that I couldn't cash my check at her window because I was a pedestrian and I was in the car lane. I needed a car to cash my check.
Since I needed a car to cash the check, I walked over to a phone booth in Beltway Plaza and called a cab. I ordered a cab for Anthony at Greenbelt Plaza. After I hung up, I realized that I had ordered the cab for the wrong shopping center. So I called the same cab company and ordered a cab for Johnson at Beltway Plaza. That was simple enough. Give them a different name and no one would ever know the mistake that I had made. I was in no mood to admit my mistake to anyone.
Well, the cab arrived fairly quickly. It was too good to be true. I flagged the cab down. "Are you Anthony?" the driver asked. "No, I am Johnson." I told him. Immediately, he began questioning me about who I was. "Are you sure you are not Anthony?" He again asked. "No, I am Johnson." I told him again. "Well, I am here for both you guys." The cabbie said. "Did you receive a call from Anthony to meet you at Beltway Plaza?" I asked. "Yeah." The cabbie said.
This cabbie made the same stupid mistake that I did. I ordered a cab for Anthony at Greenbelt Plaza and this guy shows up looking for Anthony at Beltway Plaza. Well, he was here and I was not going to admit that I was Anthony. "Where to?" He said. "Over to that bank." I pointed. "Why do you need a cab to go to the bank?" He asked. So now I had to explain why I needed a cab. "The teller wouldn't cash my check without a car and I needed cash", I explained. As we were sitting waiting for the line to move, the driver turned around to me and asked again "Are you Anthony?" "No, I'm not Anthony." I shouted. "I'm Johnson." I told him. So we waited in line for my turn at the teller window.
It was my turn in line and I looked at the teller with satisfaction and said "I've got a car now. Here is my check." Then I tried to remember if bank tellers say thank you after they cash a check. Well they do. At least this one did. "Thank you, Mr. Anthony." She said. The cabbie immediately looked around at me and said "There, I told you that you were Anthony." "No, she said Johnson." I yelled. "I'm Johnson, not Anthony." I added to make my point. We finally pulled out of that parking lot and stopped at a red light on Greenbelt Road. The cabbie again turned around. This time he said "you sure do look like Anthony." "How the hell do you know what I look like?" I yelled. For the next 15 minutes of the cab ride we had these continuing spats about whether I was Anthony or Johnson.
Finally, we reached the car dealership. I paid the cabbie and as he drove away he shouted "Anthony." I shouted back. "Johnson." I walked in the car dealer's and told them I was Johnson. "Nothing here for Johnson." She said. "Could you check for Anthony?" I asked, now wondering if they would give me my car. As they were preparing the bill, I noticed that there was an American Express emblem on the garage window. "Do you take American Express now?" I asked. "Yes, we just started taking it last month." She said. My day passed before my eyes when she said that. "How would you like to pay for this?" She asked. "American Express." I responded. After I signed my name she said, "thank you Mr. Anthony." At least the cabbie was not there to hear it and argue with me.
By Bob1 in Bob's Blog 0Years ago, there was a horse track called Brandywine Raceway just off of Route 202 in Delaware. It closed in the 1990s and now it's a shopping center and housing development. Brandywine had a lake in the infield and I think its remnants are right here. Standardbreds raced at Brandywine. That's harness racing where horses race with a sulky in which the driver sits. Standardbreds have 2 different racing gaits--pace and trot. Pacers move the front and rear legs on one side of their body forward in unison and then the other side in the same manner. One side moves forward and the other side back. Trotters move diagonal legs forward at the same time and the other set of diagonal legs backward. They trot and its a joy to watch. If you are a bettor, you prefer pacers over trotters because during a race pacers rarely break their gait. Trotters , on the other hand, are more likely to break their gait. When a horse breaks its gait it's as if the horse enters the world of slow motion as the other horses rocket past. That's the basics, now the story.
One evening, my Father came home from work and he was excited because he had a sure thing and the sure thing was racing at Brandywine that night. My Father immediately called my Uncle and told him about the sure thing. My Uncle wasn't going to miss a sure thing and he was on board. My Uncle and Father were very close. In fact, my Uncle and Father were so close that, if my Father ever did something embarrasing, my Uncle would laugh and poke my Father with his elbow to remind him of it over and over again. My Uncle wouldn't relent until my Father broke out in laughter about it. No one else did that with my Father.
Here was the sure thing:
a priest owned a pacer named Mike's Law, the priest raced Mike's Law when his parish needed money, and the best harness racing driver in history, Herve Filion, drove Mike's Law for the priest when the parish needed money. Then my Father placed that night's Brandywine race progam on the table so I could see it. Mike's Law was racing in the featured race and Herve Filion was driving. I looked at my Father and said, "That's a sure thing and I'm going to Brandywine with you tonight." My Father looked at me and said, "don't tell anyone because we don't want the odds to drop." In short, if a lot of people bet on the same horse in a race, the odds drop and you win less money. We didn't want that to happen so we didn't tell anyone. We wanted to make as much money as we could so we had to keep the sure thing between the three of us. In a few minutes, we were on our way to Brandywine.
My Father and I used a system for picking horses that he developed and I improved. It worked and probably still does. By the end of the 6th race, the 3 of use were well ahead using our system and the sure thing was just ahead of us. We didn't have to analyze anything to pick the horse in the feature race. The priest, Mike's Law, and Herve Filion is all we needed to know and we knew it. Bet accordingly, bet heavy. That is when I noticed the size of the crowd. It was larger than usual and the lines to place a bet were longer than usual. You could hear the crowd humming with excitement. Then the tote board gave the final odds for Mike's Law and he was now even money. Apparently, everyone knew about the sure thing. That didn't matter because we were still going to win just not as big as we thought.
Brandywine raceway started its races with a car that had gates on its back. The car would lead the horses for a running start, drive off to the side, and the announcer would say the customary there they go into the public address system to announce the start. The horses would run around the 5/8th mile track nearly twice to complete the mile race. Around the track the horses went and Mike's Law was in just the right place. Herve was on his way to another easy win. Around again and into the stretch. At the top of the stretch, the crowd started roaring and that roar grew and grew as Herve drove Mike's Law into the lead. Everyone must have known about the sure thing and everyone must have had money on him. Mike's Law was first and within spitting distance of the finish line. Then it happened. Mike's Law entered the world of slow motion and the crowd gave a collective Ohhhhh. It was as if the crowd had a group coronary. They all could see that Mike's Law had broken his gait and all the other horses finished ahead of him. From first to last. The crowd's Ohhhhh now turned to silence except for a few voices close to the track. Those voices were shouting at Herve and using the typical hyphenated words to express their feelings about him and his parentage. Since the rest of the crowd was silent, I'm sure Herve heard it. Even the priest got his share of vulgarity from some of the voices.
There were still 3 races left in the card that night but we went home quietly with much of the crowd following us. We just got our asses kicked and that's how we felt. After the initial silence in the car, my Uncle started on my Father with "priests' horse." Then "Hey William what happened to the priest's horse." As I said, my Uncle was unrelenting when he started this. When my Father couldn't take it anymore and he broke out in laughter, we all started laughing. Sure thing.
By Bob1 in Bob's Blog 3In January 1980, I purchased a 1979 Datsun 280ZX with the Grand Luxury Package of options. The color was called Champagne/Mahogany which is a rich brown body with a lighter brown hood. Among the options were cloth upholstery and aluminum wheels. Of course, its name is Brownie and it sits in my garage with antique plates on it. In the 38 years that I have owned Brownie, I have never seen one like it until . . . .
On Tuesday of this past week, I drove to the Y in my daily driver, Betty. More on Betty at a later date. I did my swimming, walked out the front door, walked the cross walk, looked to the right in a parking space, and was frozen in my tracks. I thought I was staring at Brownie. Then I checked the plate. It was an antique plate but a different number. It was Brownie's identical twin including the aluminum wheels and the cloth upholstery.
I went to the desk and asked if it was possible to identify the owner of Brownie's identical twin. Of course not. Then I looked around at the people inside to try to match them with Brownie's identical twin. How do I do that? The only thing I could do was to sit out front and wait. After 30 minutes of waiting, I gave up. Brownie may never meet her identical twin, unless . . . .
If you are reading this and you are the owner of Brownie's identical twin, please let me know. Thanks in advance.