Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Simultaneous Occurence of Events....

In golf, as in life, concepts that seem counterintuitive often work just fine – even while they continue to feel counterintuitive.

The Simultaneous Occurrence of Events That Appear Significantly Related
But Have No Discernible Causal Connection

The slower you swing
the farther the ball will go –

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One Name That Is Not Very Well-Grounded

According to my online dictionary, a chipmunk is “a burrowing ground squirrel with cheek pouches and light and dark stripes running down the body, found in North America and northern Eurasia”. Perhaps its because I don’t have the most recent version of the wordbook – but it doesn’t mention anything about being found in trees or bird feeders – which are the two places where one of our resident terrestrial rodents has been spending most of its time lately.

Mars and I are not quite sure where on our property the tiny black-striped brown mammal spends its sleeping hours. It may be our garage – we have seen it slipping into that structure through a small opening on the bottom of the door. Or it could be one of our down spouts. We have those long extensions that direct the spillage away from the house and we have also seen him scamper into those caverns when we catch him unawares. Sometimes, when it is really quiet, I am certain I can hear the faint sound of pint-sized toenails ticking on metal echoing from inside the rain drains.

We know there are two of them because we have seen them together several times – sitting quietly in that suspended meditative state that members of the squirrel family frequently put themselves into. A couple of times we’ve seen them chasing each other around in circles in what is presumably some form of squirrel sex game. But all of those activities were earthbound.

Within the past week one of the pair – I am guessing the pursuer rather than the pursuee – has gone airborne. Although in actuality, unlike his larger gray cousins, his feet remain in contact with some material object at all times.

We have several bird feeders all located on or in the vicinity of an aging flowering crab tree whose dwindling number of branches provide a home for the avian restaurants and some degree of shelter to their diners. A large cavity sits at the juncture of the upward facing branches, into which we occasionally stuff corncob decorations or such that we are disposing of and want to share with our front yard wildlife

Under the tree we have a wrought iron shepherd’s staff shaped pole on which hangs (about four feet up) our “squirrel-proof” feeder – at least that is what it said on the box. It was a gift. Suffice it to say that it doesn’t work. The squirrels, along with the birds, suck food out of the tube at an alarming rate. And now the chipmunk is joining in the fray.

The squirrel’s favored method of access to the misnamed dining hall is the standing high jump. The little gray tree rodents position themselves on the grass one or so feet away from the gently swaying object of their desire and instantly levitate onto it. The ease of this maneuver would make Michael Jordan jealous.

The chipmunk prefers the Spiderman method. He runs up the post, over the crook, and down onto the feeder. Then he stuffs his cheeks and reverses his route. When we spy him doing his thing he quickly runs up the tree trunk and disappears into the
safe environs of the tree hollow.

That is all we know about it. Perhaps the wooden chamber is his love shack wherein he shares the booty of his triumphant dash to the stars. Maybe it is his storage area and ultimately the orifice will be awash in sunflower seed hulls, and no longer be open to the sky. Or could be he just takes temporary shelter – his wee heart pounding with fear at the imagined danger of those who are in reality his benefactors.

Anyway I don’t have the time to look into that right now. I am spending all of my energy trying to find out if the same person who came up with the term “squirrel proof” also dubbed these little critters “ground squirrels”. That would probably explain a lot.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

W. W. T. D.?

On television, watching the army of paddle-wielding marshals silencing the already well-behaved spectators at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament made me think.

Mars and I play golf on a public golf course located in the middle of a public park in an urban city (Hartford, CT.) A tarmac road, partially closed to vehicle traffic, encircles the course coming within twenty feet of the links in several places.

Large numbers of bicyclists, runners, walkers and dog walkers frequent the roadway. Recently one of these pedestrians was carrying on a extremely high volume "conversation" with someone at the receiving end of her highly volatile mobile signal.

The cell phone walker
drops "F bombs" as I tee up.

What would Tiger do?

(Incidentally I hit perhaps my best drive of the day. Maybe I am getting too used to "urban golf".)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thirteen Ways of What??

Mars and I took the Wallace Stevens Walk as a part of Connecticut Trails Day. Stevens was both a well-respected imagist poet, and an insurance executive. The "walk" traces his daily 2.5 mile hike from his home on the west side of Hartford to his office at the Hartford Insurance Company – during which he composed portions of his poetry. For a photographic essay of the walk please visit Mars' website @

One of Steven's best and most famous poems is "Thirteen Ways of Looking a a Blackbird." Each "way of looking" is a separate verse. And the walk is marked with thirteen carved stones – each with one stanza engraved on it.

It is a great poem. But I think it could have been even better if the author had stuck to the subject about which he knew the most – instead of dabbling in the mysteries of ornithology. It is also, based upon my business background, one of my areas of expertise.

So, using mostly his own words, I have made those changes.

I now present:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Actuary

Among twenty paper mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the actuary’s mouse.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there were three actuaries –
Until I ran the numbers.

The actuary whirled in the regulatory winds
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and an actuary
Are a calculated risk.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of projections
Or the beauty of actual results,
The actuary whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the actuary
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
Of the 3 pm coffee break.

O thin men of marketing,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the women
Hang on the words of actuaries?
Chicks dig geeks!

I know noble algorithms
And arcane, inexplicable formulae;
But I know too, That Math 101 is involved
In what I know.

When the actuaries left for the day,
It marked the edge
Of one of many Venn Diagrams.

At the sight of actuaries
Creeping through a red light,
Even the bawds of caution
Would laugh out loud.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he had made a math error
But quickly he remembered
Twas he controlled the numbers.

The rates are changing,
The actuary must be calculating

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The actuary sat
Figuring the odds of each route home.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What is that Squirrel Thinking?

If I just stay still –
gray fur prone on gray tree bark –
the world can't see me.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Benign Neglect

We have lived at our house for thirty-four years – but they have been there longer. I had never seen nor heard of them before they startled me by popping up of nowhere on spring day when I was moving the lawn. I was certain that they had somehow crept onto our property overnight but Mars convinced me that I had just failed to notice them as they pushed up through the earth, grew, and ultimately blossomed. I moved them from their original location a few annums back to a spot where I thought they would be less lonely. Other than that, and cutting them down at season's end, I haven't touched them.

Peonies appear
as if by magic each year.
If it's not broken...