I wanna learn a love song

A long road trip is an amazing way to study your spousal relationship.  Even after 30 years of togetherness,  there can be so much difference on music tastes,  or styles of listening,  that the initial planning might possess a nightmarish tinge. Separate listening devices might be a necessity along with jointly approved audio material.

But 30 years is a long time. Over three decades there will be musical landmarks that won’t be easily forgotten.  For example, I won’t ever forget dancing with Melinda to “These Dreams” by Heart the first night we really met. “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train” will always be special sobe v it was the only song Zach would song along with (chorus only) until get got over his speech impediment. And, I am sure unsurprisingly to regular readers, Melinda and I will rock the hell out of a duet of “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.”

There are also several songs by Harry Chapin beyond the three that made it on to the regular FM (a type of free radio broadcast) play lists. “I wanna learn a love song” is one of those.  “A better place to be” was a frequent, and likely inappropriate, bedtime song for the boys,  often followed by John Prine’s “Sam Stone,” Pete Seeger’s “Talking Ben Tre Blues,” Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky. ”

I love music and how it is intertwined through the events of my life. Our lives.  I remember when I first became aware of Prince.  His wasn’t the music I was most interested in, but I sure was impressed by how hauntingly beautiful it was.   Impressed also by what he wrote for others. I have memories of “When Doves Cry” and “Manic Monday” that are clear, specific,  and forever private.

Tomorrow is the last leg of this nearly 4000 miles of travel. It is time to put the audio books away as we did tonight and crank some tunes. It will be a range of tunes from the early sixties to now.  Love songs. Fighting songs. Anti-war songs.  Fornicating songs. Drinking songs. Novelty songs.  Story songs. Songs that defy categories because they just are.

Songs one of us loves and the other doesn’t care for. They will be sung, if not well, passionately.

She said, “I wanna learn a love song
Full of happy things”
She said, “I wannalearn a love song
Won’t you let me hear you sing?”

She said, “I wanna learn a love song
Wanna hear you play”
She said, “I, I wanna learn a love song
Before you go away”

– Harry Chapin

Manipulation

I have spent the last four days in casinos allowing my emotions to be manipulated. Modern video games are cleverly designed to pay on emotional needs/desires for wish fulfillment.  The promise is not money or credits, but the excitement of free spins or other game features. These game features may be simple point-and-win rewards, or they may be eye-grabbing videos to build up your anticipation of the free spins.

The promise of excitement is powerful and perhaps stronger than the allure of money. It allows us to be duped into believing we are entertained by the random spinning images. It creates and reinforces an illusion that there is a pattern to the game plays.  If we just hold on long enough,  we will finally get the big win.

It’s all very seductive.  It’s also very much like current political campaigns. The difference is that the slot machines try to excite and relax you simultaneously by raising your adrenaline and holding it at a level that keeps you susceptible to a promise of winning. You are lulled into a sense of anticipatory boredom waiting the big win.

Most people leave with less money than they enter with and leave vaguely happy expecting to win another time

Here’s a pro-tip: casinos exist to make money.  That only happens if customers lose more money than they win. Slot machines are designed and built to support this model.

Now,  about that comparison to politics….

(Do I really need to spell it out? )

Writing

It is sometimes difficult to write. Well, almost always.  Thoughts race about without discipline. They need to be corralled and tamed, at least a little.

This is part of the discipline.

When I drive.  Lots of thoughts occur to me.  Unfortunately they are to often fleeting like wild ponies. Especially wild ponies in the rolling troughs and hillocks of south central Oklahoma where it is so easy to hide from sight.

So the blog doesn’t get updated unless I sit and make myself write.

And this is another part of the discipline.

The same problems occur when planning a speaking. I rarely use a manuscript or notes. Instead I consider themes and ideas and try to hold fast to the ones that resonate.  If the circumstances dictate or allow,  those things get used.

Mostly though I have no idea what I will say until I say it, but am almost never surprised by what I say – only in how others receive it.

This is not discipline.

Musings on Learning

A kind of serious post.

Since Christmas, I have hit about 5,000 golf balls at the local range. I know this because my wife gave me 100 tokens for Christmas and they represent 45 balls each. I already had about 22 tokens at the time.

I have taken four lessons thus far, in my return to golf after 10 year layoff. These lessons are with the professional at the course we play. I think he is a pretty good teacher, definitely better than others I have had in the distant past. He is positive in his approach and has not tried to tear down my swing and rebuild it his way. Instead, he has suggested relatively minor changes that required only thinking about one or two things. Not “At A1 the club should like this, and at A6 the club should like this, etc.” Rather it has been “Think about bringing the club back slowly like this” while pulling the club in the desired arc.

Generally I like learning things on my own. The number of times I heard as a teenager, from people of all ages, “You can’t learn to fix a car from a book!” is one of the great uncountable things. Actually, one can learn how to fix a car or do a great many things by reading. I was almost always willing to give it a try…in fact I still do. I learned how to brew beer by reading. I learned how to code by reading.

Things are easier now. The immensity of knowledge on Youtube provides seemingly limitless opportunities to learn even some of the most unlikely things.

There is a also a service for $39/month that allows one to submit videos of your golf swing and receive critiques and recommended drills. This is somewhat cheaper than lessons and certainly offers a lot of flexibility in scheduling. The sample analysis places your video against a video of a professional golfers with audio and notes about what to try and achieve and how to achieve it. Here’s the kicker: the monthly rate is for four (4) video uploads and video responses of one swing each. From what I have read in golf forums, there is an underlying belief or assumption that there is very little difference between a swing that produces a good result and one that produces a bad result and that a generally a player’s swing is pretty consistent. It takes time, intention, and effort to make a swing change. I think this is all true, it was just hard to embrace right away.

I’m a bit on the older side and I like more immediate feedback. I also have a bias towards wanting a larger sample of data used in decisionmaking. An onsite lesson means my instructor observes me hitting 40-60 balls. Yes, the ball flight and all that goes with it is the ultimate feedback, but I have always been slow learner of physical things. When I look at pictures of the proper grip, ball position, swing path, I tend to have more questions than comprehension. Another example is this: feet should be comfortable shoulder-width apart. Really? How comfortable? Should the outside edge of my shoes align vertically with my shoulders or should my instep? What if both are comfortable?

Sure I can pick a position and swing away and then try other positions, but if other things are still wrong, such as swing path, it is still going to be a mess. So, I tend to need a instructor face-to-face.

Tonight I was at the range. I watched one Bro give another Bro (kind of a Lumbersexual Bro) a lesson. It was a bit pathetic. The Bro giving the lesson didn’t really understand the golf swing. His youth and athleticism let him hit the ball reasonably well most of the time but it was pretty much all arms and shoulders. And that’s what he was teaching his Bro. I suggested that they video each other and talk through the swing differences because what was emerging was a really ugly swing. Really ugly.

There are lot of ways to learn. Common to all of those that work well is quality instruction, regardless of delivery mode.

A final note. In 20 years, there has been a sea-change in understanding the golf swing and how to teach it. There has also a complete change in thinking about what it really takes to win at golf.  Well,  should say there has been a change in these things for those open to learning. Golf is pretty conservative (and boy do I have to say about that some time) and so real change is still hard.