Ohio State Diary: Friday

8:24 AM - I hate Starbucks. They are the Wal-Mart of coffeehouses, expanding ravenously across the fruited plain of America like a plague of hungry locusts, stripping the land of its greenery at $4 a pop. Starbucks is crass, it is corporate, and it competes with local coffeehouses built with local money by local people...

...Yet I found myself waiting fifteen minutes in line in center of the Memphis Airport to order a $4.57 Venti Nonfat Vanilla Latte (and I come to Starbucks often enough to place those words in the right order.). The girl behind the counter was endearingly pesty in her attempts to entice me to buy a pastry (I declined.). What can I say - their coffee is damn good. I hate Starbucks, and yet I love it...

I'm flying on Northwest Airlines, whose mechanic's union is on strike, and whose financials are deteriorating (as with all major airlines except Southwest). When asked the other day if I was taking the union's side, I replied, "I'm for my plane not crashing. If they can get me there and back safely, we're cool." (Note: Both of my flights were nice - no drama mechanical or otherwise.).

Things I love about Austin Bergstrom International Airport, which I flew out of at 6:20 this morning:

1) Simple, elegant interior design that beautifully reflects the best things about Austin and the Hill Country.
2) Reasonably-priced food from notable local restaurants like Schlotzsky's, the Salt Lick, and Amy's Ice Cream, and no McDonald's in sight.
3) When walking into one of the gift shops, they had the Rose Bowl DVD playing. This morning, I walked in just as the B2 Bomber flew over. Gave me goosebumps.
4) With runways almost twice as long as those at the old Robert Mueller Airport and flat terrain, landings at ABIA are almost always smooth, like Jamaal Charles running through a hole to daylight.

Get to see Jacob in Cincy in a couple of hours. More to come...

10:19 AM - From Nate's Bookshelf, Ohio State Trip Edition

I'm guessing that this feature on the Nateblogg is inspired by a childhood spent watching Reading Rainbow on PBS. Not the ubiquitous cultural phenomenon that the two shows it follows (Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) are, it nonetheless has the same timeless quality as those shows in that twenty-year-old episodes are still relevant. The host, Levar Burton, obviously loves what he is doing. Levar also starred on Star Trek: The Next Generation as an engineer, which was nice, because I always loved that added thrill of seeing a children's host yell "Damn!" with gusto when things went wrong. All in all, an underrated show with an underrated host.

I especially loved the feature near the end of the show where kids make their own book recommendations in their own words. "From Nate's Bookshelf" is really an extention of that, so after every installment, imagine the "Dah-duhn Dah" that followed each Reading Rainbow recommendation.

(Levar Burton: "But don't take my word for it...")

Recently, thanks to the influence of my friend David Fry, I've taken up golf again. I play once a week or so, and though my handicap hovers around 40, I'm slowly improving, and more importantly, I enjoy myself. To me, a round of golf is a four-hour nature walk, interrupted by about 100 pauses where one attempts to hit a small ball with a metal stick toward a target slightly larger than the ball. It's challenging as hell, and can never be truly mastered, because every shot in your life will be unique. The greatest teacher of golf may have been Harvey Penick, the lifelong Golf Pro at Austin Country Club. Near the end of his life, Penick distilled his assimilated wisdom from seventy years of teaching golf into the Little Red Book. It became the best-selling sports book of all time.

Pick up any issue of Golf Magazine, and you'll find dozens of tips from dozens of golf pros on specific ways to hit a golf ball. Harvey Penick took a different approach, teaching golf in parables, and in personal lessons to individuals of all skill levels instead of groups of people. He carefully considered how to communicate to his students, sometimes not answering questions until the following day. His pupils include Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, and thousands of others, and all would testify to his wisdom in teaching golf, and of their love for him as a man. Here's an excerpt from the Introduction, written when Harvey got around in a wheelchair:

When the member and the general leave, Helen (his wife) and Penny (his nurse) scold me. I am wearing myself out, they say. They remind me that before Ben (Crenshaw) dropped by, a girl who is hoping to make the University of Texas team had come to talk to me about her progress, and I had asked questions for an hour. It's true that I have grown tired as the day became evening. But my mind is excited. My heart is thrilled. I have been teaching. Nothing has ever given me greater pleasure than teaching. I received as much joy from coaxing a first time pupil, a woman from Paris, into hitting the ball into the air so that she could go back to France and play golf with her husband as I did from watching the development of all the fine players I have been lucky enough to know.

If you play golf, read this book first. I'm playing this afternoon, so I will spend the rest of this flight rereading it.

Grace note: Read Rick Reilly's excellent account of Ben Crenshaw winning the Masters in 1995 the week after Harvey Penick's passing. Sure to make things a little dusty...

(Dah-duhn Dah)

4:30 - Jacob and I hit a few golf balls, then we decided to rent a car to take on the trip tomorrow, so we are renting a Chrysler Sebring. Hey - that's a lot like a Dodge Stratus! That's right - we will drive a Dodge Stratus! We will do 100 push-ups in 20 minutes! I'll be wearing a "Cock-fighting" belt buckle! People are afraid of us!

Tonight, I will introduce Jacob to Anchorman and the "Springtime for Hitler" scene in The Producers. Should be fun.

We roll out tomorrow at 3 AM (2 AM Central). Wish us Godspeed...


At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 11:02 AM, Blogger ellen said...


At 5:23 PM, Blogger Laura said...

wow, that was a great game. I can't wait to read your summary of it.


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