I don’t delve much into politics these days here at LTG. It’s not that I don’t care or that I don’t often think about how everything is seemingly spinning out of control. I’m just in a state of despair I suppose because I don’t see any viable fix on the horizon. The Democrats are worthless scoundrels, and the Republicans are two-faced bastards. Neither party seems interested in moving beyond meaningless platitudes and red meat rhetoric offered for consumption of each side’s political base. The ineptitude and corruption of our political class provides little hope that there will ever be a serious discussion about the critical issues facing our nation.
Having said that, I’m prompted to write about the NSA spying scandal by this article in Slate. The authors make a case that it was Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings rather than Orwell’s 1984 that better predicted our modern surveillance state. Their basic premise being that the Eye of Sauron “saw” everything, yet missed what was in plain sight. Having spent a career watching how the federal government makes it’s sausage, I can attest that having absolute power over the lives of us proles citizens does not necessarily breed competence. It is telling that despite the fact that the NSA was invading the privacy of millions of Americans (and with a warning from the Russian government as well) our security agencies were unable to stop the Boston bombers.
Am I prepared to accept that our government overseers have the same evil intent as the Dark Lord? I don’t want to believe it. I’m most troubled by the fact that the NSA blatantly lied to it’s Congressional oversight committee about its activities. When the bureaucracy flaunts the law and ignores the checks and balances the Constitution provides for our protection with impunity, our liberty is in peril. The politically motivated shenanigans at the IRS amply demonstrates just how far down that slippery slope we’ve traveled.
And while I agree that freedom can easily be sacrificed on the alter of national security, I’m not prepared to accept a terrorist nuclear attack on a major U.S. city in exchange for a less intrusive government monitoring program. On the one hand, you have to believe in the good intentions of your government. On the other, nothing in the news these days inspires much confidence that our government can or should be trusted. How bad is it? I started to write my Congressman asking him to intercede with USCIS to speed up the processing of Jee Yeun’s green card. I decided against it because I feared that I would be subjected to retaliation if I rocked the boat. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but then again, maybe I should be.
Tough weekend of darts in Nashville. Just could not achieve any level of consistency and consequently lost matches I was in a position to win. Only real highlight was a top 8 finish in the Saturday blind draw and a couple of solid performances in singles (followed up by exceeding poor ones). Alas.
I also showed some regression in the war on fat, gaining a half pound. Stuck to the diet, so I can only assume that low carb beer in quantity is not conducive to weight loss. Alas.
Just the bare necessities, nothing more, nothing less!
Getting ready for a weekend away from home is like preparing for a mission to the moon!
A suitcase, three ice chests, a rice cooker, a coffee maker, a Korean portable cook stove, kitchen utensils and flatware, 2 laptop computers, 3 dart jerseys, and of course my primary and backup darts, flights, shafts, and accessories..
Heading out bright and early in the morning for the trek to Nashville, TN to shoot some darts and drink some beers and have me some fun at the Music City Classic dart tourney.
This is one of the biggest dart events of the year in the USA so it attracts most of the big name darters. And it also brings in the no names like yours truly. Hey, someone has to feed the pot to allow for that $20,000 purse.
Lord knows I’ve had my share of bad luck at these past few tournaments. Here’s hoping that changes and I get the chance to beat one or two of those devils.
Which of course is the not so subtle reference to my favorite Kris Kristofferson song…
Actually, my eyes are fine. And so are Jee Yeun’s. It’s her left shoulder that has been giving problems for a couple of months now. By problems I mean excruciating pain if she tries to raise her arm above her head. Otherwise, she just suffers a continuous discomforting dull pain.
Today Jee Yeun got to experience the wonder of American medicine close up and personal for the first time. Of course, just getting to that point was quite the adventure. As I wrote about here, it took OPM, the government agency that “services” my retirement, from April until July to add Jee Yeun to my health insurance. Yesterday, I got a letter from OPM confirming that she had in fact been added, retroactive to June 1. And oh by the way, you owe us an additional $179 for that month of coverage I never enjoyed. Nothing to worry about they assured me, we’ll deduct it from your next annuity check.
At the exact moment the OPM missive was delivered I was on the phone with Blue Cross confirming that Jee Yeun had in fact been added to my plan. “Nope, nothing in the system for her” I was advised. The kind lady said she’d call the “hotline” in DC and find out what was going on. She called back 30 minutes later and said it had all been taken care of, so we were covered. I was impressed that Blue Cross was so efficient and effective, but given my universally bad experience with several government agencies my satisfaction bar is set pretty low.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I had called my family doctor to try and get Jee Yeun an appointment. Seeing as how I prefer to get all my routine medical examinations done in Korea (cheaper and easier) I hadn’t visited Dr. Marler in well over a year. I was dismayed to get a recording saying that Dr. Marler was no longing practicing in Columbia. So I asked my daughter if she could recommend a new physician and she had me call her her doctor. When I did I was advised that the first available appointment with Dr. Oliver was in three weeks. So I took it.
Meanwhile, Jee Yeun’s shoulder pain continued to increase. My son-in-law is apparently buddies with Dr. Oliver, so he was able to pull some strings and get us in today. Hey, isn’t that the American way? So we made the long ass drive out to Lexington this morning, filled out seven pages of forms, and we were granted access to the Wizard of Oz medical care.
Dr. Oliver is a personable chap. He apologized that his staff had not understood the urgency of the need for an appointment and that we had had to travel so far to see him. He even chuckled when I told him that as a young man I had become quite adept at unfastening a woman’s brassiere, and now in my later years I had become proficient at hooking one up (Jee Yeun isn’t able to reach behind her back). He gave us about 20 minutes of his time, moved Jee Yeun’s arm around and about to assess mobility and varying degrees of pain. His diagnosis: a possible tear in the rotator cuff. He ordered up an x-ray and suggested physical therapy. He also prescribed an anti-inflammatory cream to be applied to the shoulder. He told us if the physical therapy is unsuccessful he’d do an MRI to get a better idea of what was wrong, and if necessary, surgery.
We were then sent to another clinic down the road where we filled out more forms and had the x-ray taken. I was disconcerted that the paper I was given to provide to the x-ray tech said “right shoulder” when if fact it is the left shoulder that is causing problems. Got that fixed and felt relief that we weren’t there for an amputation.
Apparently we are going to be called by the physical therapy provider directly. And we are supposed to be contacted by the pharmaceutical firm that makes the shoulder cream (apparently it is made to order). And that was that.
Driving home, Jee Yeun simply said “in Korea, you go to the doctor and get everything done in one place while you are there”.
My good friend Chris deployed today for a nine month tour in Afghanistan. He’s got a wife and kids waiting for him back home. I just want to wish him all the best as we anxiously await his safe return. I appreciate your sacrifice and I thank you for your service to our nation.
Speaking of taking a load off Fanny, after last week’s flat line I am pleased to report a three pound drop this week. That puts me a 236.5, a 42 pound overall reduction and that brings me to within 20 pounds of my goal. The original objective was a 60 pound loss, which I have slightly modified to getting somewhere between 215 and 220 and then maintaining that weight long term.
The other good news is that my girth now stands at 44″, which constitutes a reduction of 7.5″. I’m wearing my 38 inch waist jeans again for the first time in years (I had tried to give them to Goodwill but Jee Yeun had insisted I keep them “just in case”). My triple XL shirts fit me like a tent now as well.
That’s me at 25. See that belt? I’ve still got it. And I can actually wear it again. Of course, I’m on the notch closest to the end and it’s a tight squeeze, but still…
Twenty-seven legs of 501 thrown today. On the bright side, I took a shot at the out in twenty-three of them. On the not so bright side, I only hit the out in fourteen. Had I made half of those I missed I’d likely have earned a paid entry in the Regionals next month. Ah well. According to the Bible of Darts, every darters prayer should be “Lord, just give me a shot at the out!” I’m hereby modifying that to add “…and let me hit them with some regularity.”
According to the book I ought to be throwing like a champ. I think I’ll read up on flying jet planes next…
Overall, I threw decently I suppose. Moments of brilliance, including two 180s, surrounded by the usual mediocrity. Well, I guess all you can do is laugh about it (there is no crying allowed in darts!). Or maybe write steal a song. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Just call me Billy Ray Walrus!
(sung to the tune of Achy Breaky Heart)
You can tell the world I shot just like a fool You can mock the shots I coulda took You can tell your sis about the outs I missed And laugh and joke about me on Facebook
You can tell my arms they didn’t do no harm Except for the bounce outs on the floor And you can tell my lips to tell my fingertips They’ve got to find the target on the board
But don’t tell my darts, my Aiken breakin’ darts I just don’t think they’d give a hoot And if you tell my darts, my Aiken breakin’ darts They’d just say he ought to learn to shoot! oo oo
Mercifully, I leave it at that with apologies to the other Billy Ray.
Doing a little babysitting this weekend. Sydney loves Barney the dinosaur, to the exclusion of all others. Sadly, my Netflix programming features a total of three episodes. So, for the last several hours we’ve gone through them all repeatedly. I tried to switch it up with a little Curious George, but she was having none of that.
There was a brief respite when everyone in the house collapsed in sheer exhaustion.
Who gave out first is a matter of debate. I’d just call it a tie.
Other than her taste in television Sydney’s a great little girl of course. And really she keeps herself entertained pretty much with various toys and activities. She just wants that damn dino around as background noise.
Later today I’ll be heading up the highway to compete in the Charlotte Open dart tournament. Last year I made my debut in an American Darts Organization (ADO) sanctioned event at the Charlotte Open, so I’ve now come full circle. What a year of darts it has been! Indulge me while I take a little stroll down memory lane, will you?
($ indicates I managed to take home some money, * indicates multiple events at that venue, click on photos to enlarge)
$ Charlotte Open, Charlotte, NC
I had a big thrill last year at the Charlotte Open making it to the finals in the Friday night blind draw and playing on the Championship Board. I had the good fortune of drawing John Liggett as a partner. And the misfortune of playing against two highly ranked players (Chuck Pankow and Robbie Phillips). Big time darts, big time fun!
$ State Street Pub, West Columbia, SC
They didn’t much like me winning their silly little tournament. Jee Yeun’s making sure the door didn’t hit me on the way out. I haven’t been back.
* Puddlin’ Duck, Columbia, SC (Pointless Dart League Champion)
The regulars at the Puddlin’ Duck for Wednesday night darts with the Pointless Dart League
$* VFW, Aiken, SC (Friday night blind draw)
Except for the drive (an hour and 20 minutes from my house) the VFW is Aiken is always a great venue for good darts and good times. You can see how happy my partner David was to be taking home some money!
Washington Area Open, Sterling, VA
Me and my buddy Duke teamed up without much success. We did manage to have a good time however.
$ * Dolce Vita Pub, Seoul, Korea
Chris Werner and I walked away with some well deserved cash at the Supercricket tourney at Dolce Vita Pub
$ * Bull and Barrel, Seoul, Korea
Saturday nights were always hoppin’ at the newest dart venue in Itaewon–Bull and Barrel. Bridget Werner and I won a little towards our bar tab…
Dillinger’s Bar, Seoul, Korea (Itaewon 501 League)
Had a great time throwing in the Itaewon 501 singles league. Couldn’t do better than 3rd place, but I got lots of legs in along the way, had some great matches, drank me some beers, and maybe even improved my game a little bit.
$ Blue Frog, Seoul, Korea
Played one tourney here and tied (we opted to split 1st and 2nd place money rather than drunkenly play a best of 3 finals. Worst bar in Itaewon, I never went back.
$ * Dolce Vita Pub, Seoul, Korea (Friday night blind draw)
One final Friday night with the gang at Dolce Vita before returning to the American phase of my life…
VFW Aiken, SC ADO Regional Qualifier (I didn’t qualify)
$ * Fishbowl Lounge, Augusta, GA
Fishbowl Lounge in Augusta is a friendly joint and has a Saturday night blind draw I’ve played a couple of times. That’s Bridget Werner shooting ’em up!
$ Garden City Classic, Augusta, GA
Pleased as punch with a Top 16 finish in Augusta. Pathetic I know…
Virginia Beach Darts Classic, Virginia Beach, VA
Me and partner Duke Gates warming up in Virginia Beach. It didn’t go as well as we’d hoped, but the beer was cold and the company was great!
New World Dart Series, Las Vegas, NV
My first event on the “pro tour” was pretty much a beat down, but I expected no less. My bracket included 3 time world champion John Part. I managed to win 18 of 45 legs played in the round robin.
One of the highlights of Las Vegas was running into an old Korea buddy, Tom Johnson. The other was getting married. Not necessarily in that order.
$ First Break Bar, Sterling, VA
The Walrus and the Dragon were unstoppable in the Friday night blind draw at First Break.
$ Mighty Mike’s Bar, Sterling, VA
Some outstanding darters turned out for the Saturday draw at Mighty Mikes. I was happy to come away with second place money after some real dogfights…
Spring Fling Classic, Greenville, SC
Me and my buddy Justin Hayward (not the one from the Moody Blues) teamed up in Greenville and enjoyed an outstanding weekend of beer drinking and watching the ladies get crazy in the lounge. The darts? Oh well.
$ Aiken Singles Series (ASS) League
Had a wonderful time throwing my ass off in the ASS league with a group of truly outstanding darters. I certainly was NOT second best amongst them, so taking home second place money was a pleasant surprise!
Lucky’s Tavern, Savannah, GA. I didn’t get lucky.
Friendly’s Bar, Savannah, GA. The folks were friendly enough, but they were bastards on the oche!
Piedmont Shootout, Winston-Salem, NC
Teamed up with James Mabie in Winston-Salem and threw some outstanding darts. In practice games. My inability to hit two key darts in two different events cost us a shot at the money. Well, at least I came away motivated to not let my head beat me next time.
* Kwagga Sports Pub, Columbia, SC
Puddlin’ Duck was sold and our Wednesday night bar home is now called Kwagga. We’ve added some new faces and we are working hard to bring competitive darts back to Columbia big time!
So, there you have it. A year in the life of a darter. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the person who makes it all possible, my biggest fan and supporter, Jee Yeun Lee McCrarey. Thanks baby!
I’ve been working hard at improving my performance in darts competitions. Perhaps the one aspect of my dart game that needs the most work is my mental approach to playing. Simply put, I lose too many games I should win because I all too frequently have my head up my ass.
Having identified the problem, I set about looking for fixes. And through the miracle of the Internets (thank you Al Gore!) I came across this CD:
And for $9.99 on iTunes it was mine! Did I mention that I was desperate?
The author, Joseph Clough, is a self described “best selling author, international Trainer, Celebrity Coach and Hypnotherapist.” He promises to “help each person achieve their full potential” through “advanced techniques of Neuro Linguistic Programming with Time Line Therapy™ and Hypnotherapy.” He invites his clients to “Be Your Potential.” His basic premise is that we allow our subconscious mind take control and hold us back through negative thinking. And he purports to be able change our subconscious thought process through the power of…hypnosis.
Now, I’ve been hypnotized before which was a rather strange experience. I had never been hypnotized by listening to a CD. I’m pretty sure I still haven’t because throughout the 50 minute long hypnotherapy session my subconscious was saying “you know this is bullshit, right?” To which I responded “yeah, I know. But I paid ten bucks for this so shut up and listen!”
It remains to be seen if I derived any benefit from my recorded session with Mr. Clough. I did find his British accent somewhat off-putting, but the best darters in the world are from the UK, so who am I to judge. Clough encouraged me to envision myself as the successful darter I aspire to be and to identify five behaviors that would allow me to reach my full potential. I got my subconscious to play along and we came up with these:
1. Cool. I throw better darts in practice than I do in bar league play. I throw better in bar league than I do in big tournaments. And really the only explanation for this is I let myself get uptight and intimidated. So, I’m resolved to approach whatever level of competition I face with the same coolness I approach my practice sessions. In darts, it is always you against the board. So just relax and play your game.
2. Calm. Being emotional during a match is always counterproductive. Getting mad at your opponent (or yourself) won’t help you win games. You can’t control what the other guy throws, but if you stay calm you can control how well you throw. And in the end, that is all that matters.
3. Confident. This is a big one for me. I know I can throw a strong dart game because on occasion I have done so. I need to remember that I am capable of replicating that success on a more consistent basis. This kind of gets into that whole power of positive thinking thing. Instead of standing at the line thinking “for god sakes, don’t miss this!” I want to be more “you’ve done this before, let’s win the game right here, right now!”
4. Focus. Sometimes within a match I start getting sloppy with my darts and making mental mistakes. So I need to maintain a laser-like focus, concentrating from the beginning dart to the winning dart, planning my shots, working the board one dart at a time, and playing a strategically smart game.
5. Forgiveness. When it comes to darts, I’m my own worst enemy. When I have a bad throw I jump all over my ass and call myself some really awful things. Which usually results in a loss of cool, calm, confidence, and focus. So, I’m resolved to forgiving myself after a mistake, and not letting that mistake effect darts I haven’t thrown yet.
Alright, that all seems simple enough. Are you listening in there subconscious?
This week I put forth the effort to contact the Office of Personnel Management (the folks who administer my civil service retirement) to find out why the wife has not as yet been added to my Blue Cross health plan. And what an effort it was! Numerous calls on Monday garnered nothing but a busy signal. Same thing on Tuesday. So, I was practically ecstatic when I actually heard ringing after I dialed this morning.
Of course, I still had to navigate the Byzantine robotic phone tree to get to the option I needed (turns out is was none of the above). The robot voice then advised that due to funding reductions hold times would be longer than normal (and normal has always been frustratingly long). About 15 minutes later an actual human being came on the line and pleasantly asked how she could help.
I told her the sad tale about having sent my marriage certificate and the appropriate government forms required to have my health plan changed from single to family back in April, and here it was July and I hadn’t heard a word. Meanwhile, my sweet wife has been living in pain and in need of medical treatment. I provided the voice with my retirement account number and she went to check the status.
She came back to tell me my request had been processed yesterday, and my benefit change was effective July 1 (my annuity is paid monthly on the 1st, my August check will technically be paying me for the month of July). Maybe that’s why I was getting busy signals on Tuesday–they were busy working on my plan changes. So, I asked when Blue Cross would know to send me an updated benefits card and she said it would be 24-48 hours.
So, three months to process my request and 3 days to reach a human being at OPM. That’s a level of service from Uncle Sam that I have come to know and expect. And lord knows the folks at USCIS (immigration) are much, much worse.
This pretty much sums up my political philosophy as it relates to the purpose and necessity of government.
It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve. – Henry George
Fresh off my battle with TWC, I’m ready to take on the USA.
I’ve spent a lifetime dealing with government agencies. When I was 16 I got my SSN from the SSA. At 18 I registered for the draft with the SSS. That was the year the draft ended, so I guess you could say I dodged that bullet. And of course, like everyone else I have an annual encounter with the IRS (and given my Tea Party sympathies, that relationship could potentially become more intense). Chances are this post is being read by some creep with the NSA. And don’t even get me started on the idiots at TSA.
At 21 I began my civil service career with the USPS. Twenty-four years later I moved to ED, then finished my career with DOD. I retired as the GS-15 Director of DHRM for USFK. Of course, the CPAC (a division of CHRA) screwed up my final pay, and I spent months fighting with DFAS to get that straightened out.
Upon retirement I purchased a house owned by HUD. They promised to pay for the stolen aircon unit, but at closing they reneged. Bastards.
My CSRS pension is administered through the OPM, and they’ve been a real nightmare to deal with. I sent my marriage certificate in three months ago to have my wife added to my BCBS health plan, and they still haven’t managed to take care of that. Meanwhile, Jee Yeun needs to see a doctor but she has no insurance. So, that means another phone call and being on hold for 45 minutes to speak to a bureaucrat who will likely be unsympathetic to my plight.
And of course for the past 19 months I’ve been dealing with the division of DHS that handles immigration, USCIS. It has become apparent that my big mistake was trying to play by the rules. Had I brought Jee Yeun into the country illegally things would have been a lot easier, and certainly less time consuming. Ah well, nothing to be done about that now.
I love my Uncle Sam. I just wish he’d stop fucking me in the ass. Is that too much to ask?
*format, font, and user interface have been upgraded. Actual content will remain weak and generally uninspired.
Bigger! Better! Badder! And once again featuring photos and videos (applications that over time had deteriorated and finally stopped working).
I believe the upgrades are almost complete. Still a couple of tweaks I want to incorporate, but I’m generally happy with the new appearance. I like that the blog is actually bigger and that the font size makes for easier reading. Also, I no longer have to manually resize photos prior to uploading. Photographs now post as thumbnails which can be expanded to full size with a simple mouse click. I also like the captioning feature.
So, easier for me to post, easier for you to read and respond.