Polo at Myopia

Thanks to the generosity of sponsor Wilmington Trust, we recently enjoyed a polo match at Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton. The match was Harvard University vs. Oxford University (I assume if you bring your own horse, you’re allowed on the team) and the winner was Oxford, 3-1.

myopiaBut the real fun, aside from the food and drinks supplied by the sponsor, was simply taking in the spectacle, from well-dressed and well-behaved fans, to the beautiful horses.

And a surprise addition was the exhibition of the hounds, well trained to follow the commands of the master in the red coat, whether he was mounted or on foot.

No, hounds aren’t used in polo, but both polo and fox-hunting involve horses (and fox-hunting no longer involves a fox!), so the local gentry saw the value of a little cross-promotion.

The pictures give a taste of the experience, but it’s open to anyone, Sundays at 3:00 as long as the season lasts.

Myopia Hunt Club, Hamilton, MA
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Holocene Calendar

12017The calendar we all use today is the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. His main goal was to fix the problem of the drifting equinoxes—particularly the north vernal equinox, which helps set the date for Easter. The Julian calendar, which had been in use since 45 BC, added a leap day every four years, but the Gregorian calendar went two steps further, by skipping the leap day every century, except in years that are divisible by 400.

Thus the Gregorian calendar has kept pace with the change of the seasons since 1582, while the Julian calendar, which gains about three years every four centuries, is now 13 days behind.

The Gregorian is not perfect, but it certainly seems good enough.

Yet a small group of people think they have a better calendar, and that’s the Holocene calendar.

Why change?

Reason one: the Gregorian calendar starts counting at the birth of Jesus (or as near as can be determined), and that’s not a universally relevant event, as evidenced by the fact that adoption was slow beyond the Catholic countries of Europe. The last two countries to adopt the Gregorian calendar were Greece (1923) and Turkey (1926).

Reason two: The Gregorian calendar counts up as it moves farther back into BC territory, making calculation of the time between AD and BC dates difficult.

The Holocene calendar starts roughly 10,000 years before the birth of Jesus, at roughly the beginning of the Neolithic Revolution, when humans transitioned from hunter-gatherers to farmers—a roughly universal event. Thus, to convert from the Gregorian calendar to the Holocene calendar (for AD dates), one need merely add 10,000—or add one digit to the front of the year.

The current year, therefore, is 12,017 in the Holocene calendar.

So what are the chances of this calendar being adopted?

They look small today, but every movement starts small. And at bottom, this one makes sense—and could improve understanding among global cultures.

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Parochial Boston

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, with many notable achievements, including the first public school, the first subway and the first public park.

It took vision and courage to do these things first.

But those achievements were long ago; today Boston is acting like an old man on a park bench who won’t get up and move along. Boston MapBoston turned down a chance to bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Boston’s leading politicians are working hard to thwart the public’s demand for legal marijuana, claiming that it’s a gateway drug to heroin and that legalization would increase the use of marijuana by minors.

And Boston’s politicians are working on legislation to protect the established taxicab industry, by barring Uber and Lyft drivers from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. While other cities, like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, have welcomed Uber and Lyft to their airports, those companies are still not welcome at Boston’s Logan Airport, and extending the ban to the convention center would be a clear sign that Boston is going backwards!

Yes, Boston is still a great city, but it’s resting on its laurels. It no longer has the vision and courage to run with the leaders.

Lawn Bowling

Lawn bowling has been an English sport for centuries, and all the former English colonies have clubs that organize and promote the sport.

But I’d never had a chance to try lawn bowling myself until I found myself in Queenstown, New Zealand. Queenstown is best known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. Bordering a long, deep lake and surrounded by tall mountains, the town attracts hikers, mountain bikers, bungee jumpers, paragliders, parasailers, jet-skiers, snow skiers, snowboarders and more.

But for me, the biggest thrill was lawn bowling. The English (as well as Kiwis, Aussies, Scots, Canadians and Indians) just call it bowling. But as an American, I’ve got to call it lawn bowling, to distinguish it from the bowling that we practice indoors, which involves attempting to knock over ten pins.

Bowling, for the uninitiated, is a bit like bocce, in that the object is to get your balls close to the little white ball at the other end of the lane. However, the balls you’re rolling aren’t perfectly symmetrical; as they roll, they want to curve a bit to one side—sort of like the stone does in the sport of curling, which we watch in the Olympics every four years. Which brings up the question of why curling is in the Olympics and not bowling, and which I won’t attempt to answer.

Bowling is a sport for all ages. The physical exertion is minimal. And if you wish, you can partake of your favorite adult beverage at the same time, as we did.

Queenstown Bowling ClubFor our purposes, the Queenstown Bowling Club, which recently celebrated its 100th birthday, was an ideal place to learn the basics, including the policy of keeping your adult beverage on the beer bench and not carrying it onto the green.

Interestingly, the green in Queensland was artificial, and smooth as a billiard table.

Here’s a video of my wife demonstrating fine bowling form.

But a few days later, we had a chance to play on natural grass (the shortest flattest grass I’ve ever seen) at the St. Clair Bowling Club in Dunedin. Both were wonderful.

St. Clair Bowling Club Sadly, the sport of bowling seems to be in slow decline. It’s an old folks’ game. But I did enjoy my two outings (not least because I won), and if I ever get another chance to play, I’ll take it!

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Buffalo buffaloBuffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

I first ran into this sentence (Yes, it’s a sentence) 10 years ago, and found it rattling around in my head recently as I was planning a trip through Buffalo, New York. So now I’ll pass it on and give you the chance to have it invade your head, too.

What the sentence really means is this: “Those buffaloes from Buffalo that are intimidated by buffaloes from Buffalo intimidate other buffaloes from Buffalo (presumably New York, though that is unlikely today).

The understanding lies in the use of the word buffalo as a place, an animal and a verb, and is hinted at by capitalization as well as (in the spoken version) the pacing and pausing and emphasis of the phrasing.

You can read more about it here.

Good luck!

How to Shovel Snow

The world is full of experts who’ll tell you how to shovel. Take small scoops of snow, not large ones. Lift with your legs, not your back. And beware of twisting to throw snow to the side; it’s better to throw snow straight ahead.

snow-shovelingBut this is not that kind of article.

This article addresses the question of whether it is better to shovel while the snow is still falling, or to wait until the snowfall is over before starting.

Proponents of the latter will say they just want to do the job once. Plus, by waiting until the storm is over, they avoid the risk that the municipal snowplow will come by and ruin their work. Lastly, they avoid the possibility—especially in windy snowstorms—that areas they’ve already shoveled will “attract” more snow that otherwise would blow by.

I understand these people, but I’m not one of them

My mantra is, “Shovel early and shovel often.”

Here’s why.

1. The longer snow sits, the more its settles, and the denser it gets. The longer you wait, therefore, the “heavier” your load.

2. When you shovel early and shovel often, you can use the push and lift technique, in which you push snow to the edge of your area before lifting it up. Wait too long, however, and you can’t push. You’ve got to lift, and then either throw or walk. That’s more work.

3. If you don’t shovel snow, people tend to walk on it. Cars drive on it. It gets compacted. And then it’s harder to remove.

4. When you shovel early and shovel often, you’re doing a number of small jobs instead of one big job. This is easier on your body.

5. When you rely on a simple shovel, you avoid all the baggage that comes with a snowblower, from storing it to maintaining it to fueling it.

6. Shoveling is good exercise, and most of us need more exercise. (Just don’t overdo it.)

7. Lastly, when you shovel early and shovel often, you often finish before those noisy snowblowers even get started! (Still, you may want to delay shoveling the end of the driveway until those municipal plows have done their work.)