Friday, June 27, 2008

Making subordinates silently suffer (for one's own amusement)

Being fortunate (or maybe not) to have managed, at various levels, a number of people (though certainly far less than pole spreader, to left, Mr. Moses), I've derived a few lessons for personal enjoyment of the endeavor. Yes the job needs to be done well, but having a little fun (even if only for yourself) along the way is surely not a negative thing and - if parlayed properly - can be as welcome as the sight of an ice cream truck in Baghdad's Green Zone. Taken as a given when dealing with union and/or production people, the less said is better and communication should be as direct as Alec Baldwin leaving a voicemail for his daughter. However the white collar ranks subordinate to oneself offer a veritable cornucopia of sitting duck targets for sarcasm.

So lets delve concretely into this potential funbox, none better I'd say since "A Night At The Opera", of making mirth at the expense of your underlings' sense of psychological stability. My favorite target is the morning rejoinder to the poster child of hackneyed salutations - "How are you?" (and its myrid bastard offspring such as "How are you doin'?", "How's it goin'?", etc.). 'Good morning' is a perfectly fine phrase that imparts no obligation upon the receiptient other than a mirror response. It implies felicity and friendliness without feigned interest. Using tone can change its meaning far more greatly than any addition of verbiage. The brevitaciousness of it, examples efficiency and, additionally, is perfect for tossing off blithely while making time down a packed hallway without the need even to break stride.

But no, say the boob masses, to this economical and socially ecumenical salutation. 'Good morning' isn't good enough for the fake empathizers. Though one oft is not fully awake and/or in need still of the first AM java imbiment, this isn't excuse for said pikers to refrain from a feeble attempt of putting one on the psychological mat to attempt a quick well-being assessment of yourself. That they care not an iota, is not the point. Pre-conditioned to emit said greeting, anything other than an answered 'Fine', 'Great' or its ilk certainly will send them spiraling into confusion more fiercely than when Capt. Kirk revealed to a misguided VGER (sic Voyager) satellite he wasn't the ontologically correct "Creator". [A claim, incidentally, that he had not recanted the night before, one can presume, to some comely Yeo-woman, but ole James T. can be forgiven the lapse, I'm sure you'll agree, based on his previous path-breaking pursuit of amorous pleasure from a distaff member of the green-hued race (see above).]

So, in the spirt of doing a social good for the community, let me share my current Top Ten responses to subordinates silly enough to greet their grandiose and all-knowing Pooh-Bah with inquiry as to how I might be?

#10 - "Better than Tim Russert"

#9 - "More excited than Eliot Spitzer getting to ride bareback"

#8 - "Like the tumor grew another three inches just last night"

#7 - "What's it to you?"

#6 - "Pleased only that I have one less day managing people such as yourself"

#5 - "Better than you because I actually know how to do my job"

#4 - "Like Eva making tea & scones in the Bunker"

#3 - "Strangely saddened that I didn't stroke-out sometime after midnight"

#2 - "Shocked that in my dream last night you actually enjoyed what happened"

#1 - "Much like the Vietnamese after the fall of Saigon"

... and the hits just keep comin'!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

2008 Masters @ Augusta National

Your faithful correspondent is quite late in posting this missive, but a thousand pardons, oh mighty Sahib! I had the pleasure of attending, this year, all day Tuesday and most of Wednesday - the par 3 tournament day. Although not nearly as chilly as last year's Saturday & Sunday rounds, which I most contentedly shivered-through, much of Tuesday afternoon was quite cool. To stave off the potential for ill health, I was forced to return to the main merchandise shop, in fact, after lunch to add a rose-colored mohair-esque sweater for immediate wearing to my earlier-purchased four digit bonfire of shirts in various lengths, sundry outerwear, a couple of caps, ditto number of visors & other general Augusta bric-a-brac which were awaiting my pickup later that day (and strained to fit inside two oversized bags) just next door in the convenient check stand. "One must stay flexible and in the moment", as I am oft wont to say, so I was well-positioned to handle this unexpected contingency.

Besides being one of the best snaps taken, above photo of Mr. Gary Player has been placed strategically for three reasons. First, this year marked the 30th anniversary of G.P.'s last Masters victory. Second, Mr. Player broke the record of Masters' appearances with his participation this year. Third is a detail not normally noticed. In the left corner of this photo and walking down the 2nd fairway - site of this shot - is the eventual winner of the 2008 tourney, Mr. Trevor Immelman. Many know that Trevor has been a protege of sorts of Mr. Player's, but I can report that Tuesday saw a lovely South African practice round foursome of these two fine ball-strikers plus fellow countrymen Retief Goosen and Tim Clark. The fifth and best known South African in the field, Mr. Ernie Els (seen above to the right) was on the grounds that day, but not playing with his mates. 'Double E' did have, however. a long range session under the direct eye of Mr. Butch Harmon, his then brand new coach.

Being on the course right as the gates opened Tuesday, a few (albeit minor) sights of interest/curiousity were unobscured and, fortunately, I got some good shots. To the left is the infamous Scorer's Tent just off the 18th green. TV coverage often shows the leaders inside or hugging family members walking to it, but I think most people would be very surprised at how dinky the building is actually. Could a decent horsepower John Deere, for example, fit in there? I think not.

Speaking of getting on the course early, I can't recommend enough doing so. On Wednesday - my shopping completed the day before at a fully-stocked pro shop - I took the entrance which feeds into the corner of the course by the 16th Green and 14th tee. This is one of the best places to enter the grounds as there are some pretty (and comfortably flat) stone walls upon to sit while waiting as well as a large (and very efficient) concession stand on the way down with coffee plus (tasty) biscuits at the usual modest Augusta prices. To the right above is a shot from just moments before the fellow in the official green jacket gently admonished the 'Patrons' to walk (and not run) plus, of course, welcomed us graciously to Augusta.

Another early morning snap of note is to the left, showing the Par Three course just as the first rays of sunshine are penetrating through the trees. The Par Three course is in back of Butler Cabin and a treat to stroll. You've heard, I'm sure, everyone recycle the cliche that "Augusta is much hillier than it appears on TV". Though hackneyed, it's similarly the case that the Par Three layout has some pronounced dips in elevation too. On Tuesday, 'Patrons' were allowed to walk this short course at their leisure and the ropes were just being put-up for the next day's contest. What most don't know is that the Masters has used the Par Three as a lab of sorts for the the full 18's greens. Originally not included in Bobby Jones' plans and creation of it vetoed by him on a couple of occasions, the Par Three first had the current grass used on the now lightnin'-slick main course.

Shan't bore the cognescenti with regurgitations of changes made at St. Bobby J.'s holy spot, but couldn't resist shot to the right of the tee marker from the couple-of-years ago stretched-out par 4 11th. 505 yards and that's from a few yards in front of where the Sunday tees go. Meaty, baby! The year of the change in the 11th's tees, it was one of the best places to watch the action because no one thought to walk back there. The tee itself is obscured from view anywhere else unless one walks down a service cart path or happens to follow a golfer for one of the only long walks between holes. One change this year of note is the new viewing area high to the left of the 16th green. My picture from there was not of Scavullo-like quality, so it's not included. Nevertheless that area has been set-up very well; formerly it was a heapin' stripeful of rhodendrum. From this new ground one can clearly - if distantly - see the action on the 6th and 15th green. Only issue is that the pitch of the ground there is such that on a damp day some 'Patrons', if not careful, might easily go ass-over-tea kettle while setting-up their non-arm chair seats. [n.b., The officials will not let you bring-in any chair that has arms.]

Probably not the smartest move, but I'll reveal where I like to set-up my chair for at least one day of the practice rounds and how to access such most efficiently. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, I go for right side of the 10th green by entering the grounds behind the 14th tee. First, I like the area because players always are dropping at least a couple of balls in the right greenside bunker and practicing the short explosion to the anticipated Saturday pin position front right [See snap near bottom of Mr. Michael Campbell]. If your chair is set-up towards the left of the sitting area, you're no more than 10 feet from a player there and have a direct line of sight to the other main practice spot on the green - back left chipping to the usual Sunday pin siting. Second, the sitting area is in a bit of a dale so noise from passing crowds is minimal. Third, the green is ensconced by tall trees so only the rare shaft of direct light bothers one during a prolonged sitting and the 'roast chicken' potential is, thereby, quite low. Above to the left is a snap from putting down my chair just after rapidly strolling-up 14 fairway and cutting across 15 tee to find my magic spot. Nice, eh? By entering in back of 14 tee, the queue is much shorter than the main clubhouse entrance and you need not negotiate the concession stands' main area traffic for better broken-field power-walking.

Trying to be purposeful plus original, I sought to get good photos of that which only being on the ground would reveal (and was relevant). The best example I have from the most recent trip is the shot to the right of the 18th fairway in the foreground and looking back to the tee. Beside the afore-mentioned cliched hilliness of the course, most folks don't realize that some - not nearly the majority however - of Augusta has some decent knobs in the fairway. As if putting the ball in the proper part of the green was not hard enough, these slanted lies add considerable strain that doesn't come through on the telly (nor are commented-on much by the broadcast sycophants). Here's the evidence for 18 and, as one can see, it makes the left side of the fairway no bargain for a second shot even if one steers away successfully from the infamous [Think Sandy Lyle in 1988] bunker.

To wrap-up this rather voluminous post, Mr. Jack Nicklaus, past patron saint of the high long iron, did make an unnannounced appearance on the main course for a Wednesday practice round. The Golden Bear played with Gary Player, Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer, a German first-time participant. I believe they started on #10 and I was in my chair greenside before most of the crowd knew they had gone out instead of just warming-up on the range for the later-in-the-day Par Three contest. Unfortunately I didn't get a good snap of Jack (which is tragic in that the pride of Columbus, OH wore a very sporting green-on-light-green blouse that would gladly fill a special nook in my golf closet if I ever stumbled across it for purchase). Instead I have to the above left my best action photo of the trip; Mr. Michael Campbell, the New Zealand native who captured the U.S. Open in 2005 @ Pinehurst, coming-out of the right greenside bunker on #10. As one can still see the ball rotating in the upper right hand corner of the snap, me think M.C. might want to work on staying-down a tad longer in his bunker play. Tsk, tsk.

A truly splendid time was had and - if only once - I recommend a trip to Augusta for all those who love our shared passion and supreme sport!