Sarah Palin is the reason compasses point North.

calendar   Thursday - August 06, 2020

Bowling Shut Down

Well, so much for bowling tonight. We ate dinner early for once, almost finishing off the fantastic brined chicken I’d grilled up yesterday, so we were able to leave at the right time for once.

Got up there with hardly any traffic, arrived 10 minutes before practice was scheduled to start. Got the balls out of the trunk and walked across the parking lot, took one step up the front steps, and the place went dark. Total power failure.

Large parts of NJ are still without power from the big terrible storm Tuesday. Out here in the stick we’ve mostly avoided it, but “mostly” is a relative term. Thousands are without power, but not us. Our power was out for 6 minutes during the peak of the storm. But the utility guys are out doing their repairs, testing and rerouting as necessary. So I guess some areas get shut off for a while. Because.

So we sat on the front steps as more people arrived, and we all hung out, chatting and seeing what would happen. Almost nobody was wearing a mask, so I guess we’ll all be dead tomorrow. The alley folks kept coming outside to give us updates, while some of us made calls and checked the news. Most of Warren County was out, from the Pennsylvania border all the way east to Morris County. Some spots were still on. Chuck called his wife, found out that his house had power, and asked her if she could bring over all his extension cords to power the place. He lives 5 miles away ... nobody has that many extension cords. Wise guy! Actually, it was pretty good socialization, everybody has something to say about the storm, and the masks and the rules and our wonderful much loved governor. Plus we all blamed Mary for the outage, as she made meatloaf tonight. The last time she made meatloaf hurricane Sandy hit and their house was without power for a week and a half.

After 45 minutes, 8 o’clock, the boss man came out and said he had no idea if or when the juice would flow again. So we’re all going to post bowl at some point the coming week. If we can. Assuming there’s power then. As we drove home, we saw that parts of Washington had power, about a mile south of the bowling alley. Meh, what can you do? Everybody else probably waited longer and the power came back on. Sorry, we can’t stay there to 11pm when some of us have to be at work before 8.

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So we came home, ate a little more of that awesome chicken, had a drink and watched a little TV. I’ve got a biga going in the kitchen, as we’re going to auntie’s final pool party Saturday (they’re moving) and she asked us (me) to make a few dozen rolls for the sausage and peppers she’ll be making. I’m the only non-Italian in the bunch, so I’m making some real old school Italian bread dough to make the rolls from. And that means a biga.

A biga is kind of like young sourdough, only made with commercial yeast. Flour, water, and a pinch or yeast, mix it up and let is sit around for 12-16 hours, or fridge it for a day or so. Even commercial yeast will excrete alcohol, acetic acid, and lactic acid, which are the flavors that put the sour in sourdough. It just goes a lot faster, and you get a great breediing up of the good strong commercial yeast. Add the whole thing to a bunch of other flour and water, and it makes flavorful bread pretty quick.

Actually, an Italian biga is almost exactly the same as a Polish poolish, exact the poolish uses a wetter, 100% hydration pre-dough. So a poolish is even faster, but you have to watch it closely and use when it’s just ripe. A biga is only 50-60% hydration, so the thick dough matures slowly. Yeast likes the wet. A biga probably gives you a bit more flavor too, but both are pretty easy ways to make tasty bread with commercial yeast.

Italian bread is the same as French bread, except you add a little olive oil and a touch of sugar. The sugar also kicks the yeast into high gear. Sourdough, poolish, and biga are called preferments, because they are dough that is pre fermented. Which means that the rise time for the whole dough, once you add in the biga, is a good bit faster than the typical 2 1/2 hours. Way faster than sourdough’s 6 - 12 hours.

I’m going to make up a tiny batch of plain dough tomorrow at the same hydration rate, to see how much I need to make a 6” long roll. That’s enough for 2 sausages and some onions and peppers. When I have that dough weight, I can figure out how much dough I’ll need to make 2-3 dozen rolls. I’m making enough biga for a double recipe, but I can spread it out to a triple recipe if necessary. I want a rather soft bread, not a crusty loaf. A smaller crumb would be Ok too. Taste and strength are what I’m looking for. ( Ever try using Wonder bread for a sausage & pepper sammich? It lasts about 3 seconds. )

She’s promised to help, so that should be fun. I think I can make about a dozen rolls per bake. And we’ll make the rolls the night before, so we won’t have to get up before dawn to bake for an afternoon pool party we have to drive 2 hours to get to. Saturday morning is for sleeping late.

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chicken brine: your typical brine of kosher salt and water, half a cup of salt to 3 quarts water. Slice up a few lemons, smash 5 gloves of garlic, rough chop half an onion, and then add a bunch of dried herbs, a tbl each rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme, allspice, and a big handful of peppercorns. Bring to a boil it in a big pot, let it cool, stick a chicken in it, cover, then 18 hours in the fridge. Rinse, pat dry, and then put the uncovered chicken back in the fridge for 2 hours. Get it out, cook it on the grill using offset heat, 400F for a bit over an hour, flipping it a couple times. Super brown, crispy skin, juicy as all get out, and doesn’t need any seasoning at all. Mmm, mmm, good. Next time I’ll use a bit less salt and toss in a bullion cube instead. Moar chiken flava!!

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Have a drink! While I am partial to Manhattans, made the old way with rye whiskey and cold red vermouth (not in an ice shaker, maybe add 1 or 2 ice cubes to the glass), sometimes something lighter and sweeter hits the spot. I don’t have a name for it, but a measure of golden rum and a measure of Kahlua over rocks tastes pretty good and it still packs a punch. A touch sweeter than a Black Russian, but made with booze that actually has flavor. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/06/2020 at 08:58 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling BloggingBreadClimate-WeatherFamilyFood •  
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calendar   Thursday - July 02, 2020

yay, bowling

King Murphy has finally allowed the bowling alleys in NJ to reopen. With all sorts of precautions, masks, barriers, social distancing, etc.

So I went up there today and threw 4 games. I haven’t bowled since March 13. I figure it’s time to learn how to bowl all over again, so I tried the Drop Your Shoulder method. This allows a straighter, more perpendicular swing. And it seems to work. First game I threw was a 194, with the first 2 frames open. Then I threw a 164, followed by a 166 while trying out different lines. That gave me a 523 series, which isn’t so bad considering. Just for fun I threw one more game, and came up with a 199 that had 4 opens. In other words, every closed frame was a strike, but my right corner spare throw was not working at all today. So far my hand isn’t hurting and my back isn’t out, so maybe this is a smarter way for me to roll.

She has tomorrow off, so we’ll both go up and toss a few. And then it’s the big holiday weekend. Not sure if I’m going to her cousin’s party Saturday or not. I saw all those people at Christmas and got sick afterwards. This will be outside, in the swamp humidity of a NJ summer.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/02/2020 at 04:25 PM   
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calendar   Friday - March 13, 2020

And then a miracle happened. No, not really

We played the “management” team again tonight. Their worst bowler (200 average) is still out after his surgery, so they brought in T, a super dooper bowler I’ve known forever. As a sub, T usually throws one nearly perfect game, one poor game, and one right on his average, which keeps his numbers level.

We got a handicap from them about equal to our highest average bowler (me). They didn’t even try in the first game, just blindly threw the balls. And we managed to beat them by about 27 pins.

Then they woke up. Daddy P threw a 289 in Game 2, which is 10 strikes in a row followed by a 9/. Egad. Mommy P pulled a 240 in game 3. Yeah, they’re all just terrible. We got trampled in Game 2. We were merely beaten in Game 3.

I finally had the sense to move 3 boards right in Game 3 and went down an in without much hand, threw 7 strikes in a row later in the game, and pulled out a 221. We lost total wood too.

But we won our first game in 9 weeks. First win in forever.

Half the league was absent tonight. Corona fear probably. We got there at the last second and still got a parking space right in front.

I think I’ll stick with the right hand line. After all, that’s the line Daddy P throws, and the same line daughter P on another team used when she threw a 300 against us the other week.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/13/2020 at 10:20 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling Blogging •  
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calendar   Saturday - March 07, 2020

now it’s one in eight

Yet again we lost all 3 games at league, 0-7. That gives us 1 game won in the last 8 weeks; 1 out of 24. And yet somehow we’re still 14 points ahead of the last place team.

I threw a God awful 421 series, 90 pins under average. One of those was a 114. I just couldn’t get the ball to go where or how I wanted it to. Sometimes I’d miss by a hair, sometimes by a mile. Suckville. I got a couple of BK chicken sandwiches on the way home to console myself. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/07/2020 at 10:52 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - February 29, 2020


Another night at league, another 0-7 loss. That makes it 1 game won in 6 or 7 weeks for us. 1 in 21? Pathetic. Heart breaking. Of course, we were up against the P family last night, who live for bowling. Uncle is out for a few weeks for health issues, so they brought in Junior as a sub. He’s the guy who holds the alley record for the highest series ever thrown there in it’s entire 55 year history; an 899 out of a possible 900. Needless to say, even with a 179 pin handicap, we got slaughtered.

I need to go back to the very beginning and learn it all over again. Hopefully the right way this time. Maybe I still have a dud ball out in the garage I can dig out and use.


But I did have a good time talking cooking with my squad. Turns out Mrs. Newbie owns a good stand mixer, a Dutch oven, and a digital scale, and is interested in baking bread. Awesome. So I reverse engineered a bread recipe on the fly for her, showing her baker’s math and all that, and she says she’ll give it a try this weekend and text me the results. In turn, I promised to bring her some sourdough starter next week. If she does make a boule and tells me about it, I might gift her with one of my medium Cambro storage containers. They’re not just commercial grade plastic, they also have gradations on the side. This makes them wonderfully useful for rising dough in. A typical bread recipe says “let the dough rise for 90 minutes until doubled in size”, which is kind of a misstatement. Dough rises depending on how strong the yeast is and what temperature the dough is. So you can’t go by the clock. But if you put the dough in a translucent box with volume marks on it, you can easily see when it has doubled in size, regardless of how long it takes. Cambro containers are an addiction.


Reverse engineered bread recipe:

Goal: I want a loaf that bakes up to 20 ounces

20 ounces is 567 grams. Bread loses about 20 percent of weight when you bake it, so the dough has to weigh that much more. 567 + 20% = 567 x 1.2 = 680. The dough should weigh about 680 grams.

Any loaf that uses up to around 600 grams of flour will rise with a standard measure of yeast. That’s 2.5 teaspoons, 1 packet, 1/4 ounce, or 7 grams worth. All the same amount. So 680 - 7 = 673.

You don’t want the dough to be too dry or too wet. While very high hydration doughs take you into that “no knead” territory they are a challenge to work with. So stick with 70% hydration, which makes a good dough to learn with.

Ok, so we’ve got a certain amount of flour, call it X, and a certain amount of water, call it 0.7X. 70%. Bread needs salt. 2.5% makes a nice tasty amount. Salt amount is based on how much flour you use. So the salt amount is 0.025X.

Put it all together and solve for X, then round things out. 673 = (X + 0.7X + 0.025X) = 1.725X. So X = 673/1.725 = 390.1449 == 390

This gives us
390gm flour
273gm water
10gm salt
7gm yeast

For good flavor, texture, and crumb you want a mix of flours. Bread flour, “KABF”, has lots of gluten and protein and gives the loaf body. All purpose flour makes a good crust and a nice crumb. A small amount of whole wheat flour adds depth to the flavor.
A good rule of thumb is to use twice as much bread flour as all purpose flour. Not everyone likes the darker taste of whole wheat flour, so 10% is fine, although you could go to 30% or even 40%. Too much WW and AP will give you weak bread, as they have less gluten.

So let’s break it down. 60% KABF, 30% AP, 10% WW. 390 x 0.6 = 234, 390 x 0.3 = 117, 390 x 0.1 = 39. 234 + 117 + 39 = 390.
234gm KABF
117gm AP
39gm WW

and the entire recipe becomes
234gm bread flour
117gm all purpose flour
39gm whole wheat flour
273gm water
10gm salt
7gm yeast

And that’s reverse calculated baker’s math. Which is completely scalable: if you wanted to make bread for an army, you’d use pounds instead of grams. It’s the same ratios, so you’ll get the same result. But 455 loaves instead of just 1.

Going further, getting into sourdough territory, you can see why it’s best to feed the starter a mix of WW, AP, and KABF flour, and keep the hydration at 100%. That way it won’t severely impact your flour ratios, and it’s easy to figure out how much salt and extra water to use.
100gm starter has 50gm of flour and 50gm of water. For hybrid bread, the more starter you use, the less yeast you add. Straight sourdough bread has no added yeast and takes a whole day to mature. For 10% starter I’d go with half the added yeast. You do want it to rise slower, to propagate the sourdough flavor. For 20% starter I’d go with just a quarter measure. 2gm. Yes, you can make bread just by baking well fed starter. Heck, you can fry the stuff. It’s an acquired taste as a good strong starter is pretty darn tart. That’s why I usually don’t add more than 25%, often just going with 10-15%. It’s enough.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/29/2020 at 11:30 AM   
Filed Under: • Bowling BloggingBread •  
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calendar   Friday - February 21, 2020

1 win in 6 weeks now

Well, the pooch screwed us again. We lost all 3 games again in league. Newbie teammate threw an 89 in her first game, WAY under her already low 117 average. Her husband wasn’t much better. I was 9 under with a anemic 160; my average has dropped 6 points over the past few weeks. But I pulled off a small miracle in the next two games, twisting my hand around into the 7 o’clock finger position and getting so far under the ball that I was palming it. That slowed down my throw but put a whole lot more spin on the ball, and that got me strike after strike even without a huge amount of hook. So I threw a 200 in game 2 and a 191 in game 3, giving me a 551 and a 183 average for the night. So, not too bad. But I want to be 30 pins better to overcome our team’s deficiencies. With only 10 weeks left in the season, I’ve accumulated so many total pins that my average is nearly frozen; even if I were to throw 700 series every week for the next 10 weeks it would only bring me up to a 187. And I’ve never thrown a 700 series in my life.

We would have won the last game except that S, who only joined their team a few weeks ago, went all out and threw a perfect 300 game. Good for her. I think this is about her 15th 300. She’s really good, a 225 average, having grown up in the bowling alley. She uses a simple “down and in” style, going straight down the outer boards with some flair at the end, her ball spinning to the inside as it moves across the lane into the pocket. And this works just fine, obviously. No need for the hard breaking giant hook throw.

The pin setter was on the fritz on the right lane all night; 10 times we had to get the staff over to give the thing a whack and get it to reset the pins and send our balls back. It broke down again in the middle of her 10th frame. She’d already thrown 9 strikes in a row, and was in the groove totally. And then the bar came down, and nothing happened. Arrgh!! But she kept her cool, didn’t stress about it, and when it got fixed she threw 2 more. Awesome!! I made a point of telling her later how impressed I was that she didn’t lose it over that. Definitely a pro. Her mother runs the league and is the boss of the alley behind the owner. Her dad bowls in the league too. So does her uncle/godfather. Her brother has the highest league series in the alley’s history, throwing an 899 out of a possible family. So it’s in their genes I guess.

But I am really tired of losing every game every week. We have fallen from around 4th place all the way to next to last; after tonight we’re only a dozen points above Joe and Dave’s team of losers. We have to do better.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/21/2020 at 10:01 PM   
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calendar   Saturday - February 15, 2020

Trying To Deal With Losing (without losing it too much)

We had yet another piss poor performing night at bowling league last night. We lost all the games, again. We have only won 1 game in the past 5 weeks. 1 out of 15. 6% success rate. That is horrible.

What’s worse was that we played ex-teammates Joe and Dave’s team last night. We’d beat them 7-0, 7-0 the first two times we went up against them this year. But last night ... phooey. We limped along, they had a better than average night, and they took all 7. Oh well.

My average is down, but just a little. I threw a 506 series last night, about 6 pins under average per game. Even with a super clean ball, and what felt like a decent release and accurate targeting I could not get the ball to do a damn thing. I don’t get it, and that’s very frustrating.
When I get frustrated I try harder. Trying harder makes things worse. Tension, extra effort in the wrong direction, etc. Need to relax and focus on the basics, and let the ball do the work. Have to be friends with the ball. Have to be the ball.

Lane conditions last night were very bad. Confusing. We usually bowl on freshly cleaned and oiled lanes, and need to wipe our balls down after every shot throughout the night. Last night, nothing. Even our teammate, a beginner and a bit of an oblivion, remarked how his ball was coming back dry. And yet the back ends were dead. That means ... well, the lanes are usually only oiled about 2/3 of their length. Call it 40 feet out of 60. The last 1/3 is cleaned, but the surface is “dry” so that your ball can get traction and hook to the inside. There are a zillion different oil patterns that can be applied; the lane cleaning machine is computerized and very precise. In theory. Patterns run from very short and light - 33 feet of hardly any oil - to very long and heavy - 45 feet of an oil flood.

Our center does not post what oil pattern they are using. Maybe that’s because no one asks for it, but I think such knowledge could be useful. No, we have to “read the lanes”, which is a skill you develop over time, by gauging how your ball reacts when you throw it. Of course, for that analysis to have any meaning whatsoever, you have to have a highly consistent release, almost like a robot, which few of us with less than semi-pro averages do.  So it’s a chicken-egg death spiral thing. And that can really bum a guy out.

I really hope I didn’t bite people’s heads off last night. Pretty sure I didn’t. But by the time the night was over I was in an angry black mood. I was tense, depressed, on the edge of exploding for hours afterwards. Yeah I know, it’s just a game. Relax and have fun. I try, and usually I do. But it is competition, and I’m very tired of losing all the time, week after fucking week.

The lane cleaning machine does not clean all the way up to the foul line. It can’t; if it did it would wind up spraying cleaner an oil on the end of the approach which could create a dangerous condition. So the first half a foot or so up by the foul line at the end of the approach is often pretty foul. A thick black line of built up crap across each lane. God forbid that the employees use a mop or something first, and wipe that slop up. Hell no. You just have to learn to throw your ball over it, so that it doesn’t contact the lane until it’s couple feet past the line. But in my dark mood this poor work offended me. Do your damn job right for once. But they never do. That area doesn’t get cleaned for years I swear.

I also found myself annoyed by the lay down the guy on the other team was throwing. The idea of bowling is that your ball shouldn’t hit the lane until after it’s past the foul line. Putting your ball down on the approach will transfer oil and dirt from your ball to the place where people are walking. This makes the approach grubby, sticky, or slippery. Possibly dangerous. It is a thoughtless or inconsiderate or selfish or passive aggressive or just plain stupid thing to do. Ok, maybe if your ball touches down just at the line, or maybe 3 inches before it. That’s one thing. K was dropping his ball FOUR FEET before the line. Thank heaven there was no oil last night, or there would have been a lot of slips and falls. K’s bowling irks me anyway, always has. He’s one of those backup ball throwers, which I think is just plain weird, although I’m seeing more and more of it. Everybody goes easy on K because he’s simple minded, but enough is enough. Don’t shit the approach up with your dumbass throw, and don’t endanger other people through your thoughtless actions.

Yeah, I’m still a bit cranky. Maybe I can find a big bunch of sugary carbs for breakfast. And then I want to dig out my low power balls and go back up there and practice the basics. After I run my strike ball through my cleaning machine, just to see if anything comes off it. Which I doubt. It’s always so easy to blame the lanes, blame the balls, blame your teammates ... but it’s usually you who are the problem. So achieve a happy mellow zen state of grace, and practice the basic things. That way I can have confidence that my own stupid isn’t making things even worse.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/15/2020 at 07:15 AM   
Filed Under: • Bowling Blogging •  
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calendar   Thursday - February 06, 2020

Clean Warm Balls Are The Best

A bowling experiment, phase 1


Rejuvenation On The Cheap, And Getting Baked At Home

[ TLDR: this machine is NOT for plastic, rubber, or old school urethane balls. They do not absorb oil. Just wipe them down with alcohol, Windex, or your favorite ball cleaner ]

Bowling balls, plastic foam, and alley oil
Today’s crop of high performance bowling balls use a surface material commonly called reactive resin. This is a kind of open cell plastic foam. Similar to a Cheeto™ but much harder and finer. Similar to pumice or tufa, but much softer. The air pockets in the reactive resin are so small that you can’t see or feel them.

The idea of bowling a hook, which is what these balls are all about, is to skid-roll the ball down the front part of the lane where all the oil is, then get it to get traction in the dry part of the lane, where friction and the off center weighting of the ball will cause it to turn in and hit the pins at a sharper angle. That angle of contact is where strikes come from. Generally, the more traction the ball can get, the more it will hook, and the greater the contact angle the higher your chance of getting a strike.

The thing is, the open cell foam nature of these balls means that they absorb oil. Lots of it. There are all kinds of cleaners, but even used to obsessive excess all they can do is get the dirt and oil out of the first few layers of foam bubbles, perhaps a millimeter deep on the surface of the ball. The oil can be absorbed all the way through the coverstock, which is the bowling term for whatever the outside of the ball is made of.

Bowl enough with one of these balls and it dies; it becomes saturated with oil and hooks a whole lot less. You have to get the oil out somehow. But how? Heat. Getting the ball toasty warm opens up the foam cells, and all the oil rises to the surface where you can wipe it off. This is commonly referred to as baking your ball.  People who want to sell you a product or a service call it rejuvenation or revitalization.

Paying somebody else vs buying your own vs DIY methods
Every bowling alley has a ball guy working there. He’s the mechanic of the pro shop, who fits and drills your ball for you, and helps you maintain the thing. Most alleys have a “rejuvenator” machine in the back, which is a very expensive gizmo that will do the job, but you’ll pay for it. The thing is an industrial strength combination of hair dryer, wiping pads, and a 3 axis turntable. They cost $1700. No matter how much you wipe down your ball, if you bowl in leagues you’re going to pay them $25 at least 3 times a year to have your ball treated. That’s just how it is.

There are a nearly infinite number of posts online for DIY designs and methods. Some are simple, like putting your ball out in the summer sun, or leaving it in your closed car on a hot day. Or soaking the ball in a big bucket of hot soapy water. Or sticking it in the oven. Some of these work to an extent, some are weather dependent, and others (oven method) are very risky. Designs for heating machines run from “use a hair dryer and heat and wipe one small area at a time” to complex sous vide methods inside a modified picnic cooler.

There are also a fair number of personal ball reviver units for sale. These are generally of the bucket design, using a lid that has a hot air blower on it, and a container beneath it where the ball sits. They work pretty well, and cost somewhere between $190 and $250. So they pay for themselves in about 10 uses, compared to paying the pro shop. But most of them have shortcomings other than the expense. Some have no temperature controls. Some have no timer. Some don’t even have an ON/OFF switch. None of them lets you see the process in action, and few make it easy to get the ball out. Trust me, trying to lift a hot greasy bowling ball out of a deep narrow bucket is a challenge. You can buy a steam cleaning machine for $699.

The other downside to these devices is that they may run too hot. If you heat soak a bowling ball it will crack in half like an egg. The material in the middle of the ball expands thermally at a different rate than the stuff on the outside of the ball. Expose the ball to too much heat for too long, and it shatters. Period. Been there, done that. Some of these devices run at 135°F, which is a very effective temperature for oil removal, even though all the ball manufacturers warn you to never get the ball hotter than 125°F. Paint stripping guns and steam are much hotter than that. So you have to be very careful.

Bored yet? No? Good! On to the good part!
The ball reviver devices you can buy are all based on food dehydraters. Seriously, they’re the same device, except perhaps for the bucket part. Except the thing sold as a ball cleaner costs many times as much.

So I went and found a food dehydrator that is big enough to hold a bowling ball, has a timer, a temperature control, an ON/OFF switch, lets me see the ball, and is easy to get the ball in and out. It cost me $78. And it works like a charm.


I took out all the drying trays, put a dinner plate in the bottom to catch any drips, put the ball on a spray can cap and had a go. I put the probe to my precision grilling thermometer inside just to check, and found their temperature settings were accurate enough. At 112° the oil started coming up, so I wiped it down after 15 minutes. At 122°F the oil really came up, so I wiped it down, gave the ball a rubdown with alcohol, let that dry, then used a spritz of my favorite ball cleaner. Wiped that dry and gave it another go in the unit. After about 50 minutes total, not much more oil was coming up, so I called it done and gave the ball a good buff with a microfiber towel. And it’s now clean.

One thing I did notice, that while overall the ball’s coverstock was fairly evenly heated, the side that faced the hot air fan was a little hotter. Duh, right? So I’m going to pick up a little heavy duty powered turntable and put that in, so the ball will get perfectly even exposure on all sides to the heat. That will be Phase 2 of the experiment, as there are a couple of different powered turntables on the market, and while a small tall one might bring the ball up to just the right height in front of the fan and leave lots of room for air circulation, a larger lower turntable might be more stable and durable in the heated environment. Plus I have to build some kind of stand for the ball that’s sturdy enough to take the weight in the heat, open enough to allow the hot air to get to every inch of the ball, and small enough to not get in the way. Best price would be free, with zero work. I’m thinking an upside down “pizza table” might do the job, or 3 short vertical dowels mounted to a thin disc of wood. I have some take-out chopsticks around here somewhere. Phase 3 might be figuring out how to mount the turntable inside permanently, with some kind of IEC power socket or one of those snap together zip cord grommets.

Bottom line: I think I can put together off the shelf parts and make my own ball rejuvenation oven for about half the price of the ones sold, which will do a better job and have none of the shortcomings. That’s a win in my book.

Minor update: At a risk of a fate worse than death, I ran her ball through the process. After taking off quite a bit of oil at the 112° and 122° levels, each 30 minutes long, I did a 45 minute cycle at 131°, turning the ball every 15 minutes. And 2 or 3 tablespoons more oil came out, some dripping right off the ball. That’s an incredible amount, given that dressing an entire bowling lane only uses about a shotglass full of oil. She had an entire lane’s worth hiding deep down. And I probably could have taken more, but I got nervous. If I split her ball in half the day before league, I’d never hear the end of it. PS - I didn’t know that lane oil was purple. Huh.


Phase 2: Positive Rotation


I got the Homend 10” powered lazy susan turntable from Amazon. It fits inside the New House Kitchen 9 Tray Dehydrator Machine just fine. The power cord is fairly flat, and fits under the door well enough so that I don’t think I’m going to bother to modify the NHK machine in any way to run the cord through the wall. According the the Homend papers, the turntable should not be used in situations warmer that 45°C - 113°F - but I ran it for 2 hours last night at 131°F without any problems at all. [ perhaps the dinner plate provides some shielding, or the table’s low height keeps it under the air flow ] It rotates the ball about once every 45 seconds, so the ball gets very evenly heated. I set the cycle time to 30 minutes, and gave the ball a quarter turn clockwise every 10 minutes, just in case it was much hotter at the top of the chamber. It isn’t really, but I’m playing it safe. The dinner plate catches any oil that might drip, and the spray can cap works so perfectly that I don’t think I’m going to build an open 3 post support out of dowels. There’s no point.

I want to point out that the additional expense of a powered turntable only adds a moderate amount of effectiveness and hardly any additional ease of use. In other words, if you reach in the cabinet every 15 minutes and give the ball a little spin clockwise and a third of a turn horizontally, then there is no need to spend the extra money on the turntable. If you go that route, I would suggest making a taller ball support than just the spray can cap on a plate. Getting the ball vertically centered in the air stream seems like a smart move. Maybe you can find a short bit of 3” PVC pipe lying around, or make a stand with some 1/2” dowels and a bit of board. Go this minor DIY route and you can save $110 compared to the least expensive machine on Amazon. Just make sure to give your stand a large base plate (use a $2 nylon tiny cutting board perhaps) because the drip tray that comes with the dehydrator is not built to carry a heavy load in a small area. Spread the weight out and it’s stable and secure.

With this latest set up, the ball is almost perfectly centered in front of the heating fan in the back of the cabinet. Overall this combination works beautifully, and I was able to extract a good bit more oil from my ball. Since oil will quickly come up even at the lowest heat settings, and I’ve now deep cleaned both our strike balls, my plan is to use this thing for 15-30 minutes at the 113° or 121° setting after every league night. A quick wipe down with paper towels and alcohol, into the machine for a quickie, go over it with a fluffy microfiber towel, and another wipe with alcohol. And the ball should stay really clean. Which means it should hook at its full potential.

Final Bottom Line: No DIY work needed at all. I put together 2 existing inexpensive products with no modification. Added a dinner plate and a spray can cap. The result works as well or better than any machine you can buy, is easy to use and fully adjustable, and I still saved $75 compared to the least expensive rejuvenator on the market. Win. Done. Buh bye!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/06/2020 at 01:02 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling Blogging •  
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calendar   Sunday - January 19, 2020

back to the beginning, again

After we got slaughtered 0-7 Friday night at almost-cheap-league, I realized yet again that it’s time to reinvent the wheel, and go back to the beginning and learn how to bowl all over again. I been doing this every few years for nearly 15 years, but I haven’t done it in quite a while.

I just could not get any action going with my ball. And I notice that the callus on the inside of my thumb is coming back again. This means I’m clenching the ball. Not good. So assuming I can find some time this week, I want to get up to the alley and do some no-step and one-step drills. That’s where you stand at the foul line in “release position” and just swing your arm to throw the ball. The idea is not to actually bowl, but to focus on your release and on your targeting accuracy. With no momentum behind it, and only a short free swing, the ball ought to hook right off the lanes long before it hits the pins, or maybe just dink one or two on the left side of the rack. I need to work on a loose grip, on my finger spreads, on not overturning/forcing my hand, or rotating my shoulders to the left. Do that 5-6-7 drill with a flat wrist, a slightly cupped wrist, and then with the ball palmed as much as you can do. Repeat until it becomes automatic.

The good news is that the internet has a gazillion bowling how-to pages, and most of them are pretty good. The clockface concept tends to confuse me, because as a natural engineer I see things from all three axies at once, X, Y, Z .The trick is to remember that the inside of your forearm is always 12 o’clock. Also, when these sites talk about winding up with your thumb at 1 o’clock, they mean that you’re supposed to get it out of the ball and then flip it up to the side “thumbs up” style. If you just pull it out of the hole, it will be at about 10 o’clock. But the act of moving it to 1 positively gets it out of the way. Just make sure not to pop open your whole hand when you do that, because you want to keep some tension in your fingertips to impart the spin on the ball. That’s why these sites talk about feeling the weight of the ball on your fingers. And also, you’ll feel the burn in them (at first) when you do it right. If you’re not feeling the weight on them, it’s probably because you’re squeezing the ball with your thumb. Guilty! And that’s where the thumb callus comes from.

Best bowling advice I’ve had in a long time is to do the least amount of work that gets the job done. Keep it simple, keep it relaxed, let the ball do the work. And remember, it’s a game, so you’re supposed to be having fun.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/19/2020 at 08:38 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling Blogging •  
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calendar   Friday - January 10, 2020

Here I am, stuck in the middle again

We played Jeff, Tom, and Boober’s team tonight, we had a great time. Talking food, and more food, and football, and what’s going on with all the people that we know. Plus books and movies. So great socializing. Super. We had a blast. I brought in the remains of my final pretzel bake, and they went in a flash, with lots of approval.  They’re all pretty good bowlers when things are working right, but our teams faced off on the notorious end lanes 25 and 26. There is something weird with those two. Maybe they aren’t flat, maybe they’re too close to the outside wall. I don’t know, but they break down (the oil pattern wears out) much faster than any other lanes in the alley.

So they took the first game, but only by 24. Boober threw really hot, scoring something in the 240s. I was even with him to the 6th frame, but he’s far better than I am, so he kept right on racking up the strikes when I stumbled. We got 92 pins in handicap from them, and needed all of it. We won the second game, plodding along just above our team average, while they had a rough time of it. So we closed the points gap to just 3, winning Game 2 by 21. They couldn’t get back in the groove in the third game, while my squad threw perhaps our best game this season, with our low average bowler going 13 over and the rest of us rolling 200+ games. A 205, a 207, and I did my job as the anchor and pulled a 224, beating Jeff’s 223 by a single pin. A 761 score for my team. Fun! So we got that game too, and took overall wood by nearly 100 pins. A 5-2 victory is nice; we’ve been plodding along the last few weeks. This will also bring us up to just a hair over a 50% victory rate, putting us squarely in the middle of the pack. Fine by me, and it beats the heck out of dead last (still occupied by ex teammates Joe and Dave and their new crew).

Our new teammate F was telling us all about this chili she makes. It’s got 4 kinds of meat, including bacon and sweet Italian sausage, “red and yellow bell peppers for the heat”, “a whole 2 tablespoons of chili powder”, a jalapeno, and added baker’s chocolate and maple syrup. WHAT WHAT WHAT??? I guess chili is one of those open ended terms these days, and can mean whatever you want it to mean. Kind of like “martini”, of which her favorite kind is made with pineapple juice and vodka. Um, Ok. Let’s give it a try.

My favorite martini is made from Bombay Sapphire gin, kept in the freezer, with a small splash of refrigerated Noilly Prat French sweet vermouth. Sometimes I go “dirty” and add 2 or 3 fresh green olives and a half teaspoon of olive brine. Put the booze together in a shaker with 4 or 5 ice cubes and have at it. Using nearly frozen gin and cold vermouth keeps the ice from watering things down much at all, and I get a crisp and classic cocktail. Let’s face it, a martini is a lie in a funnel shaped glass; it’s got just enough added bits to let you rationalize that you aren’t just doing shots of grain alcohol. But you really are. 

Likewise, my chili is pretty traditional too, but equally strong. Oh, I can make it as hot as you want, anywhere between “spicy enough” and “molten lava”. But my recipe uses at least a dozen chopped anchos and guajillos, a couple of jalapenos, 3 or 4 chipotles, a handful of toasted fresh ground cumin, and then a few more tablespoons of dried ground chiles near the end to adjust the taste. It’s pepper stew, that just happens to have a lot of meat in it, along with some pinto beans and stewed tomatoes, several onions and cloves of garlic. Moistened with a cheap beer or two, usually Coors or Bud. It may not be perfectly authentic to the purists ... I don’t care. It’s a thick hearty paste that fills you up. Add a little grated cheese and some sour cream and you’re set.

So we might have a chili exchange in a few weeks. Sausage bacon chili with chocolate and syrup? What is the world coming to??

Ok, I’m keeping an open mind. Heck, I might even try one of these myself ahead of time. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/10/2020 at 11:10 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling BloggingFood •  
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calendar   Friday - January 03, 2020

still blogging

No, I haven’t forsaken BMEWS. I’ve been pretty sick the past week, and I’m still a bit out of it. I just haven’t had the energy to cover breaking news, like the elimination of this Suleimani terrorist leader guy, and the Left’s outrage that our President act in America’s best interest.


The Suleimani thing


My only disappointment on this one is that our guys couldn’t also take out his #2 and 4 dozen of his top leaders at the same time. A real Hitler bunker bombing thing. But you can’t have it all, all at once. So you have to leave something for next week. Cut the head off the chicken, and it runs around in circles making an easy target.

How nice to learn that Suleimani was given amnesty by Obama in a dark corner of the annex (page 86) to his wonderful “pallets of cash” deal with Iran. If you haven’t figured it out yet: Barak Obama is a traitor, the Manchurian Candidate who set out to destroy America.

[ via Discover The Networks ] Rhodes: Death of Iranian General ‘A Really Frightening Moment’

Ben Rhodes, the former national security aide to President Barack Obama who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, worried on Thursday evening that the U.S. assassination of Iranian terror general Qassem Soleimani on Thursday would spark retaliation, calling it a “frightening moment.”

Suleimani led the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force. He was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and directed Iran’s foreign military adventures, including terrorism. He was killed days after the Iranian-backed attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

“Agree – no question Suleimani has a lot of blood on his hands,” Rhodes tweeted. “But this is a really frightening moment. Iran will respond and likely in various places. Thinking of all US personnel in the region right now.”

This is the Ben Rhodes that was so tight with Obama that he was commonly described as having a “mind meld” with him, and was quoted as not knowing where he began and Obama ended. So his views are Obama’s views, pretty much.

And I’m sure you saw the pictures a few days back, of the two guys behind the attack on our embassy in Iraq, ... the pictures of them sitting with Barack Obama in our White House all buddy-buddy some years ago. This stinks to high hell and back.

And ain’t it one helluva coincidence ... at the same time NY’s Schmucky Chumer is crying that President Trump should have tipped him off well in advance that a strike on Suleimani was planned (so he could rat us out to our enemy), the NY Times ran a “what if” essay wondering about a strike on Suleimani just hours before the real strike happened. Coincidence? Hell no. It’s one more pair of connected dots between our leftist pols, the enemedia, and our actual enemies. They are ALL enemies. And that’s why Trump didn’t say a word: not one of these scumbag dog fuckers can be trusted a millimeter.


So we lost all the games at bowling tonight. Big deal. I did pull out a 227 in the last game, getting under the ball a bit and getting my thumb out earlier. No big hook action, but I moved around 5 boards and the ball went in the pocket for a big powerful strike each time. I’m on to something good here, but it needs a lot more practice.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/03/2020 at 10:59 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling BloggingWar On Terror •  
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calendar   Saturday - December 28, 2019

Holiday Recap, And If You Don’t Play You Can’t Win

Ok, I’m back. I was forced - forced I tell you - to take a few days off the blog due to holiday activities. We went to the annual Christmas Eve blowout at the cousin’s, and it was wild as always. Tons of food, loads of people. Much noise, much fun. Much alcohol. Got in at least 8 kinds of fish plus lots of everything else. I walked in the door and out came the butter and the bread knife, and this year’s giant loaf I made was eaten up in less than 10 minutes. Her cheesecake was the centerpiece of desert, although those guys were still out in the backyard frying up more fish and squid at 11pm. They go all night. Too much for us. Managed to get home at 3 minutes til Christmas. Did our own Christmas morning opening stuff - I really miss having a dog to “help” with the unwrapping; cats just aren’t into going wild with the piles of gift wrap - then went up to mom’s for a good long visit. Mom really scored this year, with so many things to open that she needed a break. Got back here late in the evening and happily slept until 10:30 the next morning.

And then we baked some more. She made yet another cheesecake - bless our Kitchenaid mixer, it really does the job - to take to our new friends at Cheap League. I made a batch of pretzels for them too, but they suffered a baking mishap so I only brought them two. The damn things glued themselves to the baking sheet, which I now have to soak for a day or so to try and get the crusts off. Pretzels get dipped in lye; that gives them the pretzel flavor. The lye water is caustic. In the past I’ve had brown parchment paper from King Arthur, but lately I’ve been using the white parchment paper that I can get locally. It’s not the same. Back in April, my last batch of pretzels stuck to the paper.  I didn’t use any this time, and they stuck to the baking sheet. Either I have to order a roll of the brown stuff, or try using one of those silicon sheets. I have two somewhere around here. But even with part of their undersides torn off, the pretzels were a big hit. If you like soft pretzels, my recipe is about the best you’re ever going to find. It’s a lot of work, but once you have one you’ll never be satisfied with a store made pretzel again.


And that brings us, finally, to bowling. The other team didn’t show up last night, and they didn’t pre-bowl. Oh sure, one of them kept calling the alley - “wait for me, I’m on my way” - but he never got there. So we had to roll against their absentee scores. We lost the first game by just a few points, and then went on to win the next two. Our newbie teammate made the 4-7-10 split, a holiday miracle. I called it, crudely, when her ball was halfway down the lane. She was thunderstruck; her ball just kissed the 4 pin and then got the 7, and the 4 pin slid slowly across the deck, not even wobbling, and dinked the 10 pin and they both fell. It’s one of the harder splits to make and a real thrill. So that was awesome. A while later my wife won the score match card game and won the pot that had accumulated for a month. $160. Sweet! The game is simple: Early in the third game a couple bowlers are selected to pick a card from a deck. It’s value, 0 - 9, counts as the first number. The second bowler picks a card from another deck. The two numbers together make up the winning number, and the matching scores from Game 2 win. So if a 5 and a 4 are drawn, then the number is 54, which means scores of 54, 154, and 254 are winners. Even with 40 people playing the game, most of the time there isn’t a match, and everybody’s weekly $1 just stays in the pot. So that was an awesome thing too.

The two of us were up at the lanes yesterday too. I gave her a new pair of fancy bowling shoes for Christmas and she had to give them a try. The place was crowded in the mid afternoon, and the lanes were burnt; used up. Our balls were hooking massively; I had to stand 5 boards over to even make my line, and still the ball was going Brooklyn most of the time. So it was crazy, but fun. I put on my robo-brace for more fun, and was able to rev the daylights out of the ball. And I guess I’m finally ready for it, because the throw felt right, and I was able to keep that feeling and get a bit under the ball last night at Cheap League. So my hook is getting stronger. I’m happy with that.

Our team’s scores weren’t anything astronomical, but they were good enough. So we took the night 5-0. Not 5-2. Like I said, the other team didn’t show up, so they forfeited. Bowling uses an “earn the points” method, which means that if your team is a no-show, you won’t win any points even if the other team can’t beat your absentee score. If you don’t play, you can’t win. And you still have to pay for that night too.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/28/2019 at 09:16 AM   
Filed Under: • Bowling BloggingHolidaysChristmas •  
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calendar   Friday - December 13, 2019

one against the managers once again

I could have sworn we just played these guys the other week. But we played them again tonight. Lost the first two games but won the third, which will take us to just below 50% in the standings.

I threw well and consistent, tossing a 201, a 199, and a 198 for a 598. Yeah, “missed it by that much”. But I’m not complaining. A 199 average for the night; I’m happy enough.

And then we made hot chocolate when we got home. Best use for organic whole milk ever. Yumm.

And now my hand is really tired and my fingertips are burning. Boo. Fuggit, I’ll be Ok in a day or three.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/13/2019 at 10:31 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling Blogging •  
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calendar   Friday - December 06, 2019

rolling rolling bowling

Woo hoo, we won all 3 tonight. 7-0. And we did it against my former teammates. And we did it just above or below our handicap. We got 18 pins from them. We won the first game by 10. We won the second game by 20. We were rather behind in the third game, but we pulled off a strong 10th frame the hard way. Our first newbie flooped through the 10th, putting 9 pins up. Our other newbie did a bit better, putting 17 up, but we were still down 79 pins or something like that. My wife is our 3rd bowler, and with a strike in the 9th, she rolled a 7, made the spare and then threw a 6, putting 36 up. And we were still down, when I faced Dave for the anchor slots. He was on an open and I don’t think he marked. I also had a strike in the 9th, threw a strike in the 10th and then a crappy 6, leaving a split on the 1-2-4-10. So I’d put 42 up already. So we were real close, and I hadn’t looked at the scores. I choked the throw a bit, and made the 1-2-4, but didn’t kick any pins over to the right to get the 10. Arrgh. But when the final score came up, we had won by one pin. ONE pin. So this is the 2nd time we’ve faced them this season, and the 2nd time we took all 7. Neener neener neener. We’ll probably face them once more this season, so my hope is we tromp them then too. Who me, vengeful? Nah. I just love when the guys I’ve bowled with for the better part of a decade just dump me behind my back in the off season. No reason at all I want to bowl them into the mud. Every time. Sweet.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/06/2019 at 10:25 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling Blogging •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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GNU Terry Pratchett

Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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