Hot and Cold Golf Balls

By Christopher Zoukis

Most people don’t know it, but the temperature of the golf ball and the ambient temperature affect the performance of the ball.  Air temperature causes changes in the ball’s resiliency and its spin, along with the density of the air it travels through.

Generally speaking, the warmer a golf ball is the farther it travels.  This is because the rubber materials used to construct the balls function more efficiently and provide more resilience at higher temperatures.  A warmer ball leaves the clubface with more velocity and more spin, encouraging loft.  In addition, if the ball is warm when it lands, it carries more bounce, because heat gives the ball more elasticity.  The ball bounces more and travels further.

The cooler the ambient temperature is, the more dense the air.  If the air is dense, the ball needs more velocity to go as far as it would in thinner or warmer air.  So if the ambient temperature is warm, the air is less dense, which means the ball performs better.  It’s not unlike the tires on race cars, where the higher the temperature, the stickier the tire, which means the car can go faster.

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The Best

By Christopher Zoukis

The 2012 Summer Olympics are over.  Most of the Olympians have moved on to new challenges.  One of the most decorated Olympians is a woman most people have hardly heard of.  Her name is Kim Rhode, and she’s won five medals in Olympic shooting.  She shoots skeet. 

She’s a 21st century Annie Oakley.

In any other sport, she’d be endorsing products – like Winchester or Perazzi shotguns or alliant powder or Ray Ban shooting glasses – and making lots of money.  But not in shooting.  Only aficionados of the sport care what products she uses, and there aren’t very many of those.

In 1996, when she was only 17 years old, she won a gold medal in Atlanta in what’s called the double-trap competition.  Four years later, in Sydney, she took home a bronze medal.  Then in Athens, she won gold again.  At that point, the Olympics dropped the double-trap competition.  So Kim took up skeet shooting. 

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Thinking About Thinking

By Christopher Zoukis

Thinking Randomly Can Be A Good Thing

If you’ve ever seen video of Jackson Pollock in action, you have seen a masterful painter consciously inviting randomness into his work. Pollock exercises a great deal of control over his brushes and paddles, in the service of capturing the stray drips and splashes of paint that make up his work. Embracing mistakes and incorporating them into your projects, developing strategies that allow for random input, working amid chaotic juxtapositions of sound and form – all of these can help to move beyond everyday patterns of thinking into the sublime.

The Completion Backward Principle:  Thinking Backwards

Just like turning a thing upside down, working backwards breaks the brain’s normal conception of causality. This is the key to backwards planning, for example, where you start with a goal and think back through the steps needed to reach it until you get to where you are right now.

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Golf is popular with millions of people, young and old, expert and beginners.  And like most popular sports, golf has a history.

Before the present-day, white, dimpled golf ball, they used various and in some cases strange substitutes for golf balls.  Early golf balls were made of cowhide, while later examples were constructed from feathers and sap.  Then along came rubber and golf balls really began to change.  Nowadays, golf balls are made from urethane blends.

In the very beginning, golf balls were made from wood.  These wooden examples date back to the 1400s.  The clubs were made from wood, too.  The balls were handmade as were the clubs.  And since technology wasn’t even really a word then, the balls weren’t very round and the clubs were less than efficient.

It was during the 17th century that the ‘featherie’ ball replaced the man-made wooden golf ball.  Featherie balls were composed of goose or chicken feathers jam-packed into a small leather pouch.  First the feathers were boiled, then they were stuffed into the pouch, which had been soaked in warm water.  As the pouch dried and cooled the feathers would expand.  The result, hopefully, was a hard, compact golf ball.

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Surviving Lockdown

By Christopher Zoukis

Lockdown!  We – the imprisoned – know what it is.  As I write this, we at FCI-Petersburg are locked down. 

Technically speaking, lockdown is an extended period of time over which the cell doors remain closed.  Food rations are reduced, showers are almost non-existent, and one’s resistance to claustrophobia is challenged.  During my time in prison, I have learned (the hard way) that lockdown is either hell on earth or a holiday vacation.  The difference is in how you approach the situation. 

Preparation for the situation can make all the difference in the world.  First, go to the commissary and purchase 20 Ramen Noodle soups, which will cost you $5.  And while you’re at it, don’t forget to buy 5 cans of tuna, saltine crackers (for flavor and substance in the soups), a bag of coffee, and a few bars of soap.  Everyone needs coffee, and you can use the soap for birdbaths in your cell’s sink.

This investment will definitely improve your lot-in-life during lockdown.

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