White Christmases Redux

As you’ll recall, in 2012 I wrote about having White Christmases in Reno. People think that, since I’m in a desert, I don’t see snow. Hell, ask people FROM Reno and they say it never snows and it’s never a White Christmas. Well, at that time, 4 of the 6 years I’d been in Reno featured some white during the special day.

I suppose I need to define White Christmas again. To qualify as a White Christmas it must either a) feature some actual snow falling at some point during the day, at least a few flurries, or b) feature some snow existing on the ground at some point during the day. So let’s break it down since then:

2007 – We had a little patch of snow in our lawn. Ash’s folks’ house (where we celebrated Christmas) had only a tiny patch where there was the remnants of a shovel-job. Pretty technical in its assertion as being a “white” Christmas.

2008 – We had a decent snowfall on Christmas itself – Ash’s folks’ backyard probably got 5? on Christmas itself. A TRUE white Christmas.

2009 – We had a big snowfall on 12/7 that year, but I’m not sure that any remained by Christmas.

2010 – We had our own tiny patch in the shade. Ash’s folks had none. VERY technically a white Christmas.

2011 – No snow at all for basically the entire winter.

2012 – I thought this would be another technical white Christmas, as our both our front and back yards had a few patches here and there with snow and ice. But then in the evening it started snowing and we got a good two inches when all was said and done.

2013 – I’m not going to count this year, which is surprising because it featured something far cooler than snow. It featured pogonip. This was far from the best pogonip I’ve seen, it happened on X-mas. So I’ll stick to my technical definition of White Christmas and disqualify this year, but it still stands out as being pretty cool.

 

2014 – While I won’t pretend this was a record-breaking year, it did feature a little snow on the ground from a few days prior and a little light snowfall in the a.m. hours. Not what you’d see in a Hallmark movie for a White Christmas, but it counts nonetheless.

 

2015 – This was probably one of the better years for snowfall. We got a few inches the day of, as evident in this photo. I think this was the truest definition since 2008.

 

2016 – It looks, based on photographic evidence, which, after 40 years, is the only way I’m able remember anything, that we got a nice little dusting of fresh snow on Christmas morning. So far, it looks like we’re debunking the crap out of this whole ‘I live in a desert’ thing.

 

2017 – So purists who believe White Christmases have to include fresh-fallen snow would not include 2017 in their count. Hell, people who lived any lower in elevation than us would not count it either. But as you can clearly tell, there are patches of residual snow, so it’s a *technical* success.

 

2018 – Oddly enough, those same purists *would* count 2018 since it snowed a pleasant dusting in the dark a.m. hours. Not enough to stick around throughout the day but enough to qualify it as a White Christmas.

 

So where does that put us? I’ve been in Reno for 12 Christmases and 9 of them have, by my definition, been white. Even if you were to strip the cheap “existing snow on the ground” provision, it’s been half White Christmases. So when someone tells you they’re moving to desert, don’t believe them. I feel like I’ve gotten more White Christmases here than in Jersey, which was at exactly the same latitude.

Maybe I’ll keep this series going in the future years.

Disc Golf Review – 2018

As we bid adieu to 2018, let’s reflect on this tumultuous roller-coaster of a year. It featured a divorce, a move back into an apartment, the immediate aftermath of my mother’s death, and more than a fair share of social/personal drama, but also a higher concentration of time with my boys, a promotion, a reunion with many of my old friends and family, and financial comfort for the first time in a long time.

And that roller-coaster reflected itself on the course as well, which we shall soon see. I made 21 goals at the start of the year, some of which were admittedly loftier than others. It’s also a tale of two halves – if I were to have written this up before King of the Lake this year, my results would have been drastically different.

Also, since this is already tl;dr, suffice to say this will be a whopper with a numbing amount of statistics. So, my two readers, buckle in, let’s see how I did.

1) Gain enough PDGA points to qualify for Masters Worlds in 2019.

In my goal-setting blog, I pegged 600 points as the magic number. I actually think that number might be lower than what will actually be needed, but it didn’t matter because I didn’t hit it. What I didn’t account for is a sudden, inexplicable drop in Masters turnouts. Of the 10 tournaments I played in, only three of them featured fields larger than 12 and several featured fields smaller than 7. Hard to make up points like that, especially when they count for less than they do in Open. In all I garnered 588 points, which was good enough to put me second in the STATE in points for my division. Still not enough to make my goal.

VERDICT: FAIL, but just barely

2) Cash in 2/3 of my events.

Sadly, I did not even cash in 1/2 of my events, taking home money just four times in ten tries. However, these numbers are again deceiving. Let’s look at the six tournaments I did not cash in and where I placed.

 

EVENT Where placed How many they paid
St. Patrick’s Classic 19th of 45 18
Legend of Lizard Peak 4th of 8 3
Frying Pan 6th of 9 4
Tahoe Pro/Am 7th of 15 6
Mountain Mayhem 4th of 8 3
Tahoe Mountain Sports 5th of 7 3

That’s right, in each of these six, I was within two places of cash, and in four of them I was the bubble boy. And that’s not even the craziest thing. THIS is:

 

Tourney 2017 Master Bottom Cash Level 2018 What I averaged
Lizard Peak 962.5 976.5 968
Duel in Dayton 940.6666667 960.6666667 960.6666667
Sierra College 950.3333333 964.3333333 964.3333333
Bijou 952.3333333 965.6666667 958.6666667
Mountain Mayhem 958.6666667 981 966.3333333
King of the Lake 960.5 967.6666667 1007.666667
Nevada State Championships 955.6666667 974 986.3333333
Sierra Series Finals 972 981.3333333 973.6666667

These are the 8 Sierra Series tournaments (plus Lizard Peak). Just one year ago, my 2018 scores (in terms of ratings) would have cashed in every one of these tournaments, meaning my only two missed cashes would have been at sea-level tournaments. Why is this? It’s a combination of two things: better competition (more pros turning old like me) and smaller fields (equaling shallower payouts). So even though I played better than last year when I was cashing regularly in a “tougher” division, I cashed much less often this year.

VERDICT: FAIL

3) Cash in every PDGA event.

Well, um, this clearly didn’t happen. See my exasperated explanation above.

 VERDICT: FAIL

 4) Cash in an A-Tier event.

I did only play in one A-tier this year, The St. Patrick’s Classic, and my failure to cash was chronicled in depth here. I absolutely should have cashed here but didn’t, and it was simply my fault. However, I did learn something pretty important this year about playing at sea level. I used to think my problem was that I over-compensated for the loss of altitude by automatically throwing things with more hyzer (to negate the effects of my discs flipping) and that’s why my discs would inexplicably be too overstable at low elevations. But this year I learned that’s not – it’s that I take a considerable amount off my throws. Like, I throw at 75% at sea level. Hopefully knowing this will help me compete at sea level going forward, because I tend to have better aim when I throw 100% versus a controlled throw. Go figure.

VERDICT: FAIL

For those of you keeping score at home, I’m off to a terrible start.

5) Win enough cash to pay for my entry fees.

So this one is a bit tricky to calculate, mainly because my divorce came in the middle of the year and it’s a little tricky to figure out since I got new bank accounts, new credit cards, and a new Quicken account. Calculating what I *estimate* the entry fees to be, I spent probably around $1000 for tournaments and dubs. I won $950 in PDGA winnings and just over $100 in dubs and miscellaneous disc golf winning. So, by that rough metric, I succeeded. Woo!

VERDICT: SUCCESS!

6) Win enough cash to pay for ALL my disc golf expenditures.

This one is far easier to calculate, because I spent more than $50 in all other disc golf expenses. Hell, I spent more than that on disc golf socks. So yeah, this one would have been tough no matter what, but I didn’t even come close.

VERDICT: FAIL

7) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing (did not finish) a tournament alive. 

I did manage to keep this one alive, but truthfully, I shouldn’t have, and it was only because of a confluence of very strange factors that I did. My back, as a whole, behaved most of the year. I was in bad shape after King of the Lake, and I dealt with it on and off for the year, but that wasn’t what did it. In my last tournament of the year, I managed to slam my knee into a trailer hitch about 5 minutes before we were sent to our holes to start the tournament. My knee swelled up immediately. I managed to finish the round, but throw a <910 rated round. I couldn’t rotate my knee or push off it, thus basically limiting every throw and putt I made.

I actually would have gone home if I could have. The problem was it was one of very few rounds this year that I carpooled to, and I didn’t have my car. So I was forced to stay for the entire day no matter if I played or not. Fortunately, I had brought along my pain pills in case my back flared up, so taking one of those made me able to even get through the day.

It also resulted in something pretty amazing, which I will detail below.

VERDICT: SUCCESS!

8) Never finish in the bottom third of a tournament.

Here’s another indicator as to what a weird year this was. I succeeded in this, yet didn’t cash in the majority of the tournaments I played. When I didn’t crush it, I played mediocre. I didn’t have a single tournament where I sucked from wire to wire. So, I guess I got that going for me.

VERDICT: SUCCESS!

9) Don’t ever take myself out of contention in the first round.

Oh boy, how do I begin with this one? In short, I did take myself out of contention 3 times in the first round, based on the definition of “no more than five strokes off the cash line”.

Mountain Mayhem: 924-rated round, 5 strokes off the cash line

Sierra College Pro-Am: 920-rated round, 5 strokes off the cash line

Tahoe Mountain Sports: 910-rated round (w/ injury), 9 strokes off the cash line

So, fail, right? Well, yes, by the way I phrased the goal, it was. And I’ll mark it as such. BUT, after each of these three rounds, my second round was over 1000 and, in each tournament, I was very much IN competition after two rounds.

Mountain Mayhem: tied for 3rd (tied for last cash)

Sierra College: 5th (in the cash), and I would end up cashing in the event

Tahoe Mountain Sports: 4th, 1 stroke off tie for last cash

So did that first round truly take me out of contention? No, but really only because I throw some killer 2nd rounds this year. I will begrudgingly give this one up because I follow my own rules.

VERDICT: PEDANTIC FAIL

10) Don’t lose a playoff in a PDGA event.

Didn’t play in one, didn’t lose one. I get a cheap victory back!

 

VERDICT: SUCCESS 

11) Throw three or more 1000-rated rounds. 

As I mentioned when I came up with this goal, it was a little pie-in-the-sky, having only ever done it twice before (2009 & 2017). And somehow, I managed to obliterate it. I managed to get SIX 1000-rated rounds in one year. That was almost 50% of my previous CUMULATIVE total. In more than one instance, the round was either tied for or was the best round shot amongst all the divisions. When I was on, there was no stopping me.

VERDICT: RIDICULOUS SUCCESS

12) Throw at least 1 round over 1010.

Before 2017, I’d only done this one with my career-high 1025 round at St. Patty’s Classic a decade ago. Last year I did it three times. So I felt it was quite a challenge to try to do it again. Somehow, I not only did it, I managed to beat my total last year, throwing four rounds above 1010. And, crazily enough, not one of these was a “perfect” round (meaning there was at least one shot that was a mistake or a miss, and often times a few). Guess it means I can accomplish more if I get some good breaks.

VERDICT: ROUSING SUCCESS

13) Beat my all-time highest-rated round of 1025.

Now here’s where things get funky. I crushed King of the Lake, averaging over 1005 EACH ROUND. And it started off with a great round which rated… 1025. The way I phrased my goal meant this wouldn’t count. It was a phenomenal round and it set the table for the best tournament play of my life (with one hole left, I was tied with the division leader and only 2 strokes behind the overall “King” in the Open division), but it wouldn’t count for this goal.

So, remember that round earlier where I bashed my knee against a trailer hitch? I pretty much assumed that took the rest of my season out of the equation. But, knowing I was safely in last place and barely walking, I popped a pain pill and figured I’d get my entry fee’s worth. And somehow, I turned in an eye-popping -10, which ended up being rated 1030. I don’t know how I did it and I don’t care. I beat a goal I never thought I would beat, especially as I got older and more decrepit. w00t!

VERDICT: SUCCESS, BITCHES!

14) No rounds below a 930 rating.

I already spoiled this one. I had four rounds below 930 at four courses, three of which started off tournaments. (I also shot a 930 exactly, which was the round that cost me from cashing at St. Patty’s.) So, yeah, big time fail.

VERDICT: SUPER FAIL

15) Have more rounds over my rating than below my rating. 

 Grrr, another one that, because of phrasing alone, I did not complete. I threw exactly the same number of rounds above as below. This is the first time I’ve done that since 2013, so it was an achievement, but still not a success.

 VERDICT: BEGRUDGING FAIL

16) Have my rating be over 970 for one or more ratings updates in 2018.

After more than 40 straight ratings updates dating back to 2013, I finally cracked the 970 barrier, ending the year with a 972 rating. So that’s another weird fluke – I didn’t throw more rounds above than below, but because I crushed so many rounds, I ended up with a net +56 ratings points at the end of the year. Go figure.

VERDICT: SUCCESS!

17) Hit a tournament ace or eagle.

Nope, not even any metal. *shrug*

 

VERDICT: FAIL

18) Hit metal on hole that’s more than 300’.

You’ll remember when I wrote this goal, I had just played a tournament where I think I hit metal on a hole longer than 300’, but I specified I wouldn’t count that. And, yeah, I probably should have counted that.

VERDICT: FAIL

 19) Play at least 25 “casual” rounds.

I played 16. Last time I checked, 16 was not greater than 25.

 

VERDICT: FAIL

20) Play at least two courses I’ve never played before.

I had played Oak Grove Park in Stockton once before, but only 18 holes. This year I played the Frying Pan, which featured two 18 hole courses. So there’s one. And the other was a small 9-holer which I used for practice before St. Patty’s Classic. It ain’t pretty, but it’s achieved.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

21) Win 1 tournament.

YES! I got the phantom fourth win, my first in five years. Better yet, it was a wire-to-wire win, although I went into round 3 with a 5-stroke lead and give up 4 of them in the first 9 holes. However, I kept it together and took home the W.

VERDICT: SUCCESS!

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

What an odd year this was. The highs were high but the lows were low. I had thought I would steamroll my division but that simply didn’t happen for two reasons: 1) only two tournaments did I play well from start to finish, and 2) on average it was 1-3 strokes PER ROUND harder to cash than it was last year. I imagine that will continue as long as this area doesn’t have large pro fields.

I’m proud of how I did, hitting some goals that I never thought I had a chance to achieve and missing other “shoo-ins” by a country mile.

FINAL SCORE: I made 10 of my 21 goals, but 4 of my “fails” were so close and I probably could have called them successes without even stretching too much.

I’ll save the detailed stats for another day when I have more concentration to break it all down for you. Until later…

 

December 28, 2018

Be amazed by the overnight success of “Woofer!” How, even, did anyone hear about this as your first Bark is still being driven across country in the slowest and cheapest shipping possible? Nevertheless, send out a new Bark to all of your sign-ups thanking them. Note 1: You will need about 100,000 poodles and strips of Velcro. Note 2: Barks should be no longer than can be fit on an average poodle – no images are allowed at this time.

December 27, 2018

Wake up one morning and realize you’ve been a terrible friend. Decide that this is because of social media and the digital age. Vow to fix this by promoting your new platform, “Woofer!” which actually physically exists so it’s much more difficult to forget. Post your first Bark by velcroing an apology to a poodle and then shipping it across the country to your friend.

December 24, 2018

Not many people know this, but Christmas Eve was named after the biblical Eve. Christmas Adam is the day where Christmas blames Christmas Eve for being disappointing. Prepare yourself for this by covering yourself in Velcro and making a poodle coat. You can’t be disappointed in someone wearing that many live dogs. I mean, unless that person is Cruella Deville. Are you? Take a good look at yourself. Write an essay, hand it in by 5. Your grade depends on it.

December 21, 2018

It’s the shortest day of the year (at least for all the cool people in the northern hemisphere). Don’t worry, the days only get longer from here. You can ensure this by attaching a strip of Velcro to the north pole. Attach the other end to the comet that’s supposed to pass perilously close to Earth. That ought to adjust the Earth’s axis a few degrees. Take your poodle on a walk. Don’t worry, you don’t have to rush, it’ll be light out when you get home.

December 19, 2018

We assume you’re standing before the pearly gates and Peter is judging where you belong. He’ll probably bring up the myriad poodles you’ve needlessly killed, disfigured, or psychologically tortured. Wipe the sweat from your brow with the Velcro. Religious types like self-flagellation. Outside of that, you’re on your own. This isn’t 365 Ways to Get Out of Going to Hell.

December 17, 2018

Mash poodle to a jam-like consistency. Make a large sheet of paper out of Velcro. Squeeze the Velcro around the poodlepaste and open it back up. Ask your patient what they see in the inkblot. If they don’t immediately call the ASPCA, diagnose them as insane and charge them double. If they do, charge them triple because you’re going to need to post bail somehow.