Copyright ©2011 by Ralph Couey
Welcome to my 300th post!
On November 3, 2006, I started this blog as an outlet for thoughts that were swirling around inside begging to be let out to breathe. As my newspaper columns became more popular, this blog became the repository for the things I wrote, not only the pieces that were published, but also ones that were too long or just didn’t work as a column.
The subject matter has been broad. As I look down the post index, there is a heavy preponderance of motorcycle-themed essays. Included are those neat little “slice o’ life” subjects that columnists love so much. Things like head lice, cows, seasons, the weather, and walks in the forest. There are also deeper pieces discussing life, death, love, and United Airlines Flight 93, which really covers all three of those subjects. There’s almost no politics here, a lack that really pleases me. While I am active and I do vote, I understand fully that those decisions are mine alone and discussing them only serves to divide the audience. And we have more than enough anger floating around these days.
Any, I thought I’d take a little look at that number, 300.
I’ve been a bowler for most of my life, so the first thing that pops in my head is that ever-elusive perfect game. 12 straight strikes in one game, an enormously difficult thing to do. The best I’ve ever done in 43 years is 276.
A lot of people tend not to think of bowling as much of a sport, and when compared to running marathons and bench pressing small cars, it doesn’t much compare. But bowling is a lot more complicated than the layman thinks.
First of all, the lane conditions are not consistent. Even starting with a freshly-oiled lane (and there are 57 distinctly different oil patterns), as you (and everyone else) bowls, the oil begins to work down the lane into areas that were dry in the first frame. The ball will begin to break differently, hooking later and later as time goes on. You can’t just put the ball in the pocket. The angle of entry has to be correct, the speed of the ball has to be just right. Too slow and it breaks too shallow through the rack. Too fast, and it blows past the pins, not allowing them to mix properly. And there’s also the chaos factor. Two round objects striking one another are just not going to bounce exactly the same way every time.
Once you understand the lane conditions, the good bowler must select a ball with the right finish for the conditions. There are balls formulated for heavy oil, light oil, and everything in between. Bowling balls were once all made out of hard rubber. Now the come in a plethora of space-age polymers. The size and shape of the weight block at the ball’s center also plays a role. And the size and orientation of the grip itself is crucial to the ball’s performance.
The temperature and humidity levels in the bowling center also affect the way the ball rolls. So you see, bowling is a sport that requires exacting precision and muscle memory, and the experience, knowledge, and instincts to read the lanes.
Okay, now that I’ve given you too much information about bowling…
Another 300 that pops into mind are the Spartans under King Leonidas who defended the Hot Gates of Thermopylae against the Persian hordes of the God-King Xerxes. They lost, but their sacrifice and the toll in blood they levied on the Persian Army inspired and united the rest of the Greek city-states, which eventually led to the great victory over Xerxes in the naval Battle of Salamis.
300 is also a number Boeing uses to denote the third generation of a particular jetliner. 747-300, 737-300, etc.
The Chrysler 300 is a big, brawny performance sedan.
The Committee of 300 is reputed to be a darksome group of powerful people who apparently consort with the Illuminati. (See Dan Brown)
.300 in baseball is the benchmark that separates average hitters from the great ones.
300 passing yards in a game is the benchmark that separates average quarterbacks from the greats.
Arp 220 is an extremely active galaxy some 250 million light years distant that is 300 times brighter than our Milky Way.
New York Route 300 runs through the Hudson Valley from Wallkill to Vails Gate.
Ohio Route 300 runs from Helena to Woodville.
And of course, this post, Number 300.
Yeah, I know. This is all kinda silly. But hey, it’s Friday afternoon; time for a little silliness.