Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

She's got (bowling) balls!

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thanks for all the RR comments. That scary spider is courtesy of a nice zoom lens. I didn't get close, I promise! And the cat picture just came out that way. As I said, I just did a little work to bring out the detail in the blacks. That was shot with my previous camera, a Nikon Coolpix 990. The 990 was notorious for redeye issues. I loved that camera - except for that. I even looked into building an external flash bracket before I finally broke down and purchased a DSLR.

Yesterday was bowling day. Had a good morning and a so-so evening. The shoulder was playing up again, and the bowling center has changed their oil pattern. Now I hardly get any kind of hook on the ball at all.

Perhaps I should explain: Oil is applied to the lanes from the foul line to a little over halfway to 2/3 down the lane. This is done to protect the lanes, but as you might imagine, there are some physics invloved. What happens is that the ball grips the oil as it rolls. When it comes out of the oil and hits the dry part of the lane it will generally curve - that is, if the bowler throws some sort of hook ball. The bowling centers and the pro tours use a variety of oil patterns (see here and here), and the ball can react differently depending on the pattern, how the bowler throws the ball, how the ball is drilled, and the type of surface on the ball.

Hey, that gets complicated! And see, you just thought bowling involved tossing a ball down at some sticks, didn't you?

In theory, the bowling centers and tour operators are supposed to set up the most fair shot given the condition of the lanes. In practice, an oiling pattern that works well for one bowler may not work well for another. This is why we have to learn to adjust. Some bowlers compensate by carrying a variety of balls. (I'll skip the implications of that statement. *ahem*) Most average to above-average bowlers carry two. Some people use a second ball that's designed not to hook in order to pick up certain spares.

And just to complicate things, as people bowl on a lane their balls pick up oil. Some of the oil is deposited down in the dry part of the lane (this is called "carrydown") and some stays on the ball. Now you know why some bowlers are obsessive about wiping their bowling ball down with a towel before each shot. That "carrydown" oil, as you might imagine, also plays into the shot. Depending on the lane conditions my ball will hook more or less at different times during a set of three games depending on how much oil is on the lane and where.

Rather than go through the expense and hassle of carrying more than two bowling balls, I prefer to learn to adjust my shot. It's hard, but I think it makes me a better bowler in the end. Like any other sport, it helps to have good equipment. But in the end it's the bowlers who have learned to adjust that come out on top. I know guys who carry six bowling balls and just swap out as lane conditions change. But if the conditions really go downhill they're in trouble because they have trouble adjusting to compensate. Now we all have those kinds of nights, but I have to tell you that it makes me feel just a little smug when I can beat a guy with a 210 average because he can't rein in his killer hook. It doesn't happen often, but boy, does it feel good when it does!

So back to my bowling woes. The center has changed their bowling pattern just a bit and the only way I can reliably get any hook to hit the pocket is if I lay the ball down in just the right spot, but just the right amount of hook on it, and pray. A lot. Some days it seems that I can put the ball down just about anywhere and still come out good. It's frustrating, but it's just part of the game. I just have to learn how to make the best of this oil pattern. And once I've done that, they'll change the shot. Just watch.

Okay, I've got to get outta here and hit the Post Office. I've got to ship a cloak and I'm out of Flat Rate boxes. I thought I had some, but they turned out to be regular Priority boxes. Grr.

Lots of cloak work today; I hope to hit the RRs to make comments soon.

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Filed under: Life   Bowling           


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