Hello Friends and Family,

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Busy, Busy, Busy

Working Out I suspect I have mentioned this before but am constantly amazed that even though I am retired from HP, I am so incredibly busy. And it appears that I am not alone — nearly every retiree I talk to says the same thing — they don't know how they got everything done when they were working. Is this a warning that you should not retire? Nah, not really. Try it, you'll love it!

But my busy week caused me to pause and reflect on what all I did this week — where did the hours go? First, as is my custom, I did work out four of the seven days. Back when I was working, I had to get up at 5:00 AM in order to get my workout in — and still make it to work at a reasonable time. Now, 5:00 AM seems quite unreasonable — but being a morning person, I still tend to get up with the sun. Currently, that is around 6:00 AM — although I confess to sometimes "sleeping in" until 6:30.

Of course, I found that it is a bit inconvenient to go to Lifetime Fitness at such an early hour — traffic is bad and the gym is filled with working folks who have to get to work by 8:00 or 8:30. Sometime it is a challenge just to find a locker that is not in use. So I have settled into a routine of leaving home around 7:30 AM — arriving at the gym 10 minutes later — finding lots of parking and plenty of empty lockers.

With no deadlines to meet, I usually spend a couple hours working out — including a few minutes visiting and talking with gym friends — followed by a nice soak in the Jacuzzi and perhaps a few minutes lounging by the outdoor pool. Love it!

This week also had a couple of appointments with doctors — nothing wrong, just my twice annual visits to my dermatologist and endocrinologist. Other than having one little spot on my nose frozen, I escaped with no further damage to my body, my ego or my lifestyle. Despite having to drive all the way out to Power Road in Mesa for one appointment, these contributed to but did not fully account for my busy week.

Hermes Kelly PurseAnd as usual, I did a bit of photography for Mizuki's eBay business. This week she had a number of purses to list — the one pictured here is an Hermès Kelly purse. Purses tend to take more time than most jewelry — although watches take a fair amount of time — simply because of the number of photos required. There are a lot of details that we have to show so that potential buyers can satisfy themselves that the purse is authentic.

There is a huge problem — not just on eBay but in the marketplace in general — with knockoffs of expensive designer products. One way to combat that on eBay is, as I mentioned, lots of photos.

Also, a seller's feedback rating is also an important indicator. If the seller has poor feedback or very little feedback or has recently changed their sales from cheap items to expensive — this should raise a red flag for any potential buyer.

You may also note the addition of a watermark (the "Myampie" and the cute little face in the lower left corner). There have been instances where unscrupulous people have copied Mizuki's photos then posted an eBay listing using them. First of all, that is against eBay policy but further, these people did not have an identical purse and were trying to commit fraud by getting a buyer to send cash or a Western Union draft to a foreign seller. Of course, the unsuspecting buyer would have lost their money, with no purse, and no real way to prosecute. When notified, eBay will terminate such auctions if still listed. We are hoping the watermark will cut down on the theft of photos — and make it a bit harder for these crooks to operate.

Hot StixWell, that took up a good part of the week but also I spent some time at Hot Stix in Scottsdale. As you may have guessed from the name, Hot Stix is a golf store — but a golf store unlike what most of us are used to. It began as a club fitting business for professional golfers that eventually opened their doors to the rest of us.

When I first started playing golf, I just bought a set of clubs from a golf store really without any kind of fitting or customization. As I improved as a golfer, I did not realize that my clubs were actually retarding my progress. I had been through the process of buying a new driver, changing shafts but never really found improvements in my game as a result of my clubs. In 2003, I read about Hot Stix in our newspaper and decided that I would check them out. Eventually, I visited their store to be fitted for a new driver.

It was quite an experience. They used sensors to measure swing speed, high speed cameras to track trajectory and spin on the golf ball — all connected to a computer that would then tell you everything you wanted to know, and more, about your swing and how you hit a golf ball with a particular club. Based on that and their tests of clubs and shafts, they would recommend several clubs that you hit well in their shop. But then — here's the great part — they lend you the clubs you hit best so you can practice and/or play with them for a week. It is surprising how different it is hitting a ball off the grass on a real course versus hitting it indoors off a mat into a net. So I ended up with a really good driver for me — which was admittedly more expensive than buying one off the rack but cheaper than buying several with replacement shafts — and never hitting the ball well.

Well, I have been back there multiple times for single clubs but finally decided on a return visit to be fitted with a new set of irons. My old irons are over seven years old and would probably need some refurbishment — but since golf technology has been steadily advancing, I decided that I wanted to upgrade to a new set. So I went through the fitting and settled on two finalists — TaylorMade r7 cgb and Ping Rapture. I also decided to go with a hybrid club instead of the relatively hard-to-hit 3-iron — and here I narrowed it to Adams Idea Pro and Callaway X-Hybrid.

Since I was already there, I also had them check out my swing with my driver (that they had fit in 2003) and compare it to the newer technology drivers that have become available since. Surprisingly, I hit my current driver better than any of the new ones. My fitter, John, remarked that my original fitter, Justin, had done a great job in the club fitting.

Now finished with the fitting, they loaned me these four clubs (2 6-irons and 2 hybrid equivalents of 3-irons) for evaluation. So Tuesday became evaluation day — first on the driving range then on the course at the Raven at South Mountain. Since it was not busy that day, I was able to play by myself using two balls and hitting the loaner clubs as often as I could. After all that, I settled on the TaylorMade because I hit it further than the Ping although I hit both of them fairly accurately. Also, I chose the Adams because I hit further and straighter than the Callaway. After golf, another trek to Scottsdale to return the loaners and tell them which clubs I wanted to go with.

Then on Thursday, I played a round at Whirlwind with my golf buddy, Pat. Although he is in pre-retirement (i.e., still working but thinking about retirement), he can occasionally slip out for an afternoon on the links. Even with 105° temps at the start, we had a great time as always.

Well, I guess I was pretty busy — it wasn't an illusion. But it sure was fun (well, maybe except for that doctor part).

 Life is good.

 B. David