Talent and the Brain
For the last several months I have been reading and considering the revelations in two books that have nothing to do with pool. But after reading them, it's clear that they can be a major benefit to my pool game. The books are "Talent is Overrated" and "The Brain That Changes Itself". The first, about talent, simply says that we make our own talent by focused practice over a long period of time. The second book, about the brain, offers many case histories to demonstrate the plasticity of the brain, or how we can cause physical changes in our brains by what we choose to think.
Together, these books indicate that lots of hours of focused practice can be traded for other activities which produce the same changes in the brain and therefore give the same results. For example, simply watching or visualizing matches of pool competitions can produce an increase in skill level.
I like to watch matches on DVD, so I can pause, rewind, slow-motion forward, etc. This sort of active participation, and actually studying a match in detail, has got to pay far greater dividends than simply watching passively, once.
One of my favorites is Thorsten Hohman winning the final of the world straight pool (14.1) championship. Another favorite DVD is Efren Reyes vs. Corey Deuel in an IPT match up in 8-ball, race to 8.
Control yourself, control the table
Maybe it's because of the phase of the moon. Otherwise I have no other explanation for my verbal explosion after missing a shot in this afternoon's 8-ball tournament. Maybe I'm developing Turrette's Syndrome. Whatever it is, it's not right. I need to control my emotions.
I was shooting over a ball, all jacked up, and the cue ball had to travel a very precise path, with perfect touch. The shot needed draw, and lots of english. The object ball was about half obscured by the opponent's ball, and the cue ball would be very close to scratching after hitting my ball. This shot had just about everything going against it, but I saw the way to do it, I knew I could execute it, and I was eagerly looking forward to making it happen. I was not at all nervous. I was sure of myself. If I did it, I would have an easy runout for the win. If I screwed it up, he would be out for the win. I lined it up very carefully, stroked a couple of warmups to get the feel of it, and ...
Miscue! The cue ball leaps off the table, knocking my ball in and opening up his runout, and with ball-in-hand, he did, and he won.
Somewhere from deep down within me, some pent-up angst from a collection of stupid shots in the past, all of which were taken in stride without so much as a peep from me, all of this energy burst forth in one quite loud exclamation which invoked the name of a popular deity, with the demand that he/she send "it" (whatever) to hell.
Of course, I wasn't mad, just surprised. Disappointed. Right after the game I congratulated Paul H. for his excellent win. He was shooting good. And right after congratulating him, I set up the shot I missed, and on the first (re)try, made it with the same perfection that I had previously envisioned.
Why do we miss shots we can make? They say that when we miss, there's usually something mental going on. Lapse of focus or concentration, impatience, whatever.
A couple of days ago I re-read the very excellent book on the mental part of Sport, and Life. "The Inner Game of Tennis" is a classic and recommended reading for anyone who wants to improve their game, be it tennis, pool, whatever.
Yes, I could make the shot. So the reason for the miss must have been something else, something mental. What is revealing to me is that I am more upset about missing the shot than I am for not winning! The fact that Winning is less important than the shot means that Winning is not the main thing, not the only thing. I'm thinking that this is a less than ideal mindset for playing in a tournament.
If Winning were the only thing, then maybe I would have given up on such an intricate shot, and looked more carefully for another solution. The shot I had invented in my mind would have been a wonderful thing to do, and to see, and I can see now that my Ego was goading me into wanting to do that cunning thing with the cueball. Maybe there was a better shot, maybe not, but I don't remember looking for one. At that time, I was more interested, more committed to making that pretty shot than Winning. I was in the moment, for sure. All I wanted to see was the path of the cue ball, off my cue tip, into the object, then drawing back so perfectly into the short rail, then up near the foot spot.
Something happened between the time I decided to deliver the final stroke, and the time the cue touched the cue ball. Total time was about one second. Something occurred in that moment to send the shot awry. I would like to know what it was.
And I guess that's one of the reasons I keep coming back to the table...
Paul H. played real good. In one of his games against me, he shot two banks in a row to get to his game ball. One of those banks was fantastic! He obviously likes to bank, and one of his favorite expressions is "Can't win if you can't bank!". And he does win a lot of games because of his excellent banking skills, so good for him.
My game is more conservative, and I'll prefer to play safe (what Paul jokingly refers to as "Girly pool") rather than go for a low-percentage bank. Somehow, I had let him back to the table, but I wasn't concerned about him because I was looking at the table from my perspective, not his. I figured he would never get out because he had two balls blocked by the eight. It kind of reminded me of my match with Gunney, in the Great Quarterly Tournment, just a couple of weeks ago: my opponent makes a spectacular runout that I wasn't expecting at all. Well shut my mouth and congratulate the opponent. Case closed, go home.
This sort of thing should not happen. I need to FULLY control the game. I need to work on that. It might be in my safety game, and not playing total lockups. (Sloppy Safety Syndrome!) It might be laziness, or brinksmanship, or not having the Killer Instinct.
Whatever it is, I need to find it and get it out of my game before September, my next shot at the US Amateur Championship. I have to remember what Mika said: "I want this more than you."
Can't win if you don't play
Thursday again, and that means the regular Thursday 8-ball tournament, in which I have come in 2nd the last several times.
At home, warming up before the tournament, I'm hitting a few balls, and missing every shot. I missed at least the first half dozen shots I attempted. One shot I missed 3 times in a row, and it was a simple shot. WTF? What could possibly be going wrong? Did I somehow slip into a black hole where my physics she-no-worky? How can I be so bad? And how can I go into the tournament shooting like this?
This leads into the whole realm of head trips, such as:
1. It's starting to rain, and it should only get worse, and it's not going to be any fun slogging through the rain just to shoot poorly. Why get wet and embarrass myself on the table?
2. This recent change in the weather is exactly the sort of thing that gets people sick, and the tournament is held in a small room with poor circulation and there is no way I want to get sick AND shoot poorly.
3. negative, negative, negative...
But I figure what the heck, just show up, take your beating like a man, and go home early, maybe you won't get sick. That's the best I could come up with for motivation to go shoot pool. Certainly not a winning attitude, but I left anyway, and halfway to the car I realize I forgot to bring my iPhone... idiot! But I'm not going to go back and get it...
The first match I played even worse than I did at home. People were looking at me like I was from Mars and had never before played this game. Others were simply laughing, nervously, for they know that this is not the real me. Some probably felt pity. I was having difficulty understanding what was happening.
Second match I played poorly at first, but I won. Didn't deserve it.
This is where I came to the crossroads. One more loss and I could go home defeated. Or, I could find the pool shooter inside, coax him to come out and play, tell him that it IS possible to win, and that he can do it if he just starts playing the way we both know he can play. Ignore everything else, just play one shot at a time, and be smart about it.
The 3rd match was against Gunney, the guy who won the match last week, the guy who beat me in the finals and stole my immortality by getting HIS name on the plaque on the wall.
Something welled up inside me, and I just let go and spoke my piece even though as the words were coming out of my face I was sure that this was not the right thing to do... Think back to the movie The Hustler, where George C. Scott, in the final scene, after Fast Eddie beats the fat man, yells with a viscious spitting venom: "I want my Money!"
Ok, keeping the venom, now replace those words with mine, to Gunney, as he approaches the table: "I want my Revenge!".
Not real smart, right? I look like a bozo right off the bat saying it like that, but I'm kinda kidding, of course, but not really. I guess you really have to know the movie to appreciate it. I don't think Gunney got the reference.
This was a pivotal match. First of all, because Gunney was acting sick. The kind of sick where I just know that I'm going to get sick with the same thing he has. He's sniffling, going through Kleenex, and generally looking like he's having difficulty paying attention, sleepy, feverish, etc. Now, I am the kind of person who would cross the street rather than walk past someone who is sick. And here I am stuck in the same room, playing on the same table that he is touching with his sick hands all scuzzy with sick germs from blowing his nose through tissue thin, uh, tissues.
Somehow, I gotta get past all this and shoot some serious pool against him because there is every possibility that Gunney is sandbagging, except this week it's not his eyes like last week, it's that he's sick. I should admit right here that Gunney is an excellent actor. He actually looks sick, but I can not allow myself to think he is. No pity. He must be crushed. I must have my revenge. MUST.
I played smart. Tied him up. Got him in a chess match. Frustrated him. Until I had my chance, and I took it.
Ok, now I'm back in tune. My game is feeling good again. All I had to do was get inside and find my game and let it free.
The rest of the matches went well, and I met up with Pat in the finals. Imagine: I have been in the finals for the last 4-5 tournaments, and every time I have come in second. That just isn't right! A guy could think he was jinxed. When does a guy get to the point where he has to strap on a set and WIN? Am I done with 2nd place?
The first game should have gone to Pat. He missed an 8-ball shot, and I did not return the favor. In the second game, he broke and went as far as he could, and then I ran the rack for the win. Pat played well.
The lesson of today's tournament is that you can not win if you do not play. (Isn't that the Lottery slogan?) I almost stayed home, but went, and won. (Veni, vidi, vici)
As soon as I got home, I took no chances, and jumped in the shower to wash off all those sick Gunney germs, then a change of clothes, a nice meal, and a bit of relaxation (playing some 8-ball with Dr. Mark). I know, it's pathetic when you celebrate winning a pool tournament by playing pool.
But that's who I am, that's what I do.
Experiments in photography, pool related of course.
Having fun with sunsets, camera angles, and other variables. It's impossible to shoot pool during sunsets because it's just such a perfect time of day to watch the world go by. The colors are always a treat. In other news, Dan W. stopped by last night for 4 hours of 9-ball. He's preparing for the Swanee tournament in February. Dan's a great shot maker. I made some nice shots, playing reasonably well overall. That is, on the few occasions when Dan gave me a shot. We didn't keep score, but I did a lot of racking!
One fine shot down the rail
If ever there was a day for a man to pour himself a shot, it was today. I guess what I'm saying is, that I've already poured myself one, thank you very much, and I've had a taste of it too, thanking you again for your indulgence while I get this tale underway.
It's a tale of a competition in billiards, and it happened today, and it happened to me, so I know whereof I speak, and of course there were many witnesses who saw the exact same thing.
Unfortunately, it was not recorded on video, so the best record, the only record so far, is this document I now write. Readers of this document are invited to comment at the end. But we must get to this story...
It was an 8-ball tournament, and it happens only 4 times per year. The competitors have enormous experience, and yet I put my paltry 5 years experience into play against them. They know not of my secret weapon: the Secrets of Sorto are with me. I have studied him move the ball. His skills and artistry at moving the cue ball around the table are unmatched, and it is not just me saying this... anyone who has seen Tony Sorto shoot pool will agree. LOOK AT THE VIDEO!
But this is not about Tony Sorto (also known as "El Maestro").
This is about me, and what happened today. It was an 8-ball tournament, with very strong competition, race to one. In the finals, it's a race to two. In a race to one, you absolutely MUST win the one and only game you are going to play against your competitor. When you face each competitor, you must win or you are lunch.
Consider for a moment, the mental ferocity which must be created in order to totally dominate your opponent and to do it with such confidence and presence of being, and of course, spectacular shot making. Also consider that this ferocity must be from the very instant the arena is entered, and must be maintained against all distractions, and against all odds, right through to the moment of final Victory, when the man stands alone, above all. How is such a thing possible?
These are the secret teachings of El Maestro.
Sometimes these stories get me mighty parched. Could be the chalk dust in the air, and the Santa Ana winds blowing in off the desert. The air gets dry and... you know what would go good right about now, a pint of Murphy's Irish Stout! It tastes just like the classic Guinness, only smoother. I can not wait another second, there's so much to tell, but first a bit o' suds...
Oh, that is some fine stuff. And I have to confess, while I was up getting myself a pint of Murphy's Irish Stout, I splashed a shot of Bushmill's Irish Whiskey in it, shot glass and all, as is the custom in many an Irish pub; I know this from extensive personal experience. And, I might add, a well-thought out custom as it gets you where you want to be twice as fast. And I'm all about efficiency, saving time, etc.
I promise I won't interrupt this story...
... and this is where I stopped writing for a good while. I was conflicted, knowing that every word I write must be true (it is a sacred oath I have taken as a writer, to speak only truth), and therefore I can not say I won't interrupt again. What is an interruption except something over which we have no control, some Random Event. If I have no control over it, then I can not speak of it with confidence. There could be interruptions, possibly for another pint and a splash. It could be a long story. Bear with me...
Four times a year there is a tournament where there is no prize, no money, no trophy, no nothin', except your name on a plaque on the wall, along with the date you won it. There is no other name, no second place is mentioned. On this plaque a man stands alone, over all his anonymous contenders, for all time. Here a man is immortal, for as long as they have pool, and for as long as this building stands. For this we play.
And of course, for bragging rights.
Between the Great Quarterly Tournaments are 12 weekly tournaments, with mostly the same players. These weekly tournaments, you get zip if you win. A big So What, but we play anyway, 'cause a man's gotta test himself, we gotta strive, we gotta evolve. It's the way of the universe.
Today was my chance at immortality, my name on the wall, for all to see that on this day did FastMikie... but I'm getting ahead of myself, I should start at the beginning...
My first match turned in my favor when my opponent was unsuccessful with his execution. I did not return the favor. FastMikie 1, Opponents 0.
My second match was one of those little gems which you love to remember. My opponent flips the coin, I call it, I break, I run the table. Opponent never gets a shot. All they got to do is flip a coin. That's a tough way to lose, never get out of your chair. I hate when that happens. Of course it has happened many times to me as El Maestro has run racks of 8-ball at will. I have learned much about the art of running a rack of 8-ball. And of course when and how to play safe if the situation calls for it. But today, in this match, I broke and ran those sweet balls as though I was born to do it. FastMikie 2, Opponents 0.
After a stunning performance like I just put on, a man walks a bit more erect, there's a glow, if you will, the chest a bit higher. It can't be helped, but a man is better off if he keeps his emotions checked. Inside he may be feeling ten feet tall and bulletproof, but he's got to hold himself back from premature celebration. This is just one more game in a series. The next competitor waits.
I tried to keep myself cool on the outside, but inside I'm thinking how sweet that run was, and I'm feeling like this is my day, I can go all the way, I know it.
I know I can win this tournament because I have won against these players before. But it wasn't at the Great Quarterly Tournament, it was just a weekly. I didn't get my name on the wall. I got bupkus. Nada. Zilch.
This is my third Great Quarterly Tournament. The first time I played here, I came in second. Not bad for the first time I ever played these guys, and I was pleasantly surprised to find them as strong as they are. These guys have been shooting pool for a long time. They don't miss much, both in terms of strategy and skill.
So here I am busting out all over with confidence when I get my next opponent, which again I win the flip of the coin and the break and I get a ball on the break and the spread is so fine for the stripes and it all begins with this trifle in the side pocket, and I have myself another break and run... Except that I'm still back here shooting the 14 ball in the side, and I can't be thinking about the 8-ball going in, and look what I just did... look at that 14 ball heading right into the tip of the side pocket, how the holy jumpin' jeepers did such a stupid thing happen, there could not possibly be an excuse for it, except... the obvious fact that you have your head so far up your arse with your magnificent break and run in the last game and the easy break and run you have in this game, that you had insufficient brain power to sink a kink in the side.
Funny thing, a brain. No matter how we would like to think we can think of more than one thing at a time, we can't. One. That's the limit. At the moment when the cue tip moves through the space previously occupied by the cue ball, at that very moment the only thought you can have in your head is the pure thought of the cue ball doing exactly as you imagine it in your head. If you imagine it poorly, with any lack of detail, you will miss. Most likely. Because there is always the element of luck. A man can hit a ball poorly, and yet he can get away with it. The shot goes in because there are certain tolerances on most shots. So sometimes, you can get away with thinking other thoughts, or thoughts that are not completely thought out, and yet still make a shot.
That was not the case with my shot on the 14 ball in the side. I missed. Now my opponent had his choice of stripes or solids, and of course the stripes, as I mentioned were open like a flower, so he took them, and left me with the solids where were in ugly clusters and blocked and otherwise a hell on earth. At the end of that game, these words came into my mind: "You never know where your next lesson in Humility is going to come from, but it always comes". FastMikie 2, Opponents 1.
I have been wounded. Two wins, one loss. I can not lose again or I am out of the tournament, my name will not go on the wall, I will not be immortal. I must not lose again. I must win.
It's at moments like this that a man faces his toughest challenges, where there is no alternative, where he MUST win, he must achieve the prize, there can be no other way. These are the moments I live for, I love the challenge. I love all challenges, but mostly I love the challenges I can win. And I can win this.
I woke up this morning focused on the win. I dressed in my tournament uniform: all black. I project a self image of seriousness of purpose, of confidence. And that was the feeling throughout the tournament room today: seriousness of purpose. It was quiet, and you could tell that the early matches were played tentatively. Luckily I was last to play in the first round. I could relax, breathe, prepare, listen to my iPhone/iPod recordings, the affirmations, the Beethoven piano sonatas, such as the Moonlight Sonata, which always relaxes me. The headphones of an iPod cut down on conversations started by others. They are reluctant to interrupt your focus, and that's one good reason to wear the headsets, whether you're listening to them or not! But I don't want to give away to many good ideas here, I just want to tell you what happened...
My next match I won, and the next, and soon enough I am standing in the finals, in a race to two, for all immortality, my name on the wall, and, of course, for bragging rights, which, being from Philadelphia, are more important than the finest Frankincense, or Myrrh (whatever that is, but you get the idea, bragging rights are big).
I have played Gunney before and I know his game. He shoots good. And all the while he shoots good, he puts out this "I can't see" line of complete bullshite (an Irish term) that it boggles the mind. I mean, if he can't see then what the heck is he doing in the finals? One week he can't see close, the next week he can't see far, the next week he can't see at all. But he keeps coming back and winning. There should be a special place in hell for people like that, but you gotta love that guy at the same time because he puts out this hang-dog good-old-boy vibe that's self-effacing and homey all at the same time. That's where he really gets you because you figure he can't see and he's a nice guy so you don't want to crush his neck into the ground, so you let up and soon he has YOU by the throat.
But that's not exactly the way it happened. I won the first game in the race to two. I had him so tied up in that first game that he couldn't make a shot. These are the secrets that Sorto has taught me, and they do not become known except after many hours of practice and study, and then only if El Maestro is the teacher.
Now I had Gunney where I wanted him. The win is within my grasp. I see myself reaching out to pluck the ripe fruit of immortality, swollen in ripeness with my own magnificence. One more to go, Gunney old friend. Just lay down and die like a good sport, will you? It would be so much easier that way, amigo. I'd really rather not work for it. You see, I'm retired and have grown lazy...
However, Gunney, the Marine, would not go down easy, and put one mark on his side. I am unmoved when a man pulls up along side of me. He was behind, he was looking up at me. When he draws even, he tends to take a breath, to relax with the goal within reach. It is still my advantage.
In pool, anything can happen, and it usually does, when you least expect it.
I could drag this story on with shot by shot descriptions, but in a winner take all, one game do or die match, it could go either way. I was at the table, and I saw the road map to the finish line. The shot that got me was a combination, and although I made the shot, my cue ball position was less than perfect, and I could not continue. However I could play safe, and did. In fact It was one of the best safe shots I have ever played. I think there was no combination of cushions that he could hit that would give him a good hit. He was screwed. I just love a good safety, especially when they are not expected, and when they are so simple, and so dead-nuts guaranteed to give you ball in hand.
But sometimes ball in hand only gets you so far. Sometimes ball in hand only gives you the opportunity to play another safe, and to give up the table again, and once you give up the table, anything can happen. And in a race to one, where everything is on the line, anything usually does happen.
And, as it happened, Gunney was at the table, pocketing a couple of balls, but I was completely at ease knowing that there was just no way that, with the layout of the balls, that he could get out. It was not in the cards. But he just went ahead anyway. And when he finally got to a shot on the 8-ball, for the win, he was faced with what I almost certainly would have tried to bank, and most likely would have missed, and sold out, and of course that's what I was expecting Gunney to do. Instead he calls the ball down the rail into the corner pocket that, surely my 7-ball is guarding, right? I mean, there's just no way that 8-ball can go down the rail that clean. There's just no room at all for "tolerances". Zip. Don't be a fool, Gunney, bank it! No man can cut that ball from that angle, so precisely to get past my 7-ball.
I was there, and I can tell you that was the finest shot down the rail I have probably ever seen, and so Gunney deserves his win, his name on the wall, his immortality.
I'm not particularly happy about it, but it's moments like this that turn a man into a philosopher. And with a couple of pints of Murphy's Irish Stout (and a couple of shots of Bushmill's Irish Whiskey), a man becomes a philosopher with ease, this being a great attribute of the Irish. We are a race of writers, drinkers, fighters, and philosophers. Aye.
When in the course of human events a man's thoughts turn to The Meaning of it All, some of the best minds come to the conclusion that there is no meaning except that which we create. Each of us is the center of a universe of our own creation. However, in each perfect universe which we create there are Random Events over which we have absolutely no control. For example, when we are sitting in a chair, completely helpless, a simple spectator, watching your immortality disappear before your eyes, one ball at a time.
That was one fine shot down the rail, Gunney.
I hoist my pint to salute you!
I'm in a good place...
I feel good.
I feel confident.
I enjoy my turn at the table.
It gives me an opportunity
to be in total control,
to completely dominate the arena,
to perform my art.
Every time I approach the table,
I feel clear about my path to the win,
whether I go for the run out,
or make it a chess match.
I enjoy the feeling of control,
of the absolute expectation of Victory.
But I expect more than Victory.
In the pool world that I want to explore
every shot is a unique performance.
A carefully choreographed series of "gestures"
which results in a technically successful outcome (win),
achieved in a way both personal and extraordinary.
This is my goal,
and I am feeling good
that it is welcoming me.
As the moments pass, I come closer to it.
At each moment I am living the life
of the man who is achieving this goal.
Recent trips to the table have been very pleasant for me.
I'm delivering a smooth straight stroke with good follow through.
I get solid action from my english,
and I'm seeing banks clearly,
and my speed and position moves are spot on.
My arm feels good, my bridge is strong.
My vision is true.
I know my game.
I know my way.
And I go there.
In pool, It's better to ask permission than to ask forgiveness...
One of my favorite quotes that pertains to almost all of life is: "It's better to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission". This is based on the assumption that if you ask permission, most likely you won't get it, but of course the thing you want to do is not grossly illegal or otherwise heinous. So, I like that philosophy. You get away with a lot more, and have more fun.
Now, when it comes to pool, as I learned in yesterday's weekly 8-ball tournament, that good advice is just wrong. There is no forgiveness in pool, especially in a tournament, especially in the finals, especially in the final game of the finals... You just can not innocently pick up the cue ball, thinking you have ball in hand, get busted for it before you shoot, and try to put it back where it was. There is no mercy, no forgiveness. These people are hard core. If they have their boot on your neck, they will crush with glee.
That's what happened to me. I was in the finals with "Ball in hand Benny". I call him that because he is the tournament director, and he says that a lot. He's an eagle eye, watches both tables at the same time, and if anyone fouls, he's quick with the "Ball in Hand" shouted from across the room. Other than that, he doesn't say much, but he's a likable guy.
How could I have made such a stupid mistake? Well, Benny had actually scratched a couple of times in recent games, and given up ball in hand, and I was thinking about "Ball in Hand" Benny, ok? So in the final game, he misses, and on my way to the table, my attention was distracted by someone in the audience, and I disengaged from the game momentarily, and when I focused again on the table, I just thought it was ball in hand. NOT!
So "Ball in Hand" Benny got ball in hand, and ran out for the win. And I came in second, again. I'm getting a lot of second place finishes, so I just *know* that a first place finish is getting close.
Nice shooting, Benny. You deserve it.
What I have to learn from this episode is that I should NEVER touch the white ball until after I look my opponent in the eye, and get permission for ball in hand.
There's more to life than pool: Fresh air and sunshine!
Pool is just not enough exercise! I need to get outside and breathe some fresh air and get some sun and move around a lot more. Look at Mika Immonen and Thorsten Hohmann... they are totally in shape and it's got to help their performance in those marathon tournaments. So, for the sake of my pool game, I turned off the TV (totally!) and instead of paying the cable company so I can sit on my butt and do nothing, I got myself this nifty beach cruiser.
Check it out: ultra-light all aluminum Electra Sparker Special, gloss black, Shimano Nexus internal 3 speed with coaster brake, Fatti-O rear tire (3"x24"), standard cruiser front tire (2.125" x26"), stubby rear fender, alloy bullhorn handlebar, alloy rims, alloy cranks.
Photo taken on 1/6/2009, Black Beauty's first moments in the sun, first sight of the surf. Click on the photo for a very detailed and very large image, you can even see the surfers in the water!
There's more to life than pool: Natural Phenomena!
Tony and I were playing some 8-ball. As usual, in the late afternoon, I had the vertical blinds pulled tight to block the glare off the ocean, but I always try to stay tuned in to when sunset happens so I can check for such phenomena as the "Green Flash", and the great colors.
And so it was that just after sunset on 12/30/2008, I opened the blinds and was shocked and awed by this enormous fog bank that appeared out of nowhere and moved from south to north within minutes. The height of the fog bank was about 400-500 feet. In the background to the right, you can see another part of the fog bank, far off shore. It was spectacular to watch it move. Within 5 minutes visibility was reduced to less than 100' as the fog enveloped everything.
It looked like some photos I've seen of an enormous dust storm moving across an open desert, or some huge alien life form devouring the planet. I grabbed this photo, and then quickly set up the video camera to try to capture the movement.
When people have nothing else to talk about, the conversation usually gets around to the weather, but there's really very little to talk about on that subject. However, today was a different story!