President's Message

July 2024

The Tao of Pooh

How to fit a round peg in a round hole

Tao (pronounced Dow) or Taoism is a Chinese philosophy on how to best live your life. Tao is defined as “The Way”. Pooh, of course, is the famous character in A. A. Milne’s book “Winnie the Pooh”. The principles of Taoism demonstrated by Winnie the Pooh are described in a book by Benjamin Hoff. 

As a visual, picture water flowing over and around rocks, the water must not struggle against the rock. Tao doesn’t force or interfere with things but lets them work in their own way to produce results. If we see a cork floating in the water we can strike it hard and it yields but pops back up. The cork doesn’t have to strike back, it merely wears you out.

Our ability to organize and make things happen without a governing structure is seen in how we conduct pickup games. We divide players into two teams. Everyone fans out in the field without anyone assigning a position and we work it out by ourselves. That is Taoism at work.

As the author puts it, we don’t have to make so many difficult decisions in our everyday lives. Instead, you can let them make themselves. Things may get a little odd at times, but they work out.

We may worship youthful energy, appearance, and attitudes, but have no effective methods of retaining them. In other words, we cannot recreate the past, we all are getting inexorably older. We should accept it. Mr. Hoff tells of the world’s oldest person who lived 256 years and died in 1933. He was a Taoist who gave his secret of longevity. He called it “Inner Quiet”. So we all should not stress out.

What goal do we pursue during our softball season, a championship? How grand is it once it is achieved? Isn’t the pursuit sweeter? Pooh explains that honey doesn’t taste so good once it’s being eaten, but the anticipation of eating it is very good. Aside from a team goal, isn’t our attempt at achieving a perfectly played game a renewable joy? Pooh thinks so.

Looking at the other creatures who were the friends of Winnie, we can choose to follow their way of living. Owl is a know-it-all wanting to appear wise. Eeyore is a complainer. Tigger is impulsive. Pooh is simple and happy. We should choose the Way of Pooh.

As an endnote, Winnie the Pooh is still alive today. He is a morbidly obese diabetic, but very happy.

JUNE 2024

Here it is hotter than Hades and injuries are mounting. I picture softball as if it were an object of female persuasion. Now, find your copy in your playlist, I know you’ve got it, of "Half A Man" by the great Willie Nelson. Play it in the background and imagine Willie singing to our feminine softball wubby and the maladies we possess. 

Half a Man

If I'd only had one arm to hold you

Better yet if I had none at all

Then I wouldn't have two arms that ache for you

I'd have one less memory to recall. 

Many of you cried for a 6th team. Knowing that our rosters will be shrinking we stayed with 5 and offered a pickup game every Monday and Wednesday. We needed 11 pickup players per game to make it work. So far, we’ve been meeting our quota and coming close in the hottest climate.

If I'd only had one ear to listen
To the lies that you told to me
Then I would more closely resemble
The half a man that you've made of me

Our Saturday pickup games are getting crowds. I think we enjoy the more relaxed, casual level of play. That is made possible if we abandon the thought of a major league mind with a minor league body. 

And if I had been born with but one eye
Then I'd only have one eye to cry

This stanza is dedicated to Richard Gudvangen, a soccer star in his youth, who found a new way for an outfielder to keep the ball in front of him. There was concern that managers would have trouble platooning more than 11 players. We believe that will be temporary as more of us take breaks. I think our Summertime managers are doing a great job juggling the lineups.

If I'd only had one leg to stand on
Then a much truer picture she'd see
For then I more closely resemble
The half a man that you've made of me

Runner please!          On a scale of 1, how would you rate this article?

MAY 2024

Is it “mean” to say I’m “average”?

jello mold image

Let’s face it, we all want to think we are above average, right?  Doesn’t every parent believe their children are above average? Sadly, half of us must be below, like it or not. Is it mean? The answer is yes! To explain average, it is a central tendency around which data points tend to cluster. I give you a visual: think of a Jello Mold. It is rather symmetrical and it jiggles. That jiggling is variation at work but the central tendency is never lost, otherwise the mold would no longer be the shape of a bell curve (time to toss it). 

Let’s apply this to your batting. Picture your body in the batter’s box. Your head is the center point of your stance and your body rotates around your head (think Jabba the Hutt). You lose all your power if your head moves off the central axis, like when you lean in for a short pitch.

Jabba the Hutt image

Now let’s dive into that Jello Mold and identify some real statistics.

What does this all mean (no pun intended), especially when the first place team is not the leader in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, or RBIs? Go figure.  I can go on, but it is important to note that if I told you your individual statistics (which I can), your next question will likely be “How do I compare?” My retort will be “Who Cares?”

One final note: the statistical definition of “Mean” is another word for “Average”; how fitting is that! Some statistician had a wicked sense of humor. Best of luck fighting to stay above the line.

APRIL 2024

Ponder verb

To think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.

I love to ponder. I do it often. Others see me staring off into space with a frozen, stupid look on my face. That’s the sign that I am pondering. I never have absolutely nothing on my mind. Let me describe pondering this way; if I stare out at a distant object and focus on it, let’s give this condition a numeric value of 100. If I focus on an intermediate object, that’s a 50. When I whisper, I must focus at a level of about 10. But if my focus is in my head, that is a negative value that changes based on the intensity of my thoughts, and they fluctuate from deep to shallow and back again.

Concentration is antithetical to pondering. Not that it’s a bad thing. There is a time and place for all sorts of thoughts. So, when you are in the on-deck circle, and you step into the batter’s box, what values of focus consume you? And when your timing is off, when you return to the dugout to think about what you did wrong, is it better to dwell on the past or let it go? 

Recently, I spoke to you about the difference between competitive and recreational softball. In truth, we players do not neatly fit into one or the other category. Who doesn’t want to be successful and win? We compete to win, but we want to have fun doing it. And then there is another category: “casual ball”. That is where we don’t put out our best effort. We may be daydreaming or don’t want to run after a ball or back up our teammates. Here again, there is no one pigeonhole where we can say that describes our whole game. 

Maybe a better description of my game might be that I play competitively for the first three innings. I get a little tired and my body complains or the Mercy Rule kicks in, so for the remainder of the game I play recreationally with an occasional lapse into casual play.

I remember a moment that happened a long time ago when I was sitting outside on the grass with my back up against a tree and was pondering about nothing at all, but was clearly floating in the negative realm. A breeze picked up that rustled the tree leaves and there it was; it was the most lucid thought I had ever experienced. On the scale I guess I had spiked to well over negative 100. The thought was brilliant. It would solve one of the most troubling dilemmas known to mankind. I had to share this revelation! My immediate thought was to write it down before it vanished. I jumped up, ran to my house for paper and a pencil. For someone so organized, I couldn’t find a pencil. I panicked and began tearing my home office apart in a wild search for that pencil. After a long while, I finally found one. I sat down and tried to focus again. My focus was all external to my head, staring at that blank piece of paper. I tried to force myself to go back into my head and revisit that deep spike that brought me that profound thought. But it never came. 

I think I shall ponder all this a bit. 

MARCH 2024

Chaos Theory

the qualities of the point at which stability moves to instability or order moves to disorder

Let’s take a quiz.

End of quiz


Here are some analytics to this quiz:

Two fallacies -

If you really go through these scenarios during a game, YOU ARE THINKING TOO MUCH, GET ALL THOUGHTS OUT OF YOUR HEAD!!! RELAX; LET MUSCLE MEMORY DO THE WORK.

When it comes to statistics remember these two axioms:

Finally, a short math quip - Two cows were grazing in the field. One cow turned to the other and said, “You know, when it comes to measuring a circle, pi is written with a 5 digit fraction, when in fact, pi is infinity.” The second cow turned to its partner and responded, “Moo”.


In a previous monthly message when I was feeling a bit “froggy”, I mentioned that we should pursue a plan for an OTOW commitment to a second ball field. I would feel disingenuous if I did nothing. Soooo, this is what I did:


11 January 2024

Mr. Colen:

I am the President of the OTOW Softball Club. Our club has been in existence since 2008. We serve all residents regardless of skill levels who want to play on either recreational or competitive teams. All of the residents who play softball are impacted by the crowded conditions for using the only softball field in OTOW. There has been a recent population explosion for this sport. Consider that just three years ago in 2020, we had 63 players in our club, the only club at that time. By 2023, we had over 200 players in three clubs plus two groups of Co-Ed and the women-only Diamond Divas. We are continually approached by several communities to play challenge matches at our field.

Every week we see new residents coming to the field asking to join one of the clubs and groups. In addition to scheduled league games of up to four games per day, players who want to schedule informal light practices or pickup games must reserve the field for times that are assigned by the OTOW Recreation Center or select open times on a first come first serve basis. Because we have reached full capacity for field availability, which has reached a 98% saturation point, we are faced with having to place new residents on a wait list.

We, the collective voices of softball players, request that OTOW form a committee to conduct a feasibility study to determine the need for building a second field, the design, location, and timeframe of which we leave to the committee to decide what is best. The final product of that study should be incorporated in your strategic plans for the future. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one

- John Lennon


The response I expect to receive looks like this...



The tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements

I was never a fan of poetry, but I do have a favorite poet and a favorite poem. John Keats was an early 19th century English poet who died when he was only 26 years old. He was madly in love with a woman, but the love was unrequited. In his darkest moments and not long before his death, he penned this beautiful poem called Ode on a Grecian Urn. In his imagination, Keats described a Grecian Urn having young lovers in pursuit painted on the side of the Urn. The lovers were about to kiss but they never did; instead, they were frozen for all eternity in tableau. The poet’s message was that the anticipation of a kiss is far greater than the kiss itself.

Here is where I pivot to a related message about softball. To do that I must convince you to stop thinking about kissing and think more about anticipation. It’s hard, I know, and a little troubling; but we must focus on Keats lamenting about his longing for permanence in a world of change. He makes the point that the lovers are better off never consummating their desire. We have seen nothing but change in our club. It was arguably inevitable given our growth rate. Had Keats been on our Board of Directors, he would not have been happy. But we must remind ourselves that the game doesn’t change. The game binds us for all eternity to the field we play on, the chatter among team mates, the strategy of turning a double play, the constant pursuit of a perfect game performance, the anticipation of all that before every game. And on my Urn after I pass, I’d like to be painted in a pose depicting a swing and a miss, strike three. Game over.

Tom Laccone



A state of random disorder over time.

This is true for any system left untouched. Think of a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. You must occasionally stir it to mix the solution; otherwise, it will separate into its ingredients. It is the second law of thermodynamics: all order tends toward entropy.

Boiled Frog Parable

How not to boil a frog.

Fill a deep pot at least half way with water. Bring it to a boil. Add a live frog. Immediately, the frog jumps out.

How to boil a frog.

Fill a deep pot at least half way with room temperature water. Add a live frog. 

Slowly and gradually raise the temperature. The frog falls asleep. Voila, boiled frog!

This has been a most unusual season for our club. Off the field we’ve been boiling frogs the wrong way. No wonder we frogs are jumping out of the pot!  The good news is that on the field we are slow to introduce change to how the game is played.

There is one thing we frogs can all agree on; we need a second field. Whenever it comes up, our answer is always the same - OTOW will never give us that field. What haunts me is that we will never get that field if we don’t try. Maybe we could start by putting a plan on paper. And maybe five years from now our future members will think back to the time we had a plan and tried to make it happen. I only wish someone would come to clean up all the sleeping frogs!

Happy Holidays