Okay, so I recently received a “Notice of Action” from the USCIS informing me that was required to travel to Charleston, WV for “biometrics” appointment on Thursday, June 3, 2010. What’s a biometrics appointment? In a nutshell, it’s a finger print and mug shot. LOL! I was asked countless times why I couldn’t have done that at the local sheriff’s office. Basically, I had to have an official USCIS Officer/worker there to take the details. As you can imagine, there are many thousands of people doing exactly what I’m doing here in the US. I would be a logistical nightmare to manage all those people if they just went to their local sheriff’s office to get their biometric information taken. It just easier, for them at least, if they have offices located throughout the country and have people travel to the locations, rather than sending official workers to the applicants.
Now, as it turns out, Mo Pinel was going to be in Parkersburg, WV, just an hour north of Charleston, so I decided I would try to meet up with him on Wednesday, June 2, 2010, then drive down to Charleston on Thursday morning for my appointment and travel straight home after that. I was especially excited about the possibility of going to Parkersburg on Wednesday, as it would mean I would also meet Steve Freshour, a High School Math Teacher turned Bowling ball designer extraordinaire! Steve is the man who does all the CAD work for Morich. His work was instrumental in the now widely used Dual Angle Layout Technique, not to mention the supplementary Gradient Line Balance Hole system and the Double Thumb Layout. His work is seen in a “The Truth About Drilled Balls”, an article Mo wrote detailing just how much we can control ball reaction with surface changes and layout changes. Being a geek at heart, I was excited at the prospect of sitting down with much more technically minded person than I. This man has a Masters in Pure Mathematics! WOW!
So, we were hoping to get out of Hazard before 2pm on Wednesday to give the best chance of getting in to Parkersburg before 7pm. As so often happens when we plan to head out for the day, we got out much later than planned, leaving the house at around 3.30pm, meaning once we stopped for gas and picked up our bowling gear from the lockers at Fugate’s, we didn’t get out of Hazard until 4pm. With just a quick stop to eat some 30 miles south of Ashland, KY, we made great time and reached Charleston at about 7.10pm. We found somewhere to make a call to Mo, to see how much longer he was going to be at the bowling alley. Unfortunately, he was not going to be there much longer, so I arranged to meet him sometime on Thursday, if my immigration appointment didn’t take too long. He gave me the location of bowling center called Galaxy Lanes in Charleston and told me to head over there if I wanted to bowl that night and introduce myself to Jerry Maxwell.
We decided to look around a little and try to figure out where my appointment would be. As it turned out, we were way out! LOL! So, we looked for the Red Roof Inn we had looked up prior to leaving Hazard and as fate would have it, it was located just a few hundred yards from Galaxy Lanes! So, we made a quick stop at K-Mart on the way over, so Jennifer could pick up a book and headed to Galaxy Lanes.
When we pulled up, we checked the window and it said the place closed in about 30 minutes, so we quickly grabbed out gear and headed in. I asked the woman behind the counter for Jerry and she quickly pointed him out. I walked over and introduced myself. After a quick chat, he asked if I wanted to bowl and got me set up on a pair and was told I could bowl until they left, which would be in about an hour. So, we prepaid for an hour and I bowled for about 45 minutes, before I decided it was time to get back to the hotel to get some rest. Before we left, I had another quick conversation with Jerry about some technical ball details and our mutual friend, Mo, and he mentioned he was doing custom thumb molds, which has always intrigued me. I’m thinking once I find a thumb I REALLY like, I will be sending him the ball and getting him to send me 3 or 4 molds. This is still a while off, as I’m still not completely sold on any of the thumb fits I have at the moment, but I think I’m quite close.
So, we grabbed a bite to eat on the way back to the hotel and proceeded to get an early night in anticipation of what could be a long day following. We got up at 8am, got showered and dressed, loaded the car and checked out. We got down to the USCIS office and I went in, while Jennifer waited in the car with Lilyana. I was greeted by a security officer who took my details, asked me to fill out a couple forms and scanned me with a hand held metal detector. After I had filled in the forms, I was told to sit outside a door and wait for the Biometrics technician to call me in.
While I was waiting, I had a good chat with the security guard about New Zealand. Apparently, the Deer hunting in NZ is MUCH better than whats available here in the US! Go figure! I knew there was some good hunting in NZ, but I didn’t realize people would be willing to travel that far to get a piece of the NZ experience! After about 5 minutes, the door opened and I was ushered in.
I expected to find like a laboratory set up, with a bunch of ink pads and a bunch of rather stern faced people watching my every move. Instead, I was confronted by a middle aged man and what looks like an ATM with a small glass panel on it. This was the finger printing machine! The technician quickly set about his work and within 10 minutes, he had taken my fingerprints on both hands, redone the thumb and index finger on my left hand, due to smudging and taken a mug shot. He quickly stamped the call to action notice and that was that! As it turns out, we drove some 180 miles for a 20 minute appointment! LOL! Oh well.
Once I got back in the car, we decided we might as well head up the Parkersburg, so I gave Mo a quick call and told him were on the way. After about 10 minutes, we figured out how to get on the interstate and away we went. After about an hour, we got off the interstate and following Mo’s directions, we found our way to Emerson Lanes some 10 minutes later. We got out of the car and walked inside and found Mo sitting in front of a pair of lanes with his girlfriend, Monica Westfall. I got a look his new ball, which is due for release in a month. I would have loved to have thrown it, but I’m not involved in the testing process and didn’t have the money to buy a new ball on the spot. Besides, I don’t know that that ball was even up for sale! LOL!
After a few minutes of chit chat, Mo told me to gear up and get on the lanes. Now, I hadn’t intended on bowling a whole lot in Parkersburg. I was more interested in meeting up with Mo again and possibly meeting Steve. Unfortunately, Steve couldn’t be there because school was still in session, but I did get to meet another guy, but for the life of me I can’t recall his name! I do apologize, if you happen to read this! by the name Rob Morehead. He was a very nice guy and proved to be very knowledgeable about the game and its finer points of execution. I suspect he’s a coach of some level. I would be happy to meet this guy again. Very personable guy!
Anyway, I was on the lanes bowling and after about 5 or 6 balls, I hear Mo yell out and say “Okay, come over here! Today, you’re going to learn how to dance!” As I mentioned earlier, I had not intended on bowling a whole lot, so I definitely wasn’t expecting a lesson. BUT, when you have one of the best minds in the game telling you do something, you just shut up and listen! LOL! Just like my experience in Newport, Mo was direct and to the point and basically deconstructed a specific aspect of my game. This actually taught me a lot about how to practice in my own time. For the next 70 to 80 minutes, I basically did the same thing, over and over and over again. However, I enjoyed every moment of it, because I could feel the progress. There were, once again, tangible results. Things felt VERY strange and felt like I was getting to the line early, but Mo assured me I was getting there in good time and everything was looking MUCH better that it had when I walked in the building. By the end of the session, I must have sweated a gallon and drunk two very large cups of Pepsi, but I had learned a whole lot about getting my feet to move quickly without running out of approach!
When the lesson was over, Mo quickly packed up and headed out as he had to be in Indiana later that day, I believe. So, we said goodbye and stayed for another 10 minutes or so and chatted with Monica and the other guy (once again, I’m so sorry!) before we decided we should head out so I could make it back to Hazard in time for me to bowl league.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience in West Virginia. It’s a shame I didn’t get to meet Mr. Freshour, however, I’m sure I will get another chance sooner rather than later. It was great to meet Monica, having spoken to her a couple times on the phone and it was great to make another contact, in Jerry Maxwell. Good times.