March 18, 2006

The Zillow real estate values craze continues. Check out their site – you’ll see how it’s almost a game, allowing anyone to see how anyone else’s (and I do mean ANYONE – all you need is an address) home investment is doing in the wild and wacky game known as “Let’s Play…Real Estate!”. But the site also has a pop culture attraction to it as well:

While some real estate data have been available online for several years through city and town assessing databases and registries of deeds, Zillow.com is the first website to pull together local data and enable users to get an instant estimate of a home’s current market value — a ”Zestimate” — by simply typing in a street address. While they are at it, users are looking up friends, neighbors, ex-spouses, family members, bosses. It also is a gold mine of celebrity trivia, if you know the celebrity’s address.

The Seattle-based website was an instant hit; it broke down under the stress of 300,000 hits in its first hours of operation last month. Since then, its popularity has continued to spread.

”I look up everybody,” said Shilepsky’s friend Nulsen Smith, a financial planner for Rinet Co. He says the Zillow craze is all about comparing your largest asset against those of your friends, neighbors, and relatives, to see ”if they’re doing better than you.”

I’ll bet some people – like the whack job in the cubicle across from me at work, who spends his entire day beating up brokers over properties he’s aching to acquire when he oughta be project managing – have become almost addicted to the charts, graphs, and info the site provides. If you’re in the northeast or California, look around and you’ll find most properties either stuck in neutral or doing a slow slide in value. If you’re in the southeast or southwest, you’re on “the sweet ride” right now.

(I know my dad and I had a ball back in December checking out the property values of everyone we knew – it felt like we had been invited into some previously unknown and forbidden world! – getting out the Christmas card list to check out the addresses of everyone we could find ๐Ÿ™‚ It was gratifying to both him and mom to see Zillow’s confirmation that they had sold their condo in Lowell a couple month’s back right-smack-dab on the bubble. Sweet…)

And then there was this item from Thursday that caught the eye of just about everyone around here. Anyone who has been here for more than a week can sense how rapidly the greater-Phoenix area is growing, but this is especially amazing, when you think of it:

Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix, gained 563,000 from 2000 to 2005 รขโ‚ฌโ€ more than any other county.

Considering that Gilbert (epicenter of Goodboys Nation Weblog) and Chandler (3 miles south of where I and the rabbits behind me sit) are two of the nation’s top ten fastest growing cities mentioned in last year’s U.S. Census Bureau report, I can’t say I’m surprised: between 1990 and 2000, Arizona’s population grew by a whopping 40%; most people think it will easily surpass that this decade.

You wouldn’t think you could get any more people in here, but just take off on a flight towards the east and you’ll see there’s an incredible amount of room to expand here in “The Valley of The Sun” – in fact, Pinal County (to our southeast) is the fastest-growing county in AZ, and has been for some time. For a small-town guy like The Great White Shank, it’s all a little too much for me….

One final note on Arizona’s growth: Since, as former Speaker of the U.S. House, Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill used to say, “all politics is local”, this is not without political consequence, as Jayson at Polipundit notes.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:02 | Comment (1)
March 17, 2006

For everyone else, it’s a day to drink green beer, listen to bad amateurs attempting Irish folk music in loud, crowded bars, and eating way-too-salty corned beef & cabbage. And-I-love-it! Unfortunately, out here in Phoenix, we don’t do St. Patrick’s Day in either the same way (heck, the other company in this building is celebrating with green chili, for gawdsakes!) or with the same intensity they do back east, where every corner bar and local tavern in the Lowell-Dracut metroplex will be mobbed by pub-crawlers decked out in gaudy green clothing with shamrock tattoos stuck to their cheeks (or worse).

For the Goodboys, this is TRULY a high-holy day, where discussions about the July Goodboys Invitational tournament get underway in earnest. Without the traditional Executive Committee in place this year, I have no doubt Killer, El Dandito, Hit Dog and The Funny Guy will use this day to hammer out the general parameters and details of this year’s event over a couple-two-three drafts between haggard renditions of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and jukeboxes blasting my own personal favorite, former Boston City Councilman Albert “Dapper” O’Neill’s “The Irish Belly Dancer”. Boys, I wish I could be there with ya…

For those interested in a more historical view of this day, Red State has an interesting read.

For you rabbit lovers out there (or if you hate them, but have kids who love them), my friend Dona has forwarded this item linking rabbits and the Easter Bunny for your enjoyment. Very cute. Thanks, Dona!

I don’t want to get into politics too much today, but I am pretty disgusted about Senate Republicans votes on the budget and “immigration reform”. From Senator Arlen Spector comes this especially galling quote (thanks, Red State):

“The Republican Party is now principally moderate, if not liberal!” exulted Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), after the Senate — including a majority of Republicans — approved his budget-busting amendment to spend an extra $7 billion on domestic programs.

I suspect in the days ahead, the Republican base and conservatives in general will finally realize just how out of touch their Senate representatives are in Washington. We can only hope fiscal restraint and a wake-up call on true immigration reform comes from the House. If it doesn’t, Republicans risk giving Democrats two important issues they can run to the center on in 2006 and 2008 that would all but guarantee an end to the Republican’s domination in Congress, perhaps even a change in the White House (think: Hillary Clinton).

And, thanks to the Arlen Specters of the world, they’d deserve it.

Filed in: Goodboys,Politics & World Events,Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 14:53 | Comment (1)
March 16, 2006

Metroblogging New Orleans is another of my frequent stops whenever I have time to jet about the blogsphere. This post, by occasional blogger Maitri V-R , truly resonated with me and reminds me just how much I miss the Crescent City whenever I’m away:

Erudite and pedestrian, mean and sweet, sensuous and benumbed, New Orleans, you are an unusual lover. Ever ripe with potential, but too old and too tired to do anything but hum quietly in a prolonged stasis. Originating in money, you look like a worker – broken-down, piss-poor and full of joy. Lonely, lovely, benevolent, given to convulsions of confusion and rage, you come around because you are true to your nature and need.

Intoxicated with life, as drunk with death, ever-stressed … your aura could have emanated from a necklace of pulsating energy and creativity, the music and endeavour is within. Your life, swirling against and changed by the facets of each stone, keeps getting in the way. Yet, you can never thrive anywhere else. Extract the large soul packed into this corpse and where will it fit? You do what you know. Beautiful enough, too scared to grow.

Challenge is meaningless to you. Will Katrina be your salvation? Creating your inimitable delicacies and displaying your vivid paints in a mess that threatens to consume, you are beauty on a trash heap.

What do you do all day? You are bored waiting for night to spread her arms around the overflowing yet unfocused urge.

Romantic, irresistible, you are a throbbing ruin. Flowers bloom and fade against your weathered backdrop. I, too, cling to you, feeding off your ancient juices as you shine with my glow. We give each other life. You, sometimes, more than you can give me. Drinking your blood, I make you mine. How do I get closer?

As many times as I have been to New Orleans over the years – roaming and negotiating her streets, talking to her locals, enjoying her cuisine, and immersing myself in her mood, tone, and character, I still feel as if I know her not. I don’t see this resulting from any willingness or desire on her part to conceal her distinctive flaws and shortcomings from me: they are, and always have been, easy to spot with a willing and curious eye. Rather, I’ve come to suspect it arises from some innate desire within to ensure at least something of my own restless wanderings retains at least a small element of mystery.

And yet, from the moment I first set foot upon her streets and drank in her surroundings, I have always felt a certain kinship with this city awash in, and betrayed by, its own mythology. Perhaps this is why, whenever I take leave of her, I always feel as if I’m leaving some part of me behind. I wonder if it’s because I sense between us a shared existence of wrestling with the consequences of our once-grandiose aspirations and failed designs? Perhaps we share the same frustration at being held captive to our own time and place in history, longing for past glories, unsure of who we are at present, apprehensive at the uncertain future before us. Or, perhaps it’s as basic as recognizing that we both share this same awe-inspiring, humbling realization: that we need its winding, ever-restless, great river flowing through our souls far more than it ever will need us.

Bold, colorful, and touristy during the day, garish and dangerous in the damp cloak of night, the contradictions between its past and present is what attracts me so much to New Orleans, and why I love it so. I feel the pain, apprehension, and desires and dreams of its people, yet, the sad truth is: for it to survive, New Orleans will need new leadership and a new approach to confront head-on the city’s traditional resistance to change, acceptance of its persistent poverty, and insidious culture of corruption if it is to make the most of the opportunity that now stands before it. Sadly, I’m not sure it has it within her. No matter what happens, however, New Orleans will always be a part of me and I it, for in its unique traditions, culture, architecture, weather, food, and history (both good and bad), I feel in its siren song to my soul, as Clarence John Laughlin wrote so many years ago in his fabulous photo essay on the great plantation houses of Louisiana, Ghosts along the Mississippi, “the melancholy delight of the long ago and the far away’.

The night comes on:
You wait and listen…
To all these ghosts of change.
And they are you.

— Conrad Aikens, “The Cloisters”

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:51 | Comments (2)
March 15, 2006

Democrats: the gift that just keeps giving – here (Michelle Malkin has a round-up of reaction from the Left), and here.

UPDATE 16:44 MST: And, as it turns out, this, which is a bonafide hoot:

A Democratic state representative apologized Tuesday for saying U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., should “come to Jesus” and reverse his support for the war in Iraq.

Rep. David McCluskey, D-West Hartford, made the remark in response to questions from reporters after he announced that he could not support Lieberman’s re-election. Lieberman is a practicing Orthodox Jew.

I’m tellling ya folks, you can’t make this stuff up….

Along those same lines: OK, it’s a joke, but it does make for a great pic!

For all you geology fans out there, this is pretty cool – it would appear the horn of Africa is slowly splittling away from the rest of the continent.

Normally changes to our geological environment take place almost imperceptibly. A life time is too short to see rivers changing course, mountains rising skywards or valleys opening up. In north-eastern Africa’s Afar Triangle, though, recent months have seen hundreds of crevices splitting the desert floor and the ground has slumped by as much as 100 meters (328 feet). At the same time, scientists have observed magma rising from deep below as it begins to form what will eventually become a basalt ocean floor. Geologically speaking, it won’t be long until the Red Sea floods the region. The ocean that will then be born will split Africa apart.

Maybe someone can help me out here – if the Red Sea floods into the gap between the horn and the continent, does that constitute a new ocean, or does the horn just become a very large island in an expanded sea?

Drunken horseplay? From the AP via Free Republic:

The man charged with homicide in his girlfriend’s fatal fall from the window of his 23d-floor apartment was released after posting bail yesterday, and he apologized to her family. “I’m so, so sorry for what happened,” Kevin P. Eckenrode, 25, said after a judge set bail at $200,000. Eckenrode is a press aide with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, although he has been suspended without pay.

He has told police he was dangling Rachel M. Kozlusky, 23, from the window Feb. 25 during drunken horseplay when he lost his grip. Fran Chardo, Dauphin County first assistant district attorney, said investigators had not turned up evidence to support first- or second-degree murder charges, making Eckenrode eligible for release on bail. He is charged with general criminal homicide.

Geez, and I thought a full-contact version of “spin the bottle” was dangerous…

This does not sound promising for the Red Sox’ prospects this year:

With Opening Day less than three weeks away, scouts watching the Red Sox say the team should be concerned about third baseman Mike Lowell, 32, and first baseman J.T. Snow, 38.

Lowell, in the words of one scout, has “lost his body quickness.” Snow also lacks athleticism. Kevin Youkilis, 27, can’t play both first and third รขโ‚ฌโ€ and after hitting only one homer in 79 at-bats last season, he might lack sufficient power to be a corner infielder for a championship club.

The Red Sox have a starting pitcher to trade รขโ‚ฌโ€ left-hander David Wells, right-hander Matt Clement or right-hander Bronson Arroyo รขโ‚ฌโ€ and they’re also shopping second baseman Tony Graffanino. But it seems doubtful they would address first base or third before the start of the season.

We found out last year what can happen if you don’t take care of business at first base. Theo, give Lowell through May – max – time to straighten himself out. If he can’t by then, put Youkilis back there and go get yourself a real first baseman. Please.

Things are changing on the PGA Tour:
* Arnold Palmer’s tournament, the Bay Hill Invitational, will officially become the “Arnold Palmer Invitational” starting in 2007. A nice gesture, and about time, given Arnie’s age. (Though I’m not sure GB “Killer” would agree…..)

*Next year’s Honda Classic is slated to become the “New Honda Classic” when it moves to PGA National’s Champions course. There will also be a new charity: financing a new wing for a local hospital whose work is close to Barbara and Jack Nicklaus’ heart. Might this, or perhaps Jack’s “the Memorial” event, someday become the “Jack Nicklaus Invitational”? I hope so.

* Speaking of Jack, he’s concerned about the latest changes to Augusta National and it’s effect on this year’s Masters. Don’t matter, Jack – Tiger’s a lock. Bet the farm and all the animals on it.

Finally, The Anchoress is one of my favorite daily stops around the blogsphere. Today, she takes us on a dizzying tour that is a virtual pu-pu platter of potpourri.

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 13:11 | Comments (0)
March 14, 2006

Even though the rain of Saturday and the snow that powdered the McDowells and Superstitions have become a memory, the humidity has stayed. That, combined with the cleansed air and the damp earth, has given us evenings full with a gloriously sweet, lovely fragrance. The fruit trees are especially powerful, the scent they give off reminding me of the honeysuckle I used to love on humid June evenings back East. Spring has sprung here in the Valley of the Sun, and, at least for now, it is lovely to behold…

Ben Stein’s column of a few days back could not have been more appropriate given my experience today with what has become, unfortunately, all too familiar – bad customer support. It just so happens Tracey and I ordered a new TV from Shop NBC. Supposedly, included in the price we paid was home delivery with setup included. So today, I stayed home from work because the company responsible for delivery (BTW, sub-contracted out to Bekins, the moving company, which should have been my first clue things had gone awry) was scheduled to deliver the set today.

Well, they said they’d call me first thing to let me know the 4-hr. window I could expect to receive delivery. By 10 AM, no call. So, I call the number they gave me, and I speak to the same lady I spoke to yesterday – the one who recited back to me the phone number where I said I could be reached today. As it turns out, somewhere between her reciting the number and writing it down on paper, well, things got confused. No big deal, I say, I give her my number again and await their call.

An hour later, I get called – they’re on their way! But, they want to make sure they don’t have to climb up steps. No, I assure them, as I told the lady yesterday (along with the number she got wrong), there are no stairs. 25 minutes later they arrive – a dude with a skull cap and tatoos all over, with two obviously illegal aliens who can’t speak or understand a word of English. No, he tells me, they’ll drop the set off but there’s no install included. And, he cautions me, don’t bother to call the office to complain, they’ll tell you the same thing. 3 minutes later, the TV is dropped off and they’re on their way.

As an idealist (not unlike Mr. Stein, I think), perhaps I’ve come to expect too much in the ways of 21st century American commerce. This, on the very day we hear Northwest Airlines is going to start charging more for aisle seats on flights, and (perhaps by the end of the year) it is expected that you’ll also start paying extra to bring a carry-on on board. Overall, I think it’s pretty sad because young people nowadays will only grow accustomed to this lack of service, not knowing the proper way to conduct business with the public. Please excuse me if I sound like an old fart, but this kind of thing – and not that many years ago – would almost have been almost unheard of in the American retail industry. With the explosive growth and increasing competition from the Internet and e-commerce, you would think that attention to customer service would be something a company would take seriously to gain an edge in the competitive wars. I guess not. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of how our society and culture is suffering as a result of our own diminished expectations; if you don’t desire and expect excellence, in the end there’s no way you’ll ever get it.

Well, this comes as no surprise. Me, I’d rather be invited to the upcoming Nicollette Sheridan/Michael Bolton wedding than concede defeat and ask directions from anyone. Which is OK, I know it’s a guy thing. What bothers me about this particular news item, however, is that the article exclusively concerns British male drivers, yet the author tosses us all – half the entire world – in the same chum bucket, like shark bait. And, notice no one has the guts to admit authorship of this article. Might it be, perhaps, a member of the, er, female persuasion, perhaps? Hmmmm?

I guess that means tomorrow there’ll be yet another anonymous article, this one titled, “Women waste ten million hours a year”, describing the time it takes most women to get ready in the morning, right? Don’t count on it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:44 | Comments (0)

File under: “The World Can Be a Dangerous Place”.

From Alabama:

A cow in Alabama has tested positive for mad cow disease, the Agriculture Department said Monday, confirming the third U.S. case of the brain-wasting ailment.

The cow did not enter the food supply for people or animals, officials said. The animal, unable to walk, was killed by a local veterinarian and buried on the farm.

Federal and state investigators are working to determine the cow’s age, where it was born and raised and locate its herdmates and offspring. Sparks said there are no suspect animals on the farm.

Here’s what I don’t understand: If no part of the animal entered the food chain for humans or animals, and there are no suspect animals on the farm, it’s obvious the various safety procedures put in place to protect the food supply worked as designed, correct? Therefore, I’m trying to figure out where the story is here. The industrial equivalent would be “a worker in a chemical processing plant today punctured a vat filled with (you name it), which can cause severe widespread respiratory problems if released into the air. The spill was cleaned up promptly, however, with no exposure to the surrounding populated area”.

This however, should be a cause for genuine concern, as bird flu continues it’s spread from Asia to Africa:

The rate of human infections from the H5N1 strain is increasing as birds carry the virus to more parts of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Afghanistan yesterday became the 26th country to report an initial outbreak in birds, doubling the number of affected nations worldwide since H5N1 was first isolated in a goose in southern China almost a decade ago.

“Research suggests that currently circulating strains of H5N1 viruses are becoming more capable of causing disease in mammals than were earlier H5N1 viruses,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said yesterday in a statement on its Web site.

And I don’t know about you, but this story doesn’t give me any sense of comfort:

Don’t count on a vaccine to protect against bird flu during the first six months of a pandemic. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Monday it would take at least that long to produce a vaccine because the virus is changing and there’s no way to know which strain might become capable of human-to-human transmissions.

I still think the biggest impact of bird flu (outside, of course, bird populations), will be economic. If it ever arrives in the U.S. – something that I’m afraid is inevitable – the impact on the airline industry may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

And who would have thought that the culling of goose poulations in Asia would be a cause for concern to – believe it or not – badminton afficianados:

Shortages of goose feathers in China and tightened manufacturing regulations are pushing up prices of shuttlecocks, the feathered projectiles hit over the net in badminton.

The H5N1 epidemic has added to long-term concerns about the supply chain of feathers because it has led to the culling or deaths of some 200 million birds since late 2003.

Even the most seemingly innocent forms of human recreation can be deadly these days – even kite flying, where a city in Pakistan has cancelled a festival due to deaths caused by killer kites:

It is one of Pakistan’s great parties – a joyous spring festival in the southern city of Lahore where partygoers crowd on to rooftops under a riotous sky filled with fluttering kites.

But this year the age-old celebration of Basant has been cancelled amid worries about killer kites, knife-sharp strings and ominous threats to prosecute teenage “terrorists”.

Punjabi officials announced the kite-flying ban, in effect ending this weekend’s festival, after seven recent kite-related deaths. Most victims had their throats cut by sharpened kite strings coated with ground glass or metal filings. The latest to die was a four-year-old boy who bled to death in his father’s arms last week after their motorcycle was entangled in a kite string.

“A healthy sport is being turned into a game of death,” said Punjab’s Chief Minister, Pervez Elahi, offering a reward for information about vendors who sell glass-covered string. Those responsible for kite-related deaths would be punished under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism laws, he said. By Friday, Lahore police had arrested 74 kite enthusiasts.

Geez, whatever happened to the old conventional model using a ball of twine and wooden stickframes? (Hat tip: The Corner at NRO)

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:04 | Comments (0)
March 13, 2006

Has anyone else noticed how screwed up Yahoo! Travel (and therefore, Travelocity) seem to be recently? Or is it just me… I don’t whether it’s hardware, software, or “we don’t care” ware, but the last several weeks of trying to arrange travel has been nothing but frustrating. It’s not just the usual suspects Northwest and Continental and their outdated fares, but I’m sorry, if an airline’s fare structure has changed, shouldn’t Travelocity have it BEFORE you’ve gone through the process of choosing your flights and entering your credit card info?

And what’s all this about trying the same flights multiple times and getting different failures, like no electronic ticket available, or “only 2 seats left at this price!”, or the dreaded “page you’re requesting is unavailable” (both via dial-up and DSL connection) error? In an e-commerce world, that’s like taking the perverbial .45 caliber to your neck and pulling the trigger repeatedly. Well, today I got so frustrated with these long-term friends that (courtesy of our friends at Travel Blog), I decided to use Orbitz for the first time. Bingo, bango, bongo – I see a set of flights, I like the price, I select and put in my credit card info, and – bada boom, bada bing – I get my reservation. Couldn’t have been easier. Me thinks I’m gonna take these fellers out for an extended test drive. Thanks, Travel Blog and Orbitz.

The news on both the domestic and international fronts is just too depressing today. I mean, Senator Russ Feingold (D-Idiot) wants to censure the President over the NSA intelligence thing, George Clooney gives the verbal middle finger to Democrats who supported the war in Iraq, the Prez is preaching patience on Iraq, even while we’re spending more dough to figure out what to do about the damned IEDs, the Iraqis continue to disappoint both Democrats and the mainstream media by not falling headlong into a civil war, an Iranian newspaper is hosting a Holocaust cartoon contest, resulting in violent worldwide protests and attacks by Jews on Arab embassies :-), and Keith Foulke still hasn’t thrown a pitch in anger while he continues to get more fluid injections in his knees. I mean, what’s a guy to do?

Today, I’d rather read stories like this and this. The former sounds like a Goodboys dream come true. As for the latter, that’ll make the next door neighbors think twice about sneaking in for a quick dip while you’re at work, right?

On the Goodboys front, a big “arrggeaaahh!!” to TFG, Killer, Hit Dog, Possum, Goose, and Cubby, who now have the keys for extended drives through the GB Nation weblog kingdom. Welcome aboard, guys!

Filed in: Politics & World Events,Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:46 | Comments (0)
March 12, 2006

Amazing what a record rainfall can do for cleaning up the air around here. Call it Mother Nature’s version of the Ionic Breeze.

As if one needed any more examples of why the Democrats in the end just can’t be taken seriously on the issue of national security, I submit for your consideration this and this.

This is a strange story, but anything people can do to make sure we never forget what happened on 9/11, I think, is a good thing…

Without a Tiger in the field, does anyone really care what happens at the Honda Classic? No, I didn’t think so…

Even with the most recent revelations about his off-the-diamond exploits, I still think Barry Bonds is, and should be, a given for the Baseball Hall of Fame. And, for that matter, so should Pete Rose. After all, if character truly mattered, why is Ty Cobb there? The H of F should simply be about what you do on the diamond during your career – after that, you’re on your own. For those like Barry and Pete, between a well-deserved banishment from baseball once they’re done and them having to look themselves in the mirror every day, that should be sufficient punishment in itself.

And speaking of Hall of Famers, this was a good choice. This about sums their body of work up:

Throughout the years, Blondie has lovingly blurred the lines between many genres of music, including punk, disco, new wave, rap and reggae — with rock forming the group’s sturdy foundation.

Blondie was always hard to pin down musically. Their albums Parallel Lines and Eat to the Beat are fine examples of what they did so well: punk, power pop, girl-group retro, and disco. I’m sure my friend Jerome would second that, also adding their song “Happy Dog” to that list.

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 14:10 | Comments (0)
March 11, 2006

Though not a member of Pajamas Media, I am indeed wearing something akin to pajamas early this Saturday morning. The rabbits are up behind me – they get started at the rack of dawn – enjoying their piece of banana, and its gray and rainy outside, for a welcome change.

Our 142-day stretch without measurable rain came to crashing halt at 3:45 AM MST with thunder, lightning, and a deluge. (This, after a day of dust and wind that made you feel like taking a shower every time you went outside.) Since then, it’s been raining hard pretty much non-stop. Thank you, God! ๐Ÿ™‚
Observation: It’s funny to see everyone’s watering systems firing away as usual in the middle of a rainy day. Out here, unless you’re in an unusual stretch of predicted wet weather, there’s really no point in turning them off.

My prediction is that we’re only weeks away from an Israeli military strike on Iran. My guess is they’ll be the ones to carry it out, perhaps with logistical and intelligence support from the West, though the recent harsh words from the Brits or the US should not be taken for granted, either. Buckle up your seat belts, America, we are in for a very rough stretch.

Just as I predicted a few days ago, our gas prices here have gone up 3-5 cents a gallon since then.

I’m on board completely with NRO Online’s TKS (always a good stop, by the way) about his being worried about the President, I am too, especially given the latest develoments on Iran. After two weeks stubbornly defending the Dubai ports deal, when even the most neophyte political observer could see this was going to be a loser politically for the White House, the Prez is not only in danger of losing valuable ground across the political spectrum, he risks losing important credibility with the American people. TKS has been arguing that popular opinion regarding the way the Muslims and the Middle East in general is viewed seems to be at a tipping point. I think savvy Republicans in Congress recognize this, and are increasingly taking bold stands on issues that differ from the White House on everything from spending, to illegal immigration, to drilling in ANWR. In the days and weeks ahead, where confrontation with Iran is an almost certainty, President Bush is going to need all the help and support he can get. Which makes the recent stumblings by the White House so difficult to understand.

Ankle Biting Pundits helped hatch the idea, now comes word that Republicans at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis want to focus on 2006, not 2008, and are rallying around the President. This seems both the right and proper move.

Gary Van Sickle seems to be coming around to my way of thinking on Tiger’s chances in the majors this year. I don’t see Tiger playing poorly, really, at any time this year – his game is just that good right now. The way I see it, the only way he loses a major this year is because of some fluky thing like someone catching lightning from a bottle and taking it from him.

One final note to our readers: as mentioned here, the Goodboys Nation weblog has always had a two-fold purpose, one for those of us “Goodboys” (of golf tournament fame), the other for me (and hopefully soon, others) who wish to use this as our humble little vehicle for general web-blogging. I have made recent changes that segregate the content of both these ideals, so you may notice from time to time a post that is password-protected. Don’t be alarmed – it’s not that we’re fleeing from the law, harboring illegal immigrants, or secretly working behind the scenes to take over operations of Michael Jackson’s Neverland, it’s just us not wanting to pollute the blogsphere with our mundane controversies and preparations for our golf tournament this year.

I don’t often re-live previous life experiences when I dream. That time is often reserved for the stupid kind of stuff everyone dreams that makes no sense, like trying to row your term paper across a Coke machine on a ceramic egg-timer, or endlessly feeling the hair on your washing machine drying in a polyester breeze the size of a basketball – you know, the kind of stuff that, if you ever confessed to a psychologist you’d be hidden away in some dank dungeon for the rest of eternity.

When I woke up this morning with that 70s classic Billy, Don’t Be A Hero, by those legendary rockers Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods in my head, it came to me that in my deepest REM sleep I must have been transported back to sitting in the dark cocktail bar at the Woo Loon Ming restaurant in beautiful North Billerica, MA last month, sipping a boat drink and trying to concentrate on some Jimmy Buffett island fiction over a TV tuned to one of those “infomercials” that you often find on cable TV in the mid-afternoons – in this case, one selling a 572 or thereabouts CD collection of 70’s music hits called “Greatest Hits of the Rockin’ Seventies”, or some dopey title like that.

In my dream (like that very day), I couldn’t help but notice between the repeated clips of such timeless classics like “Afternoon Delight” by The Starland Vocal Band, “Rock Me, Gently” by Andy Kim and “The Greatest American Hero” by Joey Scarbury – the musical giants of their day – that this infomercial was co-hosted by none other than the actor who played “Greg Brady” in “The Brady Bunch”, along with some giddy, Hollywood-type infochick dressed in the coolest 70s threads who’d giggle in agreement every time “Greg” would gush out enthusiastic selling points like: “Wow, they just don’t make music like that any more!”, and, “Isn’t it great to hear once more those great tunes we grew up with on AM radio!”.

Uh-huh.

Well, I didn’t think such a mundane experience could leave such an indelible mark on my subconscious, but it obviously must have, since while showering I found myself pondering the sociological significance of the chorus of another tune from that collection: “Cherokee Nation” by The Raiders (formerly, the 60’s band Paul Revere & The Raiders, no doubt by then sans Mr. Revere):

Cherokee people
Cherokee tribe
So proud to live
So proud to die

Stunning. Which then got me to wondering, why were they called Paul Revere & The Raiders in the first place? Paul Revere was never a raider. A rider definitely, but a raider? No. I still remember seeing those guys on that 60’s pop show “Where The Action Is”, playing on the beach in their Revolutionary War garb with that cheesy-sounding Farfisa organ. Heh.

By the time I started shaving, my head had started to clear, and I was thankful that this unwanted and uncharted trip back to my late teens was over. Imagine my horror, then, when all of a sudden, yet another tune popped out from somewhere between the corpus callosum and the cerebellum, a song whose lyrics I have no doubt are destined to be discovered by visitors from Enceladus centuries from now, scrawled on a tablet in the middle of some field: “Seasons In The Sun”, by Terry Jacks, containing this piece of musical Shakespeare:

We had joy we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the stars we could reach
Were just starfish on the beach

Yikes. By the time it came to feeding the rabbits, it was all over. It was time to hit road, battle the traffic, get to work and make some bread. Thankfully, the rest of the day passed uneventfully, and tonight, I’ll make sure the hot fudge sundaes and Italian deli sandwiches stay untouched in the fridge and look forward to a welcome return to my familiar bizzaro dreamland, where buffalo candles dance on top of mating treefrog enchiladas drinking paper lace.

Paper lace? Oh no, not THEM… not THAT song

I heard my mama cry
I heard her pray the night Chicago died

Oh brother, it’s gonna be a long night…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:20 | Comment (1)

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