August 31, 2007

Question: When does being in first place with a 5-game lead heading into the last month of the season feel like second place?

Answer: When you’re the Boston Red Sox and you’ve just been swept in a 3-game series with the New York Yankees, that’s when.

I can’t figure out this team at all, and I can’t remember a season where they’ve been so successful (at least thus far), yet so frustrating to watch. Defensively, they’re OK – even a joy to watch at times, especially the glove-work of third baseman Mike Lowell (after a slow start) and second baseman Dustin Pedroia. First baseman Kevin Youkilis has also done a nice job in turning himself into a quality glove on the left side. Pitching-wise, they’re also OK as well both starting and bullpen wise, though I’m a little concerned about Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima, and feel they may be hitting the wall and feeling the effects of their first Major League Baseball season.

What’s so frustrating is their absolute inability to hit. And not only not hit, but to not try and generate runs by bunting and hit-and-running a little more. The problem is, the Sox are way too focused on taking pitches and working pitch counts up, and therefore have become (at least in my view) far too passive in their approach to hitting. As a result, they suck against good teams. Anybody can smash around crappy pitching staffs like the Chicago White Sox as they did last weekend, but to embarrass themselves offensively like they did against the Yankees this week shows an inherent weakness that will kill them, even if they make it into the post-season. The fact is, you can take pitches and work pitch counts all you want against sucky pitchers, but if you try to do that against good staffs, you’ll get mauled. As they did against the Yanks.

And don’t even get me started about the $14.4 Million Dollar Man, J.D. Drew. He swings like a girl, takes way too many pitches, and refuses to take the bat off his shoulder even when he has a two-strike count against him. Thanks a lot, Theo. Trot Nixon would look damned good in a Sox uniform at $8 mil per year right now.

Which brings me to my final point – this team has NO FIRE whatsoever. Outside of Varitek and Pedroia, all you have is bunch of “professional hitters” that go about their business, not getting too up, not getting too down. Take today, for example. Yanks’ reliever Joba Chamberlain throws two balls at Youkilis’ head, and I’m thinking, WHERE ARE THE FIREWORKS? Of course, with this team there were none. That wouldn’t have happened in the days of the so-called “idiots” and Johnny Damon and Kevin “Cowboy Up” Millar, I’ll tell you that. Those guys knew what it would take to get a team fired-up when it hit the dog days of late August-early September. Even were this team to continue to struggle as it is doing and drop out of first place, I guarantee you’d see no difference in the demeanor of manager Terry Francona or his players.

And to me, that’s almost as bad as watching them suck wind as bad as they did against the Bronx Bombers.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:06 | Comments (3)
August 30, 2007

So I was talking to my mom yesterday to wish her a happy birthday (Happy birthday, Mom!), and she mentioned that Phoenix was going to set a record for the most days where the temperature has been 110 or higher. ‘Oh no’, I corrected her, ‘that doesn’t sound right. No place gets that hot.’

Wrong, Great White Shank. As Drudge reports, Mom wasn’t just hearing things – she’s absolutely right, as today (with an expected high of 110), Phoenix is expected to set a record for the most days where the temperature has hit 110 or higher – 29, in fact. As John Faherty of the Arizona Republic reports:

Today should be the day that allows us to tell our grandchildren that we were here in the summer of 2007.

Sometime late this afternoon, the temperature is expected to hit 110, and we will have set a record for misery: 29 days of at least 110 degrees in a year.

On Tuesday, we tied the record of 28 days, and the National Weather Service is predicting that we will get to 111 degrees today.

Well, it has been an unusually-hot summer, but then we had an unusually-cold winter last winter. I just don’t seem to feel it’s that bad – primarily because: a) I now work from home and don’t have to endure those miserably hot and draining commutes like my lovely wife does, and b) I’ve been in Massachusetts quite a bit this summer. I know it’s been damned hot because our pool temperature has stayed around the century mark for the past three weeks, and you can still go in it after dark and the waters feels cooler than the air. Unbelievable stuff, huh?

The last word goes to Tony Haffer, chief meterologist at the National Weather Service:

“This is an unusually hot spell,” Haffer said.

No sh*t, Sherlock.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:37 | Comments (2)
August 29, 2007

I’m glad someone finally had the chutzpah to take the gloves off on Elvira Arellano, the illegal immigration activist who was finally tossed out of the country after seeking refuge in a storefront church in Chicago run by a shady so-called “clergyman” sympathizer. Trying to paint herself as a symbol of the illegal immigration movement, all she ended up doing was revealing to everyone just how screwy she was and how much she deserved to be deported. As Michael Reagan writes in his article:

Who is this woman who has tugged so successfully at the heartstrings of the nation’s liberals?

She snuck into the U.S. years ago, was caught and sent southward in the late ’90s.

That was just a minor setback in her career — in a matter of a few days she was back in the U.S. where she got pregnant and got a job as a cleaning woman at an airport thanks to a phony Social Security card — rather serious offense for which would be a sure ticket to the slammer for most people. But not for Elvira. It took 9/11 to get her charged with the crime and ordered out of the U.S. — again.

She didn’t go. Instead she conned a church into giving her sanctuary where she stayed until she rashly ventured forth to promote the virtues of illegal immigration. The Feds nabbed her and promptly deported her, offering to let her take her son — you know, the one she insisted she could not be separated from.

She said no. After all, the kid is a better propaganda tool here in the U.S., allowing her to bewail her “enforced” separation from him.

As it turns out, Arellano’s downfall was caused by her monstrous ego and her sincere belief that it was she who had become the face of the illegal immigration debate here in the U.S. Not those who quietly and honestly work hard jobs on a daily basis simply to try and send money home to their families, and not those who, while illegal in terms of our nation’s laws, nevertheless contribute to the economies of the cities and towns they live in. No, Ms. Arellano saw herself the poor single mother (I’ll refrain from any comment on that) and her son as the symbols of the mean, unfair, and unjust United States. And, in doing so, all she did was alienate those who should have been amongst her supporters – a fact duly noted by in a recent editorial staff in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Comparing herself to civil rights hero Rosa Parks, Arellano managed to even rankle African Americans, who might have sympathized with her plea to stay with her U.S.-born son, Saul. She further estranged herself from the public when she didn’t bother to learn English during her year cooped up in Adalberto Methodist Church, the storefront church run by the Rev. Walter “Slim” Coleman, a man who is more apt to elicit ire than form consensus. Arellano also put her own interests above her 8-year-old son, exploiting him to draw sympathy. There was an element of cool self-interest in much of what she did and said. The more publicity she got, the more she turned people off.

Arellano wasn’t tugging at too many heartstrings either by shacking up in a rent-free church where she was fed and cocooned from the outside world. Boredom and a severe case of cabin fever were her biggest foes because authorities certainly weren’t going to tarnish their image by storming into a house of worship and snatching her away. Others busted for illegally crossing the borders twice, using a false Social Security number and fraudulent ID should be so lucky.

Look, there’s no doubt that there are a lot of people on the pro-illegal immigration side of the debate who not only mean well, but – no matter where you stand on the issue – make more than their share of sense when it comes to the debate, but Elvira Arellano is and never was one of them. Not only is she a fraud, a criminal, and a fundamentally misguided egomaniac, but when she put her own needs and priorities before those of her son, she showed herself to be a lousy mother as well.

Good riddance, Elvira Arellano.


UPDATE: I knew I should have added as a coda to my original post something to the effect, “…But I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of you.” Sure enough, courtesy of the International Herald Tribune via Matt Drudge, this nugget: Arellano has applied for a visa to return as a – get this – “peace activist”:

“What I’m asking for is a diplomatic visa so that I can be an ambassador for peace and justice because I’m not a terrorist and the United States can’t continue treating undocumented migrants as terrorists,” Arellano told reporters after meeting with President Felipe Calderon at the presidential residence, Los Pinos.

I mean, this is absurd. The woman is obviously suffering from Cindy Sheehan Syndrome, otherwise known as CSS – you know, that syndrome where a single person uses the power of today’s mass communication channels to prop herself up as a somebody when in fact she’s really a nobody. Thirty years ago, public pests like Arellano would never be heard or seen, now in today’s media-saturated Internet/YouTube/cable network culture, anyone and everyone thinks they have their own bully pulpit. It’s enough to make you crazy.

Hey Elvira, I have a better idea – why don’t you focus on raising your son to be a good man and being a good little Mexican citizen and an agent for change in your own country. Now THAT would be a novel idea, wouldn’t it?

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:15 | Comments Off on Good Riddance, Elvira Arellano
August 28, 2007

Tonight is a good night. Let me count the reasons why:

* Supposedly, we’ve got a lunar eclipse starting in a few hours, but I have absolutely no intention of staying up for that celestial display. I know, I know, these are the kinds of things that should be experienced, but since it was on National Public Radio this morning that I heard about it, well, we can’t let that bastion of liberal progressive thought in this country (something, BTW, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for any longer) make me change my normal sleeping schedule, now can we?

* Even though it’s still summer here in Arizona and likely to stay that way for another month or more, the inner New England clock within me says it’s time for more hearty fare, so tonight I have a huge pot of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. Funny how your inner clock betrays what is around you, isn’t it?

* The new Top Priority band shrine at the Kitthwawk Productions website ( is just about to go live, with an official kick-off scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Oh baby, there you’ll find everything for the Top Priority fan in your family – autographed photos, their new “Anthology 1974-76” CD, pre-ordering for their upcoming book (excerpted here at Goodboys Nation), and even historical tours ($18.75 per person with 2 weeks advanced notice) of landmark sites in Top Priority history. A must with Christmas just around the corner!

* Tonight I rediscovered the Beach Boys’ 15 Big Ones album. Released in 1976, history hasn’t been kind to this particular band effort, but compared to some of what came afterwards, I don’t think it’s that bad. Looking back, the whole “Brian [Wilson] Is Back” campaign did a hell of a lot more harm than good, seeing that at that time the Beach Boys’ leader and producer was in no shape to reclaim the band’s producer reigns, but listening to the album after two decades, one can’t deny that Brian was ahead of his time in the use of Moog bass, and the Boys were actually in pretty good vocal form. To me the highlights are the single “It’s OK”, the late Carl Wilson‘s vocal on “Palisades Park” and “Just Once In My Life”, and the late Dennis Wilson croaking “In The Still Of The Night”. Hearing the album brought back a lot of memories, and to me, it wasn’t nearly as bad as critics pounded them for at the time.

* It’s August 28, and the New York Yankees are a full eight – count ’em, eight – games behind the Red Sox. While I understand the Evil Empire has some pretty effective offensive weaponry, how can any team hoping to gain a foothold in the race for the American League wild card lose a game 16-0 to the Detroit Tigers. I’ll tell you this, even if the Yanks were to take 2 of 3 from the Red Sox and close to within seven games of the A.L. East lead, I don’t see how losing games like that provides any sort of hope for post-season play. I mean, will they even have a functioning bullpen by that time?

* Cosmo the rabbit seems very happy bounding around the room. Always a nice sight.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:47 | Comments Off on A Damned Fine Night
August 27, 2007

Yesterday’s post dealt with two different perspectives on the upcoming release of a book containing personal letters from Mother Teresa detailing, among other things, her years of struggle and despair in her relationship with God and Jesus Christ.

In an article for Time written by David Van Biema, the author, by way of one of his own off-the-cuff remarks and a reference to works by one of her most outspoken critics, atheist Christopher Hitchens, seems amazed that any future saint of the Church could ever feel such a sense of detachment with God. Alternatively, Michael Novak of National Review Online’s Corner blog correctly pointed out that Mother Teresa’s struggles were not only a common state of affairs for “serious” Christians (his term), but, invoking such saints and doctors of the Church as St. Theresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. John of the Cross, a necessary one as well if one’s relationship with God is to mature and develop over time.

This whole idea of spiritual “dryness” or “darkness”, or whatever you want to call it is a subject near and dear to my heart and my soul. Not only because St. John of the Cross (he the writer of that wonderful masterpiece “Dark Night of the Soul”, which serves as the baseline from which all similar kinds of works down through the centuries proceed) happens to be my all-time favorite saint, but also because, like many others, I have spent more than my share of time in the “dark night” and have read numerous works by others who have as well.

What is the “dark night” St. John of the Cross and so many others have written about, and Mother St. Teresa seems to have suffered through most of her adult life? It’s that feeling of separation from God where you feel abandoned, hopeless, lost, and without any semblence of comfort in your walk with Christ. For some, this period may last weeks or months, for others (like Mother Teresa, it would appear), this can last for years. Some enter it and never emerge from it, their spiritual lives actually taking on permanently that “darkness”, “distance”, or “dryness” that others are fortunate enough to only experience for a time.

While there are some, like NRO’s Novak, the Catholoic apologists interviewed by Van Biema, and even those like St. John of the Cross himself and mystics like Thomas Merton, who view this “dark night” as an essential component of the spiritual life, a critical stepping stone to a more intimate and mature relationship with God – one’s soul having been purified by the fire of darkness and depair in order to progress in knowledge and wisdom of the Divine – others, Christians and non-Christians alike, find it hard to understand why God would want anyone wishing to grow and mature spiritually to go through such periods of despair and spiritual devastation.

While I don’t have the answer to that question (although books like “Dark Night of the Soul”, Thomas Green’s “When The Well Runs Dry” and Gerald May’s “The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth” help provide an understanding of this sort of thing from a variety of perspectives), I can tell you that, as someone who is way, WAY too familiar with the “dark night of the soul”, and someone who has had more than his share of periods of spiritual darkness (actually, I kinda find myself in yet another one of those things at the present time), while they are not necessarily pleasant by any stretch of imagination – after all, we all thirst for those magnificent and all-too-rare times when we feel totally connected to God and our spiritual lives – they don’t have to be crippling in terms of living your life and doing whatever you can to try and emerge from these periods psychologically unscathed.

Certainly, this kind of thing didn’t stop Mother Teresa in her ministry, neither should they stop anyone from trying to cultivate a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, I have learned to embrace these periods of darkness and love them deeply for the gift of humility and challenge they bring, and while I’m sure my own walk with Christ would be far more different if I wasn’t subject to regular attacks of this sort on my spiritual life, I still wouldn’t trade my own personal journey for anything in the world. (These periods of spiritual “dryness” and loneliness have taught me that my own darkness is the distance between the life I believe Christ has called me to and the one I find myself occupied with on a daily basis. Now whether that’s my own fault or just the way things happen to have turned out, that darkness is often the only means by which I can contemplate these kinds of things as time goes by.)

So much of our lives – spiritual and otherwise – are geared to the avoidance of anything unpleasant. We consider any kind of discipline, received or handed out, to be something negative and to be avoided at all cost. We bestow on our children and try and accumulate for ourselves every kind of material good possible, as if such possessions hold the key to a happy and successful life; that somehow the sheer accumulation of such will be sufficient to prevent any kind of bad or unpleasant experience from happening. The fact is, however, it is only through periods of struggle and want that we learn anything about ourselves. Of course, hopefully those times won’t comprise the majority of time in our lives, but the flowers that grow only result when a little rain is allowed to fall; the same holds true for our lives.

Spiritually, we need the dark night and those times of dryness, loneliness, and, yes, despair, if only to realize that individually, while we may be God’s precious child, we are not the world’s precious God-given gift (if you know what I mean). There’s nothing wrong with the humility, the longing and thirsting for God’s ear and touch, and the patience to endure and wait out these periods of time in our walk with Christ. In fact, it is times like these where we are given the blessed opportunity to talk less and listen more, to come to understand that our time really is God’s time, and to use this time as God would have us do as we await our emergence – hopefully with a better understanding of our own spiritual selves and God’s hope for our lives.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:17 | Comments (2)
August 26, 2007

You know, there’s nothing like some news or interesting development on the classical religion front to show just how ignorant the mainstream dino-media is when it comes to organized religion in general, and Christianity in particular. For a long time now, I’ve come to expect nothing from Time Magazine worth even lining the botton of a bird cage with, but whenever they try and handle anything serious to do with Christianity, it’s always worth a read if only to be amused at both their take and the ignorance of their writers.

Take this article by David Van Biema published at and headlined “Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith”, in which the writer discusses a soon-to-be-published book “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light”, containing all kinds of personal correspondence between Mother Teresa and several of her confessors – some of which provide new details of her long and dark years of struggle and despair with her faith and her God. Van Biema seems genuinely shocked – shocked, I tell you! – that someone as devout and Christ-loving as Mother Teresa could actually have periods of time where she (gasp!) struggles with her faith:

On Dec. 11, 1979, Mother Teresa, the “Saint of the Gutters,” went to Oslo. Dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari and shod in sandals despite below-zero temperatures, the former Agnes Bojaxhiu received that ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, Teresa, whose Missionaries of Charity had grown from a one-woman folly in Calcutta in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care, delivered the kind of message the world had come to expect from her. “It is not enough for us to say, ‘I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,'” she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had “[made] himself the hungry one — the naked one — the homeless one.” Jesus’ hunger, she said, is what “you and I must find” and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world “that radiating joy is real” because Christ is everywhere — “Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive.”

Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.”

The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama. Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction — that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared.

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. “The smile,” she writes, is “a mask” or “a cloak that covers everything.” Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she remarks to an adviser. “If you were [there], you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.'”

If Van Biema had stopped there and used the despair and darkness Mother Teresa wrote about as a way to compare her life with other notable saints and mystics throughout the Church’s history who had also come to know what the 16th century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross [Ed. note: my all-time favorite saint, BTW] called “The Dark Night of the Soul”, that would not only have been understandable but expected. But no, Van Biema feels the need to use Mother Teresa’s inner turmoil as justification for bringing up the works of another writer, well-known athiest Christopher Hitchens (whose work, BTW, I also enjoy greatly) and his own recently-published book polemic against organized religion, “God Is Not Great”:

[Christian apologists and her supporters] assume that Teresa’s inability to perceive Christ in her life did not mean he wasn’t there. In fact, they see his absence as part of the divine gift that enabled her to do great work. But to the U.S.’s increasingly assertive cadre of atheists, that argument will seem absurd. They will see the book’s Teresa more like the woman in the archetypal country-and-western song who holds a torch for her husband 30 years after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned.

Says Christopher Hitchens, author of The Missionary Position, a scathing polemic on Teresa, and more recently of the atheist manifesto God Is Not Great: “She was no more exempt from the realization that religion is a human fabrication than any other person, and that her attempted cure was more and more professions of faith could only have deepened the pit that she had dug for herself.” Meanwhile, some familiar with the smiling mother’s extraordinary drive may diagnose her condition less as a gift of God than as a subconscious attempt at the most radical kind of humility: she punished herself with a crippling failure to counterbalance her great successes.

I’ve bolded one of Van Biema’s sentences to simply call attention to the obvious anti-Christian slant he simply can’t resist dropping will-nilly into an otherwise thoughtful article. I mean, heaven forbid if any writer at Time – or any major mainstream media outlet in this day and age, for that matter – should ever write about religion (especially Christianity) or religious people without including some kind of snide remark or aside, or giving our atheist friends their own dagger to insert. After all, isn’t that what “fairness” and “diversity” is all about in the minds of the liberal elite?

A simple, more thoughtful response to the upcoming book comes from Michael Novak of National Review Online’s Corner blog, who writes:

To understand her condition better, as reported in Time, it is well to recall her two great predecessors in “the dark night,” those two Doctors of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux. It was for them that she was named, to mark her out early, as called to follow in their lineage. Virtually all serious Christians know this desert, and come to love it, as a place without illusions, and the best of all locations to stand in the darkling presence of God, who can neither be seen nor touched, heard nor smelled, tasted nor even imagined.

The nun in school stood over a five-year-old, asking her what she was drawing. “God,” the child looked up simply. “But no one knows what God looks like.” “They will now.”

The early Teresa (Spanish) and the later (French) are named Doctors of the Church for being, along with St. John of the Cross, the teachers nonpareil on the faith of adults, called to come especially close to God. It is like passing through fire.

The difference between mock journalism, as Van Biema employs in his Time article, and true journalism, as Novak practices is in getting the story straight and right, and communicating it both simply and succinctly. One reading of the two sentences I have bolded from each provides simple and ample evidence as to who is the purveyor of the ideal, at least in this case. Methinks Time and Mr. Van Biema could learn a lesson or two from Mr. Novak.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:19 | Comments Off on Time Shows Its Ignorance
August 25, 2007

I’ve been holding off wanting to comment on Michael Vick and his dogfighting/cruelty charges, even thought it’s been the talk of the nation for several weeks now. The thing that amazes me is how much press it has gotten and how easily its has jumped from simply a news story involving a popular NFL sports to the talk of TV and radio news, talk radio, and the cable networks. And I wonder why that is. Is it because of the nature of the charges? The selacious stories that have come out as a result of his indictment? Is it because he’s arguably the NFL’s most visible black quarterback? Is it because he’s a black sports celebrity? Is it because animals that most people consider to be household pets were involved?

I’m wondering: would charges of this nature involving a white athlete garner the same kind of coverage and headlines?

Make no mistake about it – if what Michael Vick was involved in is true – and there’s no reason to believe it isn’t given his impending plea bargain – then he deserves whatever penalties the prosecutors in this case will negotiate with Vick’s defense team. He’s going to spend hard time in jail, and whether or not his career is over remains to be seen. I just wonder why in this day and age a news story like this gets the amount of widespread, mult-media coverage it has gotten. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, mind you – after all, the amount of coverage given to Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton following their own recent legal problems underscores just how much of a sick, celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve become. I just wonder if there isn’t a little bit of gleeful piling on here in Michael Vick’s case, and how much his race has to do with it. That’s all.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:22 | Comments Off on That Michael Vick Thing
August 24, 2007

It’s one of the simple pleasures of life you can enjoy in late August in New England. Whether it’s feeling the night air through a screen door (as I am this very moment) and hearing the sounds of the night – traffic, crickets, air conditioners, etc., or driving with the windows down and the car stereo turned up (tonight it was The Doors’ “L.A. Woman”) down a winding, tree-lined back road, there’s a joyous feeling of nature being both vibrant and alive that you just can’t find in Arizona this time of year.

It was kind of a cloudy, humid day here – not warm by any stretch, but hardly cool either. It was late August, pure and simple. By this time of year, when the weather gets warm and humid, the bright, stinging hot days of late June and July are past – it’s as if the seasonal indicator is stuck between summer and fall – and things are just gray and muggy. Not that I’m complaining, mind you – it has been a pleasure not to have to go everywhere with sunglasses and sunblock on, and a lovely departure from the weather I’ll (God willing) be returning to tomorrow.

It’s been a lovely weather break coming here to the northeast for a week, but all good things must come to an end. This has been a sentimental visit, full of reunions, visits with friends, and just hanging loose without a lot of stress; it’s been a good thing, and I feel truly blessed to have such wonderful family and friends to reaquaint myself with on a regular basis. And that doesn’t even include the close friends I never had a chance to work into my busy schedule this week. Others should be so lucky! Tomorrow it’ll be back to 110 degree weather and our 100 degree pool, but that’s OK – that’s where home is right now, and that’s where I need to be.

Thank you, New England, and thank you August – it was lovely meeting you.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:02 | Comments Off on Open Windows
August 23, 2007

Silly me. When I returned from a trip to Montreal back in May, I left my passport in the back pocket of my pants. One wash, spin, rinse, and dry cycle later, out comes my pants and a passport that looked as if, well, it had gone through a wash, spin, rinse, and dry cycle. It was kind of shriveled looking, so I immediately put it on the floor under every weighted book I could find for a few days.

What I ended up with wasn’t necessarily bad looking – fortunately, everything that was a printed image suffered little, including the 10-year visitor stamp from the Indian embassy in San Francisco I had to go through hell and back to attain. The only victim appeared to be the glue that held the vinyl outside cover to the back of the first and last pages. When I presented it to the lady at the Continental Airlines counter last Friday, she said this would never make the grade if I was traveling overseas, so I immediately set in motion a plan to get my passport up to at least a passing grade – after all, I’m scheduled to vacation in Bermuda a little over a month from now.

So this past Saturday, with the help of my mom, I dragged out the ironing board and gave a good trampling of the passport with a warm iron, hoping the glue that had once held this precious document together would wake up and do its adhesive thing. No go. Next, I sprinkled a little water on the glue and tried the same thing – this time, we got a pretty good adhesive mojo working that held most of the cover and its pages together in the middle, but the edges were still a little loose for my taste. A bit of Elmers Glue seemed to take care of that, and now I have a solid, one-piece official document once again.

Will it fly before the authorities? Only time will tell – the first test comes this Friday at Boston’s Logan Airport. If not, there are places that will replace your existing passport for around $70, but that won’t help me with that damned India stamp/sticker, and I’d hate like hell to have to go back to San Francisco and get that replaced.

A word to the wise – always be sure your passport is safely extracted from wherever you have carried it the next time you return from a vacation or trip abroad. It just might save you time and dinero.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:17 | Comments Off on Passport Perils
August 22, 2007

On a lovely, cool night, with a bright sliver of moon shining, this lovely poem, courtesy of Marilyn Ferguson – enjoy!

The August moon is beaming down
It keenly seems to say
Enjoy my warm rays while you can
Before they slip away.

Splendid is a leisurely stroll
On a dog day afternoon
Star studded is the evening sky
Beneath the August moon.

Nature is at its finest
Summer has reached its peak
It is time to store sweet memories
As autumn skies turn bleak.

Oh, August moon so fair and true
One thing that I must know
Why must you take the summer sun
And roses when you go.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:44 | Comments Off on An August Poem


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