March 31, 2009

Rabbits are cute and cuddly but dumb, right? Check this story out.

Last night we let Little Half-Pint out for a stroll around the house. Now, because Half-Pint is absolutely despised by the other rabbits in the house – something well documented in this post – we have to be careful that the other rabbits are secure in their pens. We let Half-Pint out, and she immediately (like all the other rabbits would) headed to a litter box in the corner of the room right in front of Cosmo’s pen. This particular litter box serves as the “public restroom” for the rabbits, as they all love to take their turn putting their scent down on top of whatever scent might be there. (Don’t worry, we start fresh every week!)

After hitting the litter box, Half-Pint was dancing and skipping around the room, no doubt attempting to impress Cosmo at the fact that she was free to roam around what is typically his domain. Every now and then, she’d dart back and forth in front of his pen trying to get his attention, but Cosmo wouldn’t take the bait – he just lay there in his corner on his side, half asleep, one eye closed, the other partly open, seemingly unconcerned at the commotion on the other side of the bars.

After awhile, Half-Pint got bored at this game and began to tucker out. Seeing Cosmo vegged out in his corner on the far side of his pen, she decided to lay against the side his pen – a fairly brazen act in my view, considering that the pen’s fencing has openings just wide enough for Cosmo to stick is long snout through. Half-Pint didn’t seem concerned, however – the Great White Rabbit was down for the count a safe distance away, and while she was on alert at the start, she soon she got comfortable and stretched out even more against Cosmo’s pen.

Now I’ve always thought Cosmo was a bit of dull bulb (if you know what I mean), but we soon found out he’s no dummy – in this case, he was just playing dumb. Obviously far more attentive to what was going on than he was letting on to, he waited until Half-Pint stretched her little body out just a little bit more into bunny relaxation position (both paws out in front, both legs straight out in back) and then struck quickly and efficiently. In seconds, Cosmo was up and lunging towards the object of hate lying just outside his pen. Half-Pint must have caught the sudden movement out of the corner of her eye but reacted too slowly, for the white snout was through the cage opening and onto her before she could get safely away.

A crash against metal. A wail of pain.

Half-Pint quickly retreated to the safety of the public litter box. And Cosmo just sat there, red eyes ablaze, a huge hunk of black fur his trophy laying on the floor beneath the snout that had now retreated, its job done, its message dutifully sent.

Who said rabbits were cute, cuddly, and dumb?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:22 | Comments (2)
March 30, 2009

That was some putt Tiger Woods made yesterday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, wasn’t it? Every time you think you’ve seen him do everything, to the point where if he doesn’t make a putt like that you’d be surprised, he still does something to make you check your head in awe.

Sure, Tiger’s had his share of final-hole dramas before, but this one was something special.

How amazing was it? It wasn’t just the fact that it was a 15-foot uphill putt to win a professional golf tournament – that’s hard enough (just ask Sean O’Hair), and Tiger’s already done that plenty of times. And it wasn’t just the fact that not just the whole golf world and plenty of interested viewers, but he himself was anxious as to when he’d get that first win after his knee surgery out of the way.

What made it truly amazing, unbelievable really – even for Tiger – was, as ESPN’s John Harig notes, it wasn’t just late in the day, when the grain and the speed would be that much more difficult to gauge, it was very late in the day – in fact, virtually dark:

…But when Woods stood over his ball, just 15 feet from the hole, I could not see the cup. Mind you, I was on sitting on a hill, looking down on the green, no more than 50 yards away. It was 7:45 p.m. ET, already a few minutes past sundown.

Television pictures of the dramatic scene made it appear as though there was plenty of light, but not so. The scoreboard across the pond was illuminated and cars parked in the grass across the way had their lights on. Flashbulbs were flickering throughout.

And he still makes that putt. Unbelievable! What makes Woods such a joy to watch is his total focus and competitive drive, not just to be the best in the world, but to dominate his sport. There are plenty of very good and very competitive players out there on the PGA Tour, but none have the competitive will and the all-consuming drive to dominate his sport like Tiger Woods.

Consider his competition yesterday. Sean O’Hair is a good player, perhaps someday even a very good player, but he looked like a scared kitten out there yesterday. I was saying to Tracey that the majority of the players out there are nothing but a bunch of spoiled pretty boys with nice swings and the product of nice college golf programs who have spent their lives playing other spoiled pretty boys with nice swings and college scholarships. But there’s a vast difference between the Sean O’Hairs of the world and Tiger Woods, one satisfied with being good and making solid paydays, the other consumed with winning to the point where if he finishes second he might as well have not been there at all. My guess is his win at this year’s Arnold Palmer will go down as one of his most satisfying ever.

—-

On the other side of the coin you have the overwrought and over-hyped has-been known as Michelle Wie. Once a golf prodigy with “can’t miss” written all over her very attractive frame, she’s now just another cute college chick who is this close to becoming a golf has-been, bypassed by any number of 20-year olds who can go out on any given weekend on the LPGA Tour and shoot par or better. This weekend in Phoenix, you can bet Wie drew the majority of the crowds who watched her settle into a tie for 57th – 57th! at +8, a mere 22 strokes behind winner Karrie Webb.

But don’t worry, she’ll still be mentioned on The Golf Channel as if she were some mystical golf goddess instead of someone completely in denial of how far south her game has gone. No matter what she shoots – and this weekend, where she never even broke par, was no different – she always has the same excuses:

“It was a struggle,” she said [after shooting an second-round 76]. “It’s weird because I didn’t feel like I shot my score. I felt like I shot a lot better. Just a couple of missed putts here and there and a bad drive, but overall I felt pretty good. I just couldn’t make things happen, couldn’t get it going.”

Riiiight. Methinks Wie could learn a lesson or two from Tiger Woods – and not just on the golf course, either.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 23:28 | Comments (2)
March 29, 2009

…in the Tiber, that is. Yesterday I committed to being a pledging member of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. Tracey and I had a long talk about it beforehand, and I’ve agreed to hold off formalizing becoming a Roman Catholic until next Easter. She wants me to be absolutely sure this is something I want to do, and I’m trying to make this next stage in my own spiritual journey as easy for her as possible.

My slow but gradual disconnect from the Episcopal Church and acceptance of Roman Catholicism is painful for her. I don’t think it has as much to do with me becoming a Catholic as it does any new involvement on my part with a church – any church. I might be wrong about this, but because there remains a lot of lingering anger and resentment on her part towards organized religion as a result of our experiences in the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts and Kentucky, any re-involvement on my part with the Church is like tearing open a scab on a wound I don’t see ever healing on her part.

You see, Tracey had no involvement with the Church until I began pursuing my calling to the priesthood back in 1995. Sure, she had been baptized as a child, but because she grew up in an unchurched household her first real exposure to religion and the internal workings of the Church came vicariously through all the hurdles and hassles I went through in MA and KY. Poor Tracey. Anyone with any kind of knowledge about how the Episcopal Church (I can’t speak for other Protestant denominations, but doubt it’s any different there) treats and discerns peoples’ calls to ordained ministry knows just how bruising the process can be, and for spouses it’s often worse since they only see and experience it all second-hand.

I doubt Tracey will ever forgive the Episcopal Church for the way I was treated but I’ve tried to tell her that it’s me she should be disappointed and disillusioned with, not the Church. After all, there were things I could have done to not only improve my chance of making it through the process and being ordained, but make it easier on her as well. So the failing was mine, not the Episcopal Church’s, and the Church shouldn’t take the brunt of her anger and resentment. But any time I’ve tried to broach the subject with her it’s a non-starter; all I can do is be conscious of her feelings in my own spiritual journey and pray that for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercessions on her behalf to find a way to soften her heart, mind, and spirit. In the end, we are all responsible for our own walks with God; some doors you have to just walk through alone. I’m all too aware of that.

So while I’m still kind of in this transitional no-man’s land between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism, the gradual steps I’m taking feel right. And from conversations I had last week with my dear friends Pete and Dona – both of whom have been even more involved in the Episcopal Church at both the diocesan and parish levels than I ever have – I’m more convinced than ever I’m making the right choice.

It isn’t just the fact that the Episcopal Church is dying (and in my view will be all but dead with two decades) – after all, one’s walk with Christ shouldn’t be based on who’s up or who’s down in the historical evolution of the Christian faith – but when I attend Mass at a Roman Catholic parish – even those times when the Music Nazi was running amok at St. Anne – I know I’m witnessing the original and historic teachings and sacramental traditions of Christianity first-hand. Sure, the Roman Catholic Church has had, and still grapples with, its own scandals and controversies, but you have to separate religious doctrine and teaching from the way humans practice it, otherwise no religion would ever stand up to scrutiny. We are all sinners and fall short before God in His eyes.

To be a Roman Catholic to me means being a part of unbroken Christianity taught, preached, and still practiced two thousand years after Christ’s Death and Resurrection. Roman Catholicism isn’t perfect by any means, but when the priest is consecrating the bread and wine at least I know he’s doing it at an altar where God is both present and worshipped for all eternity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not the God of Multiculturalism and Political Correctness in the form of Diversity, Tolerance, and Acceptance, which is the new holy trinity worshipped and promoted by the Episcopal Church’s apostate and heretical leadership today.

So it’s another toe in the Tiber, and another step towards the next stop on my own walk with Christ, whatever that might end up being. Who knows where it will all lead?

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 23:26 | Comments (0)

Don’t know what happened with the comments these past few days – I had to approve comments from those who have commented here before, which shouldn’t be. Don’t know why that was but the issue appears to be resolved now. The web hosting people have been doing maintenance on their servers the past couple of weeks and it’s been causing havoc for a number of their accounts. Fortunately Goodboys Nation weblog has been pretty much immune from the changes – no surprise there, the Nation is strong, powerful, and invincible. :-)

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:39 | Comment (1)
March 26, 2009

There are some experiences you can get out here in the Valley of the Sun that are just hard to find elsewhere. The wind came up something fierce this afternoon – steady 20 MPH winds with gusts to 40 – and by suppertime I was ready for a break from work.

I poured myself a lovely glass of chianti, looked in the cupboard to see what I’d be making Tracey when she got home, and headed out back for a seat on the patio to enjoy the fresh air and relax for a bit.

Bad mistake.

Whoosh! A blast of wind came from the West, carrying with it a combination of dust and sand – the dust probably from the west side of the Valley, the sand from the beach around the Tiki bar. I got sand in my ears, eyes and nose, but that wasn’t the worst of it. I looked into my glass to see a lovely coating of dirt floating on top.

Ah the heck with it, I said to myself. I downed it and bid a hasty retreat back inside.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:07 | Comments (4)
March 25, 2009

It’s a warm, breezy night here in the Valley of the Sun – no night for anything serious, that’s for sure.

News item: Women more attracted to men in expensive cars. You don’t say!

Quote: “Beyond turning to doctors for advice, [religious people who are terminally ill] patients often look to God for guidance in these times of crisis.” Think I’m crazy? Read the whole thing.

…Me, I just want to hang around long enough and be lucid enough to convince Tracey to toss 1/3 of my ashes in the Mississippi River somewhere near Gramercy, Louisiana. Jana, I might need your help on that!

And while on the subject of death, this would appear to be a cool study.

…Me, I don’t care so much about what happens near death,, but after death – now there’s something to consider! I know I’ll have a lot to answer for – I wonder if God believes in mulligans?

I’m with Jayson Stark on this – Curt Schilling belongs in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. When on the biggest stage in the world – the post-season – Schill dominated, and has the numbers to prove it. And to do it in two different leagues, for three different teams, that’s the mark of greatness.

Just when you thought Barack Obama’s idea of fiscal discipline gave you enough to worry about, there’s this. Hat tip: Instapundit

OK, maybe it’s just me, but if I were a woman shopping for lingerie in a store staffed with male salespeople would bug me too.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:04 | Comments (2)
March 24, 2009

True story: I’m going up a very long escalator at the Atlanta airport yesterday (if you’ve ever been to the Atlanta airport, you know the ones I’m talking about – the ones that take you from the terminal trains up to the various concourses) when opposite us on the down side I see this woman (I figure she’s only about 30% of the way down) cooing over how her toddler wants to – get this – walk down the escalator. That’s right – walk down a steep, moving escalator.

I hear her say, “You want to walk? OK….”

I immediately think to myself, “lady, I don’t think that’s a good idea”, but before me (or any other rational person present) could say something, you know what happened:

Almost immediately the child fell. And, as you might expect, he continued to fall. Like, All. The. Way. Down. The. Escalator.

We couldn’t see it from our vantage point, mind you – no one going up could because of the layout and the fact that we were moving up, up, and away from all the action. But that didn’t mean we didn’t hear it.

Bang.

Thump.

Bump.

Bang.

Thump.

I think we were all in shock. We’re still going up, but everyone is looking back to see what was going on. The kid’s crying as he’s toppling ass over tea kettle like some small bag of groceries, the mother is too shocked to do anything but start screaming, and everyone else is in motion. It was weird and strangely fascinating, like something you’d see in a Monty Python skit.

I think the child had stopped falling by the time I came to the top, since by then all you could were the child’s screams from way down below. The guy next to me shakes his head and says, “great mothering”. Indeed.

Questions of the day:

1. What kind of idiot would allow their toddler to try and demonstrate their walking prowess on a moving down escalator. A long moving down escalator?

2. What kind of lasting psychological damage might this episode cause the child? Will he grow up as an adult with an aversion to escalators? Will he only take stairs or an elevator? Or might this result in something greater – like fear of any downward-moving object?

3. How much you wanna bet the woman sues the airport for negligence?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:12 | Comments (4)
March 23, 2009

It’s official, so book ‘em, Dano – the 19th annual Goodboys Invitational has itself a venue. After months of 24×7 work by a blue-ribbon panel reviewing proposals received from a dozen worthy venues from across New England, Portsmouth, New Hampshire‘s dream of once again hosting a Goodboys Invitational event appears to have become a reality.

The choice of this popular summer destination by the sea follows weeks of speculation that the Goodboys were seriously considering a return ten years after the 9th annual tournament was held at Pease Golf Course back in 1999. That year the team of Ben “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis and Steve “Bone” Piekarski confounded the pundits and experts by routing the field and capturing their only crown as a team.

Unlike in 1999, however, where the ‘Boys spent their weekend in a rather humble motor lodge setting, this year the Sheraton Harborside Portsmouth will be the official GB HQ, giving the lads a classy and convenient locale to ease the not-so-insignificant stresses and strains of a Goodboys Invitational weekend.

And the golf? On Saturday it will be a return to Pease G.C., followed on Sunday by a trip to the challenging and picturesque The Ledges G.C in nearby York, Maine. Even with York’s proximity to nearby Kittery (known for its shopping outlets), the only thing the Goodboys will likely be shopping for after a trip to The Ledges – if its reputation stays true to form – will be replacement golf balls!

Nevertheless, a wonderful time should be guaranteed for all. July can’t come soon enough.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:58 | Comments (0)
March 21, 2009

A rare weekend post to empty out the desk drawer…

I know Jeff Rude’s just kidding about Greg Norman’s reappearance on the golf scene. The Shark brings some much-needed color to a PGA Tour scene where all too often the fields are full of boring, colorless pretty boy college-grad golf robots. Think about it – who do you watch if Tiger, Phil, Camilo Villegas or Anthony Kim aren’t in the field?

Speaking of golf: a nice 60-degree day this week allowed me to take the new Cobra S9 irons I got for half-price at an eBay auction out for a spin. Lots of rave reviews on these clubs and they live up to the hype. Of course, the clubs don’t make the golfer – it’s the other way around – so don’t expect The Great White Shank to lose his nickname anytime soon.

Good to see regular posts from Septuagenarian Sarah again – lots of wisdom imparted for free based on a lifetime of experience!

Had dinner last night with fellow Goodboy Steve “Killer” Kowalski and his new squeeze Stephanie. They make a lovely couple – Killer is definitely, how you say, “dating up”. Stephanie Corby is a singer/songwriter from Cambridge whose music is definitely worth checking out here.

Iran rejects Mr. Hope-and-Change. North Korea detains U.S. journalists. Plans for Russian bombers in the Western Hemisphere. More evidence that those world leaders who pay close attention to American politics know that Barack Obama is a lightweight.

…but what do you expect when your newly-elected President chooses La-La Land and late-night TV yak-fests for his preferred appearances before the voting public. After all, when you’re a celebrity why bother hanging around Washington? I mean, it’s not as if anything important is going on, right?

…and it’s not as if his then-VP choice didn’t try to warn us, right?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 08:40 | Comments (0)
March 18, 2009

You’ve heard the old adage that even a broken clock is right twice a day and even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while, right? Such was my response to the wonderful news that my dear friend Pete Jeffrey is now a postulant (i.e., in the process) for the diaconate in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

What does that mean? It means that when his training and time of preparation is complete he will become a Deacon in the Episcopal Church:

[The] Deacon is a role in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. In many traditions, the diaconate, the term for a deacon’s office, is a clerical office; in others, it is for laity. …It is generally believed that the office of deacon originated in the selection of seven men, among them Stephen, to assist with the charitable work of the early church as recorded in Acts 6.

…In Anglican churches, deacons often work directly in ministry to the marginalized inside and outside the church: the poor, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned.

This is great news, not only because Pete is more than qualified to hold such a position is is my view exactly the kind of person this historic office was intended for, but it hopefully also serves as a sign that the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is taking a more serious look at growing the diaconate as a tool to expand its own external and internal ministry field.

I’ve always been a huge proponent of the diaconate in the Episcopal Church (TEC); others have as well. I often wondered why so many dioceses refused to consider the rich potential of the office; its existence primarily reserved for those working their way upwards towards the priesthood. Not only was this a short-sighted practice in terms of the realities facing TEC over the past several decades (where declining church membership and the practical realities of priests needing to make a living have resulted in the typical parish budget overly concerned and/or consumed with their priest’s salary and benefits package), but it also meant turning a blind eye towards an important and ancient Church tradition and practice (no surprise there for TEC), and the rich pool of talented people in dioceses who felt called to ordained leadership in the Church but for whatever reason didn’t fit the mold of what the diocese might be looking for in priests.

Allow me to explain. Say, for example, you had a knack for or interest in a particular form of ministry – it might be a prison ministry, some other form of social outreach, evangelism, assisting parishes in trouble or turmoil, or a particular kind of prayer ministry. Certainly, no one could prevent you from performing that ministry, say, in your local parish. But what if you felt God’s call to have that ministry sanctioned and consecrated (i.e., ordained) for service to the Church at a larger level? Basically, you were screwed since your diocese and/or bishop had little interest in providing this kind of avenue – whether it be because they hadn’t a clue as to what the diaconate was all about and/or its potential, or (as I suspect) they were afraid of something that was more difficult for them to control directly.

Pete’s one of the lucky ones. In my own TEC travels I’ve known a number of people who not only had amazing gifts in terms of the ministries and talents God had given them, but whose dioceses would have been truly blessed had they been savvy enough to offer them an ordained outlet for those talents and ministries via the diaconate. Instead, because their dioceses didn’t see them as worthy to be priests, they were basically cast aside and left to feel rejected or unwanted (or both), and either pursued ordination in another diocese or another denomination, or disengaged from active church participation – the end result being a loss of talent the diocese could have otherwise made wonderful use of had they had the vision or creativity to see the potential of a vibrant diaconate.

Who knows? Had such an option been available to me back when I was deemed unworthy of being made a priest in the dioceses I pursued my own calling in things might have been different. Instead, my days as an Episcopalian are over, and the only calling I feel now is to live out my days in exile in Arizona conjuring up new arrangements of surf and tropical music to play while hanging by the pool and the tiki bar whenever an endless stream of 12-14 hour workdays permits. Which is OK, it’s all good. As Brian Wilson once sang, “these things I’ll be until I die“…

Knowing that Pete (and hopefully more like him) is on his way to having his calling ordained by his Church and diocese gives me hope that maybe – just maybe – TEC has finally decided to allow the Holy Spirit a little more wiggle-room in its own ordained leadership through a revived and vibrant diaconate. Perhaps such a change of heart and strategy is nothing more than the equivalent of rearranging some of the deck chairs on the Titanic given the otherwise sorry state of things in the Episcopal Church these days, but it can only help.

God bless you and your journey towards ordination, Pete – no one I’ve ever known has been more called or deserving.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 23:04 | Comments (0)

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