December 31, 2009

Let me admit right from the start: I really don’t like New Year’s Eve, never have. It makes me sad. There’s something comforting about the present and recent past, and the thought of a new year coming and all the unknowns that come with it has always made me apprehensive, if not fearful. Especially as I’ve gotten older and watched all those around me age as well. We all know nothing lasts forever, and the arrival of a new year with all its possibilities and destinies seems to emphasize that very point. So excuse me if this post is not rah-rah, bring on 2010, and all that bull$hit.

Interesting to read my last post from last year and compare it with this one. All I can say is, man, I’m tired.

I am truly fearful about 2010, lots of people I know are as well. Between the clueless clowns in power in Washington hell-bent on destroying this country as we’ve come to know it, or the prospect of Iran having nukes (or Israel taking action to prevent such), I believe the upcoming year will be especially volatile.

It’s so much easier to look back on a year that seems to have passed by almost as soon as it started. Where did the time go? Fortunately for Tracey and me, we kept our health, our home, and our jobs for another year – no mean feat in and of itself; I know a lot of people have not been so fortunate. And while we lost Tracey’s dad and other beloved acquaintances, having both of my parents around in good stead is a blessing I take not for granted. We also did quite a bit of traveling this year; anytime you can squeeze in visits to friendly and familiar vacation spots like New Orleans and Bermuda you are very fortunate.

Of course, as with any year, we’ve had our times of trouble juxtaposed with times of joy: we bid a sad farewell to our rabbit Marble Jr. in June, then welcomed the renamed Ginger and Geronimo into her former lodgings. We lost a boatload of $ in several fruitless attempts to get Tracey’s twin sister Tammy out of the hellish situation she was living in back in Florida before finally taking measures into our own hands. Life for her (and us) here in Arizona has certainly been no bowl of cherries, but she’s safe here and we’re taking everything a day at a time. That’s all you can do.

Of course, there are some things to look forward to in 2010. God willing, it will be the year I become a Roman Catholic. And if Tracey’s sister ever gets out on her own and is able to support her own apartment, we just might get our guest bedroom back and reduce the number of rabbits in this house from a crazy seven to a more manageable five. One can only hope…

Of course, that all assumes no unforeseen shadows associated with health, happiness, and stability darken our doors. But that’s the chance you take entering a new year. At any rate, whatever happens, happens – that’s the nature of the beast we all know as life.

I thank everyone for your patronage and patience as far as this website goes. I know I’ve lost a lot of traffic as a result of my irregular postings, but there are only so many hours in a day, and work has been an absolute beast this year, but at least I’m employed – I definitely don’t take that for granted. Your visits and comments are always welcome and appreciated!

So, to all who frequent this humble outpost in the blogsphere, my best thoughts, prayers, and wishes for the happiest and healthiest of new years. Maybe a year from now we can all look back and say, “there, there, Great White Shank, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” One can only hope.

OK, that’s enough. Let’s ring out the old and ring in the new with this great video from the late, great George Harrison. R.I.P.

We bid you adieu, 2009. Be gentle to us in 2010, will ya?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comments (0)
December 29, 2009

It’s been one hell of a year.

Were I a glass-half-empty kind of guy I could go on about the thousands of dollars we’ve blown attempting to get Tracey’s sister out of her abusive relationships and on her own two feet, the psychological toll it took on Tracey, and all the crap that went along with getting her out of Florida and her post-arrival mental breakdown and everything that has gone along with it since.

…Or the passing of Tracey’s dad, our dear friend Jana’s dad, and, most recently, my uncle Wilfred.

…Or hearing the news of several co-workers I worked closely alongside losing their jobs in the several layoffs that took place in my company over this past year.

But I also know that these things are all part of the ebb and flow of life, an important reminder to all of us that, as much as we’d like to think we’re all in control of things and that the world is our oyster and all that sentimental hogwash, the fact is our hold on this life and our own security is quite tenuous and everything can change in a moment’s notice.

I remember driving across west Texas after rescuing my sister-in-law from the horrible situation she had gotten herself into. We were a day and a half out of Florida, and my cell phone was vibrating constantly from her idiot ex-husband, her distraught landlord, and her so-called “latest boyfriend” all frantically trying to speak to her and find out where she was. Tam was sound asleep in the passenger seat, and her rabbits nibbled quietly on the hay we had set down for them on the passenger side floor. All of Texas lay beyond us as our rental car hummed its way across I-10 westward: flat, brown, empty, and I was cursing myself for even allowing myself to be inserted into such a helpless and hopeless situation.

I turned on the radio, hoping to find some form of mild entertainment to pass the time and picked up this song playing on some lonely rural FM station. It made me smile, and helped me realize that, instead of feeling sorry for myself, all of this drama was nothing more than what you would call “life”.

Yep. For all the good and all the bad and all the ugly that has been 2009 – I’ll count the many blessings Tracey and I have been given among the good, fer sure – it all sounds like life to me.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:59 | Comment (1)
December 26, 2009

This is pretty funny – “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, as written by a lawyer. (Hat tip: Instapundit.

What would a Barack Obama speech about Christmas sound like?

Sounds like the MoveOn.org people need to get a life. Is there any time of the year these guys aren’t fixated on politics? What a miserable existence being with that crowd must be. Someone at least tell a joke….

I’m cool with the idea Jesus wasn’t born on the 25th of December. Christmas shouldn’t be just one day a year, anyways, but 365. OK to take one day off every four years as a nice break.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:32 | Comments (2)
December 25, 2009

nativity From Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas Eve Mass homily:

Let us once again listen directly to the Gospel. The shepherds tell one another the reason why they are setting off: “Let us see this thing that has happened.” Literally the Greek text says: “Let us see this Word that has occurred there.” Yes indeed, such is the radical newness of this night: the Word can be seen. For it has become flesh. The God of whom no image may be made because any image would only diminish, or rather distort him this God has himself become visible in the One who is his true image, as Saint Paul puts it (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15). In the figure of Jesus Christ, in the whole of his life and ministry, in his dying and rising, we can see the Word of God and hence the mystery of the living God himself. This is what God is like. The Angel had said to the shepherds: “This will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12; cf. 2:16). God’s sign, the sign given to the shepherds and to us, is not an astonishing miracle. God’s sign is his humility. God’s sign is that he makes himself small; he becomes a child; he lets us touch him and he asks for our love. How we would prefer a different sign, an imposing, irresistible sign of God’s power and greatness! But his sign summons us to faith and love, and thus it gives us hope: this is what God is like. He has power, he is Goodness itself. He invites us to become like him.

May we all strive in the New Year to accept that humble invitation.

A joyous and blessed Christmas to everyone out there from the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 10:22 | Comments (0)
December 24, 2009

…been a while since I’ve posted but work and life have been very hectic these past couple of weeks. Last night, trying to get all the work done given that it’s that truly magical combination of end of month, end of quarter, and end of year I felt like Bob Cratchitt trying to escape the clutches of the firm of Scrooge and Marley!

Nevertheless, that’s all past. Work for the week is done and time to starting feeling the reason for the season. But before I do, here’s a little something courtesy of Andy McCarthy at National Review Online’s Corner blog:

To All My Liberal Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To All My Conservative Friends:
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Now, out for some last minute errands and church. Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:00 | Comments (0)
December 15, 2009

I love this song and this video – obviously, ‘girl’s been studying her Ronettes and Phil Spector history. This song will not only get you rockin’ around the Christmas tree, but the whole song is a tribute to the great girl groups of the ’60s. Listen to the exquisite “Wall of Sound” arrangement, and listen for that sexy, positively stratospheric note she hits towards the very end. It sent me into the Christmas bliss, and I’m not even a Mariah fan.

But the girl has pipes, and this is a worthy seasonal offering. It’s been a crappy year, but give yourself and everyone and everything a break, and just enjoy!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:01 | Comments (0)
December 10, 2009

Just finished reading James Brady’s “The Imperial Cruise”, the story of the diplomatic mission taken across the Pacific to Hawaii and the Orient in 1905 by President Theodore Roosevelt’s designated liaison, Secretary of War (and future President) William Howard Taft and a group of politicos and well-connecteds that included his celebrated daughter Alice. I’d read – and enjoyed – Brady’s previous “Flyboys” and “Flags of Our Fathers”, but this time came away very disappointed at a work that is not only angry and bitter, but juvenile in its pathetic attempt to masquerade diatribe and screed as history.

It’s not just Brady’s cynical use of Roosevelt’s name as “Teddy” and the use of slang terms like “Japs” throughout the book – as if Roosevelt (and, by guilt of association, we as a people) were nothing more than a petulant child spouting ignorant, racist ideas – it’s the whole seething anger Brady seems to have against anything and anyone associated with America’s westward expansion.

Jeff Pierce, one of the reviewers of Brady’s book on Amazon.com, nails Brady’s attempt at historical revisionism far better than I could (my boldings):

Sorry, but this book is not history. It is a collection of cherry-picked “facts” and quotes, designed to write a politically correct screed about Teddy Roosevelt, American racism, imperialism, and how America blundered into laying the foundation for wars in Asia. In all truth, the author needed to do a lot more research and reading. The reality does not match his narrative.

The book is full of factual errors, and the author chose his information very carelessly. He uses the [Edmund] Morris biography of Theodore Roosevelt to prove his “points,” even though they are the opposite of
what Morris intended. He also seems determined to make Theodore Roosevelt into something he was not. Lord knows TR had his faults, but the figure that emerges from this book is not terribly accurate. I am sure part of the problem is the author’s attempt to fit early 1900s thinking into today’s politically correct obsession. It does not work. There are many today who would frown upon Theodore Roosevelt. This book is a good example of that school of thought.

Pierce is right on target here. If you want to play historian, deal with history as it was at the time and put those you wish to write of in the context of their times. Don’t attempt to overlay the current day’s ethos and thinking onto another age’s. Roosevelt and those like him can only truly be judged in the context of their times in comparison with his contemporaries. In that way, the true Roosevelt warts and all will come out; any true historian plying his craft understands that.

The whole problem with historical revisionism is the idea that somehow we as a people and culture are so much better, caring, understanding, and advanced as compared to those peoples and cultures of a century or centuries ago. It’s misguided and narrow-minded. My guess is that someone gazing down on this planet from 30,000 feet since, say, two thousand years ago is going to have a damned hard time seeing any grand improvement in the general human condition. There is still hunger, poverty, wars, cultres clashing, people being run off one land for another, and the rich and the poor. The geography may change, but the basic story remains the same.

One can easily find fault with many of the actions taken by so-called “Americans” since the first Europeans landed on our shores, but please, let’s not rush to color everything we’ve ever done as a nation and a people as all bad and replacing the all good.

The very essence of humankind since the beginning of time has been to assert one’s language, culture, and civilization upon previous ones. It has always been like that – people only point nasty fingers at the Europeans and Americans because there are so many people who have written of our history. If there were as many books written about ancient African, Asian, and South American civilizations I’m sure people would be aghast to find out they were as uncompromisingly ruthless and violent as we have been. That’s the nature of humankind, pure and simple.

I’m not defending any practices of the 18th, 19th, and early twentieth centuries – Lord knows, we as a nation and a people have made our grevious mistakes, but we’ve also paid dearly for them. In that way Brady is right – the seeds that led to the carnage brought about by World War II in the Pacific were planted by the very policies, actions, and treatment we dished out decades before, out of our “Aryan” tendencies and beliefs, oftentimes under Roosevelt’s edicts. But it’s not as if we as a people got off scot-free: after all, we paid dearly for those mistakes in American blood then, and we continue to do so today under the arguably false guise of “nation building” in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like the song goes, “when will they ever learn”…

One final note: Brady’s smug, self-congratulatory inclusion of his own “Peace Foundation” and “Youth For Understanding” initiatives in his Acknowledgements section (designed, in his own words, to “talk about our differences rather than go to war over them”), ignores a very common fact that those of his ilk fail to understand: Americans and Europeans aren’t the only ones who’ve ever sought to create death, destruction, and havoc across the globe these thousands of years. May he never be on a plane suddenly targeted at some glistening New York City skyscraper; I doubt those doing the flying will want to take any time out of their mission of death to “hash over” our cultural differences peacefully.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:24 | Comments (0)
December 9, 2009

Just a few thoughts as this whole Tiger Woods thing continues to unfold:

…it’s interesting how little reporting on Tiger throughout this episode has come from golf writers. Such is the raw power of the PGA Tour and the star power of Tiger – no one wants to risk their ability to work his/her profession by dipping their toes in this controversy. Does anyone doubt that golf beat writers have, at the very least, heard whispers of Tiger’s – or others – er, interests, in their work but have refused to “go there” out of fear of their own interests?

…if I’m a PGA professional who has been, er, inclined to extra-marital daliances over my career I’m not sleeping too well these days. Anyone who thinks this is going to stop with Tiger is deluding themselves. This has the potential to blow up into a full-fledged PGA Tour scandal. Anyone who has ever bought the whole Tim Finchem / Golf Channel party line that everything associated with the PGA Tour is all pure and good is in for a rude awakening.

…you watch, as more women come forward and the media begins to pile on, Tiger will actually begin to emerge as a sympathetic character. But I won’t buy it.

…does anyone doubt Tiger is going to have quite the challenge keeping his poise with the galleries on tour throughout 2010?

…I think his run of lucrative endorsements is about over. There’s just no way he’s going to completely escape the tarnish of this whole episode. People, rightly or wrongly, saw Tiger as a handsome, talented good guy. Not sure how – if ever – he gets his reputation back.

…I still go back to my earlier comment. If Tiger wanted to see nude chicks, why not just hang around the VIP section of strip clubs? I don’t know much about them :-) but I hear you can have one helluva time at these places without violating the sanctity of one’s marriage.

One final thought: believe it or not, I’m not going to pile on Tiger here. I don’t know him, don’t know his situation, don’t believe it’s any of my business. Unfortunately, we live in a celebrity age that has to feed the 24/7 news cycle. And you can bet there will be no shortage of sleaze ball and scumbags who will come forward simply to make a buck or two off of Tiger’s misery.

That being said, celebrity is a two-edged sword: you can’t want to be seen as a role model and “out there” as a highly-paid spokesperson for highly-visible companies and products, then expect anything you might do “outside the ropes” be kept 100% private. Tiger buttered his bread, now he’s going to have to sleep in it.

Who knows where this will all lead?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:31 | Comment (1)
December 8, 2009

First of all, prayers and all good thoughts go out to our dear friend and frequent commenter Jana, who lost her beloved dad to cancer today. He was a great guy. During the fours years we lived in Louisville, we had many an opportunity to share a social occasion with him, and he was a gracious, gregarious soul. I believe you would call him (and he would consider himself) a salt of the earth. Please keep Jana and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

We have Loreena McKennitt on the CD tonight; her wonderful CDs “To Drive The Cold Winter Away” and “A Midwinter’s Night Dream” weave a exotic, magical tapestry unmatched by any other Christmas CDs in our collection. With a holiday cocktail of your choice and the happy glowing lights of the Christmas tree one might almost be inclined to believe everything is OK and that our hold on life is neither as short nor as tenous as it truly is.

That’s something I think we do well to contemplate as the days shorten and get colder. Normally I couldn’t wait for this year to draw to its much-anticipated close, but there’s a part of me that wonders just what the New Year might bring. Darkness, sadness, and foreboding seem all around us this December. 2009 has been a long, hard sled for us, yet we both know things could be much worse.

I light a candle in Jana’s father’s memory.

The patio outside is windy and cool; they’re getting heavy snow not that far north and west of here, but the night air is refreshing. I sip my glass of Pinot Grigio and hear the strains of McKennitt’s music through the slider and say a quiet prayer to God in thanks for all the feelings I’m feeling tonight: weariness, vulnerability, loneliness, directionless. But at least it’s all a part of life and living (as my grandfather would say) on the green side of the grass.

And tonight I guess that will have to be good enough.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:38 | Comments (0)
December 7, 2009

President Obama: Stuck on stupid. Makes you wonder how much longer Democrats are going to keep testing the polls and the patience of Main Street before they realize this whole health-care reform business – not to mention his Presidency – is all about him. Nothing more.

Along those same lines, something for all Democrats and you Obamaniacs out there to consider.

If this doesn’t make you understand the whole global warming hoax, nothing will. I despise hypocrites and elitists, and these UN / global warming believers are the epitome of both.

Another openly-gay bishop to lead the Episcopal flock. There was a time when this kind of thing would bother me, but when it comes to TEC nothing surprises me anymore. I’m more worried about my own soul, and in that regard all my roads must lead towards Rome.

It’s that time of year again. The Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue Christmas Raffle! If you’d like to help make life better for a bunch of needy rabbits would you consider donating?

Two hours and 4,000 feet north of here they’ve got blizzard warnings up. Here we’re just supposed to get a little rain and wind. But that’s OK, I like the cool temperatures, though…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:31 | Comments (0)

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