December 31, 2010

Hard to believe this wild, crazy, and unpredictable year has come to a close. And what a year it was…

In February we finally decided to begin our suburban renewal project to turn the previous owner’s house into our home. The first step was to replace the carpet with tile and wood and refurbish the master bath. We then replaced the venetian blinds with plantation shutters and the old slider with French doors, then had all the brown walls repainted in soothing tropical colors, and finally, just a few weeks ago, finished transforming a boring blah patio into something pretty and relaxing. It’s been almost non-stop activity this whole year, and both we and and our credit cards are ready for a break in 2011.

In April I bid adieu to the Episcopal Church and was received into the Roman Catholic Church. Has it made me a saint? No, not hardly. But it feels right and I’m where I need to be at this point in time in my own spiritual journey. I’m hoping to make some further strides on that account in 2011 – how I don’t know, but we’ll see.

In late May I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, then in September had my prostate removed. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have come through the procedure without having to wear a single diaper or liner. Not many guys who have gone through the same procedure can boast of that – in fact, the doc says that only happens in the top 1-2% of all his patients. What a ride that whole experience was.

In July, just a little more than a week after Goodboys Invitational weekend (where I broke 100 during a GB weekend for the first time), I was off to India for a whirlwind 5-day visit. It was crazy, exhilarating, fascinating, and an experience I will never forget.

It was also just after Goodboys weekend that the whole idea of a Endless Summer poster “treasure hunt” was conceived. As exhiliarating and fascinating as the trip to India was, the treasure hunt became a true once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll always remember fondly: it took us to San Diego, then to Carmel Valley and Carmel, then finally to San Francisco. Along the way the individual people we met and places we visited became far more than anything I could have imagined it to be.

It was while we were in Carmel Valley prior to meeting Walter Georis of The Sandals that I took this picture of the surrounding area of the hotel we were staying at: it’s my absolute favorite memory of 2010, a moment frozen in time when the sun shone brightly, the air was pleasantly warm and clean, a soft breeze stirred, not a soul was stirring, and I felt absolutely and completely at peace:


Of course with all the pleasant stuff that happened this year, there were sad departures as well. In January I found out my good friend Rock from New Orleans passed away suddenly of a heart attack. He was younger than I am. Then in September, for the fourth straight year, we bid farewell to one of our rabbits unexpectedly. We’re still trying to make up for poor Geronimo’s loss with the recent arrival of Butterscotch. It won’t be easy – or quick.

It’s been such a wild ride this year that it’s both strange and comforting to see it come to an end. The important thing is that Tracey and I find ourselves closing out the year in good health and good spirits, gainfully employed, and not taking for granted the fact that we have wonderful friends and loving family members who have also made it through this year safe and sound. Tracey’s twin sister Tam also continues to make steady progress from her own troubles last year; considering where she once was that is no mean feat in and of itself. God has been good to us.

For all those who continue to make Goodboys Nation weblog a part of your regular (or irregular) web surfing habitual, I thank you for your continued patronage and your comments. To all of you, 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. As is custom around these parts, let’s close things out and 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, 2010. Be gentle to us in 2011, will ya?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:24 | Comments Off on Ring Out The Old…
December 30, 2010

It’s late on a cold and damp Wednesday night here in the Valley of the Sun. I have a nice glass of Chianti at my side as the Christmas tree provides a nice backdrop to a nice selection of CDs we have on shuffle mode: “New England Christmastide”, “A Victorian Christmas”, Esteban’s “What Child Is This?”, The Sandals’ “Milagro”, and “A String Quartet Christmas” – perfect for a night like this.

The music is of Christmas, but my thoughts are of this year with all of its highs and lows, and ups and downs – fortunately more of the former and less of the latter. So much has changed, yet much has remained the same. For good, for not so good. And as you get older, the years increasingly run together in season – springs run into springs, summers intersperse and overlap in their hot and hazy brilliance, while autumns somehow always maintain their vivid colors even while dying towards the dullness of winters past.

I think this is what Loreena McKennitt had in mind when she wrote her lovely song “The Seasons” (play selection #12 at this link) from her wonderful 1994 release “To Drive The Cold Winter Away”. Her lyrics are just as beautiful, wistful, and poignant as the music behind them:

Come all you lads and lasses, I’d have you give attention
To these few lines I’m about to write here,
‘Tis of the four seasons of the year that I shall mention,
The beauty of all things doth appear.
And now you are young and all in your prosperity,
Come cheer up your hearts and revive like the spring
Join off in pairs like the birds in February
St. Valentine’s Day it forth do bring.

Then cometh Spring, which all the land doth nourish;
The fields are beginning to be decked with green,
The trees put forth their buds and the blossoms they do flourish,
And the tender blades of corn on the earth are to be seen.
Don’t you see the little lambs by the dams a-playing?
The cuckoo is singing in the shady grove.
The flowers they are springing, the maids they go a-Maying,
In love all hearts seem now to move.

Next cometh Autumn with the sun so hot and piercing;
The sportsman goes forth with his dog and his gun
To fetch down the woodcock, the partridge and the pheasant,
For health and for profit as well as for fun.
Behold, with loaded apple-trees the farmer is befriended,
They will fill up his casks that have long laid dry.
All nature seems to weary now, her task is nearly ended,
And more of the seasons will come by and by.

When night comes on with song and tale we pass the wintry hours;
By keeping up a cheerful heart we hope for better days.
We tend the cattle, sow the seed, give work unto the ploughers,
With patience wait till winter yields before the sun’s fair rays.
And so the world goes round and round, and every time and season
With pleasure and with profit crowns the passage of the year,
And so through every time of life, to him who acts with reason,
The beauty of all things doth appear.

And so another year hurtles to its inevitable close, taking with it all of its security and memories – both fair and ill, soon to be discarded when yet another page is turned as yet another year takes its place in life’s unfinished novel. For yours truly the uncertainty of what a New Year proposes and promises over its coming twelve months have always been met with no small amount of unease, disconcert, and yes, even fear – but what else can you do but turn that page emotionally and embrace the new, even while longing for the safety and permanence of the past?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:01 | Comment (1)
December 29, 2010

It’s another calm and cool night here, although the weather is supposed to take a turn towards the wet and the cold starting tomorrow, with a freeze watch up for Thursday night into Friday. It’s a strange La Nina winter with all the rain and storms coming in off the Pacific, but we’ll take it – rain is the desert southwest’s lifeblood.

streetlight There’s a streetlight I can’t help being attracted to whenever I sit out on the patio. It’s on the next block over, to the south of us, towards the east end of the street. It’s one of those modern, orange-y sodium vapor kind of deals, and while I lament the passing of the simple incandescent, then the fluorescent, kind of street lamp it still holds my attention.

Call me weird, but streetlights have always held a fascination for me, and for reasons I’ve never quite understood they’ve always been a part of my fondest memories growing up. My earliest dream as a child was being in a car and driving down a dark windy road and seeing a single yellow streetlight illuminating the brown leaves of oak trees around it. And one of my earliest childhood memories is sitting in the back seat of my parents car as they drove us home from a visit to some relative outside Boston and falling asleep as the fluorescent streetlights passed one by one above us.

In my youth streetlights always had a functional purpose: you always had to keep your eyes on them as it grew dark, as when they came on that meant it was time to high-tail it in from from playing outside – a practice I doubt many of today’s sedentary youth zombies with their damned cell phones and electronic games would ever understand. Maybe in that way streetlights provided some inner sense of security; when they came on you knew you had a home to return to with parents who loved you and cared about you.

In my memory streetlights were inextricably tied to the seasons. During the winter it was from streetlights that you could tell how hard it was snowing at night; when I was young I loved getting up in the middle of the night to watch the snow fall against the streetlight outside our bedroom. And it was from that same streetlight when, during the oppressive weeks of July and August as sleep was hard to come by (this was before the days of central air!), you’d see the big bugs zigzagging in and out of the light like mini fighter planes in dogfights. As summer turned into autumn, whenever it became foggy, it was via streetlights that the night into a magical, mystical far off kind of place. And I’ve always enjoyed the sight of the bright and dull colors of autumn trees illuminated by nearby streetlights.


Streetlights also remind me of telephone poles – something else I’ve always been fascinated by, again, who knows why? I’ve always liked the sight of telephone poles along the side of a road, especially when the road was long and straight. Isn’t there something about telephone poles standing as dark sentries against a burning red yellow of a summer sunset? Or the sight of a lonely row of telephone poles along a huge field, perhaps in the Mississippi Delta? And the more the poles are leaning off center, the better – I don’t know, I always thought that looked cool with all the wire strung between them. A childhood memory: the smell of the creosote when a new pole was brought in to replace one brought down by a storm.

For some reason I equate telephone poles with the beach; I remember how they always stood out along the flat lands and marshes when my parents would take us on drives to Gloucester or Salisbury Beach. Even today, whenever I take a drive up to the beach I know I’m getting near the ocean when I can see the telephone poles along Rt. 213. During a heavy snowfall, you could always count on the telephone poles standing sturdy, brown, and familiar against the white transformed landscape.

I remember one heavy ice storm when we lived in Dracut, Tracey and I taking a walk outside and watching the glow of transformers blowing as power lines would come down from the weight of ice upon them. We hurried back to our condo to get every candle out we could find.

Fond memories from inanimate objects. Funny, huh?

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December 28, 2010

We Goodboys complain about all sorts of obstancles and hazards preventing us from playing our best (ponds, lakes, woods, slow greens, hangovers, etc.) but we’ve never had to worry about what linksters at England’s Richmond Golf Club in 1940 had to deal with:


1. Players are asked to collect Bomb and Shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the Mowing Machines.

2. In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.

3. The positions of known delayed action bombs are marked by red flags at a reasonably, but not guaranteed, safe distance therefrom.

4. Shrapnel and/or bomb splinters on the Fairways, or in Bunkers within a club’s length of a ball, may be moved without penalty, and no penalty shall be incurred if a ball is thereby caused to move accidentally.

5. A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced, or if lost or destroyed, a ball may be dropped not nearer the hole without penalty.

6. A ball lying in a crater may be lifted and dropped not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole without penalty.

7. A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty one stroke.

Geesh. And I thought having to play amidst the withering sarcasm and nonstop chatter of Goodboy Ben “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis was tough!

Thanks to my folks for passing this along.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:09 | Comments (3)
December 27, 2010

As I type this a snowstorm is barreling up the East Coast with blizzard warnings from Philadelphia north to Maine – a scenario guaranteed to put a wrench into many peoples plans to get home after spending Christmas with loved ones. Ahh, the risk / reward of holiday travel in winter!

Was sitting on the patio tonight in my lounge pants and t-shirt nursing a Johnny Walker Red. With not a lick of a breeze stirring and temps in the mid-fifties, it was OK to fire up the tiki torches, and the new coral paint on the woodwork gave off a cheery glow against the flame. It’s taken me a long time to psychologically break loose from the New England I grew up with, but once you get used to the idea that winter in New England is what it is, and winter in the Valley of the Sun is what it is, you realize that maybe you’re too old to be dealing with snowstorms and shoveling and scraping and bundling one’s self against the bitter cold and pushing grocery carts through parking lots covered in slush.

I mean, there was a time when you just accepted winter as payback for the privilege of experiencing three other distinctly beautiful seasons (no place does the four seasons better than New England), but after a while and as you get older the winters just seem to get longer and the nicer seasons shorter. And there is nothing like the depression that sets in after the champagne is consumed and the gifts put away and you’re taking down all the Christmnas decorations knowing that you’ve still got the better part of three months of cold and snow ahead of you – the only solace being seeing the days getting longer and the promise of spring.

I remember the days of winter and snowstorms – it wasn’t all that long ago. Back when we lived on Eighteenth Street in Dracut, on a night like this I would be prepared to get up a little earlier than usual – not just because there would be shoveling to do, but the birds that regularly visited the feeder on my back porch would be hungry and looking for food. You had to get up pretty early – before first light – because the deep-eyed juncos would be the first visitors, followed shortly therafter by the tufted titmouse to get the peanuts and sunflower seeds I spread across the floor of our tiny back deck after clearing the drifted snow. The cardinals would follow shortly thereafter (we had two beautiful pairs that used to visit frequently), and they’d make their presence knows with loud “chick!”s and gobble the sunflower seeds in the feeder. By this time, the blue jays would also arrive and fill their faces with peanuts just before the sparrows, mourning doves, red-breasted grosbeaks, nuthatches, and any other stragglers would show to make a mess of the deck. What a beautiful sight and a wonderful memory!

We don’t see a lot of birds around here, though people say they’re there if you want to attract them. Of course, we have mourning doves by the bunches who come by the swimming pool every afternoon before dusk to take their drinks. There are a lot of hummingbirds out here, and some black and brown birds everyone seems to hate. We have some kind of gray bird that resembles a jay in both appearance and behavior that hangs around our lime tree, but that’s about it.

On nights like this back home the excitement of a big storm would always be tempered with the realization that from now on the scenery would change radically for the remainder of the winter. The sides of the roads and the farthest ends of parking lots would have mounds of snow that would soon turn icy and dirty from the sanders that followed the plows. There was no longer any chance of sneaking out for nine holes of golf if the temperatures hit the mid-40s or better – golf season is officially over in the northeast.

And that’s why after all this time I’ve finally come to appreciate the Arizona winters. Am I far away from my family and friends? Absolutely, and that still hurts. And there is little doubt in my mind that, if I absolutely had to, I could still suck it up and tolerate a New England winter: there is, after all, beauty to behold even in the cold and the bone chill of an icy February morning when you walk outside and the wind hits you like a 2 x 4 and the snow is crunching under your winter shoes. But Tracey and I have worked hard to create a little place of our own with a sense of color and design that feels more like the tropics than the desert southwest. And after all the Christmas decorations are taken down, we can crank up the tropical music MP3 and open the patio doors wide to enjoy the nice weather until May comes and the miserable heat starts back up again. Better to be too hot than too cold, I think.

It’s taken me a long time to accept and appreciate my surroundings for what they are, and the Johnny Walker sips easy and clean as I look up at bright pineapple lights twinkling against a tranquil mild December evening. There’s not a lick of wind, and the wind chimes all hang lifeless. But even with all the fond memories of winters past back home, right now I think this is a far better place to be right now, at this place and time, than even I could have imagined a dozen years ago when we lived back on Eighteenth Street and watched the TV coverage of the snowstorm enveloping our condo and region, and would marvel at all the birds that would visit our snowbound back deck, a lifetime ago.

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December 26, 2010

Oliver North has penned this tribute to our brave men and women who have served, and serve today, in our armed forces in places both near and far. It’s a poignant reminder of the loneliness they and their loved ones must feel while the sacrifices they have made and are making keep us safe and cozy amidst our own Christmas cheer:

The Christmas season is rarely a holiday for Americans serving in uniform — or their families waiting anxiously at home. George Washington led the Continental Army on a perilous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas in 1776. A year later, the tiny force barely survived the privations of winter at Valley Forge, Pa.

Throughout World War II, the birth of Christ was anything but a celebration. Wake Island fell two days before Christmas in 1941. The following year, American troops were taking heavy casualties in North Africa and Guadalcanal. For U.S. soldiers battling their way up the Italian Peninsula and the Marines and sailors at Rabaul and Cape Gloucester, Christmas of 1943 was miserable. On Christmas Day in 1944, the 101st Airborne was surrounded at Bastogne.

During the Korean War, every Christmas season was a “living, frigid hell” right from the start. On the first Christmas Eve we were there (in 1950), U.S. and Republic of Korea troops completed the evacuation of Hungnam and saved the lives of more than 90,000 refugees. Every Christmas in Vietnam was a lonely test of courage and perseverance. Little has changed today.

While we’re warm and surrounded by loved ones on Christmas morning, the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province and the 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT in Nangarhar province are battling a vicious enemy and bitter cold. Their 101st Air Assault comrades of 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT in Kandahar province are having a somber commemoration in memory of their mates who lost their lives this month. More than a dozen members of the 101st Airborne have been killed in action since Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, their families at Fort Campbell, Ky., observe the holiday without their soldiers.

Read the whole thing.

I’ll leave it to Elvis to close this post out perfectly. Take it, King….

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December 25, 2010


The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is winding down before us. Hopefully everyone gets a chance to spend some time with family and friends – Goodboys and otherwise! – as well as reserving some quiet time to ponder the mysteries of Christmas:

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” — Luke 2: 1-20

Merry Christmas and the happiest of holiday seasons to everyone from the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:16 | Comment (1)
December 24, 2010

John J. Miller of National Review Online has written this interesting piece on the Bethlehem star. According to asrtronomer Michael Molnar, it was the planet Jupiter appearing under the sign of Aries and rising in the east on the morning of April 17, 6 B.C. that got three wise guys’ attention:

Molnar described a few initial ideas about the Star of Bethlehem in an article for Sky and Telescope magazine. He thought his involvement would end there. Then the dean of historical astronomy called him. “I’d read articles and books by Owen Gingerich of Harvard University, but we’d never spoken,” says Molnar. “His call came completely out of the blue, and he said he thought I was really onto something. This encouraged me to do more research.”

He worked on the question for five years, studying Greek versions of the Bible and the writings of Roman astronomers. “Today we know Jupiter is a planet, but to the ancient astronomers it was an important star, and it was linked to the birth of kings,” says Molnar. The position of other planets, plus the sun and the moon, also carried special meanings. Today, astronomers and astrologers are very different sorts of people. Twenty centuries ago, however, there wasn’t a distinction.

Working on a computer, Molnar learned that the morning of April 17, 6 B.C. contained all the elements he was looking for: Jupiter rose in the east, in the sign of Aries the ram. Joining it in Aries were the sun, the moon, and Saturn — events that would have added to the moment’s extraordinary significance for the ancients.

“The basic elements of this event occur once every 60 years — in other words, once a lifetime,” says Molnar.

But there’s more: Mars and Mercury weren’t in Aries, and they also weren’t in positions that would have wrecked the divine interpretation. Mars is notorious for upending astrological events by showing up in the wrong part of the sky when everything else is in seeming alignment.

“If you think like an ancient astronomer would have thought, this event would have been extraordinarily exciting,” says Molnar.

The account describing the Star of Bethlehem is contained wholly within the Gospel of Matthew — the other gospels don’t mention it at all — lending credence to the idea that the star didn’t light up the night sky like a 4th of July fireworks display. A close reading of the Bible suggests that nobody saw the star but the wise men, which may be a way of saying that only the wise men had the astrological knowledge necessary for interpreting the events of April 17 the way they did.

Many Biblical scholars believe the birth of Jesus probably occurred between 8 B.C. and 4 B.C. The event Molnar describes took place in 6 B.C. — “right smack dab in the middle,” he says.

It’s a very interesting column, read the whole thing.

In keeping with my Beach Boys Christmas theme from yesterday, let’s move up a decade. Here’s a quirky little ditty from 1974 that received little airplay, and a moody Dennis Wilson contribution to their planned 1978 Christmas album that never saw the light of day until released on CD twenty years later.

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December 23, 2010

While poking through the weather blogs I found this interesting item by meteorologist Elliot Abrams. He tells the story of a Yuletide long ago of a famous general’s audacity and how his knowledge of weather from being a country farmer played a critical role in winning this nation’s independence. Hope you find it as interesting as I did:

Christmas Day 2010

The Declaration of Independence was signed in the warmth of a Philadelphia summer in 1776. But as 1776 came to a close, it appeared the Revolution might be doomed. George Washington and his forces had suffered a string of losses, and with each loss, there was less and less public support. After all, if the Revolution was lost and the British won, all who participated or aided in the revolt could be tried and convicted of treason against the Crown.

And so, when Washington and his depleted forces dared to cross the icy Delaware River on Christmas Night… then cunningly circled around and attacked Trenton from the north with the wind at their backs, sleepy-eyed Hessian defenders waking up on the morning after Christmas were greeted by wind-launched darts and tacks of stinging sleet in their faces and a hail of bullets from the Americans who could hardly be seen through the storm.

The stunning victory at Trenton proved to be the turnaround event that fueled the rebel fire once again. But that was far from obvious to George Washington as he and his forces recrossed the river and regrouped. The army was about to dwindle away. Enlistments were up at the stroke of midnight, New Year’s Eve. Desperate, and without official authorization, Washington called on the soldiers to stay, offering them a bonus if they extended their enlistments. The soldiers did not respond at first, but then one stepped forward, then another… and then another.

They hatched a plan to attack the British once again. Meanwhile, the snow on the ground melted. The rebels crossed the Delaware again on New Year’s Day. This time the British were ready, and the rebels were forced into a corner. They were stranded in muddy fields, backs to the river… with no way to escape. One bold attack by the British would wipe out the American forces and end the war.

But George Washington was a Virginia farmer, and farmers watched the weather. He had experienced winter days with blue skies and northwest winds. He had seen the temperature hold steady during the those days, then sink below freezing at night. He had a thermometer and at noon it was 39 degrees and holding. A stiff northwest wind had erased the 50-degree weather of the previous day. Washington ordered the troops to prepare huge bonfires after sundown and make the appearance of bustling around in the camp.

Behind the fire glow, it was dark. We in the age of light pollution are not used to the kind of dark faced every moonless night back in the 1700s. But in the darkness, Washington’s troops readied their equipment, even wrapping wagon wheels in cloth to minimize the noise. The ground froze. The forces moved out, picking their way northward… away from the encamped British who were lying in wait to mount their own attack at first light.

Dawn broke to the sight of rebel soldiers marching toward Princeton through fields laced with frost. The Battle of Princeton was fierce, but lasted less than an hour. One casualty was General Hugh Mercer. Mercer County, N.J. is named for the fallen patriot. The British were defeated again, and pulled back to their garrisons farther northeast in New Jersey. News of the rebel victories spread like wildfire back in Europe weeks later. Soon the French would be emboldened to declare war on Britain and help the American cause. George Washington and his weary forces set up camp in Morristown, N.J., with hills to offer cover, and yet close enough to their enemy to spy on their activities.

If George Washington had not been up on his weather knowledge, and had not realized it would freeze at night as he did. His forces would have been surrounded and captured the next day. The hard-fought gains at Trenton would be meaningless.

A vast and empty field marks the place where the Battle of Princeton was fought 234 years before this coming January. As I stood there in an icy wind three Decembers ago, storm clouds were increasing. It was a raw and unforgiving wind, a wind soon to be armed with sleet and freezing rain.

Aside from the wind in the trees, it was silent out there in that field. The darkness was moving in. I closed my eyes for a moment, and could almost imagine the footsteps of some of our first war veterans rustling through the fallen frosted leaves so long ago. And I said a silent thank you. If they hadn’t done what they did when they had to, we couldn’t do what we want to in freedom… today.

In keeping with the spirit of the season, here’s a great classic Beach Boys Christmas tune. Interestingly, this was Alan Jardine’s first lead vocal for the band. A good start, I’d say! And here he is more than 40 years later keeping up the good fight. Rock on, Al!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:59 | Comments (3)
December 22, 2010

Winter came in at 4:38 PM today, but you’d have a hard time believing it here in Gilbert, Arizona. Right now it’s quite pleasant here, in the mid-’60s as I type this, with a freshening breeze from the Southwest heralding the big rains to the west of us. We’ll be getting some of that over the next couple of days, but nothing to write home about. We don’t feel too anxious about the lack of rain down here, however, because they’re getting pounded big time where it needs to be to satisfy the thirsty desert Southwest.

There’s something incredibly peaceful about sitting out on the patio, the newly-re-hung wind chimes softly a-tinkling under soft pineapple lights, the palm trees stirring beneath leaden skies. As they say in the coarse verancular of today’s culture, it doesn’t suck.

Hard to believe Christmas is just days away.

Still, there’s a restlessness in my soul as I ponder the sights and sounds of this pleasant night. It’s not that I don’t feel incredibly blessed for so many of the things people take so much for granted – one’s health and well-being, having a roof over your head with plenty of food to eat and clean water to drink, for example. Perhaps it’s just the Christmas season and there’s really nothing around to make it feel like Christmas. But then again, it’s freezing cold and dreary back home and my skin in lounge pajamas and a t-shirt undoubtedly prefer this to that. So I’ll just leave it to the sense of displacement, albeit in a pleasant way, for Christmas.

A great night for a great Christmas tune, courtesy of the Eagles. Enjoy!

P.S. to Cubby – you thought yesterday’s golf video was pretty good? Check the same crowd trying to hit a gong 200 yards away in the middle of a lake. Equally incredible. Those guys are good.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:45 | Comments (2)


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