May 31, 2011

I love this headline: Sarah Palin’s bus tour prompts confusion on Day 2. Of course, the confusion isn’t anything on Sarah Palin’s part, it’s confusion for the mainstream dino-media Beltway types as to: a) what this Sarah Palin “One Nation” bus tour is all about, b) what her bus tour schedule is and where it is going next, and c) why isn’t she cozying up to the media about her plans so that they’re not confused?

Lemme tell you a little something that I love and respect about Sarah Palin, if it will help alleviate said “confusion”: Sarah Palin despises the mainstream dino-media and the Beltway bum-kissing insiders, and she doesn’t feel she has to kow-tow to them (or to anyone, for that matter). Sarah Palin also knows that the feeling of said mainstream dino-media / Beltway bum-kissing insiders is mutual. She despises them, they despise her. But here’s the kicker: she knows they need her for a headline or a ginned up controversy a hell of a lot more than she needs them. And they’re pissed off about it.

While I’m not the most avid Sarah Palin supporter (although, truth be told, I admire and respect her political chops), I have to give her credit for the way she can get the mainstream dino-media’s panties all in a knot as they try to figure out her next move. Consider: she attends the “Rolling Thunder” biker rally outide Washington, D.C., and what is her comment? That she “loves the smell of [motorcycle] emissions”. That alone is enough to cause your progressive / liberal / Democrat tree-hugger to spew their soy-based organic yogurt across their morning New York Times or Washington Post. It just goes to illustrate just how much she knows how to twist the knife in the backs of those who absolutely, positively, hate her (and yes, I use the term hate because that’s how most of your so-called “tolerant” and “accepting” liberals feel about her).

After all, Hell hath no hatred or rage like a liberal scorned.

Is Sarah Palin running for President? I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care. If she does, she’ll have to stand up there at the GOP debates like all the others and make her case as to why she should be the one chosen to run against Barack Obama in 2012. Would I vote for her? Hell, yes. But then again, I’ll vote for whoever is running against Barack Obama – even the cashier at the local Fry’s would do fine as far as I’m concerned – the feeling being, they can’t screw up this country anymore than this socialist clown has. And at least I’ll know: a) they were actually born in the United States, and b) what their preferred religion is.

And please, spare me the tired meme that Sarah Palin isn’t qualified or experienced enough for the White House. Compared to the present Campaigner-in-Chief (or should I say, Golfer-in-Chief) – y’know, the one who is presently presiding over all that “unexpected” bad news about the economy – Sarah Palin is no more or no less qualified than Barack Obama ever dreamed of being when he announced his presidential aspirations. If you want to talk about Palin’s qualifications or lack thereof, go right ahead, but if given the choice, I’d rather support someone who at least knows how to run a state vs. some “community organizer” who couldn’t even run a lemonade stand if asked to.

Like her or not, admire her or not, hate her if you will, Sarah Palin is a unique animal in the political arena circa 2011. She refuses to play by rules that others who have no business making them have set down. She defies conventional wisdom and pisses off the mainstream dino-media and Beltway insiders because she refuses to play the game. She’s already seen what that is like up close, and she’s wisely chosen to follow that old adage, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. Whether she is ultimately successful in playing the role of “ultimate outsider” in a way that translates behavior into votes is a whole ‘nutha thing, but one has to respect her moxie and her ability to turn so-called “conventional wisdom” on its head. And push the limits while doing so.

The fact that she’s playing the mainstream dino-media and the Beltway bum-kissing insider elitists for fools is a good start, as far as I’m concerned.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:14 | Comments (2)
May 30, 2011

memorial_day I’ve noticed around here that just about every store is open regular hours for Memorial Day. It’s now yet another holiday that really isn’t much of a holiday anymore. Most people simply associate Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer, which runs through the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day (which, come to think of it, is another holiday that isn’t really much of a holiday anymore).

As a old-fashioned kind of guy, this makes me kind of sad. You see, I think in a world that is already moving way too fast and on the brink of catatrophe, we need (or, at least ought to respect) holidays. An extra day where people can sleep in, or lounge around the house, or spend time together as a family, or get in touch with nature – y’know, take a breather from their otherwise frantic schedules.

Or maybe, come to think of it, because we’ve become such a consumer culture and have an economy increasingly dependent on consumer spending, maybe we can’t afford – literally – holidays where businesses are shuttered against the consumer dollar anymore.

Or maybe, the whole idea of holidays is something left to the ages. I mean, if you’re a family-run business and want to be open for business on any given day of the year, who are the feds or states to tell you you can’t?

But I guess I digress.

The whole idea of Memorial Day is for this nation to take time to remember all of those who have fallen in the service and defense of our country. As someone who doesn’t take as much time as I should when I’m traveling through airports to thank members of our armed forces for their service, I nevertheless have an incredible amount of respect for anyone in this day and age who volunteers their lives (and let’s not forget those of their families as well) to the service of our country.

This week’s candle is lit in remembrance of all those who have given their lives in the service of this great nation.

Watching the final round of this weekend’s Byron Nelson Championship, it was cool to see the American flag being used as a flagstick on the 18th hole and tended by a Marine who would make sure it was handled properly and put back in place with formality and respect. And it was great to see some of the golfers as they walked off the green acknowledge that Marine, or shake his hand, or pat him on the shoulder to thank him for his service. I hope all they all did at one time or another during their round – I most certainly would after I tapped my putt in for an eight or 12. :-)

So prayers and remembrances to all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country on this special day.

Even if it’s not a holiday kind of holiday anymore.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:43 | Comment (1)
May 29, 2011

Reading Anthony Bourdain’s new book, “Medium Raw” (his first book “Kitchen Confidential” is a must-read for anyone enjoying a good, breezy read about the food service industry). Between that and my visit to the pizza joint down the road last night after a two-month absence, you get a real feeling for the challenge of what life is like in the restaurant business. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, to be sure: at a historical failure rate of more than 50%, it’s no wonder opening a restaurant is one of the more risky business ventures one can immerse yourself in.

Until the middle of February, everything was so predictable, Friday nights being something to look forward to. I’d close up shop around 5:45 PM and head over to Floridema’s, where I’d typically find sitting at the same spots at the bar Kevin and Ian and his wife Amy. They were nice people, easy to talk to; same held true for the attractive young bartenders and waitresses who would be ginning up for the coming rush hour. There I’d park my keyster, order up a cold Pinot Grigio, and engage in small-talk and flirt with the hired help while waiting for our take-out. It made for a nice release from the the stresses and strains of a long work week, for sure.

Because we were saving every penny we could find for taxes, I stopped going sometime in early February, and, I have to admit, after the initial missed week, I came to not really miss hitting the pizza joint that much. I could get Friday night’s dinner started myself, pour my own Pinot Grigio, pop on some Caribbean music, and head out onto the patio to just veg out until Tracey came home. And we saved money doing so.

Because we were dropping off the car for some repair work yesterday, I decided to get supper rather than make it, so I figured I’d stop in and pay my respects to the pizza joint’s cast and crew while ordering up some chow. I open the door, and it was as if I walking into a completely different restaurant for the first time. No Lori there at the door to say hello. No Bea behind the bar with my Pinot Grigio already poured and chilled, or Sylvia or Nolita or Dema or “Mr. Visa” to say hello to. More than anything, no sign of Kevin or Ian or Amy. It was just me, alone at the bar, ordering up my own glass of wine amidst a sea of strangers.

“I’m Richard” (for some reason everyone there always called me by my last name), I say to the stranger behind the bar who’s looking at me as if I had two heads. “I used to be a regular here. Where did everyone go? Where’s Kevin? Where’s Ian and Amy? Where’s Mike?”

…upon which, she told me the sad tale of how, maybe a week or two after I had stopped coming back in February, there was some tension between the family and the hired help. After a couple of key people left, there were 2-3 weeks of poor food (and, even worse, even poorer service) causing most of the regular clientele to leave for greener pastures. She told me they’ve now added a Friday Karaoke night and are trying to build up a new set of clientele. I think we all know where this is heading…

Which is fine. It just goes to show just how risky the restaurant business is. You can have years of serving a loyal client base decent food with friendly service, then run into a rough stretch and boom! – you’re basically starting over from scratch. There are just too many other places where you can get treated as well – if not better – just waiting waiting for your business if your own familiar haunt suddenly drops the ball.

Me, I could see this coming. What I liked about Bea was that she knew just how incompetent the kitchen could be, so she always made sure they knew exactly what my order was and always checked it twice before bringing it out to me. The weeks she wouldn’t be there, I’d have to do it myself to make sure there wasn’t anything missing or wrong. If a regular had to do that, one can only imagine what the uninitiated went through.

So, my local pizza joint era comes to an end – which, for the reasons mentioned above, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Eating out can be expensive, and we’ve still got a pile of debt to pay off. Still, having a place to stop by and chill out after a tough week was always enjoyable, and to talk with real people not related to anything work-related was a nice break. But all good things must come to an end sooner or later. Time marches on, and familiar people, places, and things come and go. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just life.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:32 | Comments (2)
May 28, 2011

I’m back after three days in the home PC gulag. It all started upon my return from Atlanta (another excuse for me never to travel to Atlanta again if I can help it!). I walk in the door and Tracey says our PC unexpectedly and inexplicably started a PC Checkup on its own and one of the tests for a SMART-thingy disk device failed. After checking out a few more diagnostics and a call to Dell technical support, it became obvious we were having yet another hard drive crash – the second in a year’s time. I furiously backed up as much personal data files as I could, and yesterday the Dell guy came out and spent all of three minutes (I timed it) opening up the PC, pulling out the old hard drive, installing the new, and telling me, “you should be able to start recovering your data in a hour or so” before heading out the front door and beating it down the road.

There’s something vast and breathtaking in the scope of emptiness one feels when, after a new install does its own thing, you gaze at your desktop and the only icon shoing is the Recycle Bin – that’s it. Fortunately, in this day and age, if you back up all the right directories, you can be back up and running in a relatively short period of time. Microsoft Outlook has always been historically one of the more tricky programs to restore with all your personal folders and such, but this time, because our computer guy Floyd had wisely loaded our .pst file into the My Documents folder when we first converted over to this new machine back in February, I was flabbergasted to see our Outlook back and fully intact with out so much as a mind you me after it configured itself on startup.

Fourteen hours after the initial boot, everything (well everything important, at least) has been restored. Typical Microsoft, you never get back exactly what you originally had, even when you’re restoring the very same software. For example, a website that would always annoyingly crash our IE9, forcing us to drop back to IE8, now works just fine under the reinstalled IE9. And our Outlook, which previously never went directly to our Inbox upon open (very annoying) now does.

And Microsoft Picture Manager? Don’t get me started on that. It used to work just fine – you would open a picture file and, after making MOPM the default program, that was what every file type of that kind would open with. Now, for whatever reason, it works exactly backwards – if you want to use MOPM for picture files you have to point it to the folder where the pictures all reside. And the Microsoft Picture Manager.exe file is now mysterious executed by a so-called “Virtualization Handler” CVH.exe file. Very bizarre.

Anyways, what else does one have to do on a long Memorial Day weekend but futz with a restore of your home PC?

I chalk it up to life in the marvelous technological age we live in.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:32 | Comments (0)
May 26, 2011

Tomorrow I go to the vet to pick up Little Half Pint’s ashes. Whenever I start thinking I can’t believe she’s gone, one look at the cage area that was once her home, in all its emptiness, tells me otherwise.

As I was telling Tracey the other day, this is the damned thing about pets: not to sound morbid, but the moment you bring any pet into your home the clock starts ticking towards the time you’re going to end up having to make a difficult decision and help bring about their end. That’s just the way it is. Hopefully it’s a slow clock, but it’s still a clock, nonetheless.

Some people just can’t handle the pressure of putting down a pet – it’s so emotionally hard for them that they can never bring themselves to take another into their house. Heck, I’ve been there: I was there when our two cats Rascal and Sparkle breathed their last. Was it painful? Absolutely, you bet. Was it beyond the most precious and intimate experience I’ll ever know? You bet. And when I go up to The Bunny Basics rabbit rescue in Scottsdale, I can’t help but look at those those beasties and see in their eyes that they don’t know who’s come before them, all they’re looking for is a good home with someone to love them. for who they are, now.

You bring a pet into your life and there are lots of joyful times. But, like life itself, there’s no such thing as joy without sorrow – that’s just the way it is. Everything that is born has an end attached to it. At some point, after x number of years, the time comes when you have to say goodbye. And it’s one of – if not the – hardest and saddest thing you’ll ever do. But to me, the years of happiness, joy, and unconditional love they have given far outweighs the days (and perhaps hours) one spends making sure their lives come full circle so they know they’re not alone at the end.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:20 | Comments (4)
May 25, 2011

What can I say today that I haven’t already said about Atlanta? I’ve been here since Sunday and it feels like I’ve been here a month already. Sure, it was good to make the trip down to corporate here and get some long-awaited maintenance done on my laptop, but the nights here are breathtakingly boring in their scope. The one good thing I could count on – a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant that served great, authentic food and watered-down margaritas (you had to be very specific about how you wanted them made and then watch them like a hawk until they got to your table) – went out of business, leaving only a pathetic chain called “Uncle Julios“…

Ahhhh, drink in the aroma of smoky grilled fajitas, sizzling shrimp brochettes or unique grilled quail cooked in authentic border-style. Savor the full flavor of roasted vegetables and spicy salsa made with freshly picked ingredients. Enjoy a custom margarita, created from any of 15 different tequilas, and served in lively, festive surroundings. Just the way Uncle Julio likes it.

(Of course he does… along with the logo store and the catering van. One weird thing: the salsa they serve with the chips is warm. Warm salsa, cold chips – isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? But hey, that’s “authentic” for you! But I digress…)

…within hotel shuttle distance if you want south-of-the-border cuisine. But considering your other choices around the Perimeter Mall area – a Maggiano’s Little Italy, a Cheesecake Factory, and…well, you get the picture. I mean, how can you beat those choices? Bucca di Beppo? The Outback? Applebees? Macaroni Grill? I’m sure they’re all around here somewhere. Talk about haute cuisine!

Of course, this area isn’t unique with all its food-for the masses chains, they’re pretty much everywhere now. And Gilbert, Arizona is hardly any different, so maybe I’m being a little harsh here. But again, I digress…

Were I a little more adventurous perhaps I’d want to check out other areas of, well, the area, but it all seems like nothing but a whole lot of suburban sprawl to me. And, given the beating of two Delta employees on a MARTA train last month, the sprawl is probably the safest part of the area: Atlanta is one city you would not catch The Great White Shank going out after dark.

Still, I do like seeing all the trees out green and full, and watching them dark against the gray dusk of a warm spring night is not unpleasant by any means. Kinda reminds me of what July looks like in New England.

At any rate, another visit to Atlanta is mercifully drawing to a close. When you count the day of your airport departure as the highlight of your visit, you know that’s one place best left in your rear-view mirror.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:19 | Comments (0)
May 24, 2011

Prayers for the dead and those who have lost loved ones and their homes and jobs in Joplin, Missouri following Sunday’s incredible tornado. The devastation (right now categorized as resulting from a F4, but I’m sure will end up being a F5) is both breathtaking and heartbreaking in its breadth and scope.

I don’t know about you, but to me it sure seems there’s an ill wind blowing this 2011, and I’m not just talking about the weather here in the U.S. during this historic and deadly tornado season. All across this planet we’ve seen a series of earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and floods one after the other, and I doubt we’ve seen the end of them (or perhaps even the worst of them) yet. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s this little warning bell that’s been ringing inside me for some time that says there’s some other major shoe about to drop. Don’t know how, don’t know where. Could be a war in the Middle East, could be another major economic correction resulting from the lack of will and leadership in Washington to do anything about our dire economic situation and spiralling debt. I just feel something bad is coming, I just hope and pray I’m wrong.

As a religious man, I can’t help but feel God is trying to tell the world something, but fewer and fewer people even consider a loving and merciful God relevant in their lives. And I have no faith at all in the Campaigner-in-Chief that presently occupies the White House to show any kind of capability or willingness to be a leader and bring people together. Which is too bad, because I feel we’re gonna need someone like that at the top before too long.

There’s an ill wind blowing out there, for sure…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:15 | Comments (0)
May 23, 2011

bachmann “Michele Bachmann is batshit crazy.” — former Georgia county commissioner and present-day political observer Dave Richard.

I’m not sure I agree with my bro here regarding the Minnesota congresswoman and potential GOP presidential candidate, but it certainly makes for a notable quotable. And in this day and age, with all the bloviating talking heads you see on the 24/7 cable networks and hear from in Washington, you gotta respect someone with the ability to be both opinionated, yet brief.

Thanks for the quote bro, and for making me laugh. It made my day.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 18:35 | Comments (0)
May 22, 2011

la-woman L.A. Woman is the Doors’ final LP with iconic lead singer Jim Morrison, and is, at least in my mind, the best album they ever created by far. Featuring a solid blend of top 40 pop, poetry, blues, psuedo-psychedelia, dark moodiness, and social commentary, it’s one of my top twenty all-time favorite albums.

Why? Combine the usual solid Doors’ musicianship with Morrison’s world-weary, husky vocals and tell me I’m a liar after you hear it in its entirety. Released in July, 1971 just prior to Morrison’s untimely death, this is a very moody and bluesy album – perfect for oppressive summer nights with cocktails sweating on the front porch with heat lightning and the low rumble of distant thunder creating the kind of deep thick claustrophobia only the height of summer can bring.

Whenever I hear L.A. Woman I think of my own hot, humid summer night back in 1971 (this was pre-A/C, folks!) with the bedroom window open, heat lightning in the distance, crickets chirping loudly, the sweat pouring off my body as I lie in bed trying to fall asleep.

…come to think of it, same thing with this tune. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Get the picture?

But I digress…

To me, what Morrison and company was able to achieve with this album – considering Morrison’s interest was flagging amidst his deepening legal problems and alcoholism – is nothing short of astounding. It’s a powerful, gritty, and soulful album by one of the all-time greatest bands Rock ever produced. In my mind, it’s a must-have for anyone’s record collection.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:22 | Comments (0)
May 21, 2011

The GWS will rue the day he gave me access to this blog….I have so many grits recipes to share and the most special one is my world famous baked cheese grits which will be forthcoming. You see, Doug would rather have anything related to  grits blasted into outer space. I, on the other hand, derive a sick sense of pleasure watching the veins pop out on his neck, his face turning red and spewing all the the reasons grits are disgusting, vile and should be used as a form of torture. He would put on a hazmat suit if he knew he was entering a room that had a bowl of grits sitting on the table. However, my darlin’ Tracey LOVES my baked cheese grits and I do this for her. Now mind you, Tracey is one who isn’t into cooking so guess who gets to make for her BAKED CHEESE GRITS…that’s right sports fans, the one and only GWS. I just have to figure out a way to get him to do this and would gladly create a wagering event.  Watching the GWS make grits could be a YouTube sensation…oh the ideas I have!!

Filed in: Uncategorized by Jana at 00:40 | Comments (5)

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