October 21, 2011

There are probably few non-Mac / iPod users who respected Apple CEO Steve Jobs more than me. His really was one of the greatest American stories of American stories: a far-seeing innovator who changed the way the world worked – literally, bringing technology to the masses in a way that wasn’t even thinkable, say, two decades ago. To me, he’s as much of a giant as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and Phil Spector. Well, maybe Phil’s half a step down… 🙂

You’ve often heard me say there’s a difference between book sense and common sense, and that these days common sense ain’t really that common at all. But still, it shocked me to to read the following about Job’s decision on how to treat his cancer when he was first diagnosed, and it makes me truly sad:

Jobs learned in October 2003 that he had a neuroendocrine tumor — a relatively rare type of pancreatic cancer that normally grows more slowly and is therefore more treatable. Instead of opting for surgery, he took on a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic. He also was influenced by a doctor who ran a clinic that advised juice fasts, bowel cleansings and other unproven approaches, the book says, before finally having surgery in July 2004.

Isaacson, quoting Jobs, writes in the book: “`I really didn’t want them to open up my body, so I tried to see if a few other things would work,’ he told me years later with a hint of regret.”

This really hits kind of home to me, for, although our cancers were different – his a form of pancreatic, mine prostate – the recommended treatment was the same. Get the surgery out of the way while it was still non-invasive and releatively easy to deal with. Now, certainly, we’re talking different cancers and we all know cancers don’t always respond the same way to treatment, but putting one’s faith in “diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments he found online” sounds like toying with fate if you ask me. I was lucky – not only that my cancer was detected very early in its process, but that I found a doctor quite by accident who is universally respected as the absolute best in his business.

I’ve thanked Dr. Kevin Bigelow personally on many occasions; after reading this article on Jobs and the choice he made makes me realize just how good the choice I made was.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:25 | Comments (0)
October 20, 2011

As most who visit this outpost on the blogsphere much would probably gather, I’m not much of a fan of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. To me, this movement is exactly what you get when you combine those ’60s burnouts who want to relive the heady days of the Vietnam War protests and those who’ve been raised by “baby boomers” and thus have been given every single privilege known to modern man who now see – gasp! – that there isn’t a nanny state to continue to support their every whim and need without any sacrifice on their own.

It’s just like the riots in England a couple of months back and Vancouver after the Stanley Cup Finals. Those protesters weren’t demonstrating against anything concrete – after all, there aren’t more than a few countries out there who are more nanny state than what you see in Great Britain and Canada. Note that the majority of those folks (as is the case on Wall Street, BTW) are not from the economically disadvantaged class; these are young people who come from the suburbs, went to college and accumulated large student debts for all their trouble, and are now looking at the future and wondering what the point of it all is.

I’m no psychologist – I’ll leave that to frequent visitor Jana – but I’m guessing if you dig down far enough what they’re all demonstrating against was the fear and anger they feel deep down at the thought that there’s nothing else to live for. I mean, when you’re given everything in life from the moment of birth and you have no more challenges, nothing to inspire and drive you to be something better and more successful, unless you’re a monastic, what’s the point of living? After all, how many nights at the clubs can you spend? How many lattes at the local Starbucks can you drink? At some point, there has to be something more than just consuming and living off of the toil of others. It’s easy to spew talking points about the rich and how they should “pay their fair share”, but it’s all bullshit, and I think down deep even they know how ignorant they sound.

You take away capitalism and what do you replace it with? Democracy? All you’re asking for is chaos. Every revolution founded on the idea of social and economic equality has led to violence, slaughter, and misery of the majority at the expense of a small but vocal minority. And why? Because human beings by nature are a competitive species. Fred Flintstone was damned if he’d allow himself to be eaten by a brontosaurus. If a Wall Street protester had the choice of eat or be eaten, I guarantee their humanity (I mean that in every sense of the word) would come out and they’d defend themselves. Remember, most people who speak about equality and true democracy doesn’t believe it applies to them. Human beings require structure and, for better or for worse, leaders to lead them.

You want to replace capitalism? Fine, what are you gonna replace it with? And who’ll be “the man” in that arrangement? Because with every vacuum of leadership that has ever since the days of the Garden and the serpent, there’s always been someone who believes they’re the one that has to fill it. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. You make your own freedom here in the USA; the Constitution protects the freedoms you have from those seeking to take it away. At least it was that way until Barack Obama became President. But that’s a whole ‘nutha topic for another day.

In some ways I feel bad for the protesters of the “occupy” movements; they’re just now learning that you can’t be a spoiled child forever, that it’s a hard and harsh world out there. It’s time for them to grow up, the sooner the better for everyone.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:27 | Comments (0)
October 19, 2011

I had other plans tonight and was not able to see the GOP candidates debate from Las Vegas on CNN, although I heard some of it over the radio. Which, frankly, is a good thing since I’m pretty much debated out and there’s still thirteen months until the Presidential election. All I’ll say is this: if you want to lose my interest in what you have to say, keep talking about the other person and over them, preventing them from getting a word in edge-wise. Of course there’s a place for a passionate exchange of ideas in a debate forum, but there is no place for rudeness and incivility. And there was plenty of it tonight, in spades.

I didn’t see the most contentious point of the debate – the argument between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney over illegal immigration, but I have a hard time seeing how that exchange helped either of them. Sure, Perry got under Romney’s skin in a big way, but there too, whatever valid argument either might have had one way or the other was lost in the shouting over one another. In all the debates I’ve seen thus far, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum seems to be the worst offender in this regard. Sure, maybe you’re not getting as many questions as the other candidates do, but that’s because you’re usually somewhere near or at the bottom of the virtually every poll, Rick. And maybe, just maybe, your incivil debate behavior has something to do with that.

Maybe it’s just me and the fact I’m getting older, but I’m tired of shouting and incivility in any public forum. Bad enough this country and culture seems to by and large have lost the whole concept of manners, but I think there’s a place for them on the public stage. It’s bad enough that our national (and in a lot of cases, local) politics are so dysfunctional that demogoguery has replaced honest debate, the fact that raised voices and shouting down one another has replaced earnest, honest, and respectful disagreement this far along in the GOP debates doesn’t paint anyone well and certainly doesn’t bode well for the rest of the election season.

No wonder why people are so turned off by politics these days.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:46 | Comments (3)
October 18, 2011

While we’re sitting around here in benign 90+ degree temps looking for something, anything, to change the dynamics of a typical Southwestern fall weather pattern – even a breezy night would be a welcome change! – the folks back east are about to get their first taste of a winter-like weather pattern that would bring quite different results were it a month from now. A significant Great Lakes blow and a storm rolling up the Eastern seaboard bringing wind and soaking rains to folks who really don’t need more rain is a telltale sign that winter can’t be far behind.

Back where I’m from, once you get past the middle of October all bets are off. You can get some major storms at any given time. And the folks who live in and around the Great Lakes know the same thing. Here in the Valley of the Sun, the heat and clouds and dust of monsoon season have given way to weeks upon weeks of bright sunny and warm days that will pass without interruption until early December when, if we’re lucky the first storms from the “Pineapple Express” will roll through, bringing some welcome precipitation.

But until then, this weather lover will just have to experience the early onset of winter vicariously through Accuweather.com.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:22 | Comments (0)
October 17, 2011

…so I head up into the attic armed with flashlight, hammer, and broom. I’m crawling on my hands and knees underneath the beams looking for the sound of Tracey pounding on the ceiling of my bathroom every time the smoke detector beeps. Up to my waist in insulation foam, I’m wearing a facemask, rubber gloves, and covered with clothes from head to toe. Hell, if I hadn’t had my prostate removed last year I’d probably arm myself with a condom too. With all that fiberglass around you, one can’t take too many chances…

So now I’m moving insulation around with my hands and my broom and I can hear Tracey pounding on the ceiling below me. I can’t hear a thing but I can feel the sound of her pounding from below. I’m frantically moving mounds of insulation aside trying to hear a sharper version of the muffled beep she’s hearing below me, but no luck – I can’t hear a thing. I feel like I’ve lost the war, and all I can think of is calls to the HOA and some handyman coming out to rip my bathroom celing apart, running up hundreds of dollars trying to find the source of this damned beeping.

After moving another whole pile I hear Tracey down below saying that the sound seems to have moved and that it’s coming from another area in my bathroom. I work my way down from the attic and find her on her knees with my bathroom cabinet doors opened. The sound is louder now, and she’s working her way through all the junk you typically find stored underneath bathroom sinks. And then, all of a sudden, there is! A smoke detector in the farthest corner of the cabinet, beeping its freakin’ ass off. It’s the same damned smoke detector I took down from the guest bedroom ceiling a couple of years ago when our old A/C units outflow valve got clogged, sending water down through the ceiling. I had never put it back up; I’d left it in the dresser of the guest bedroom. Evidently, someone (I’m guessing my sister-in-law) cleaning out the dresser had tossed it in the cabinet underneath the bathroom sink. Which explains why we never could find the source of the beeping and why it sounded so muffled.

The house is quiet tonight, for the first time in weeks. Call it just one of those things. But at least it’s a mystery solved.

Me, I’m off to take a nice hot shower to get all this fiberglass off me.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:20 | Comments (7)
October 16, 2011

We have a smoke detector that’s beeping, telling us the battery needs to be replaced. The problem is, we can’t find it. We’ve put ladders up on various parts of the house, and it always sounds like its coming from the opposite direction. It started up a few weeks ago. It would beep for five minutes or so, then stop before I could find where it was. Then it was 10 minutes, then 30 minues, then 60 minutes, then an hour or two. Now it’s going off most of the time – I say most, because every now and then it will stop for like twenty minutes or so, then start up again. It used to be just a minor nuisance, now it’s starting to piss me off.

The other day I was in my bathroom and it started up again. It sounded lifke it was coming from my bathroom ceiling, although slightly muffled. I go out into the hallway and drag a step-ladder out and I listen. And listen. And listen some more. I check the smoke detector in the hall – it’s not that one, the test is pretty loud. I check the carbon monoxide detector only to find the packet that powers it is empty. So it’s never worked since we got here. Not exactly comforting, but where on earth would carbon monoxide come from, anyways?

Today Tracey and I went on a mission. The smoke detector was beeping away so we dragged out both the step ladder and big extension ladder and started rigorous testing – you know, going into bedrooms and closing the door to see if we could isolate it. No luck. All the smoke detectors in the house are all functional. I go up into the attic and can’t hear a thing – besides, what would a smoke detector be doing up in an attic, anyways? I’ve never heard of such a thing. I come down from the attic and hear it beeping away. This is really getting on my nerves. And then I find out that my work laptop has died. Now I’m more than annoyed. Then I realize that our primary car’s registration runs out as of Monday and we haven’t heard anything from Arizona DMV. Can you say, “Hemingway Daiquiri”?

Thing is, I can stand in my bathroom and hear the smoke detector beeping more clearly there than any other place in the house. So now I’m thinking that the smoke detector must be up in the attic right above my bathroom, but buried under four feet of foam insulation. That would explain why I couldn’t hear it up in the attic – that foam layer is pretty thick. Which means, tomorrow I’m heading up to the attic armed with rubber gloves, face mask, hammer, and broom to try and find a recalcitrant smoke detector. I can think of better ways to spend a weekend day. Of course, the alternative is to just let the damned thing beep away and keep my bathroom door closed all the time, but then I risk needing to use the bathroom and walking in on my sister-in-law who shares my bathroom with me when she’s staying here with us. Or, even worse, vice-versa.

…which then would mean I’d need to get an “Occupied” sign and hang it outside the door when the bathroom is being used. There oughta be some place in one’s house where someone can get a little privacy.

Of course, the true nightmare scenario is going up to the attic, pounding the hammer until Tracey tells me I got to the right place, brushing four feet of foam insulation aside and finding… nothing. At that point, I will have run out of ideas where the damned smoke detector is. It’s not a thought I prefer to contemplate at this time.

This is one of those times when I wish I was renting; then I could at least just call the main office and have them deal with it.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:44 | Comments (4)
October 15, 2011

hemingway Courtesy of Patricia Richards, legendary mixologist at Wynn Las Vegas and official bartender of Goodboys Nation (her “Patricia Delicia” received four “thumbs up” during a Goodboys Las Vegas weekend several years ago), here’s the oh-so-au courant cocktail at The Great White Shank’s Arizona hacienda designed to keep us happy and healthy this coming Arizona winter. It’s the “Hemingway Daiquiri”:

1 1/2 oz. Oronoco Rum
1/2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 oz. grapefruit juice
1/2 fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. sweet syrup

Shake vigorously in ice and prepare to take your own private Havana vacation. I like using the Simply Grapefruit brand because its pink color makes for a lovely shade, but any grapefruit juice will do. Also, don’t use sweetened lime juice – you don’t want this cocktail to be sweet. Slightly tart with a hint of sweet is the kicker here, just as Patricia planned it. Oronoco is a top-shelf Brazilian rum that may not be easy to find, but believe me, it’s worth it. You can even sip it neat in a chilled glass and it is smoooooooooooooooooooooth.

So do yourself a favor: make yourself a Hemingway Daiquiri today, and go with the Oronoco flow.

BTW, how do like that pelican martini glass? Got that for Tracey in a New Orleans shop near the Monteleone on our last visit to New Orleans. That was a fun day.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:06 | Comments (2)
October 14, 2011

facepalm Pretty amazing to watch the Red Sox implode like they did down the stretch in September to go 7-20 and lose out to the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL wild card. But if you’re a savvy follower of The Great White Shank, you wouldn’t have been all that surprised: all the way back in May I was bemoaning the fact that they started out of the gate 2-10 after dropping their last eight spring training games – a feat I still find impossible to comprehend.

Clearly this was a team that either: a) believed all the predictions that they were a shoo-in for the World Series and thought all they had to do was show up, b) came in out of shape, unmotivated, and unprepared, or c) both. No matter what the case, it was clear throughout the season – even when they were going great guns in July and August – that manager Terry Francona had lost control of the team. The pitching staff was uneven, the defense was uneven, at times even listless, and there really seemed to be a lack of joy and passion from the manager on down.

I understand professional baseball is not college football, so one has to be careful about intangibles like a “clubhouse leader” and a rah-rah type of passion. But this team was not a likeable one all year. Outside of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and outfielder Josh Reddick for a time, I don’t recall too many players getting dirty and giving it their all during the games. Is it asking so much to show that you at least care? Or at least play fundamental baseball?

Of course, throwing Francona under the bus as unceremoniously as he was, the impending departure of GM Theo Epstein, and the infighting that is still going on between the players and the fans, the fans and media, the media against other media, and the owners against, well, everyone (and vice-versa) is not a pretty sight. In fact, it’s pretty embarrassing if you’re a Red Sox fan. But maybe this is a good thing – spill your guts, empty all barrels, and bring new people in to clean up the mess and start over. It wouldn’t bother me one bit.

Frankly, the only people I’d be keeping as my core are pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon; first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Pedroia, left fielder Carl Crawford (he’s too good to have as bad a year as he did this year), Ellsbury, and DH David Ortiz. The rest of the bunch you can trade for a bag of balls (or a set of Obama administration playing cards featuring all the articles of the Constitution they have broken thus far) and clean house.

Gordon Edes is right: make a few good moves, put the lineup in a way that Terry Francona never cared about to understand – a lineup of Ellsbury/Crawford/Pedroia/Gonzalez/Ortiz is a good way to start – and get everyone revved up to play some good fundamental baseball (again, something that Francona never cared enough about), and this team will seriously contend.

Right now it ain’t pretty, but there’s a lot of snow to fall and a lot of Hemingway Daiquiris (how’s that for a teaser on tomorrow’s post?) to drink between now and spring training. Come February with some new management and new faces, and people will forget about 2011 quick enough. Especially if pitcher John Lackey is booted out of town and pitcher Tim Wakefield is presented his gold watch for many years of dedicated service.

Still, that doesn’t make it any more palatable to watch it all melt down as it is doing at the present time.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:54 | Comments (3)
October 13, 2011

That was a big bright beautiful moon I sat underneath enjoying my nitecap tonight. Bright and silvery, the palm tree fronds were glistening, and the deck around the pool looked like it was covered in a sheen of ice. It was gorgeous. I could only imagine what the moon looked like from a New England woods, with the leaves starting to turn and fall and the trees already starting to show their stick-figured branches against the moon like a pre-Halloween preview.

Silver

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy coat the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

– Walter de la Mare

Hat tip: Home.Hiwaay.net

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:39 | Comments (0)
October 12, 2011

A few observations since I feel like I’ve been in limbo for the past few weeks:

Arizona winter arrived right on schedule, although it’s going to feel like Spring the rest of this week and this weekend as the temps go back into the mid-90s. The pool season is over, though – 74 degrees is chilly no matter how you slice it. It wasn’t much of a pool season this year – lots of dust blowing around, too much late-night work. I just don’t feel as if I got my money’s worth out of the pool this year. It happens…

Experiencing a funeral conducted with full military honors (as it was with my brother Mark) is an impressive, somber, and emotional thing to watch. The two young servicemen who unwrapped the flag and then folded it back up again with such precision while dozens of people watched was an impressive thing to see indeed. There was a real veteran playing “Taps” on the trumpet as well; oftentimes these days that’s a recording. As impressive as it all was, to me it will always be remembered as the cap to a life that was incredibly wasted.

My brother Dave was right, though, in his brief eulogy during Mark’s funeral service. Just as much as my good friend Rock was as much a Hurricane Katrina casualty as much as anyone who died during the actual flooding, so Mark was a casualty of the Gulf War as much as anyone who died in the Iraqi or Kuwaiti deserts. He never could separate the (significant) baggage that came with someone just doing their job from the moral aspects of it. I’m guessing a lot of people come away from war feeling the same way.

Which, BTW, is one of the reasons why I detest politicians so much. They have no problem sending people off to die and to kill others just to achieve their own political agendas. Unless I see a bunch of Al-Qaeda guys storming ashore on the beaches of Massachusetts or New Jersey or North Carolina or Florida or Texas or California or Washington don’t bother me. I’ll be more than happy to die to defend my own country from aggressors but I’ll be damned if I’d die just to save someone else’s.

Watched the Bloomberg debate tonight and I’m officially debated out. Bring on the primaries. The only people who should be running right now are Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry. The others are just wasting their time and other people’s money.

Happy birthday to The Great White Shank, who turns 56 today. Excuse me if I don’t feel like celebrating. Waiter, just send me over a Mai Tai from Trader Vic’s (at the Hotel Valley Ho here in Scottsdale) and that’ll be sufficient.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:38 | Comments (4)

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