April 19, 2012

The grass wither, the flower fades: because the spirit of the LORD blows on it: surely the people is grass. The grass wither, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. — Isaiah 40:7-8

R.I.P. Dick Clark. Just a tad before my time, but there’s no denying his role in bringing rock n’ roll (before it became “rock and roll” then just plain “rock”) to the masses. It’s hard to imagine true greats like Clark and the dying Levon Helm (drummer and lead singer for The Band), and Robin Gibb (of Bee Gees fame) not being around anymore; you think about the rich lives they’ve lived and the music and memories they’ve created over multiple decades with millions of fans worldwide. But it’s a reminder that death is the great equalizer – whether you’re rich or poor, famous or anonymous, human, animal, or plant, liberal or conservative, good or evil, surrounded by a large circle of friends and family or lonely, our time on this earth is finite.

There was a time when I worried about death a lot. Maybe it was back when I was young enough to think there were still great things to accomplish, and I didn’t want to get cheated out of anything. I don’t worry about that so much anymore. I guess what I do think about – at least when it comes to death – is hoping that whenever my time comes, it comes quickly. Were instead it’s a long, drawn-out illness, I pray I will have the strength and faith to face it with humility, dignity, and not a little humor; after all, who am I to think I deserve being spared a death different from someone who dies of starvation, or torture, or war wounds, or any number of maladies or afflictions suffered by humans since our time on earth began. I mean, I’m nobody special.

There was a time when I thought the best thing was to die without any regrets. How foolish! Hell, when my time comes – even if it is tomorrow – I’m going to die with a lot of regrets. Regrets about time I’ve wasted doing useless crap, or the way I’ve treated people I’ve cared for, or not being equal to the discipline required of the priestly calling I know God called me to, or at not being a monastic, or a better husband, friend, or lover, or being too competitive and hard on myself. I’ve got a lot of regrets, and nothing will stop me from taking them to the grave with me. Which is fine: to have regrets is to be human.

That being said, whenever my time comes, I hope I’ll look back on it as a life that was blessed – blessed with a wonderful set of parents who passed down life lessons and an example I can never, ever repay them for. Blessed for having a wonderful wife and extended family, and a set of friends who are never as far away in thought as they are in miles. Blessed to live in a country where I have been able to work, make good money, travel, have food on my table, and clean water out of a faucet at just the turn of a knob. Blessed I’ve shared my living space with wonderful pets whom I hope I will see again in the next life. Blessed to have seen thunderstorms, trees, the grasses of lovely manicured fairways, rivers (especially the Mississippi), and salt water oceans, harbors, and inlets. Blessed to have been given a love and an ear for music and the need to have my daily life surrounded with life music in various forms. Blessed to have never been hungry, thirsty, abused, persecuted for my beliefs, or ever feeling unloved. No question, I’ve been truly lucky, definitely more fortunate than most.

Most importantly, I have my faith and religion that I don’t know what I would do without. I only wish I could be as devoted and faithful a disciple of Christ that God has called me to be.

Warren Zevon once sang, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, and I used to think that was a pretty darned good motto. Nowadays, as much as I think all my best days are long since behind me, and I’m living a life in a kind of self-imposed, burned-out exile where life and my calling can’t hurt me anymore, the fact is, there will come a time (and probably not that far away in the future) when I look upon these Arizona years as a very good time filled with steady work, good pay, and daiquiris on a brightly-colored back patio with a swimming pool and palm trees swaying in a hot summer breeze. One can definitely do a lot worse.

You can’t worry about what is to come. Live every day as if it were to be your last, treating others as you would like to be treated yourself, and seeking God in all and of all. You do that, and it’ll be hard not to live a life worth living.

Like George Harrison once sang, “be here now”.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:35 | Comments Off on Mortality
April 18, 2012

The pool crossed that magical 70-degree threshold yesterday afternoon, and with the extended forecast showing nothing but 90s after Thursday one can officially say that summer has arrived in the Valley of the Sun.

Was talking with the pest control guy yesterday, and he says the ants tell him this is going to be a hotter summer than normal – he says he trusts the ants more than the weather forecasters because they’ve been around a hell of a lot longer. Who’s to disagree with logic like that?

The one constant about the very short season they call Spring here in this part of Arizona is that once the temps hit 90 it’s a very short jump to the triple figures, and once they get there they tend to stay until the second week of October. But given that this has been a bizarre year weather-wise across the USA, who really knows?

Given the lack of precipitation this winter, here’s hoping for an active monsoon season come July. Last year was a disappointment, would love to see some natural pyrotechnics bring us some soaking thunderstorms this year. Not much better sound in the world than a still late afternoon and the sound of thunder in the distance. Magical, spiritual, humbling.

Summer means baseball, and I guarantee this throw will make the 2012 all-season highlight reel. Unbelievable.

Some music to welcome summer by. I’m retooling my Zen Surf collection from a few years back to eliminate some of the harder-edged stuff. This summer I’m leaning towards the mellow and dreamy. Who’s with me?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:09 | Comments Off on Here Comes Summer
April 17, 2012

Was talking with a neighbor yesterday and the subject somehow got around to “prepping” – big-time disaster preparedness. He’s of the opinion that things are about to go very sour, and very quickly, and as a result he’s working on a complete disaster preparedness program for his house and his family. He mentioned doing something he never, ever imagined he and his wife doing, which is becoming gun owners and going the whole nine yeards on training, shooting practice and all that stuff. Keep in mind, this guy is no right-wing conservative wacko from Idaho or somehere you might associate with radical survivalists, he’s a white-collar professional in (I’m guessing) his late ’40s, maybe early ’50s, with a couple of teenagers. Drives a nice Infiniti, just got the whole front yard of his house nicely landscaped, I mean he’s Mr. “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, so if he’s doing this kind of thing you know there are thousands of othere thinking the same kind of thing.

I know from Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit blog (one of my regular daily Internet surfing stops) that this nothing to be surprised at, he’s been preaching disaster preparedness for years, and he’s a law teacher in Tennessee, so he’s no survivalist wacko, either. PJ Media’s Bob Owens wrote about this just the other day:

I’m not sure when the tipping point occurred, but at some point recently the “prepper” movement exploded and became mainstream.

The media still demeans the more extreme preppers making bizarre preparations for what most people consider unrealistic scenarios — such as polar shifts or the Mayan apocalypse — but with the current global economic situation, the carnage of recent natural disasters, and the fragility of power grids, other scenarios are no laughing matter. “Putting things by” like our grandparents did is now regarded by many as a wise investment against uncertain times, and like any market, there are smart businesses willing to cater to this growth market.

That’s exactly what my neighbor was talking about. His view is that this country has gone so soft that, were anything to happen on a grand scale that involved our national or economic security there’d be a total freakout and a breakdown of law and order very quickly. “You see what’s happening in Greece and Europe”, he says, “anyone who thinks it can’t or won’t happen here is either a fool or deluding themselves”.

The fact is, in a world where we are all so dependent on technology for our daily lives, it’s probably not the most absurd idea in the world to start putting together a plan for what happens if (when?) the unthinkable becomes real. Disasters come in many forms – Rob certainly knows that from his Katrina experience – and even here in Arizona, where you don’t equate the likelihood of natural disasters occurring, the idea of getting a plan together is not the worst idea.

Of course, if a national emergency or disaster does occur, I sure hope it doesn’t effect the power grid and doesn’t happen sometime between the months of May and September – if it does we’re totally screwed. Heck, we lost our A/C for 2+ days during August several years back and we were this close to just closing up shop and bugging out to get the rabbits to an extended-stay hotel; were the regional or national power grid to go out for any length of time like that there’d be nowhere to hide from the effects.

I’ve already thought of a few things that are basic necessities, like putting $1,000 dollars away in a safe spot (the banks and ATM’s will be useless in a power-grid based emergency and bribe money will come in handy) and considering some minimal power generating solution – not just for A/C’ng a couple of closed-off rooms but so I have tunes and boat drink ice for the backyard patio while Rome burns down all around us. We’ve got plenty of room in the garage for food stuffs and I know Costco already sells that kind of thing. Me, I like the look of this site and think it warrants a little closer attention than I’ve given in the past.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:09 | Comments (4)
April 16, 2012

cactus_flower Not sure exactly what kind of cactus this is, but it’s really taken off over the past year. Last year we had at the most four flowers; this year we’ve already had four and there are at least (to my count) another dozen that will come out. I know this: the bees love them, so that’s got to account for something.

The one thing about these cactus is that you never, ever allow yourself to get close enough to brush up against them. If you do you’re going to get dozens, if not hundreds, of little tiny spikes embedded in your skin. And the only true remedy for removing them is plastic tape.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:34 | Comments (2)
April 15, 2012

It’s tax day, but fortunately we’ve got ours done. Hopefully y’all have as well. Don’t want the taxman coming after you!

Since I don’t have to worry about taxes, it’s a perfect day for a poem:

“This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.
I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.”
– D. H. Lawrence, The Enkindled Spring

Hat tip: egreenway.com

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:14 | Comments Off on April Poem
April 14, 2012

There are a lot of hazards the Goodboys face during their Goodboys Invitational weekend, but nothing like this. Very cool!

Can your political affiliation be determined by the beer you drink?

By this index, it would seem accurate to peg Busch Light fans as part of the right-leaning, low turnout crowd, staying at home on election stay (and possibly hungover), with their left-leaning full flavor Busch fan friends. Surprisingly, the study would suggest that Guinness drinkers are the most likely to be found voting in a booth for democrats, and Sam Adams drinkers voting for Republicans.

If The Great White Shank’s beer preference is any indication, I guess the answer is yes.

Along those same lines, summer can’t be far away if the local Fry’s has Samuel Adams Summer Ale. Bought my first six-pack today. By the Goodboys Invitational weekend is over in late July, I’ll probably be sick of the stuff. By then I’ll be anticipating Sam Octoberfest!

And summer can’t be far behind if it’s going to be in the mid-’80s for this Monday’s Boston Marathon. Ahh, Marathon weekend. Reminds me of days long past. Of course, if it’s warm back East, that must mean out here in the West we’re in for a cool down.

Unfortunately, you get into this time of year and you’re also talking about tornado outbreaks. This weekend could be a really bad one, prayers and good thoughts for those in the warning area that they’ll pay attention to the warnings and stay safe.

And what would the talk of weekends and summer be without a cool version of The Sandals’ (Theme From) The Endless Summer, courtesy of Laika and the Cosmonauts? Well done.

Hope everyone’s taxes are done out there!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:58 | Comments (4)
April 13, 2012

A few interesting items from today, all reminding me I’m so glad to be the age I am. I’ve said it before: it’s my generation more than any other since the founding of the country that has screwed this country and brought it to the point it is. I just pray I’m not around to see it all collapse within itself, as it’s gonna be ugly.

White House and DNC lobbyist Hilary Rosen’s attack on Ann Romney shows nothing more than the liberal left’s contempt for stay-at-home moms. As Michelle Malkin writes, Rosen’s attack is nothing new; she’s simply following in the steps of such Democratic luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, and those who attacked Sarah Palin’s mothering abilities during the 2008 presidential campaign. For Ann Romney it’s that she stayed at home, for Palin it was that she didn’t stay at home. I mean, how can you win with these people?

William Tucker of the American Spectator Online writes of the coming cultural disintegration. This part should come as surprise to no one:

The cultural earthquake that [Charles] Murray has brought to national attention in Coming Apart goes as follows: Whatever the causes, the social disintegration that once seemed to apply only to African Americans has now engulfed blue-collar, white working-class communities as well. Men are dropping out of the workforce, single motherhood has risen to nearly 50 percent, crime has skyrocketed, religious faith is declining, and the chances for upward mobility are rapidly diminishing. As Murray concludes: “The absolute level [of social cohesion] is so low that it calls into question the viability of white working-class communities as a place for socializing the next generation.”

Murray identifies what he calls the “founding virtues”—marriage, industriousness, honesty, and religiosity—that were once shared by all Americans and held us together in a common culture. That culture was still intact on November 21, 1963, the day before the Kennedy assassination that Murray chooses as his benchmark. In graph after graph drawn from the sociological literature, he shows how these four qualities have deteriorated—not among the college educated, who spend most of their time disparaging those virtues, but in blue—collar communities where people are rarely educated beyond high school.

When was the last time you heard either “marriage”, “industriousness”, “honesty”, and “religiosity” celebrated as virtues in today’s media-saturated discourse? Bingo.

Do a majority of Americans believe Christianity to have a positive impact on American society? Unsurprisingly, a recent poll says no. (Hat tip: The Blaze) I say unsurprising, given the fact you can’t turn on TV or open the newspapers without seeing some religion (except Islam, of course) or religious practice under attack by the forces of the liberal left. But, as Michael Potemra of National Review Online’s Corner blog writes, it’s not just those outside the Church attacking it – even Catholics are doing it from the left and the right. Me, I just don’t get it. But I’m not surprised.

It’s all my generation’s fault. The women’s movement savaged the whole concept of the nuclear family, trading away the most important job a woman can have if she so chose – motherhood – for an “I want it all and then some” mentality that has spread like a cancer to the generations that followed.

The sexual revolution combined with the internet has cheapened the God-given gift of human sexuality to the point where something beautiful has been turned into a multi-billion dollar industry that celebrates abuse, degradation, and dehumanization.

The gay/lesbian/transgender movement has not only destroyed mainline Protestant Christianity by forcing a vast minority of people’s chosen lifestyle down the throats of the Church, but incessantly pushes homosexuality through the nation’s public schools by way of the entertainment industry, the public teachers unions, and political activists that it is something beautiful and to be celebrated.

Once a nation loses its soul and its sense of morality to the forces of political and moral relativism, and with it the sense that there is no such thing as good and evil, the very fabric and foundation that made this nation strong are being eaten away as if a billion carpenter ants and termites were on the attack. And when it all collapses from within, when the family has been replaced by a federal government more than eager to take on the role of mommy, daddy, benefactor, and yes, God, in its thirst for total power and ultimate authority over everything and everyone, it will be a mighty house indeed that will fall.

Truth is, we’re not all that far away from that fall, and the social and economic chaos, violence, and collapse that goes with it. And I can’t help but think it will be my generation that the historians of another time will look back on as the ones who started it all.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:48 | Comments Off on Culture Shock
April 12, 2012

marlie1 If you look closely at the picture you’ll see the shadow of Marlie, our new rabbit, who has somehow figured out a way to turn an old bed ruffle into a multi-entrance and exit bunny tunnel. It’s amazing what the combination of flimsy material, bunny teeth, and no small amount of bunny curiosity and mischief will invent!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:49 | Comments Off on Shadow And Light
April 11, 2012

Another down day on Wall Street but it was too nice a day here to let anything get me down. So here are some feel-good stories to make up for the usual stuff going on:

300-lb dolphin saved by a 72-year old. And not only that, it was a mama dolphin whose calf had strayed away. Mother and baby are now doing well.

If you have $430, you too can own a limited-edition hot pink Ping driver just like Bubba Watson. No word on whether they’ll also make available a lime-green 3-wood like Bubba uses. I somehow don’t expect to see either at an upcoming Goodboys Invitational.

I’m not sure if people are inherently good or not, but everyone has the capability of being nice. I just wish we saw more of it in everyday life.

Frequent commenter Jana sends this heartwarming story about bald eagles nesting not too far away from her humble Prospect, KY abode. I’ll bet the pigeon population isn’t too excited., though…

Since I have a Blu-ray player I may have to consider this a summer treat for purchasing.

A rabbit cafe – what a great idea! For Tracey’s and my MarTiki idea – a cocktail lounge half retro martini / half tiki we could add a rabbit section where people can enjoy a cocktail, pet some rabbits and feel good about life after a hard, stressful day at work.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:55 | Comments (2)
April 10, 2012

Ahhh, the three-legged stool of liberalism on full display for all to see. What a bunch of hypocrites.

Here’s a great example of liberal tolerance, but you’ll never hear condemned by our Moralizer-in-Chief.

Is there a more vile, despicable individual on the face of the earth as Jesse Jackson? I’m sure there is, I just need time to think about it. To call him a disgrace and a shameless, race-baiting fraud doesn’t begin to tell just how reprehensible an individual he is doesn’t even begin to tell the story. How he can even look at himself in the mirror when he wakes up each day is beyond me.

As a Christian I’m taught not to judge others lest I be judged myself, but I don’t care – Jesse Jackson is gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do in the hereafter. He is as corrupt and vile and evil a person as your likely to find these days; the fact he has the gall to put “Reverend” in front of his name is an affront and disgrace to his race, his religion, and his country. He is a cancer on this society.

Diversity, Obama style.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:13 | Comments Off on Tolerance, Diversity, Acceptance

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