November 29, 2012

Even though one of the winners was from Arizona, it definitely wasn’t The Great White Shank – if it had this post would be coming to you from either Las Vegas or New Orleans. Still, all’s well and good – anytime you have your health, a roof over your head, food to eat, clean water to drink, and, above all, your health, life is fine. A few post-Powerball observations:

“Truck Day” for the Red Sox is just a little over two months away. Just hope there is something the Red Sox can do during next week’s winter meetings to give me something to look forward to.

Congratulations to those who have been selected for this year’s MLB Hall of Fame ballot. If I had my choice, there would five names with check marks next to them: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, and Curt Schilling. Sure the Bonds and Clemens picks might raise a few eyebrows with some, but like Sean McAdams writes, the case can be made that, unlike Sammy Sosa, who appears to have used performance-enhancing drugs all along, the argument can be made that Bonds and Clemens were destined to the Hall before the accusations started flying. Piazza and Biggio are destined for the Hall one day, if not immediately, and Schilling’s post-season record alone makes him worthy of the Hall.

Great to hear the governing bodies of the U.S. and European professional tours put in motion the elimination of the “anchor” use of the long putter. It doesn’t matter to me what the statistics say, that there doesn’t appear to be a huge difference in the performances of those who use a long putter and those who don’t. Fact is, the anchoring of the long putter against one’s body is an advantage, no matter what the end result is. To anchor the long putter against your body is nothing than a crutch – it’s time for those who play the game to man up (or woman up) and play the game the way it was intended to be played. ‘Nuff said.

Irrigation update: the bricks borders look to be dry. I’m hoping the tricking sound of the other night was just excess water still following the forces of gravity. I’ve got the water turned off for a few days and hope to see signs of a real “drying out” taking place by this weekend. Thank y’all for your kind concerns, thoughts, and prayers. :-)

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 17:44 | Comments (5)
November 28, 2012

…I’m dealing with more irrigation system issues. Seems like November is always the month for this kind of thing. I just spent $200 to fix the line I tried to fix and fix the connections I didn’t dare try. Last night was a lovely night – a full moon shimmering through high clouds, just the slightest chill in the air. It’s late, and I’m having a wee nitecap on the patio, the only light coming from my $17 metallic blue, 4′ high Christmas tree which gave the patio a soft blue/green corner glow. There’s very little traffic around so it’s really nice and quiet.

And that’s when I hear a soft tricking sound. I’m thinking, it can’t be. I put down my glass, turn my ear, and listen. There it is again – very faint, but definitely a tricking sound. I get up, grab my flashlight, and yup, there it is. The brick border by the big palm tree is wet, as is the grass around the area. I crouch close by the palm tree and listen, hear it again. But it’s so damned faint I can’t pick up the location.

Well, nothing was going to get done about it at that time, and it certainly posed no flood threat to anything but whatever insects might be calling that part of the back yard home, so I called off any further investigation.

Besides, in order to do that I would have had to put on some clothes.

This morning I got up and the brick border looked dry. So who knows? Perhaps that area is still so saturated by the earlier leak and the ground so porous that there was still water moving and it will take a few days for everything to dry out. I sure hope so, because when the days start getting really short and the Christmas season beckons, the last thing I need is a leaky irrigation system and another $200 fix to worry about.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 15:10 | Comments (2)
November 26, 2012

The Great White Shank’s twenty-year flirtation with Cobra Golf is over. On Saturday I found a buyer for my Cobra S2 woods, S9 irons, and SZ fairway woods. This coming Saturday, my original King Cobra irons and woods (and original bag) head to The Bunny Basics consignment shop where (hopefully) they’ll bring a few sheckels as a starter set for some young lucky lefty destined for his own form of Goodboys greatness.

It truly is the end of an era. I still remember trading in my old Dynacraft starter set made for me by a mate of my old and departed friend, Mike “Doc” Frechette, one of the Founding Fathers of Goodboys Nation. I had used the Dynacrafts for a couple of years when Doc (who, among other things, was very good at convincing people to spend money that was not his own) brought me down to the Whirlaway Golf Center in Methuen and told me to “man up” and buy a decent set of clubs. This was back in 1992, when Greg Norman was on top of the golf world. Cobra Golf was his sponsor then, and since he was my favorite golfer to watch on TV, it seemed only natural that what was good for “The Great White Shark” would be equally good for The Great White Shank.

Those King Cobra steel-shafted clubs treated me OK, but after a dozen years or so, like with everything else, it was time for an upgrade. During one of my visits back East, I tried the Cobra S9s irons at the Golf & Ski in Hudson, NH and they felt pretty good. So I upgraded. Two years later, I entered the world of the graphite shaft and picked up the Cobra S2 woods. And that’s what I’ve been playing with the last few years. I can’t say I ever fell “in love” with my Cobras, but they treated me OK. I could never hit the 3- and 4- irons with any kind of confidence, so picked up three additional fairway woods – a 7, 9, and 11 – to cover for shots requiring anywhere from a 150-180 yard carry. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t; I never really figured out how to hit them with any consistency, and over time I came to realize they probably cost me as many strokes as eliminated. Heck, any golfer with my level of skill and lack of discipline on the golf course isn’t going to be made better by equipment anyways, so I was comfortable with my Cobras and saw no reason to consider a change.

Until, that is, I was introduced to a set of Callaway RAZR X HLs this past May while playing a round at Las Vegas National Golf Club. The course was deserted that Friday morning because the winds were whipping at a sustained 40 mph. Limbering up at the driving range, it took a good half-dozen swings to get used to the feel of the irons, but from the start the 3- and 4- hybrids felt and hit great. The fairway woods also treated me well out on the course, as I missed only one fairway on the front, and, while not as accurate on the back – the wind was really howling by then – I was still hitting the 3-wood solid. I even tried the driver a couple of times and it was OK. The short game was another matter entirely, however – I just couldn’t get used to the feel of either the pitching wedge or the sand wedge, but I really enjoyed my round and those clubs.

If that had been the last time I played the Callaways I wouldn’t be writing this post (or enjoying my new six-figure contract!), but I got to play them again a couple months ago when I hooked up with fellow Goodboy “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin for a spur-of-the-moment weekend while he was in Sin City for a business conference. Back at Las Vegas National again, I got to play the same clubs and really enjoyed the way they felt; from the first hit of the day (a big push to the left under a big palm tree) I felt like I had played these clubs forever. This time around, I hit the woods about the same as back in May, but found myself getting used to the wedges and chipping a lot better. I smoked a bunch of hybrid shots that day and crushed the longest drive of my life on a par-four dogleg left that actually sucked leaves off of the trees on both sides of the fairway. Sure, I screwed up the approach shot and two-putted for a crowd-pleasing bogey, but you get the picture: The Great White Shank had found the love of his (golf) life.

I was thinking of those clubs the last time I played golf with the Cobras and a few Goodboys a few weeks back. Taking a few swings outside my parents apartment before heading out, I felt like I was playing foreign clubs – the Cobras just felt different. And it was then I decided that twenty years of playing Cobras were over; the round I would play that day at Green Meadow G.C. in Hudson, NH would be the last round I would play with Cobra clubs.

This past weekend I found a great company that would pay good cash for my Cobra clubs and a great deal on the Callaway RAZR X HLs – far better than any local retailer – so the deed is done. When I meet the Goodboys in a couple of months time in Vegas I’ll be hitting my new Callaways in a Goodboys setting for the first time. I’m not expecting miracles here – after all, I am The Great White Shank – but it will be great, no matter what score I shoot, to play with clubs I really love to hit, and I’m looking forward to many forays out to the Superstition Springs Golf Club range to get to know my new RAZR X HLs more intimately.

Six-figure contract aside, I’m still not a 100% Callaway guy, however – I’ve still got my original Dynacraft putter that Doc’s friend old Grant Carrow made me more than twenty years ago. Like most golfers, my putter and I have had a love/hate relationship for many years, but I’ve never found another putter as light and comfortable as that Dynacraft. After a week at Callaway’s sponsor orientation program and a two-day stay at the Von Schlieffen Institute for the Course Management Challenged I’ll be ready to embark on the next phase of my golf existence: that of a RAZR X HL player.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:57 | Comments (2)
November 25, 2012

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is always kind of a busy day cooking wise. I used the last of the meat proper to make turkey croquettes (my favorite part of the turkey experience), and the carcass is in the pot simmering away for the start of turkey soup. The turkeys were expensive this year – at Fry’s I paid $31 for a 14 1/2 lb. bird, but considering we get a minimum of seven meals out of it, it’s still a good deal no matter how you measure it.

Some homeowners are more skillful than others; for me anything that has to do with either electrical or water is best left to the experts. Consider yesterday. I noticed several wet spots around the back wall and pool area, so I cleared the stone and dug up the watering system lines to find several connections were leaking. I tried to fix one of them by replacing a small section of line with a coupling only to find a straem of water 12 ft. high shooting out the area I supposedly “fixed” after turning it on. Better to call the landscaping guys and have them fix it proper once and for all. It should be fairly cheap for them to fix – after all, I’ve done all the manual labor for them – my back yard looks like Bushwood at the end of Caddyshack!

Fall cleaning is in full swing in the house. This week the so-called “great room” (combined living-room/kitchen) gets cleaned in preparation for the raising of the Christmas tree next weekend. In the same spirit, I’ve cleaned up all the links on the Goodboys Nation blogroll, updating some, removing old or dead links, adding a couple new ones. Part of my six-figure deal with Callaway Golf was to add their blog to the blogroll. Also, there’s a great new Las Vegas blog I found – definitely worth checking out as the weeks tick down to the annual Goodboys weekend this coming February.

One of the links I removed was my good friend from Kentucky days Jerome Pascua’s blog. He hasn’t kept it up, and after having to reformat my Blackberry I lost his phone number. So Jerome, if you’re out there, give me a call!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:37 | Comment (1)
November 24, 2012

A few thoughts while marveling at the activity around the shopping malls this weekend. Me? I’m going to try and stay as far away from it all as possible and simply enjoy cleaning up the tiki bar area in the warm November sun.

That was quite a thrashing the New England Patriots gave the Jets on Thanksgiving night. The highlight, which everyone has probably seen by now, is the spectable of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez clotheslining himself against one of his offensive lineman’s butts. Has to be seen to be believed.

Look, I know to all liberals we conservatives must be inherently racist, but the Washington Post outdoes themselves with this incredibly stupid attack on Republicans, accusing them of – gasp! – racism in the recent criticism of Susan Rice as potential replacement to Hillary Clinton as Secretary of Sate. Last time I totalled up the number of previous African-American Secretary of States by party I came with Republicans 1, Democrats 0. Or, am I mistaken about Condoleezza Rice? I’m sick of the racism attacks and just wish someone – anyone – in the GOP would start calling Democrats racist. After all, they’re the ones, not Republicans, who have problems seeing the world through anything else but the prism of race.

R.I.P., Larry Hagman. I never watched “Dallas”, but I always thought he was fabulous in “I Dream Of Jeannie”.

I could have told you this was going to happen. The more one hears about the so-called “Arab Spring” the winter doesn’t sound so bad at all.

Prediction: mark my words, in two years, now former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Shakedown City) runs for reelection and – gasp! – wins!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:49 | Comments (2)
November 23, 2012

Thoughts left over from a fairly uneventful Thanksgiving:

No matter how many times you do the annual ritual there’s always something you forget. This year it was nothing catastrophic to be sure, but after extracting the giblets from the turkey at 5 AM and putting them in the small pot with water in the refrigerator I forgot all about them. Hence, the first pass at Thanksgiving dinner gravy, while excellent, was served sans giblets. Fortunately, they were cooked and added in time for the late-night turkey sandwiches. It’s always something…

As much as I hate it the older I get, there’s just something about getting up early while all around is dark to prepare your bird and put it in the oven. I fondly remember hearing my mom get up on Christams morning very early to get the turkey in and seeing the Christmas tree all dark with only the tinsel (remember that?) noticeable in the darkened living room. To this day there’s still something about getting up in the middle of the night and seeing the Christmas tree without its lights on that brings a sense of quiet joy.

Some interesting Thanksgiving-related links courtesy of National Review Online’s Corner blog.

Took a walk around the neighborhood last night and saw three houses already with their Christmas lights up. Also met our new neighbors across the back wall. They seemed nice enough and complemented us on the recent trimming of our large mesquite tree. He mentioned that his next-door neighbor (also across our back wall, to his right) really needs to get his trees trimmed because of the amount of leaves on them. Not sure what kind of trees they are, but he, like me, has a swimming pool that captures just about evey leaf on those over-grown trees. Oughta be interesting to see how that goes!

With Thanksgiving so early this year I think folks putting up their lights today or this weekend are rushing it a bit. Still, it won’t stop me from putting up my own little 4′ metallic blue $17 tree on the back patio, however. As for the Christmas tree proper that can wait another week or more; no need to get crazy.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:50 | Comments (3)
November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to all from the Goodboys (left to right: Vegas, Deuce, Killer, The Funny Guy, Doggy Duval, 2 Times, Cubby, Goose, Possum, The Great White Shank, Skipper, and Hulkigan), and the hundreds of employees here at Goodboys Nation weblog who work so diligently to keep the fires burning.

Best wishes to all for a happy – and healthy – Thanksgiving!

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 12:54 | Comments (0)
November 21, 2012

Been enjoying Jay Nordlinger’s journal of National Review’s post-election Caribbean cruise featuring a whole bunch of NRO writers and contributors. Every now and then something he writes triggers a memory from the many cruises – has it been nine? ten? more? – Tracey and I have taken over the years. It’s been a long time since we’ve been on one – long enough that I really can’t remember the last cruise we were on. I think it was a Norwegian Cruise Lines Hawaiian cruise about 4-5 years ago. That wasn’t a great cruise, I was in a dark place mentally and spiritually, and made it tough for everyone around me. I owe Tracey one after that one, for sure.

Far happier, however, are the many memories I have associated with the earlier cruises we took. How times have changed! The first cruise we took was a Carnival cruise, to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. If you go to Cozumel nowadays it is nothing like it was 25 years ago – no big port, no long strand of endless shops, jewelry stores and restaurants. I remember an incredibly humid, damp/dark night with few lights and the sound of rain dropping off the sheet metal roofs of the few shops there were; what a sense of being so far away from home!

Our favorite cruises were all on Royal Caribbean ships. I still remember the “island a day” cruise in 1989 aboard the little Sun Viking (hard to believe in these days of mega-megaships it only carried 800 passengers!); back in those days the only outside world news you got was from the ship’s newsletter slid under your cabin door overnight. That was the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the overthrow of Communist dictatorships all across Eastern Europe. I still remember saying to Tracey, “the whole world is changing and I’m stuck on this little ship!”.

Cruising (like traveling in general) has just changed so much, I’m glad I was around to see the tail end of the glory era of traveling. Nowadays, everything is done by computer, but I remember the excitement of going in to my Auntie Marge and Uncle Don’s travel agency to pick up all of our cruise documents, or, later on, opening your mail box and finding them all wrapped up and protected. That’s when your cruise really started!

Those who have taken cruises know what I’m talking about when I say there were few things more exciting than the day you traveled: being met at your destination airport by the cruise representative holding a sign with your ship’s name in her hand, the drive over to the pier and seeing your ship towering above the port, then getting in line for “embarkation” (isn’t that a lovely word!). Of course, on the other end no one really looked forward to the last morning on the ship during “debarkation”, hanging around in the various lounges now dark and closed waiting for your color code to be called. That was always really depressing!

On board ship I could never really sleep and loved to roam the ship at night. Tracey would be out like a light and I’d just walk fore and aft, up and down the stairs to the various decks, feeling the ship moving beneath your feet (it was at night when the ships always traveled the fastest), and drinking in the quietness and simple joy of knowing you were on a cruise ship in the tropics. I never took it for granted, and I still remember many of my night walks to this day. Sure, they all run together now, but the feeling of them is what is most precious. Sometimes I’d still be dressed in my tuxedo after a formal night’s dinner (something I doubt you see much of anymore); other times I’d have peeled off the confines of formal and roam around in shorts and a tropical shirt. Many a night I’d make my way up to the outside decks and see couples walking hand-in-hand, or drunks yakking the night away, or, in the best of times, see no one around – just me, the ocean, the wind, and the night. Occasionally you’d see the lights of some island pass by or another ship far in the distance, or, one time, lightning from a storm far off in the distance. I can remember many times just leaning against a polished wood rail contemplating life and my future; no matter what my life situation was at the time I never wanted to forget the feeling of those nights up on deck and how lucky I was to be alive and experiencing those very moments in time.

Tracey and I had some grand times on those cruises: there was the year we sat with a newlywed couple and he worked at a funeral home, telling us all the wild and crazy stories you’d never want to hear. The most memorable group we ever had at our dinner table was a police officer couple from the San Francisco area – I still remember their names, Bob and Sue DeMaria. A lovely couple. As were an elderly couple from the Deep South named Frances and Bob that we kept in touch with for a few years afterwards. And the cruise where we shared a table with a couple – he was an older gentleman, she was much younger; one night he and Tracey kept ordering trays of escargot one after another! There were other cruises where the company was not always so great, but you made it work as best you could.

One of the cool things about these cruises were the ship employees we grew so close to over a week together. We loved the “Touch Of Class” champagne bars aboard the old Monarch and Majesty of the Seas, and developed memorable (if brief) relationships with the bartenders and servers there. One anniversary we arrived to see that a server named Santos Orelios had hung up a “Happy Anniversary Doug and Tracey” sign and streamers on the wall for us. We dropped a lot of money in the champagne bars back in those days, but whatever we spent pales in comparison to the wonderful happy memories we have from them.

Back in those days (I highly doubt it’s like that today) people really dressed up for dinner on the high seas. Lots of gowns, cocktail dresses and tuxedos. You had to think when packing because there were two formals nights (the Captain’s Welcome Dinner and Captain’s Farewell Dinner), and, especially at second sitting, casual was only permitted one or two nights a cruise. For Royal Caribbean regulars you also had the special cocktail party! I remember the time Tracey and I knew it was all changing when we came down to dinner dressed nice (it wasn’t a formal night) and saw some dotard sitting at his table in a Harley Davidson cut-off T-shirt. Me? I would have tossed him overboard for shark food in a New York Minute. Those were the days of no cable TV and no internet cafes, certainly no cell phones. It was a vacation for vacation’s sake; a time to get away from your world and enter a world that could only be described as magical and enchanting, and a life experience now gone forever thanks to modern technology.

We’ve got boxes of pictures of many of those cruises in one of our closets. It might be nice to drag them out some night when there’s little on TV and a warm breeze is rustling the palm trees out in the backyard. It all seems so long ago, almost like a dream.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:43 | Comments (2)
November 20, 2012

Been a hard week – at work, at home and more car issues. I’m actually so exhausted I really just want to sleep and can’t. But we’ll rally for sure in time for Thanksgiving and putting my metallic blue 4′ Christmas tree ($17 at Big Lots!) out on the back patio. Ought to look nice there. Found this nice November poem:

“How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.”
- Elsie N. Brady, Leaves

Hat tip: egreenway.com

I feel exhausted like the leaves but fortunately there is no snow here to look forward to.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:17 | Comments (0)
November 18, 2012

The baseball world is still buzzing about the mega-deal the Toronto Blue Jays recently made with the Miami “Fire Sale” Marlins, and I have to admit it looks good – at least on paper. And with the Blue Jays also snatching up Melky Cabrera to add to their riches in the outfield, there’s no question the Blue Jays have improved themselves greatly over 2012, at least on paper.

But on paper is the only place where they seem to have improved. And I would caution even the most rabid Blue Jays fan (if such a thing exists) to not start reserving their World Series tickets just yet; just as I would caution the most rabid Red Sox fan not to dismay so early in this offseason. While I doubt the Sox are going to be as talented next year as the Blue Jays (again, at least on paper) we Sox fans know all to well that “on paper” doesn’t necessarily correlate to performance on the field. How could we not forget the offseason of 2010? The Red Sox had just traded for Adrian Gonzalez an signed John Lackey and Carl Crawford. Why, the baseball media all proclaimed the Sox THE team to beat in 2011, and everyone in Boston was in a lather about the lineup the Sox would be putting out there on a daily basis.

If you’re wondering where that 2011 Red Sox world championship trophy lies, you’re not alone: the Sox stumbled out of the gate horribly, righted itself for a time, then collapsed historically in September. less than a year later, Lackey was recovering from “Tommy John” surgery, and Gonzalez and Crawford were shipped to Los Angeles after falling far short of expectations.

The same holds true for the Blue Jays – not just because of the danger of history repeating itself, but the fact that the division they play in is difficult enough as it is. The Yankees will still be good, the Rays will undoutedly trade some of their young pitching excess to bring in the offense they lackd in 2012, and the Orioles can only be expected to improve off of their 2012 performance. All the Blue Jays did was make a tough division tougher – again, that’s all on paper.

Let’s see what the rest of the offseason brings and what happens when the games begin bfore anyone starts coronating anyone with the 2013 Word Series title.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 13:32 | Comments (2)

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