October 17, 2013

Watching the Red Sox lose the way they did to the Tigers last night was painful. Lots of folks had the suspicion that the Sox were one of those teams that feats on bad pitching and struggles against good pitching, but their offense has been really pathetic. And the amount of strikeouts they’ve been racking up has been infuriating to watch. I felt bad for Jake Peavy, who just flogged the dog in the second inning with all those walks, but that botched double-play ball by the usually-reliable Dustin Pedroia really hurt. Let’s see how they do tonight against Anibel Sanchez with Jon Lester toeing the rubber.

I don’t have any feeling one way or the other about the so-called government “shutdown”, but I am disappointed at the way the Republicans have botched the whole messaging thing, choosing to fight amongst each other instead of the real villains in the room, which are not senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, but Harry Reid and the Democrats sitting idly by while the ObamaCare roll-out serves as the poster-child for big government waste and incompetence. It’s pretty clear from my vantage point that entrenched Republicans in Washington like John Boehner, Peter King, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others need to be primaried and tossed out like yesterday’s trash. They don’t stand for conservatives and conservative ideals, and are only concerned about keeping their jobs and the perks that go with it while the folks they are supposed to be serving find themselves losing jobs and having their hours cut because of ObamaCare.

One of these days I’m going to start my own classical music station that plays nothing but Boccherini 24/7. I enjoy listening to classical music during this time of year, but classical music stations play too much Mozart, Bach, and Vivaldi for my taste. Good, but kind of wimpy. Now Boccherini was a man’s man and his cello concertos rock my house.

Boy, do I miss my golf clubs. Even with my cranky elbow I’m jonesing for a return to the Superstition Springs driving range to see if all my peeps from earlier this year are still out there slaving away. I’ve got a flop shot and a stinger to work on.

Yesterday the pool water temperature finally dropped below 70. But I can still soak my feet under the moonlight.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:31 | Comments (4)
October 16, 2013

The last couple of nights I’ve awoken at exactly 3:13 AM with this Dennis Wilson tune playing in my head. I don’t know why and don’t know what it means, but it’s a great tune and touches me in a way I can’t explain. I especially love the lyrics, though I haven’t a clue as to what they mean:

With the ego of a lamb
The holy man
Come the swagger out of the dust
You know he can
Turn the corner all alone
He meets you there
Holy man will meet you there

The one you love is everywhere
He is everywhere and you can follow

Summer burns and winter blows
The holy man
Speaks of fears to overcome
He knows you can
When you lose the innocence
He’s standing there
Holy man will meet you there

The one you love is everywhere
He is everywhere and you can follow

The song is from the legacy edition of Dennis’ Pacific Ocean Blue Legacy Edition CD; the track is actually from 1977 with the the vocal (sounding eerily like Dennis) actually added by Taylor Hawkins, drummer of The Foo Fighters, as Dennis never had a chance to record proper vocals before he died back in 1983. The song and the sentiment it expresses is very special to me, the lyrics touch my soul to the bone as if they were written with me in mind. I guess that’s why there’s music to begin with, eh?

I hope you like it as much as I do.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:55 | Comments (0)
October 15, 2013

Short, sweet, and a lovely sentiment of this time of the year. Enjoy!

“The leaves fall patiently
Nothing remembers or grieves
The river takes to the sea
The yellow drift of leaves.”
– Sara Teasdale

Hat tip: gardendigest.com

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:05 | Comments (0)
October 14, 2013

What Sunday for sports fans in New England!! Two improbable comebacks just hours from each other. First there was Tom Brady leading the Patriots to a last-minute win over the Saints (sorry, Rob!), and then, with the Red Sox looking as dead as a door nail, down four runs with only fours outs left in Game 2 of the ALCS, David “Big Papi” Ortiz hits a grand slam to tie the game and the Sox go on to win it in the ninth on a walk-off base hit from Jarrod Saltamacchia. There have been some pretty incredible single day, multi-sport victories in the history of Boston sports; I doubt anything in the past will match what transpired on Sunday.

Nice work, Brady and offense!

Incredible work, Big Papi and the Sox.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:14 | Comments (2)
October 13, 2013

A few thoughts before ramping up again for what promises to a long and hard work week:

Having to watch the Red Sox and Tigers play on FOX is beyond painful. From the music to the graphics to the announcers – especially Tim McCarver, who hasn’t said anything insightful in twenty years – it’s just bad. Alternatively, TBS has done a great job throughout the post-season, so much so that I’ve really enjoyed all the games, even the ones the Sox weren’t playing.

Hard to get revved up about the new PGA Tour season and the “race for the FedEx Cup” when it’s only been a few weeks since the 2013 champion was crowned. I mean, I know why the PGA Tour is doing this – they’re trying to keep interest up during what used to be golf’s “silly season” of celebrity and non-sanctioned events – but there’s really nothing on the line for these initial events of the 2014 season, and to call this the start of the FedEx Cup race is ridiculous since it’s a virtual lock that no one who wins these first events will figure anywhere in the standings once the playoffs start again next August.

It’s really amazing to see the games that the politicians in Washington are playing when it comes to the so-called “government shutdown” and the increase on the debt ceiling. I get it that the Democrat and Republican leaders in the House and Senate don’t want to negotiate with each other – after all, the partisan divide between them has never been so vast. But to me it’s astounding that President Obama shows no interest whatsoever playing any kind of intermediary role in bringing the sides together. Not only does it show what a petulant and petty person he is, it demeans the office he holds. And the same holds true for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Mind you, their actions don’t surprise me – it’s just sad that the media has been giving the Democrats a free pass while they’re the ones refusing to negotiate with their Republican counterparts. I’m with Instapundit’s Helen Smith on this: the House and Senate GOP should make a “best and final offer”, then leave town if it’s rejected. No more political games. Let the whole thing burn.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:07 | Comments (2)
October 12, 2013

I remember a line from Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason back in the late ’70s in response to criticism from punk journalists about the band being a bunch of dinosaurs, their massive tours rumbling around the globe, saying something to the effect, “well, you wouldn’t want a whole world filled with dinosaurs, but it’s nice to have a few of them still around.”

So it is with me as I turn the ripe old age of 58. I may be a dinosaur, but I’m a happy dinosaur and happy being a dinosaur. Maybe for some people the thought of almost turning 60 is cause for alarm – you know, leave the house and wife, drop out of your place in life, buy a red Mustang convertible and embark on a new adventure with some hot 20-something while you still have your health and wits about you.

I don’t feel that way – in fact, I think I’m happier now than I’ve been in years. I look around me and see all the things most people take for granted. I have a good job, live in a nice sub-division in a house I never once thought I’d ever own complete with a backyard tiki bar, palm trees, and a swimming pool. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to shovel snow, scrape ice off my windshield, and have to warm up the car on a sub-zero morning. While I can’t say I’ve traveled the world, I’ve been to places like Mexico, Hawaii, New Orleans, the Caribbean and Bermuda. I’ve been on a dozen cruises and would love to again if we can ever get the damned debt down. Most importantly, I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and clean water to drink at the turn of a faucet. With the exception of a missing prostate, I’ve always been in good health. I was raised by wonderful parents and an extended family who gave me the gifts of their example and the awareness of taste, class, and appreciation are all about.

Sure, I’ve had my share of disappointments and dreams dashed – some of which took more than a few years to get over – but hasn’t everyone? No one is meant to have or achieve all of their dreams, it’s God’s way of humbling us and directing us to seek the more simple and accessible things in life available to anyone. I still get stoked watching a thunderstorm approach and sitting on a rock or on a beach watching the ocean do its thing, or listening to the sound of the breeze rusting palm branches, or walking through wooded areas after the leaves have come down. I still quietly thrill at retro Cuban music played under pineapple lights, trash-talking with the Goodboys during a round of golf, the site and aromas of Italian food in a Boston North End restaurant, a Johnny Walker Red nitecap under a silvery moon after a hard day at work when the rest of the world is fast asleep, walking into Wynn Las Vegas at the start of a Sin City weekend, opening a book for the first time, or taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.

No one knows what the future may bring, and I’m certainly at that age where stuff can start happening, and fast. But I hope as long as I live I’ll always be able to enjoy the music that brings me joy – the Sandals, the Beach Boys, tropical music, Exotica, classical during the fall, surf during the spring and summer. As long as there’s a Mexican restaurant and a credit card in my vicinity, how can life be bad? As I get older, I find myself seeking God in different and more varied places than a church, and while I still get to Mass once or twice a month and will die an Anglo-Catholic who feels just as welcome in an Episcopal or Anglican church as anywhere else, having my prayer candle lit once a week and praying for a world I think is a lost cause is religion enough for me.

And another reason why it’s so great to be 58 – at my age you leave it to the younger folks to pick up what my generation of Baby Boomers has screwed up so badly. I feel bad for young people growing up in this media-saturated, socially-networked age. I have a much lower tolerance for drama caused by people who exploit others, lie, cheat, and play head games. And that goes for most, if not all politicians. I’m accused of being harsh when I tell it like it is, but I’ve kind of had it with the whole idea of “fairness” and “leveling the playing field”, and all that other liberal bullshit expounded by hypocrites who would blanch at the very thought of having to give up their achieved wealth and privilege for those who haven’t done a thing and won’t lift a finger to deserve or be grateful for it.

But that’s the kind of thing you can say when you’re 58. I am who I am. I try to treat others as I would like to be treated myself, am not afraid to stand on principle, but I’m not dying in some foxhole or rail at the barricades for someone else’s cause. I’ll just keep working hard, try and pay down our debt, feed and care for the rabbits when they’re demanding to be fed, putter around the backyard, work even harder (elbow aside) to lower my handicap to shoot bogey golf in 2014, and never tire of Hemingway daiquiris sipped to Jimmy Buffet music. I don’t deserve any of this but I’ve worked damned hard to achieve it. I know I have it better than probably 90% of the world’s population, but I’m not turning it down, either.

There’s a saying in the surf culture, “Get it while you can, kid.” because you know the wave you let pass by will never be experienced again. Change that to, “Appreciate it while you can, Great White Shank”, and that about sums it all up as a dinosaur looks at 58.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:17 | Comments (2)
October 11, 2013

You recall the movie “Heaven’s Gate”, don’t you? An epic Western released in 1980, it was supposed to be the culmination of director Michael (“The Deer Hunter”) Cimino’s career, costing more than $44 million to make only to fantastically bomb at the box office but garnering a little more than $3 million in profit. Not only did it practically destroy Cimino’s reputation as a director, it became the very definition of artistic overreach and abject failure from a cinematic perspective.

I’ve been waiting to see how long it would take for the mainstream media to catch on to what others have been whispering about and trying to warn folks about for the past several months: that the Affordable Care Act (aka “ObamaCare”) rollout was going to be problematic at best, an utter, unmitigated disaster at worst; something destined to become the very definition of governmental incompetence, waste, and overreach, a testimony to the federal behemoth attempting to bite off far more than it could possibly chew.

Mark down Thursday, October 10 as Barack Obama’s and the Democrats’ own “Heaven’s Gate” moment. A few techie and conservative blogs are one thing, but when its woes are splashed all over none the likes of CBS News and the Washington Post, well, let’s just say “Houston, we have a problem”. And a $634 million dollar one at that.

The most intriguing aspect of the ObamaCare rollout to me is not the politics of it, nor even the impact on average Americans who have absolutely no clue as to what they’re in for (courtesy, BTW, of a mainstream media and society of journalists who seem to have forgotten what journalism is all about – at least until the next Republican President), rather, it’s the IT (information technology) aspect of it all. After all, in a day and age where most everyone has a computer or iPhone, folks are used to IT that works easily and intuitively to get them what they need quickly. While I wasn’t optimistic, I thought it would be interesting nevertheless to see what the federal government could come up with in terms of an efficient, “high tech” gateway into Obamacare given the amount of time (3 years) and dollars to spend (originally, $97 million) at the disposal of Kathleen Sebelius’s Department of Health and Human Services.

I’m particularly fascinated by healthcare IT because when not moonlighting as a small-time blogger I just so happen to be a healthcare IT project manager (certified by the Project Management Institute, no less) who has run IT projects both large and small for the better part of two decades. Included in that time was four years spent as a consultant for a worldwide consulting firm (Keane Consulting) who was involved in a lot of government work at both the state and federal levels. So I know a thing or two about how IT projects work and bringing projects in under (or at least near) budget in both the public and private sectors.

So why is the launch of ObamaCare – Healthcare.gov – so problematic? First of all – and I’m not making this up, I’ve actually played around in Healthcare.gov – it’s clunky and looks and feels like a website one would have developed oh, ten years ago. I didn’t encounter the severe wait issues that others have, but then again there was no way they were going to get an ID and password out of me – especially given the issues they’ve already had with folks who’ve provided ID and password info, but as a frequenter of Reddit‘s techie forum, you only need to read this to know that Healthcare.gov is not only not ready for prime time, but might never be:

hahaha. my wife works on this project, but not as a developer. last night she said “i have no idea how the site is going to go live tomorrow.” well now we know.
permalink
[–]big-blue 44 points 9 days ago

I love how they even have spelling errors in their string names i.e. ‘requiredFeild’.
permalink parent
[–]MeikaLeak 21 points 9 days ago

if we can spot spelling errors in core language from just this pages output, on the production side, I don’t even wanna know what their dev environment looks like
permalink parent
[–]Erif_Neerg 12 points 8 days ago

Well if you change your mind
https://github.com/CMSgov/healthcare.gov
permalink parent
[–]asdlkfjasdflkjasdf 5 points 2 days ago

That’s not the code for the marketplace.
permalink parent
[–]gonetosea 4 points 1 day ago

Wow, you got downvoted! Turns out you are the only person who understands this. The pages on the front end site are built using a javascript editor, saved to GitHub as static HTML, and pushed to a cache on the Akamai CDN. They can not be served faster.
permalink parent
hansolo669 9 points 8 days ago

What does it all mean? I always equated my IT projects like our choir and my godfather/choir master Milt (may he rest in peace) at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church used to think about the anthems we sung during the collection. If you start out and end up good, folks will forget the bad stuff that might have happened in between. Any eCommerce website worth its salt – Amazon.com is one of my favorites – is just like that: easy to get in, easy to get out, and by and large very easy to navigate through. Healthcare.gov is none of these – it appears to be slipshod development performed by different groups who never bothered to interact in order to understand how and what the other was doing.

The most disheartening aspect of all this is that the situation is likely to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. This is not some dopey three-page HTML website – just wait until the inevitable “I thought I got signed up but the IRS has sent me notice I have to buy insurance”, or “wait a second, I backed out of the application before I bought anything but here’s my $347 monthly premium bill” problems start hitting down the line. It’s embarrassing, it creates further distrust in a federal government already deemed by many to be bloated, wasteful, and ineffective, and, worse above all else, it involves the health and well-being of many and the economic future of the United States. And it aint gonna get fixed in just a few day’s time.

Maybe a year’s delay wouldn’t be a bad thing after all…

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:43 | Comments (0)
October 10, 2013

A long, hard work day.

Being 3 hours behind Eastern Daylight Time and having India-based developers who are 12 1/2 hours ahead of you makes for very early mornings and very late nights. I’m not complaining, it’s a job I’m well compensated for with good people to work with, and not everyone can say that.

But still it was a very long day.

I’m out on the back patio and it’s after midnight. There’s a deepening low to the north of us that’s bringing the first light snow of the year to Flagstaff and heavier snow to the Rockies, and the wind has been howling with blowing dust off and on since noon. The winds are pretty strong – strong enough that that lovely new crown on one of our established queen palms has broken, leaving it without any chance for new branches on it’s south side until next year when the same thing will probably happen again.

It’s 70 degrees right now. I was hoping to go for a final swim because tomorrow the daytime temps will only be in the 70s and then tomorrow night the first 50s of the year which will crash the water temperature for good, but the water is covered with all kinds of detrius and frankly, I’m not in the mood to get wet right now. So that as they say is that.

I’m having a Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale to chill out and try and get my mind off of work. It’s a nice seasonal brew with – yes – pumpkin and cinnamon flavor – kind of the beer equivalent to a pumpkin cider. Very fall-ish.

The Accuweather long-term weather forecast is for a wettish winter around here. Hoping that’s true.

The new palms and plants seem to be doing OK thus far, tomorrow’s the last day of daily watering before they go on a regular schedule.

Like I say, it’s after midnight after a very long day. The rest of the world seems sound asleep and it’s time to give the rabbits a midnight snack.

Say, not much of an exciting post, is this?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:30 | Comment (1)
October 9, 2013

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, who defeated those pesky Tampa Bay Rays three games to one to advance to the American League Championship Series against either the Detroit Tigers or the Oakland A’s. Not sure who I’d like to see the Sox play – both of those teams are really tough and feature great pitching.

I didn’t watch the President’s Cup over the weekend, with so much football on I doubt many folks did. I enjoy the Ryder Cup because of its history and the quality of the play. There’s just something about the President’s Cup that seems and sounds prefab. Not to mention the fact that it’s seldom competitive.

Great article in this month’s Golf Digest about Tiger Woods and his troubles winning majors. The consensus is that he’s putting so much pressure on himself to pass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors that, come the weekend, he starts pressing and beating himself. I think there’s also a case to be made that Tiger’s soon-to-be-38-year-old body has a lot of golf miles in it, and playing that third and fourth round is not just mentally tougher, but more physically demanding for him as well.

I’m trying to figure out what the Obama administration’s ultimate purpose is in attempting to close off national parks and monuments during the so-called “government shutdown”. Are they just trying to piss people off out of spite? That seems to be the case, but it’s good to see American are not folding like cheap bridge tables in the face of this nonsensical government overreach.

Here’s what I don’t understand, and it may be simply because I’m not a liberal zealot: in the face of all the troubles with the Obamacare roll-out, why wouldn’t the Obama administration allow a one-year delay for everyone to give everyone impacted by it – regular folks, businesses, unions, insurance companies, healthcare providers, etc. time to see it, learn about it, and make their opinions known so it could be rolled out properly in a year’s time? What harm would it have done? You’d gain some good will on the part of regular folks, you would have avoided the whole government shutdown thing, and you might even have avoided the disaster this roll-out has turned into. But like I say, I’m not a liberal zealot.

Check out this great pic out on Dave’s Fish Fear Me blog. Talk about a water hazard! Wait till he sees the cute bunny pic I’ll be posting tomorrow. 🙂

Finally, a big shout-out to my congressman, Rep. Matt Salmon of the Fifth Arizona Congressional District. I’ve been invited to participate in a number of his telephone town meetings but didn’t attend until the one he hosted tonight. It was a great experience hearing from fellow East Valley folks on both sides of the political aisle who were given the opportunity to ask questions and participate in pulse polls. Matt’s a conservative Republican, but he treated everyone with respect and the whole forum was a testament to everything that present-day Washington is not.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:08 | Comment (1)
October 7, 2013

After a long, hot summer these early days of October bring with them a flurry of activity here in the Valley of the Sun. The garden centers and nurseries are filled with the kind of annuals you would normally in the spring back in New England – petunias, impatiens, etc. Bags of potting soil and grass seed and soil mixtures are stacked high on wooden pallates, and folks jam the aisles making their fall planting decisions. The days are still in the low ’90s, but that’s about to end this week when a Pacific storm pushes to our north and drops the temps into the 70s on Thursday and then 80s for the foreseeable future.

All around the Valley, you start seeing landscapers in every kind of vehicle imaginable, their trailers chock full of hardware and lawn machines as the lush green of folks’ lawns are turned into yellow bristle in preparation for the planting of fall ryegrass. For those retail stores and restaurants that have survived the lazy hot summer months, this week brings the welcome return of “snowbirds” from western Canada and all kinds of western states. And for those folks who don’t have heaters for their swimming pools, this week brings with it an end to pool season. Here at the Richard hacienda, even with nighttime temps in the ’60s, the hot days have kept the pool at 72 – not exactly warm to the touch but pleasant enough for a quick dip on a hot afternoon but no more than that. By this weekend, it’ll drop to below 70, good enough to stick your feet in, but little else.

Back when I lived in New England, this time of year always brought with it a sense of melancholy since you knew what was coming on autumn’s heels – the holiday season and then the dead of winter. But here October means finally being able to keep the doors and windows open, with no A/C switching off and on – a plus for the checkbook! While the majority of the backyard is done (pctures coming), there’s still palm tree watering to attend to, and Carmelo and the boys have a date to give el grande Mesquite a real thinning out and cut – not just to keep the tree from taking over the entire west side of the yard – which it would if it could – but to also get some sun on the back lawn so we can see if we can grow some grass.

This past weekend I trimmed the lime and lemon trees in the east-facing yard, but they are still plenty big for their area, keeping it pretty much in perpetual shade. There are still plenty of limes to harvest – something I plan on doing this weekend. The lawn underneath the trees really struggled this year, so this time around Carmelo’s going to try some shade grass seed to see if that will work out here.

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

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