January 17, 2014

It’s hard to believe that between this and this on top of all the state exchange failures like this and this that anyone is taking Obamacare seriously as a measure of success for the Obama administration. And it will only be getting worse as the employer mandate kicks in later this year when hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people start receiving cancellation letters right around the 2014 midterms.

Even though I’m not a liberal nor a progressive, I have to wonder what on earth the Obamacare administration was doing all this time since the “Affordable Care Act” (which is neither affordable, nor does it care about the people it is supposed to cover) was passed back in 2009. Wasn’t anyone in charge of the law’s deployment, design, or implementation? Obviously a boatload of money was simply handed over to a bunch of well-connected people and then told to run with it. But how on earth can you do that when you have people’s health and lives in play? For the amount of money this administration and the “Queen of Ghoul” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have wasted on this effort they simply could have handed out insurance coverage for free to all the uninsured they say they care so much about and left the rest of us alone.

In a world where people actually cared about competence, discipline, and financial oversight it is possible that Obamacare could have been a success – you know, if you liked your plan and your doctor you could keep it. If you’re uninsured, here are the financial incentives to have you purchase at the very least catastrophic injury insurance. I’d have no problem with something like that, especially if you were to add in strict oversight on Medicare spending and some level of tort reform to help reduce waste and costs.

But no, the Democrats weren’t satisfied with just that; as true progressives they simply had to thrown in all their social engineering crap into the pot as well, including every hot-button feminist issue (cheap contraception and abortion access) and all other winner/loser restrictions and regulations to try and level the dread “playing field”. And even that, in my mind, would be OK as long as they didn’t force people to go against their own consciences and religious traditions, and force the insurance companies to offer coverage people neither wanted or needed. But being liberals, they could hardly restrain themselves, this was their great chance to change everything and make things right as they see them.

In my mind, the Democrats made two horrendous mistakes that were easily avoidable and would have prevented the disaster that is currently unfolding. First, they could have put aside their fervor and zeal for a few seconds and made a few concessions in order to bring at least a few Republicans on board – that would have bought them at least a little political cover if by some chance the law ran into trouble. They didn’t, of course, so with zero Republican support in both the House and Senate the Democrats now own this fiasco 100%. Secondly, the Obama administration could have managed the whole Healthcare.gov design, development, and rollout much more carefully. It truly is inexcusable for something as complex as a national healthcare and insurance solution being brought together under a single roof not to have been managed more carefully. The reckless and widespread incompetence, willful neglect, and arrogance shown by this administration has been beyond breathtaking.

I don’t know how Obamacare will evolve in the future, but there’s little doubt that its most lasting effect is something that liberals and progressives ought to fear the most: the fact that in shooting for the moon and failing miserably, they’ve proven that the day of the big government program to solve society’s ills and bring about their dreams of equality are over. Who will ever trust the Obama administration and future administrations after this lying pack of bold-faced liars? Obamacare will not only destroy whatever ever dream progressives had of remaking society in their own image, but it has rendered the President’s second term as one big lame-duck session.

And they only have themselves to blame for it. But that’s what you get when you elect zealots to the highest office in the land.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 04:12 | Comments (0)
January 16, 2014

Really not much to talk about today. Although I will say I’ve seen the first indications of the days getting longer. Not a lot, but at six o’clock it’s now fading light on the patio when it was dark just a couple of weeks ago. So there’s hope after all. This poem I found speaks of the same thing but in a far lovelier lyrical mode. Enjoy!

“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a
twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.”
– Vita Sackville-West

Hat tip: gardendigest.com

One other sign of the approaching spring: the feathery acacia in our back yard has its first buds showing. In two weeks we’ll have the first flowers of the spring.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:06 | Comments (0)
January 14, 2014

I understand what used to be the traditional opening tournaments in Hawaii in January, especially when you’re back in my old neck of the woods and already tired of the cold and the snow. I don’t understand all those late-2013 “wrap around” events to start the 2013-2014 PGA Tour season – to me they’re played by a bunch of nobodies in places no one cares about once football begins. Like the Miami Vice seasons 4 and 5 – they’re just trying to keep the do-re-mi coming in as long as before the public loses interest entirely.

While I love Adam Scott’s game and enjoy watching him play, fact is, until one of the two big dogs in the room (i.e. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson) come out of hibernation, it just doesn’t feel like a new golf year. Fortunately, Phil has emerged from his off-season and is raring to go, big time:

“As I look back on 2013 I played some of my best golf and had some huge breakthroughs but I did most of it without a driver,” the American left-hander told reporters on Tuesday.

“This year I have the best driver I’ve ever hit that lowers my spin rate just like my three-wood. I drive it longer and straighter with my driver than I did with my three-wood.

“It’s a whole different weapon in my arsenal now and if I drive the ball well, like I have been in practice and in the off-season, heading into this 2014 season it could be the best year of my career for that simple reason.”

This week Phil, next week Tiger tees it up for the first time this year at Torrey Pines. Which means, golf season is once again upon us. Look, no disrespect meant to the Harris Englishes and Jimmy Walkers of the world – they’re fine players. But people want to see Rory, Jason, Keegan, Rickie, and most especially, Tiger and Phil. That’s just the way it is.

Me, I know exactly how Phil feels because, like him, I’m excited about the the new year and the possibilities that lie ahead. I’m hitting the ball off the tee better and longer than I ever have, and I too have a new weapon at my disposal (my 60-degree lob wedge) that I just love. It’s already saved be about ten strokes over the last two rounds I’ve played, and I’m still getting the feel of it.

Bottom line: If Phil’s excited, that gets me excited. I sure hope all his confidence is justified; I know the folks around here can’t wait to see him tee it up again at the Waste Management Phoenix Open here in just a few weeks’ time.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 21:03 | Comments (0)
January 13, 2014

I’m a week into my diet and am holding fast at five pounds lost, quite different from the last time. One of the reasons could be – actually, probably is – that I’ve reduced the whey “power” protein shakes down to only two from the three imposed by the diet plan. Which is OK, I only planned on losing eight to begin with to drop me down to the magical 160 lb mark. Unfortunately, just like the last time I did the diet, four days in and I’m getting the same bout with insomnia as I did the last time. I don’t like having to take any sleep aids but it’s either that or lay awake all night – not the greatest set of choices for sure. I think the last it took a good week to get over so we’ll see if the same holds true this time around.

When you’re on as restrictive a diet as this is (at least for the first two weeks) it’s amazing the kinds of sudden cravings that pop into your head during the day without any notice. The biggest one for me is an extra large double pepperoni pizza with extra sauce light cheese from Rino D’s, a pizza place down the road. Wash a few slices down with a nice glass of chianti or a Sam Adams Boston Lager and that sounds like pure heaven to me.

But I’ve also gotten craving for a couple of places back home, like veal cutlets at Pagliuca’s, or beef nachos and an oven beef quesadilla from Tortilla Flat. Or, a steak and cheese sandwich like the cook makes at O’Hara’s Taven on beautiful Lakeview Avenue in Dracut. (Note to my fellow Goodboy “The Funny Guy”: tell them their link is broken!) I’m also craving machaca tacos and a ground beef enchilada from Serranos, a real good family-owned Mexican chain around here. (Nothing like a mainpage with a big momma enchilada staring you straight in the face!)

The funny thing is, it’s only food I’m craving, I don’t miss beer or wine or my half caffeinated / half decaf coffee in the mornings. Not I’m much of a sweets kind of guy, but I’ve had no cravings for hot fudge sundaes or chocolate, either. One thing I have grown fond of is water with a twist of lemon in it. I think that’s going to be part of my daily regimen from now on, and both water and lemon are good for hydration and your liver, anyways.

By next week I’ll be able to have either one beer or one glass of wine a week as I enter the “meat” weeks”. But that pepperoni pizza is still going to have to wait another few weeks.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:58 | Comment (1)
January 10, 2014

I’m four days into the Eades “Six Week Cure for the Middle-Age Middle” diet and I’m already half-way to my goal of losing ten pounds. And that’s even with my decision to drop one of the three-a-day whey protein shakes from the regimen in exchange for lots of glasses of lemon water (I have no small supply of lemons harvested from our tree last week!) as a form of lemon detox. It wasn’t until I started this diet back up again that I realized just how much I hated those shakes – it’s enough to keep me on the straight and narrow from now on, I’ll tell you.

In this diet the days drift mindlessly by following the same regimen:

7 AM – first Laplace in Place (tummy strengthening exercise) – three sets
7:30 – decaf coffee (first cup)
8 AM – second Laplace in Place sets
8:30 – decaf coffee (second cup)
10 AM – first protein shake with amino acid supplement
10:30 AM – third Laplace in Place sets, take magnesium and potassium and daily multivitamin supplements
11 AM – first tall glass of lemon water
12 AM – fourth Laplace in Place sets
1 PM – fifth Laplace in Place sets
2 PM – sixth Laplace in Place sets
3 PM – second protein shake with amino acid supplement
3:30 PM – 1.7 mile brisk walk around the subdivision
4 PM – another glass of lemon water, repeated until 9 PM
6 PM – dinner (prescribed meals rich in protein), second set of multi-vitamins
7 PM – seventh Laplace in Place sets
8 PM – eight Laplace in Place sets

Actually it’s not as time-consuming as it sounds, as the Laplace in Place sets are 30 seconds of sucking in your gut as much as possible for 30 seconds, then exhaling and repeating twice more, so it’s really only a total of ~ 16 minutes a day. A pain in the neck, but from my previous experience they do work. It’s usually around the fourth day that a bit of insomnia kicks in, but it only lasts for a few days as your body continues to adjust to it’s new regimen.

The first two weeks of the Eades diet are the worst because of the shakes; once you get into the “meat weeks” 3 and 4, there’s plenty of good food to eat and no more shakes. Lots of bacon, eggs, chops, steaks, burgers and dogs, even sausages. Then weeks 5 and 6 are really all about maintaining what you’ve accomplished to date.

But right now, those “meat weeks” seem very far away, indeed.

Now what did I do with that glass of lemon water?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:05 | Comments (2)
January 8, 2014

How do I know? when you get posts about Japanese bunny cafes (WARNING: cute bunny pics at the link!) at one of your favorite conservative blogs. I mean, everyone knows Obamacare is a trainwreck, but no one knows exactly how it will impact the 2014 midterms. Me? I’ve given up caring about how bad it goes – after all, the people voted for it – now if they want to vote it out that’s fine by me. And I don’t really care about all the Hillary Clinton 2016 hoopla – she’s not going to get elected. Just like last time when everyone (including me) had her coronated, someone else will reap the benefits of people seeing her out in public witnessing on a daily basis her lack of any real experience and that condescending shrill voice that makes folks long for the soothing sounds of nails across a chalkboard. Besides, how many other people directly responsible for the deaths of four Americans – including our ambassador to Libya – could ever be elected president?

So I think I’ll crawl back to my diet cave and try to outlast the dullness and boredom that is January. Enjoy the bunny pics!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:50 | Comments (0)
January 7, 2014

If it’s January and an even-numbered year it must be time for the Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades “6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle” diet plan with the goal of losing ten pounds off my 168-lb frame and working to reduce my middle-age gut for good. I did the same diet two years ago and was astounded at the results. While I had pretty much kept my weight off since that time I’ll admit I got a little careless over the last six months enough that I think it’s time for another go. Besides, with my annual physical and my Vegas weekend coming up next month, I can’t think of a better time to take the dip again and lose the weight.

Besides, January being the incredibly boring month it is, might as well entertain myself for the four weeks the Eades diet requires.

So what does this Eades Plan involve? Building off of their basic approach to health and nutrition, it’s basically high-protein, low carb. The first two weeks are a “boot camp” designed to clean out your liver and reduce the fat there that leads to “inner tube”, a flabby midsection, and other health problems: zero alcohol, zero caffeine, three “protein shakes” around one healthy meal per day, vitamin and amino acid supplements (leucine, magnesium, potassium) to promote liver functionality, and specific gut-strengthening exercises you do eight times a day. The second two weeks are the “meat weeks” where you bulk up on protein, protein, protein, and the final two weeks you work your way into the maintenance program that (hopefully) one follows going forward.

The first two weeks are miserable but wiorth it. The second two weeks are OK, because you’re heading towards the finish line.

All in all, I can’t think of a better way to get the New Year started.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:31 | Comments (0)
January 6, 2014

This weekend we entered the season of Epiphany:

In western Christian tradition, January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany. It goes by other names in various church traditions. In Hispanic and Latin culture, as well as some places in Europe, it is known as Three Kings’ Day (Span: el Dia de los Tres Reyes, la Fiesta de Reyes, or el Dia de los Reyes Magos; Dutch: Driekoningendag). Because of differences in church calendars, mainly between the Eastern Orthodox and the western Catholic and Protestant traditions, both Christmas and Epiphany have been observed at different times in the past. Today, most of the Eastern Orthodox traditions follow the western church calendar. The exceptions are some Greek Orthodox Churches and related traditions (for example, Russian and Serbian Orthodox) that still follow the older calendar and celebrate Epiphany as the Theophany on January 19th.

Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day. In following this older custom of counting the days beginning at sundown, the evening of January 5th is the Twelfth Night. This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King’s Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany (a King’s Cake is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA).

In some church traditions, only the full days are counted so that January 5th is the Eleventh Day of Christmas, January 6th is the Twelfth Day, and the evening of January 6th is counted as the Twelfth Night.

And today I also wish you all a happy “Little Christmas” as well. Back in the old days – before Black Friday became as much of a tradition as Christmas itself, folks used to put up their Christmas trees on Christmas Eve and leave them up through the twelve days of Christmas – hence, January 6 being called “Little Christmas”.

Of course, the Christmas carol most commonly associated with Epiphany is “We Three Kings”. There are a lot of versions out there, but the one by The Beach Boys from their 1964 Christmas album is, I think, as good as you’re gonna find.

This past weekend was the one where everyone on our street yanked down their decorations, as if following some unheard and unseen queue. On Saturday I walked out my garage door to see no less than three other neighbors doing the same thing I was about to do: take the house lights down. Honest to God, I felt like I was playing some role in a Stepford Wives kind of thing.

Yesterday we took the Christmas tree and all the other decorations down. It’s always kind of a bittersweet occasion because the Christmas becomes such a part of the house while it’s up, yet it’s always great to get everything down and start the annual housecleaning effort that follows.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:48 | Comments (2)
January 4, 2014

48 + 43=91.
11 fairways hit.
One birdie, four pars, eight bogeys.
36 putts.
And that’s going +1 on the par 5s and +7 on the par 3s.

A nice way to kick off the 2014 golf season 2013 on a sun-splashed, drop-dead gorgeous, 75-degree day at Bear Creek Golf Club in Chandler, AZ. The father-son twosome I was playing with were here on vacation, so it was OK with me that they wanted to play from the white tees going off 22 yards shy of 6,000 yards instead of the 6,400 yard blues – especially since my pre-round warm-up was so awful and I was planning for another grind-it-out round. As it turned out, it wouldn’t have mattered to me had we played the blues because there was no way I wasn’t going to be hitting fairways today no matter where they placed them, or how narrow or wide they made them. That’s because from the very first tee shot of the day (a 3-wood shaped perfectly right to left, the only 3 I would hit all day before taking driver and sticking with it all day long), I was in a place I had never been before: confident, accurate, and long – so long, in fact, that I spent most of my day waiting for the others to hit while my little orange Wilson 50 sat anywhere from 10-40 yards in front of all their drives. They weren’t sticks for sure, but they weren’t dumb hackers, either.

And that 91 could have been a whole lot lower, and without too much effort, either – for the greens were murder for everyone to play, being tricked up with ridiculous “hit it in the clown’s mouth” settings all around the fringes to save the more sober pin placements for a tournament they were having over the weekend. I three-putt four times – once from six feet – but actually had a good day in and around the greens.

What’s most important is that the new move instituted several weeks ago continues to result in very consistent hits off the tee, allowing me to grow with confidence the more I take it out to the course. There is still work to do on and around the putting green, of course, but I feel like my game has really turned a corner. I won’t likely play next until my Las Vegas weekend in late February, but that’s OK, it’s a great way to start 2014.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:26 | Comments (0)
January 3, 2014

Isn’t it weird how so many people make a big thing of New Year’s? I don’t believe any of the stuff that goes along with it – the whole “TIME Person of the Year” or the top ten stories from 2013, or the making of resolutions, or the predictions for 2014…

…side note: are aren’t predictions by the so-called “experts” so lame? I mean, aren’t most of them basically saying that the more things change they will stay the same? For once I’d like to see someone go out on a limb with some really, REALLY bold prediction, like 200,000 in [name your location] to be killed by a undetected meteor, or [enter celebrity name here] was going to be killed by his/her jealous lover, or that some terrorist was going to detonate themselves in [enter airport name] terminal. Or Barack Obama resigning his presidency, or China forgiving 80% of our loans, or that Congress will kiss and make up and make the real hard decisions needed to save Social Security and put us on a road to a balanced budget?

But I digress.

Isn’t it funny how in late December folks get sentimental or sad about the year being over and happy or fearful about the new year rolling in, and then come January 2 or 3, or once the Christmas decorations are all down it’s like the old year never left and the new year never came in – you think of just a few days prior when it was December and wonder the big fuss was all about. Like I was saying to my sister-in-law the other day, what’s the difference beween August 31 and September 1 vs. December 31 and January 1? The fact that the last number in the year is different? Is that all? I mean, there are 365 other ways to measure the same passage of time from the previous year, right?

I’m not even sure what the meaning of this post is, except that to me New Year’s Day is just the biggest waste of a day in the entire year if you let it be that way. And it’s OK even if you don’t, because it’s just another day.

Anyways, here are my ten wishes for 2014:

10. Stay alive and healthy
9. Lose ten pounds (starts next week)
8. Not lose any rabbits (you’re on notice, Cosmo!)
7. Keep the two Saturns running for another year
6. Take my wife to New Orleans for char-grilled oysters and see Rob again (see #1 first)
5. Discover more classic Cuban music for my “Tropical Breezes mix”
4. Get my two new Queen Palms going healthy and strong before the heat comes in
3. Break 90 on some sun-splashed golf course
2. Win the 2014 Goodboys Invitational
1. Eliminate our credit card debt once and for all

Guess next December 31st I’ll be able to look back and see how well we did, but then I’d be falling into the same trap of that whole old year/new year thing!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:59 | Comments (0)

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