August 16, 2015

It would appear that the Tiger Woods era, for all intents and purposes, is over. — Rich Lerner, Golf Channel

When I heard these words out of Rich Lerner’s mouth during Golf Channel’s PGA Championship coverage on Saturday night I almost dropped my dentures into my Sam Adams Octoberfest. OK, I don’t wear dentures, and I wasn’t drinking an Octoberfest at the time, but for the ultimate Tiger Woods suck-up at Golf Channel to admit was has been clearly apparent to the majority of professional golf watchers for the past year is nevertheless amazing. Woods had missed his third straight cut at a major, and most of the golf community had long shifted their attention to the much more entertaining and interesting games of twenty-somethings like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and the ultimate winner of the PGA Championship, Jason Day.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going on with Tiger’s game. He doesn’t play enough, his swing changes don’t hold up over the stresses and strains of a professional golf tournament, he doesn’t putt consistently enough, and, frankly, he’s no longer as good as all the young whippersnappers that fearlessly bludgeon golf courses with their games and length. It’s all part mechanics, part physical training, part equipment. Taken together, Tiger Woods is an old-before-his-time and beaten down, middle of the pack golfer. Will he win a tour even again? Probably. Will he win another major again? Possibly. But as far as being a force in his profession you would have to say the odds are quite stacked against him.

The question is whether Tiger wants to devote the necessary time, effort, and travel to do what it takes to challenge the best golfers in the world. He’s not going to make the FedEx Cup playoffs, so perhaps he might want to start at the first tournaments in the wraparound 2015-2016 season. It would mean basically starting from scratch and teeing it up against players and in places I’m guessing he never thought possible. But that’s the state of his game right now. Or he could just wait until early 2016 and prepare for the run up to Augusta. I guess we’ll see.

In the meantime, a big congrats to Jason Day for winning his first major. Sure it would have been great to see Jordan Spieth pull out a third of four majors, but how could you not root against Day? He seems like a great guy, he’s been knocking on the door of greatness for so long, and it just seems like the PGA was meant to be his tournament.

Congrats also to Spieth, who take over the world’s #1 ranking from Rory McIlroy. I don’t know about you, but I could watch Spieth hit golf balls all day long. I love his swing and enjoy hearing him talk to his ball in flight. Most of the time it listens.

There’s a lot of snow to fly between now and April 7 when they tee it up for the first round of the Masters. If the majors in 2016 bring anywhere near the kind of quality golf we have seen in 2015 it will be a great year.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 23:10 | Comments (0)
August 14, 2015

A few thoughts while bracing for Big Heat coming in for today and Saturday:

Ought to be a great weekend for staying inside out of the heat and watching the PGA Championship. The last major of the year (has the year gone by that fast?) is being played at picturesque Whistling Straits. Beautiful course to watch golf being played. I’m rooting for Dustin Johnson to break through and win his first major. After his heartbreaks at WS in 2010 and his 18th hole collapse at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay earlier this year it would be a great thing to see. But after the year he’s had how can you not pick Jordan Spieth?

I see the above picture of Hillary Clinton confidante Huma Amedin and Madame herself and cannot help think of Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada:

…except I’m wondering in the case of the former and the increasing likelihood that Clinton has committed, or at least covered up, felonious acts involving her e-mail server whether at some point we’ll see “The Devil Wears Orange”. One can only hope.

It may seem like heresy, but I’m in agreement with the Boston.com sportswriter Bill Chuck on this: sure, it would be hard to trade David “Big Papi” Ortiz, but think about it: the Red Sox aren’t going anywhere this year, he’s proven himself not good enough alone to keep them out of a last-place finish, and Hanley Ramirez needs to move to the DH position to allow Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Mookie Betts to play the outfield next year. Why not trade him and get some prospects in return? He obviously still has talent and value, and the Red Sox need to be looking to the future.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:24 | Comments (0)
August 13, 2015

…that is the question as the days dwindle down to a precious two. Tomorrow I plan on turning the water back on and filling the pool back up. On Saturday I’ll pull up the tape and the plastic up and see where things stand. Bee-wise, things have been deadly quiet since I killed the rogue bee; haven’t seen one around the premises.

We had two storms blow in on Tuesday – fortunately we were spared the heavy dust and destructive winds that weren’t a whole hell of a lot far away from us. Monsoon storms here in the Valley of the Sun are highly localized – you can be five or ten miles away from Armegeddon and only get a few drops and a couple of good gusts of wind. Having to reposition the plastic that had been pushed around by the morning storm I got an inkling of how gross the water is underneath. It could definitely be worse (I think) – all that chlorine I put in helped a lot – but there will “bee” some serious chemical action needed to put the pool back to clear.

At this point I just want it to “bee” over. If the bees want to come back, let ‘em: I can hold off my swims until after dark. Hopefully, though, they’ve now settled in at someone else’s place and the Richard hacienda is just a happy bee memory.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:17 | Comment (1)
August 12, 2015

You know how bad it’s getting for the Hillary Clinton campaign when Yahoo! News has to publish a Q & A designed to reassure the public that the whole e-mail / server thing is just a big misunderstanding between the public, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of State, and Madame Secretary. Yep, just a big misunderstanding that can be squared away between friends.

Not.

She’s in a heap of trouble and she knows it. Her campaign can obfuscate all its wants, but either she knowingly stored top secret or classified e-mails on an unprotected personal server, or she has been recklessly (I would argue dangerously) incompetent as Secretary of State. If she’s not sliced and diced in public forums by her own Democratic opponents, she most certainly will in debates with her Republican opponent if she even gets that far. At this point, I don’t see how she makes it to the Democratic nomination. She’s damaged goods, and the more the public sees and hears her the more her disapproval ratings increase. I think she’s toast.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 22:46 | Comments (0)

The other day I came across an item about a University of Michigan professor whose article was published under the title “How to Hate Republicans” that really bothered me. And I guess it’s not the article itself or the sentiments expressed in it that bothers me, it’s the fact that it seems to have been met without any outrage from either the mainstream media or, apparently, by the university itself. I think it’s incredibly sad that in a relatively short period of time we seem to have gone from a nation where political differences were tolerated and hashed out through our elective process to a screed of petulant disdain from “the President of the people” who associates Republicans who don’t support his deal with Iran to Iranians who chant “Death to America!”.

Of course no one should be surprised at this. A Free Republic frequent commenter concerned about politics writes the following:

The left/socialists/communists have been doing this for decades:
Women – Hate the men! We’ll protect you from THEM.
Young – Hate the old! We’ll protect you from THEM.
Mothers – Hate your preborn! We’ll protect you from THEM.
Atheist – Hate the Holy! We’ll protect you from THEM.
Poor – Hate the rich! We’ll protect you from THEM.
Illegals – Hate the Americans! We’ll protect you from THEM.
Blacks – Hate the whites! We’ll protect you from THEM.

Without a boogie man [sic] to hate, the left has nothing else to offer. In the end, who will protect those who are left from the democrat/socialist/communist leaders if they were to ever succeed in their quest to inherit their very own kingdom? They’ll have no one else to hate but each other!

OK, a little drastic, perhaps, but there’s more than a shred of truth here. I might also add a couple of other bogeymen to concerned about politics’ list:

Guns – Hate the gun owners! Take away their guns so we can protect you from THEM.
Insurance companies – Hate the insurance companies! We’ll protect you from THEM.

The one thing liberals don’t seem to hate? Government. And who’s going to protect us from it? It ought to be the role of Republicans and conservatives to reign in (note that I did not mention abolish) government from its gross bloatedness and excess (of which there are many), but does anyone see Mitch McConnell or John Boehner championing causes like, say, abolishing federal bureaucracies that have long outlived their usefulness like the departments of Education, Interior, and Energy? I don’t think so. And, outside of Fox News, do you know of any outlets in the mainstream media that exist to decry the kind of hateful language the liberal left engages in on a daily basis? I don’t.

The problem as I see it is in our elected officials on both sides of the political aisle. I believe in free speech, and I’m not wanting to shut anyone’s right to free speech down. But there is such a thing as destructive speech, and whenever the level of discourse being used by public institutions like the University of Michigan or the President’s comments about Republicans cross the line it needs to be dealt with, both swiftly and publicly.

This whole country needs a simmering-down period. Maybe I’m just an idealist in this regard, but the days of our politicians dividing America amongst class, gender, race, ethnic, and wealth has got to end, and those who shamelessly promote these differences for the sole purpose of exacerbating those divisions must be called out and condemned for doing so.

Y’all know how critical I have been here of President Obama, but at its core is my incredible disappointment at the opportunity that has been wasted. You have the first African-American elected president, and what an opportunity he was given to usher this country into a truly post-racial era and bring folks together. Instead, this President has turned out to be a rigid ideologue who has set the country back decades by promoting the divisions that exist between us and surrounding himself with equally-rigid ideologues who have set policy and legislation that have done the same. I don’t hate the man, but I have no respect for either him nor the people he has surrounded himself with; the damage they have done to this country, its people, and the rule of law is incalculable.

I wish I could look ahead to 2016 as a year where the country will come together to elect a President who will commit himself or herself to work with our political and elected leaders on both sides of the political aisle to tone down the rhetoric and elevate our political discourse while encouraging others to do the same, but I’m afraid that train left the station a long time ago. Sadly, I see very rough times ahead for us all.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 03:16 | Comments (0)
August 11, 2015

I know you’re all on pins and needles waiting for the latest bee update, so here it is.

Over the past few days there has been zero – and I do mean zero bee activity around the pool. Zero, that is, until around 5 PM when a single bee would come lolling around. This bee, who would come to “bee” known as the “rogue bee” was the very Free Dictionary definition of lolling:

v. lolled, lollĀ·ing, lolls
v.intr.
1. To move, stand, or recline in an indolent or relaxed manner.
2. To hang or droop laxly: a pennant lolling from the mast.

On Saturday I squirted him with dishwashing liquid. He flew past my face, thumbing his bee wings in a defiant manner. And yes, I suppose you could also say it was indolent of him. He was definitely relaxed, to “bee” sure.

On Saturday he came around again and I gave him another squirt. But he was an elusive bee and never let himself get the full brunt of the spray. Once again, not allowing himself to “bee” defined as a dead bee, he took his normal rounds and flew off, seemingly without a care in the world.

On Monday he was back, around the very same time, hanging around the very same area. I noticed he wasn’t moving as deftly as he had been the past couple of days, so I waited for my chance and dropped a cardboard box filled with empty chlorine bottles on top of him. His handle on earthy existence “became” severely compromised as a part of him thrashed around helplessly on the plastic. I hated to kill him – I really did – but in war it’s either kill or be killed, so one smash of an empty chlorine bottle put him out of his misery.

There were no other bees that came by the rest of the day.

We’ve got one more shot at monsoon thunderstorms and rain today before the rest of the week turns brutally hot – they’re talking 115 – and I’m hoping the rain misses us. To have a lake sitting on top of plastic is no fun to try and get rid of – I learned that on Saturday. What did I do? Simply cover the lake water with even more plastic. It doesn’t look pretty, I can tell you that.

At this point the plan is to remove all plastic on Saturday. That would be over two weeks since the first plastic was applied. I took a look at the water today, and even though the water is hot – hot tub hot – the heavy chlorine I put in it seems to have kept it clear, at least for now.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:39 | Comments (0)
August 10, 2015

Here’s another worthy addition to my “Mood Indigo” music collection: The Band’s “It Makes No Difference”. You want to talk about a torch song? This is about as good as it gets, a song called by a YouTube commenter as the saddest, most ‘rode hard and put up wet’ song ever written. I’ll talk about the performance in a sec, but check out these lyrics (my boldings):

It makes no difference where I turn
I can’t get over you and the flame still burns
It makes no difference, night or day
The shadow never seems to fade away

And the sun don’t shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

Now there’s no love
As true as the love
That dies untold
But the clouds never hung so low before

It makes no difference how far I go
Like a scar the hurt will always show
It makes no difference who I meet
They’re just a face in the crowd on a dead-end street

And the sun don’t shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

These old love letters
Well, I just can’t keep
‘Cause like a gambler says
Read ‘em and weep and the dawn don’t rescue me no more

Without your love I’m nothing at all
Like an empty hall it’s a lonely fall
Since you’ve gone it’s a losing battle
Stampeding cattle, they rattle the walls

And the sun don’t shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

Well, I love you so much
It’s all I can do
Just to keep myself from telling you
That I never felt so alone before

Pretty devastating stuff, huh? I can tell you – anyone who has ever loved, who has ever poured ever fiber of their being into a relationship and had it all gone to sh*t can understand exactly the sentiments of this classic. The link is from Martin Scorcese’s film The Last Waltz, the group’s last concert on November 25, 1976 – to my mind, one of the best rock concert movies ever filmed; it’s right up there with Neil Young’s “Rust Never Sleeps”.

In my view, the live performance far outweighs the studio version both in terms of emotion and quality. Whereas the studio version kinda plods along, Scorcese’s live version crackles with passion and intensity. You can hear it in Rick Danko’s vocals and Robbie Robertson’s lead guitar solo – live, both are just so much better. And just when you think it can’t possibly get any better… Garth Hudson steps up and sends it into the stratosphere with a bluesy sax solo that oozes longing and emotion. Then there’s Robbie again. And then there’s Garth again to close it all out. It’s hard to think how it gets a whole lot better than this. Whaddaya think?

Two more great cuts from the concert film: Evangeline, with Emmylou Harris, and Out Of The Blue, just a hauntingly beautiful love song and Band classic. Love this particular set of lyrics:

Well, it’s in the cards
It’s written in the stars
It’s in the wee-wee hours
In some lonely bar

If she don’t stay up all night
And walk the floor
She knows damn well
I’ll be coming back for more

Wow. I’ve been there. Almost worth a post all by itself.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:18 | Comments (0)
August 9, 2015

Sure, the political world is all aflutter over the Donald Trump/Megan Kelly furor, but I’ve got more important things on my mind – with all the plastic over my pool the back yard looks like we’re a bunch of white trash imported in from Inverness, Florida. (Hey, look it up – I’ve been there and know what it looks like!)

The bee situation continues to be monitored. On Thursday we had less activity then we did on Wednesday. On Friday it was very monsoon-y around here with thunder and rain off and on all day. Fortunately, we didn’t get a lot of wind, which would have ripped my plastic covering to shreds. Unfortunately, we had a lot of dirt and rain, inundating my plastic cover. It got so bad that I had to use my BBQ fork puncture holes in the cover so it could drain, lest the weight of the water pulled the entire apparatus into the pool. Today, a lone bee kept visiting and I sprayed him countless times to convince him to find another place.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:09 | Comments (0)
August 6, 2015

There was a time when the first Republican debate of those seeking the party’s nomination would have me glued to the TV set, but those times are gone. To tell you the truth, I can’t remember the last time I watched any of the Fox News nightly lineup. Sure, I have my favorite political websites and blogs I follow on a daily basis, but to watch a bunch of talking heads drone on about the same crap they’ve been droning on about for the last six years is a waste of my time. If I’m gonna watch TV it will be for the MLB Network, the Food Network when Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is on, and the Travel Channel when The Dead Files is on.

I’d rather spend my time contemplating the killing of bees and trying to get my swimming pool back.

All that being said, here are a few random thoughts about the state of things, politics wise these days.

Sure she may still be the presumptive Democratic nominee, but only those with the rosiest-colored glasses can’t deny that Hillary Clinton’s campign is in a heap of trouble. Perhaps even on the verge of imploding. There’s little doubt that, even if her actions involving her home-based e-mail server aren’t found to be criminal in nature (which they very well could be), she out-and-out lied about it and her actions were nothing short of reckless and ill-advised beyond any reasonable doubt. If she doesn’t get skewered during the Democratic Party nomination process she most certainly will in a general election. And I think Democrats are starting to realize it.

Congratulations to Carly Fiorina for having the courage to say what all the other mealy-mouthed Republican candidates won’t. Hillary Clinton has lied, and numerous times. Can you imagine a debate between her and Madame Hillary? She’s put me in her corner, I’ll tell you that.

I liked Rick Perry, but he lost me for good when he attacked Donald Trump personally.

If Jeb Bush gets the GOP nomination (which he won’t) I’ll stay home. If his last name wasn’t Bush he’d be a head cashier at the local Fry’s. That’s what he reminds me of.

He comes off a little too slick for me, but I still think Marco Rubio is gonna be there somewhere near the end.

Like I say, I didn’t see the debate, but anytime Donald Trump pisses off the GOP establishment and the folks at National Review, I think he’s doing something right. I think Howie Carr is right: People are sick and tired of politicians, and conservatives like me are tired of the political establishment and its incestuous relationship with the mainstream media. Trump has struck a nerve in the normal political process, and it will be interesting to see if his massive ego allows room for the discipline it will take to run a political campaign that goes beyond generalities and bombastic sound-bites.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 22:54 | Comments (0)
August 5, 2015

As little as two days ago I was compassionate to the honeybees that turned my swimming pool into the bee version of Waterworld. I’d wait until dark to close the pool area in so as not to trap any stragglers. A day ago I even let a wayward bee find his way out of the plastic that had snagged him.

Now I kill them.

I am a killer of bees.

I have my spray bottle filled with 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid and water and I will spray them dead.

I feel no remorse. Only curiosity at watching them die.

Today there “bee” zero – and I do mean zero – bee activity around the pool until the late afternoon. Then a dozen or so started buzzing their way around, no doubt collecting information for the hive, seeing what opportunities for moisture lie amidst all kinds of plastic and tape. So they could bring their bee message back to the hive.

They were informants. They were the scouts. They were probing.

I was waiting for them.

And I sprayed, indiscriminately.

One bee was caught beneath the plastic. Yesterday I set one just like it free out of compassion. Today I doused him with liquid and watched him die. It was quick. It was kinda pathetic. It was also time to spray on.

A good dozen or so got the same treatment. I didn’t see them die but I knew once sprayed they would suffer the same fate. They’d never even make it back to the hive.

This is what life is like when it’s personal-like between you and the honeybees. I have little doubt they think of me as nothing more than a nuisance. Likewise.

All I want is my swimming pool back.

Thanks, Frank.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:12 | Comments (0)

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