July 10, 2014

Sitting out here on the patio with all kinds of lightning towards the south with some rumbles of thunder ready to usher in a dust storm. But that doesn’t mean I’m not blogging…

I think this is pretty cool. Best wedding picture I’ve ever seen, for sure…

Consider this one of the feel-good stories of the year.

I’m excited about the Red Sox starting to ditch the deadwood and allow their talented young players to learn what life is like in the big leagues together. I’d sure feel better if they’d lock Jon Lester up for a long-term contract, though.

Getting ready to play golf on the edge of the Atlantic, I’m listening to some Gordon Lightfoot and especially enjoying seafaring songs like this, and this, and especially this tune I hadn’t heard before until I created my new Gord mix. The lyrics are wonderfully and whimsically oceanic:

Oh the gist of it all is the first day of fall
is the day when my ship will set sail
The best of all friends will say good-bye again
there’s still time for one last glass of ale
We’ll sail away proudly, our backs to the wall
on a southwind and lots of good cheer
And when we’ve looked over the white cliffs of Dover,
we’ll be in Bahama next year

From Bermuda on down the Triangle around us
will teach us a lesson or two
There’s many a mate who unevenyly stated
the course he had charted was true
“Don’t worry ’bout me,” he said, “Go down below,
give a certified sailor a turn,
Just sip on your rum or I’ll give you my thumb
and say, son you got something t’ learn!”

It’s a mighty hard way to come down
And a mighty fine way to be found
So hand me my grip from an old sailing ship
Put the kiss of the dawn on my lips
With some luck tonight I might have her at my fingertips

Oh the best of all things is the first day of spring
when when the water runs heavy and fast
The mermaids have all gone to Davy Jones’ Ball
and it seems their first trip was their last
They had so much fun, they don’t wish to return
to the beach where they lay all day long
They’d rather stay under and boy it’s no wonder
when all the rock lobsters roll on

It’s a mighty fine way to be found…

Triangle, Triangle, oh see my ship dangle
we’re bound for Bahama my friend
Like lovers like danger like babies like mangers
but that’s where my storybook ends
Like soldiers of fortune, believers in God
and all kings without crosses to bear
All sweepers and cleaners with no misdemeanors
should try the Triangle out there

It’s a mighty hard way to come down
And a mighty fine way to be found
So hand me my grip from an old sailing ship
Put the kiss of dawn on my lips
With some luck tonight I might have her at my fingertips

When she took her last tumble the sea bottom rumbled
there was no confusion or blame
The captain said, “Men we must answer again
to the sea so ye may not complain”
And as they lay sleeping down there in the deep
with their faces turned up to the stars
A tuna fish turned to a mermaid in bed
and said, “There goes another sandbar”

It’s a mighty hard way to come down
And a mighty fine way to be found
So hand me my grip from an old sailing ship
Put the kiss of the dawn on my lips
With some luck tonight I might have her at my fingertips

I think next I’m going to watch Jaws!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:54 | Comments (0)
July 9, 2014

My thoughts on the border crisis just hours south of me? To me the most humanitarian thing to do – after all, the Obama administration and the United Nations are calling it a “humanitarian issue”, right? – is pretty simple: 1) You put the military smack dab on the border to stop the flood of folks coming through; 2) You treat all those who have crossed over, make sure they’re fed, treated for disease, and cared for; 3) Identify the countries of origin for everyone who has crossed over; then 4) Put them all on planes – first class is OK – and send them back to their families wherever they came from. And if those countries refuse to let our planes land to reunite them with their families, you immediately shut off every dollar of foreign aid sent to them. I guarantee that will change their minds pretty quick.

But none of this is going to happen, of course, because not only is the President of the United States is at best an inept putz, at worst a pathetic, shiftless, lying incompetent, but Speaker of the House John Boehner is a spineless weasel, and House Majority Leader Harry Reid a corrupt, unethical, and senile old fool.

Be advised I don’t use these words lightly – it is a disgrace that such a bunch of incompetent asses are responsible for this country’s welfare and well-being.

What this country needs is a good revolution.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 21:48 | Comments (0)
July 7, 2014

Found this whimsical little poem perfect for the month of July:

“Mosquito is out,
it’s the end of the day;
she’s humming and hunting
her evening away.
Who knows why such hunger
arrives on such wings
at sundown? I guess
it’s the nature of things.”

– N. M. Boedecker, Midsummer Night Itch

Love the title, especially since wherever I am the mosquito will never be far away – even here in Arizona.

Hat tip: gardendigest.com

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments (0)
July 6, 2014

Now that the Tiki bar deck is done I don’t know what to do with myself. There’s this welcome feeling of emptiness that comes when a project you’ve been intensely involved in comes to an end, and I’ve got a little over a week before I’ll be heading back east for Goodboys week. Oh, it’s not that there isn’t still work to be done – lots of house cleaning, for certain. And there’s still work outside to be done – consulting with Carmelo on what to with my vanishing lawns on the east side and in the back, for instance. But most likely we’ll use this year as a building block for the seeding of winter rye in three months and just put topsoil down in the bad areas and adjust the sprinklers accordingly.

Or…my neighbor John says he’s going to try artificial turf in his back yard, says it’s incredible how natural the phony grass surfaces they’re now creating are, so I’m having Arizona Luxury Lawns come out and estimate what it would cost to replace my back lawn. Not only would it reduce our water usage and be good for the environment, but the Tiki bar deck wouldn’t be getting wet whenever the sprinklers come on.

For now? I think I’ll be washing floors since the Tiki deck work tracked a lot of dirt into the house. And, ahead of my planned final round of Arizona golf coming Friday, there are golf clubs to clean and watch the sky for any monsoon season activity. Sure beats sawing, drilling, and pounding nails into wood!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:38 | Comments (0)
July 5, 2014

With just two weeks to go until Goodboys Invitational weekend, my sole focus playing Trilogy Golf Course at Power Ranch on Thursday was my course management skills and testing out my revamped short-game to see how it held up in real playing conditions. Oh, and staying sufficiently hydrated since the temps were going to hit 110 before any late afternoon monsoon action were to come through.

Right from my warm-up I felt I was hitting my irons as good as I have all year, but for some reason, between last Sunday’s practice and Thursday morning my hybrids seemed to take a siesta. And they never awoke from their slumber the entire day – causing one of the two course management mistakes that would end up costing me.

The result of nearly-perfect course management coupled with the best short game I’ve had since I can remember led to a rock-solid 44 on the front nine. Even better, I played the three par 3s at +2, and the two long par 5s at +2 as well – something I haven’t done at all this year.

The back nine started rocky with a quadruple-bogey 8 caused by two very poor shot-making decisions – pulling 3-wood when I had been hitting my driver well all day and pushing my drive into a back yard, then trying to make up for the penalty stroke by going for the green with a hybrid when an iron left in front of the green for a chip on, two-putt for double-bogey was the correct strategy. I didn’t let it get to me, though, and I played solid golf until the last hole.

Ah, yes – the last hole. For some reason I’ve really had trouble closing my rounds out in style this year, and Thursday was no exception. Eighteen at Trilogy is a fairly wide-open hole with a pond protecting the green on the right and front. There’s a lot of room to the left, but you’ll be needing your short game because the green slopes towards the water. I missed the fairway short and left, but made the correct decision to lay up short of the pond and did so perfectly, leaving me 110 to the center of the green. I suppose the correct play was to aim far left and not go for the green at all, chipping on and two-putting for my bogey, but I was in such a great position, and heck, how hard can a 9-iron to the center of the green be, right?

Five minutes later I was marking my scorecard with another quad-bogey 8 after two chunked 9-irons into Davy Jones’ locker. My 53 for the back nine gave me a 97 total, which was extremely good for the course and the conditions we were playing in, but there’s no question I left 3-4 strokes out that really weren’t difficult at all. But there wasn’t any crying over spilled milk – I know there will always be a couple of holes that will get away from me; the goal is to keep those to a bare minimum, which I did.

There were a lot of good things to take away from Thursday’s round – 30 putts (including 7 one-putts!) which was a direct result of improved chipping, big improvement in my sand game (thank you Peter Kostis!), and by far the best course management of the year. And to break 100 on a tough course with rocket-fast greens means I’m definitely trending in the right direction. Next week I’ll play my final round of year in Arizona at Superstition Springs where it’s all about putting the ball in play and managing your way around its quirky and wet layout – a very good test for Goodboys week.

After that, it will be put up or shut up.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 00:18 | Comments (0)
July 4, 2014


Hope y’all have a great Independence Day. We’ll be christening our Tiki bar deck with a bottle of Vueve Cliquot and some barbecued chicken. Pics forthcoming.

UPDATE:…and here’s the crew that made the whole deck possible. From left to right: John McIntyre (technical consultant), my sister-in-law Tam (able-bodied assistant), my wife Tracey (design consultant), and yours truly (project overseer and construction hack). Unfortunately, the neighborhood cat, the folks from two Lowe’s Gilbert stores (at Gilbert and Warner, and at Higley and Queen Creek, and the Paul’s Ace Hardware at Gilbert and Baseline weren’t available.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:14 | Comments (0)
July 3, 2014

It was a whirlwind past couple of days, trying to meet the July 4 deadline for completing the Tiki bar deck. During all this activity I learned it takes serious concentration and a special technique to drive a nail properly (something I haven’t quite learned yet) and that, no matter how much you think you have your measurements right, you’ll be sawing an inch or two to make everything fit.

I won’t lie to y’all – I’m sure if I were to invite a tradesman over for cocktails on the new deck he’d probably puke at the amateurish results, but I think it still came out kind of OK, and, more importantly, that $#@%! neighborhood cat is gonna have to find another litter box. After cleaning up the area and re-installing the Tiki torches my sister-in-law Tam put up the ribbons for the formal champagne launch of the Tiki bar at 6 PM EDT tomorrow:

…and it wasn’t more than an hour later that the first dust storm of the year blew in, creating an early darkness that allowed the patio and Tiki deck to be lit up like Coney Island:


All in all, I think it came out OK. Like I said to Tracey, anytime you can do a project and make it: a) look like it’s always been there, and, b) make the area look larger than it looked before you started, you can consider it a success. Compare these pics with this post from 2010, and you’ll see the difference. I hope y’all like it. It was a learning experience for me – I don’t know if I’d tackle another project like this – but if I did, at least I’d know how to start.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:26 | Comments (0)
July 2, 2014

..don’t think twice, it’s alright. Just enjoy the performance of this fabulous Ennio Morricone tune from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West, a top three in my all-time fave movie list. If this doesn’t make you cry as you listen you have no soul.

This is the way it sounds at the end of the film. Gorgeous. Majestic. They don’t make movies like that anymore.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:44 | Comments (0)
July 1, 2014

Two days. Four planks. Eight bags of beach sand.

That’s all that stands between this very moment and completing the Tiki bar deck. Right now there are still remnants from my original idea of a “planks on ground” similar to what you see in the opening scene of Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon A Time In The West”, but those planks will be drilled and nailed tomorrow. I’ve got folks who tell me I shouldn’t be using nails, but after my experience with deck screws I’m just not willing to put in the time. And if my deck falls apart in the next year, I’ll just go with Leone’s “Cattle Corner” train station opening motif!

The joints in my hands and arms ache, I’ve got a huge callous on my right hand, and my shoulders ache from all the repetitive motion of drilling and hammering. I knew all this manual labor was going to get to me sooner or later, and today was the day. But I got a lot done. The boardwalk on the house side of the Tiki bar is completely done, and I’ve got four boards on the front side that have to be cut back an inch before they are drilled and nailed in place.

The finishing touch is to take bags of beach sand, empty them on the planks, and then run the sand through all the openings between the planks and around the Tiki bar. I’m not looking for a tight fit with the sand, it’s more for appearance only. Between the light brown of the sand and the faux weathered gray stain chosen for the planks, it all looks beautiful, especially around the Tiki bar – you’d almost think you were somewhere on the Big Island or at a pirate bar on the Outer Banks. One final thing about the sand: like a one-putt, it sure covers up all the mistakes this rookie carpenter has made! And there have been many, let me tell you.

While it’s been an incredible amount of work – between my regular job and working on this until nearly dark I’ve never slept better in my life – it has been fun and I’ve learned a lot. Something tells me that some day I’m going to find out why screws are more preferable to nails, but for now it’s all OK and looking good.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:51 | Comments (0)
June 29, 2014

The Tiki bar deck project continues to see progress, but today was a day of one setback after another before we achieved a bit of a breakthrough towards the end. Allow me to explain. So Saturday was a good day, as my sister-in-law Tam and I worked our way through all the wood, getting it all stained and polyurethened. It was dog work to be sure, but by the end of Saturday the back yard was littered with weathered gray planks just waiting for Sunday and the next phase of screwing them into the frame just waiting for the reason for its existence.

Or so we thought.

My first attempt at screwing galvanized screws into the first 2 X 8 plank failed miserably – I might as well have been trying to screw into concrete. Not only did the screw go nowhere but I stripped the head as well. A quick consult with my neighbor John led him to let me borrow one of his drill / drivers with a lot more horsepower than my little Black & Decker. Still no luck – same thing, and I’ve kind wrecked the Phillips bit he gave me to try. Now Tam becomes convinced that even though the box of screws I’ve got is clearly labeled “Deck Screws” for all kinds of wood, I don’t have the right screws for the job. She suggests a trip to Lowe’s for a certain kind of screw that she says has always worked for her when she’s repaired sheet-rock during her previous excursions into the handyman specials she and her no-good husband used to rent in Florida. We’re clearly not getting anywhere here so I say OK and we do the trip to Lowe’s, returning with another kind of wood screw both she and the sales assistant assure me will work.

Fifteen minutes We’re back at the house and I give one of Tam’s screws a try. Same thing. We might as well be trying to screw into the Hoover Dam.

I walk across the blazing-hot street to return John’s drill / driver to him and announce to him my intention to use galvanized nails instead. Not my first choice, for sure, but were not building the Eiffel Tower here, and nails ought to do just as well. He agrees, “Screws can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, and it’s not like you’ve got a huge and complicated project there.”

I walk back across the street and try one of the galvanized nails I used to put the frame together. It gies about a quarter way’s trough and stops dead in its tracks. And it’s going nowhere after that. After it starts bending, I yank it out and announce that I’m heading back to Lowe’s, but this time with an intention of never stepping foot in the place again. I’m doing some lawn repair so while there I pick up some topsoil and some more grass seeed. Our new rabbit Mr. Honeybun has destroyed all the towels and blankets we laid down when he first arrived, so I picked up some area rugs. And, finally, it’s back to the hardware section for some big-ass nails. Surely these will do the damned trick.

Back at the house the heat is now pushing 105 and I grab the same trusty hammer I’ve had for twenty years and try one of those big-ass nails I just picked up. It goes about halfway in and then starts bending on me. I might as well have been attempting to nail through – yes – concrete. Now I’m totally pissed and hot with rage, and not even the grapefruit juice/club soda Tracey hands me can coll me down.

Tracey asks innocently, “This is wood, right?”.

I’m yanking on the nail to pull it out and when suddenly the hammer’s wooden handle breaks and I go flying. Tracey heads inside.

I think once again of why I am doing this project to begin with – it’s all because of a %$#@! cat using my perfectly good sandbox as it’s own litter box. I’m not a happy camper at this point, but it’s now getting to late afternoon and I haven’t even gone to hit golf balls yet. I need a break, anyways, and right now the prospect of hitting a golf ball instead of a hammer sounds awfully good to me. But I know I have a big problem here, and I’m now questioning if and how this project is ever going to be done.

It’s back in the car again for the third time today with my clubs in the trunk, but golf is the furthest thing on my mind. I’m sitting at a stop light when all of a sudden a thought comes into my head. What would Bruce Willis and his team in the movie Armageddon would do, up on that doomsday meteor heading for earth? Why, they’d try another drill bit, right? Heck, desperate times call for desperate measures, so I make a stop at the Ace Hardware store on my way to Superstition Springs and pick up a drill bit kit and a new hammer. My thinking is, if I can drill a hole a little smaller than my deck screws or big-ass nails, I might be able to make their own travel to the netherworld of the frame a little easier. At this point, other than calling in a handyman to subcontractor to finish the job it’s the only choice I have.

[Break in the action]

Superstition Springs is empty and dusty. The thermometer reads 107, but there’s a bit of a breeze, and I’ve got the Gatorade Frosts lined up. I’ve got a large bucket, and I’ll admit, the first dozen balls reflect the anger and frustration I’m feeling to wards the deck, the pool vacumm issue I’ve been dealing with the past few days, and Mr. Honeybun who got loose last night and ate two more power cords – one to my external hard drive, the other to the AT&T modem for my office phone. I’ve instructed the twins to find a solution to Mr. Honeybun’s arrangements while I’m away since this particular form of bad behavior cannot go on much longer.

About halfway through the bucket I settle down and and start making some good swings. There’s no one on the putting green – actually, given the lack of traffic on the street it and being the only human being on the range it actually feels like I’m the only person alive on this earth right now. I start hitting 40-yard chips to the green and actually sink one. No one’s around as I celebrate with a few slugs of Gatorade. My short game continues to show progress and I’d love to stay out there but the heat is relentless, so after an hour and a half it’s time to call it a day before I melt into the earth…

[End of break in the action]

It’s nearly seven when I return to the house but it’s still broiling hot outside – 104. I’m not willing to use one of my good boards for a guinea pig, so I grab one of the extra pieces from the garage and grab my drill. I pick the smallest bit and give it a go. It goes through the 2 X 8 with nary a complaint. I grab the drill bit I’m hoping will actually serve my needs and I give that a try. Success! I take one of my deck screws and try drilling it into the same hole. No luck – the only bit I have has been virtually ruined from all the earlier attempts. I grab one of the big-ass nails and put it into the newly-drilled hole, then take my brand-spankin’ new hammer and give it a go. Success!

Now it’s time to try it with real deck wood on top of the real deck frame. I drill the hole, then pound the nail. I repeat the steps four more times down the line at every other frame juncture with sucess. It may not be professional-looking, but that first plank aint going nowhere.

So now I’ve got my marching orders for the next few days – a mix of drilling and nailing. Now that I know what I’m doing and how I’m going to do it, I’m hoping we’re back on track for a July 4 ribbon-cutting and champagne toast. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a brutal and bruising day.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:32 | Comments (6)


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