Monday, July 22, 2013

My Bad

Dear Phil,

I take it all back.  Sorry I ever doubted you.  I hope you can forgive me.

Your #1 Fan,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dear Phil...

Dear Phil,

You don't know me, but I've been one of your fans for 22 years.  I started following you in January of 1991 when you won a PGA Tour event as an amateur.  I was 12 years old at the time.  You were a cool 20 year old with a great golf game.  You had the flop shot, and you skipped balls over water.  Frankly, you were really cool!  I wasn't anywhere near being a great golfer, but I learned the flop shot because of you.

So here we are in June of 2013, and I've just watched you finish runner-up at the U.S. Open for a record 6th time.  In my head, I knew the heart break was coming again when you bogeyed the 18th hole on Saturday, but my heart wouldn't let me accept it.  So I dutifully tuned in today and watched putt after putt just miss.  Just when I was ready to give up, you holed out for eagle on #10, and I thought..."today might be different."  Turns out, you were just teasing me.  You over thought the 13th hole for the 3rd straight day, then hit your worst iron shot of the week at 15 after pulling off a great tee shot.  Another 2nd place finish, another Father's Day spent watching golf that ultimately ended in disappointment.

Sure, we've had good times.  The 2004 Masters was one of the greatest sporting events of my life.  I watched that with my father-in-law, and it's such a positive memory.  The 2005 PGA, 2006 Masters, 2007 Players Championship and 2010 Masters were also great days. 

But for every great day, there's been twice as much heartbreak.  Let's start in 1999 at the U.S. Open.  You had that tournament won, until you starting missing putts and then Payne Stewart buried that par putt at 18 to beat you.  The same thing happened two years later at the PGA Championship, only this time in was David Toms.  In 2002 at Bethpage, I thought you were poised to make a run against Tiger, but you ultimately fell short.  This was before we knew Tiger was a scum bag, so I took a lot of heat for that one from the Tiger fans.

Then in 2004, you rewarded my loyalty with your first major.  And then you almost won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock...oh so close.  That darn putter again.  You flirted with the British Open and the PGA that year too, before ultimately fading in those events.  But the glow from that Masters win carried things through.

In 2005 you won the PGA championship and followed it with the 2006 Masters...times were good.  There was talk of the Mickelslam, and you were 1 par from making it 3 Majors in a row, and then the disaster at Winged Foot.  A double bogey on 18 to lose by one shot.  That was B R U T A L!!!  I should have quit caring then.  Oh what a fool I was.

The next few years were mostly lean years, but you got my hopes up again in 2009 when you took the lead at the U.S. Open at Bethpage after that eagle on the back 9.  But then your putter got you again.  You miss a lot of short putts for someone who's won 41 PGA events, you know that don't you? 

In 2010, you won the Masters...won it for the family.  I felt for you when Amy got cancer and then your mom right after that.  And then you were diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and I really thought that was the end.  I figured you'd win a few more events before retiring, and I was ready to accept that.  And for a while I was right, but as always, my heart got in the way.

In 2011, you made a run at Darren Clarke at the British Open before your putter got the best of you again with a missed short putt on 11.  And then there was the 2012 Masters...that one was yours to win, and you make a triple on 4???  Who makes a triple on 4?  I was so disappointed after that one, but maybe because Bubba won it, my disappointment was softened.

But after today, I have to be done.  Justin Rose?!!!  Really?!!!  For the 2nd time in 9 months, he gets the best of have more talent in your pinkie that Rose has in his whole body!!!

I can't keep doing this!  Look, it's not you, it's me.  This is who you are brilliant with a golf club in your hands, frustratingly brilliant.  You see shots that nobody else even thinks of, and occasionally you pull them off.  I still want you to win...I still want to root for you...I still want to see you win that U.S. Open, but I can't invest the time in it anymore.

I'm sorry, but we both knew it would come to this...ok, only I knew that.  Eventually you were going to retire, and I would just be a casual golf fan.  I love professional golf, and I love to watch you play, but it's become too heart breaking.  So, I'm moving on to the next phase of my life.  I am moving on to being a causal golf fan.  I'll still watch, but I'm no longer going to invest my heart into the outcome of these events, or the results of a specific player.

I wish you the best of luck.  If you ever do win that U.S Open, I'll be smiling from afar.


Monday, May 13, 2013

You Can't Handle The Truth!!!

I love the movie "A Few Good Men."  One of the best parts of the movie is the exchange between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson near the end of the movie.  I think most of you know the one I'm talking about, but here it is just in case:

Col. Jessep:  You want answers?
Kaffee:  I think I'm entitled to...
Col. Jessep:  You want answers?!!!
Kaffee:  I want the truth!!!
Col. Jessep:  You can't handle the truth!

This is how I feel today after spending a few minutes reading up on the political news of the day.  Some of the major news outlets are covering the ongoing questions over the Obama Administration's response to the Benghazi Terrorist attacks.  These same news outlets are also covering the fact that the IRS was targeting right leaning political non-profit groups for "extra scrutiny".  And now today we have the news that the Justice Department seized and unprecedented number phone records from the AP as part of an on-going investigation into security leaks.

Predictably, those on the left are either stating that these "scandals" are much ado about nothing, or they are trying to deflect attention from these issues by pointing out that the House Republicans just voted to end overtime pay.  This opinion piece from CBS News charts the typical response from the left today.  In fact, the following from this opinion piece gets to the crux of the issue for the writer.  "These twin controversies will spur more congressional hearings. That, in turn, means months more of disclosures, rabbit holes, and partisan attacks. For many liberals, this is the obvious point of the politically motivated Benghazi inquiries: to pin the president down and leave him ineffective."

Personally, I don't view the Benghazi inquiries and purely political.  Four Americans died and some of us want to know the truth of what happened and was the more our elected leaders could have or should have done.  We need to learn from tragedy so it doesn't repeat.

But that's not what this blog is about.  This blog is about truth.  The writer of that opinion piece is not interested in the truth of what happened.  He is more interested in the political spin and defending his side.  This is the problem with the can often be ugly, and often for the "side" you support.  For those on the left, you would have been up in arms had a Republican administration acted this way, but you want it ignored when it's your guy in there.  For those on the right who are happy that this is going on, you better be okay with an investigation when (or if) your side ever wins an election and does something stupid.

The truth is rarely easy to face.  That's why we lie to each other and accept lies so willingly.  Facing the truth means confronting our own ugliness and our own mistakes.  It means making difficult, life changing, and frequently unpopular decisions.  But, when we have the truth and we are prepared to accept it, it is liberating.  For me, accepting the truth that both the right and the left in this country are in this for political gain was freeing.  I was no longer beholden to one side or one ideology.  Granted, I'm still a conservative, but I recognize that the Republicans aren't all good and the Democrats aren't all bad, and that both parties are capable of screwing up royally.  And when they do, Democrat or Republican, we need to know about it...the whole ugly truth.

To borrow from "A Few Good Men", I know I can handle the truth.  Can you?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reform We Actually Need

I've seen a lot of my friends posting on Facebook over the last 24 hours or so in an outrage that the Senate blocked the passage of the gun control reform bill.  This bill, among other things, increased the scrutiny on background checks for prospective gun buyers.

Now before I go further, let me state that I am not a gun owner, nor do I plan to own a gun.  There's no reason for me to have one.  But, I do respect the rights of those who want to own a gun, whether it be for hunting purposes, hobby shooting, or for a greater sense of security.  I agree with the provision in the 2nd Amendment to Keep and Bear Arms.  I believe that an armed public is a great deterrent to a tyrannical government.

I think we can all agree that the Newtown, CT tragedy was the event that spurred this current gun debate.  I believe this tragedy was more a failure of our society to recognize and treat mental illness than it was a failure of gun control.  From all accounts, Adam Lanza's mother was a law abiding citizen that had every right to own a firearm.  I am not convinced that any stricter gun control laws would have prevented the Newtown tragedy.  Further, as the Boston marathon bombing proves, crazy people will find ways to murder and wound people without guns.

On Wednesday, Chuck Grassley (R - IA) and Ted Cruz (R - TX) introduced an alternative to the gun legislation.  You probably haven't heard about this, because it doesn't fit the liberal agenda talking point of restricting gun ownership.  Instead, this law makes it easier for law abiding citizens to get guns, while providing funding for stronger prosecution of criminals who attempt to buy a gun and fail the background check.  This bill also provides for more assistant U.S Attorneys and more ATF agents.  Most importantly, this bill provides funding for resources devoted to the mentally ill and funding for schools to spend on safety measures.

So, we have a bill that directly addresses what happened in Newtown, CT, and this bill will never see the light of day in the Senate because it doesn't include stricter gun control measures.  This is the most clear evidence that those pushing the failed Senate bill were never in this to address what happened in Newtown.  They simply used that event as the catalyst to push for something that has been on the liberal agenda for a long time, stricter gun control laws. 

We have an autistic child who occasionally has a violent outburst.  We have been fortunate to be able to get really good help for our son and he is doing great!  But I know what a struggle it is to have a child that has a mental illness.  I know the stigma that can come with this, such as the stares from other adults when your seemingly "normal" kid has an outburst in the grocery store.  To make it worse, some educators and other parents who don't believe in "special needs" feel compelled to tell you why you've failed as a parent, and that if you were just "stricter and more disciplined" your child would be "normal".

A real movement could have begun to start to get people with mental disorders the help they need!  Further, this could have removed the stigma that comes with a mental disorder by educating the public.  Instead, those elected to lead us chose to make this a political fight and ignored the real issues that continue to cause these tragic events in our society.  That is the secondary tragedy in all of this. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fabulous Fajitas!

I've been eating more Mexican food lately.  This started because my friend Nick and I went to El Perico, a local Mexican restaurant that is unbelievably good.  With this food in mind, I decided to try my hand at some beef fajitas.  For a first run at this, I think they turned out great! 

First I made a marinade.  I did this 2 nights ago.  I had only intended to let the steak marinate for 1 night, but it went 2 nights due to a change in our plans.  The marinade was based on this recipe.  I only made 1 minor adjustment.  I added cilantro.  Here's the marinade recipe:

1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup water
4 cloves minced garlic
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 tsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (hickory)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag.  Place desired meat in the bag and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight.

Okay, I used flank steak for the meat.  I had a 1.2 lb flank steak and it marinated for almost 2 days.  I'm sure 24 hours would have been plenty.  Here's what I did tonight to assemble the fajitas.

1-1.5 lb Marinated Flank Steak (using marinade above)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
2-3 TBSP Fajita Marinade
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1/4 tsp salt
Southwest seasoning to taste
10 - 6 inch flour tortillas

1 - Remove the steak from the marinade, wiping off the excess.  Grill or Broil to a medium doneness.  Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
2 - While steak is resting, add reserved marinade and olive oil to a hot cast iron skillet.  Once the oil and marinade sizzling, add the vegetables and salt and stir fry for 10 minutes.  For additional spice, add southwest seasoning at this point.
3 - Slice the steak, across the grain, into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick strips.  Add the strips to the skillet and stir fry for an additional 2 minutes.
4 - Place the tortillas on a microwave safe plate, cover them with a towel and microwave for 45 seconds. 
5 - Serve fajita beef and vegetable mixture with tortillas.  Add refried beans and cheddar cheese on the side if you want.

This was SOOOOO good.  I did add some southwest seasoning.  I liked the extra kick, but I think next time I'll leave it off so the marinade comes through even more.  The marinade is unbelievably good.  I loved this dish and can't wait to make it again!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quick Tomato Soup

Tonight I made Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese.  It's cold and windy here, so that felt like a really good meal.  Rather than opening a can of Campbell's I decided to make my own soup.  I found a recipe on Allrecipes that gave me a good idea, but then I tweaked it and came up with a Tomato Soup that my wife said is the "best tomato soup she's ever had".  I've been doing a lot more recipe tweaking lately. :-)

Here's the recipe...sorry that I forgot pictures.

1 - 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 - 11.5 oz can V8 Tomato Juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup veggie stock
1 Parmesan rind (or probably 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley

1.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, stock and Parmesan rind to a large pot.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.
2.  Remove any remaining Parmesan rind.
3.  Remove from the heat and add basil, garlic powder and dried parsley and blend gently with an immersion blender.
4.  Add heavy cream, butter and sugar.  Return to the heat until butter is melted.  Serve immediately.

This is a rich soup with lots of great tomato flavor.  We ate it with grilled cheese and oyster crackers.  I can't wait to make this one again!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

More Movie Reviews

It's been a while since I've reviewed any movies.  I have quite a few (for me) to get through.  If this were Nuke, this would be a short movie review since he only reviews movies about twice a year.  I've been watching a lot of animated DC movies on Netflix Instant Watch, and not too many discs lately.  So, here are my reviews.  A lot of 3 and 4 star movies that I'll rate in the order that I think you might care about them.

The Bourne Legacy"The Bourne Legacy":  The latest installment in the Bourne series doesn't feature Jason Bourne at all.  This movie starts a new story line with Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner).  Cross is the next step in the Bourne Evolution.  He has been physically and mentally enhanced, so he's stronger, faster, able to heal quicker and smarter than your average Bourne.  While on a training mission in Alaska, the CIA attempts to kill Cross, to eliminate the threat of program exposure.  Of course they fail, because it wouldn't be much of a movie if they succeeded.  Now, with the risk of losing his abilities, Cross must find the only doctor (Rachel Weisz) who can help him while evading his CIA pursuers.

The movie gets a 4 star rating because I absolutely love the Bourne movies.  Honestly, 45 minutes in, I was quite worried.  "The Bourne Legacy" starts off very slow, but picks up in the 2nd half of the movie.  Jeremy Renner is good as Aaron Cross, but not great.  I really like Rachel Weisz in this role, and Edward Norton is good as always. 

So, overall, a pretty solid follow-up to the Bourne Trilogy.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Stranger Tides"Pirates of the Caribbean: Stranger Tides":  Finally, a "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie that comes close to capturing the genius of the original.  While not as great, this movie is so much better than the last two that it's not even fair to compare them.

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back again, this time playing a dangerous game with the English, the Spanish and the evil Capt. Blackbeard (Ian McShane) over the location of the Fountain of Youth.  We also meet Angelica (Penelope Cruz), apparently a love interest from  Jack's pass.  Honestly, there are so many plot turns that I can't do it justice by trying to talk about the plot, but let's just say it's mostly fun. 

Missing from the cast were Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley, and that was ok.  Geoffrey Rush was back and Capt. Barbosa, which I thought was a good move.  There is kind of a dumb plot line about a mermaid and a missionary, but other than that, I really liked "Pirates of the Caribbean: Stranger Tides".  I'll give this one 4 stars as well.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter":  This was a movie that I was going to see in the theater, but after really poor reviews, I decided to skip it.  It was a good decision not to spend theater bucks on "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", but as a popcorn eating flick for a Tuesday night, it suffices as a 3 star movie.

The plot is fairly simple.  After watching his mother get murdered by a vampire, a young Abraham Lincoln dedicates himself to revenge against the vampire that killed her.  After a near fatal encounter, Lincoln meets a man who can teach him the skills he needs to kill a Vampire.  Once trained, Lincoln becomes a one man Vampire wrecking machine, until realizing that his battle is a futile one unless he gains political power.  Hence Lincoln embarks on a political career that ends with the Presidency and the Civil War, which is really a battle between the Vampire free north, and the Vampire lead south.

I know a lot of people were upset about the portrayal of Lincoln in the movie and about the fact that the Civil War in this movie was essentially a war between Lincoln and Vampires, and not about freeing slaves.  To those people I say, it's fiction!  Lighten up!

"Lemonade Mouth":  This is a Disney movie that we considered watching as a family back when it came out in 2011.  For whatever reason we didn't see it, and we missed out.  "Lemonade Mouth" is a really fun, clean, family movie with some pretty good music.  Also, surprisingly, it doesn't follow the typical Disney feel good ending, though you end feeling pretty good anyway.

"Lemonade Mouth" is the story of 5 high schoolers who are sort of outcasts, but band together in detention to form a music group that turns life in the high school on it's head.  Led by Stella Yamada (Hayley Kiyoko), Lemonade Mouth becomes a symbol for all the kids who don't fit the mold of the perfect high schooler.  But, can they pull it together and win the rock band competition, or will life conspire against them?

We really liked this movie.  I'd give it 4 stars.  It's not as cheesy as "High School Musical", but also not as unique.  The cast of Bridgit Mendler, Naomi Scott, Adam Hicks, Blake Michael and Kiyoko really seem to like each other and works well.  Christopher McDonald plays the school principal and basically brings "Happy Gilmore's" Shooter McGavin to the role of high school principal.  A very fun movie that's good family viewing.

Now on to quick reviews of the animated DC movies that I watched.  No pictures for these.

"Justice League:  Doom":  What happens when all Batman's secret plans for controlling rogue justice league members fall into evil hands?  Bad things man...bad things.

I really enjoyed this movie.  The correct vocal casting (Kevin Conroy) is used for Batman, which is critical.  Tim Daly also appears as Superman, again critical.  This is a 4 star movie.  

"Batman: Year One":  In this movie, we follow the first year of a 25 year old Bruce Wayne as Batman, as well as the future Commissioner Gordon's first year as a cop in Gotham.  The two must band together to save Gotham from corrupt cops and the mafia.

I'm a sucker for Batman movies...4 stars.

"Superman vs. the Elite":  In the 21st century, the ideal of Superman has become old fashioned and his methods have become tired.  When a new band of anti-heroes show up and take steps Superman will not, the public embraces them.  But, when they go too far, will Superman have enough to save the day.

I'll give this one 3.5 stars.

"All Star Superman":  After being tricked by Lex Luthor into overexposure to the sun's rays, Superman has weeks to live.  But with new powers from the sun's rays, Superman performs some of his greatest feats.

This is 2.5 stars.  Kinda sappy and not real action packed.