Archive for January, 2009

FBR Open Round 3 Update

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Kenny Perry leads the way with -12 at 201 after 3 rounds of play. Shooting a 66 to back up his 63 on Friday and his mediocre opening round of 72, it looks like he is on track for another good year on the PGA Tour. Kenny has 12 wins on tour and his goal is lofty to achieve 20, which would leave him unconditional status until he decides to go to the senior circuit.

Scott Piercy is in sole possession of 2nd place with rounds of 69/67/66 for a 202. Charley Hoffman, Brian Gay and Kevin Na are all T3 at 10 under par. Brian Gay has shot 16 consecutive rounds at par or better and has yet to win this year.

There are 7 players at T6 including Ogilvy, Purdy, Maggert, Toms, Moore, Nitties and Kuchar all at 9 under, while Mediate, Z. Johnson, Kresge and Watney are T13 at -8. That makes 15 players all within 4 strokes of the leader. Rory Sabbatini, Sean O’Hair and Bubba Watson are all still within striking distance.

Looks like the Thunderbirds and PGA Tour are going to be well pleased with this year’s tournament. Should be an exciting day tomorrow, provided there is not a playoff coverage should end 30 minutes prior to kickoff.

FBR Open Round 2 Update

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Nick Watney shot an impressive 63 on Friday for cumulative 133 that is 9 under par to take sole possession of 1st place. Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar and James Nitties are all tied for 2nd at 8 under.

All three players have been consistent; Charley Hoffman had back to back rounds of 66/68, Matt Kuchar of 67/67 and James Nitties 65/69. Webb Simpson continues to impress me; he is currently T5 at 7 under along with Bubba Watson, Kenny Perry and Cameron Beckman.

And oh by the way as for consistency Webb Simpson has posted rounds of 68/67. Other players in the hunt are Zach Johnson, Geoff Ogilvy, Vaughn Taylor, Lucas Glover, Brian Gay and David Toms.

Several notable players failed to make the cut which was at even par. Those include Camilo Vilegas, Stephen Ames, Justin Leonard, Jesper Parnevik, J.B. Holmes, Stewart Cink and Phil Mickelson. Phil Mickelson failed to shoot either round under par with a 76/73 for a 149. Holmes and Mickelson have won the tournament two times. I noticed them being in the rough a lot and while you can overcome a bad shot or two if you don’t keep it in the short grass you eliminate your chances for birdies and eagles. It isn’t all about power, more so about placing that 2nd shot on a par 4 or the 3rd on a par 5 that wins golf tournaments.

Double Trouble

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Well, we’re not going to create a separate category for tennis. Ever. But, we do need to give a nod to The Sisters of Swing, Venus and Serena.

These Gals Are Good

FBR Open Round 1 Update

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Australia’s James Nitties and our own Lucas Glover are T1 at -6 after the first round of play. Charley Hoffman and Dave Bergainio, Jr. are T3 at -5. Briny Baird, Kevin Na and Matt Kuchar are all T5 at -4.

There are 13 players T8 at -3 that include Rocco Mediate, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. J.B. Homes started strong with a 31 on his front 9 but had a rough back 9 with a 39 to card a 70, one under par.

Phil Mickelson who has a good history at TPC Scottsdale had a disappointing debut for 2009 and is at 5 over par 76. He will need a phenomenal day to make the cut he is currently T121 out of 132 players. Mr. Mickelson has lobbied the PGA for approval on a new driver and it certainly looks like he could use it, earliest it can be approved and put into play will be next week. The golf gurus all expected him to capitalize on Tiger Woods absence which he was unable to do and has actually fallen to 4th in the world golf rankings.

I stated earlier I expected him to play well this weekend and I was wrong. On the positive side I can’t recall a year when the rookies have had such an impact at the beginning of the season. James Nitties who was probably best known for his appearance on the Big Break is doing surprisingly well and Webb Simpson has not finished a tournament out of the top 10 yet this year and is off to a good start here.

Good for them. Last years q-school grads didn’t impress me that much, so I am glad to see these guys getting a good start on the season.

The TPC Scottsdale is the venue for the FBR Open

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

It has been referred to as the “biggest party in golf”

About the course: Designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish in 1985;

Par is 71 and the course ranked 36th out of 54 on the PGA Tour in 2009 and plays to 7,216 yards, with 72 sand bunkers and 6 water hazards. The course record is 60 shared by Grant Waite (1996), Mark Calcavecchia (2001) and Phil Mickelson (2005). Statistically, in 2008 the most difficult hole was the par 4 11th and the easiest the par 5 13th. Only 47 birdies were recorded at the 11th and zero eagles while the 13th saw 11 eagles and 167 birdies. The most entertaining and raucous hole is the 16th, a par 3 that is entirely surrounded by fans and often referred to as the “coliseum”. There have been 18 aces recorded at the FBR Open with 7 of them coming at the 16th.

About the field: 4 of the Top 10 players in the world will play including Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, Anthony Kim and Camilo Vilegas (AK did not play last week due to a shoulder injury and is questionable). Also in the field are Zach Johnson, Pat Perez, John Merrick, David Toms, Brian Gay, Steve Stricker, Sean O’Hair, J. B. Holmes, Aaron Baddeley, Mark Calcavecchia, Rocco Mediate, Chris DiMarco, Paul Azinger, Jesper Parnevik and Tom Lehman. Some of the Majors winners not previously listed are Freddy Couples, David Duval, Justin Leonard, Steve Elkington, Mike Weir, Ben Curtis and Angel Carbrera.

The Purse: $6 million, the winners share a paltry $1,080,000.00

Coverage will be provided by the Golf Channel Thursday and Friday and on CBS Saturday and Sunday. 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM daily.

I look for Phil Mickelson to come out with a strong showing (his 2009 debut), as well as AK (provided the shoulder is healed), J. B. Holmes (2 time winner of the event), Ogilvy and Johnson to both play well and keep earning those Fed-Ex Cup points.

The B.O. Republicans who voted for Geithner

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Michelle Malkin provides us with this list of Republican senators who voted FOR Timothy Franz (call me Tim) Geithner.

Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Ensign (R-NV)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Voinovich (R-OH)

We’re not surprised that Robert Phillips (call me Bob) Corker, Jr. voted for Geithner.  He has proven to be less interested in doing what Tennesseans hired him to do, represent us in congress, and more inclined to do what is best for Bob.

Another Republican from Tennessee recently did the same thing.  David Davis was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006 and was defeated in the 2008 primary.

Given the strong showing by Democrat Harold Ford in the last senate class I election (Corker only won by 2.7%, compared to a 33% margin of victory for Lamar Alexander in the 2008 election), it is logical to assume that Corker is playing politics to win support from those Ford voters; However, by doing so he is disenchanting conservative voters in Tennessee.

Had Corker and his ilk been willing to stand up for what’s right, we wouldn’t now have a Treasury Secretary who likes to cheat on paying his taxes.

Given that Corker likes to cheat on his business conflicts of interest, he may have made a deal with Geithner to get in on the action.

UPDATE: When The Student Is The Teacher

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Mad Dog clued us in to an update on the previous post.  The coach of the team that beat their opponents 100-0 has been fired.

Recap:  “On its Web site last week, Covenant, a private Christian school, posted a statement regretting the outcome of its Jan. 13 shutout win over Dallas Academy. “It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christlike and honorable approach to competition,” said the statement, signed by Queal and board chair Todd Doshier.”

That statement was made after The Covenant School girls’ basketball coach ran up the score on the woefully unmatched Dallas Academy.

Coach Micah Grimes, in response to his school’s statement, is quoted as saying: “In response to the statement posted on The Covenant School Web site, I do not agree with the apology or the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel embarrassed or ashamed.  We played the game as it was meant to be played. My values and my beliefs would not allow me to run up the score on any opponent, and it will not allow me to apologize for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity.”

Given Micah Grimes uncanny ability to justify slime, he will be immediately hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.  He is widely believed to be the heir apparent to Everett (call me Ev) Chasen of the now infamous “Shhh…” emails.

Story is here at the Dallas Morning News.

Audit: More Bad Accounting In Veterans Health Care

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

GAO REPORT HERE

Two years after a politically embarrassing $1 billion shortfall that imperiled veterans health care, the Veterans Affairs Department is still low-balling budget estimates to Congress to keep its spending down, government investigators say.

Veterans Turn To Online Strangers For Financial Help

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

From NPR:  “Veterans Turn To Online Strangers For Financial Help“.

Shoot First… (A Note From Lars)

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Greetings Friends:

Late to the party, as usual, but this morning I was perusing an article from The Fayetteville (NC) Observer titled: “Changes coming to veterans hospitals?”

In the article some schmuck named Dave Rainey, identified as spokesman for the VA Mid-Atlantic network is quoted as saying: “On one hand, we have a $1.8 billion budget. That’s taxpayer money, and it has to be spent effectively, by making plans in the short term and the long term. That’s the business case for what we plan there in the Salisbury VA.” (Wait… What?)

The VA decided, arbitrarily and capriciously, that they weren’t spending taxpayer money effectively so ordered that shutdown of the ER and surgical service at the Salisbury, NC VA medical center. When the situation came to light, politicians got involved and the VA Secretary ordered the decision be reversed. Here’s how the director of the Salisbury VA characterized it: “The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, The Honorable James B. Peake, MD, has made a decision regarding the proposed (proposed? proposed? those changes weren’t proposed, they were ORDERED.) changes for the Salisbury VA Medical Center. This decision was made after careful deliberation and review of information from veterans and their family members, employees, veterans’ organizations, congressional members, local government officials and concerned citizens.

There will be no changes in the services offered by the Salisbury VA until 2013. The inpatient medical/surgical unit and the emergency department will remain open while Health Care Centers are constructed in Charlotte and Winston-Salem and relationships with community health care partners are developed. Salisbury will also continue to provide outpatient primary care and mental health services, medical and surgical outpatient specialty care and all other related medical services currently available. In addition, programs will be established in Mental Health and Long Term Care. The large number of inpatient beds in these areas will remain open as programs and services are added.

The Health Care Centers in Charlotte and Winston-Salem will essentially provide all clinical services with the exception of inpatient care and emergency department services. Plans for doubling the size of the Hickory clinic remain ongoing, with an estimated completion date of 2010.

The establishment of after-hours primary care clinics at Salisbury, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Hickory will be implemented as soon as possible. This will involve extended hours Monday through Friday as well as weekend hours. A 24/7 telephone triage call center will be established and a case management program will be implemented for veterans referred through the Salisbury Fee Program.

This plan will improve health care access for our veterans and decrease their travel burden while providing comprehensive health care close to where veterans reside.

Carolyn L. Adams
Director”

Q: What can we gleen from this information?

A: The VA shoots first…

Ol’ Lars is pretty broke down friends, and I rely on help from a home health worker to keep me at home instead of in a nursing home. Recently a new coordinator was hired by the VA Mountain Home and he decided that me, and hundreds of Veterans like me, didn’t need twelve hours of care a week, we only needed two. He called me on a Monday and told me that my services would be terminated Wednesday. I called a friend in Washington D.C., and by Friday the Mountain Home director announced that the Secretary of VA had ordered the decision reversed.

While I was on the phone with this new Mountain Home guy I commented on how odd it was that this information would come in a phone call. I said that this kind of information is usually mailed, along with an explanation of how to appeal the decision. He replied: “We didn’t want to incur the expense of a mailing.”

True story friends, Lars wouldn’t lie to you. So I said to him, I said: “I don’t know how much you make, but I know it’s more than 60,000 dollars a year, and it is costing the VA a hundred times as much for you to be making all these phone calls as it would cost to mail a letter.”

But that’s the point I want to make. The way VA makes decisions ultimately results in an enormous INCREASE in what is ultimately spent. For years and years I was telling the VA that there was something seriously wrong with my neck. Despite several doctors recommendations they wouldn’t authorize an MRI because “That’s taxpayer money…”, so they took dozens of x-rays. Because x-rays can’t see soft tissue damage they kept telling me that everything was fine. Finally I wound up in the ER at a civilian (real) hospital and they did an MRI. There were two ruptured disks in my neck that were flattening the spinal cord from opposite directions.

Can you image what kind of pain that caused?

So, I take the MRI report to the VA and say: “Now what?” And the VA says: “We’ll set you up with a civilian neurosurgeon at a civilian hospital that will cost the VA at least 250,000 dollars and because while you are there the anesthesiologist will damage your nose lining causing your lungs to fill up with blood which will require 10 days in the civilian hospital with extensive involvement from the pulmonary department which will wind up costing the VA over 500,000 dollars.” “O, and by the way, the VA will call the hospital daily complaining about how much it is costing the VA and demanding you be transferred back to the VA hospital, which will result in the pulmonary problems not being resolved properly and you will have to go on home oxygen for the rest of your life which will cost the VA well over a million dollars.”

And I say: “Why?”. And the VA says: “Because that’s taxpayer money and we have to spend it effectively.”

Now I’m not the brightest bulb in the box. I have ancestors named Ole. But, I do know that you can be penny wise and pound foolish. Or, for Ole: Øre wise and kroner foolish.

Until next time,

Lars Harfagre

When The Student Is The Teacher

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Caught a snippet on ESPN this morning about a girls high school basketball game that ended with the score 100 to 0.  True story.  The final score was 100 to 0.

The Sporting News has a story online:  “High school wants to forfeit 100-0 girls hoops victory”.  The winning team, The Covenant School, wants to forfeit the game because, according to principal Kyle Queal: “It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened, a victory without honor is a great loss.”

We agree with Queal.  His entire school should be racked with shame.  In an interesting twist, one of the students from the losing team, Freshman Shelby Hyatt, said about her teams effort to keep playing against the odds: “Even if you are losing, you might as well keep playing. Keep trying, and it’s going to be OK.”

The coach from the winning team, Micah Grimes, had no comment.

So today we are proud to call Shelby Hyatt and her teammates Heroes,  and assign Micah Grimes and her lot the title of Villians.  We would also like to remind Kyle Queal, and the rest of The Covenant School, that some sins are unforgivable.

No NFL this weekend, but we do have GOLF

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

The 50th Bob Hope Classic airs exclusively on the Golf Channel this weekend. 5 days and 4 courses with the Pro’s going low and the celebrity antics are sure to give us all a laugh. Although, some of those celebrity amateurs are pretty good, others not so much. Round 1 was Wednesday as it is a 90 hole tournament Pat Perez is the unlikely leader at -11, followed by Mike Weir and Bubba Watson T2 at -10, there are 5 players tied for 4th that include a couple of my favorites Vaughn Taylor, Briny Baird and Ben Crane all at -9. Some of the celebrity players include Huey Lewis, Alice Cooper and Michael Bolton from the music world, Kurt Russel, Chris O’donnel and Kevin Nealon actors, and Jason Seahorn, Bo Jackson and Dan Fouts athletes. Just to name a few. Bo knows baseball and football, but seriously on the golf course he is about a 14 handicap, I got a chuckle when they put up his stats and found his average with his big dog is about 242 yards. Mr. Jackson, this 50 year old man and his Big Bertha can beat that!

Of course you do have the NBA available, if you like uncalled travelling, uncalled fouls and pre-arranged choreographed game play.

Attention Gang Green

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

+

=

Just sayin…

Note From Lars: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Friday, January 16th, 2009

We put in a call to Lars Harfagre, Warrior Emeritus, to see if he had any thoughts for us and we now bring you the most recent “Note From Lars”.

Hello Friends, Lars Here:

Don’t like that Dr. Phil.  Going back to when he was on the Opry show.  Opry Winfrey’s show.  He comes across as a bloviating blowhard.  To be fair, though, he does have some commendable moments.  One of those came on this past December 19th.  In that show, titled “Beyond The Front Lines”, Dr. Phil and his guests pore over some of the catastrophic failures of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I was clued in to the show by reading a December 31st article in The Washington Times by Dr. Robert Van Boven, director of a VA Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program in Texas, titled “Dealing with PTSD, VA failures exposed in living color”.  In that article Van Boven succinctly illustrates how the VA operates with this example: “…at Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, suppression and inaction to disclosures of fraud, waste, plagiarism, and cronyism fell upon deaf ears to protect the inner circle of involved management and shortchange victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Consequently, attempts to bring to light misdoings by management at the only dedicated TBI brain imaging and treatment research program in Texas resulted not in remedies, but reprisals and covert plans for considering closure of the program without explanation.”

Couple of things that the VA won’t tell you that shed light on the situation:

1.  Only the Department of the Army has a higher percentage of employees quit each year.

2.  According to the VA’s own research “Veterans  with alternative insurance coverage were less likely to use VA and tended to use VA for special care such as pharmacy… Having a regular VA physician had a significantly
negative effect on the ratio of pharmacy to total cost and on the likelihood of staying in VA hospitals for mental health/substance abuse treatment, implying that VA enrollees’ with regular non-VA physicians tend to use VA mainly for special care such as pharmacy or mental health/substance abuse treatment.”

I have had the bad fortune to require massive amounts of health care in both VA and civilian hospitals and clinics.  There is a huge difference between the quality of care.  Civilian hospitals beat VA every time.  And there is a large group of people advocating using the VA as a national model for Government Health Care.  That should be very troubling to the average citizen.

The proof is in the pudding, and the VA is making runny pudding.

Veterans should be given (Like in Australia) cards to access the health care of their choice and shut the VA down entirely.

Godspeed friends, and may the wind be always at your back.

Lars

P.S.

If you read this and think that your tax dollars could be better spent by someone other than the VA, please contact your elected representatives and thell them about it.

Wrong Man(ning)

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

The New York Daily News article:

“Giant payday coming to Eli Manning after laying Eagle egg” reports that Eli Manning will be getting an $120 million contract.

Sources close to the negotiations claim that the New York football Giants mistakenly thought they were bidding on Peyton.

Oreo Double Stuf commercial blamed for the confusion.

Far Out

Friday, January 9th, 2009

So, we’ve done it.  Surpassed the one trillion dollar deficit threshold.  What’s a trillion dollars?  How do you wrap your brain around a trillion dollars?  Well, let’s try the comparison thing.  Let’s do a stacking exercise.

Stack one has 1,000 bills and is 4.3 inches tall

Stack two has 1,000,000 bills and is 358 feet tall

Stack three has 1,000,000,000 and is 68 miles tall

Stack four has 1,000,000,000,000 and is 67,866 miles tall

Our national debt is now 11 trillion, which is 746,527 miles tall

A million here and a million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Of course our exercise is hypothetical because you can’t stack money like that without a complete collapse.

O. Wait…

Odd Lot

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

These Guys Are Good