April 20, 2014

So Let’s Root, Root, Root For The Home Teeth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 2:06 pm

Good morning and greetings, NBA playoff fans. Last week, I was searching high and low for a subject to entertain my cyber readers. Being in the holiday spirit, I was looking for something upbeat, like an Easter bunny winning the lottery and setting all his friends and family in cages free.

Well, after a trip to the dentist office last Thursday, I had found my story. But it’s not all warm and fuzzy. I have to face it. For me, there’s no escaping the dental reaper.

But before I get into my newest dilemma, let me update you on my brother Brad. He had total knee reconstruction surgery last Tuesday and it went very well, or at least as well as it could go when severe pain is involved. He emailed in the middle of the night last Thursday morning, in the midst of the most continuous pain he had experienced in all his 55 years as a New York Giants fan.

At that point he had enough drugs in his system to open a pharmacy, but it still wasn’t enough, as the pain was beyond excruciating.

But he is starting to come around slowly, although he’ll be off the grid for a while as he recovers. He’s already had surgery on this knee once before, so he knows all about how the physical therapy game is played.

But he’s experiencing pain at a level he’s never encountered before. It’s beyond brutal. I’m just hoping it’s gets tolerable real soon. I feel for him, as he’s like a brother to me and doesn’t deserve all the anguish and suffering.

They say fear and courage are brothers. If that’s the case, I don’t want to meet their sisters.

Now back to me. My teeth have always been a problem, a true achilles heel. I am quite familiar with the drill, fill and bill syndrome, as my childhood was filled with cavities. This led to a lifetime bonus of nightmares involving my teeth.

I know I didn’t have the greatest childhood dentist, as he never took any x-rays. He just held me up to the light. I remember him attempting to take out two of my wisdom teeth without putting me under. In retrospect, if I had had any wisdom, I would never have opened my mouth.

So last Thursday, I was greeting by a dental hygienist that I had never met. Not a good sign, as change is not good. She told me she only worked there two days a month. I replied, “This must be my lucky day.”

Having been blessed with soft teeth, the conglomeration of mercury in my mouth and the continuation through my 20′s and 30′s led me to becoming royalty, as I started getting crowns in my 40′s. Yeah, there’s nothing like biting down and cracking a tooth. Your tongue then automatically goes to the spot where the tooth once was and the party begins.

I now have approximately 65 gold crowns in my mouth while my dentist has a flourishing vineyard in Napa. Maybe that’s why I’m not crazy about the smell of my enamel burning.

Now back in 2001, I experienced rapid bone loss in my jaw and had to have a incisor tooth extracted. This led to a new game called ring around the implant. But I thought, well, that bone loss was just a fluke, and went on with with the rest of my so-called life.

But then in 2010, just to even the playing field, I cracked the upper incisor on the other side, which required another implant. I didn’t get it taken care of right away, as immediate attention wasn’t required and I wanted to savor the oral surgery experience.

Then in 2012, I was introduced to a new friend called root resorption. This little party trick involves my own living body cells attacking the root of my front teeth, leading to their destruction and subsequent extractions.

And here’s the bonus when it comes to root or tooth absorption. The greatest minds in science and medicine don’t know what causes the cells to unite and turn on me. It could have been my childhood orthodontic work (that’s what I’m guessing,) as my orthodontist left midway through my treatment and my case was taken over by some hack who took my braces off too soon.

Or there could have some trauma in the area, but a relatively large proportion of root resorption is of unknown cause, or “idiopathic,” leaving me feeling like the idiot.

So this led to getting two implants with some bone grafting for dessert. The upper implant was easy, but the lower one was very tricky. I remember waking up and hearing the words, “We couldn’t get the implant in.” Well, that led to more oral surgery fun, as the implant must grow in the jaw bone for six months before the crown is attached. And that forced me to wear plastic flippers to cover the empty spots in my mouth, as the only fashion work I was getting before that was modeling hockey jerseys.

But in early 2013, we finished up the work, and my mouth was as good as semi-new. I once again had a half a million dollar smile. But I was constantly haunted by the words of oral surgeon, who warned me that once you experience rapid root absorption, it’s not going away. It’s like I have Al Quaida plotting in my mouth.

And that bring us back to last Thursday. The x-rays showed that the cells have attacked my other bottom front tooth. My dentist said the tooth is “terminal.” Kaput.

I’ve gone through this before and know the drill. I may have a little bit of time, but I know the process that lies ahead. My dentist said my last implant was the most complicated procedure he’s seen in his 40 years. To quote the poet Ogden Nash, “Some tortures are physical. And some are mental. But the one that is both is dental.”

But I’m not complaining, as other people have it a lot worse. Like Brad. I’m just left wondering why.

But I’ll deal with it, however unpleasant as it may be. Because that’s the hand, er mouth, that I’ve been dealt.

But if I ever meet my orthodontist on the road, I will kill him.

So last week I showcased a beautiful sunrise from January 3, that lit up the morning sky with beauty and elegance. Today’s photos are the sunset from the same day. It was not nearly as spectacular as the morning colors, but it was about as much as I could absorb that night.
So just to show in light of the circumstances that I still have a sense of humor, here’s my favorite joke about dentists.

A couple of old guys were golfing one day, when one of the men said that he was going to go to Dr. Lookner for a new set of dentures in the morning.

His elderly friend remarked that he, too, had gone to the same dentist a few years before. “Is that so?” the first old gentleman asked. “Did he do a good job?”

The second gent replied, “Well, I was on the course yesterday when the fellow on the ninth hole hooked a shot. The ball must have been going at least 200 mph when it hit me right in the testicles.”

The first old guy was confused and asked, “What does that have to do with your dentures?” The second man answered, “That was the first time in two years that my teeth didn’t hurt.”

And one late night joke. “Today is the 50th anniversary of the first Rolling Stones album. The band is still going strong. Thanks, drugs.” – Craig Ferguson

So on to the NBA playoffs. We’ll catch you being MVP of the regular season as you go seek your first NBA championship. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kevin Durant fans.

April 13, 2014

97 Ain’t Exactly Heaven

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:05 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA western conference playoff fans. It’s been a big month for birthdays in the Gilbert family, as last Monday, both my son and brother celebrated with cake, candles and ice cream, along with pony rides and a little pin the tail on the MRI.

So to update my brother Brad’s knee reconstruction, his surgery was postponed until this week so they could do some more tests. But my youngest brother has maintained a positive attitude, unlike his oldest brother, who would be bemoaning his fate to anyone within the continental U.S or Hawaiian Islands.

He’s heard from many people concerning their thoughts on his current predicament. The consensus is that he’s lucky to be alive. My wife says he now has to figure out why he is alive after falling 800 feet down an Alaskan glacier.

I haven’t shared my opinion, as advice after injury is like medicine after death. Luckily, both Abe Lincoln and I agree that “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

By all accounts, his future is still ahead of him, as this catastrophic knee injury won’t keep him down for long. Or as Kobe Bryant once said, “I’ve played with IVs before, during and after games. I’ve played with a broken hand, a sprained ankle, a torn shoulder, a severed lip and a knee the size of a softball. I don’t miss 15 games because of a toe injury that everybody knows wasn’t that serious in the first place.”

Kobe was referring to an injury to Shaquille O’Neal, who refused to comment on this story. He was too busy promoting his AriZona Beverage “Soda Shaq” line of cream sodas, which according to Charles Barkley, is “Spreading diabetes all across the world, as we speak. Got like 50 grams of sugar in one can of that cream soda.”

As it turns out, the Round Mound of Rebound was a bit off. A BevReview.com rundown of Soda Shaq noted that each 23.5-ounce can actually has 70.5 grams of sugar. Hey, who doesn’t love a drink boasting all-natural ingredients while containing just 1% juice? A big can for a big scam.

Or as the Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michale F. Jacobson put it, “Clearly, Shaq knows better. He has said he avoids soda himself, and worries about obesity and diabetes. But he’s now using his name, face, and reputation to make those health problems even bigger. It’s shameful hypocrisy, presumably motivated by money.”

It just goes to show when it comes to the Big Aristotle, it’s tough to separate a fool and his money.

Getting back to the birthday theme, Saturday was my father’s 97th birthday. That’s right. 97. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s nine decades plus seven years. Or to put it in simpler terms, that’s 5,244 weeks or approximately 35,405 days on the planet. Simply mindblowing.

My father is suffering from dementia, so his short term memory isn’t what it used to be. When I asked him a few months ago how old he was, he replied, “70.” He couldn’t even begin to fathom 97. When I asked him the same question on Friday, he couldn’t come up with an answer. Not even a guess.

America’s population of persons aged 90-and-older has almost tripled since 1980, reaching 1.9 million in 2010 and will continue to increase to more than 7.6 million over the next 40 years. People are living longer, but at what price?

There are a few advantages to being older. Basically, it’s that you can eat dinner at 4 pm. Someone once asked comedian George Burns what would he most appreciate getting for his 97th birthday. He replied, “A paternity suit.”

Birthdays are good for people, as statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. But the golden years have not been good to my father. He has been robbed of most of the joy that made up his life, and the dementia has put an incredible amount of stress on my mother, who at 88 years young, is no spring chicken.

But each day, with a little help from the pharmaceutical world, she puts a smile on her face and loves him just the same, although their relationship has totally changed, as she’s now not a equal partner, but a caregiver. I would actually give her the title of a saint, because dealing with dementia is a 24 hour, seven day a week bitch.

But my father still has his one greatest joy, and that is my mother. She’s the gift that keeps on giving.

So for the woman who never breast fed me, in honor of my father’s 97th birthday, here’s a little joke for you. And thanks for never worrying.

A retirement village decided to hold a Singles Dance, at which this very sweet 90-year-old gentleman met a very sweet 90-year-old lady, and they danced and talked and laughed, and just hit it off great.

They continued to see each other for a while and enjoyed each other so much, and danced so well together, etc., that they decided to get married. On their wedding night, they went to bed and he reached over and took her hand and squeezed it, and she squeezed his hand back, and they went to sleep.

On the second night, when they went to bed, he reached over and squeezed her hand, and she squeezed his hand back, and they went to sleep. On the third night, he reached over and took her hand, and she said, “Not tonight, honey, I have a headache.”

So for today’s photo funhouse, we are leaving behind the glorious sunrises and sunsets of 2103 and turning the page to embrace the new year.

We are starting off with the sunrise from January 3, shot at the usual locations along West Cliff Drive, Lighthouse Point and Steamers Lane. It was a classic way to start off the 2014 festivities, as later in the day a gorgeous sunset stopped by to chat, which I will showcase next week.

Anytime I can capture a beautiful winter sunrise and sunset on the same day, I’m left with a feeling of fulfillment. At least until the next morning. So stay tuned.

On to some late night humor. “At the NCAA men’s basketball championship, President Clinton sat with President George W. Bush. In the second half, Bush tried to catch a foul ball.” –David Letterman “George W. Bush and Bill Clinton sat next to each other at the big game. Clinton congratulated UConn on its big win, while Bush gave Kentucky a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A man got a tattoo saying that Kentucky won the NCAA tournament this year even though they lost. The tattoo is right above his tattoo congratulating President Mitt Romney.” –Conan O’Brien “President Obama invited the U.S. Olympic team to the White House yesterday to congratulate them on their performance in Sochi. Of course it got awkward when Biden told the biathletes, ‘I won’t rest until all you guys can get married.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“McDonald’s announced that it has closed its three restaurants in Crimea because of the tension in the region. Then Putin said, ‘Is good to hear. Even I don’t have weapon as destructive as McRib.’” –Jimmy Fallon “The North Korean dictator is in the news again. He was re-elected with 100 percent of the vote. He said, “I haven’t been this happy since I scored 700,000 on the SAT exam.” – Conan O’Brien

“Happy Birthday to Hugh Hefner. He turned 88 years old today. His friends threw him a big party. They had a naked woman jump out of a giant bran muffin.” – Jimmy Fallon “A couple in Michigan is being sued for $2 million after they burned down their apartment complex while trying to cook a squirrel with a blowtorch. I’m not an accountant, but it SOUNDS like they might not have $2 million.” – Seth Meyers

“America’s biggest employer is Walmart, where the average wage is $8 dollars an hour. Meanwhile, Walmart’s owners are so absurdly rich that one of them, Alice Walton, spent over a billion dollars building an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. And she said about it, ‘For years I’ve been thinking about what we can do as a family that can really make a difference.’ How about giving your employees a raise, you deluded nitwit?” –Bill Maher

So that’s a wrap. We’ll catch you being the best shooter in the NBA by hitting mind-blowing threes at crunch time. Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

April 6, 2014

The Son, The Moon And The Births

Good morning and greetings, April fans. Well, last week we started off the new month with some spring showers, which according to my Mariah Carey wall calendar, will then lead to May flowers.

However, at my humble abode on the highly desirable upper westside of Santa Cruz, the gophers and rose bushes are already in full bloom, as my front yard is bursting with color, fragrance and a network of freshly dug tunnels that the recently captured Mexican cartel boss El Chapo would be proud to list on his resume.

Yes, the smell of spring is in the air. As I said to my wife the other day, “If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, I’d be picking roses for a lifetime.” And she replied, “Just remember to turn on the dishwasher before you come upstairs.” Ah, another Hallmark moment.

It was back in 1967 that the Beatles released their psychedelic studio album, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ Which brought us this classic Lennon and McCartney line, “It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper’s taught the band to play.”

So with a shout out to Billy Shears, I thought we might take a quick look back at what was happening two decades ago. Because if you don’t remember the past, you’ll never remember the future.

Taking a look at 1994, ‘Forrest Gump’ was number one at the box office and ‘Seinfeld’ was TV’s most popular show, as they were all masters of their domain. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The number one hit on the song charts was ‘All I Wanna Do’ by Sheryl Crow, a baseball strike cancelled the World Series and the Wonderbra was relaunched and celebrated as one of the greatest fashion innovations in history. Who knew?

And it was twenty years ago today, on April 7, 1994, that the world witnessed the start of the Rwandan genocide, where for a 100 day period, an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 Rwandans were slaughtered, going down as one of the most horrific and shameful events to occur in our lifetimes.

But out of darkness on this day came a shining light, in the form of a child, the birth of my son, Jason. He was supposed to have entered the world a day earlier, but due to my wife’s reluctance to go to the hospital after her water broke, his entering into the universe was delayed.

Now April 6 was a day to remember. We arrived in the morning at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, where I sensed that getting a kosher lunch was going to be a little tricky. All the birthing rooms where full, so they led us to the kitchen area and told us to wait. Ironically, there were bagels and cream cheese there to greet us, so the kosher action might still be a go.

We were supposed to meet our doula, who was going to be Allison’s labor coach. She was also a custom’s agent, and it turned out that day she had to go on a raid and was a no-show. This put me right up on the front line, as I was now husband, coach and the lifeline to our doctor, who didn’t want to make an appearance until our son’s cranium was crowning.

Allison took a long time before being fully dilated. As her coach, I kept flashing the bunt sign, but the runners weren’t moving. Finally, at 1:47 am, Jason flew the coop, and we were no longer just a couple, but now a family.

The next 60 minutes were the highest moments of my life, as I couldn’t believe what had popped out of my wife. We just sat there and stared at him like mental patients. Eventually a nurse came in to clean him up and took my order for some matzo brie.

Jason is now a second year pre-med student at UC Santa Barbara, majoring in biological sciences and beach volleyball. He’s grown into a compassionate young man with an thirst for knowledge, who still will occasionally let me beat him playing one-on-one. He really wants to make a difference. It just goes to show that sometimes the apple falls far away from the cherry tree and keeps rolling.

But Jason already had some company on this day. Back in 1959, in Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital, my brother Brad entered the picture. Neither my brother Paul or I attended the birth, as we were too busy watching ‘Crusader Rabbit,’ the first animated series produced specifically for television
.
Brad grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Amherst College and then headed west to seek his fortune. When he is not snowboarding, he is the President and CEO of People Productions, a video and digital based media company based in Boulder, Colorado.

Now Brad is his middle-aged years has become somewhat of a daredevil, unlike yours truly, who won’t leave his feet. His favorite hobby is heli-snowboarding, where the helicopter drops you off on the top of the glacier. I always feel that urge to accompany him on these trips, but I’m just not myself around avalanches.

So a couple of weeks ago, the helicopter dropped my youngest brother off at the summit of an Alaskan glacier, and while he was sitting on a cornice, it collapsed underneath him, sending him tumbling down a sheer 800 foot drop. He thought he was going to die, or at the least have something great to blog about.

It was a terrifying situation and when he finally stopped falling he was alive. However, his left knee took the brunt of the fall, with all the ligaments blown out like strands of linguine.

So for Brad’s 55th birthday, he’ll be at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado, prepping for major knee reconstruction surgery the following day. The outcome could have been much worse, but he’s facing a lengthy rehab program, with lots of physical therapy and sponge baths.

I’m just glad he got out alive and with use of all his limbs. Like his Denver Nuggets, he won’t be seeing any postseason action this year. But along with the Nuggets’ small forward Danilo Gallinari, who’s been sidelined all season with a knee injury, he’ll be back in uniform some time next year. So happy birthday, brother.

To check out his Alaskan escapade, click on http://www.glutenfreesnowboarder.com/2014/04/not-every-powder-tale-has-a-happy-ending/

As I mentioned earlier, we started off last week with some wet weather, and this brought some spectacular rainbows into prime time viewing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in photo mode, but it did not stop me from going back into the archives and bringing a few back into the light.

We start off with a lovely full arc double rainbow over the Santa Cruz Wharf, followed by another double shot off of West Cliff Drive.

We then jet over to the South Pacific, with a couple of doubles on Kauai’s beautiful Hanalei Bay. We finish up with the grand finale at Sunset Beach on Oahu’s famous North Shore, just step’s away from Ted’s Bakery, home of the world famous chocolate haupia cream pie.

I love these multicolored masterpieces of reflected and refracted light. It’s like what Charlie Chaplin had to say about rainbows. “You’ll never find one if you’re looking down.” Unless, of course, you’re at a gas station.

Or as my rabbi once told me, “We may run, walk, stumble, drive or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or to miss a chance to see a rainbow along the way.” Because that’s where happy little bluebirds fly.

On to some late night humor. “The Secret Service arrested a man today after he tried to scale a fence at the White House. They reportedly said to the man, ‘Sorry, but you still have two more years, Mr. President.’ A new study on unemployment shows that it is now harder to get a job at Wal-Mart than to get accepted at Harvard. Of course, it’s a lot easier if your dad went to Wal-Mart.” -Seth Meyers

“Willie Nelson’s stuffed armadillo has been returned after being stolen from a Las Vegas show. And I’m sure Willie was happy to get it back, considering what it’s probably stuffed with. That’s right, 75 percent of Americans think marijuana eventually will be legal, while the other 25 percent said, “What, it’s illegal?” – Seth Meyers

“California is having to drive 30 million salmon to the ocean because this year’s drought has dried up the rivers that normally get them there. Unfortunately, to make the salmon comfortable, the truckers had to drive against traffic.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Everybody’s excited about the beginning of baseball season. The Yankees are off to a rough start. They are 0-and-2. Alex Rodriguez, who is no longer a Yankee, sits home nights watching the games and injecting himself with dip.” – David Letterman

“The Discovery Channel just announced plans for a new miniseries. It’s hosting a race to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. So technically savvy individuals can compete to see who can get their spacecraft to the moon first. It will be televised live. The show aims to prove that people who are bright and determined and work hard can accomplish anything we already accomplished 50 years ago.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So enjoy tonight’s NCAA basketball championship. By the way, after viewing the top prospects in the McDonald’s All American Game last week, our college basketball guru, Dr. Michael Schur, has the Duke Blue Devils once again cutting down the nets in next year’s NCAA Final in Indianapolis. Seems the Dukies have reloaded.

So we’ll catch you coming back from a knee injury and displaying the explosiveness that makes you one of the top young guards in the game. Aloha, mahalo and later, Eric Bledsoe fans.

March 30, 2014

What Kind Of Fool Am I?

Good morning and greetings, Final Four fans. Well, according to my Olsen Twins calendar, today is the final day of March, meaning the madness is soon coming to an end. We are now heading toward that one shining moment, when the NCAA champion is crowned, as every other team in the field of 64 will have ended the season on a losing note.

Finishing off a year in this fashion is always painful, for some more than others. Or in the words of former basketball coach Bill Musselman, “Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.”

This year’s NCAA basketball tournament certainly has lived up to the hype. Last Sunday’s heavyweight battle between undefeated Wichita State, riding a 33-game winning streak, and the much ballyhooed freshman of Kentucky was an all-time classic, one of the best ever. The Wildcats emerged as the victors as the Shockers got screwed in the bracket matchups.

But my favorite game was an opening round tilt between Mahattan College and the defending champion Louisville Cardinals. It pitted an emotional coaching confrontation between the teacher, Rick Pittino and his former student and assistant coach, Steve Masiello.

The 13th-seeded Jaspars almost pulled off the upset, as they had the lead with a few minutes to go, but a couple of mistakes proved to be their undoing as the Cardinals prevailed. This led to Friday night’s epic battle of the Blue Grass State between Kentucky and Louisville, with the young Wildcats prevailing as the champions were dethroned.

To read a tremendous story about the behind-the-scenes drama coming into the Manhattan game, click on http://grantland.com/features/ncaa-tournament-manhattan-college-louisville-cardinals-steve-masiello-rick-pitino/

For basketball fans and endodontists, this is must read material.

So with March leaving the arena, April takes center stage tomorrow at the midcourt stripe.

And if it’s April 1, we are talking April Fools’ day. Which brings to mind an old Chinese proverb, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, get a free order of egg rolls.

Or as English writer Charles Lamb once observed, “Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.” Love the optimistic take.

Now no one, besides perhaps Carnac the Magnificent, knows how this day actually came about. Word has it that back in 1582, around the birth of John McCain’s great, great, great grandparents, King Charles IX of France put out the word that the New Year, which was then celebrated from March 25 to April 1, be moved to January 1, so that the peasants could get a bigger bang for their bucks on calendars.

Now this was during a time in history when internet access was limited and there was no television or radio, so word spread slower than I make changes. So people who forgot about the change or didn’t accept the new date system were goofed upon, as they were given funny gifts, invitations to nonexistent parties or a trip the guillotine. When asked for a comment, Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat sponge cake.”

Or as Mark Twain later wrote, “Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.”

Now some say it was actually Pope Gregory in 1562 who introduced the new calendar to the Christian world, but his website has been removed and his people did not return my calls.

As for myself, I don’t really participate in any April Fools’ pranks or jokes, as I prefer to fool or tell people white lies throughout the rest of the year. Over the first trimester of my nine year courtship, my future bride’s favorite question would always be, “Really?” And as I used to say, if you have to ask me that question, you already know the answer, a remark she always found quite endearing.

As to why I would mislead or run the misdirection play, who knows, it’s just in my DNA. I’ve always loved fooling people, of course, not maliciously, or as my wife likes to say, “He’s kidding.” Or as the great Winston Churchill once put it, “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

So April 1 is a day for hoaxes, pranks, bloopers, blunders and practical jokes. Like putting ‘kick me’ signs on people’s butts. Humorist Will Rogers once remarked, “The trouble with practical jokes is that they very often get elected.

So courtesy of abs-cbnnews.com and wierdfacts.com, here are some of the more amusing April 1 jokes and pranks played over the years.

In 1957, the BBC television program Panorama ran a famous hoax, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. Millions were duped by the report, with many of them asking how they can grow their own spaghetti trees. Still even more called in asking if they knew of any trees that grew sauce.

In 1996, Taco Bell pulled the wool over Americans’ eyes when they took out full-page ads in major newspapers, claiming they had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. Now that’s thinking outside the bun.

In 1998, Burger King introduced the “Left-Handed Whopper.” This juicy burger supposedly included the usual condiments in original Whopper sandwich, but these were “rotated 180 degrees” to suit left-handed customers. And that’s why God gave us two hands to hold a Whopper.

In 2010, Google “officially” changing its name to “Topeka”, then in 2011 released a new product called “Gmail Motion” that supposedly let users send and receive e-mails using gestures. Last year, Google announced the shutdown of its popular video-sharing site YouTube, which drove young social media users into the panic over the possibility of having to read a book.

And finally, back in 1969, Dutch TV reported that the government had introduced a new way to detect hidden televisions by simply driving through the streets with a new detector. At that time, all households had to pay for a television license. The only way to avoid your television from being detected, was to pack the television in aluminum foil. Within a few hours all aluminum foil was sold out throughout the country.

So let that be a reminder to you ladies out there. Sometimes a knight in shining armor turns out to be a loser in aluminum foil.

So what’s a fool to do? For my money, I’ll go with the Beatles. “The fool on the hill sees the sun going down. And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.” And then he blogs about it. Enough said.

Which leads us into today’s photos, a collection of shots featuring birds in flight, accompanied by the sun dropping into the Pacific. This past fall was a fantastic time for pelican viewing at dusk, and these photos reflect some of the magic moments along with a few gulls that came along for the ride.

On to some late night humor. “Intelligence officials say they had a hard time predicting Russia’s invasion because Vladimir Putin doesn’t own a cellphone or use the Internet due to fear of being tracked. You can tell Putin doesn’t spend much time online. When he says “LOL,” he means “Look out, Latvia.” They’re considering a new 10-cent fee on grocery bags here in New York. My mom said, “Who’s laughing at the eight-thousand bags under the sink NOW?” – Jimmy Fallon

“First lady Michelle Obama is in China right now. Today she was busy doing some official business. She placed a wreath on the grave of General Tso, the creator of spicy chicken.” – David Letterman “There’s a new website that helps you write elaborate works of personalized fiction. It’s called Match.com.” – Conan O’Brien

“The NFL made a big announcement yesterday that will greatly impact how players celebrate in the end zone. The league has banned players from dunking over the goal post. If I want to watch a sport without dunking, I’ll watch the WNBA. Toronto held the first mayoral debate of 2014 tonight. Rob Ford faced four challengers. None of the other candidates specifically mentioned drugs. They let Mayor Ford say over and over again that he’s the only candidate with a proven track record. He’s also the only candidate with a proven crack record.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Americans have been given another month to sign up for Obamacare as long as they check a box on the website saying they tried to sign up before the original deadline. It’s expected to be answered as truthfully as boxes that say “Yes, I am 18.” In an interview with “Meet the Press,” former President Jimmy Carter said he won’t send emails because he believes the NSA is reading them. And also because he can’t find the “send” button on his typewriter. Google announced last night that it will launch a new security feature to make it harder for situations like the NSA spying program to happen in the future. Then they went back to driving around and taking pictures of the street you live on.” – Seth Meyers

So if you’re keeping scorecard at home, this is my 420th post. We’ll catch you being the best shooter in the NBA while wowing the crowds and willing your team to victory at crunch time. Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

March 23, 2014

Clothes, But No Cigar

Good morning and greetings, springtime fans. Well, March Madness got underway on Thursday, and it was the greatest opening day in 35 years, as there was major drama, wild upsets and fabulous finishes.

Then Friday started off with the Duke Blue Devils, picked in these pages last week by college guru Dr. Michael Schur and my son Jason to win it all, go flaming down in defeat to the Mercer Bears. It was upset city, baby, as brackets around the nation started crumbling.

Having surveyed the remaining field, despite their opening round loss, the good doctor still likes the Blue Devils to cut down the nets in Arlington.

So we have gone from a field of 64 teams down to the Sweet 16, which just happens to be the age of my ice cream scooping daughter Aimee, who performs her sundae-making, milk shaking, chocolate covered strawberry magic at Sweet Treats on Mission Street, when she’s not hostessing or waitressing at the new “Your Place’ restaurant next door.

At her tender age, she can work 48 hours a week, and she is going for the gold. Or should I say the green?

Now this is basically her first real job, and she’s hit the ground sprinting. She’s got that strong work ethic, as she believes in its inherent ability to strengthen her character. And buy clothes.

As she told me the other day, “Dad, those on top of the mountain didn’t just fall there.” Or as columnist Ann Landers once tweeted out, “Nobody has ever drowned in their own sweat.”

Her new occupation struck a chord with me, as when I was her age, I took a summer job in the Garment Center in Manhattan, New York. As defined by the boys and girls at Wikipeda, “The Garment District is a dense concentration of fashion-related companies, home to the majority of New York’s showrooms and major fashion labels.” It’s packed into an area less than one square mile, just down the road from the very seedy Times Square district. And with not a tree in sight.

This was back in the years before Mayor Rudy Guiliani rode in and cleaned up the area, and if you were looking for sex shops, adult theatres or a little companionship for an hour, Times Square was the place to be. Or as the welcome sign reads down at the Manhattan Visitors Center, “New York. New Jersey is our bitch.”

As a child growing up in the aforementioned Garden State, I would take the bus into the Big Apple with my father. We’d hop off and head to the Greek barbershop on 42nd street, where he’d get a haircut and I was first introduced to the wonders of Playboy magazine. Of course, I only read the interviews.

Then we would head up the street to Tad’s Steak House to dine on salad, garlic bread, baked potato and steak for just $1.29. Fantastic. Of course, the taste of that steak would ruminate through my digestive system for days, but it was worth it.

The Garment District is the center for fashion manufacturing and design in the U.S. For me, it was to be a lucrative adventure, as I was a young man on the loose on the mean streets of New York.

I thought I was being hired as a showroom model, but ended up working in the shipping department of a company called Judy Bee, a manufacturer of children’s clothing. We were shipping out garments to all the major stores in the tri-state area, and I was responsible for making sure the right dresses got on the racks that the truckers came to pick up. It was interesting work, as I was the youngest person in the shipping department and certainly the only one with a possibility of one day landing on the Dean’s List.

I would take the bus through the Lincoln Tunnel and be deposited at the New York Port Authority on 41st Street. From there it was just a short walk through the bustle and the hustlers to work. Most of my fellow workers were immigrants from throughout the hemisphere. It was a melting pot of working souls.

Sometimes we had to deliver our goods to trucking facilities, so we would take the racks down the freight elevator and hit the pavement of the Big Apple. It was wild scene, pushing racks of clothing by whizzing taxis through the streets of Manhattan. For me, this was a summer job. For everyone else, it was their pasts and their futures.

The man running the shipping department was an older gentlemen from the Caribbean named Danny, and a few weeks into my employment he suffered a heart attack. I guess there were limited replacement candidates available, as they offered me the opportunity to take over running the department at a very tender age.

I was thrilled at the time, because of two words. Overtime pay.

I then began working a fourteen hour day. My parents were traveling in Europe and neither of my brothers were around, so I was home alone with our golden retriever. I basically woke up, went to work, came home and then repeated the pattern, as the hours on my time card took on a life of their own.

One of the thrills was when the day shift ended, and I got to order out dinner from one of the many restaurants in the area. I was living large, and although Danny came back to work and ended my brief in foray into management, I look back upon that time with a smile. It was day to day grind, but the my spirits were high and my paychecks kept rising.

Now I didn’t want to make it my life’s work, and I turned down an invitation to go back again the next summer. It was a time of learning, yearning, but especially earning. Opportunity knocked on my door and I answered it. I knew if I hadn’t, that it would be ringing my doorbell for years.

So for today’s photo chronicles we are going back to the final morning of 2013. The clouds were positioned a little further to the east than normal, so I shot this sunrise along a different section of West Cliff Drive. The clouds did their job as they rotated from red to orange to tangerine. After the sun rose, I took the final shot from Bird Rock to take in the waves, the lighthouse and the sky, all in one final December scoop.

On to some late night humor. “President Obama released his March Madness bracket this morning, picking Michigan State to win the tournament. In response, Vladimir Putin started moving troops into Gonzaga. The Obama administration announced it is going to require colleges and vocational schools to demonstrate that they are properly preparing students for jobs after college. So don’t be surprised if your chemistry class tomorrow is all about how to make a cappuccino.” –Seth Meyers

“Vice President Biden said today that the U.S. is considering sending troops to the Baltic states bordering Russia. According to Biden, the Baltic states are the territories located just past Boardwalk and Park Place.” –Seth Meyers “Some American cities go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. In Chicago they dye the river green. In Boston everyone wears green. In Colorado, they smoke the green. Then someone tells them it’s St. Patrick’s Day.” – Criag Ferguson

“St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal here in New York City. Two million people turned out today for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It’s the one parade where the horses are the ones that have to watch where they step. Lawmakers here in New York are considering a plan to bring slot machines to LaGuardia Airport. Of course there’s always that other way to gamble at LaGuardia — checking a bag.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our first post for spring 2014. We’ll catch you perhaps rethinking your plans about entering the NBA draft and going back to college for another year. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins fans.

March 16, 2014

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Tournament

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:58 am

Good morning and greeting, March Madness fans. Well, it’s that time of year, when the NCAA college basketball tournament moves over to the forefront of American sports. It’s three weeks of the best in collegiate sports, with a spotlight on cinderella stories, fantastic finishes and according to the FBI, $2.5 billion illegally wagered on these highly contested contests.

As Paul Newman said in the ‘Color of Money,’ “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” However, when it comes to my betting strategy, I’ll go along with humorist Kin Hubbard, who once said, “The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.”

The term “March Madness” was brought into the American vernacular back in 1939 by Henry V. Porter, who used it to describe an Illinois high school basketball tournament. It has also been referred to as “The Big Dance,” a giant mambo contest with 68 teams vying for the ultimate prize, a national collegiate title and the right to cut down the nets.

And why is everybody so jacked up about these three weeks of hoops hysteria? In the words of former NBA G.M. Dick Vertleib, “Basketball is the second most exciting indoor sport, and the other one shouldn’t have spectators.” Amen.

What makes the tournament so exciting it’s that it is one and done. You lose and you’re going home. So you have schools from the smaller conferences going up against the major powerhouses, and as we have seen in the past, upsets are always on the menu. All the games are televised, so you can fill out you own brackets and watch as the field goes from 64, to 16, to the Final 4 and then the crowning of the eventual champion.

For the players, it’s what they have been striving for, the reason they go to college for one year, to win a national championship before they head off to the NBA and a million dollar payday. But there are some exceptions. Former NBA Coach Frank Layden asked a player who wasn’t reaching for the dream, “Son, what is it with you. Is it ignorance or apathy?” He replied, ‘Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.”

From the casual fan to the hard-core basketball nut, the nation is hooked on bracketology. As a result of this obsession, American businesses lose an estimated $1.2 billion in worker productivity during the NCAA tournament as fans try to pick winners. But to quote my rabbi, “Forget the tournament. Bet on yourself instead.” As for myself, I have the same chance of picking the winners of the tournament brackets whether I fill them out or not.

Now, the odds of picking a perfect bracket randomly are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1, or more than nine quintillion to one. Or in the words of Jim Carrey,’ “So, you’re saying there is a chance.” It seems you would have a better chance of being hit by a meteor, struck by lightning or getting an Anthem Blue Cross representative on the phone.

So courtesy of www.washingtontimes.com, here are a few fun facts you may not have known about “March Madness.”

In 1994, before Monica Lewinsky was old enough to down a glass of Manischewitz, Bill Clinton became the first sitting president to attend an NCAA tournament game, watching his Arkansas Razorbacks beat the Michigan Wolverines to get to the Final Four. He also attended the championship game, where Arkansas defeated Duke and later partied down with the Razorback cheerleaders.

Back in 1973, the championship game went viral as it was broadcast for the first time in prime time. With his pals, the Grateful Dead looking on, the big redhead, center Bill Walton, put on a fantastic show, hitting 21 of 22 shots and scoring 44 points in leading the UCLA over the Memphis State.

As Walton said later, “The Grateful Dead, they’re my best friends. Their message of hope, peace, love, teamwork, creativity, imagination, the dance, the vision, the purpose, the passion, all the things I believe makes me the luckiest Deadhead in the world. And nobody runs the pick and roll better.”

With the win, it was all sunshine and daydreams in Southern Cal. And that winning tradition was established by Coach John Wooden’s, the ‘Wizard of Westwood’, whose UCLA Bruins dynasty defined college basketball for more than a decade. Under Wooden, UCLA won ten national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row starting in the early 60′s. That’s what you call the pyramid of success.

Moving along, the University of Connecticut is the only Division I school in history to win the men’s and women’s basketball championship in the same year. Catholic universities have won the national championship eight times. They includes Holy Cross, LaSalle, the University of San Francisco, Loyola of Chicago, Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova. Yeshiva is still looking for their first title.

So as the tournament gets underway this week you’re probably wondering about my Final Four picks. Well, since I’m really an NBA guy, I’m going to turn this space over to my esteemed colleague Dr. Michael Schur, who in his heyday claims to have blocked one of Michael Jordan’s, er Dean Smith’s jumpers during an intramural game in the Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill.

In his words, “Geoffrey, I’d first like to thank our sponsor, Sherman’s Deli, with two convenient locations in the Palm Springs area. My Final Four picks are Florida, Duke, Villanova and Arizona. As for the 2014 NCAA champions, while teams may be able to stop Duke’s super frosh Jabari Parker, the somewhat overlooked Mr. Rodney Hood, who may be the most unsung NBA ready player in the tournament will lead the Blue Devils to the promised land and it will be Mike Krzyzewski Blue Devils cutting down the nets at the AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on April 7.”

So for those of you who like shooting colorful sunrises and sunsets, it’s wait till next fall, as the skies have gone silent over the last month. So today we are heading back to the evening of November 10, when the clouds were swirling and twirling and the pelicans were in full formation mode. Just an outstanding digital night of flight along the edge of the continent.

On to some late night humor. “The crisis in Ukraine still has people worried. Today John McCain led a group of senators there to get a firsthand look. When they landed, McCain said, “This is a disaster, these people are living like animals!” And then someone said, “We have a layover — this is LaGuardia Airport.” The College Board says it’s revamping the SAT to focus more on what students will need in college. In fact, the SAT is now just one question: ‘How much money do your parents have?’” –Jimmy Fallon

“It’s not such a great day for a family in Florida recovering after eating steak laced with LSD. About halfway through dinner they realized there was a problem when someone asked for a side of mashed potatoes, and that someone was the steak. A family in Oregon called 911 after they were trapped in a bedroom by their cat. I’ll say it again. They were trapped in their bedroom by their cat. Apparently the cat held the family hostage until its demands were met. Its demands were food and sleep.” – Craig Ferguson

“A family called the police because their cat cornered them in a bedroom. They would’ve climbed out the window but their hamster was blocking the way. fal Yesterday Edward Snowden urged technology companies to improve their encryption techniques in order to prevent hacking. Then he said, “But not right away. I’m still using Obama’s Netflix password to watch ‘House of Cards’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law is on trial right now. He produced all of al-Qaida’s videos. Not only is he on trial but he would like to let you know that the first season is available on Netflix. President Obama’s wife Michelle has highlighted her hair. She has blond highlights in her hair. And those will probably be the only highlights of his second term. – David Letterman

So enjoy the last few days of winter. We’ll catch you being a magician with the ball and being the greatest scorer in college basketball history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Pistol Pete Maravich fans.

March 10, 2014

Does Anybody Really Know What Daylight Savings Time It Is?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 9:02 am

Good morning and greetings, daylight savings fans. Yes, sports fans, it’s the time of year when most of us spring forward to take advantage of more daylight. Or as Phil Collins so delightfully put it in the Book of Genesis, “Let there be light.”

And as every season turns, on Sunday we shifted from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time. The extra hour gives us a chance to savor the daylight, letting our love lights shine by not sleeping while the sun beams away. However, I haven’t awoken after the sun has come up since before there was history, so I am unaffected and emotionally unavailable.

Let’s face it, I don’t think anyone is thrilled when it gets dark at 5 pm. Furthermore, I’m really not crazy about dark chocolate. As Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “Darkness is only driven out with light, not with more darkness.” Or in the words of Muhammed Ali, “Prejudice comes from being in the dark, sunlight disinfects it.” Then he knocked out Sonny Liston.

So everyone’s happy when when the days are longer and the nights are stronger than moonshine, which is my shout out to U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens and the wonderful cast of FX’s drama “Justified.”

So who came up with this brilliant idea of more daylight? Well, the credit goes to one of our Founding Father’s, Ben Franklin. According to his friend Jerry, back in 1784, Ben noticed people burning candles and incense late at night, yet sleeping in past sunrise in the morning. Thus, Franklin’s famous quote: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” And this notion helped pave the way for one of Ben’s first major inventions, the VCR.

Now this founding father didn’t actually invent DST, but as Ambassador to Paris, he wrote an amusing letter to the Journal of Paris about his “discovery” that the sun gives light as soon as it rises, and needled Parisians for their night-owl, candle-burning ways. He wanted people rise up and go to bed earlier, to get up and make their lives shine. Or in the words of Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres, “Go to bed in your fireplace and you’ll sleep like a log.”

Ben Franklin wanted people to take advantage of the light, to open up their shutters and blinds and let the sunshine in. In his words, “Do not anticipate trouble or worry what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” But always use sunblock to absorb the sun’s ultra violet rays. Or wear a hat or bonnet.

So the U.S. officially started observing DST in 1918, one year after my 96 year old father was born. There are two states that don’t observe this practice, Hawaii and Arizona. Indiana came around and adopted the program back in 2006 in response to the wishes of Hoosier native David Letterman, who ironically, shares the same birthdate as my father, April 12.

Coincidence? I think not.

The Hawaiians don’t observe it because the U.S. government took their islands away from them, so they don’t have to listen to anything besides Don Ho. Besides, they’re our only tropical state and we don’t want to mess with paradise. We’ve already paved enough paradises and put up parking lots.

And what can we say about Arizona? They didn’t want to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday as a federal holiday, are not crazy about diversity and aren’t big on immigration. The only thing growing in Arizona is the crime rate. It’s like the old joke, how many Arizona State freshman does it take to change a light bulb? None, it’s a sophomore course. Sorry, Wildcat fans.

We know that crime goes down during DST, as muggers and low lifes prefer to operate in the dark. And here’s a little known fact. According to the website www.acurite.com, back in September 1999, the West Bank was on Daylight Saving Time while Israel had just switched back to standard time. West Bank terrorists prepared time bombs and smuggled them to their Israeli counterparts, who misunderstood the time on the bombs. As the bombs were being planted, they exploded–one hour too early–killing three terrorists instead of the intended victims–two busloads of people. Sounds like they had a blast.

So take advantage of the light. There’s an old proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” We all know that we are but a moment’s sunlight, fading in the grass. So don’t forget to smile on your brother. Or sister. Right now.

So not only is the time changing, but so are the patterns of the clouds, as I haven’t shot anything sunrise or sunset worthy in over two weeks. So for today’s photo ensemble we are returning to the morning of December 8. Just a beautiful culmination of red, orange and yellow colored clouds in the sky, which is not the worst visual to start off the day. Throw in some waves, the reflection on the Pacific Ocean and you got yourself a Santa Cruz sunrise.

Oh, and by the way, I got my blood test results back and the results were “greatly improved in all areas.” In a two month period, my total cholesterol was down 32 points, my triglycerides down 56, my good HDL cholesterol was up 4, my LDL 26, and my non-HDL down 37. So thanks to all of you who were praying for me. It just goes to show what a little exercise and low-wheat, low-carb starvation diet can do for you.

On to some late night humor. “This week the Russian government gave all 44 of its Olympic medalists a new Mercedes. When asked what happened to the athletes who didn’t medal, Putin said, ‘Do not open trunk.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Russia gave all of its gold medalists from the Sochi Games $120,000 plus a brand-new Mercedes SUV. While the silver and bronze medalists all received life in prison.” –Seth Meyers

Despite the fact that the Ukraine has been all over the news for the past few weeks, a survey found that 64 percent of U.S. students still couldn’t find Ukraine on a map. Said Vladimir Putin, “Soon nobody will.” – Seth Meyers “Because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, President Obama is threatening them with economic sanctions. Obama said if Russia doesn’t pull out of Kiev we’re not going to let them borrow any of the money that we borrowed from China.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama this week launched a new effort to help young minority men warning them not to make the same mistakes he did when he was their age such as get high and not take school seriously – unless, of course, they definitely want to be president.” –Cecily Strong on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” “Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the birth of the Tea Party. They had a big celebration and played their favorite party game: pin the blame on the darky.” –Bill Maher

“Vladimir Putin said the tanks that you see rolling through the streets are just part of the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.
This situation in Ukraine is very serious. As a matter of fact, today George Clooney and Matt Damon flew in to rescue the artwork. Anybody see the Academy Awards last night? I watch every year to make sure I’m not in the dead actors montage.” – David Letterman “A new survey found that the average American child watches 24 hours of TV every week. In fact, experts say it’s important for parents to lay down the law and tell their kids to get outside and look at their phones. – Jimmy Fallon

So bring on the light. We’ll catch you putting up most improved player like numbers while dazzling NBA fans with your spectacular dunks on a nightly basis. Aloha, mahalo and later, Gerald Green fans.

March 2, 2014

The Wheat Shall Perish

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:46 am

Good morning and greetings, cereal grain lovers. Today we are talking wheat, which is grown throughout the world, as it’s delightfully nutritious and a highly useful grain. It’s a staple food used to make flour for bread, cookies, cake, pad see ew, cereal, chips, donuts, green onion pancakes, pasta, pizza, bagels, soup, fried chicken, chocolate bars and chow fun noodles.

So basically, we are talking about everything that I’ve eaten on a daily basis for the last sixty years, except when I’m atoning on Yom Kippur, when I get by on my good looks and a hot bowl of steam.

According to the folks at Wikipedia, where I shop for my kosher meat, wheat is grown on more land area than any other commercial food. It is one of the three most produced crops in the world. Wheat is the leading source of vegetable protein in human food, having a higher protein content than the other major cereals, which includes corn, rice, Coco Crispies and Count Chocula.

Wheat has been cultivated for over 10,000 years, or around the birth of John McCain’s great grandparents. It is one of the first cereals, along with Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, known to have been domesticated. Archaeological records suggests that this domestication first occurred in a small region of southeastern Turkey, by the Isle of Cranberry Sauce. Wheat’s ability to self-pollinate has been the envy of the other cereals, as it has facilitated the selection of many distinct domesticated varieties, including Apple Jacks, Cap’n Crunch and Sugar Smacks.

Now why am I talking wheat? Well, back in December, my primary care physician threatened to put me on a statin, as my cholesterol was higher than she liked. It’s always been on the high side, but I had been taking red rice yeast, a supplement that been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for poor circulation, indigestion and to remove rust from cars. It’s also good for lowering cholesterol, which it did for me a few years back.

But since then my cholesterol has gone back up, and the Dr. Adkins Haagen-Daz diet didn’t seem to be working. So my doctor gave me two months to get my numbers turned around, or be flogged in a public square.

At around this time my wife gave me a book entitled, ‘Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health.’ Written by cardiologist Dr. William Davis, this lunatic, er physician, wrote that it you cut out the wheat, the weight will melt away.

Now I was a bit skeptical but a somewhat desperate, as I did not want to go on any medication, for my body is a sacred place of non-perscription devotion.

So I decided to give it a try and cut out as much wheat as I could for two months. This meant no bread at any meals, no sandwiches, pasta, rice, chips, cakes, or cookies. What I could eat was meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, avocados, cheese and nuts. Fruit was out because of the sugar, but I ignored that because I had to eat something. I’m not a big salad guy, although I am starting to come around to the ruffage revolution in my sixth decade.

So basically I was living in low carb city. Well, the first few weeks were rough, as I was hungry like Virginia Wolf all the time. But I knew it was for a worthy cause and continued sucking down chicken and broccoli like it was milk and cookies.

Over the past month I have eaten more roasted broccoli than I have in my entire life, and I’ve fallen in love with this deep-green stalked vegetable whose large flower head is full of large clusters of tight buds.

And beyond joining the cabbage club, I started walking at least an hour every morning. And then Holy Lipitor, Batman, after a few weeks, my weight started dropping like the Dow Jones. Every morning I would get on the scale and see a lower number, which gave me a sense of accomplishment, which would inspire me to go around hungry all day. I truly thought that I would never, ever lose this weight without doing something drastic, like going on a program or swearing off cream cheese. Never, ever, ever.

So last Thursday morning I hit a new low on the scale, and then skipped off to get my blood tested. I will be disappointed if my cholesterol levels haven’t gone down, but will react calmly before launching a class-action lawsuit against Dr. Davis for loss of glutin and chocolate.

So now I’m waiting and hoping. I believe it was Albert Brooks or Albert Einstein who once said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Which reminded of the proverb, “He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything.” And that’s what separates the wheat from the chaff.

Moving on, today’s photo follies feature a sunset shot back on November 26. I had already posted some images of it back in December, but there were so many good shots of pelicans on the move at dusk that I had break them out for an encore.

The rust and orange colors on the horizon were exceptional this night, and as we HBO viewers know, Rust Cohle never sleeps. It was a night of pure tangerine joy as the pelicans just kept coming while the sky quietly blew up.

On to some late night humor. “The Arizona legislature passed a bill that would allow business owners asserting their religious beliefs to deny service to gay customers. Some businesses have already put up signs that read: ‘Nice shirt, nice shoes, no service.’” –Seth Meyers “CNN is canceling Piers Morgan’s talk show. Yes, it’s been 238 years since the Declaration of Independence, but it still feels good telling the British guy to get out.” –Craig Ferguson

“Yesterday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked about the slow pace of his weight loss and said, quote, ‘Rome was not un-built in a day.’ In fact, Christie and Rome have a lot in common: one was built by Julius Caesar, and the other was built by LITTLE Caesar.’ It’s rumored that Sandra Bullock will end up making $70 million from the movie “Gravity.” “That’s great!” said the real astronauts making $59,000 a year. -Jimmy Fallon

“A former Target employee is accusing the store of hiring only attractive people as managers. Apparently he’s talking about a Target store I’ve never been in. In California the owner of a Christian medical marijuana dispensary says God told him to sell pot. The dispensary owner said it’s right there in the book of Dude-eronomy.” Conan O’Brien

“In a new interview, the Dalai Lama says watching TV is a waste of time. What we should do is make more shows that appeal to the Dalai Lama. How about shows like “Two and a Half Monks,” “The Big Buddha Theory” and “CSI: Tibet”? Or what about “Parks and Reincarnation”? A married couple in California were walking through their backyard and they found a treasure trove of rare gold coins. It’s the biggest discovery of valuable coins since Stedman cleaned out Oprah’s couch.” – Craig Ferguson

So that’s the show. We’ll catch you finally staying healthy and putting up numbers like one of the top young power forwards in the NBA. Aloha, mahalo and later, Anthony Davis fans.

February 23, 2014

From Russia With Love

Good morning and greetings, Winter Olympic fans. If you’re like me, and you don’t snowboard down an Alaskan glacier for the thrill of it all, you might not have been that caught up in the Olympic Games from downtown Sochi.

That being said, I enjoy watching the highlights on the NBC national news to experience the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and to see what tie Brian Williams is wearing.

So last Tuesday, I was all set to see some fantastic downhill skier win a gold, an ice dancer slip and capture a silver or someone get bronzed at the half pipe. The training and dedication to be an Olympic athlete is inspiring and somewhat daunting. My motto has always been, it’s not whether you win or luge, but where you place the blame.

So as the news began, the first story was not from the slopes, but instead the bloody protests in Ukraine, a country that borders Russia in eastern Europe. Good luck finding it on a map. There have been violent months-long, anti government protests between the government and the opposition, who want a true democracy, closer relations with the European Union and the west and more radio air play for the band Pussy Riot.

The protesters, who are not big fans of Mother Russia, mean business, and unlike myself, are willing to die for their cause. Hey, when the first bullet is fired, I’m surrendering my satellite dish and three DVR’s.

So tens of thousands of protesters marched in downtown Kiev to show their support in defiance of the government. But then to make things really toasty, they built a ring of fire around their camp to protect themselves from the police. The streets were ablaze and no one seemed to be roasting marshmallows.

This led to bloody confrontations, as the death toll grew between government opposition and the police. At week’s end there were changes in the air as police joined the protesters and Parliament impeached the president.

This protest movement comes as another embarrassment for Vladamir Putin, who hasn’t gotten rave reviews for the accommodations in Sochi or his stand on homosexuality. As for me, all I wanted was the results of the men’s final in the curling competition, but instead got a replay of the ruckus in Tahrir Square without the camels.

So I don’t know how this is going to play out, but in the words of Vlad Putin,” Nobody should pin their hopes on a miracle.” Or as writer Dorothy Parker might have said of him. “It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”

So next up, I figure I’ll get my results from the four man boblsed competition. Well, no such luck, as we were then airlifted to South America, where young Venezuelans, unhappy with the ravaged economy, rampant shortages of basic consumer goods, rising crime and no players in the NBA, clashed with security forces who fired tear gas, water cannons and Dyan Cannon into the crowds.

Earlier in the week, the government had arrested Harvard-educated opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez for inciting the violent protests, which drove his supporters wild. Student protesters from the universities are united in their condemnation of the government, as inflation in Venezuela is running at 56.2%, the highest in the world. The protests were initially a reaction to rising crime, personal insecurity and one of the world’s highest murder rates. Many basic goods like bread, rice and brie cheese were missing from the shelves.

There’s an Venezuelan proverb that says,” A monkey dressed in silk is still a monkey.” This is not a reference to the former President Hugo Chavez, who recently died after ruling for 15 years. I just liked the quote. Or maybe it’s just my fondness for Bolivarianism or socialist rule.

Finally, Brian Williams got to the Olympic story, but by that time I felt like the U.S. women’s hockey team, dismayed, disoriented and disenchanted, after they suffered a crushing defeat in the gold medal game against Canada. They were less than four minutes from the gold before they collapsed. Now it’s four more years of silver.

Then to top it off, in the midst of one of the snowiest winters in history, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue hit the newstands and warmed the cold and weary throughout the east. S.I. called this year’s 50th anniversary cover, “the happiest cover in swimsuit history,” which features three scantily clad models in just neon bikini bottoms.

That just goes to show how freedom of the flesh, er press, works in a true democracy. And that’s just what those folks in Kiev and Caracas are fighting for.

For our photo journey, we are heading back to last September. At this time of year, the sun rises over the Santa Cruz Wharf, so I took the opportunity to shoot the sights from a different west side locale. The final two shots are from another morning of birds doing their thing in a cold water paradise.

This morning brought to mind an old Chinese proverb, “You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.” And if I’m not mistaken, I believe that’s something Detective Rusty Cohle mentioned while recalling a murder investigation in HBO’s thriller ‘True Detective.’ Or in his own words, “I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.”

Beware of the Yellow King and see you in Carcosa.

On to some late night humor. “Presidents Day, of course, started out as celebration of Washington’s birthday. Then someone remembered it was Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th. So now we celebrate Washington, Lincoln and all the other Presidents. I have no idea how this led to mattress sales. It’s probably something do with Bill Clinton.” – Craig Ferguson “This Valentine’s Day Americans must remember that politicians are like a box of chocolates. We bite into them to find out what’s on the inside only to discover that Democrats are too often soft and gooey and Republicans are mostly nuts.” –Bill Maher

“Ted Cruz, of course, was furious that the big storm back east shut down the government. He said, ‘That my job!’ But you know, there is a big difference between Ted Cruz and snow. Both are white and everyone’s sick of them – but eventually snow goes away. “I know climate change is a hoax – of course – but places that have never seen this type of winter weather got hit by it. More than a half a million southerners have been left in the dark — and then the storm hit.” – Bill Maher

“In Sochi, a man who criticized the Sochi games was sentenced to three years in a prison colony. After hearing the sentence, the man said it’s still better than a hotel in Sochi. “In California, an openly gay candidate is running for office as something called “a new generation Republican.” Or as their known in the rest of the country, a Democrat.” –Conan O’Brien

“In Florida there is a guy running for Congress who is 101 years old. And despite what you might think, the guy is actually quite a progressive. He wants to expand Medicare. He wants to fix Social Security. He wants to let women vote. Snow and ice have frozen and hardened over tons and tons of garbage. Here in New York City we call that the giant slalom. President Obama met with Mexico’s president. He had a message for Mexicans. He said, “If you like your fajitas, you can keep your fajitas.” – David Letterman

“Charlie Sheen is getting married to an adult film star. She’s no longer in the adult film industry. She is what they call a retired porn star. Too many concussions.” – David Letterman “Charlie said, “I just know this is the woman I’m going to be with for the rest of my February. A team of military researchers is developing a pizza that can stay edible for three years. It’s been a weird couple of years for the military. One minute you’re hunting Osama bin Laden and the next you’re trying to outsmart Papa John’s – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my last blast for February 2014. We’ll catch you adjusting to playing the point guard role while being a leading rookie of the year candidate. Aloha, mahalo and later, Victor Olidepo fans.

February 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Presidents

Good morning and greetings, three-day weekend fans. According to my Selena Gomez calendar, today is Presidents’ Day, an American holiday that is celebrated on the third Monday in February, although it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government and survivors of the Battle of Saratoga.

President George Washington’s actual date of birth is February 22, but the holiday was moved in 1971 in an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers and get Abraham Lincoln in on the action. Presidents’ Day is now viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present, with the exception of George Bush.

President’s Day may just be one holiday in February, but in a great American tradition, retailers and dispensaries use it as an excuse for sales all month. It’s the first major sales day of the year by the retail industry, and you can save on big ticket items like cars, computers and vaporizers to enhance your medicinal experience.

But l say forget the memory foam mattress and get into the intended spirit of the occasion by honoring our presidents. So today we’ll take a look at some wild and wacky things you may not have known about a couple of these icons, courtesy of the staff at the National Constitution and Manali Oakat at buzzle.com.

Let’s start with our first Commander-in-Chief. George Washington was a farmer, and was way ahead of his time as he grew marijuana and promoted it’s growth. However, the crop was grown mainly for its usage as industrial value as hemp, soil stabilization and enhancing Saturday morning cartoons. He is also credited with introducing the mule to American farms, which comes as a real kick in the ass.

G.W. never wore a powdered wig, as was the custom for men at the time, preferring a Yankee baseball hat. He adored Derek Jeter. Washington never shook hands with people, preferring the high five, low five or chest bump.

He was homeschooled by his father and brother and never took the SAT’s or went to college. He frequently got confused with spellings having letters ‘i’ and ‘e’. He loved ice cream, with his favorite being Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia. He was the only president who never lived in Washingon D. C. preferring to commute by boat from his home in Mount Vernon to the Oval Office.

Fox hunting and fishing were his favorite sports, as he loved anything with a hook in its mouth. He bred hound dogs that he treated like members of the family. He gave them the names like True Love, Sweet Lips and Ben Franklin. He had six white horses in his stable and had their teeth brushed and flossed everyday. He was a big fan of Betsy Ross and the Supremes.

Washington’s image is a National symbol for the United States. His picture is on the dollar bill and was the first President to be on a postage stamp. His bust has been carved on Mount Rushmore. The state of Washington is the only state to be named after an American, with the exception of Esther Rolle who played Florida on ‘Good Times.’

George Washington used to snore loudly. This was the first reported case of sleep apnea. He suffered from toothaches throughout his life. At the time of his inauguration, Washington had only one tooth as all his teeth were pulled by the time he was the President. At times he wore dentures and was a spokesman for Polident.

He never told a lie as he admitted to once chopping down his father’s cherry tree, Before he died, he told his doctor, “I die hard, but I am not afraid to go. His final words were.”Tis well and I just don’t know where the next season of Homeland is headed. ”

On to our 16th president. Abraham Lincoln was born in a small one room cabin and given no middle name by his parents. As a child he had an averson to killing animals and never hunted or fished. People thought he was lazy, as during those times frontier families depended on fish and game to survive. Often a young Abe could be seen shooting the breeze with baby squirrels and chipmunks.

Lincoln only had 18 months of formal education, including summer school. He loved reading, education and taking Berlitz classes. He practiced law without a degree and was very disorganized. He carried important papers in his stovepipe hat so he wouldn’t misplace them, along with his driver’s license and a pack of chiclets.

Lincoln and his wife would have four sons, but only one of whom would survive past the age of 18. Robert Lincoln, the only son who would live to raise a family of his own was almost killed at a train station in New Jersey near the start of the Civil War. He slipped from a platform and would have fallen in front of the train had he not been grabbed by the collar and pulled to safety by Edwin Booth. Later Edwin’s brother, John Wilkes, would shoot and kill Lincoln, becoming the first president to be assassinated.

Lincoln was the only president to ever obtain a U.S. patent for the invention of the Lincoln Logs. He was the first major leader to feel that women should be allowed the right to vote. He was in the forefront of American Politics for just six short years, but in that time he became the most hated and the most loved president in the history of the United States. He was credited with tearing the country apart and bringing it back together. And for all he did, they only put him on the penny.

He never belonged to an organized church but read the Bible and the New York Post daily. He was a simple man who didn’t drink, smoke or chew tobacco. He hated being called Abe, as he preferred being called by his last name or the “‘White Mambo.” He established Thanksgiving as a national holiday. His cat ate at the White House dinner table and loved Little Friskies.

He was the first president with a beard. His Gettysburg Address, made at the end of the Civil War that ended slavery, is one of the most oft repeated speeches throughout history. It started out “Four score and seven years,” which ironically, is how I started out my first blog post.

If Honest Abe had been asked about today’s Tea Party, he would have responded “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Had he had the opportunity to read my writing, this would have been his response. “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” So I continue on.

For today’s photo lineup, we are returning to the evening of November 14. The place was Natural Bridges State Beach. Expectations were low on this night but then things went surprisingly well, with the sky turning different shades of red and pink, which was certainly preferable to the lighter shade of pale

February has been a great month for shooting sunrises and sunsets, and they are starting to stack up on my computer like 747′s on the runway at JFK International. So check for times and dates at a theatre near you.

On to some late night humor. “Norway currently leads the medal count with 12, followed by the Netherland and Canada, followed then by white-sylvania and albino-stan. The Winter Games are really the only games that to do well, you have to look exactly like the surface you’re competing on.” –Jon Stewart “Bob Costas had to take a break from hosting the Olympics coverage due to an eye infection. In fact, his eyes are so bloodshot, he’s been made an honorary member of the U.S. snowboarding team.” – Conan O’Brien

“They are very upfront about the fact that you should have no expectations of privacy if you go there to Sochi. The phones immediately are hacked, your computers are hacked, the rooms are bugged; one hotel – their slogan is ‘we’ll leave the mic on for you.’” –Bill Maher “It’s Fashion Week in New York City. I was walking to work today and I thought oh, my God, there’s a giant icicle. But it was a frozen supermodel.” – David Letterman

“Yep, tonight is the 969th and final episode of “Late Night.” Or as my dad put it, “Couldn’t make it to a thousand, huh? Quitter.” We’ve done over 10,000 monologue jokes over the last five years. And in case you missed any of them, the best way I could summarize those jokes is that Joe Biden needed Obamacare after Anthony Weiner texted Justin Bieber a picture of Chris Christie dating a Kardashian on the Jersey Shore — with Rob Ford. – Jimmy Fallon

So not only is February 22 the birthday of George Washington and Dr. J, Julius Erving, but it is also the day my brother Paul came flying out the chute, so birthday wishes go out to him while he still in his 50′s.

We’ll catch you turning 60 after gaining worldwide fame by appearing on three consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues back in the late 70′s and early 80′s. Aloha, mahalo and later, Christie Brinkley fans.

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