July 20, 2014

Now Batting, The Shortstop, Number 2, Derek Jeter

Good morning and greetings, national pastime fans. Last Tuesday, the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star game was played in Minnesota and broadcast by Fox TV. The wind was blowing out to left, which Fox News later blamed on President Obama.

Many who tuned into this summer classic were there to watch the final chapter of New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter’s all-star game experience. Jeter did not disappoint the baseball nation, as in his first at bat he smacked a double to rightfield and then later scored the game’s first run.

At age 40, Jeter still looks tremendous in those Yankee pinstripes. As a youngster growing up he dreamed of played for the Yankees. Early in his career he spoke from the heart when he said, “God, I hope I wear this jersey forever.”

For baseball fans, the game was a must see TV moment. Derek Jeter exemplifies everything that is good about sports. He is finishing up his 20th and final season with the New York Yankees, whose pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries and as a team are drowning in mediocrity.

But the Yankee captain has had a great run as a Bronx Bomber. As he says, “My office is at Yankee Stadium. Yes, dreams do come true.”

So this was a chance for the five-time World Series champion and baseball’s all-time leader in hits as a shortstop to step up once again and look good on the national stage. And that he did. Early on he made a nice play in the field and singled in his second at bat, before he was replaced and got a well-deserved standing ovation.

Retired Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson, a man with an ego the size of Manhattan, once said of the young Jeter, “In big games, the action slows down for him where it speeds up for others. I’ve told him, ‘I’ll trade my past for your future.’”

As for me, I’ve still have a great future behind me.

Derek Jeter exudes style and class as an athlete. He’s been a winner on and off the field, as his ex-girlfriends would put together a very formidable all-star lineup.

From Mariah Carey to a former Miss Universe to a Sport Ilustrated swimsuit model to actresses Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly and more, the the Yankee captain is the envy of many and is one of the most clutch daters of all-time.

So I’ll leave it up to former Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to put Jeter in perspective. “The name Derek Jeter is made for stardom. He’s got an infectious smile, and he’s so handsome and well-behaved. He’s just a fine young man who does everything right. He’s like Jack Armstrong and Frank Merriwell, guys I grew up rooting for. Some guys come along who just measure up.”

As they chant at Yankee Stadium, ‘Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter.” It has a nice ring to it.

Now growing up in New Jersey, baseball was my favorite sport. I started playing organized ball at any early age. During my first official at bat, I was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by a friend of mine.

Luckily I was wearing a batting helmet and I did not experience any effects of a concussion, although after that I had an incredible urge to take piano lessons.

My favorite baseball memory involves my old friend Steve Margolin. We pitched against each other in minor and little league growing up. He was the top dog on our side of town.

This led up to us dueling on the mound in the championship game at the Little League field. With the game on the line and runners in scoring position, I struck him out to end the game with three sidearm fastballs. Just pure smoke.

Stevie boy, the league’s home run champion, just stood stunned at home plate, as my coach and teammates carried me off the field on their shoulders.

It’s a fond memory for me and a nightmare for Steve. He recently told me he’s still shell shocked from whiffing on three straight pitches.

But what really irked him was the the smirk on my face after I threw it by him. What I would give for a picture of that.

After the game my father took me to Artie’s Luncheonette, where I celebrated with a chocolate milk shake. Some things in life don’t change. The memories just get a little hazier.

So in honor of the all-star game, today I am featuring an all-star sunrise. This was from the morning of February 4 down at Lighthouse Point, and is one of my favorite sunrises of the year.

The colors and the changes in the cloud were spectacular, and the reflection on the sand at Its Beach was amazing. This was a truly magnificent morning along the coast and what world-class sunrises are all about.

On to some late night humor. “Yesterday was the big World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. And if you caught only the last couple of minutes of the game, don’t worry – you saw the whole thing. During yesterday’s World Cup final, a guy ran onto the field with the phrase “natural born prankster” written on his chest — because nothing says good clean fun like spending the night in a Brazilian prison.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Well, it was an amazing weekend in sports. LeBron went back to being a Cavalier, Carmelo went back to being a Knicks, and soccer went back to being a thing you drive your kids to. Brazil’s coach resigned following the country’s historic 7-1 loss in the World Cup last week. He says he wants to spend more time focusing on not being murdered.” –Seth Meyers

“It’s a great day for a man in Brazil. He’s 126 and has been called the world’s oldest person. He says the highlight of his life was playing goalie for Brazil in this year’s World Cup. Yesterday, Iran asked the U.S. for an extension on disabling their nuclear program. When asked how much time they needed, they said, “10, 9, 8…” – Craig Ferguson

“According to a new report, 81 percent of people would cheat on their partner if there were no consequences, while 19 percent of people are pretty sure this is a test.” – Seth Meyers “Authorities at the airport in Los Angeles intercepted an illegal shipment of 67 live giant African snails. It’s being called the world’s slowest perp walk.” – Conan O’Brien

So the summer moves along. We’ll catch a pod of about 15 of you returning to Monterey Bay last week for an anchovy feast at Moss Landing. Aloha, mahalo and later, humpback whale fans.

July 13, 2014

There’s No Place Like Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:03 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA free agent fans. Well, if you’re an admirer of summer fog, then last week was a superb time to vacation in Santa Cruz, as the mornings were moister than my eyes during the season finale of “Parenthood.”

It seemed odd, while being in the midst of the worst drought in California history, to be walking in the morning rain. I wasn’t singing in the rain, but it was a glorious feeling and I was happy again.

Well, the basketball world was shocked on Friday, when Mr. LeBron James, who happens to be the best player on the planet, announced in a first-person essay on the Sports Illustrated’s website that he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Holy mistake by the lake. This is the team he had fled from four years ago when he made his decision to team up with the Big Three and take his immense talents to South Beach.

“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” James told Lee Jenkins of SI.com. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now. “I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”

LeBron ranks as one of the greatest of all-times, a superstar among superstars. It’s not every day that the league’s top talent is there for the taking, as NBA teams were wildly clamoring for his guest services. The consensus was he would return to Miami.

After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown.”

The player who teamed up with the Big Three in South Beach is returning to Cleveland as a different LeBron. ” Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go … without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.”

When we speak of LeBron, we’re talking about a 30-year-old, four-time MVP who’s in the prime of his career. He has the charm and charisma that make him the top dog on the court as he has dominated the league over the last half decade. At 6’8″, 250 pounds, LeBron is built like a freight train, with the quickness of a cheetah and mad skills that have led him to putting up insane numbers for his career.

As he says, “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been the best player. I love being a leader, and I love being the best. I just want to get better. It’s not about being cocky or selfish or anything like that. It’s just how I am.”

And ladies and gentlemen, this world wide conglomerate of a small forward was available on the open market, but few thought he would leave the confines of South Florida.

LeBron had led the Heat to four Final appearances and two straight championships over the past four seasons. But in an attempt for a threepeat, the team looked old and were blown out in this year’s Finals by the San Antonio Spurs.

LeBron didn’t want to wither on the vine in South Beach. He was all about winning championships, but I guess he got a little homesick. And he had his doubts about whether team President Pat Riley would be able to put together another title bound team.

“I went to Miami because of D-Wade and Chris Bosh. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life.”

So Lebron kissed and made up with Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert, who called James a “coward” when he left. It seems that LeBron is all about forgiveness. “I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?”

So for LeBron at this point in his career, it’s not all about the money. It’s about the rings and where he will ultimately rank in the NBA hierarchy. Celtic center Bill Russell has eleven, Michael Jordan has six and Kobe Bryant has five. Those are the legends he’s chasing. When you’re in a stratosphere like LeBron, this is the way greatness is measured. The ring’s the thing.

But for a guy chasing titles, this move back home alters the landscape. As for next season, “I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. ”

Cav’s new first-year coach David Blatt was asked if he was excited to be coaching the four-time MVP. His response, “That would be understatement of the millennium.”

LeBron James is not just a basketball player, but a global icon, and knows the power that comes along with it. As he said a few years ago, “In the next 15 or 20 years, I hope I’ll be the richest man in the world. That’s one of my goals. I want to be a billionaire. I want to get to a position where generation on generation don’t have to worry about nothing. I don’t want family members from my kids to my son’s kids to never have to worry. And I can’t do that now just playing basketball.”

So for the player who guaranteed “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” championships in Miami, it came down to this. “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can.”

So Cav’s fans must be feeling like they’ve died and gone to heaven, as the Ohio’s favorite son is taking his talents back to Cleveland. Few saw this coming. It’s one of the great stories in sports on a few different levels.

In the words of the King, “I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”

I think it’s a wise decision.

For today’s photo circus we are heading over to Steamer Lane on the morning of February 3. When I arrived at this sacred spot of surfing, the sunlight was shooting up through the array of red clouds. The waves were coming through in big sets, and the sky turned from candy apple red to exotic orange. And then the sun rose and shone across the water, and all was good.

On to some late night humor. “There was a huge blowout at the World Cup yesterday when Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals. It got so bad that the refs told Brazil, “You know what? Go ahead and use your hands.” – Jimmy Fallon “Happy birthday to Ed Lowe, the man who invented Kitty Litter. Here’s what I admire about Ed Lowe. Here was a guy who was thinking inside the box.” – David Letterman

“Today is National Sugar Cookie Day. The entire month of July is National Cream Month. You’re welcome, diabetes. Cheesesteak is the dish Philadelphia is known for. I don’t know what dish we’re known for here in L.A. It may be kale salad that you can eat and then throw up later because you have an audition.” – Craig Ferguson

“Justin Bieber will be charged with one count of misdemeanor vandalism for throwing eggs at his neighbor’s home in January. Or as he calls that, “street cred.” People who wanted to go on the new Harry Potter ride at Universal had to wait in line for more than seven hours this week. That’s right, seven hours of waiting just for a couple minutes of action. Or as that’s also called, “watching soccer.” – Jimmy Fallon

So another post is in the books. We’ll catch you being the happiest people in America. Aloha, mahalo and later, Cleveland Cavalier fans.

July 6, 2014

Don’t Swett The Small Stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:12 am

Good morning and greetings, workout fans. Four score and ten pounds ago, my doctor, in an effort to lower my cholesterol and keep me from turning into the Goodyear Blimp, told me I needed to exercise more. She didn’t mean just ramping up my gentle morning strolls along West Cliff. She wanted me to sweat, with blood and tears to come later.

Well, I took her advice under consideration, and then for the next ten months, not a drop of extra sweat, with the exception of my Saturday basketball outings, left my pores. I lived like a canteen.

Now these days I do a little running, with the emphasis on little, on my morning jaunts. But I’m still not working up a healthy sweat, except on my people’s Sabbath, when I hit the courts to try and conjure up a remnant of past greatness.

The reason I bring up this subject of perspiration, and this is a huge stretch, is because of a story I ran across this week written by IIyce Glink for Yahoo News.

People in America like to own things. Whether it’s a new car, boat, 80″ flatscreen TV or a Dean’s List certificate, we value our possessions. I always wanted a little piece of land and ended up with part ownership of a house in Poipu Beach, Kauai. Or as Roman philosopher Seneca put it, “What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.”

Well, hold on to your credit reports, as there is a unique real estate opportunity available. For the small price of just $399,000, you can own the tiny, and I’m talking miniscule, town of Swett, South Dakota. Population: 2, with Lance Benson and his wife, being the only two residents in this thriving mini metropolis.
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Swett, pronounced sweat, is about 70 miles outside the Badlands National Park. The park is a work of natural art, featuring fantastic views of beautiful, rock-like formations formed by winds and glacial erosion from 35 million years ago, or around the birth of John McCain’s early ancestors.

So the deal for this little piece of Dakota heaven includes 6.5 acres of prairie land, a garage-turned-tire-shop, a home, three trailers but no Starbucks. However, it does include the pride of Swett, the Swett Tavern. It’s a local watering hole that’s been a gathering place for decades. Where the elite meet to eat.

There’s not much crime, as no one has so much ever drowned in Swett. The town’s owners have changed a handful of times. A grocery store came and went, along with a 1932 post office, but no 24 Hour Fitness. The population peaked at around 40 people in the 1940′s, but those folks fled to the big cities. Now all their houses are gone, as images of a ghost town emerge.

But it’s the tavern that makes the town. In an interview with the Rapid City Journal, the newspaper from Swett’s nearest city, which is almost three hours away by car and six by buffalo, area resident Gerry Runnels said, “The tavern is the place is pretty much where the highway ends and the Wild West begins.” This is the land where Indian Chief’s Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Running Tab were laid to rest.

The tavern clientele includes local cowboys, pheasant hunters, wheat growers and relatives of Tom Brokaw. It had a reputation of being a rough-and-tumble kind of place, but now you can come in and have a meal with your family, rather than defend your family. I recommend the broken leg of lamb.

A friend of Gerry Runnels visiting from Seattle commented that Swett looked liked “a good place to be killed.” Runnels replied, “You could be killed anywhere. At least here it will be exciting.” A visitor from Oklahoma once remarked that “you need a Bowie knife to get in this place and a chainsaw to get out.” And remember to call ahead for reservations.

The owner of Swett, Lance Benson, is selling the town to focus on his burgeoning snake oil concession business. You can own the town but you can’t elect yourself mayor, because Swett is unincorporated, and you need at least 100 people or 30 registered voters to register as a municipality.

But there is one loophole: You can incorporate with just one person by forming a municipality for historical and educational purposes. So there are ways of getting around it. So don’t sweat the small stuff.

While we’re in this neck of the woods, I’m giving a thumbs up for the dark comedy crime drama “Fargo” on FX. It’s very quirky. As the producers put it. “This is a true story. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2006. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

For today’s photo entree we are returning to the morning skies above Lighthouse Point. The day was January 28, and the sky performed a colorful morning dance while going through some changes of light and texture. It was a nice beginning.

I’m just about done with the January highlights, but February was an exotic month in the skies. I still have over dozen sunrises and sunsets sitting out on the runway, so the hits will keep on coming.

No late night humor this week. We’ll catch you making unbelievable saves in World Cup play as goalkeeper for the USA soccer team. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Howard fans.

June 29, 2014

I Haven’t Got Time For The Rain

Good morning and greetings, change of season fans. Well, the weather was simply delightful for the first week of summer, with temperatures in the high 70′s and the fog at a minimum. Unfortunately, there is no precipitation in the forseeable horizon, as we are in the midst of a severe drought, with 2103 being the driest year in California history.

Now contrast this historic lack of precipitation to what happened in Minnesota last week, in the land of Kevin Love and a 1,000 Laker fans. Folks in the twin cities experienced severe weather with record rainfall, as the rivers were raging while people were being flash flooded out of the better homes and gardens. In the words of writer Jarod Kintz, “I love it when the streets near my house get flooded, because it’s the only time I can go out and walk my fish.
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Meanwhile, here on the Central Coast, we’re as dry as my mother-in law’s brisket, while throughout the midwest people are doing the backstroke in their living rooms, as they are dealing with the worst flooding in decades.

It’s not that I would mind boaters canoeing through my bedroom. Hey, I’d like fly fishing from my dining room table, but these extreme summer storms are no joke.

The Mississippi River was at its highest level in 15 years, totally bloated by the torrential amounts of rainfall, as Minnesotans are experiencing their wettest summer on record.

Fortunately, late in the week, the river crested, according to four out of five dentists who recommend Crest for their patients in the Twin Cities area.

Now on to the nuttiest meteorlogical story of the week. Sean O’Connor is one lucky man. Last week, the Georgia resident was about to rake up some leaves in his driveway when a bolt of lightning struck him in his right leg’s steel-toed boot.

A few minutes later he picked himself up off the ground. He had a taste of blood in his mouth and he realized his leg hair was singed. Or as the Bowery Boys’ Slip Mahoney might have put it, “Sometimes bread cast out over the water comes back as burnt toast.

Sean then looked across the driveway and saw that his boots were no longer on his feet and that one of them was smoldering. He then realized he’d been hit by lightning and had taken up smoking.

He quickly headed over to the emergency room, where doctors didn’t initially buy his story. “At first they didn’t believe me, but when I showed them the singed hair on my legs and the boots they all wanted to shake my hand,” said O’Connor. “They said they’d never met someone who lived after being struck by lightning.” The doctors then pooled their money and had Sean go buy them lottery tickets.

An electrocardiogram scan later revealed that O’Connor had an irregular heart rate, a condition associated with lightning strikes. About 71% of all people struck by lightning survive, but often suffer from severe burns, personality changes, insomnia, impaired hearing, constant pain and a craving for rocky road ice cream.

Bottom line, Sean says he’s okay but from now on he’s going to stick to wearing sandals.

According to the National Weather Service, the chances of being struck by lightning or getting an Anthem Blue Cross representative on the phone are one in a million.

Florida is the deadliest spot, as there are twice as many lightning casualties than in any other state. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur during the summer months, when people are involved with activities like boating, swimming, bullfighting, bicycling, golfing, knife juggling, jogging, walking, cliff diving, hiking, camping, and trolling for great white sharks.

So take heed, as the Fourth of July is historically one of the most deadly times of the year for lightning strikes. I’ll close with the thoughts of Dirty Harry, former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood, who once remarked, ““They say all marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning.” When it comes to lightning, you’ve gotta ask yourself this question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

Last week in our photo department I featured two sunrises. Well, this week I am once again featuring the buy one get one free photo experience, but from the sunset files.

Both sunsets were shot from the cliffs above Stockton Avenue. The first displayed some unusual cloud formations, as the zoom lens captured different shades of the yellow and rust colored clouds.

The second sunset highlighted the sun filtering through the clouds and shining through onto the Pacific waters. Two nights, two different experiences along the edge of the continent.

On to some late night humor. “The World Cup has an official song. The official anthem is ‘We Will Find a Way.’ It narrowly beat out the other contender, ‘I Feel Someone’s Teeth in My Shoulder.’ At the World Cup, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit a player from Italy’s team. It’s the third time he’s done it. The last time he bit a Chinese player and then claimed he was hungry an hour later.” –Conan O’Brien

“The next opponent for the U.S. will be Belgium. The Belgians are favored over the U.S. But so far, the Belgians have been cagey about saying if they think they’ll win. That’s right, the Belgians are waffling. A big movie opened today. “Jersey Boys.” I It’s about the hot musical group all the kids love — Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. To be honest, I don’t know how well “Jersey Boys” is going to do. People in Los Angeles can’t relate to a movie about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Because people here have no idea what a season is.” – Craig Ferguson

So June is just about history. You may have noticed a new blog format last week. Credit goes to my webmaster and recent UCSC college graduate Kevin Deutsch, who majored in mathematics and received a masters degree in teaching me how to post my blog.

We’ll catch you turning in 40 in your final year and storied career with the Bronx Bombers. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

June 22, 2014

Time Keeps On Slippin’ Into The Future

Good morning and greetings, World Cup fans. As I child growing up in the Garden State of Tony Soprano, I was in love with sports. Whether it was football, baseball, basketball, kickball, stickball, tether ball, bocci ball or Lucille Ball, I was totally on board.

Sun up to sun down on weekends and summer months, you could find me on a field or some asphalt, bonding with the neighborhood crew while not having a care in the world. I enjoyed the feeling of competing and winning, as it had the same taste as a chocolate shake. Or as another Jersey guy, Coach Vince Lombardi, once said, ‘If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?”

So during my childhood wonder years, sports was my number one priority. But for some reason, the game of soccer never came across my radar. As a youth, I never recall playing this international game which is called football around the world. This led to later developing the theory that if God had wanted us to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms.

Now I know that this is not the world view, as soccer fans are as passionate and crazy as mad dogs. I’ve seen very little of the World Cup play, as I am still coming to terms with the NBA having gone into summer hibernation.

But word on the street has people buzzing about the Cup. Last week, the USA beat a very tough team from Ghana, a country the size of Rhode Island on steroids. The soccer nation swelled with national pride, while I was still contemplating the championship proclaimed by the San Antonio Spurs and the mental state of LeBron James.

People around the planet take this sport very seriously, or in the words of English soccer manager Bill Shankly, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” I say, the more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.

So one night last week, after my wife and I had finished watching an episode of “Halt and Catch Fire,” the new AMC series that replaced ‘Mad Men,” she remarked that time seems to be flying by. I thought to myself, when does it ever not?

Our son is now halfway through his undergraduate college career, with two years down and two to go. He did not follow in the footsteps of his father, who thought four years would be nice, but seven would be heaven. I was living the good life on West Cliff Drive, and was in no hurry to leave the academic world of the hardwood floors up at UCSC’s East Fieldhouse.

So I’m now in my seventh decade on the planet. Hitting the 60th birthday was fairly trumatic, as telling people I was that age was just nuts. 60! Now that I’m 61, all of a sudden I’m Roger Maris.

I don’t want to say I’m getting old, but in today’s mail I received a letter from the Trident Society, informing me that “cremation just makes sense,” as there would be no need for embalming, funeral homes, cemetary property, caskets, tiskets and taskets. And I would be helping the environment. Or in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift: that’s why the call it the present.”

So yeah, time is racing by. We’re more than halfway through June, and soon the July 4th holiday will be history. My daughter is going to be a senior in high school, but I’m not worried about any empty nest, as I believe she is determined to convert our house into a rabbit rescue haven.

Right now, she has two bunnies, Marvin and Scarlett, who are currently residing in her room. They’re pretty easy to take care of, as they only demand hay 24 hours a day. They are actually very cute, and if Aimee is lucky, one day within the next century she will actually be able to hold the grumpy Marvin.

So I’m hoping for a solution in Iraq and for them to stop pooping on Aimee’s floor. We all have our hopes and dream. As either Aimee or writer Jarod Kintz once remarked, “You know what I like most about people? Pets.
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We are all on our own paths. Time keeps rushing by faster than the speed of my DVR, and I’m just trying to hang on for the ride. It’s not always easy, as life is full of everyday challenges.

But remember, you know what they call the person who finishes last in their medical school class? Doctor.

All I know is “Life lives, life dies. Life laughs, life cries. Life gives up and life tries. But life looks different through everyone’s thighs.

So for today’s photo funnies you’re getting two January sunrises for the price of one. The first is from January 24, where I was shooting from Bird Rock along West Cliff Drive. There wasn’t any great color in the sky, but waves were pumping and the clouds were puffy enough, so it worked for me.

The second, which was from January 24, was kind of like a sunrise lite, with the muted red clouds briefly lighting up the sky above Lighthouse Point. The last two shots brought out shades of orange and yellow, and I enjoyed that, because in the words of Monty Python, “I’m always looking on the bright side of life.”

On to some good late night humor. “Congrats to the U.S. soccer team for beating Ghana in the opening round of the World Cup. Yeah, they did the impossible — getting Americans to watch soccer. “Alex Trebek has broken a world record for game-show hosts, after hosting 6,829 shows in his career. When asked how he’s made it through so many shows, Trebek said, “What is Scotch?” – Jimmy Fallon

“Yesterday, the Iranian president tweeted a picture of himself all alone watching a World Cup game on television. Yeah, then he watched his favorite show — “It’s Always Sunni in Philadelphia.” This morning the Pentagon announced that the United States has captured a leader responsible for the Benghazi attacks. Republicans were ecstatic and said, “So, they finally got Hillary?” – Conan O’Brien

“Match.com is charging $5,000 to set you up with someone who looks like your ex. You wouldn’t believe how many guys on Match.com once dated Kate Upton.” – Conan O’Brien “Rob Ford is running for re-election. He’s got a very catchy campaign slogan. You’ll see it on bumper stickers all over Canada: “The crack stops here.” – David Letterman “Kourtney Kardashian is reportedly pregnant. Just this morning I was thinking to myself, “There just aren’t enough Kardashians.” – Craig Ferguson

“Starbucks has teamed up with Arizona State University to create a program that will pay for Starbucks employees to get a college degree. Starbucks is doing this because without an educated workforce, nobody will be able to afford $10 for a cup of coffee.” – Jimmy Kimmel “Over the weekend Starbucks announced a new program that will pay employees to take online classes at Arizona State. Said Starbucks employees, “We already went there. That’s why we work at Starbucks.” – Seth Meyers

So that’s my report. Congratulations go out to my parents, and particularly my mother, as they are celebrating their 64nd wedding aniversary on Wednesday. I don’t want to say they rushed into it, but they were registering for gifts on their first date.

We’ll catch you leaving the announcing table at TNT and taking the head coaching job with the Golden State Warriors. Aloha, mahalo and later, Steve Kerr fans.

June 15, 2014

I’m Walking On Sunshine

Good morning and greetings, college graduation fans. We are less than one week away from the summer solstice on June 21, which coincides with the end of another glorious NBA season. I’ve always been of the opinion that the NBA season is too short, as in an ideal world, wheat would not be the enemy and the the playoffs would go for twelve months a year.

The solstice is a special day on my J.Lo calendar, as we see more sunlight than on any other day of the year. Although with the Santa Cruz’s June gloom in the room, you might want to sleep in. Just don’t let the sun catch you crying.

This plethora of sunshine is due to the earth axis performing a major tilt towards the sun. I believe it was my insurance agent or the great Buddha who once said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” How about my glasses or keys? Obviously, this great Hindu Prince has never vacationed in Santa Cruz in June.

It’s not that I mind the dull, colorless, morning sky. The massive star comprised of hydrogen and helium is not my best friend anymore, as I have paid the price of not having sun blocked during my childhood beach days at Jones Beach or during my Wonder Years living on West Cliff Drive. The sun was frequently shining on the front deck, and those UV rays were a constant guest on my skin.

The King of rock and roll and one of the great hound dogs of our time, Elvis Presley once said, “The truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going away.” So the June gloom will pass as the sun broke through early on a couple of days last week. I was walking on sunshine, and wooah, it made me feel good.

These dreary morning condition were not just limited to the central coast, as the May gray turned to June gloom from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara and beyond.

And speaking of the Gaucho state, my son Jason returned home on Friday after finishing up his second year of studies at UC Santa Barbara. As I mentioned in previous posts, he knew three of the students killed during the shootings in Isla Vista last month. So friends have been asking me, ‘How is he doing?”

I don’t really know, because after a one day off for a memorial service for the fallen, it was back to classes and his life resumed, but things couldn’t have been totally normal. Jason then went into studying for finals mode, as the exams for biology and organic chemistry involve more memorization than my brain could ever have held.

All I know is that my head would have exploded if I had to take in the volume of work. And that’s why I carry my sociology degree in my wallet. Never leave home without it.

Jason is around for only a week before he goes back down south to attend summer school and work on his beach volleyball game. I’m going to miss him, but what is even sadder is that while he’s home, I’m wondering when the next school shooting will be. I know that school’s out but the guns have not been safely locked away.

There have been 74 shootings at schools and campuses since the Sandy Hook massacre back in 2012 in Connecticut. Two weeks after Isle Vista, there was a shooting death at Seattle Pacific University. Then last Tuesday, a 15 year old brought an assault rifle with him on the school bus to high school in Oregon and killed another student.

A longtime family friend told the press that the 15 year old killer,” was very quiet, I never saw him angry, he was extremely even-tempered, he was always at the best possible behavior.” Boy, lucky he didn’t have a temper.

In the aftermath of all the recent shootings, President Obama expressed his frustration on our inability to enact even modest gun control legislation. “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on earth that would put up with this. We’re the only developed country on earth where this happens.”

He went on to say that as a nation we have to do some soul searching, as these school massacres have become the norm. There is no end in sight. I guess the best we can do is duck and cover.

For today’s photo display we are going back to the sun, as we watch it drop into the horizon at sunset back on January 24. The location was Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and while the pelicans floated by, the sky and clouds turned from a nice shade of creamsicle orange to candy apple red. Or fire engine red for you “Rescue Me” fans.

On to the late night humor. “The campaign manager who helped unseat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last night is a 23-year-old man who interviewed for a job at Panera Bread last month. Said Cantor, “Is that position still available?” – Seth Meyers “Kim and Kanye are honeymooning in Mexico. Republicans and Democrats agree that if there’s ever a time to seal the border, this is it.” – Craig Ferguson

“A Whole Foods store in New York will start offering customers cocktails while they shop. It’s part of Whole Foods’ new slogan, “You’d have to be drunk to pay these prices.” One of the top people in a Mexican drug cartel is a woman who apparently looks exactly like Kim Kardashian. The only difference is the head of the drug cartel has a job and is less of a threat to America.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama surprised tourists by walking to a Starbucks near the White House. Even more surprising, he traded five Taliban members for a grande soy latte.” – Seth Meyers “President Obama faced some criticism for chewing gum during a D-Day ceremony. He said, “Sorry, but if I don’t get my Nicorette, there’s going to be another war on this beach.” -Jimmy Fallon

Last night was Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. The air conditioning stopped working during the game, which made it feel like 90 degrees inside. Or as football players, baseball players, tennis players, soccer players, and runners put it, “Must be rough.” That’s right, LeBron James sat on the bench for the final four minutes of the game. And what’s crazy is his teammates still kept passing him the ball. I can’t believe how hot it got during that game. It was so hot that even the LOSING team dumped Gatorade on its coach.” – Conan O’Brien

So here’s a salute to all you fathers out there. We’ll catch you at 22 years of age playing like an all-pro at both ends of the court in the NBA Finals. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kawhi Leonard fans.

June 8, 2014

Pardon Me, I Have A Fog In My Throat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:00 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA Finals fans. Well, the June gloom has returned to the coast, excluding any sort of color in the sky during my morning treks along West Cliff Drive. Last week’s early morning weather could be described with one just word-dreary, with a nice touch of drizzle.

Now dreary is defined as dismal, boring, dull or sad, kind of like the state of the New York Yankees this season, with the exception of the Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. But it perfectly defines the state of the early morning sky, as it has been more than fifty shades of gray for the month of June.

However, the waves were still collapsing along the shoreline, the dolphins were jumping and the pelicans were flying through the fog in formations that have been more than impressive. If you like more than a touch a gray, and long for the climate of Pacific Northwest, then you were right at home last week, as we didn’t see traces of blue sky till early to late afternoon.

Which reminds me of a joke. It’s two o’clock in the morning and a husband and his wife are asleep when suddenly the phone rings. The husband picks up the phone and says, “Hello? How the heck do I know? What am I, the weather man?” promptly slamming the phone down. His wife rolls over and asks, “Who was that?” The husband replies, “I don’t know, it was some guy who wanted to know if the coast was clear.”

Moving along, the national weather scene was another story, as there was solid precipitation hurtling down on parts of the nation.

Last Tuesday, baseball-sized hail smashed homes and cars in Nebraska and Iowa, as powerful thunderstorms moved through a nice slice of Midwest states, bringing with it severe flooding, tornadoes and insurance claims.

The National Weather Service said the system involved a “training” of thunderstorms, which involves a series of storms following one after another, along with winds up to 100 MPH and drenching rain. It brings to mind the thoughts of writer Al Bernstein, who said, “Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.” Okay, so even the Big Guy (or Gal) is entitled to a mistake every once in a while.

Last Tuesday, the weather in Iowa was described as nasty, with the skies “black as the ace of spades.” There were 13 reports of tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. Weather forecasters main concern that night was widespread straight-line winds. As they like to say in the midwest, “It doesn’t have to rotate to be dangerous.” I say anger is only one letter short of danger.

This hail storm was monster by any standards, The most damage was done at a car dealership 30 miles outside of Omaha, where their brand new-vehicle inventory was sitting out on the lot Tuesday when the storm blew in. Approximately 4,500 new cars and trucks were nailed by the hail as the hoods, roofs, windshields were smashed to smithereens, with damages estimated at $162 million.

So if you’re driving through the Cornhusker State and are looking for some new wheels, this might be a good time to buy, as it will be discount city after they replace the glass and pound out those dents.

So what the hail is this about? Hail is frozen, solid water droplets formed at the top of thunderclouds that fall at speeds up to 120 MPH. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, hail causes approximately $1 billion in damage annually in the U.S. to houses, buildings, cars, crops and baseball hats.

If you’re a fan of this form of solid precipitation, the place you want to be is Hail Alley, a 625-square-mile area located near the borders of Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. This area receives an average of 9 to 11 days of hail per year, more than any area in North America, with Cheyenne, Wyoming being the hailstone capitol.

Approximately 24 people are injured each year by hail in the U.S. The last fatality attributed to this act of God was back in 2000, in Lake Worth Village, Texas. A 19-year old man was struck by softball sized hail while trying to move a new car and died the following day from associated head injuries. That’s why I always drive wearing a batting helmet.

The largest hailstone in terms of diameter and weight ever recorded in the U.S. fell in 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota. It measured 8 inches in diameter and 18.62 inches in circumference, weighing in at 1.93 pounds. According to the Weather Channel, it later fell in love, got married and now leads a quiet life out in the suburbs..

But as size matters, in April of 1986, huge balls of ice fell from the sky and crashed to the ground in Bangladesh. 92 people were reported killed as hailstones weighing more than two pounds and the size of mangos were the culprits.

Hailstorms can be deadly to nature. In 1953 in Alberta Canada, a giant hail storm smacked down on a five mile wide area, killing more than 36,000 ducks and ducklings. Four days later another hail storm passed through the same area, killing another 27,000 waterfowl and a hockey goalie.

Then in July 1978, 200 sheep died when baseball sized hail rained down on them in Montana. It was a sad week for animal lovers but a good week for lamb chop fans.

For our photo fun zone today we are returning to Lighthouse Point on the morning of January 12. The sunrise the previous day was outstanding, and I wasn’t that upset to return to the cliff on back-to-back days to take in the morning magnificence. The colors of the clouds and the reflection on the sand at Its Beach was spectacular, just the way world class sunrises ought to be.

On to some late night humor. “We bring back a POW, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, from Afghanistan and to get him back we traded five Taliban thugs. These guys were down in Gitmo and now they get freed after 10 or 15 years. So now they’re released and they get to fly home. And I’m thinking, if you go to the airport and you’re stuck behind these guys in security, good luck. “When they sent the Taliban thugs back to Qatar, they got picked up in a stretch camel.” –David Letterman

“The United States has traded an American POW for five Taliban prisoners. Originally, the deal included Joe Biden, but the Taliban said no.” – David Letterman “In a new interview, President Obama revealed that his daughter Malia recently went to her first prom. She wore a corsage on her wrist while her date wore a red laser dot on his head.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Last Friday CNN had its worst 10 p.m. ratings of all time, with only 35,000 viewers tuning in. I left it on for my dog, and when I came back, she was reading a newspaper. Tim Tebow said that he’s staying in shape in case he gets another opportunity to play in the NFL. Then his boss said, “That’s great, but these Waffle Tacos ain’t going to make themselves, so . . .” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our show. I’ve been posting some of my photos on Santa Cruz Waves. The link is https://www.facebook.com/santacruzwaves. Check it out, it’s all about living large in Santa Cruz.

We’ll catch you losing in the Conference Finals but still being the most explosive and exciting player in the Western Conference. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

June 1, 2014

The Daze Of May

Good morning and greetings, sports fans. April showers and May flowers, like my once perfect eyesight, are now history. I can still remember the day I realized I needed some cheater glasses. I blame it on the lemon chicken.

I was sitting inside a darkened room at O’mei, a restaurant on the westside of Santa Cruz that has been serving Chinese provincial cuisine with an understated elegance since 1979. For people in the know, it’s the best Chinese food in town. The only problem was that every time I walked out of the place, I was left wanting more.

But why point fingers? As my favorite Swami Tejomayananda once said, “If your heart is full, you don’t feel that hungry.”

Now I could have ordered more food and come away with a fuller belly, but at the time, my digestive tract was more suited for the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets, where I rarely left not totally satiated.

Back in the 80′s, these noon time feasts were always a Friday tradition, as we would roll out to the Mandarin Palace on a search and destroy mission, intent on devouring anything and everything that came down the pike. Egg rolls, pot stickers, fried rice, Condoleezza rice, beef and broccoli, cashew chicken, shrimp toast, french toast, chow fun, spare ribs, mu shu and grits, along with enough sweet and sour sauce to fill Lake Tahoe.

Back in those crab rangoon days, I was counting cream cheese filled won tons rather than carbs. The cooks would come out and fill the display trays. We would immediately empty them and eagerly anticipate the next round. It was the circle of life.

Or as the old Chinese proverb goes, “A peasant must stand a long time on a hillside with his mouth open before a roast duck flies in.”

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, I was trying to read the menu but I couldn’t tell if it was beef with baby corn or corn beef. One of the gentlemen at the table pulled out of pair of cheater glasses and before you could say, “red chili dumplings,” it all became clear. I had seen the light. Help was on the way.

Anyway, April started out in fine fashion, as the first round of the NBA playoffs got underway and were beyond fantastic. Everybody talks about the greatness of March Madness and college hoops, but this was full blown April insanity.

The opening round were all best-of-7 series, which means you have to win four times to advance. That leaves lots of time to sit around recapping the action and anticipating the what happens next.

The first round matchups featured San Antonio-Dallas, Oklahoma City-Memphis, LA Clippers-Golden State and Houston-Portland. Eight solid, exciting NBA teams. All wanted to move on in their quest for an NBA championship.

Turned out, three of the four series went the full seven games, while the fourth went six. Every night there was a game going down to the wire, and better yet, eight overtime contests, which is just a hoop dream. This was a two week stretch of wall-to-wall excitement, with fantastic finishes as the excitement kept building as the series moved along.

It was basketball heaven, as the first weekend in May brought us to the deciding game seven action. Then it was on to the semi-finals and then the conference finals. Now we are back to a rematch of last year’s finalists, which features the Miami Heat, led by the best player on the planet, LeBron James, who are gunning for their third straight championship and the San Antonio Spurs, who are seeking redemption for a title they had within their grasp last season but let slip away.

But as May brought joy, it also drew pain, as tragedy struck when a crazed madman slaughtered six students in a rampage in Isle Vista, which borders the UC Santa Barbara campus. The six killed were all UCSB students. None needed to die.

My son, a sophomore at UCSB, was there that night in the area where the shootings took place. For not some sort of fate, he could easily have been out on the street when the bullets were flying and never would have known what hit him.

Turns out, he knew three of the students who were slain, which is three more than needed in anyone’s lifetime. Jason has seen other friends and classmates die. It seems strange, as when I was growing up, I can’t remember anyone dying, except my dreams of playing in the NBA.

The shootings hit a little too close to home. When I saw the video of Richard Martinez, the father of Chris Martinez, who was shot and killed as he walked into a deli, his pain, grief and anger was heartbreaking. If Jason had decided to go out for some dessert, that easily could have been me being the new poster Dad for our latest national tragedy.

So this Memorial Day weekend was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. Jason’s life is now back to semi-normal, as as he is studying like a maniac for finals. The Isle Vista shooting are fading out of the national news cyle, replaced by other disasters around the globe.

But will this insanity ever end? We have gun and mental health issues that are out of control. Parents should not have to bury their children.

On today’s photo front, we are returning to Lighthouse Point on the evening of January 21. There was a lovely sunrise that morning, so this was a day that I took a double dip on the digital frontier. As you can see, the swell was up, as the waves had been pumping since dawn’s first light. They continued to roll in at Its Beach as the sun set, which delighted everyone who had gathered along the edge to take in the evening’s hazy festivities.

No late night humor this week so I’ll go with a couple of jokes.

A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named ‘Amal.’ The other goes to a family in Spain, they name him Juan’. Years later; Juan sends a picture of himself to his mum. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wished she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, ”But they are twins. If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”

A turtle was walking down a street in New York and suddenly got mugged by few snails. A policeman arrives to investigate the matter and asks the turtle, “Could you please explain to us about the incident.” The turtle not knowing what to say, replies, “I don’t remember. It happened so fast.”

So that’s our first blast for June. We’ll catch you coming up big down the stretch and leading your team in the quest of another championship. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Duncan fans.

May 25, 2014

Does Size Really Matter?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:10 am

Good morning and greetings, Mesozoic Era fans. I was thinking of not posting a blog this week because of the tragedy in Santa Barbara. I just wasn’t feeling that funny.

My son Jason was in Isla Vista that night and close to the carnage. He knew Katie Cooper, who was one of six students killed and lived in the apartment building next door to where he was visiting. And he worked with Chris Martinez, who was gunned down in front of a deli after going to get a sandwich for dinner. And a third student, George Chen, who was stabbed to death, was his friend Drew’s roommate.

This tragedy could have been much worse, as the shooter had three semi automatic handguns and 400 unspent rounds of ammunition in his car. All were purchased legally. Life goes on. And so does the insanity.

As children, we learned that a long, long time ago, well before the birth of Larry King’s grandparents, dinosaurs roamed the planet, as all of the earth’s continents were joined together as one.

But then around 65 million years ago, scientists believe a massive meteorite hit the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The impact blocked out all sunlight, and with no food or tacquerias open, the dinosaurs were sent into extinction. This significantly changed the Earth’s ecology and provided a massive boost for the tanning industry.

A 112-mile-wide crater was created by a rock six miles in diameter. It hit the Earth with immense force, sending shockwaves around the planet, with nothing larger than big dogs surviving. But some species lived on, including fish, sharks, jellyfish, lawyers and TV agents.

People have always been fascinated by dinosaurs. Many of today’s scientists studying these supersized creatures said they got interested after viewing the movie “Jurassic Park.” In the words of the book’s author Michael Crichton, “God creates dinosaurs, God kills dinosaurs, God creates man, man kills God, man brings back dinosaurs Dinosaurs then eat man…Woman inherits the earth.”

Or as Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus once tweeted back in the early 1500′s,” Women, can’t live with them, can’t roam the earth without them.”

So when I ran across this story written by Michael Warren for the Associated Press, it spoke to me. It wasn’t so much that another dinosaur fossil was discovered, it was that it could have been the largest creature ever to walk on the face of God’s green earth.

We’re talking about the Big Kahuna, one that would make the Tyrannosaurus Rex look like a pip squeak.

Or as Porsche’s former Chief Executive Officer Wendelin Wiederking once remarked, “If size did matter, the dinosaurs would still be alive. Porsche, there is no substitute.

So here’s the facts. Scientists in Argentina uncovered bones of a super titanosaur that was as tall as a seven story structure and faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bounce.

Paleontologists say that this titanosaur could have been 65 feet tall and 132 feet long. Think two semi trucks, one after another, weighing the equivalent of 14 or 15 adult African elephants. On a good day, we’re talking about 165,000 pounds. To put this giant vegan’s enormous size into perspective, a T-Rex weighed about 7 tons. This big boy was not counting carbs.

The thigh bone discovered was eight feet long and fully dwarfed a grown man or a WNBA center. It had a long neck and tail and a surprisingly small skull that a yarmulke could fit on nicely.

Experts agree that this new find is a previously undiscovered species, and that it was at least as big as the Argentinosaurus, which had been thought to set the record for size.

Ruben Cuneo, the director of the museum sponsoring the dig, says “What they discovered is a cemetery of dinosaurs the likes of which we had never seen in the history of Argentine paleontology.” Scientists have only uncovered 20 percent of the find and already have found the fossils of seven other dinosaurs, a Che Guevara headband and a pair of sweat socks worn by the San Antonio Spurs Manu Ginolbi.

So they’ll keep digging. Because if you don’t know about the past, you don’t know your future. Or as I once told my rabbi, “What we need to know about the past is that no matter what happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new.” L’chaim.

Before we move on, here’s a few more fun facts about dinosaurs courtesy of randomhistory.com.

Dinosaurs dominated the Earth for over 165 million years, humans have been around for 2 million years, while the crime drama series,”True Detective” has been on for one season. It’s not TV, its HBO.

The Stegosaurus had the smallest brain for its body size of any known dinosaur. It was the size of a Chevy van, but its brain was the size of a walnut, so it was probably a little smarter than a giant fern or a Tea Party candidate.

And finally, paleontologists believe a Tyrannosaurus rex male reproductive organ might have been up to 12 feet in length. Whoa. You would have needed a chain saw for the circumcision.

Moving along to the photo arcade, today I am showcasing some semi silhouette action along the coast. I usually try to keep people out of my landscape shots, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. But today they are deliberately in play, as their dark outline provides an interesting contrast against the colorful back drop of clouds and sky.

On to some late night humor. “The Billboard Music awards were last night and there was an amazing hologram of Michael Jackson. He performed a new song called “Slave to the Rhythm.” It was so realistic, Tito actually asked it for money. Yeah, a Michael Jackson hologram at the Billboard Music Awards. Then he left to play golf with holograms of Tupac and Elvis. – Jimmy Fallon

“They say this season of “The Bachelorette” will have fewer hot tub scenes than previous seasons. Which explains the show’s new name: “What’s the Point?” A new study found that legalizing marijuana in Colorado has created more than 10,000 jobs. And that’s just selling lava lamps at Spencer’s Gifts.” -Jimmy Fallon

“A man from Houston is attempting to visit all the Starbucks locations in the world. It’s been four years since he started. He still hasn’t left Houston. A Japanese company unveiled a robot that can tell jokes and then detect if the joke was well received. In a related story, I start my shift at Quiznos tomorrow.” – Conan O’Brien “According to a new survey, fewer than 2 percent of hiring managers said they were actively recruiting graduates with liberal arts degrees. Said liberal arts graduates, “Latte for Karen.” -Seth Meyers

So birthday wishes go out to my wife, Allison, who turned 55 years young on Sunday. As I’ve said before, except for TiVo, she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. On these special occasions, I often harken back to the fateful day I met her, when her first words to me were, “When is this damn game going to be over?”

And then on Wednesday my Marin County based sister-in-law Wendi celebrates her special day, surrounded by friends, family and enough chocolate to take us through the NBA Finals.

We’ll catch you coming back from a painful injury and getting your team back into the Western Conference Finals. Aloha, mahalo and later, Serge Ibaka fans.

May 18, 2014

Do You, You, Peel Like I Do

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:16 am

Good morning and greetings, plantain fans. If you’re like me and visit Safeway seventeen times a week, you’ve probably noticed the changing of the guard in the produce department. Where apples, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit once filled the bins, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches and strawberries have moved to center stage of this fruit frontier.

These tasty botanical treats are part of our life blood. I don’t think I’ve gone more than an hour over the last few months without injecting a California Cutie into my bloodstream. And it’s not because they’re super sweet and an excellent source of Vitamin C with an easy to peel zipper skin. They’re just the perfect snack and so portable for a blogger on the go.

But like the NBA, their season is soon coming to an end. Or as Mark Twain once put it, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”

So in my cyber travels, I came across this edibly delightful story involving an old friend. Last week, at a department store in Tokyo, Dole Fruits released 59 limited-edition premium bananas priced at 590 yen or $5.80 a pop.

They were Dole’s prized Gokusen variety, the best of the best, and were emblazoned with a fancy serial number and elegantly wrapped in a red felt gift box. A perfect gift for a birthday, bar mitzvah or the Sultan of Brunei’s fruit salad.

Now you or your grocer might be wondering, why in the wide, wide world of sports would someone fork over six bucks for a banana when you can pick up a half dozen for half the price?

Well, here’s the scoop. According to Japan Today, Dole scientists used 100 different types of bananas to breed what it deemed a perfect specimen. They then grew the resulting strain at an undisclosed location 500 meters above sea-level, where temperatures fluctuate at just the right range and speed for optimum sweetness.

All this research and development supposedly resulted in a banana that’s 36.5 percent sweeter, 33.4 percent more fragrant, and 40 percent better textured than conventional bananas. We’re talking banana royalty, as this must be one plastic fantastic, super delicious and extremely scrumptious banana.

You may be wondering, why only 59 bananas for this promotion? It’s just coincides with the date, which was 5/9, or May 9th if you’re keeping score at home.

It seems the Japanese are very particular about their produce. Another Japanese company ripens its bananas in a room with Mozart playing continuously because it results in a sweeter fruit. It’s the same reason why I blast out the Doobie Brothers while I’m taking a shower.

So this got me thinking. Bananas have been my companions all my life, from the early days of bananas and sour cream, to the college years of chocolate banana milkshakes to the present day fruit smoothies. And we both bruise easily, so I can relate.

So here’s a few fun facts about this starchy gem. Bananas do not grow on a tree, but are actually a giant herb. This makes the banana plant the largest in the world which does not have a stem made of wood. Until recently, I had two big banana palms adding a tropical touch to my backyard. They didn’t produce any fruit but did keep the rat and raccoon population under control.

A cluster of bananas sold in supermarkets is a “hand” of bananas, while the individual bananas on the hand are called “fingers.” The strings that go up and down the length of bananas are called “phloem bundles,” that help distribute nutrients to every part of the growing bananas. As Johnny Carson would say, “I did not know that.”

It is believed by many experts that bananas were the first fruit cultivated by humans. Why, I do not know. I would have gone with watermelon.

According to my first grade teacher, Miss Chiquita, bananas were introduced to the United States at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Celebration, where they were sold wrapped in foil for 10 cents each. And it wasn’t till 1923 that the banana split came along, when some visionary decided to cut the bananas length wise and then load on three flavors of ice cream and sauces, then garnish it with crushed nuts, whipped cream and finished off with cherries from the maraschino tree on top.

The term “banana republic” was coined by American writer O. Henry. It is a reference to any Latin American, Caribbean, or African country that was politically unstable, relied heavily on basic agriculture, was not technologically advanced and had no Gap Outlets. Like the country of San Marcos, that Woody Allen traveled down to in his movie comedy “Bananas.”

Woody played a New Yorker named Fielding Melish, who gets dumped by his girlfriend and then relocates to Central America to take part in a revolution and is named the country’s new president. Here’s a quick sample of his humor.

Fielding Mellish: “You busy tonight?” Norma: “Some old friends are coming over. We’re gonna show some pornographic movies.” Fielding Mellish: “You need an usher?”

The movie’s a classic. One of my all-time favorites. I have the poster hanging in my garage along with my track medals.

A boy boards a bus and sees a man sitting with a banana in each ear. He says to the him, ‘Hey mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” There’s no response. So he says it louder, “Hey, mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” Still nothing.

Finally, he screams at the top of his lungs. ‘Hey mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” At that point, the man looks up and says, “Sorry I can’t hear you. I’ve got bananas in my ears.”

Ah, the simple life.

Moving along to the photo parade, we return to Lighthouse Point and West Cliff Drive on the morning of January 11. This is the place where it all happens. This sunrise was beautiful from every angle as the clouds went through some interesting changes. But what I even liked better was the sunrise the next day, which was off the charts color wise. So stay tuned.

On to some late night humor. “Part two of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper aired on CNN tonight. It may have been the first time I’ve ever seen an apology that was more offensive than the thing being apologized for.” – Jimmy Kimmel “How about this weather, ladies and gentlemen. It’s 81 and cloudy, just like Donald Sterling. – David Letterman

“During his trip to the White House yesterday, Uruguay’s president said that more Americans should be bilingual. Then Joe Biden said, “Thanks, but I’m happily married.” – Jimmy Fallon “Dr. Dre may become the world’s first hip-hop billionaire. So maybe my mom was right. I should have become a doctor.” – Conan O’Brien

“It’s a very exciting time in television. This is the time when all of the networks and TV show providers get together and announce their new TV line-ups. CBS has a wonderful new show. It’s called CSI-SPU — Special Parking Unit. Justin Bieber is accused of stealing a cellphone from a fan. The police now say that he is at large. He’s armed and Bieberous.” – David Letterman

“New research suggests that people who are more ambitious will live longer. While people who are less ambitious will live longer with their parents. A new study claims that 1 in 10 Americans no longer carry cash. They’re called English majors.” – Seth Meyers

So another post is in the books. We’ll catch you being the mastermind of the most efficient running offense in the NBA while in the aiming for another championship. Aloha, mahalo and later, Greg Popovich fans.

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