July 26, 2009

It’ll Costa Rica You An Arm And A Leg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:41 pm

Good morning and greetings, summer lovers. Last week, we journeyed on a trip south to Costa Rica, where monkeys roam the jungle landscape like Republicans roam the Congressional floor in their campaign in to snuff out plans for national healthcare. Well, today here at Sunrise Santa Cruz, we are raising the skirt stakes as we’re bringing in another guest blogger. He’s been on the pre-med path since exiting the womb, but more importantly, has been shooting with confidence and knocking down his three pointers this summer, which will be of great benefit to the thousands, er hundreds, er, dozen PCS basketball fans and his teammates next season. On that note, I present to you, in his own words, a point guard who loves pushing it up in the open court, Jason Sean Gilbert.

Hola, and welcome to this week’s blog. I was thinking about writing this whole thing in Spanish for bilingual readers, but I would have to re-read my Espanol 2 textbook to figure out how to say “Late Night Political Jokes”. Since my sister did last week’s write up, I felt obligated to share with you my experience of the beautiful Rich Coast (Costa Rica). And my dad was bugging me to do it.

Anyway, our journey first landed us in Arenal; a small town named after it’s active volcano that spits out more fire than Stan Van Gundy during a timeout. This segueways into this week’s backup blog titles “Arenal these Pictures Great” and “Why Arenal the Blogs as Good as this One?” The first picture is the magnificent view outside our window. At night, if it’s not cloudy, one is able to see the red lava on the top like a flame at the end of a candle. And here would be my dad’s first rock and roll reference, The Doors “Light My Fire”.

The second picture (top right) is from a hike that we took to get to the beach one morning. It’s an amazing picture that defines the natural beauty of Costa Rica. These types of shots are almost ubiquitous around the country, just like gallopinto (rice dish served on all the menus), soccer, and mosquito bites.

The next picture is of 11 crocodiles relaxing in Rio Tarcoles (accent on the “i” and “a”). I was talking to our driver (in his native tongue, of course) and I asked him if there were any crocodiles near the Pacific Coast. He said, “Si” and he drove us to the river and parked the car. At first, we couldn’t see them but sure enough as we walked along the narrow sidewalk on the highway, we saw these giant, dinosaur-like creatures. They were scaly beasts that looked almost unreal. They were floating around, wading in shallow waters, not really doing much, kind of like the Golden State Warrior’s defense. It was an incredible site that I had never seen before.

For our next image, we see an iguana. In my in-depth google research, I could not figure out which type of iguana this is. Nevertheless, one day, this reptile surprised us while we were eating lunch and parked itself right under the table, like our dog Summer. It was just two feet away from each of us and thankfully it didn’t try to take any of our legs off. Iguanas do bite although they have very small teeth. We saw many different iguanas during our stay in Manual Antonio, including one across the way up in a tree. This was a green iguana, although some are not green in color. It was beautiful with a reddish hue, or maybe it was just wearing a new Trevor Ariza jersey. (Let’s see how many basketball references I can make in one blog)

The fifth picture is of a toucan we found in the Manual Antonio National Park. I put this picture hear (misspelled for pun) to symbolize all the noise that the birds were making. There was always a background noise of chirping, squawking, and yelping (oh wait, that was my cousin Miles). The birds had a constant rhythm going. The loudest bird noise was from the Three-Wattled Bell birds. They omit a high, screeching sound that gives one a genuine jungle feel.

The last but not least picture is of another capuchin white-face monkey. Aimee did a pretty good job of explaining what they were so I won’t bore you and explain it again. Plus, she stole the better picture. These monkeys were right up above our heads, eating coconuts then dropping it on us. It was incredible how they moved around, jumping from tree to tree with ease. They were very friendly and the tour guide told us we could have reached out and fed them.

All in all, Costa Rica was an amazing experience that I will forever remember. Now it’s time to go back to the blogger who can still hit the three, unfortunately when playing me one on one. Adios!

Thank you, Jason. You know what they say in Hawaii, the papaya doesn’t fall far from the tree. Now on to the important late night political jokes of the week.

“Good News for California. This just came out. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has apparently found a way to close the state’s $26 billion budget shortfall. Now I can’t get into all the details, but in short, Fresno is now part of China. “Gov. Sanford is still trying to recover from his sex scandal. This is the latest. This weekend, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wrote an editorial apologizing for his behavior. I’m not sure he’s sincere, though, because it starts out, ‘Dear Penthouse.’” –Conan O’Brien “Several weeks ago, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disappeared without explanation for five days. Now of course, as it turns out, he didn’t really disappear. It turns out he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Which is a trail that starts in Maine and ends in an Argentine woman’s vagina.” –Jon Stewart

President Obama recently said that the best way to pay for his health care plan is to raise taxes on people like him. As a result, the government is raising taxes on all half-Kenyan, half-Kansan presidents who were born in Hawaii.” –Conan O’Brien “Did you guys see Michelle Obama last night? She just got a new haircut. It’s the first real cut of the Obama Administration.” –Jimmy Fallon “The Republicans had been running a surprisingly effective campaign against the proposal for national healthcare, but the President found a very clever way to get them on board. Behind the scenes, he offered a key provision that would provide free breast implants for their girlfriends.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“This weekend, it’s very cool. It’s the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, considered by some to be mankind’s greatest achievement. … Unless, of course, you count the time we put the cheese inside the pizza crust.” “Yesterday, Sonia Sotomayor’s questioning finally came to an end. Sotomayor said that she had received a ‘gracious and fair’ hearing. Her exact quote was, ‘Thanks a lot, you old honkies. I’m outta here. You can kiss my a**.’” –Conan O’Brien The tag Republicans kept throwing to hang around Sonia Sotomayor’s neck was ‘reverse racist.’ They said, you know, it’s reverse racists like her that give regular racists like them a bad name.” –Bill Maher

“Here’s news from Pakistan. They believe now, intelligence believes, that a US missile attack about six months ago killed one of Osama bin Laden’s sons. And the CIA believes that it was the hot-tempered Sonny.” –David Letterman “Walter Cronkite’s influence on the news is still felt today, in that news anchors still wear ties. Other parts of his legacy have become obsolete. For instance, dispassionate reporting is fine for covering the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, but not for an issue as complex as Octomom. Sadly, Cronkite’s passing is not getting the kind of cable news attention I believe it deserves. I watched the coverage this weekend and I didn’t see one helicopter shot of his home. I don’t even think his family has booked the Staples Center yet.” –Stephen Colbert

So that ends our latest installment of “What my children did on their summer vacation.” And speaking of children, congratulations go out to my daughter Aimee, who yesterday celebrated her Bat Mitzvah before a packed house here on the westside. This provided me the opportunity to acknowledge the love and joy that friends and family bring into our lives. It was a tremendous day and one I shall cherish and remember forever, or at least till Aimee says to me, “Dad, this is my boyfriend, Todd.”

As I write this, I can still feel the warm glow eminating from my heart after yesterday’s family affair. So enjoy the summer as it rolls along and we’ll catch you on the warning track. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ronnie Guidry fans.

July 19, 2009

Oklahoma, Arizona, Costa Rica, What Does It Matter?

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

Good morning and greetings, Supreme Court nominee fans. Each week, I parade to the the cyber confessional as we take a look at something from the skies and byways of this cold water paradise called Santa Cruz. Well, today, travel and leisure lovers, we are headed to an exotic land with warm water, a place where iguanas, jaguars, ferraris and crocodiles live amongst the rain forest like ebony and ivory live in perfect harmony.

In late June, I loaned my brother Brad my most valuable possessions, my son Jason and daughter Aimee, and they passported south on a trip of a lifetime to Costa Rica. Despite Aimee’s camera breaking on day two, they still took hundreds of pictures and were left with stronger impressions then Dana Carvey performed on the Tonight show last week. Today we present you with part one of two guest blogs. So without further ado, in her own words, soon to be 12-year-old Aimee Jennifer Gilbert.

When I think about my trip to Costa Rica, the one word that describes it is AMAZING. It was an exotic, wonderland full of creatures I had never seen up close.

My favorite animals were the Capuchin or White-Faced monkeys. As you can see in photo #1,one of the Capuchins is eating a coconut. They were literally right above our heads as they ate. The best part was that after they were done eating the fruit, they would drop the peels on us.

Capuchins are omnivores and eat fruit, crabs, bird eggs and small lizards. Their job in the eco system is to clean fruit off the forest floor. One day, as we were going to the beach we looked up and saw 15 of them in the trees! My uncle said he saw one trying to unscrew a light bulb that was attached to the tree. Another had a baby on its back. Then, all of a sudden, they all jumped off the trees and ran across the street. It was a great, modern, third world country moment.

The second picture is the best from our whole trip. We were on a hike witnessing huge spiders, exotic birds, and forest crabs, when we noticed three sloths in a tree, which is very unusual because you rarely see sloths together. We took this picture with the help of our tour guide by using a telescope.
This three toed sloth was coming down a tree when it turned to us and smiled. Sloths are very lazy and can sleep in one place for three days straight! They curl up around branches or hang by their hands and stay still so predators don’t notice them. Sloth’s hair is often covered with a coat of blue-green algae during the rainy season because it provides a camouflage!

The third picture is of a Jesus Christ Lizard. They are named that because they are known for crossing still waters in a nearly upright position! We saw this beautiful reptile sitting on a log at the beach on one of our hikes.

The last three pictures are butterflies from our first hike in Arenal, which is the home of a very active volcano. Costa Rica’s butterfly species make up approximately 90% of all Central American butterflies. The first butterfly photo is of an Owl butterfly. This butterfly is different from other butterflies because of its unique tan, black and blue wings. It is occasionally a pest to bananas.

The The next butterfly is a version of a Blue Morpho. The Blue Morpho is the most common butterfly in Costa Rica. Seeing all the butterflies was incredible and something I will always remember.

That’s all for now and I hope you enjoyed this guest blog. Back to you dad.

Thank you, Aimee. As you can see, I did not include the always popular “editors comment” after each paragraph, as I wanted Aimee’s voice to come through proud and clear, although I was as tempted as South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford on a fact-finding tour in Argentina.

On to the late night boys. “Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings are under way. It’s interesting. Political experts say that if Republican senators attack Sonia Sotomayor too harshly, they could alienate Latino members of their own party. This may explain with Republicans opened every question with, ‘As a huge fan of Santana.’” –Conan O’Brien “Everybody knows Sotomayor will get confirmed. Even the GOP can’t take her on, because she is the first Hispanic nominated to the Supreme Court, and they don’t want to offend Latino voters. That’s why they no longer talk about the ‘border fence.’ It’s now called the ‘welcome wall.’” –Stephen Colbert

“Today, the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor got under way. And, of course, people have opinions on both sides. Critics of Judge Sotomayor claim that she has a bias against white people. But this morning, she proved them wrong by showing up at the hearings wearing a Coldplay t-shirt and carrying a yoga mat.” –Conan O’Brien “People in New York are especially excited by Judge Sotomayor because she comes from the Bronx. In fact, Judge Sotomayor famously presided over the landmark New York City case, Shut Up vs. No, You Shut Up.” –Conan O’Brien

“I thought it was fascinating how the New York papers covered the All-Star Game and Obama throwing out the first pitch. New York Times said that Obama threw a perfect strike. Daily News said he threw a ball. The New York Post said he was making out with Kate Hudson.” –David Letterman “This weekend is the 10th anniversary of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’ President Obama recently said SpongeBob is his favorite cartoon. He loves to watch that silly little guy run around and say crazy stuff, annoying everyone. Reminds him of Joe Biden.” –Craig Ferguson

“You remember Dick Cheney, who was the Vice President for eight years with George W. Bush? And we didn’t think much about Dick Cheney and then one day he goes hunting, boy, that changed everything. Well now it turns out that for eight years, Dick Cheney had a secret hit squad to assassinate al Qaeda leaders. And the team was unbelievable. Here’s who was on the team: Lee Marvin; Jim Brown; John Cassavetes; Telly Savales; and Trini Lopez as Pedro. Now here is the thing. Here are the two sides of this. The ying and the yang. Idea was we’d kill off al Qaeda leaders. That’s the ying, I guess. The yang is completely illegal. But, listen to this. Before you make your judgment, before you decide, if it weren’t for Dick Cheney and his secret assassination squad, Osama bin Laden would be alive today.” –David Letterman

So that’s it for part one of riding the roller Costa Rica. I would have loved to been riding shotgun on this photo journey, but I’m highly allergic to piranhas. Next week it’s Jason turn, as we’ll swirl inside the mind of a 15-year old point guard on his first adventure outside the country.

So enjoy the long summer days and we’ll catch you down the third base line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

July 12, 2009

Early To Bed, Early To Sunrise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:54 pm

Good morning and greetings, sunrise fans. As I was walking along West Cliff Drive earlier this week, I thought to myself, what should I write about in this week’s blog? What pearls of wisdom should I give forth to my cyber optics? Perhaps it’s my ongoing fascination with NBA basketball? Or the top ten reasons why cranberry and apple sauce go with almost everything. Or maybe the reasons why the networks were so insanely obsessed with the death of Michael Jackson, while our soldiers dying in Afghanistan barely get a mention. For the record, we’re at 104 and counting in 2009.

So many subjects and way too much time. Mick Jagger once said, “Time, time time, is on my side, yes it is.” But that’s the funny thing. The one thing we never know is actually how much time we have on this earth, wind and fire. All of a sudden I feel like I’m Fox Mulder in an “X-Files” episode. And where the hell is Agent Scully?

So I’m strolling along on the edge of the continent on this somewhat foggy morning, wearing a jacket and then it Tony Orlando and dawns on me, why not write about the weather? Or in the words of Bob Dylan, “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.” Every time I hear that I feel like taking over an administration building.

Here it is, mid-Julyish, and I’m wearing a jacket in the morning. Back in the old country, and I’m talking New Jersey, the only reason you’d need a jacket in July would be to hang yourself because of the moisture in the air. Phil Collins said, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight.” He was talking major humidity, my friends. And as the boys from Steely Dan know, “Any major dude with half a heart will tell you, my friend,” that humidity is first degree murder. There’s no pleading manslaughter when it comes to this summer bummer.

I used to spend my summers back on the east coast. These summer dreams that made me feel fine consisted of weekend getaways to Jones Beach on Long Island, which cemented my love affair with the oceanfront experience. We’re also talking thin-sliced, cheese pizza that God would go crazy over, Chinese food that you’d dream about and weather that would just be horrendous. I’m talking about the annual summer humidity festival, where the only safe place would be inside an air conditioned bunker, watching Yankee games while feasting on Good Humor Whammy sticks.

Throw in some Three Stooges in the afternoon, hikes along the Palisades cliffs with my golden retriever and dehydrating basketball in the evening and that’s a good part of my east coast story. But the weather was always a determining factor in whether we ventured out into the unreal world. Reports from a Tucson-based field scout tells me that, until recently, the Boston area has seen just three days of true sun since the beginning of May. I believe that’s called Red Sox karma.

I remember as a child back in the Garden State, the New York Mets would embark on a road trip to the west coast. I would watch TV and see fans sitting in the stands at Candlestick Park in San Francisco wearing down jackets and thinking, are we living on the same planet? Down jackets in August? I hadn’t put on a shirt all day and here were these people freezing in Willie Mays country. I believe that was the jump start of my manifest destiny. Or as Jack Nicholson once said, “go Jerry West, young man, go west.”

That bring us back to the present time. As you know, the weather is so diverse around the country. Hail storms the size of matzoh balls, torrential rains causing flooding in the midwest while severe drought torments the west. If you check out the national temperature extremes from last Wednesday, we had a high of 116 in Death Valley with a low of 25 in Bodie State Park, CA. That’s quite the difference, just like Al Gore would have been from George W. Bushed. We probably would have been fighting global warming and not Osama Been Hiding. Or as George Carlin once commented, “The weather’s dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused with a Mexican high.”

Let’s bring on today’s photo fisticuffs. We harken back to November of 2006 and the place, of course, is Lighthouse Point and Its Beach. This is one of those world-class sunrises that comes with the Santa Cruz lifestyle package. As you can see, the sky changed color more often than AIG gives out bonuses to their executives. If you look closely at photo #5, you can see my golden retriever taking in the morning magnificence. A great, great beginning to a central coast day, and one that I think was certainly James worthy of this cyber audience.

The late night quipsters are back. “President Obama is in Russia. Today he waved to Sarah Palin. Then he met with Putin. Meanwhile, in Arizona, John McCain was chasing kids off his lawn.” –David Letterman “President Obama went there because from Russia, you can actually see Sarah Palin cleaning out her office in Alaska.” –Conan O’Brien “But he’s over there. He’s talking about getting some major concessions from the Russians. And Russia has agreed — now, this is surprising — they agreed now to produce fewer nuclear warheads and more hot tennis babes.” –David Letterman

“It’s an emotional day. A lot of us are still mourning the loss of one of America’s most entertaining figures, who left us all too soon. But don’t worry, folks, Sarah Palin will be back. In a recent study, the United States was ranked the 114th happiest country in the world. Then Sarah Palin stepped down. Now we’re at 17. Since resigning as governor, many say Sarah Palin is now going to spend some time working on her memoirs. Alaskans are saying they can’t wait to start reading Palin’s memoirs and then quit halfway through.” –Conan O’Brien

“Here’s something wacky. Osama bin Laden’s first wife — and this guy has literally like 40 wives, well his first wife, wife No. 1, is writing a book all about Osama bin Laden. It’s a fascinating story. And it talks about when Osama was 16 years old, when he was just a kid, listen to this, he wrecked the family camel. But the book is going to be huge. It’s being published by Random Cave. Kim Jong Il today made rare public appearance. Here’s what happened. He saw the shadow of his hair, went back in his hole. And finally, David Letterman’s Top Ten Questions Bernie Madoff Asked Today In Prison. 10. Has it been 150 years yet? 2. Will someone TiVo ‘America’s Got Talent’ for me for the next 149 years?

That’s our show. My children have returned from lovely Costa Rica with enough photos to rival Animal Planet, so we have some special guest blogs coming down the pike. Sarah Palin continues to amaze me, and after reading the behind the scenes stuff from the presidential campaign, I am just astounded by this Alaskan snow babe. Or to quote Todd S. Purdum in this month’s Vanity Fair, “She is by far the best looking woman ever to rise to such heights in national politics, the first indisputably fertile female to dare dance with the big dogs.” She is as wacky with the truth as a fruit cake, and I believe has bitten off a lot more than she could ever possibly chew.

So enjoy the week and every once in a while in a while, think about our troops that are fighting overseas. And their families who are paying a very heavy price. We’ll catch you somewhere in the infield. Aloha, mahalo and later, Albert Pujos fans.

July 5, 2009

Don’t Count Your Cormorants Before They Hatch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 8:42 pm

Good morning and greetings, sports fans. Well, summer is in full swing as the dreaded June gloom is history. We now cruise into the fruits of July, which I believe are honeydew melon and the extra sweet tuscan cantaloupe. I usually like to start out the changing of the calendar with some spectacular color, but today we are going a different route, you might say, the road once taken. This is not to be confused with Bobby Frost’s the road not taken, which includes law school, medical school and traffic school. In the words of former Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, “When you arrive at the fork in the road, take it.”

I was going to blog out these sleek-bodied, sea birds nesting along West Cliff Drive back in June, but I realized that I had posted something very similar last year at around this time and the Hemingway in me said, “been there, done that.” I wanted something “fresh, exciting, so inviting to me” to kick off the July fireworks but then fate intervened.

I had taken a week off from my oceanfront activities to work on my doctorate and when I returned last week, I was in for a shock. Where there had once been over a couple dozen cormorants sitting on nests along with their mates, now there were none. The edge of the cliff was as deserted as a South Carolina Governor’s Award dinner. This was a eerie site, and I’m not talking Pennsylvania, as I had seen no eggs and certainly no young ones. I first thought that perhaps some unruly hooligans had come and scared them off. Either way, in the words of the group Spirit, “It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong.”

Soon after making this unsettling discovery and ran into the most rabid of PCS basketball fans, Janet Burton, who informed me that last week she saw the cormorants “shredding and tearing up their nests.” My first thought was, was Janet hearing those voices again or were these Brandt’s cormorants not getting enough food and had to move on? Or perhaps it was the city’s upcoming budget cuts, the new revelations about the dangers of red meat or the mass confusion involving Michael Jackson’s estate. In the King of Pop’s words, “ABC, it’s easy as 123, doe re mi, that’s how easy wills can be.”

Just across the way that there were still cormorants sitting on nests, enjoying the incredible ocean view, which made this situation even more confusing. It was really quite disturbing, even more so than when McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. Coincidentally, before they departed, the cormorants claimed they could also see Russia from their perch.

So let’s take a look at what we’ve got photo wise. As you see in the first shot, these black beauties have selected an gorgeous spot to raise their young. The male cormorant chooses the nest site, puts down first and last month’s rent and then attracts a female to it. Once paired in e-bird harmony, they build a circular nest on the ground made of seaweed, algae, grass, meth, sticks and stones along with names that will never hurt me. The male gathers the nest material, the female then builds the nest as the male then goes off to drink beer and watch “Baseball Tonight.”

Both the male and female incubate the eggs and both regurgitate food for their young, which is something I never got used to my parents doing. When the babies are born they are naked and helpless, which could also describe how a took my driver’s test and my years spent in the Peace Corps.

Over 3/4 of the world’s Brandt Cormorants reside in California, with most having second homes in either Tahoe or Plam Springs. Despite the high cost of housing, the largest numbers are found here on the central coast. June and July are usually the times when the reptilian-looking babies are born, so the fact that they are cleared out faster than supporters of Elliot Spitzer makes this even more of a mystery. I checked back a couple of mornings ago and the cliff was as empty as the stands at a Pittsburgh Pirate’s game. I vow to you, my cyber readers, that I will continue to search for the answers, and will not rest until I have uncovered the truth. Either that, or I will just make something up. That is my promise.

The late night boys are in reruns this week so we’ll go with a joke for a humor segment. Two ropes walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Get out of here. We don’t serve ropes in here.” The ropes go outside and one says to the other, “I have an idea.” He ties himself up, messes up his hair and goes back in. The bartender says, “Hey. No ropes.” The rope says, “I’m not a rope.” The bartender says, “You’re not a rope?” “Nope. I’m a frayed knot.”

You might want to worry, because there’s a lot more where that came from. Reports from Costa Rica tell me that Aimee’s camera broke on her second day but I’m sure she’ll come up with something for the guest blog. She’s an excellent sketcher. And Jason says he is speaking more Spanish than you’d hear at a Pau Gasol family reunion. Sources tell me they may try to squeeze in a few days in Honduras. That would be a real coup.

So that’s our report from the edge of the continent. Hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend and took a moment to think about what we were celebrating-that’s right, the invention of the barbecue. Which I believe was done soon after they signed the Declaration of Fireworks. We’ll catch you at center court at Wimbledon. Aloha, mahalo and later, Roger Federer and Andy Roddick fans.


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