April 25, 2010

Hey, We’re Packed In Like Sardines

Good morning and greetings, nuclear disarmament fans. Well, spring is in full bloom, and for allergy sufferers, April flowers bring congestion, sneezing, runny noses and the urge to rip out the back of your throat. Fortunately for me, all I’m allergic to is penicillin and Fox News, so I’m on a sinus roll.

So while a good segment of the population is experiencing that postnasal drip, headachey, watery eye type of feeling, my wandering eye was elsewhere. For today’s story, we head to the far northeastern corner of our nation, a place where the sun rises first. It was filed by CLARKE CANFIELD of the Associated Press. And as you know, four of out five dentists recommend the Associated Press for their patients who are looking for material to entertain their blog readers with.

For the past 135 years, sardine canneries have been as much a part of Maine’s small coastal villages as clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl on the Santa Cruz wharf. It’s been estimated that more than 400 canneries have come and gone as the lone survivor, the Stinson Seafood plant, shut down last week after a century in operation. It is the last sardine cannery not just in Maine, but in the United States. In the words of Don McLean, “bye, bye, Miss American Sardine Pie.”

Like english muffins, french toast and Penelope Cruz, sardines were once considered an imported delicacy. They are any of dozens of small, oily, cold-water fish that are part of the herring family that are sold in tightly packed cans. They are very familiar to me as I once had a ballroom dance instructor who was a very cold fish.

The first U.S. sardine cannery opened in Maine in 1875. Dozens of plants soon popped up, sounding whistles, loud horns, and a medly of Bee Gees’ greatest hits to alert local workers when a boat came in with its catch. By 1900 there were 75 canneries, where knife-wielding men, women, robbers and young children expertly sliced off heads and tails and removed innards before packing them tight into sardine tins, like riders on a New York subway train at rush hour.

Production at Maine canneries has been sliding since peaking at 384 million cans in 1950. Last year, Stinson produced 30 million cans. As Robert Plant used to ask in the middle of Stairway to Heaven, “does anyone remember sardines?”

Still, it came as a surprise to employees when Bumble Bee Foods LLC announced in February that the plant would close. The plant was under pressure from shrinking consumer demand, increased foreign competition and the that fact that diners could never get that intense fishy smell off their fingers.

Sardines at one time were an inexpensive staple for many Americans who packed them into their lunchboxes and shirt pockets. Ronnie Peabody, who runs the Maine Coast Sardine History Museum and a Popeye’s Chicken in the town of Jonesport, has a cookbook published in 1950 called “58 Ways to Serve Sardines.” It includes recipes for sardine soup, casserole, parmesan, creamed sardines and spinach and my personal favorite, spaghetti and sardine balls.

Sardine consumption began falling decades ago, he said, after canned tuna came on the market and Americans’ tastes changed. In Monterey, California, a group of self-described “sardinistas,” who deny ever trying to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, have taken on the task of trying to get Americans to eat more sardines. The group is formulating a business plan in hopes of returning “the lowly sardine to the American palate and bring and NFL team to Los Angeles,” said Mike Sutton, a vice president at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

But not canned sardines. That’s over, Johnny. Sutton’s group wants to promote fresh sardines sold at fine dining establishments like Wienerschnitzel or in prepared foods at retail stores, much the way tuna, salmon and Pepperidge Farm goldfish are now sold.

“We recognize the American public turns their noses up at sardines,” Sutton said. “It may be a challenge and it may be insurmountable, but our motto is ‘It’s not your grandfather’s sardine.’”

Well, my grandfather, who loved the New York Yankees and break dancing, never showed any fondness for sardines. I’ve never had a bite of sardines in my life. But I remember when I was a youngster, we’d grab our fishing poles and head down to the river to catch catfish, crayfish and my grandpa’s favorite, gefilte fish. We’d come home, fry them up and then just text each other all night. Ah, life along the Mississippi.

But wait, there’s more. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have written a letter to Maine Governor John Baldacci encouraging him to press for something other than seafood processing at the site of the recently closed Stinson plant. PETA official Tracy Reiman says “lobsters and fish are smart, sensitive and unique individuals who should be respected, not killed and canned.” Reiman suggests using the plant to package blueberries instead of seafood. I think she may have a point. Fish are considered brain food, they swim in schools, and when was the last time you heard someone say, “look, you stupid trout.”

So let’s move on to today’s photo fantasy tour. For you Alex Trebek fans, this is what is known as the daily double, the sunrise and sunset from the same day. We’re heading back to early January, when this amazing color filled the morning sky down at Lighthouse Point. Later that day, after watching a little Jeopardy, I came back down to the cliff as returning champion to finish my task, and you can see the the results. The final shot was taken after the sun had set and featured some really unusual colors-I hadn’t see those kind of hues since I wandered into the Rainbow Family’s meditation circle at Woodstock.

Let’s bring on the late night fun. “As you probably know, the volcano on the tiny island of Iceland has shut down air traffic. President Obama had to cancel his trip to Poland. President Obama said he hopes the volcano will stop smoking soon and the volcano said the same thing about him.” –Jimmy Kimmel “The volcanic ash from Iceland disrupted air travel all over Europe. Everything’s grounded. Commercial flights. Private jets. The only thing still flying — Toyotas. “President Obama and some prominent Democrats proposed a solution to the erupting volcano — they want to pour money into it. “According to a top Iranian cleric, earthquakes and volcanoes are caused by women wearing immodest clothing. Or as most guys would call it: a fair trade-off.” –Jay Leno

“The British government sent a warship to France to bring home stranded Britons. There was an embarrassing moment — when the ship pulled up to the port, the French immediately surrendered.” –Jay Leno “The volcano cloud is gritty ash and it’s making its way toward Russia. In fact, Sarah Palin can see it from her house.” –David Letterman “Sarah Palin got an iPad and she was complaining that it’s not really that absorbent.” –Bill Maher “Everyone knows if a Republican comes out of the closet and sees a gay shadow, it means six more years of a Democratic administration.” –Jon Stewart

“Well, the government said today Somali pirates being held in U.S. custody will be brought to the United States for prosecution, and they will be tried by a jury of their peers. So I’m guessing that’s what, Goldman Sachs? Well, just four days after Goldman Sachs cost investors $12 billion by failing to tell them that they’re being investigated for fraud, they gave out another $5.4 billion in bonuses. Huh? Even Somali pirates are going, ‘Come on! This is rather disturbing. A government panel made up of all retired military personnel says that the school lunches are a threat to our national security because they make our kids too fat to serve the country. It’s unbelievable. Remember the old days, when the Army wanted the best and the brightest? Now they’re stuck with the biggest and the widest.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our final blast for April. The NBA playoffs are going full tilt and the action was hot and heavy last week. Laker fans are sweating like Bernie Madoff waiting in the shower line. So enjoy the warm days, sunny skies and we’ll catch you at the scorer’s table. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kevin Durant fans.

April 18, 2010

The Lizard Of Oz

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 8:24 pm

Good morning and greetings, NBA playoff fans. Yes, once again it’s the time of year when I climb the stairway to basketball heaven, or as TNT so elegantly states it, “40 games in 40 nights.” Despite the Golden State Warriors barely missing out on the playoffs, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen my wife so excited about the postseason. Or in her words, “when are these games going to be over?” NBA, where amazing marriages happen.

But even as prepare for my annual pilgramage to baskeball mecca, I still have time to stay in touch with important world events. Once again, something caught my iris and cornea this week that I felt should be shared with this audience. It comes from Associated Press writer Jim Gomez, reporting from Manila in the Philippines, with some natural enhancement from yours truly.

In a study released in late March, researchers have concluded that a giant, golden-spotted monitor lizard discovered in the forested mountains of the Philippines six years ago is a new species. The 6.5-foot-long lizard was first spotted in 2004 in the Sierra Madre mountains on the main island of Luzon when researchers saw local Agta tribesmen carrying one of the dead reptiles along with a pair of Imelda Marcos’ black stiletto pumps.

But it took until last year to determine it was a new species. After capturing an adult, researchers from the University of Kansas and the National Museum of the Philippines obtained DNA samples that helped confirm the lizard was new to science and not involved with any terrorist attacks in Indonesia.

The Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor Lizard feasts on fruits, snails and puppy dog tails rather than carcasses, unlike many monitors, including its larger relative, the Komodo dragon. It has unique claws that allow it to climb trees to reach its favorite fruits and open jars for small native women.

“I knew as soon as I saw the animal that it was something special,” said Luke Welton, a graduate student and cheerleader at the University of Kansas and one of the co-authors of the study.

It is not that unusual to find a new species of tiny fish, frog, insect or politician these days. But Welton and his colleagues said it was a “rare occurrence” to discover such a large vertebrate, particularly on an island hit by deforestation, nearby development and sky high health care premiums. They compared their find to the 1993 discovery of the forest-dwelling Saola ox in Vietnam, a new monkey species discovered in the highlands of Tanzania in 2006 and the discovery of Ross Perot on the presidential ballot in 1996.

Eric R. Pianka, a lizard expert and badminton player at the University of Texas at Austin, said in an e-mail interview that it was an “incredible find.” Fran Tarkenton and Cathy Lee Cosby both agreed, saying “that’s incredible.”

“This is truly a spectacular discovery,” Pianka said, which is the same way I felt when I learned my new TiVo could record two programs at the same time. “Worldwide, there are about 60-plus species of monitor lizards. In all probability, some as yet undescribed species will be found on various islands in Indonesia, along with voting ballots from Florida from the 2000 Presidential election” he said.

The new lizard is related to two other fruit-eating monitors in the Philippines, all of which have seen their numbers drop significantly due habitat destruction, hunting and trapping for the pet trade and baby boomers need for baby monitors.

“We hope that by focusing on protection of this new monitor, conservation biologists, policy makers and Angelina Jolie can work together to protect the remaining highly imperiled forests of northern Luzon,” said Rafe Brown, leader of the team that discovered the new species. And if that doesn’t work, “we’re just hoping that Sarah Palin won’t try to shoot any from a helicopter.”

Wait, there’s more. In an article written by James Owens for National Geographic News, “You could stay in that forest for years and have absolutely no idea that these monitors are there,” says biologist and trapeze artist Daniel Bennett. Much like myself, “they are incredibly secretive and spend all their time high up in trees, more than 66 feet above the ground.” Similar lizard species spend less than 20 minutes on the ground per week, he added, and that’s just to pay bills, go shopping and watch a little Sportscenter.

Scientists captured specimens of both this new species and the extremely rare but closely related Gray’s monitor lizard. Capturing both types of lizards was crucial, because it allowed the team to inspect the two monitor lizards side-by-side and detect subtle differences that can help determine whether the animals represent different species. One particularly revealing trait was the double-ended penis common to monitor lizards. The shape of this reptilian feature is unique to each species. It’s like I always said, two heads are better than one. To check out a photo of this bad boy, go to http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/04/100407-new-giant-lizard-varabus-bitatawa-biology-letters/

So let’s move from reptiles to the amphibians of the sky. Besides new head shots for my modeling portfolio, I haven’t been doing any shooting as of late as there’s been less color in the sky than at a Tea Party clam bake. But then on Tuesday night, some clouds rolled in and if my helicopter hadn’t been low on gas, I would have zoomed up to Davenport to shoot this night from atop the cliffs. So instead, I journeyed over to a little park by the arroyo and shot this six pack of April magic.

Some gentle colors filled the sky but it was nothing compared to the Eyjafjallajökul volcano in Iceland that exploded again on Wednesday. It blew a hole in the ice that created a black cloud of smoke and ash that created havoc in airports from Paris to Teterboro along with vivid red and lavender sunsets. This volcano last erupted in 1821 and was active for two years, so who knows how long we’ll have seismic activity. If you’re like me, and are fascinated by volcanoes, tornadoes and sun dried tomatoes, this is nature at its wildest. It was truly Ash Wednesday.

One more note about this spectacle that is blowing out tons of molten rock. Just eight miles down the seismic path from this lava party is Iceland’s largest volcano named Katla. Volcanologists say she’s about 40 years overdue and if she blows, the force could be one hundred times more powerful than this week’s fireworks display. With that will come massive eruptions, incredible explosions and billowing clouds of ash, which sounds a lot like the first season of Magma, P.I.

Let’s move on the late night fun. “According to the Pentagon, al-Qaida has been so weakened financially that they’re turning to crimes like drugs, prostitution, and adjustable-rate mortgages. I think that’s called Al Karma. Actually, Al Qaeda should have seen it coming. You know who’s in charge of the finances? Osama ben Bernanke. KFC coming out with their new Double Down sandwich. It’s bacon and cheese wrapped inside two pieces of fried chicken. In fact, today, Al Qaeda said: ‘We quit. When it comes to killing Americans, we can’t keep up with you guys.’” –Jay Leno

“President Obama signed a historic treaty with the Russian president today. Not everyone’s happy about it. Fox News said it was a ‘summit between a powerful communist leader and the president of Russia.’” –Craig Ferguson “There’s a rumor going around that Hillary Clinton could be Obama’s choice for the next Supreme Court justice. That’s a lifetime appointment that would take up all of her time, or as Bill Clinton calls it, ‘She’ll take it.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Sarah Palin’s daughter is speaking out. In an interview, Bristol says she realizes she was totally unprepared to be a mother. Hey, it’s better than being a mother that’s totally unprepared to be vice president.” –Jay Leno

“Conan O’Brien announced today that he will move his show to TBS. Later in the day, Jay Leno announced that he will also move his show to TBS. Tiger’s Woods is obviously under a lot of stress. It’s very difficult to play when you have a padlock on your underpants.” –Jimmy Kimmel “FedEx announced this week that it will add four new electric trucks to its delivery fleet. Four electric truck! Well,
let me be the first to say, welcome back glaciers.” –Seth Meyers

So that’s our show. The weather was spring perfect this weekend for the first two days of the NBA playoffs. There were eight games on Saturday and Sunday, so I was able to venture outside and spend some quality time amongst the blue skies, warm breezes and scent of roses during full timeouts. So enjoy your ash free skies and we’ll catch you at halfcourt. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dirk Nowitzki fans.

April 11, 2010

Anyone Have Room For Desert?

Good morning and greetings, spring break fans. For many years, the Gilbert family spent this week in the lovely confines of Palm Desert. But this year, due to health care reform, the pollen count and my agoraphobia, we decided to stay in the Cruz. They say home is where the heart is, along with the pancreas and spleen. Or in the words of Ricky Ricardo, “Lucy, you’ve got a lot of ‘spleening’ to do.”

Although we didn’t make the trip to this southern California desert oasis, we still had some golden images from a few months back. On the trip to Palm Desert over the winter break, we experienced gorgeous sunrises, spectacular sunsets and a menu at Sherman’s Deli the the size of a Buick. Since the shots of the corned beef and chocolate chip rugelach were a little fuzzy, today’s photo buffet will highlight some appetizers shot from the skycam.

As I said, there were a couple of sunrises that just blew the doors off the color meter. We featured the first one back in January, (Would You Like To See The Desert Menu,?) so here comes his little brother. It’s an awesome feeling seeing the desert sky light up along the back nine of the golf course at the Palm Valley Country Club. It’s probably quite similar to the way the early settlers must have felt when they first experienced the desert, except without the hot tubs and pools, spa and massage rooms and the Sunday all-you-can-eat-buffet up at the Clubhouse. There’s just something so basic and natural about melting ice sculptures alongside eggs benedicts and freshly carved prime rib.

So while I was having a threeway musically with Debbie Boone and Whitney Houston (“You light up my life,”) the sky starting to turn into a coloring book. This would be photos # 1-4. For the final two, we turn to the late afternoon skies as the clouds were exploding all the way from Joshua Tree to the Morongo Casino. Just a great way to end the day before heading out for a vegetarian feast at LG’s Steak House.

While on this December sabbatical from the marine layer of the central coast, we also experienced a rare desert rainbow, snowfall on the San Jacinto mountains and flying saucer-like clouds at sunset. We’ll take a look at these desert treats somewhere down the line along with my tips for desert vegan dining. Who needs tri-tip when you can rent in sprout city?

So today is Monday, April 12 and it’s a special day. My father, who supplied my mother with the initial ingredients in making me the shell of a man I am today, turns 93. Yes, boys and squirrels, 93! That’s bodes very well for me and my time share in Tuscany.

But let’s focus on the man who used to tell me in my formulative years, “Geoff, it’s easier to get an ‘A’ then it is to get an ‘F.’ To this day, I still don’t understand how that works. He also encouraged me to have hobbies, take classes and join political organizations. Well, I’m not sure if watching more TV than the Neilsons or being sunrise boy counts, but let’s put it up on the tote board anyway.

My father and his young bride (my mother, who’s 84) live one mile away from me and are constantly hounding me to take them water skiing, roller skating and to the Yan Flower for the war wonton soup. For years, over plates of shrimp and lobster sauce, my father would tell me how proud he was of me and ask if I was going to finish my soup. His words, much like my rib cage, remain close to my heart. 93, unbelievable! Years of martial arts training has left my body feeling exhausted at age 57, so I can’t imagine what nine plus decades might feel like. I’m going to need a walker with TiVo.

But his is not the only birthday that April brings. Belated wishes go out my blogging, snowboarding and gluten free brother, Brad, who celebrated the big day last Wednesday in Vail with a downhill runs in fresh powder up to his thighs and a flour free cake. When an NBA player hits the game winning three-pointer at the buzzer and the phone rings, I always know who it is. It’s either my youngest brother or one of those damn telemarketers calling from New Dehli.

But April 7 is not the only day when someone close to me came flying out of the birth canal. My pre-law son, Jason, also shares this April occasion, as my water didn’t break till late in the day. To say I’m fond of this child (and his blonde sister) is putting it mildly-when you see your child take his first step, or says his first words, or perform his first 360 spin in the lane, it’s really something special. But now he’s a young man who can block my shot and demand the car keys. So a belated happy sweet 16 to my volleyball setting son.

One more birthday shout out goes to my web designer/new age guru/right handed power hitting friend Kevin Deutsch, who celebrated his big day on April 8. Without this former CIF Player of the Year out of Laguna Beach’s help, this blog would an email with some scribbling on it, like the essay on my college application about the danger of going into the water less than a half hour after you’ve eaten.

Bring on the late nite. “You know, 30,000 people showed up for the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House today. Or as Fox News calls it, a ‘socialist free food giveaway.’” –Jay Leno President and Mrs. Obama hosted the annual White House Easter Egg Roll today. Dozens of children gathered on the White House lawn to roll eggs toward a finish line while the president cheered them on and Republicans tried to block them.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Today, President Obama threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ game. Obama took a short windup and threw a high-arcing pitch. Of course, Democrats saw the pitch as moderately close to the middle, while Republicans are calling it ‘way to the left and possibly socialist.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Next week, the president of China will be at the White House. And good news — he has no plans to foreclose. And in a major reversal of U.S. policy, President Obama has narrowed the conditions under which we would use nuclear weapons. He said we’d only use them against Iran, North Korea or Fox News. President Obama announced this week that he is opening more sites for offshore oil drilling. Do you know what that means? If we find enough oil, we could one day invade ourselves.” –Jay Leno” During a speech at the White House, President Obama said that ‘teleworking’ from home can boost efficiency. Kind of interesting advice from a guy who just flew 13 hours to Afghanistan to say ‘what’s up.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Well, yesterday, a 7.2 earthquake hit southwest of Tijuana. They say the earthquake was felt by 20 million Mexicans, and that was just here in L.A. The Labor Department reported that the economy added 162,000 jobs last month, all of them bodyguards for Tiger Woods.” -Jay Leno “People were standing in line around the block all weekend to get an iPad. Out in Arizona, John McCain was waiting in line for an IBM Selectric. Experts believe the iPad will revolutionize the way people procrastinate.” –David Letterman “Michelle Obama held a town hall meeting on C-SPAN to answer questions from kids about her anti-obesity campaign. The most popular question from kids was, ‘Why are you doing this to us, lady?’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our look at what I didn’t do on my spring vacation. Coming up next week, we’ll return to the highways and byways of the central coast. So enjoy the final few days of the NBA regular season as the playoffs begin on Saturday. I don’t want to say I’m excited, but I have my clothes picked out the thru the conference finals. We’ll catch you in the first round. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

April 4, 2010

No Woman Is An Island

Good morning and greetings, championship game fans. As many of you know, I’m rather fond of orchids and running in ultra marathon races. My brother Paul recently gave me an oncidium named Sherry Baby that I placed in my office, and when the spray of flowers opened, it smelled like vanilla heaven. The intoxicating scent gently wafted thru the air, emitting the same delicious smelling sensation one gets from the rain forests of Maui. Just a very intense olfactory experience, much like my freshman year at Syracuse.

I’ve fallen in love with a magazine called “The Week,” which is the best of U.S. and international media. I’m so impressed that I got my son a subscription that will run thru his final year of rabbinical school. Whether it’s the recent skirmish between the U.S. and Israel, the political turmoil in Turkey or a great recipe for walnut raisin stuffing, this publication covers it all. It’s like a combination of Time, Newsweek, National Review and Mad Magazine. I haven’t been this up to date on the world scene since Walter Cronkite called me for my recipe for matzo brei.

So on that note, I recently ran across an item that I thought was blog worthy. It was written by Associated Press writer Nirmala George (no relation to Curious) with a no-look assist from yours truly.

For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now, rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them, as much like my dreams of becoming a puppet, a poet or Somali pirate, the island’s gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor and wresting coach at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery, sea patrols, and judges from the Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest. “What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, emailing and chat rooms, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Scientists in India have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels, the cost of shrimp cocktail and glass bottom boat rides have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal. A nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to swim the backstroke in a freestyle relay to the mainland. At least 10 other islands in the area, are also experiencing that sinking feeling, Hazra said.

Bangladesh is one of the countries most-affected by global warming. It is a low lying nation, unlike Rush Limbaugh, who is a low lying fool. Officials estimate 18 percent of Bangladesh’s coastal area will be underwater and 20 million people will be displaced by 2050 if sea levels rise continue to rise. The rich get richer, the poor get drenched.

India and Bangladesh both claimed the empty New Moore Island, which is about 2 miles long, 1.5 miles wide and as deep as an episode of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory.” Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti or Someone Tell Patty This Rock Is Sinking. There were no permanent structures on New Moore, but India sent some paramilitary soldiers to its rocky shores in 1981 to hoist its national flag and open up call center for Delta Airlines.

Bangladesh officials were not immediately available for comment but a spokesman later summed up the situation with these words from Simon and Garfunkle, “I am a rock, I was an island.”

So having been voted off the island and in honor of our first look of April, I thought I would blast out with some skylights of color. I know you’re probably thinking, “Wow, how unusual that Geoff would want to feature some color on this site.” Well, every once in a while I like to venture out of my comfort zone. Or as Robert Palmer once told me, “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to color.”

The first two shots are from December and a previously unseen sunrise. We then move to the cliffs north of Natural Bridges for the next photo duet. I was a little late on this night and just caught the final act of this sunset sonata, but fortunately, much like having chocolate fudge cake for dessert, it ended on a sweet note.

In our final photo segment, we move back to the sunrise mode. This is from a morning in January that blew the doors of the lovers and strangers along West Cliff Drive. I had previously featured a couple of jolts from this morning, but the sky was so amazing that it warranted more coverage. Moments of intense color like this are why I wake up the roosters.

On to the late night. “President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan this past weekend. I guess after the last 14 months in Washington, he wanted to go someplace where there was less fighting.” –Jay Leno “President Obama met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. This was an important meeting. Both presidents agreed that we have to work to wipe out terror networks, like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Fox News.” –David Letterman “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered the armed forces to initiate changes to their policy of discharging homosexuals. They’ve changed from the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, to the ‘If you think he’s gay, look away’ policy.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Well, according to ‘Newsweek,’ the FBI now says Osama bin Laden is healthy and giving the orders once again for al Qaeda. Today, Republicans blamed it on the new healthcare bill.” –Jay Leno “And unemployment in Florida hit a record high of 12.2 percent. You want to know how bad it is down there? Today, the Coast Guard picked up 50 Cubans off the coast of Miami trying to swim back to Cuba.” –Jay Leno “Pamela Anderson on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. You know who else is on ‘Dancing with the Stars’? Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Pam Anderson and Buzz Aldrin. Honest to God, it looks like a Republican ticket.” –David Letterman

“Well, here’s some good news for us. Iran’s top nuclear scientist has defected to the CIA and is now here in the United States. He’s now on our side. And he had some frightening information. He said Iran was just weeks away from developing their very own Toyota Prius.” –Jay Leno “Thursday is Census deadline day. The census would like every resident of the United States to fill out their form and mail it in. If you don’t know how many people live in your house, just count the number of iPods.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Here’s a fascinating story. The Republican National Committee got together and said, ‘Let’s have a party.’ We’ll get the Republican National Committee to pay for it — money that we get from donations and contributions. And they said, ‘Well, let’s go to Los Angeles to a sex club.’ So they end up there at a bondage club in Los Angeles. And I thought that makes perfect sense because Republicans love tying things up: health care, climate control; financial reform.” –David Letterman

So that’s our Opening Day preview. Enjoy tonight’s NCAA title game, as two teams will play for the right to proclaim, in the words of the late Freddie Mercury and Queen, “We are the champions, my friend.” Next week we’ll head out to the southland and check out some desert sky action. So enjoy the final drops of March Madness and the opening of our national pastime. We’ll catch you’re running the box and one. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mike Krzyzewski fans.

Good morning and greetings, championship game fans. As many of you know, I’m rather fond of orchids and running in ultra marathon races. My brother Paul recently gave me an oncidium named Sherry Baby that I placed in my office, and when the spray of flowers opened, it smelled like vanilla heaven. The intoxicating scent gently wafted thru the air, emitting the same delicious smelling sensation one gets from the rain forests on Maui. Just a very intense olfactory experience, much like my freshman year at Syracuse.

I’ve fallen in love with a magazine called “The Week,” which is the best of U.S. and international media. I’m so impressed that I got my son a subscription that will run thru his final year of rabbinical school. Whether it’s the recent skirmish between the U.S. and Israel, the political turmoil in Turkey or a great recipe for walnut raisin stuffing, this publication covers it all. It’s like a combination of Time, Newsweek, National Review and Mad Magazine. I haven’t been this up to date on the world scene since Walter Cronkite called me for my recipe for matzo brei.

So on that note, I recently ran across an item that I thought was blog worthy. It was written by Associated Press writer Nirmala George (no relation to Curious) with a no-look assist from yours truly.

For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now, rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them, as much like my dreams of becoming a puppet, a poet or Somali pirate, the island’s gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor and wresting coach at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery, sea patrols, and judges from the Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest. “What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, emailing and chat rooms, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Scientists in India have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels, the cost of shrimp cocktail and glass bottom boat rides have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal. A nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to swim the backstroke in a freestyle relay to the mainland. At least 10 other islands in the area, are also experiencing that sinking feeling, Hazra said.

Bangladesh is one of the countries most-affected by global warming. It is a low lying nation, unlike Rush Limbaugh, who is a low lying fool. Officials estimate 18 percent of Bangladesh’s coastal area will be underwater and 20 million people will be displaced by 2050 if sea levels rise continue to rise. The rich get richer, the poor get drenched.

India and Bangladesh both claimed the empty New Moore Island, which is about 2 miles long, 1.5 miles wide and as deep as an episode of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory.” Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti or Someone Tell Patty This Rock Is Sinking. There were no permanent structures on New Moore, but India sent some paramilitary soldiers to its rocky shores in 1981 to hoist its national flag and open up call center for Delta Airlines.

Bangladesh officials were not immediately available for comment but a spokesman later summed up the situation with these words from Simon and Garfunkle, “I am a rock, I was an island.”

So having been voted off the island and in honor of our first look of April, I thought I would blast out with some skylights of color. I know you’re probably thinking, “Wow, how unusual that Geoff would want to feature some color on this site.” Well, every once in a while I like to venture out of my comfort zone. Or as Robert Palmer once told me, “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to color.”

The first two shots are from December and a previously unseen sunrise. We then move to the cliffs north of Natural Bridges for the next photo duet. I was a little late on this night and just caught the final act of this sunset sonata, but fortunately, much like having chocolate fudge cake for dessert, it ended on a sweet note.

In our final photo segment, we move back to the sunrise mode. This is from a morning in January that blew the doors of the lovers and strangers along West Cliff Drive. I had previously featured a couple of jolts from this morning, but the sky was so amazing that it warranted more coverage. Moments of intense color like this are why I wake up the roosters.

On to the late night. “President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan this past weekend. I guess after the last 14 months in Washington, he wanted to go someplace where there was less fighting.” –Jay Leno “President Obama met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. This was an important meeting. Both presidents agreed that we have to work to wipe out terror networks, like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Fox News.” –David Letterman “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered the armed forces to initiate changes to their policy of discharging homosexuals. They’ve changed from the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, to the ‘If you think he’s gay, look away’ policy.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Well, according to ‘Newsweek,’ the FBI now says Osama bin Laden is healthy and giving the orders once again for al Qaeda. Today, Republicans blamed it on the new healthcare bill.” –Jay Leno “And unemployment in Florida hit a record high of 12.2 percent. You want to know how bad it is down there? Today, the Coast Guard picked up 50 Cubans off the coast of Miami trying to swim back to Cuba.” –Jay Leno “Pamela Anderson on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. You know who else is on ‘Dancing with the Stars’? Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Pam Anderson and Buzz Aldrin. Honest to God, it looks like a Republican ticket.” –David Letterman

“Well, here’s some good news for us. Iran’s top nuclear scientist has defected to the CIA and is now here in the United States. He’s now on our side. And he had some frightening information. He said Iran was just weeks away from developing their very own Toyota Prius.” –Jay Leno “Thursday is Census deadline day. The census would like every resident of the United States to fill out their form and mail it in. If you don’t know how many people live in your house, just count the number of iPods.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Here’s a fascinating story. The Republican National Committee got together and said, ‘Let’s have a party.’ We’ll get the Republican National Committee to pay for it — money that we get from donations and contributions. And they said, ‘Well, let’s go to Los Angeles to a sex club.’ So they end up there at a bondage club in Los Angeles. And I thought that makes perfect sense because Republicans love tying things up: health care, climate control; financial reform.” –David Letterman

So that’s our Opening Day preview. Enjoy tonight’s NCAA title game, as two teams will play for the right to proclaim, in the words of the late Freddie Mercury and Queen, “We are the champions, my friend.” Next week we’ll head out to the southland and check out some desert sky action. So enjoy the final drops of March Madness and the opening of our national pastime. We’ll catch you’re running the box and one. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mike Krzyzewski fans.


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