June 27, 2010

Soccer Right In The Kisser

Good morning and greetings, sports fans. What a wild and wacky week for supporters on the athletics front. Now, if you know me, you know I’m a soccer nut. Wherever I go, I’m dribbling a soccer ball and yelling GOOOOAAAAALLLLL! I say, what’s not to like about a sport that has little scoring, where the majority players never get use their arms and the fans riot in the stands? USA, USA, USA!

But of course, that’s not the whole story. The USA national team’s journey into this international Woodstock of corner kicks, yellow cards and players faking injuries is teeming with story lines. We’re talking game-deciding goals taken away by outrageously poor officiating, last-minute winning kicks and those nail-biting scoreless tie games. Personally, as a gifted learner, creative thinker and high achiever, I’ve set many goals for myself. Unfortunately, Landon Donovan fans, none have come on the soccer field. Here today, Ghana tomorrow.

Growing up in the Garden State of New Jersey, we did not play ultimate frisbee or launch scud missles with our foreheads to try and score goals. We did play a much less sophisticated form of the sport in kickball, where I performed like Pele in PF Flyers. There must be something genetic in my jeans as neither my son or daughter has much interest in the sport or ever blowing one of those vuvuzela horns. Just a couple of minutes of hearing those made me want to strangle Nelson Mandela and rip out my eardrums. God bless FIFA, as my World Cup runneth over.

Now I understand the excitement surrounding the best players from each country getting together for this kumbaya of international sports competition. The scene in South Africa reminded me of my first trip to Yankee Stadium. I was as excited as Tony Hayward visiting the White House as we crossed over the George Washington Bridge and heading into the Bronx to visit the House the Ruth built.

Earlier in the day, I knew this event was going to be something special as I put on my baseball cap, grabbed by glove and tightened up my bulletproof vest. And when we arrived at these hallowed halls of Yankee greatness and peanut shells, I was not disappointed, although I couldn’t believe all the cursing, violence and alcohol abuse, and that were just among the security guards. “Buy me some macadamia nuts and Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never go back.”

Then for you tennis fans, we had the match of the ages at Wimbledon, as a five-set thriller between American John Isner and Frenchman John Mahut, (who curiously didn’t surrender,) lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes. That’s right, Brooklyn Decker fans, 11 hours plus. You could have flown to England, picked up some fresh muffins and an autograph from Hugh Grant, gotten back on the plane and arrived home with time to catch the final game and a repeat of “Benny Hill.”

The fifth set itself was a six hour plus marathon, or about the same amount of time it takes me to get dressed for a wedding or an exorcism. Because if you know me, you know I like to dress for success. The score in the fifth set was 70-68, which is like a soccer game ending at 50-49. A match like this, much like weight dropping under 175, will never be seen again.

In the mail this week, I received my new copy of Boys’ Life and Via, the AAA Traveler’s Companion magazine. In the section, “Reader’s Favorite Places to watch sunsets, the first location listed was Lighthouse Point, Santa Cruz, CA. In the words of Tania Garber, “no freeways, buildings, or mountains obscure the view from the cliffs. As the sky and Monterey Bay morph from one beautiful color to another, it’s like watching a movie in its entirety.” Tania, I could not have plagerized it any better.

So for today’s photo listings, we are heading to this glorious spot. These are two sunsets I shot from Tania’s favorite spot. I like shooting here because of the sweeping ocean view, the dynamic color of the cloud reflection action on the sand and the parking is free.

The first three shots are from an early October twilight experience while the last three came in mid-February. For those loyal observers of the sky at dusk, these are good times of the year as summers are a bummer on the color front. We just don’t get the clouds. I haven’t shot a sunrise in months, and that’s why someone like myself, who craves color in the sky and blueberry muffins, doesn’t hibernate in the winter.

On to the late night. “You know about the big change in Afghanistan? General McChrystal did an interview in Rolling Stone and he was talking about how much he didn’t like Joe Biden. He was talking about the Administration. He was trashing everybody. So President Obama calls the guy home from Afghanistan, and they had, like, a sit-down in the White House, in the Oval Office, today. It was very, very intimate. It was the President, it was General McChrystal, the Salahis, and that’s it. The general is in trouble for shooting off his mouth. Once again, another hole Obama can’t plug.” –David Letterman “Today, President Obama fired General Stanley McChrystal, saying McChrystal showed poor judgment in his Rolling Stone interview. It turns out when it comes to criticizing the White House, the general’s policy is ‘just ask, and I’ll tell.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama is being criticized now. Here’s the problem. The British Petroleum guy, Tony Hayward, was on his yacht recently. Everybody thought, whoa, this idiot. I mean, the Gulf of Mexico is turning to asphalt and the British Petroleum guy is relaxing on his yacht. When he heard about that, President Obama was so angry, he missed a putt. Now, in Obama’s defense, people are saying, ‘Wait a minute, the president has always had his own particular way of relaxing.’ For example, George W. Bush had his way of relaxing. He was president. That’s how he relaxed.” –David Letterman David Letterman’s “Top Ten Ways Tony Hayward Can Improve His Image” 8. Reveal secret behind his soft and lustrous curly hair 6. Shoot new BP commercial where he is viciously pecked by angry pelicans 4. Get a job at Poland Spring; accidentally dump a billion gallons of water into the gulf

“While testifying before Congress yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward called the oil spill a ‘complex accident caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.’ Then he realized he was reading notes left on the stand by a Goldman Sachs executive.” –Jimmy Fallon “Congressmen have been saying from the beginning that BP is either lying or grossly incompetent. Well, why can’t we have both?” –David Letterman “Sarah Palin has revealed she has tried marijuana, but she did not like it. You know, it’s amazing: 200 million Americans have smoked marijuana. The only ones who don’t like it seem to be elected officials. Ever notice that?” –Jay Leno

“Looks like this Gore divorce could end up being pretty costly. In fact, Al Gore now talking about only trying to save half the planet.” –Jay Leno “Yesterday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economy appears to be on track to continue to expand through this year and next. And then he said, ‘And you can take that to one of the remaining banks.’” –Jimmy Fallon “A great day for President Obama. He addressed a group of senior citizens in Maryland today. He’s pitching his health care bill. According to a poll, half the seniors thought the president was convincing, 30 percent thought he was unconvincing, and the rest thought he was Will Smith.” –Craig Ferguson

So that’s our last posting for June 2010. And congratulations go out to my parents, who last Friday celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a lovely lunch at Risorante Italiano, which offers award-winning Italian fare in a casual and festive atmosphere. Not counting leap years, that’s 21,900 days, or 525,600 hours of marital bliss. In a word, unbelievable! And they said it would never last a half century.

Went with Jason and my financial advisor/ minor league scout friend Bruce and his son to the Oakland Coliseum Saturday night to see the A’s in action. It was 70′s Retro Night, and Bruce must have some pictures of owner Lewis Wolff because we had front rows seats behind the A’s dugout. It’s tremendous seeing the ballplayers up close and personal as the head into the dugout, while everyone in the park is sitting behind you. And remember, a walk is as good as a hit and tie goes to the umpire.

So enjoy the remaining days of June and get ready for the July 4th weekend. And if you’re in the mood, tell someone today you love them. We’ll catch you down the right field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Trevor Cahill fans.

June 20, 2010

One Shoe Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Good morning and greetings, summer solstice fans. As you know, the Katie Couric in me likes to report on the important news of the day. Whether we’re talking the oil spill, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the secret to those “nooks and crannies” in Thomas’ English Muffins, I don’t want my cyber peeps to miss out on anything important that occurs on my watch.

So you may not have seen this next story, reported by Randolph E. Schmid for the Associated Press, but fear not, my weekly readers, for I have it covered like buttercream frosting on a triple fudge chocolate cake.

Ethel Merman once crooned, “there’s no business like shoe business.” Well, about 5,500 years ago, or around the birth of John McCain, someone in the mountains of Armenia put their best foot forward in what is now the oldest leather shoe ever found. It will never be confused with a clog, a Jimmy Choo or Cinderella’s glass slipper, but this well-preserved Prince Charming of footwear was made of a single piece of leather, laced up the front and back, like a Paris Hilton sweat suit.

Worn and shaped by the wearer’s right foot, the shoe was found in a cave along with an argyle sock and an insert from Dr. Scholl’s. The shoe had been stuffed with grass, a lawn mower and a tiny rake, which all dated back to the same time as the leather of the shoe – between 5,637 and 5,387 years ago.

“This is great luck,” enthused archaeologist and mocassin collector Ron Pinhasi of University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, who led the research team. “We normally only find broken pots, egg timers and microwaves, but we have very little information about the day-to-day activity” of these ancient people. “What did they eat? What did they do? What did they wear? What was Bernie Madoff thinking? This gives us a real glimpse into their society and secretive hedge-funds.”

Previously the oldest leather shoe discovered in Europe or Asia was on the famous Otzi, the “Iceman” found frozen in the Alps a few years ago and now preserved in Italy. Well, either that or a Chuck Taylor hightop Converse sneaker dating back to the early Harlem Globetrotter days. Otzi’s shoes were made of deer and bear leather held together by a leather strap. The Armenian shoe appears to be made of cowhide, which is very similar to a pair of leather chaps I bought at a rodeo in San Francisco.

Older sandals and a pair of Ugg Boots have been found in a cave in the state of Missouri, but those were made of fiber rather than leather. The shoe found in what is now Armenia was found in a pit, along with a broken pot, some wild goat horns and a letter of apology from Tiger Woods.

It’s not clear if the grass that filled the shoe was intended as a lining or insulation, to maintain the shape of the shoe when it was stored or an early cure for preventive glaucoma. The Armenian shoe was small by current standards – European size 37 or U.S. women’s size 7 – but might have fit a man of that era, like a young Wayne Newton or Pee Wee Herman.

While the Armenian shoe was soft like a piece of brie cheese when it was unearthed, the leather has begun to harden like Coach Bobby Knight since it has been exposed to air. And unlike a lot of old shoes, it didn’t smell, which explains the bottle of Dr. Scholl’s Odor Destroyer All Day Deodorant Spray found nearby.

Pinhasi says the shoe is currently at the Institute of Archaeology in Yerevan, but he hopes it will be sent to laboratories in either Switzerland or Germany where it can be treated for preservation with Desenex Antifungal Spray and then returned to Armenia for display in a museum or a Lady Foot Locker. Because as we all know, the shoe must go on.

Moving on to our photo funhouse, in honor of the first day of summer, we’re featuring the first sunrise of the new decade (photos #1-2.) On the morning of January 1, 2010, I journeyed down to West Cliff Drive to meditate and greet the new millenium. It was an overcast morning, but then a hint of light appeared in the east, and as I strummed “this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius” on my autoharp, the sky broke and this delightful color appeared. There is something to be said about being first or a Yankee fan.

We follow this sunrise with a beautiful sunset from eleven days later. These rich images were captured at Natural Bridges as January was a spectacular month for experiencing the pagentry and colors of the coastal sky and for returning holiday gifts. My favorite image is #5, as I zoomed in on this squadron of pelicans heading south at happy hour, who, I found out later, were headed for the early bird special.

On to the late night fun fare. “President Obama is now in the Gulf of Mexico. This is his fourth visit since the spill. So the president has been down there four times. And the head of BP is saying, ‘Well see, it hasn’t affected tourism.’ “Thanks to BP, the Gulf now has two new islands: self-service and full.” –David Letterman “There is good news! BP today finally managed to almost completely stop the flow of information. There is good news. Scientists sent a probe down there in the Gulf of Mexico today and they found traces of seawater.” –Bill Maher

“Here’s a little bit of good news. The Coast Guard says that BP is now catching up to 630,000 gallons of oil a day. The bad news is that they’re capturing it with ducks. The White House said today that BP is moving up its timeline for containing the oil by two weeks. They said they’d get it ‘done, even if they have to work six hours a day, four days a week.’ “There’s some good economic news here. Employers plan to hire 5 percent more college graduates this year than in 2009. Unfortunately, almost all these jobs involve rubber gloves, paper towels, and a one-way ticket to the Gulf of Mexico.” –Jimmy Fallon

“According to a new report, BP has the worst safety record of all the oil companies. They’ve paid over $372 million in fines. Oh, they don’t call them fines. They call them ‘campaign contributions.’” –Jay Leno “The U.S. will face England in the World Cup, and the U.S. ambassador and the U.K. ambassador have made a friendly wager on the game. If England wins, we have to buy their ambassador tea and crumpets, and if we win, they have to buy us a new ocean. “Did you hear about this? In Afghanistan, the U.S. has discovered large deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and lithium. Or, as most people would call it, ‘not Osama bin Laden.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Today, President Obama finally met with BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, but the meeting was only scheduled 20 minutes. Call me crazy, but I think it should take more time to discuss an oil spill than it does to get your oil checked.” –Jimmy Fallon “These British Petroleum guys can’t do anything right. The chairman of BP, Carl-Henric Svanberg, told reporters that sometimes large oil companies are greedy and don’t care, but ‘not BP. We care about the small people.’ That’s what he called the residents of the Gulf — ‘the small people.’ But to be fair, English is not the guy’s first language. Money is. See, the problem is I do believe they care about the small people. Problem is, they don’t care about the big leak.” –Jay Leno

“And then today, the president met with BP CEO Tony Hayward, and Obama was demanding that BP clean up the gulf. And I’m thinking, good luck. They can’t even clean up their gas station restrooms.” –David Letterman David Letterman’s “Top Ten Things Overheard During President Obama’s Meeting with Tony Hayward” 7.”Speaking of leaks, where’s the men’s room?”
6.”Thanks for giving my administration something to worry about besides two wars, a crushing debt, global warming and the worst economy in 70 years” 2.”Biden, please, enough with the vuvuzela”

That’s our first post for the summer of 2010. Congratulations go out to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers for knocking off the Boston Celtics in a hard-fought, seven game series to capture their second consecutive NBA title. It’s always sad when the short, eight month NBA season comes to end, but it will give me a chance to work on my poetry, song writing and body sculpting.

So enjoy the official start of summer, the longest Monday of the year and we’ll catch you at the NBA draft. Aloha, mahalo and later, Phil Jackson fans.

June 13, 2010

Hey, We All Make Misnakes

Good morning and greetings, summer days fans. The weather has certainly turned for the better, as the fog and marine layer have temporarily left the building, leaving sports fans with blue skies, warm breezes and a pollen count that’s higher than my cholesterol was after a summer full of Yankee games, Shakespeare in the Park and chocolate Haagan-Dazs bars.

So it was a nice change of pace last Wednesday, when I went for a walk to have it misting on West Cliff. I thought to myself, how many places could it be sunny and warm one day and having this wonderful moisture in the air the next? We are blessed with having relatively mild weather all year round as that’s what you get with a Mediterranean climate-cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Santa Cruz, where the redwoods meet the sand, the sea and the homeless.

June has always been a great month on the nature front. On that Wednesday stroll along the coast, my power-walking wife and I saw the usual array of otters, sea birds, and some porpoises or dolphins doing flips into the water. A friend walked by and told us that whales had been spotted cruising up the coast. I thought to myself, how lucky we are to live alongide Monterey Bay, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Now, if they could just warm up the water and get rid of that kelp, I might actually put my toes in the water.

So for today’s photo pleasure, we go back to last week, when I performed a reptile rescue just outside of Natural Bridges. I was driving home from a windsurfing outing when I spotted this beautiful snake (photo #1) in the road. I quickly pulled my electric car to the curb and dashed into the street, as this fella was sitting there happily sunning himself, but at the same time in danger of being squished like a slow-running native during an elephant stampede.

For a moment I thought about picking him up, putting him in a basket and carrying him to the sidelines, but when I approached he was curled up and appeared ready to strike, so I decided to play it safe and let him slowly work his way to the sidewalk while I redirected Stevie Winwood and traffic.

Well, in less time than I would take to pop in a Tawny Kitaen Whitesnake video, a woman stopped her car, walked over to the snake, picked him up and brought him over to the grass. She informed me that this was a gopher snake that could be found all over the Wilder Ranch area. Although I was still a bit rattled, she assured me it was safe to take off my catcher’s mask. Still noticing that I was a bit reticent, she queried, “Are you a man or a mouse?” I replied, “Put a piece of cheese in front of me and you’ll find out.”

So in honor of my snake charming experience, I thought I would feature some other westside wildlife. Last week, as we were walking through the Pogonip, I spotted a gorgeous coyote in the meadow. When he turned back to look at me, I was just amazed by the incredible character of his face. Kind of a combination of Yul Brenner and Peter Coyote.

We then ran into some folks who live in the area, who told us they see coyotes all the time, and that at dusk they can be spotted in packs of three to five to seven. Or was it twenty-five or six to four? They then warned me to stay off the path at dusk as the mountain lions hit the trail and with my sinewy muscles and slender physique, I could be mistaken for an antelope or young gazelle.

Due to global warming, I wasn’t carrying my camera on this jaunt so instead I’m showcasing a coyote I spotted last June outside Natural Bridges State Park. It was lightly raining that morning and you can see that his coat was pretty wet (photo #3.) I offered him my poncho but he wasn’t interested. After I had him sign a release, he let me take a few shots before running off (photo #4) and scurrying under a hole in the fence back into the park.

I then photographed that fattest squirrel I’ve even seen, whom I’ll call Jenny Craig. We stopped and talked sports, politics and Oprah. She was a fascinating rodent who spoke three languages and had traveled all over Europe. This little chipmunk was an amazing conversationalist who gave me a whole new perspective on storing nuts for winter.

I shot the great blue heron in pond just north of Natural Bridges. I see these birds all over town, and I spotted one in the ocean on a walk along West Cliff last week. Unfortunately, when I returned with my camera, the long-necked beauty was gone, so we’re going with another contestant. These birds are beautiful to watch in flight, as they move in the same motion that my son Jason does when he’s jump serving. As his mother whispers to him every night before heading off to volleyball dreamland, “good-night and side out, my son.”

On to the late night. “Using electron microscopes, scientists have now discovered the slowest moving thing on Earth. Turns out, it’s the White House responding to the oil spill. BP — they are spending $50 million on an advertisement budget to try and put a PR spin on this whole thing. Like, you hear what they said today? This is unbelievable. They said fishermen down there are catching tuna that are getting 35 miles per gallon.” –Jay Leno “BP was kind of bragging about it today … the top hat. Oh yeah, they put a top hat on it, was collecting about 6% of the oil. Yes, they found a solution that stops as much oil as the margin of error. It lets 94% of the oil through. It was built by the same people who built the Mexican border fence.” –Bill Maher

“The oil spill is getting bad. There is so much oil and tar now in the Gulf of Mexico, Cubans can now walk to Miami. James Cameron has volunteered to go down to the Gulf of Mexico and consult. I love it when a guy who’s an expert in fake disasters gets involved. And if that doesn’t work, they’re going to contact Superman and he’s going to weld the pipe with his X-ray vision.” –David Letterman “People want (Obama) to be madder. His press secretary said he was enraged today. He was on Larry King, last night, and he said, “I am furious.’ He said ‘I am so angry, I have asked Rahm Emanuel to unleash a string of obscenities on my behalf.’” –Bill Maher

“Al Gore and his wife, longtime married couple, are separating. Tipper Gore. And they may get a divorce. Apparently what happened, they experienced global cooling.” –David Letterman “After 40 years, Al and Tipper Gore have split up. Nobody knows why, but there is a rumor today that Al came home early last week and found another man’s carbon footprints. “Rush Limbaugh is getting married this weekend for the fourth time … It’s a traditional wedding. Well, not that traditional. They say instead of throwing rice, throw Vicodin.” –Bill Maher It was so romantic. First, the couple wrote their own vows and then they wrote their own prescriptions.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Here now the official Rush Limbaugh wedding announcement. Rush Limbaugh wed Kathryn Rogers in a quiet Florida ceremony on Saturday. The bridegroom is a controversial radio host and an influential opinion leader in the conservative movement in the United States. The bride is clearly insane.” –David Letterman
“Rush Limbaugh got married over the weekend. This is actually his fourth marriage; he blames the first three breakups on Obama.” –Craig Ferguson
David Letterman’s “Top Ten Things Overheard At Rush Limbaugh’s Wedding 8. “Do you take this woman to be your future ex-wife?” 6. “They have a tent in case it rains. No wait, those are Rush’s pants” 2. “It’s ironic that a guy named ‘Rush’ takes 20 minutes to walk down the aisle”

That’s our mid-June report. I’m not going to mention the oil spill, but like my upcoming 40th high school reunion, it’s constantly on my mind. So with the Lakers in a must-win situation, enjoy game six of the NBA Finals and we’ll catch you playing the box and one. Aloha, mahalo and later, Paul Pierce fans.

June 6, 2010

The Oily Bird Catches The Worm

Good morning and greetings, Gulf Coast fans. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop thinking about all that oil gushing out into the ocean. Well, that and chocolate air. Just think, how many gallons flowed into the Gulf in the time that it took you to read that last sentence? So when I ran across this next story, written by Holbrook Mohr for the Associated Press, I had to share it with my cyber peeps, proving that sometimes co-dependence can be a wonderful thing.

The Gulf of Mexico is a superhighway for hurricanes that form over pools of hot water, then move north or west toward the coast. The site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded on April 20 is along the general path of some of the worst storms ever recorded, including Hurricane Camille, which wiped out the Mississippi coast in 1969, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane George in 2000, which ravaged our military and nation’s economy.

My daughter’s softball practices and the hurricane season officially started last Tuesday, and while scientists and the Klu Klux Klan seem to agree that the sprawling slick isn’t likely to affect the formation of a storm, the real worry is that a hurricane might turn the millions of gallons of floating crude into a crashing black surf.

Some fear a horrific combination of damaging winds, large waves and BP accountants pushing the oil deeper into estuaries and wetlands and coating miles of debris-littered coastline in a pungent, sticky mess, which happens every time I attempt to make chop suey.

And the worst effects of an oil-soaked storm and my Asian cooking might not be felt for years: If oil is pushed deep into coastal marshes that act as a natural speed bump for storm surges, areas including New Orleans, the Florida panhandle and the frontcourt of the Miami Heat could be more vulnerable to bad storms for a long time.

Experts say there are few, if any, studies on such a scenario. In this “untreaded water … it’s tough to theorize about what would happen,” said Joe Bastardi, chief long-range hurricane forecaster and high hurdler with AccuWeather.com. My family goes way back with Joe, as I grew up with his cousin, that Rat Bastardi, back in Jersey. Sometimes it seems like these lines write themselves.

The lone precedent, experts agree, is the summer of 1979, when Hurricane Henri hampered efforts to contain a spill from a Mexican rig that eventually dumped 140 million gallons off the Yucatan Peninsula. This environmental disaster ruined my summer vacation, as we had to cancel all our deep-sea fishing excursions and instead spent the entire trip indoors sipping margaritas, eating quesadillas and bustin’ up pinatas at Senor Frogs. But on the plus side, my batting stroke improved tremendously for wiffle ball.

Still, while oil from that spill coated miles of beaches in Texas and Mexico, tropical storms, unseasonable cold fronts and guacamole, chips and salsa helped reverse offshore currents earlier than normal and drive oil away from the coast. “That’s what I think would happen this time,” he says. “I’m sure a hurricane would do a great deal of diluting the oil, spreading it out where the concentrations would be much less damaging. Of course, if I’m wrong, we’re all screwed”

Experts are predicting a busy hurricane season with powerful storms. Bastardi predicts seven named storms, two or three major hurricanes and overweight windbag named Rush Limbaugh will have an effect on land this year. Hurricane season began June 1 and runs through November. Early season storms, much like responses when I send out my resume, are uncommon. The busy part of the season is August through October as stronger storms typically form during this time, as the start of the NFL and new TV season approaches.

A hurricane like Katrina or having eight more years of the oil companies being in bed with the Bush family “would be a worst-case scenario” with oil pushed far ashore, says National Wildlife Federation scientist and pole vaulter Doug Inkley.

“It would suffocate the vegetation. You’d get oiled birds and other animals. It’s virtually impossible to clean up oil. It would be worse than the pajama parties the Bushes were having with the Saudi Royal family.”

By August 1, even under the best case scenario offered by federal scientists, there could be some 51 million gallons of oil that is spilled into the Gulf-five times the size of the Exxon Valdex disaster off Alaska’s coast in 1989. If all that oil were put into gallon milk jugs, the jugs could be lined up and span a round-trip between Salt Lake City and New York City. If you are including cookies to along with them, then think Las Vegas.

Here’s the bottom line, sports fans. This oil is going to continue to flow into the Gulf until at least August. It will have environmental repercussions for my children’s children and their pets. Because of our insatiable thirst for this bubbling crude, we’ve gone through all the readily accessible oil and are now searching for new fuel in places that only Flipper, Jacques Cousteau’s family and the cast from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” should be visiting.

So if you want to be outraged, listen to this. According to Mary Kate Cary in USNews.com, “Since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the Obama Administration has granted at least 19 environmental waivers of gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits for deep water projects.” I’m screaming right now, Mr. President, can you hear me?

Here’s one more tidbit for you. Many people are wondering, will this disaster affect the price of oil this summer? Well, according to Brian Williams of NBC News, “the sad truth is, if you added up all the millions and millions of gallons of oil that has spilled out into the gulf, it equals only about an hour’s worth of our nation’s energy consumption.” In the words of the Ides of March, “I’m your vehicle, baby, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”

Due to the Bush administration’s atmosphere of non-regulation and the corrupt federal Mineral Management Service, who enjoyed a much too cozy relationship with BP, we find ourselves playing catchup in the Gulf. Two months ago, President Obama was promoting offshore drilling, and his administration and BP were about as ready to handle a spill like this as I was for my math SAT.

My son asked me the other night, “Dad, why are we killing the earth? It seems like we go from one disaster to the next. Why is this happening and can I please have my allowance?”

These are difficult questions to answer but a believe the “g” word plays a big part. No, not gee, I don’t know, but greed. The final word today, my fellow Americans, comes from Robert Palmer, who says, “might as well face it, we’re addicted to oil.” There’s so much more I’d like to rant about on this subject, but the solar panels of my wind turbines are dusty so I’ve got to gas up my electric car because I’m down to my last liter of vegetable oil.

So in honor of our oceans, I’d thought we’d take a look at a few marine animals that inhabit the waters of our central coast. I headed down to the wharf on Friday to check out the action, and was greeted by the fog enshrouding the Boardwalk (photo #6). I then walked over to a boat landing on the wharf and was welcomed by this gang of sea lions (photos #4-5,) who were relaxing in the sun while discussing the adjustments the Celtics needed to make in game two of the NBA Finals.

I shot this seal in the sand (photo #3) last week at Natural Bridges. However, the first two images of the pelicans are probably the most meaningful. I photographed them on Thursday, right after seeing pictures of the brown pelicans drenched in oil in Louisiana. The sad thing is, even after they capture and clean off the birds, it takes ten days to rebuild their feather’s natural waterproofing and file insurance claims.

But here’s the big problem. Even when the birds are released in Florida where the oil hasn’t hit yet, because of their ability to follow their internal homing device, their compass brings them right back to Louisana. It’s no Mardi Gras in these marshlands. It’s migratory madness for millions of birds who don’t read the newspaper, watch the news and have never heard of anyone named Katrina.

Here’s a little late night action. “Today, President Obama flew to Louisiana to see the gulf cleanup effort firsthand. And it was just like President Bush’s trip to Louisiana, except Obama actually landed. A new poll found that 43 percent of Americans think President Obama is doing a good job at handling the BP oil spill. Of course, the same poll found that 43 percent of Americans hate pelicans.” -Jimmy Fallon

“In fact, President Obama fired the head of the Mineral Management Services, because of lack of oversight of offshore oil rigs. It’s got to be tough finding another job after that. It’s like, ‘I see you were head of the department in charge of preventing oil spills? And this was during the huge oil spill?’ ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ ‘You may not be Wendy’s material.’” This is a crazy story. An American adventurist strapped himself to a bunch of helium balloons and floated from England to France. Immediately afterward, people in Mexico asked, ‘Exactly how many balloons?’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our environmental update. It’s been a tough time for wildlife fans and the families of the oil rig workers that were killed in the blast. But besides our oceans being poisoned, thus creating oxygen depletion zones where nothing thrives and BP’s use of 700,000 gallons of Corexit, a chemical oil dispersant that’s toxic to army, navy and marine life, it was a pretty good week, as I helped rescue a gopher snake, spotted a coyote in Pogonip and heard reports of porpoises in the kelp beds in the bay. So enjoy the warm June days , the NBA Finals and we’ll catch you at midcourt. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ray Allen fans.


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