August 29, 2010

Time Butteflies When You’re Having Fun

Good morning and greetings, I can’t believe it’s not butterfly fans. Well, we had our three days of summer this week, as a glowing yellow object appeared in the morning skies, accompanied by a backdrop of a large blue canvas. The temperature in Santa Cruz hit a record 101 degrees on Tuesday, as locals rejoiced and salsa danced in the street at this belated turn of events. But then on Wednesday, the fog blew back in, bringing with it that lovely gray curtain that has blanketed our cold water paradise all summer.

This is not to complain, as I prefer this cool, dreary gloom to the sweltering heat that President Obama is feeling in the White House. Even Michelle going sleeveless is not helping on the domestic front. On Thursday morning, Jason asked me, “Dad, why is it so cold?” I replied, “I don’t know son, maybe because a quarter of the country is hungry, another quarter is jobless, another quarter is being foreclosed on and the rest are watching the stock market tank. Well, either that, or it’s just a low pressure system that’s dropping over central coast.”

You may be wondering, what brought on our 72 hours of summer last week? The mini-heat wave was stoked by a high pressure system that was double parked in the white zone over Northern California. This pressure system, which is the same one Jason experienced last Tuesday afternoon when he went for his driver’s test, surpressed the army, navy and marine layer that usually keeps coastal temperatures Kool and the Gang. Thus came the sizzling triple digit heat, and I’m not talking Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. And yes, Jason now has a license to drive but has vowed to work his midrange game.

So, with summer still on the calender, I thought I would chase the bright elusive butterfly of love. For today’s photo ensemble, we are checking in on the fluttering world of butterflies. Five of the images were taken less than a mile from my compound here on the highly desirable upper westside, and if you really want to get upclose and personal, shots one, two and three, which were easy as A,B,C, were taken in my front yard. The butterfly relaxing in the sand was shot at up the coast at Ano Nuevo at my annual Navy Seals reunion.

There is so much to know about these little creatures, so thanks to our friends at, here are some fun facts about the world of entomology. Remember, here at Sunrise Santa Cruz, if we don’t have the answer, we’ll make it up. And if you have to wonder if it’s true, well, it’s probably not.

There are about 24,000 species of butterflies in the free world and Canada. Butterflies range in size from a tiny 1/8 inch to an almost huge 12 inches. And in a survey of 1,000 females butterflies, 90% said that size does matter.

Most butterflies live 20 to 40 days, which does not encourage investing in time shares or setting long-term goals. The longest lifetime of an adult butterfly is 9-10 months, in which time they marry, raise children, send them off to college, divorce and then split the proceeds from the sale of their cocoon.

Butterflies can see the colors red, green, and yellow, yet seem confused when they approach a traffic light. Butterflies can see ultraviolet light (light invisible to the human eye) which makes the markings on flowers and vegan restaurants very vivid to them and guides them to the nectar tubes and tofu salads. Some butterflies have ultraviolet reflectants or markings on their own wings which are visible only to other butterflies or really wealthy moths.

The top butterfly flight speed is 12 miles per hour, with a maximum of 10 miles per hour when flying in a school zone. Butterflies cannot fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees, unlike myself, who will not fly unless I’m packing enough Sun Chips and tri tip sandwiches to keep me munching from takeoff to landing.

Butterflies taste sensors are found in their feet, so they taste with their feet to find out whether the leaf they sit on is good to lay eggs on for their caterpillars’ food. That’s why many people won’t risk embarrasment of taking a butterfly to a party, because you never know when its going to put its foot in it’s mouth.

Butterflies have their skeletons on the outside of their bodies, called the exoskeleton. This protects them, keeps water inside their bodies so they don’t dry out and saves a hell of a lot of money on Halloween costumes.

The wings of butterflies are actually transparent. The vivid colors are due to overlapping bright scales, which they also use to weigh themselves. Their wings have 125,000 scales per square inch. Compare that to a human head, which has only about 100 hairs per square inch or Bruce Willis, who has none.

Many butterflies have intricate patterns on their wings which are intended for camouflage and showing off to relatives at family gatherings. The patterns are also useful in courtship rituals and knitting and crocheting. Butterflies fly in circles around one another to find a mate, which is very similar to the way I first approached Kim Guarnaccia at my first school dance.

Much like the thighs I use to make chicken parmesan, caterpillars are boneless, but have over 1000 muscles. Butterflies can’t hear, but they can feel vibration which works best when hiding from predators and bill collectors. And after bees and professional athletes, butterflies are the second largest group of pollinators in the world.

And finally,you’re probably wondering, what’s the difference between a moth and a butterfly? Well, moths twitter and fly at night and rest with their wings open. Butterflies facebook during the day and rest at night with their wings closed. And before a big game, one might experience butterflies, not moths. Personally, I had ice water in my veins so the subject and predicate never came up.

Not much this week on the late night front, but here’s one for Sasha and Malia.
“President Obama could not wait to get on vacation. As soon as the plane landed, he grabbed a couple beers and slid down the emergency slide.” –David Letterman

So that’s our last blast for August 2010. We had a beautiful sunrise on Saturday morning, which of course came on the only day this summer I slept past 6 am. I woke up to see clouds in the sky that were just minutes earlier full of color and immediately ran to my computer and googled the word “karma.”

For the sake of love, peace and my personal happiness, I’m not going to mention the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq or the Yankee’s starting rotation. But God bless our troops and the military families. They know what sacrifice is all about, and I’m not talking about a bunt to move the runner into scoring position. So enjoy the late summer action and we’ll catch you on the disabled list. Aloha, mahalo and later, Steven Strasburg fans.

August 22, 2010

That’s The Million Dahlia Question

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — geoff @ 1:15 pm

Good morning and greetings, back to school fans. That’s right, the new school year begins for us today and I haven’t seen my teenage toddlers this excited since “The Office” went into syndication. For us graduated students, this means that Indian Summer must be on the way, because we’ve had enough of this Indian Winter. But through the clouds and fog and the non-stop chatter from LeBron James, the birds are still singing and the flowers are blooming. And that’s where our magical mystery tour takes us today.

Welcome to Sunrise Santa Cruz’s wonderful world of color. As I cruise the westside along Delaware Avenue listening to the Doobie Brothers on NPR while thinking of ways to make this world a bitter, er better place, I often pass a front yard that explodes with pinks, purples, oranges, yellows, reds, downers and seconals. It is truly dahlia central, or for you Clint Eastwood fans, “A Fistfull of Dahlias.”

Well, hello dahlias. These tuberous perennials are spectacular summer and autumn flowering plants who are native to the mountains of Mexico, Central America and ridge in northern New Jersey. They are also, along with the lovely Selma Hayek, the national flower of Mexico and a particular favorite of the Gulf Cartel, who are big on sending flowers along with a message to that special someone. And for you City by the Bay fans, the dahlia is the official flower of San Francisco, joining garlic fries and green onion pancakes.

In the 16th century, those fun-loving Spanish conquistadors, while busy pillaging and wiping out the Aztec Indian nation, took some time out from their conquering to seach for the perfect chips and salsa to go along with a super burrito. They also managed to do a little exploring and turned these little side trips into a collection of new world plant life, while at the same time terrorizing and enslaving the Aztecs and completely taking the fun out of Cinco de Mayo.

These brilliant flowers were discovered growing wild on the sandy hillsides of Mexico, along with early sketches of the Frito Bandito and a Carlos Santana acoustic CD. The Aztecs gathered and cultivated the dahlia for food, ceremonies, as well as decorative items for open houses, pagan weddings and bar mitzvahs.

The dahlia is named after 18th century Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, who was a lovely man and quite a salsa dancer. And because of his striking looks, it was from this Swedish cupcake that the expression was coined, “Hey, dahlface.”

In 1872, a box of dahlia roots were sent by FedEx overnight from Mexico to the Netherlands along with a crate of flour tortillas. Only one of the plants and a chicken quesadilla survived the long journey, but it produced brilliant red flowers with petals that were pointed and rolled back that were later very popular with red light district shoppers and guacamole fans.

Nurserymen, kindergarteners and first graders from all over Europe bred from this one plant. These are the progenitors of the thousands of varieties of today’s modern day dahlias. As you can see from today’s photo six-pack, they are an incredibly exotic and wild looking flower, which is the same way I would describe my daughter Aimee in her formative years.

For flower lovers and Salvador Dahlia fans, dahlias symbolize commitment, long-lasting bonds and treasury notes. When given as a gift, the dahlia expresses sentiments of dignity, elegance and the fact the giver didn’t want to spend more than $10. For me, dahlias represents the fabulous and outrageous color that the Commisioner upstairs gives us during the summer season. Throw in a few roses and the fruitopia of watermelon, cantelope, won’t commit, cherries, peaches, nectarines, U.S. Marines and the joys of New York Yankee baseball, and this is what makes the canine days of August so delightful.

Here’s a little taste of the late night. “According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a growing movement among Democrats to replace Joe Biden as VP with Hillary Clinton in 2012. Do you realize that if that happens, for the first time Hillary will be directly under a president.” –Jay Leno “President Obama had a 24-hour vacation on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The president was there to promote tourism in the Gulf. He even jumped into the Gulf to prove it was safe. Unfortunately, he did a cannonball right onto a pelican.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Al-Jazeera’s English-speaking channel was nominated for an International Emmy. On the red carpet, Joan Rivers will be like, ‘Who are you wearing? And why is it ticking?’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my tribute to the Dahlia Lama. Remember, laughter is an audible expression or the appearance of happiness that may ensue from jokes, tickling or reading hybred photo blogs. And birthday wishes go out Wednesday to my old Santa Cruz pal Joel Serber, who’s now living in Portland and still can’t believe the Blazers didn’t draft Kevin Durant. We’ll catch in the bullpen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Roger Clemens fans.

August 15, 2010

Who’s Your Friend, I’d Really Like To Meteor

Good morning and greetings, NFL preseason fans. Our gloomy weather has been a popular theme this summer, as while the midwest and east coast continues to swelter through extreme heat and humidity, we’re fogged in and drizzled out. My wife and kids came back from the east coast and were shocked by the chilly weather-I haven’t seen Aimee’s teeth chatter like that since she learned she’ll have to take calculus.

Speaking of the sky, today’s story comes to us from our friends at The celestial spectacle known as the Perseid meteor shower announced its August arrival with a bright fireball and stirring rendition of “I wish I Was in Dixie” over the skies of sweet home Alabama. Viewers from around the world, along with Oprah and Dr. Phil, were delighted by these bright streaks of light darting across the night sky.

A small 1-inch wide meteor caused the fireball when it met a fiery demise August 3 while streaking through Earth’s atmosphere. The fireball was observed by skywatching cameras at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and by roadies and groupies from the Lynyrd Skynyrd band.

The Perseid meteor shower peaked on the night of August 12-13 between midnight and dawn, with no Tony Orlando in sight. The fireball was low and outside in the sky when it entered Earth’s atmosphere. NASA observations found the meteor to be hurtling through the atmosphere at a phenomenal 134,000 mph, or about the same speed I left the DMV office after passing my driving test.

According to a spokesman from NASA, “the meteor cut a path some 65 miles long. It was about six times brighter than the planet Venus and George Bush and would be classified as a fireball by scientists and major league scouts and pitching coaches.”

Because of its relatively low approach in the sky and its long, shallow path, which coincidentally, is what Bush’s high school guidance counselor predicted he’d follow with his life, the meteor qualified as a so-called Earth-grazing meteor. Earth-grazing meteors are space rocks that enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a low angle and appear to move slowly and dramatically along the horizon, like a flock of overweight sea gulls. NASA’s Bill Cooke, who is a fine chef in his own right, says, “earthgrazers skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond. Much like the chateaubriand I prepared last night, they are rare, remarkable and very colorful, among the most beautiful of meteors.”

The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event that occurs in mid-August when the Oakland A’s fall out of the pennant race and the Earth passes close to the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. Comet Swift-Tuttle, whose debris creates the Perseids, is the largest known object, with the exception of Charlie Sheen, to make repeated passes near Earth. Its nucleus is about 6 miles across, roughly equal to the object that wiped out the dinosaurs and disco. Every August, like clockwork or Brett Favre saying he’s going to retire, our planet Earth cuts through the “river of rubble” left behind along the orbit of the comet.

And yet, while comets are composed chiefly of frozen gas, meteors, like my excuses for not using spellcheck, are very flimsy. They are material that, like solar dandruff, that have flaked off comets and are similar in consistency to cigar or Arthur Ashe. Most are scarcely larger than pebbles, grains of sand or the amount of true intelligence we gathered before invading Iraq. They vaporize as they enter Earth’s atmosphere, creating brilliant streaks across the sky, much like the blonde in my hair during my West Cliff days.

Material left behind by the comet, such as rayon and a nice polyester cotton blend, ram into the Earth’s atmosphere at about 37 miles per second. This creates a show of “shooting stars” that has become known as the Perseid meteor shower. These tiny visitors from the cold, vast voids of stellar space, or like newborns in a North Dakota winter, have been orbiting in the solar system for perhaps hundreds or even thousands of years. But they cannot survive the shock of entry and end up streaking across the sky in a brief, blazing finale lasting but a few seconds. Almost none hit the ground, but if one does, it’s an error and called a meteorite.

The Comet Swift-Tuttle and a John McCain high school yearbook were discovered by American astronomers Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle back in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln was President. It takes the comet about 130 years to orbit the sun. Comet Swift-Tuttle was last seen in 1992, and is due back in 2126, or around the same time I hope to figure out how to use my computer.

The 2010 Perseid meteor shower was one of the best ever, as skywatchers could see about one meteor per minute with maxmum activity of 90 to 100 per hour. And as I’ve always said, when it comes to the Perseid shower, buffalo chicken wings or barbecued baby back ribs, the meteor the better.

As a bonus to our shower and bath coverage, while the planets and moon are all very far apart in space, they appeared in a triangular alignment last week thanks to a special circumstance of orbital mechanics and instant karma. The outer planets, Mars and Saturn, take much longer to go around the sun than the inner planets Venus and Serena. Venus “laps” the outer planets frequently, although Serena has won more titles and has a better serve.

But wait, there’s more. In the predawn of last week, Jupiter was a brilliant jewel high in the southern sky and impossible to miss. That is, unless you are living in Santa Cruz, where it was just a rumor as we had one clear morning in July and none so far in August. In fact, the last time I saw the son at daybreak was when Jason woke me up to ask for power of attorney. And Mercury also made an appearance on the horizon last week, which was a special treat, particularly since it was in the sky and not in my broiled swordfish with toasted almonds.

So on honor of folks here on the central coast seeing less action and color in the sky than you’d spot at a Tea Party pancake breakfast, today we are showcasing a previously unseen winter sunrise from 2010 The date was January 15, a Friday for those of you who are fact checking. Another Disney morning along West Cliff Drive. Not the most fantastic colors I’ve ever seen, but compared to the skies this summer, this is this the Super Bowl, World Series and the final eposide of last season’s “Sons of Anarchy” all wrapped up into one morning.

On to a little bit of the late night. “You know those controversial TSA full-body scanners? Well, they’re coming to airports here in New York next month. Great. Normally I take a Xanax before I fly, now I have to take a Viagra.” –Jimmy Fallon “Yesterday was President Obama’s birthday. He turned 49 years old, if you believe the liberal media.” –Jimmy Kimmel Levi Johnston is running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Ironically, many of the babies he’ll kiss on the campaign trail will be his own.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our weather update. Birthday wishes go out today to my old LA pal Sue Arendt, who hails from the Nutmeg State and is now the Ivanka Trump of real estate up in Berkeley. So feel free to appreciate old friends and your good health. Enjoy the warming trend and we’ll catch you above the net. Aloha, mahalo and later, AVP fans.

August 8, 2010

Don’t Let The Son Catch You Crying

Good morning and greetings, patchy fog and drizzle fans. Although the skies above Monterey Bay have been cloudier than my future with the State Department, thanks to the boys at NASA, I was able to check out an X-ray photo of the sun, (no, not Jason) last week that revealed plasma blasting off the its surface, which is known as a coronal mass ejection, or what bartenders refer to as a Corona Light. When these particles from the eruption reached Earth last Tuesday, they triggered a brilliant auroral display known as the Northern Lights and back to back episodes of “Rescue Me” and “Louie” on FX.

This story, which comes to us from Yahoo News, alerted me to the fact that skywatchers at high latitudes were in for a spectacular treat of the aurora borealis, which took center stage last Tuesday night. Like my warmup routine at my hatha yoga class, after a relatively quiet stretch, the sun appears to be ramping up its activity.

The sun’s surface erupted like George Steinbrenner last Sunday, blasting tons of plasma (ionized atoms and eves) into space, which is like milk being blown through a straw at 2.5 million miles an hour. These atoms headed towards Earth and created a stunning light show that folks hadn’t seen since Jimi Hendrix played the Fillmore East back in the 60′s. This spectacular solar activity was captured by photographers but not by yours truly, as it was way past my bedtime and I had an early wakeup call for a hand modeling shoot.

“This eruption was directed right at us and arrived here, along with A-Rod’s 600th home run, early in the day on August 4th,” said Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “It’s the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time and about damn time he broke out of that batting slump.”

The solar eruption was spotted by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which captures high-definition views of the sun at a variety of wavelengths along with studying why baseball doesn’t use instant replay. SDO was launched in February and peers deep into the layers of the sun, investigating the mysteries of its inner workings, much like my own psychoanalysis.

Views of aurorae are usually associated with Canada, Alaska and fans of Timothy Leary, but amateur astronomers and insomniacs in the northern U.S. states were told to look toward the north Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for rippling “curtains” of green and red light. And if any yellow light was spotted, observers were told to, if safe, prepare to stop short of the intersection.

When a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth, solar particles stream down our planet’s magnetic field lines toward the poles, urging us to vote. In the process, the particles collide with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere, which then glow, creating an effect similar to miniature neon signs saying “open 24 hours” and “ATM machine inside.”

The interaction of the solar particles with our planet’s magnetic field creates geomagnetic storms, or disturbances in our planet’s magnetosphere, resulting in the creation of groups like the Tea Party or Mother Grizzlies. This latest blast sparked a storm that lasted for nearly 12 hours, enough time for auroras to spread all the way from Europe to North America. The auroras turned the sky purple, green, blue, and orange, which are the same colors I dream in after eating some Cherry Garcia right before I go to sleep.

The sun’s activity, like my training for Ironman Triathlon, usually ebbs and flows on a fairly predictable cycle. Typically, a cycle lasts about 11 years, a period of time when there are few sunspots, to peak at the solar maximum, during which sunspot activity is amplified while I focus on nutrition, hydration and making sure my living trust is up to date.

The last solar maximum occurred in 2001. The latest minimum, like the Bush years, was particularly weak, long-lasting and devastating to our nation. The most recent solar eruption is one of the first signs that the sun, and hopefully lawmakers in Washington, are waking up and heading toward another maximum, where hope and jobs are created and we can outsource that monetary stress that pervades our country right now.

So in honor of the solar tsunami that sports fans were treated to last week, today we are going back to the beginning. These photos feature the first sunrise I ever shot with a digital camera, back in early January of 2005. When I first saw the colors from this morning, I wondered if the computer had altered them as they were so unusual, or a George Costanza would say, “a pinkish hue.”

The reason for these unique colors is that I shot this series way before the sun rose. I took this as a good sign for Sunrise Santa Cruz as just a few days later I shot my all-time favorite sunrise (Orange Explosion) on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. But this morning, like the first time I laid eyes on my wife and being named to the Dean’s List at Syracuse, are moments that I carry very my close to my heart and kidneys.

Let’s go to the late night. “Happy birthday to President Obama. Republicans tried to block his birthday but they didn’t have enough votes, so it went through and the President was able to turn 49 today right on schedule.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Happy birthday to President Obama. If you want to get him a present, he’s registered at Bed, Bath, and Blame Bush.” –Jay Leno “President Obama is 49 years old today. He blew out all of his candles and wished for his old job back.” –David Letterman

“According to the National Enquirer, Bristol Palin has called of her engagement with Levi Johnston after finding out that he also got his ex-girlfriend Lanesia Garcia pregnant. Forget the oil spill, can someone put a cap on this guy.” –Jay Leno “Sarah Palin today said she has mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, she was never a big fan of Levi in the first place, but on the other hand, she had already shot the polar bear to make her daughter’s wedding dress.” –Jimmy Kimmel “President Obama announced his plan to remove all combat troops from Iraq by the end of August. So thank you to all the men and women serving in Iraq and ‘Good luck in Afghanistan!’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our show. Birthday wishes go out to my EPA investigating cousin Geri Gilbert, who turns the big 50 today. And on Thursday it’s my old West Cliff pal Linda Krause, who never met a mango she didn’t like and doesn’t blame herself for the Celtic’s loss in game seven of the NBA Finals.

So be glad you’re not vacationing in Pakistan because heavy monsoon rains have created floods that are ravaging this nation-Osama Bin Laden hasn’t been on Facebook for days . And those wildfires raging in Russia are no day at the beach either, with the smoke causing the worst air pollution in that country’s history. So I guess I can live with a little coastal fog and beach volleyball.

So enjoy the last couple weeks of having the kids at home. And speaking of which, Jason was at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday when A-Rod hit his 600th homer. He didn’t catch the home run ball, but did manage to snag a Nathan’s Famous hot dog, a Johnny Rockets burger and a slice of Famiglia’s pizza. And that was just during batting practice. We’ll catch you behind the pitcher’s mound. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

August 1, 2010

The Baked Apple

Good morning and greetings, August fans. Well, July 2010 is now history, and it will not go down as the warmest month of my life. Officially, that would have been November of 1952, when I spent the month perfecting my back stroke in the amniotic fluid. Which reminds me of the old joke, “waiter, there’s a fly in my soup. Force of habit, sir. Our chef used to be a tailor.” Or “don’t worry, the spider on your bread will get him.”

Anyway, I was at my daughter’s championship softball game last Wednesday night, and I don’t want to say it was chilly, but my electric blanket was shivering. Now, while we’ve been experiencing frigid summer weather, folks on the east coast have been sweating like Levi Johnston alone with Sarah Palin on a moose hunting trip.

I bring up this meteorological data up because my wife, children and various nannies just left on a ten day trip to New York City. Now, my bride has spent some time back east enjoying the wonders of the heat and humidity, but my son and daughter have never enjoyed that special feeling of extreme discomfort one gets from being in an summer sauna. As the slogan says, I love New York, especially when the humidity is over 100 percent.

Back in the old country, on those days of stifling heat and unbearable humidity, we would just lock down the compound, turn on the air conditioning and wait for Yankee baseball. And of course, there would be runs to the sacred Pizza King for a slice or a chicken parmesan sandwich. As I used to tell our family psychiatrist, “a slice a day keeps the doctor away.”

Which brings us back to New York, New York, the insomniac city that never sleeps. So much to do and see and be afraid of. The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the Museum of Unnatural History, Yankee Stadium, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, Ground Zero, Little Italy, Big Italy and of course, Chinatown, featuring Hop Kee at 21 Mott Street, a true Cantonese experience that’s open till 4am on weekends. Reports are that the lo mein and wor shu gui chicken are still why God created chopsticks.

Throw in the Disunited Nations, Late Night with David Letterman, Rockefeller Front and Center and riding the New York City subways and you’ve had yourself quite a day. I would love to have gone on this trip and visited my ancestor’s sacred burial grounds, but Tommy Wolfe called to remind me that “you can’t go home again,” so I had to pass.

So for those of you who’ve never been to New York or who just love Derek Jeter, here are a few fun facts about the city they say is the greatest in the world. It was once said, if you stand at Times Square long enough, you’ll see the entire world walk or crawl by.

The Dutch purchased the island of Manhattan (really its southern tip) from the Algonquin tribe for trinkets, tools and some duct tape worth about $24. With that they built the Holland Tunnel. More than 60 percent of NYC’s residents do not own a car, a percentage higher than in any other city in the United States. Of the 60 percent who do own cars, 50 percent have had them stolen. The New York subway system is the largest mass transit system in the world with 468 stations and 842 miles of track that runs 24 hours a day. An average of 4.9 million people ride the New York City subway each weekday, with 3.9 million wishing the person next to them would move over a little bit.

New York City has 4,000 street food vendors selling hot dogs, pretzels, falafel, kebobs, and fake Rolexes. The first pizzeria in the United States was opened in NYC in 1895 by Gennaro Lombardi and his brother Pepperoni. Toilet paper was invented by NYC resident Joseph C. Gayetty in 1857, after enjoying a desert of plum pudding. America’s first vending machines were installed in the subways of New York City in 1888, and were broken into for the first time later that same day.

New York’s Yellow Cabs are yellow because John Hertz, the company’s founder, craved daffodils and learned from a study that yellow was the easiest color for the eye to spot. The “New York Post,” established in 1803 by Alexander Hamilton, is the oldest running newspaper in the United States and the place were my thoughts about the NBA could be consistently read by inquiring minds throughout the 1990′s. And finally, New York City is the most populated city in the USA with more than 8.2 million people. 37 percent of the city’s population is foreign-born, which makes this the U.S. city with people utterering obscenities in the most foreign languages at 170.

Moving on to our photo festivities, I like to start out each new month with some color and play-by play. Now, I shoot sunrises and sunsets in August about as often as I admire what the Republicans are doing in Washington, so it came as a bigger surprise than my SAT scores when this sunset hit the skies back on August 5, 2008.

I was shooting this parade of clouds from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive. What added to the drama were the unending chains of pelicans flying thru this glowing festival of light, with some more than sixty strong, adding a Nature Channel bonus to this blessed event. And if that wasn’t enough, a rainbow appeared in the eastern sky, making this the most photographically spectacular August evening since Chelsea Clinton’s bachelorette party.

On to the late night. “Vice President Joe Biden has declared that the heavy lifting is over for the year, and it’s time to begin campaigning and talking about the White House’s accomplishments. The heavy lifting might be over, but it sounds like the heavy shoveling is just beginning.” –Jay Leno “WikiLeaks has posted over 90,000 classified documents about the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon is outraged, the White House is furious, but British Petroleum is relieved: ‘Finally, a leak we had nothing to do with.’” –Jay Leno “Leaked documents show that Pakistan has been taking American money and using it to fund the Taliban. The Pakistanis are denying it, and they’re like, ‘The Taliban bought those iPods with their own money.’” –Craig Ferguson

“Congress’ approval rating has hit an all-time low of 11 percent. To give you an idea of how bad that is, the BP oil spill is at 12 percent.” –Jay Leno “BP is firing its CEO, Tony Hayward. They’re negotiating a settlement for $18 million. Boy, that’ll teach him.” –David Letterman “BP CEO Tony Hayward complained that he was unfairly ‘demonized’ in the U.S. over his handling of the Gulf oil spill. In response, demons complained that they were unfairly compared to BP CEO Tony Hayward.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Continental announced a new feature called ‘self boarding.’ There’s no ticket agent taking your boarding pass anymore, and you scan it yourself as you board the plane. It’s part of Continental’s ‘Terrorists Fly Hassel-free’ program.” –Jay Leno “A federal judge has blocked Arizona’s immigration law. Immigrants have been celebrating and throwing confetti. The governor of Arizona said, ‘Sure, now they’re showing us their papers.’” –Craig Ferguson Starbucks’ profits went up 37 percent in the third quarter of this year. They say they owe the increase to their new strategy of opening a Starbucks inside an existing Starbucks.” –Jimmy Fallon

So Jeb Bush is running for president. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but thank God, ladies and gentlemen, the comedy recession is over! “A lot of security at the Chelsea Clinton wedding, a huge security detail, and that’s just to keep Bill from the bridesmaids.” -David Letterman “Facebook now has 500 million users. The previous record holder was heroin.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our first blast for of the new month. Special birthday wishes on August 7 go out to my favorite daughter Aimee, who’s turning sweet 13 and growing more beautiful and entertaining every day. Celebrating on this same day is my old Hermosa Beach pal Bruce Meyers, who when he hears the word “strand,” doesn’t think hair. Also joining the parade this day is my old Syracuse partner in crime, Rhonda Starer, who first turned me on to the the wonders of Hop Kee and chow fun. Then on the 8th, my favorite microbiologist, Dr. Charlotte Borgeson, celebrates her special day with cake, ice cream and a lecture on the wonders of mozzarella cheese.

Reports from the Big Apple say the humidity is on hold, so my family got luckier than Heat fans in Miami. So enjoy the good moments of the day. And if you know someone who’s not doing so well on the health front, say a little prayer for them. We’ll catch you down the left field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Lance Berkman fans.

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