February 27, 2011

I Have No Memory of Winter In Yosemite

Good morning and greetings, NBA trade fans.  Let me start off today’s sermon with a confession.  I have never been to Yosemite National Park.  For that matter, ”I’ve never been to heaven, but I’ve been to Oklahoma.  In Oklahoma, not Arizona, what does it matter.”  Thank you, Three Dog Night, who taught me early in life that “one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

Okay, so I’m glad I got that off my rock hards abs and chest.  And just because my backbreakingly busy schedule hasn’t allowed me to journey to this spectacular valley of the dolls doesn’t mean we’re not going there today, sports fans.

Fortunately, for God and country, my old pal Judy Bingham has made the trip to this promised land of photography.  By her accounts she has been there a little over 12,000 times, starting as a small child when she would go into the back country to trap beaver, muskrats and unsuspecting local farmers.

Now those of you familiar with this blog will recognize Judy’s name from her fabulous previous appearances, where she brought us images of polar bears, brown bears, Chicago Bears, eagles, beagles, gorillas, giraffes, zebras, NFL referees, lions, elephants and minature shetland ponies, all shot from her backyard.  As you can imagine, she’s got quite a spread and imagination.

Two weeks ago, Judy once again trekked to her favorite valley on the planet.  But before we launch into Judy’s fanastic photos, let me give you a little history about this u-shaped valley that was sculpted from glaciers from the ice age and was the first park set aside by the US government for preservation, protection and birth control.

Yosemite National Park is located on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada range, or what scientists and homicide detectives refer to as south-central California.  It’s actually east-central, but there goes the joke.   The park is spread over a vast area of 750,000 acres (1,200 miles), with streams that are 1,600 miles long, hiking trails that are 800 miles, and traffic in the summer that sometimes backs up over 200 miles.
Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves and souvenir shops with great sale prices. Like New York’s Central Park, almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. Yosemite Valley represents only one percent of the park area, but this is where most visitors arrive, stay and buy postcards.  It was designated a National Park in 1890 and is considered the most beautiful in America, coming in just ahead of Yellowstone and the old Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey.

The Yosemite Valley was discovered in 1833.  Over 300 species of animals and 150 species of birds can be found in here.   Black bears and cougars and Courtney Cox are the top of the food chain along with mule deer, bobcats, housecats, bighorn sheep, beavers, Eddie Haskel, Redd foxes, squirrels, otters, John Belushi and the rest of the boys from Delta House.
Let’s move on to Judy’s photographs.  Now anyone with crayons and a coloring book can shoot Yosemite in the summer, put it takes a real pro who doesn’t care about frostbite or cryogenics to capture its winter magnificence.

The first shot is the Tunnel View, which is more extensively photographed than I was as a small child.  Judy says that 50 people where shooting at this spot when she took this photo, and didn’t leave until she got to know each one personally.  If you look closely, you can see Bridal Falls on the right, Half Dome in the middle and El Capitan on the left, which is not to be confused with Grand Funk Railroad’s classic, “I’m Your Capitan.”

Photo number two breaks new ground for Yosemite Judy.  After claiming to hear voices, she saw some footprints that she thought might have been Sasquatch and followed them down to the river to a spot where she had never shot before.  In case you’re keeping a scorecard, that’s an elm tree.  Judy says she has always been attracted to reflections and shiny objects that she can poke with a stick.  Or in the words of  the Talking Heads, “take me to the river and drop me in the water.”  Gently, like a baby salmon.

The third image is of Half Dome, which was shot from Cook’s Meadow.  Half Dome is a granite monster at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley and possibly Yosemite’s most familiar rock formation after the Doobie Brothers. There were four or five groups of different photographers shooting as this sacred spot, all of whom, after some coaxing requested Judy’s business card.  Judy enjoys the company and bonding among photographers when she shoots.   I prefer to be more like Dave Mason, “Alone, Together.”

The next shot is of El Capitan, a vertical rock formation located on the north side of Yosemite Valley.  It’s one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world because of its diverse range of climbing routes, its year-round accessibility and rock bottom prices.   Personally, I never really understood the lure of rock climbing as I believe it leads to rock falling.  I’m more of a Paul Simon, “love me like a rock” rather than hurtling down one.

We then move on to Yosemite Falls, the highest measured waterfall in North America.  It is a major attraction in the park, especially in late spring when the water flow and the NBA playoffs are at their peak. Judy shot this from a picnic area called the Swinging Bridge, which does not have a bridge, any picnic tables or a snack bar.
Much like my love of stuffing, the flow of water comes alive in November and continues till July except for weekends and Jewish holidays. The highest volume of water is observed in May and because to its height and weight, this thundering, cascading cavalcade of water is visible from many places within the valley.  In the photo you can see the reflection action in the river as Judy says she was drawn to the little clouds down the mountain, for which she is now taking medication.
We finish with Judy’s award-winning shot of Horsetail Falls, which she photographed back in 2005 before she took up tae bo and full contact karate.  Photographer Galen Rowell discovered this shot, and is truly magical.  For only two weeks out of the year, Horsetail appears to be on fire when it reflects sunlight at sunset.  As Judy recalled,  “I stood there for two hours waiting to get the shot as the sun went down.  When it hits it’s only on fire for ten minutes.  I  just felt ecstatic.”  Judy definitely nailed this shot as it is her finest photo along with some golden retrievers playing poker.
If you want to get in touch with this intrepid photographer, whose next trip hopes to be to volcano country in Iceland,  contact her at judybingmanphotography@gmail.com or check out her website at judybingmanphotography.blogspot.com.  Rest assured, Judy’s images will once again grace these pages.  At least that’s what I want her to think.

On to the late night.  “They say President Lincoln once walked three miles to pay back a penny. That makes him the last president to do anything about the debt. There’s a real threat to tyrants who have used brutal tactics to seize power. The one who should really be worried is Leno.” –David Letterman Bill Clinton recently revealed that he only sent two e-mails while he was President. Then he added, “And it turns out those pills are just a scam.” –Jimmy Fallon

“In the Mideast Muslims are getting in fights with their former supporters. The Shiites are hitting their fans.” –Jay Leno “All across the Middle East in the streets, people are demanding democracy. It’s amazing. The only way in America you get people to get worked up like that is to threaten to give them health care.” –Bill Maher President Obama was in San Francisco today, meeting with a group of technology executives, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Their goal is to figure out how to create new jobs, to replace jobs that have been lost as a result of everyone spending all their time at work on Facebook.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Moammar Gadhafi said that Libyan protesters were all on drugs, and then he blamed it on al-Qaida. Now, he’s saying it’s the fault of the teachers unions.”–Jay Leno  “Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi described President Obama as an African of Arab and Muslim descent. After the speech, Gadhafi was given his own show on Fox News.  Gadhafi said no sane person would join the protests against him. He then joined the protests against himself.”–Conan O’Brien

“Jennifer Lopez broke down crying on “American Idol,” saying she “can’t do this anymore.” That’s what I say every night.”–David Letterman   Sarah Palin is going to a political conference in India next month. Palin said she’s loved India ever since she saw “Hoosiers.  Borders Books has filed for bankruptcy and will close all 200 of its superstores. When Sarah Palin heard that she went, ‘Finally, we’re closing the borders.’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our show.  It was a wild week of weather as we didn’t get that snow that was predicted, but instead saw black-eyed pea sized hail fall from the sky.  So enjoy the last day of February and we’ll catch you for some March madness.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Kendrick Perkins fans.

February 20, 2011

You’ve Got To Be Orchidding Me

Good morning and greetings, NBA All-Star game fans. Well, in the words of Jimi Hendrix’s old pal Buddy Miles, the weather went through “them changes” last week as we went from Summer Sanders back to Jonathan Winters here on the central coast. The couple of powerful storm systems from the Northwest blew in torrents of rain, pebble beach-sized hail, snow and fabulous rainbows that would have made the North Shore jealous. And yes, by the grace of will and God, I caught one down at Natural Bridges that I’ll post on this site as soon as my camera and liver dries out.

So what is it about winter that brings these violent storms to Father Earth? The weather was as brutal as Idi Amin in January, as the east saw more snow drifts then at a Charlie Sheen toga party. Scientists and four out of five dentists that chew gum say that no snowflake ever falls in the wrong place, but I’ve watched a pot and it has boiled. I once heard Lindsay Lohan say that a snowflake is winter’s butterfly, but I prefer the orange and black monarchs who visit Santa Cruz every fall and don’t require me to carry a shovel, ice scraper and chains in my Kelly Slater board shorts.

Still, my weather philosophy goes back to something I first heard from a member of the Rainbow Family at Woodstock. “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, bring your own sunshine.” While sleigh riding through Antarctica, Admiral Perry learned that the Eskimos have fifty-two different names for snow because it is so important to them, much like the way I have eighty-five names for my pillow and TiVo remote control.

Duke Kahanamoku, the Hawaiian swimmer who brought vowels and surfing to the mainland, has this tropical perspective of the coldest season. “I have never seen snow and do not know what winter means.” My favorite French romantic poet, Victor Hugo once remarked, “winter is in my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.” That may be all well and good, but I’m more of a Robert Byrne type who says, “winter is nature’s way of saying ‘up yours.’” As far as the record snowstorms that have battered the midwest and east coast this winter, I believe it goes back to the boys from Spirit who told us “it’s nature’s way of telling you something’s very wrong.”

But let’s end all this winter talk on a light-hearted note. Knock, knock. Who there? Freeze. Freeze who? Freeze the jolly good fellow… Hey, nobody said I’m going for a Pulitzer here.

So while the skies were gray last week, there was color in my heart and my photo archives. Tomorrow is my brother Paul’s birthday and he is an orchid lover. As children, we spent hours together in our greenhouse, tilling the soil, tending the seedlings and hand-feeding tiny acorns to the baby squirrels. So to honor my favorite middle brother on his special day, I’d thought I’d let him grace the pages of today’s blog. So here, in his own words, a young man who claims he once beat me in ping pong, Paul Gilbert.

I’m trying to figure out when I first got interested in orchids (my botanical memory cells have been slowly composting over the years). I believe it was after visiting the acres of greenhouses at Rod McLellan headquarters in San Bruno, CA. A friend of ours was working there in the marketing department and gave us a tour and I was immediately taken with these most unusual and exotic plants. At the time, McLellan was one of the biggest supplier of orchids in the country. They even had an “orchid spa,” where people (wealthy) would have their dormant plants taken care of until they were ready to bloom again. Nothing like a little hot oil massage to reinvigorate those tired roots.

I began building my own collection, starting with the usual mundane pink and white phalaeonopsis, also known as the moth orchid, due to the shape of its flowers. Soon, I graduated to more interesting-looking striped and spotted varieties. Then, I began to expand my horizons to include warm-growers like cataleyas, dendrobiums and vandas. I began going to orchid shows, hunting for unusual species, with more striking colors and shapes. Now, I was hooked and kept needing that orchid high, which fortunately, you didn’t need a prescription for in California.

Next, I expanded into fragrant orchids, such as miltonias, zygopetalums and my favorite, an oncidium known as Sherry Baby. This plant fills an entire floor of a small house (aka ours) with an incredibly intoxicating smell. Sometimes, I’ll find one with six stalks and up to 75 delicate flowers and every time I pass by it, I inhale deeply (unlike Bill Clinton) and marvel at its sweetly delicious perfume. If my wife wore that kind of scent, I might never let her leave the room.

Eventually, the global economy jumped into the orchid business and prices plummeted as the market became saturated. Plants that once went for $60-100 in a flower shop could now be purchased for $15-30 at Home Depot or Trader Joe’s. About a year ago, I started growing tired of feeding and watering my clan and gave all the non-blooming plants away via Craig’s List to a transplanted couple from Hawaii who couldn’t afford to buy new ones themselves. Plus, there’s a wholesale greenhouse in Half Moon Bay, so when I go down to Santa Cruz, I stop in there and pick up some new ones when I need them. My orchid passion still burns, but I’m not into long courtships anymore. I’d just as soon grab a quickie.

Besides, I’ve got a new flame. Don’t get me started on succulents.

Thank you, brother and let me say a few more words about the guy who popped out of my mother’s womb after me. Paul used to work for NBA Entertainment and created the league’s “NBA Action is Fantastic campaign.” Bill Simmons, author of the best seller, “The Book of Basketball,” says that if he were putting together an 80′s time capsule and could only use 30 minutes of material, it would include Paul’s “Oscar-winning sixty second classic that used Hall and Oates, ‘One on One’ that featured a number of pretty passes, Jerome Whitehead stuffing Tom Chambers dunk and James Worthy’s gorgeous 360- degree layup in slow motion during the sax solo.” Bill, do me a favor and throw in Pointer Sisters “I’m So Excited” promo just to make amends.

So for our photo greenhouse, I have included a variety pack of orchid delights. In my archives I have hundreds and hundreds of these photos, as besides my brothers I grew up an only child and consider them all my friends. And if I can get personal for a moment, on the door my oval office I have 98 different photos pasted to each side of the “orchid door.” It’s not the “Stairway to Heaven” but it’s damn close. My father always said, “Geoff, you have to have hobbies” along with the all-time classic, “if cream cheese were illegal, I’d stop eating it tomorrow.” Now that’s an episode of “Law and Order” I’d pay to see.

On to the late night. “Experts say that what happened in Egypt proves that countries in the Middle East can move toward democracy without the U.S. invading them. George W. Bush said, “Now you tell me.”–Jay Leno “Now that Hosni Mubarak is out of office, they’re saying he’s an old tyrant, decrepit, and out of touch. Oh wait, that’s me. Hosni Mubarak reportedly didn’t understand the Internet and social networking. That may be true, but somehow he figured out how to wire $80 billion to Switzerland.”–David Letterman

“President Obama unveiled his new budget, including $1 trillion in spending cuts, which Obama called the most painful choice he’s ever made. Then he looked over at Joe Biden and said, ‘OK, 2nd most painful choice.’”–Craig Ferguson “It rained in Los Angeles. By the time I figured out how to work my wiper blades, it stopped. Over the weekend, we’re supposed to get over a quarter inch of rain per day. Why is god doing this to us?”–Jimmy Kimmel “NPR’s “This American Life” reported that they may have stumbled upon the secret ingredient to Coca-Cola. It turns out that it’s Pepsi.”–Conan O’Brien

“Watson, the IBM computer, beat his two human opponents by a long shot on “Jeopardy.” He’s already getting a little famous. In fact, he was just offered a million dollars to pose nude for Popular Mechanics. A new study found that married couples who go on double dates with other couples are more likely to have better relationships. They say it inspires better communication — on the ride home, when you talk about how much you hated the other couple.–Jimmy Fallon “Facebook is looking into buying Twitter for around $10 billion. If all goes as planned, the company hopes to combine the two companies, creating the biggest waste of time the world has ever seen.” –Jay Leno

“Breast feeding activists plan to descend on Washington for a public breast feeding demonstration. Also descending on Washington, thousands of men saying, “What? I’m looking at the baby.” –Conan O’Brien “In Los Angeles, 170 people became violently ill at the Playboy mansion. Doctors don’t know what it was, but their theory is that Hugh Hefner’s robe fell open.”–Craig Ferguson “Khloe Kardashian and her husband Lamar Odom are coming out with a cologne for Valentine’s Day. It’s called “One of Us Has a Skill.”–Conan O’Brien “Happy Valentine’s Day to everybody. Or if you’re single, Happy Ben & Jerry’s Day!”–Jimmy Fallon

I thought we’d end with this. Pat Williams, the founder and executive vice president of the Orlando Magic, has bone cancer. ‘I’ve delivered many a motivational speech about the stuff you always hear about in sports. I’ve stood up there and told other people you can’t give up and you’ve got to show courage, perseverance and will. Now, I get to live out the things I always talk about. That’s a privilege.’

Williams was then asked, what advice would John Wooden, the greatest coach of all time give you? “Coach Wooden would look at me and say in a soft-spoken voice: ‘Pat, even though it’s not the way you planned it and even though you might not feel 100 percent, make each day your masterpiece.”

I don’t know if I could. Courage is not one of my big attributes, I’m much more of a clever coward. So that’s a wrap. Birthday wishes also go out next Sunday to my old Day Hall pal Amy Zimmerman, who has traveled the world and still uses words in sentences that I have to look up.

So be grateful for your good health and we’ll catch you driving the lane. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derrick Rose fans.

February 13, 2011

Life In The Fast LaLanne

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 9:05 pm

Good morning and greetings, Richard Engel fans. Well, here we are in the middle of February and the skies remain sunny and clear and the temperature warmer than the reception I receive at the deli counter every Sunday morning at Safeway, the destination I travel when seeking the ingredients for life along with chicken salad.

I am always amazed by the diversity of weather throughout the United States. Last week, I was strolling through the artichoke and brussel sprout fields in 70 degree weather along the North Coast, while parts of the west, midwest and east coast were shivering under temperatures that seem unimaginable. Like 40 below in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Personally, I’m not all that crazy about being in a place where the temperatures begin with a minus, as my skin needs to remain as soft and tender as a lightly grilled veal chop.

We live in a hemisphere that experiences floods, white tornadoes, hurricanes, himacaines, cyclones, ferris wheels, water spouts, itsy bitsy spiders and hail stones the size of matzoh balls. So while here on the left coast we’re enjoying summer weather, back in Tennessee they’re getting snow every day, more in this past year than the last five years combined. God bless Santa Cruz. I always say, if you don’t like the weather channel, wait ten minutes.

This is not to rub it into those of you who are not wearing shorts or a bathing suit at this moment. It’s just that after thirty-seven years of living on the cental coast of the Golden State, I don’t take the thermometer gods for granted. As torrents of snow blanket a good part of my favorite continent, I prefer to be percolating on the warmer edge, with more of a strawberry fields feeling. And I’m talking forever. You know what they say, “grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?”

Here’s a news story that caught my attention a few weeks ago. Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired Americans to add a “La” before their last name, as well as slim down, eat well and pump iron before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died at age 96 on January 24.

Now much like myself, with the exceptions of weekends, holidays, certain weekdays and always every other Tuesday, LaLanne exercised every day of his life till the end. This from a guy who always said “I can’t afford to die. It would wreck my image.” Or as Ansel Adams once told me, “there is nothing worse than a fuzzy image of a sharp concept.”

LaLanne proclaimed that “the only way you can hurt your body is not to use it,” as compared to my mantra, “if you don’t go snowboarding down a mountain you’ll never slam into a tree.” His daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the pool. For me, it’s a trip to the ashram, hit the dry cleaners, lunch and a much-needed nap.

Now as the way I spend most of my waking day, LaLanne filled his life with exercise, promoting the value of raw fruit and vegetables, opening Fitness Studios and taping as many late night talk shows as possible. He was a kindred spirit as we both advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet that includes meat, poultry and popcorn shrimp.

But this is what really captured my flag. At age 43, he performed more than 1,000 pushups in 23 minutes on the TV show “You Asked For It.” I, on the other hand, was once asked to perform a chinup on “Don’t Even Bother Asking For It” but was unable to due to an intervention by my doctors.

At age 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. The amazing thing is, when he waded onto the shore, the crowd shouted, “go back, Jack, do it again.” Now that’s a tough crowd, even for Steely Dan fans.

So ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach Harbor while towing the Queen Mary. I can relate to this as I almost got married in the chapel of the Queen Mary while being shackled to the ship’s caterer. I had wanted to get married in Maui but my mother-in-law said “over my dead body,” so I thought Long Beach would do the tropical trick. Believe me, it wasn’t easy finding a rabbi who would perform a blessing over the kalua pig at the reception.

For today’s photo parade we are returning to the fall with a variety of six previously unseen moments from skies off of West Cliff Drive. We’re going sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunrise, sunrise, sunset right into “if I were a rich man, ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.” We end our fiddling on the aloof with a twilight experience shot from the cliffs above Stockton Avenue, which brings closure to the happenings from that autumn evening but not for my love of anything Barbara Streisand.

Here comes the late night. “President Obama had lunch with Republican leaders at the White House today and had to do without salt, pepper and butter. Not for dietary reasons. The Republicans refused to pass anything.” –Jay Leno “Michelle Obama says her husband, President Obama, has quit smoking. Fox News reported this as “Obama Destroying the Tobacco Industry.”–Craig Ferguson “Michelle Obama says she has gotten President Obama to stop smoking. Now, maybe she can get John Boehner to stop sobbing.” –David Letterman

“During his interview with President Obama last night, Bill O’Reilly asked him to explain how he deals with so many people hating him. In response, Obama said, ‘You first.’” –Jimmy Fallon “An Egyptian Google executive has become a hero to Egyptian protestors for a Facebook page he created. Still no luck selling his futon on Craigslist, though.”–Conan O’Brien “President Obama invited John McCain to the White House to give his opinion on Egypt, specifically what it’s like to be a mummy.” –Bill Maher

“All of the Arab potentates and their fat cat entourages are on the run. Tunisia’s president is leaving, Mubarak is not going to run for re-election, the guy in Yemen is going to leave. This is great news — not necessarily for the Middle East, but for real estate agents in Beverly Hills.”–Bill Maher “Egyptian President Mubarak said President Obama doesn’t understand Egyptian culture. Man, get off your high camel.” –Jimmy Fallon “It turns out that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is worth $70 billion. He made the money by switching to Geico.”–David Letterman

Late Show Top Five Hosni Mubarek Plans–5. Gonna look for a place in the Poconos. 4. Check classifieds for openings under “Ruthless Dictators.” 3. Wander around the Sahara Desert with a metal detector. 2. Heard “The Office” needs a new boss to replace Steve Carell. 1. Launching pop career under the name “Hustein Mubieber.”–David Letterman

“There’s a gorilla in England who has learned to walk upright. Normally, they walk on their knuckles, which is why they don’t wear jewelry.”–Jimmy Kimmel “Researchers say we may be just a few years away from a pill that would help people live to be 100 years old. Then Hugh Hefner’s fiancée said, “No!” “Chevrolet is coming out with a new feature on their cars that will let drivers update their Facebook status in the car. I was getting so bored talking on the phone and texting while driving.”–Jay Leno

So that’s another chapter of the week that wasn’t. There was an interesting turn of events that played out last week in Eygpt, or in the words of the late, great Curly Howard of the Three Stooges, from the 1939 classic “We Want Our Mummy, hey, I’ve got an uncle in Cairo. He’s a chiropractor.” Nyuck, nyuck, nycuk.” Replied his older brother Moe, “hey, remind me to murder you later.” So enjoy the freedoms life affords us and we’ll catch you at the three-point line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ray Allen fans.

February 6, 2011

Let’s Go, I Don’t Want To Miss The Opening Snack

Good morning and greetings, football fans. Well, yesterday was the national holiday we call Super Sunday, which led into what I like to refer to as Malcontent Monday. For all you gamblers, midnight ramblers and pigskin lovers, the 2011 season, much like my dream of opening a kosher vegan deli is now history.

So what do we really know about this day of endless commercials and catastrophic caloric consumption? Scientists and 7 Eleven clerks have determined that it is the second largest food consumption day of the year behind Thanksgiving, but with a whole lot less cranberry sauce. The big ticket item on this day is our friend the avocado. According to my confidential sources inside the California Avocado Commission, somewhere between eight million and 150 billion pounds of avocado were consumed yesterday, and that was just during the pregame show.

The CAC, not to be confused with ABC, which is as easy as 1, 2, 3, says most avocados, which is actually a fruit, not a vegetable, were consumed through the process of guacamole. That meant Americans ate the amount of chips, were they lined them up in a row, would circle the earth 16,000 times without stopping once for gas or more dip.

We’re talking Lay’s Classics, Ruffles with Ridges, Cheesy Nacho Doritos, Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips, Maui Onion Kettle Chips and my personal favorites CHiPS, Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox, who was just sentenced to three years probation for conspiracy to commit securities fraud. As they say in Las Vegas, let the chips, including tortilla, fall where they may or as I like to say, what ever happens never happened.

But this was not just a day of gorging on incredible amounts of the unhealthiest foods on the planet. Forget about the 300 million pounds of snacks like pretzels, popcorn, acorns, nuts, mental patients, pizza, cake, steak, Tums, ice cream and Benedryl. According to Hallmark Cards, the Super Bowl represents the number one at home party event of the year, surpassing my Bar Mitzvah party, my 50th birthday bash, and the viewing of the pilot episode of “Southland.”

Of course, there may have been some alcohol consumed along with a little wagering done yesterday. I myself, being a devout Quaker with Amish leanings, do not partake in the spirits or believe in gambling. Instead, I keep my money in a safe, conservative place called the stock market. So in honor of the 30 trillion dollars that were bet yesterday on Super Sunday, here’s a gambling joke that makes me chuckle.

One day, at a casino buffet, a man suddenly called out, “My son’s choking! He swallowed a quarter! Help! Please, anyone! Help!” A man from a nearby table stood up and announced that he was quite experienced at this sort of thing. He stepped over with almost no look of concern at all, wrapped his hands around the boy’s gonads, and squeezed. Out popped the quarter. The man then went back to his table as though nothing had happened. “Thank you! Thank you!” the father cried. “Are you a paramedic?” “No,” replied the man. “I work for the IRS.”

Let’s move on to our photo parade. The skies have been sunny and clear as I haven’t shot a sunrise or a glance in weeks. So today we are going back to the morning of December 29th down at Lighthouse Point. This was a quiet and gentler time, before Egyptians started rioting in the streets because they wanted more jobs, cheaper food, political change and MTV.

It was a wonderful way to start the day, as the clouds made me feel like I was floating on a bed of frosted Pop Tarts. The colors in the early morning sky were outstanding, and to be able to share it with my cyber audience is why I got into this non-paying business. Well, that and to meet celebrities and reconnect with my old Guardian Angel buddies.

On to the late night. “Things are not looking good for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Today he canceled his Super Bowl party. That’s a bad sign. Protestors in Egypt are telling their government to “accept the realities of the modern age we live in.” Then they were attacked by guys on camels with whips.”–Jay Leno “The bookies have put the odds out for this weekend. The Packers are slightly favored over the Steelers and the rioters are slightly favored over President Mubarak. “Egypt has shut off cell phones and the internet. It’s like visiting your parents’ house.” –David Letterman

“The Midwest got over a foot of snow; it rained ice pellets in Dallas; it’s wet and freezing in New York. I was complaining about it all day to my friend in Egypt.”–Jimmy Fallon “It was so cold in Washington, D.C., that they needed jumper cables to get Dick Cheney started.”–Jimmy Fallon “There’s so much snow in Chicago, earlier today Oprah gave everyone a snowplow.”–David Letterman

“Today Al Gore blamed the current snow storms on global warming. Al Gore said, ‘a rise in global temperature creates havoc ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, increasing violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.’ And finally Tipper said, ‘Al will you just pay the kid for shoveling the walk, please.’” –Jay Leno

“It’s the Year of the Rabbit. I was born in the Year of the Tiger, which doesn’t make sense because I was actually raised by a pack of wild ferrets. I think rabbits are adorable. I love how their noses twitch and their feet make little key chains.”–Craig Ferguson “MTV announced that Season 4 of “Jersey Shore” will be shot in Italy in the spring. Some Italians are calling it an insult, while some Americans are calling it payback for the Olive Garden.”–Jimmy Fallon

Some big birthdays to celebrate this week. On Tuesday, my mother, the woman who gave breached birth to me, will be 85 years young. To have her living just 1.1 miles away is indeed a blessing, as she does all my worrying for me and is a huge fan of this blog. She taught me much of what I know about life and meat loaf. So in honor of your special day, Mom, here’s a joke right up your alley.

A woman goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doctor, you’ve got to do something about my husband — he thinks he’s a refrigerator!” “I wouldn’t worry too much about it,” the doctor replies. “Lots of people have harmless delusions. It will pass. ” “But you don’t understand,” the woman insists. “He sleeps with his mouth open, and the little light keeps me awake. ”

Also celebrating her birthday this day is my niece Samantha, the Maria Sharapova of Marin County. And on Wednesday, it’s my old grammar school friend, Denise Cinquino Ayre, who I recently reconnected with after she left me on hold over the the phone for 40 years. Denise reminded me that I had twice invited her to go to Woodstock with me back in 1969, but she had to say no because of a modeling assignment. I told her she missed nothing except for three days of peace, love, music and mud.

So that’s our first blast for February. This has always been an interesting month on the weather front and this past weekend was no exception. The warm trade winds that blew with gale force on Saturday gave the central coast a tropical feeling I haven’t felt since devouring my last lemon chicken plate lunch from Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore. Throw in a couple of scoops of macaroni salad and wash it down with a mango coconut smoothie and you’ve captured the true aloha spirit.

So I hope you had an enjoyable Super Sunday as we now get back to focusing on the more the important things in life, like high school, college and NBA basketball. We’ll catch you at midcourt. Aloha, mahalo and later, Howard Stern fans.

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