December 25, 2011

Not All Sunrises Are Created Equal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 10:44 am

Good morning and greetings, winter solstice fans. According to the Farmer’s Almanac and my NBA schedule, the days are now getting longer, as gone away is the blue bird, here to stay is Larry Bird, as we frolicked and played, with five games on Christmas Day, watching in a winter wonderland.

Yes, the seasons have changed here on the central coast, and for the most part the skies have been clearer than the roads on Christmas morning. The winter air has turned chillier than President Obama’s presence at a Tea Party clam bake. And luckily for me, my home here on the upper west side was built insulation free, so I never have to worry about things getting too stuffy. I’m just fortunate that I prefer my wine and women the same way; slightly chilled.

So you know that I like to keep you up-to-date on my early morning ramblings. There was a spectacular sunrise last Monday and then a pretty good one on Friday, but due to circumstances that were way beyond my patrol, very little of these mornings of color on parade will grace the pages of Sunrise Santa Cruz. But the good news is that they’d be perfect for my new site, missedsunrisesofsantacruz.com.

It’s always interesting the way these mornings work, as the days when I’m poised and waiting, there’s been no drama in the sky, or at least not the Rose Parade of colors one expects from this site. Then, when I wasn’t emotionally available, the sky blew up once and then twice. Lionel Ritchie then called and said, “congratulations, you’re three times a lady.”

Normally, I’m as prepared for these morning exercises as Mitt Romney answering questions about $10,000 bets, but I should have listened to my astrologer when she said last week was not in the stars. That’s funny, because she didn’t mention anything during my palm reading.

The reason I bring this up is to let you know that at this middle-age stage in life, I am still very much a work in progress, and these mornings of missed opportunities are just a reminder that I am really in control of nothing except my remote. At this point in the aging process, I’m not sure if I’m getting older or just ripening.

December is one of those prime time sunrise and sunset months, but on the precipitation front, the central coast has been drier than North Dakota when it entered the Union. But while we are experiencing fog-free, sunny days, last week the midwest and Rockies saw more drifts of white powder than a backstage party with Led Zeppelin. This deadly snowstorm halted travel throughout the Great Plains as we’re talking blizzarding snow, howling winds and icy road conditions which created havoc for those heading home for the holidays. Now if only the ski operators in Tahoe could be so lucky.

But this being the final blast of 2011, I want to end the year with a bang for the ages. So we are going back into the photo archives and returning to the morning of my all-time favorite sunrise from the month of December. We’re talking a world-class, state of-the-art experience, one that you want to wake up your friends and ancestors for.

Now there are good sunrises, great sunrises and then there are ones that are off the chart. This is one from the category of the spectacular. It was back in 2006, a much gentler time when members of Congress still had a little dignity.

It was the day after a huge swell hit the central coast. This blessed event of high surf just added to the pagentry of the morning, as although I was shooting at low tide, a rather large pool of water remained next to the cliffs along Its Beach. This stroke of luck allowed me to capture the outrageous reflection from the clouds (photos three and four) on this golden pond, a sight I have not seen before or since this glorious morning.

This dawn experience had a little bit of everything, as the sky put on an award-winning show with color changes were simply amazing. We went through a series of various shades of red, orange, yellow and white, and this was all before the sun came up over Steamer’s Lane (photo eight.)

And, as an added bonus, the clouds in the western sky (photo six) were as spectacular as I’d ever seen, with pink swirls of ribbon that made this morning a 360 degree extravaganza.

Sunrises like this are few and far between. When I look back upon the images from this morning, I realize how lucky I am to be living in a place where you can show up for an event like this without a ticket and grab a front row seat. And no cover charge.

On to the late night. “Kim Jong Il, the crazy leader of North Korea who hated us, passed away over the weekend. And get this — his 28-year-old son, Kim Jong Un is taking over. It won’t be easy. He’s got some big women’s sunglasses to fill.” –Jimmy Fallon “North Korea announced the passing of their supreme leader, Kim Jong Il. His younger son will take over. At first, there was speculation that power could pass to one of Kim’s two sisters, Kourtney Jong Il or Khloe Jong Il.” –Jay Leno

“Kim Jong Il made his staff call him ‘dear’ and spent the day drinking cognac. It’s like I have a twin, ladies and gentlemen. The family is saying now that in lieu of flowers for Kim Jong Il, they encourage you to send enriched uranium.” –David Letterman “When Rick Perry was told about Kim Jong Il, he said, ‘I never heard of him, but then again, I don’t listen to that rap.’” –Jay Leno

“Last night Rick Perry compared himself to Tim Tebow. The difference? Tim Tebow actually has a prayer. The candidates all have their position on the Federal Reserve. Ron Paul is anti-Fed. Mitt Romney is pro-Fed. And Newt Gingrich is over-Fed.” –Jay Leno “On the campaign trail, Ron Paul said he does not like his milk homogenized. After this, Rick Perry said, ‘I am also not a fan of gay milk.’” –Conan O’Brien

“In Sioux City, Iowa, there was another debate between the seven Republicans running for president. All your favorites were there: Grumpy, Dopey, the other Dopey, Romney, Bashful, another Dopey, and Happy. “This was the 427th of 2,000 debates to be held between now and when President Obama is re-elected. There are so many debates. For a group of people who don’t want the government interfering in our lives a lot, they interfere in our lives a lot.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So this brings down the curtain for 2011. As I look back upon the year, it’s reassuring to know that our efforts in Iraq were not for naught and that a new civil war hasn’t broken out. But that would be looking at our war efforts as half-empty, and I’m no longer that type of guy.

So savor your family and friends and be grateful for your health and good fortune. We’ll catch you in 2012. Aloha, mahalo and later, Vanessa Bryant fans.

December 18, 2011

Let’s Not Get Personal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:41 am

Good morning and greetings, late fall fans. Well, I’m happy that the $800 billion war is over and our troops are out of Iraq. Reports are that this sovereign nation is now a more dangerous place than it was ten years ago, and that Iran is their newest best friend. All I can say is that I’m feeling a lot of shock but little awe. I’m just glad that this whole situation was never about the oil and vinegar.

So in last week’s ramblings, I looked at my life while pondering the province of growing older. Mark Twain once said that “age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Or was it “You know you’re getting older when you can live without sex but not without your glasses?” During my milk and cookies and research on this subject, I came across some interesting items that I wanted to share with my ever expanding waistline and cyber audience.

As many of you know, I live by the motto “you’re not getting older, you’re getting bitter, er better,” so I’m always looking at the bright side. For me, the glass is always more than half-filled with laughter, joy and total positivity. That is, after I finish pouring out the vindictiveness, judgementalness and negativity. Once those are gone, it’s smooth sailing on the open seas of life. And if you believe that, I got some intel about weapons of mass destruction that you might be interested in.

Doctors from the Hold the Mayo Clinic say that to enjoy getting older, we need to focus on positive emotions, not the negative ones. The bad should never outweigh the good and only the good die young. As the poster boy for the glass half-filled council, I find it very easy to go to the negative. It is a warm and familiar place that I never need directions to find, like the Safeway on Mission Street However, as I grow older, I realize this is a location I need not be, like downtown Fallujah. And as comfortable as the confines of this place is, it helps no one, particularly those closest to me, including my valet and tailor.

So, like the brave little soldier I am, I’m attempting to leave this negativity behind and close the door on this fun zone that I so easily journey to. I’m hopeful that this positive outlook is here to stay for a while. I can’t say for how long, but I’m shooting for at least through next week’s post.

So let’s get back to the fun topic of getting older. 13% of the U.S. population is over the age of 65. By the year 2020, the number is expected to double to 25% of the population. And “In the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive, they may find that in 10,000 years, man will have cried a billion tears.”

Jumping ahead, by the time a person turns eighty, the kidneys work only half as well as they did at age forty. No wonder plumbers are so expensive. And as I get older, I really enjoy being woken up in the middle of the night when my kidneys want to play.

But what I really love is getting back into bed and finding that my mind is racing like Secretariat hitting the back stretch. As a child, I didn’t know the middle of the night existed Now, it’s just an unwanted companion, keeping me from my much-needed dream research and beauty sleep.

Not to sound depressing, but approximately three hundred million cells die in the human body every minute. It’s like New Jack City in the bloodstream.

Fortunately, it’s really just a small fraction of the cells that are in the human body. According to census takers, the total number of cells in the human body come in at about 10 to 50 trillion. If you don’t believe me, count them for yourself. But there’s no reason to worry, as the adult body produces 300 billion new cells every day, or the same amount that California is building each year to house their exploding prison population.

Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do. This isn’t because of genetics, but because it’s a righty world of machines, making it dangerous for accident-prone lefties. So if you know any lefties, be extra nice to them around the holidays and keep them away from any power tools.

And finally, scientists claim that the colder the the room you sleep in, the better the chances are that you’ll have a bad dream. They aren’t sure why this happens, but it does explain why I’m constantly dreaming about not being able to find my jacket.

Today’s photo fun park brings us back to a sunrise on West Cliff Drive on the morning of November 27. I took the first two shots to capture the color and pagentry of the clouds reflecting on Its Beach, before I had a Woodstock moment and realized that Ansel Adams would probably be shooting from across the street in Lighthouse Field. Thus photos three and four.

I then hurried back across the street to Bird Rock to see the sun making its first appearance of the day over the mountains of Monterey. And believe it or not, I have not shot a sunrise or sunset since this morning, as the clouds have been as few and far between as intelligent dialogue coming out of the Republican presidential debates.

On to the late night. “Ron Paul is in favor of letting states legalize marijuana, prostitution, and cocaine. So even if he doesn’t win, that’s going to be one heck of an election night party. Men are now going to their barber and asking for a Mitt. Then they go to the girl on the corner and ask for a Herman Cain. “Rick Perry said there were eight supreme court justices instead of nine. But, in his defense, he did know there were only three judges on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’” –Jay Leno

“Mitt Romney says if he is president he will create 11 million new jobs. Sure, they’ll all be in China, but a job is a job, ladies and
gentlemen. Michele Bachmann is picking running mates. That’s like the Colts picking out Super Bowl rings.” –David Letterman “I’m not sure Rick Perry got it. Like when they asked him what he’d do about the West Bank, he said he’d bring back free checking.” –Jay Leno

“Mitt Romney tried to make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry during a presidential debate. Well, who says the Republicans are rich snobs out of touch with the common man? “Many voters feel that Mitt Romney is out of touch with real Americans after he tried to make a bet with Rick Perry for $10,000. When asked to comment, Mitt said, ‘I’m sorry, but that’s all I had in my pocket at the time.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois, stood under some mistletoe earlier today and kissed 14 years goodbye Illinois is the only state where the present governor rides around in a car whose license plate was made by a previous governor.” –David Letterman “The White House held its annual Hanukkah celebration. It was a traditional Jewish ceremony, except for the part where it was hosted by a black man from Hawaii.” –Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday, someone threw a pair of shoes at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran has captured the shoes and is studying their technology.” –Conan O’Brien “Iran is now in possession of an American drone. When I heard that I thought, ‘Oh, my god, they captured Joe Biden?’ “An Alabama anti-gay politician has been leading a secret life as a sperm donor for lesbian couples. This is a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our pre-Hanukkah report. If you’re a fan of potato latkes, break out the dreidels and get ready to spin the apple sauce and sour cream.

So enjoy the shortest day of the year on Wednesday and the blockbuster start of the NBA season next Sunday, which just happens to be Christmas day. It’s just like the angels planned it. We’ll catch you in early winter. Aloha, mahalo and later, Robert Griffin III fans.

December 11, 2011

You Can Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — geoff @ 10:17 am

Good mornings and greetings, December fans. Well, another glorious year has gone by since I celebrated the day when I entered the world in the breach position. I can remember that moment so clearly, when my mother looked at me and uttered, “my God, he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, but I’m still not going to breast feed him.” Fortunately for all those unconcerned, I forgave my mother for this lactating slight a few years ago, and though we are extremely close, I still tear up any time I see a glass of warm milk.

I’m not really crazy about getting older. The only silver lining to this experience is in my hair. If I feel it had any benefits, I would gladly embrace this aging process, but groaning every time I bend over, not remembering peoples names and phone numbers and walking upstairs and then forgetting why I did is not my idea of the golden, silver or bronze years.

Although it is my inalienable right to complain and finding the negative is easier than passing go, I’m not heading down that path today, as I’ve been blessed with good health and a TiVo system that I can rely on. But it is weird getting older, knowing that at least two-thirds of my life is over and I still don’t understand how in one area code, you can get an infinite amount of telephone phone numbers out of just seven digits. I guess that comes from living my life like a birthday candle in the wind.

And as I slowly age like a fine whine, my children continue to grow older. I now have two confirmed teenagers at home, and as much as I enjoy watching them blossom and establish their independence, I miss the days when my wife and I controlled everything they did. I’m just semi-kidding, and I’m happy that they are getting ready for their lives outside their bedrooms. Fortunately, I’ve been preparing for the empty nest syndrome ever since I saw their first sonograms. And they have both promised me that as long as I keep writing checks, that they will be there for me emotionally.

Once again, I’m just kidding. They never said they would be there for me emotionally.

Yes, getting older is just great. I’m still trying to think of a few benefits. Any wiser? Not really, maybe just a little softer on the inside, like a warm jelly donut. I know I’m shrinking in height, as the other day I passed an old lady living in a shoe and she invited me in. Actually, we are about 1 cm taller in the morning than in the evening as the cartilage between our bones gets compressed by standing, sitting, sobbing and other daily activities. Thus, as the day goes on, we’re all a little shorter. However, at this stage of my life, that is not the shrinkage I’m most concerned about.

At this point, I’m trying to make the world a better place with one weekly post at a time. But after five years at the keypad, I’m
afraid that I’m never going to have the same effect as a Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela or Howie Mandel. I guess that’s just the deal, or in my case, no deal. It’s a rewarding feeling making a difference in someone’s life, and if I’ve accomplished that, then I’m a better person for it, even if it doesn’t get tallied on Google Analytics. I’m more interested in the karma scoreboard.

So birthdays are a day of celebration, a chance to look back at our lives and quietly weep. So today, on the 12th day of December, birthday wishes go out today to my old radio partner Jerry Hoffman, who turns the big 60 today. Jerry, although just a year older, has always been like a father figure to me. We did Sportstalk Radio together back in the 80′s here on Monterey Bay, and I’ve never had as much fun at work as I did when I was on the air with my 12/12 pal.

Jerry was born to be on the air, as he is blessed with a booming voice, an encyclopedic knowledge of sports and the classic look for radio. He was also quite the fashion plate, sort of the Pierre Cardin of the AM dial. So in the words of the John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “You say it’s your birthday, it’s my birthday too, yeah.” Now I’ve got 52 weeks to savor being not in my 60′s, and I really hope to live it one chocolate day at a time.

And a birthday shout out goes to my basketball playing buddy, Jim Berry, who celebrates his big day on Thursday. Jim is a rabid Denver Broncos fan, and claims he is more accurate with throws across the middle than Tim Tebow.

For today’s photo flashback, we are heading up the coast to the golden sands of Four Mile Beach. These images were shot on a spectacular morning five years ago today, and it was as great a birthday morning as I can remember. No cake, balloons or ice cream, but big waves, changing skies, circling gulls and cotton candy clouds made for a morning of photo delight. Then a rainbow appeared in the sky to the north, and I knew it was my special day. It was nature’s gift card that was just right for the occasion.

On to the late night. “Herman Cain dropped out. Our writers and I were despondent. But sometimes when God closes a door, he opens a window. And standing outside that window is a circus peanut wearing a badger. Donald Trump will moderate a Republican debate Dec. 27. Thank you, Jesus.” –Jon Stewart “Today Herman Cain again denied allegations of any sexual misconduct and thanked his supporters for their gullibility.” –Jay Leno

“Herman Cain has suspended his presidential campaign, but he has asked the Secret Service if they could continue to provide him protection, at least until his wife cools off.” –David Letterman “Everybody’s talking about the presidential election. And this is big: Two days after stepping down, there are rumors that Herman Cain is endorsing his former rival, Newt Gingrich. Not to be president, but to be his new wingman.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The day before yesterday, Herman Cain suspended his campaign. That is a shame. He touched so many people.” –Stephen Colbert “No one in the media is giving Herman Cain credit for having been faithful to the same mistress for 13 years.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Cain now says he’s consulting with his family whether to stay in the race. Really? You think that’s what he’s discussing with his wife, about staying in the race? How about staying in the house?” –Jay Leno

“I was in the supermarket today, and I saw some Occupy Wall Street protesters in the dairy department. They were protesting the 1 percent milk.” –Jay Leno “Authorities have discovered what they call the most sophisticated tunnel ever found underneath the U.S.-Mexican border, being built by a Mexican drug cartel. And Gov. Rick Perry asked the question we’re all asking: ‘Why can’t these tunnels be dug by hard-working American drug cartels?’” –Jay Leno

So that’s the end of a wacky week in the NBA, as Laker fans are still as shocked as Herman Cain’s wife. I hope some of you caught the season finale of “Sons of Anarchy.” For Jax and the boys, it’s really been quite a ride. But then again, who doesn’t like being in way over their heads? We’ll catch you creating magic on the frozen tundra. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ben Rothlisberger fans.

December 4, 2011

It Just Dawned On Me

Good morning and greetings, December fans. Yes, time is flying by faster than Herman Cain could come up with denials for his extracurricular activities. I’m saddened to see the Godfather of mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce withdraw from the Presidential race, but it was a nice slice of campaigning while it lasted.

So with Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, it’s full steam ahead into the season where families and shoppers shift their focus from food and warm feelings to the holiday tasks of giving, receiving and most
importantly, returning.

December is also the time of year where I wake up every morning and
immediately search the sky for signs of clouds, color and intelligent life.
If I think there’ll be any possibility of viewing a this menagerie of color, I get dressed faster than J-Lo during a costume change, grab my camera and pepper spray and head down to West Cliff. I then eagerly await the heavens lighting up, so I can snap away like Ansel Adams on methamphetamine without any film hesitation. With any luck, the skies over Monterey Bay will cooperate and I’ll walk away with a prize that few can claim that morning.

That’s the beauty of shooting sunrises along West Cliff Drive. 99% of the time, I’m shooting alone. I guess that makes me part of the 1%. It’s not like sunset, when the the cliff is loaded with strollers, gawkers
and stalkers armed with their cell phone cameras, taking in the twilight
action. Shooting sunrise, much like my daily bubble baths, is a much more solitary affair, and in the last seven years I can count on one hand the amount of people who have joined me on this early morning excursion into photographic splendor. Alone but together.

Like chocolate, it’s usually semi-dark with when I hit the cliff, and then the sky lightens up as I await the immersion and conversion of this cloud conversation. It’s quite a diversion. What I enjoy most, besides the intense colors, reflection and finding a good parking space, is that this particular sunrise shot I’m getting is mine alone. I know there are people shooting this same spectacular moment up and down the coast, but from this particular location, it’s usually all mine. At least until this posting.

The reason for this sentimental journey is to capture these incredible moments and share it with cyber readers throughout the world and the west side. Like my old days as a Navy Seal, it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure. You do the hokey pokey and you turn your mind around, and that is what Sunrise Santa Cruz is all about.

So today’s photo montage showcases the first sunset I encountered this fall. We harken back to October 10th, where unlike my dreams and aspirations, everything fell into place that morning. I first shot the sky blowing up and the glowing reflection on the sand, before changing my location and moving back to Bird Rock to capture the full magnitude of this early morning convention of clouds.

I then continued photographing this happy gathering of cumulus at Four Mile Beach, where hundreds of gulls and a band of gypsys were waiting my arrival. For a sunrise shooter like myself, the dawning of clouds
is what it’s all about, and this was a fine way to start off the fall
festivities in this stage of Aquarius.

On to some late night humor. “Well, the inside talk is that Sarah Palin is going to endorse Newt Gingrich. If you think Newt is happy, you should see Mitt Romney.” –Jay Leno “Mitt Romney admitted in an interview, ‘I tasted a beer and tried a cigarette once as a wayward teenager and never did it again. This has the makings of the lamest ‘Behind the Music’ special yet. “If you think that’s bad, Jon Huntsman is now admitting that in college he experimented with parting his hair to the left.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Last week in New Hampshire, Herman Cain said that presidents don’t need to know every detail of every country in the world and he said he’s going to take that message across America to all 30 states.” –Jimmy Fallon “The star of the debate was Herman Cain. He didn’t talk much because the debate was about national defense and his area of expertise is pizza.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Tonight was the 14th republican presidential debate, or as Barack Obama has started calling them, campaign ads.” –Jimmy Fallon “It looks like the supercommittee chosen by President Obama to come up with
a plan to solve the deficit has failed. But don’t worry, he has announced a new plan. Next week, he’s appointing a super duper committee.” –Jay Leno “I just heard about a woman in Germany who just gave birth to a baby boy named ‘Jihad.’ Or as the TSA put it, ‘Hope you like Amtrak!’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our first blast for the December. In case you missed it, it was a tad breezy here last week on the central coast. How windy was it? In the morning, I windsurfed from my bed to the bathroom. We’ll catch you throwing deep in the bayou. Aloha, mahalo and later, Drew Brees fans.


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