February 26, 2012

This Is The Dawning Of The Age Of Hilarious

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 7:42 pm

Good morning and greetings, daybreak fans. I wanted to showcase a beautiful sunrise this week, which meant coming up with a clever title to satisfy the headline writer in me. Since I’ve exhausted the word ‘sunrise’ over the past five years, I went to the ‘dawn’ card and came up with today’s candidate. Which got me to thinking about the thought of Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin’s classic ‘Stairway to Heaven, “Does anyone remember laughter?”

Fortunately, the folks from www.humor-laughter.com and www.drstandley.com do. So turn up the laugh track as here we go. Studies have shown that there are 18 different kinds of smiles, three grins and one smirk. The most common is the smile of enjoyment, like when your team is left for dead and then goes on to win the Super Bowl or anything involving the thought of Chinese food, pizza, or NBA playoff tripleheaders.

Laughologists claim that 13 muscles are used to smile, 47 are needed for frowning, while scowling comes in at 59. I believe it was my orthodontist who told me that “A smile is a frown turned upside down.” Joan Rivers insists that you have to smile nearly a quarter of a million times to make a wrinkle, so I’m trying to pace myself.

Laughter and watching “Modern Family” lowers the levels of cortisol and epinephrine in the body. Both suppress the immune system and the air time of Sophia Veraga. Lowering these levels enhances the work of the immune system, may prevent disease and does wonders for ABC’s Neilson ratings.

Studies have shown that laughter causes endorphins to be released into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise, similar to the ‘high’ joggers get when jogging or attending a Grateful Dead concert. Laughter causes positive changes in brain chemistry when the endorphins are released back into the wild.

You can stimulate your heart, lungs and spleen, elevate your blood pressure and vertical leap and improve breathing capacity by laughing. In terms of exercise, you can get the same benefits from laughing 100 times a day as you can from 10 minutes of rowing or five minutes of being chased by a pack of wolves. 15 minutes of laughter equals the benefit of two hours sleep, and even more if you’re giggling while wearing slippers and pajamas.

Oprah claims that one good belly laugh burns off 3 1/2 calories, while laughing for 15 seconds adds two days to your life span. We’re talking about a daily dose of chuckling that can burn up to five pounds of fat over a year. So you might want to sit up and pay attention during those Republican Presidential debates.

The Chinese laugh and serve more moo goo gui pan than any other culture in the world. According to a study in Germany, back in the 50′s, people used to laugh an average of 18 minutes a day. Today, that’s down to 4-6 minutes. Boy, I wonder if that has anything to do with Facebook, Twitter, Blackberries, blueberries or the Kardashian sisters?

Higher levels of an antibody that fights infectious organisms entering the respiratory tract were found in the saliva of people who watched humorous videos, experienced good moods or didn’t read newspapers or watch the nightly news. Researchers found after watching an hour-long video of slapstick comedy without commercials that the “natural killer cells,” which seek out and destroy malignant cells, more actively attacked tumor cells in test tubes, which is great news for fans of The Three Stooges. In the words of Moe Howard, “Remind me to murder you later.”

A University of Chicago study showed that a great sense of humor can add eight years to your life, unless you get run over by a bus. I believe it was Milton Berle or Mahatma Ghandi who said, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone.” And then there was Christie Brinkley’s ex, Billy Joel, who said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners then cry with the New Orleans Saints.” Bottom line, everyone smiles in the same language.

I know I need to laugh more. Nothing feels better than a good laugh or knocking down the open jumper. Mark Twain once said that “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” Alan Alda added, “When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.” And North Carolina State basketball coach, Jim Valvano, had this to say before he passed away, “I urge all of you to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get you’re emotions going.” I couldn’t have said it better.

For today’s photo extravaganza we are returning to a warm sunrise down at Lighthouse Point on the morning of February 17. It was a quick and easy photographic adventure, and I marveled at the beauty of this morning. Just like anything pertaining to chocolate, I never tire shooting the dawning experience from this location.

On to the late night. “There are 8 million dead people who are still registered to vote. As a matter of fact, they’re the group that’s most passionate about Mitt Romney.” –Conan O’Brien “The band Megadeth has endorsed Rick Santorum. I think I’m going to wait and see who Metallica likes. Kim Jong Il would have been 70 years old today if he hadn’t died a couple of months ago. But don’t worry. Osama bin Laden threw him a surprise party in hell.” –David Letterman

“President Obama’s approval rating is up to 50 percent. Only half the country dislikes him. Apparently his strategy of not being any of the Republican candidates is paying off. Here’s how he stacks up against others. Obama is at 50 percent positive. Mitt Romney is at 42 percent positive. Ice cream is ahead of both of them at 97 percent.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“A group of Democratic fundraisers is offering a dinner with the president for $35,000. Unfortunately, the only person in America who can afford it is Mitt Romney. “Yesterday Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney all said that if elected president they would eliminate porn. In a related story, President Obama has already been re-elected.” –Conan O’Brien

“Rick Santorum says that if he’s elected, he’s going to leave the interns alone and just screw the American people directly. This guy is really conservative. In fact, Rick Santorum is so conservative he won’t even go down on an escalator. Santorum is so conservative he won’t even let the UPS guy handle his package. Rick Santorum is so conservative that when he goes to KFC, he only orders the right wings. “This guy is so anti-gay, he won’t even eat a Hershey bar if it has nuts.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our last blast for February. Birthday wishes today go out to the Dutchess of Westchester, Amy Zimmerman, who says that despite the success of Jeremy Lin, she still has no regrets about leaving the snowbanks of Syracuse back in the early 70′s. We’ll catch you draining threes and swooping to the hoop. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kevin Durant fans.

February 19, 2012

If You Can’t Arboretum, Join ‘Em.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 7:17 pm

Good morning and greetings, precipitation fans. Well, we finally got a little moisture here on the central coast, as a quick storm blew in last Monday and dropped about half inch of rain. I know that rainy days and Mondays always got Karen Carpenter down. When I asked Gregg Allman about it, he replied, “They call in stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad.” Unfortunately, I don’t agree with Gregg on this one, but then again, I’ve never been married to Cher.

By mid-February, Santa Cruz has usually received around 20 inches of rain. This year’s total is about 10 inches, which doesn’t have the ski resorts owners in Tahoe turning cartwheels. It’s been an extremely dry year and with no significant rain in the forecast, we’re stuck enjoying clear days and summer-like conditions. When I further queried Gregg Allman on the situation, he replied, “You’re my blue sky, you’re my sunny day. Lord knows it makes me high when you turn your love my way.” Hey, Gregg, let’s not get so personal. I was only asking about the weather.
So on that note, what do we really know about rain? And who doesn’t love it when it blows in and breaks up the sunny monotony? Well, on the moist note, here are some fun facts about our friend we know as liquid precipitation.

Rain starts off as ice, snow or Billy crystals at cloud level. Freezing rain is rain that freezes when it hits the ground; sleet is frozen ice pellets and purple rain never meant to cause you any sorrow. B.J Thomas claims that rain drops can travel down to earth at speeds of about 22 miles an hour, and 25 MPH in a school zone.

For those watching their weight, there’s light rain, which is classified at dropping no more than .10 inches an hour, while heavy rain falls at more than .30 an hour. When I asked the lovely Carly Simon about her thoughts on this subject, she claimed, “I haven’t got time for the rain.” Rain drops do not fall in the shape of a teardrop, they but fall in the shape of a flat oval. But as we know, “Too many tear drops for one heart to carry on means you’re going to cry ninety-six tears, you’re going to cry ninety-six years.”

Rain is recycled water that has evaporated from lakes, rivers, hot tubs, oceans, ponds, jacuzzis, streams, bayous and the orca tank at Sea World. Acid rain was first discovered by scientists at the Woodstock Music Festival. And believe it or not, the Statue of Liberty is turning green due to acid rain, as it is made out of copper and the acid dissolves the copper and discolors it. Which brings to mind an old Woody Allen quote, “My love life is terrible. The last time I was inside a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty.”

Now let’s play rain geography. Louisiana, which has Mardi Gras coming up this week, is the wettest state in the U.S, receiving an annual rainfall of 56 inches. Mount Waialeale, smack in the middle of the Garden Isle of Kauai, Hawaii, has approximately 350 rainy days every year, which has the ferns singing like the Pointer Sisters. The world’s heaviest average rain fall (about 430 inches) occurs in Cherrapunji, India, where as much as 87 feet of rain has fallen in one year. Yet the locals go about their lives singing, “Gray skies are going to clear up, put on a happy face.”

And finally, under the category of “I did not know that,” the umbrella was originally intended not to protect mankind from falling droplets, but to shade people from the hot sun. The word umbrella comes from the Latin word umbra, meaning keep your cranium dry. But who doesn’t love it when those rain drops keep fallin’ on our heads? I believe when it comes to precipitation, my feelings are summed up by Gene Kelly, who’s laughing at the clouds because the sun’s in his heart. “I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain. What a wonderful feeling, I’m happy again.”

So when it’s raining, I like to grab my camera and head up to the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz, which is conveniently located just minutes from my westside abode. It has acres and acres of exotic plants and flowers, serves as a research and teaching facility as well as a cool hangout for hummingbirds and their friends. We’re talking wild and rare plants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, California and New Jersey that are difficult to find in your local yellow pages.

When I’m looking for photographic conditions for shooting plants, the wetter the better. The first three shots are from my most recent expidition while the second three are from any earlier journey to this oasis of exotic color and wonder. I love visiting there after a storm, which conjurs up the words of Woody Allen from the classic ‘Play It Again, Sam.’ “I love the rain – it washes memories off the sidewalk of life.”

On to the late night. Rick Santorum is hoping his three wins in the Republican primaries on Tuesday will postiion him as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. And I think that’s reflected in his new campaign slogan: the other white meat.” –Seth Meyers “Rick Santorum said women might not be suited for military action because their emotions aren’t suited forcombat. Which can mean only one thing: He’s never seen an episode of ‘The View.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Have you noticed Romney doesn’t even blow dry his hair anymore? He dries naturally from Rick Santorum breathing down his neck.” –Jay Leno

“It was a bad night for Newt Gingrich. In terms that Newt can understand, I think the voters told him they want to start seeing other candidates.” –Jay Leno “Newt Gingrich is trying to save his campaign by focusing only on areas where he has the most support. So he’s mostly focusing on Georgia, Tennessee, and the Cheesecake Factory.” –Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney said today that he learned something. There are things that money can’t buy — like Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri. “Romney’s campaign is in such bad shape, today he moved the part in his hair even further to the right.” –Jay Leno “Mitt Romney is trying hard to connect with voters. He seems like he’s too affluent. Romney was talking about his father’s humble beginnings as a carpenter. He said, ‘I’ll never forget the day my dad started building our fourth beach house.’” –Conan O’Brien

Birthday wishes on Wednesday go out to George Washington, Dr. J, Julius Erving and my brother Paul. Back in the late 70′s, Paul left the warm, cozy confines of our oceanfront home on West Cliff Drive to pursue his destiny in New York. I stayed behind and watched whales, pelicans and roller skaters cruise by along the cliff and prepare for this blog. He went on to become a CNN producer and sports anchor in Atlanta and the NBA ‘s Entertainment’s Director of Video Promotions while I counted clouds and watched the sun dip into the Pacific.

Now we are both raising teenagers, still marveling at the New York Giant’s playoff run and beyond amazed at the meteoric rise of Palo Alto’s Jeremy Lin. To coin the phrase my brother brought into the league’s venacular, “NBA action is fantastic.” So is it having a brother like him. And as Bob Hope says, “I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance – waiting for the bathroom.

So that’s our Rainn Wilson report. Our final word on precipitation belongs to that smooth lefthander Jimi Hendrix, who said, “Rainy day, dream away, let the sun take a holiday.” And speaking of which, I was in a celebration mode on Saturday, when at age 59 years and 49 days, I had my best day on the basketball court since my wife bore us children. Hitting the three, spinning in the lane, throwing no-look passes, I was in the zone and on fire. And yes, there were witnesses.

This day was a blessing for me and my catch and shoot game. So maybe my future isn’t so far behind me. We’ll catch you exploding to the hoop. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

February 12, 2012

The Good, The Ban And The Ugly

Good morning and greetings, national park fans. I’m always amazed
when I drive along the freeways of life at how much litter I see on
the side of the road. The majority of it is usually plastic bags, bottles and George Bush ‘Mission Accomplished’ t-shirts.

It is such a visual blight and I always think, this isn’t a third-world country, this is America. How can this be happening? This is why I’ve always been in favor of capitol punishment for litterers, but perhaps that’s a tad extreme. Fifteen to life or having to read the Tea Party’s weekly newsletter might be more appropriate.

So that leads me to a story wriiten by Shaun McKinnon in the
Arizona Republic. In the very near future, when you visit the Grand
Canyon, it’s going to be BYOBA, as in bring your own bottled aqua, as
the National Park Service says it will no longer allow the sales of bottled-water. This is because millions of these discarded plastic containers are littering trails, filling trash and recycling bins while just making one plastic, fantastic mess in one of our nation’s wonderlands.

These new rules take effect in about 30 days, to coincide with the
start of March Madness. Visitors can still bring in bottled water,
Mountain Dew or Diet Snapple into this grandest of all canyons, but
no water will be available for purchase. The Park Service is hoping that hikers, tourists and surivalists will instead switch to reusable containers
they can top off for free at refilling stations at the South Rim, North Rim or the way I had hoped to live my life, above the rim.

Park officials claim that plastic bottles for account of 30 percent of the
Canyon’s recyclable trash and 20 percent of the overall trash, which I think is rubbish. The decision comes more than a year after they announced the no-sale of bottled water policy, and then backtracked after Coca-Cola, which sells the Dasani brand of water, went nuts and sought to block the ban. And we know that Dasani, which Coca Cola designed to make a difference, claims to be the most refreshing water you will ever taste. Personally, I prefer my chemical contaminants from out of the tap.

The ban is part of a new nationwide policy put in place in December,
instructing all parks to work toward halting bottled-water sales and
large foam fingers. The policy is aimed more at hikers than casual
visitors, who can still purchase Gatorade, Dr. Pepper and a variety of
tropical smoothies at the Canyon gift shops.

Park officials say that discarded bottles have become a serious problem along the trails on the rim and in the Canyon’s soft, chewy interior. The Park’s chief concessions operator says that because of the ban they will lose money, but right now “that’s water under the bridge,” and they will attempt to make up some of the difference with sales of Herman Cain campaign memorabilia.

I think it’s a great idea. And if I never saw another customer leaving
Costco with a flat of 100 bottles in tow, I think I could still sleep at night. The environment and the American Council for Pick up Your Damn Garbage thanks you.

On the photo front, the skies lit up last Thursday night with a sunset
for the ages. It was spectacular on two different fronts, with giant peach-colored clouds to the east with orange waves of grain to the west. Unfortunately, I viewed it through the windshield my car as I hurtled back through time and space on my way home from Hollister.

So although I did see it, I didn’t quite capture the moment. But
thank goodness one of today’s youth intervened and put the moment in perspective. My son Jason said, “Dad, the important thing is that we saw it,” I replied “Son, you’re absolutely right,” and then I made him ride home in the trunk the rest of the way.

So instead I’m showcasing a sunset shot from Stockton Avenue back on the evening of January 29. It pales in comparison to the stars and stripes extravaganza of last week, but it will work for this week’s post. It seems the fabulous sunrises and sunsets, much like my mother’s favorite show ‘Parenthood,” is closing down for the season and will soon be history.

I believe it was either Groucho or Karl Marx who said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” John F. Kennedy said that “History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.” But I like to quote another former president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said, “Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future or the New York Giant’s defense to run over him.”

On to the late night. “Donald Trump announced he is building a new
hotel four blocks from the White House. And with any luck, that will
be about as close to the White House as Donald Trump will ever get.” –Jay Leno “It was a busy day for Trump, because just this morning, his hair popped out of the ground and predicted six more weeks of winter.” –Jimmy Fallon “Newt and Hillary are very similar. Both spent the ‘90s trying to figure out who Bill was sleeping with. And they have the
same tailor.” –Craig Ferguson

“One of the most talked about commercials was the one with Clint
Eastwood, where he said, ‘It’s halftime in America, and our second
half is about to begin.’ The bad news? China has the ball and we’re
down $15 trillion. Congratulations once again to the world champion
New York Giants.They played a great game. Eli Manning now has two
rings. Two! But that’s still one less ring than Newt Gingrich.” –Jay Leno

“Former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is on the show tonight. If
you know anything about this guy, he dropped out. But he’s a former
governor, Ambassador to China, honest, kind, ethical, a good husband,
and a good father. He never stood a chance.” –Jay Leno “Rick Santorum was the big winner. He is feeling very cocky. He already is being fitted for an inaugural sweater vest.” –David Letterman “A mother in China gave birth to a 15-pound baby. Chinese officials say it’s so
big, it can do the work of two babies.” –Conan O’Brien

It was a wild week on the central coast, as a huge swell hit
last Wednesday, bringing enormous waves that smashed against the
cliffs in spectacular displays of spray and wash. When the ocean
displays this kind of energy, power and fury, it is a sight never to be missed. All part of the Magic Johnson at the edge of the continent.

And speaking of energy, I hope you caught some New York Knick’s action this week, because there was some something special happening in Madison Square Garden. Harvard was in the house. We’ll catch you hitting threes, twisting layups and 360 drives in the lane. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jeremy Lin fans.

February 5, 2012

Sunday, Bloated, Sunday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 8:18 pm

Good morning and greetings, February fans. We are now in the midst the shortest month of the year, although for many, Sunday might have seemed like the longest day. Forget about the game and the final score, as for many, it was all about Madonna, her dancers and what was served up on the super menus. So on that foot-long note, let’s take a postgame look at what might have been ingested on the food front during Super Bowl Sunday.

For the NFL faithful, party lovers and die-hard Pilgrims, Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest day of food consumption behind Thanksgiving, although for me, it’s usually a fast day. What this means is that during the game the average Super Bowl watcher consumes 1,200 calories in conjunction with every first down and cheerleader cutaway shot.

The Institute of Avocado Awareness estimates that fans and Dorito lovers inhaled somewhere around 69 million pounds of avocados during the game, mostly in the form of guacamole, a dip that was first made by the Aztecs during the 1500′s to appease the Gods and drug cartels. They also believed the avocado to be an aphrodisaic, which led to the invention of the super burrito.

The most popular take-out and delivery items yesterday were pizza, chicken wings, sandwiches and any unhealthy edible item that a football fan can consume involving no preparation. Domino’s expected to sell 11 million slices of pizza and a boatload of chocolate lava crunch cake. Throw in some chicken parm and a liter of cherry Coke and I think we’ve covered all the essential food groups.

Americans ate approximately 100 million pounds of chicken and one cornish game hen, which breaks down to 1.25 billion portions or 450 million individual wings per hour. If I were a chicken, I’d make myself scarce during Super Bowl week. And if I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land.

Moving down the menu, an astonishing 14,500 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn, pretzels, nuts and bolts were eaten during the singing of the National Anthem. Salsa flowed like the River Jordan. It was the biggest winter grilling day of the year, as my wife kept on grilling me as to when the damn game would be over.

And according to the late Timothy Leary and 7-Eleven stores, there is a 20% increase in the sale of antacids on the day after the Super Bowl. We all know that Rolaids spell relief and that if you’re one of the 25 million Americans that suffer from heartburn on a daily basis, nothing works faster than TUMS. Or as I tweeted my cardiologist during halftime, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”

I’m not even going to mention how much beer, light beer and heavy alcohol was consumed yesterday but let me put it into perspective. If we thought of this amount of consumed liquid in terms of average rainfall, we wouldn’t be talking about a severe drought in the southern United States.

That being said, Super Sunday lived up to its billing, from the 20 hour pre-game show to the endless beer commercials showing how much fun life can really be. And as we all know, at the end of the day of food and football, it doesn’t really matter who won, but who covered the point spread. And that would be the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

So on the photo front, let’s kickoff off February with a blast by going into the archives and pulling out my favorite sunset from this month. The year was 2006, as I shot this beauty from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive. You could sense from the texture of the clouds that this night, like Mario Manningham’s catch, was going to be something special, and it did not disappoint.

The sky went from distinguished gray to outrageous orange to finally blood red, and these colors reflecting in the Pacific made for an outstanding night. Since I shot it on a Sunday, I named the final shot “Super Sunday,” which gives us all food for thought. And that leads me to the words of the great Oprah Winfrey, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down on your way to the Giant’s ticker tape parade.”

On to a little late night. “Now, Senator John McCain has gotten into the act; McCain says that the Republican debates have turned into mud wrestling. To which Herman Cain said, “I knew I got out too soon!” –Jay Leno “Newt Gingrich picked up an endorsement from Herman Cain. It’s not unlike getting Carrot Top’s endorsement for an Academy Award.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“President Obama told the nation ‘The state of our union is strong,’ while Newt Gingrich told his wife, ‘The state of our union is open.’” –Conan O’Brien “His State of the Union speech was written so 8th graders could understand it. Which explains the part where Obama said, ‘I wasted bin Laden, LMAO!’” –Conan O’Brien

“The government may be legally required to release the video of Osama bin Laden’s killing. President Obama said this would be unhelpful, inflammatory, and ‘Could you please release it two days before the election?’” –Conan O’Brien “In Florida, Mitt Romney won the Republican presidential primary election. He beat Newt Gingrich handily. Political analysts believe that elderly voters in Florida rejected Newt Gingrich because of fears that he would eventually leave them for a younger state.” –Jimmy Kimmel “It’s the first day of Black History Month. So if you’re watching me right now, it means you have completely missed the point.” –Conan O’Brien

Birthday wishes go out to the woman who gave me life and years of bottle feeding, my mother, Lee Gilbert, who celebrates her big day on Wednesday. At 86 years young, she is still going strong, as she has figured out how to turn on her computer and forward an email. Next up, how to print a document and turn the computer off.

And on the same day, my niece, the lovely Samantha Gilbert, turns sweet sixteen. Not only is she the Maria Sharapova of Marin County but also an expert on Japanese culture.

Then on Thursday, birthday greetings go out to my old grammar school classmate, Denise Cinquino, the woman who not once, but twice, turned down my invitation to go to the Woodstock Music Festival. The good news is that Denise, who hasn’t aged a day since our senior prom, has assured me that if I invite her again to three days of peace, music and mud, she’s in.

So that’s our Super Bowl report. It’s been a tremendous year for New York Giant’s fans, as this playoff run was one for the ages. We’ll catch you at the parade. Aloha, mahalo and later, Eli Manning fans.


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