June 24, 2012

I Get By With A Little Kelp From My Friends

Good morning and greetings, summer solstice fans. Last Thursday, the change of seasons, much like my transformation from boyhood to a bloghood, came about quietly, and in a blink of a thigh, we sprang from spring into Donna summer.

And what an opening day it was. Torrential rains produced record flooding in parts of Minnesota, while in northeast, the thermometer spiraled into the high-90′s, which combined with unbearable humidity made folks from Washington D.C., to Maine feel like broasted chickens. I don’t want to say it was hot, but even the sun was looking for shade. As we locals say, “Lucky we live Santa Cruz.”

As I mentioned in a rambling, I’ll be heading to the Garden Isle at the end of a July, a thought I don’t think about more than ten billion times a day. Last week, after parking my car in the lot at Natural Bridges, I surveyed the kelp-filled beach and commented to my wife, who is also my soul mate and main beneficiary that “This is not what the beach is going to look like in Kauai.” We may have to step around some coral, but the only weed we’re going to see on the beach will be going up in smoke.

So when I saw this story written by Pete Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle, I knew I had it was my civic duty and moral responsibility to bring it to my cyber audience in Monterey Bay.

A highly invasive form of brown kelp native to Japan has spread throughout the San Francisco waterfront like garlic fries since it was discovered three years ago. Researchers say it could threaten native species and ecosystems if money, resources and more ketchup aren’t put into stopping its spread.

The seaweed, commonly known as Wakame, multiplies faster than the Octomom, and has driven out native kelp and drastically altered entire ecosystems in other places, including Argentina, New Zealand, parts of Europe, the Jersey shore and a Club Med in Jamaica.

This clever kelp, which is a common ingredient in miso soup and General Tso’s chicken, is known in scientific circles as Undaria pinnatifida or Inthegodadavita. It can attach itself to almost anything – pilings, boats, docks, nurses, chains, riprap and old girlfriends. Like a young Manute Bol, this algae can grow an inch a day, with individuals sometimes stretching 9 feet. And as they say in the hoops world, “You can’t teach nine feet.”

This seaweed, along with people who talk on their cell phones in restaurants, are recognized globally as two of the world’s top 100 invasive species. This Japanese import made its debut in California about 12 years ago, probably by a ship or Sony executive that moored in the Long Beach area.

It was discovered in Monterey in 2001 and later spotted having some clam chowder in a bread bowl at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing in 2002. These slimy blooms have since spread northward along the coast, most likely by hitching rides on boats, planes, trains and automobiles. In the classic words of Steve Martin, “Those aren’t pillows!”

Last year, researchers with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center found it clinging like peaches to piers and docks in several
more places along the San Francisco waterfront. According to Chela Zabin, a biologist for the Maryland-based research center and UC Davis. “In San Francisco Bay, it is now widespread enough, and on so many pier pilings that we can’t get to, that I don’t think we can remove it by hand. It’s a potentially very serious problem. And don’t even get me started on the Warriors.”

The removal effort faces several obstacles, not the least of which is that there is no money available for research or to pay for an
eradication effort, making it an all-volunteer affair. Even if there were enough workers and funding, total elimination would be a tricky proposition. The species shoots out thousands of microscopic spores that, like many members of Congress, can remain dormant for up to two years.

Zabin says if the spread of this foreign agent is not checked, it could eventually outcompete the native seaweeds, including giant kelp, the majestic floating seaweed species common to Monterey Bay whose limbs can reach 200 feet below the surface. Many fish and other aquatic animals depend on the giant kelp for food, shelter to lay eggs on, to escape from predators and hide from the IRS. These functions cannot be replaced by Undaria pinnatifida, which like my medulla oblongata, is more like a giant banana leaf that sinks below the surface and attaches itself to things in a co-dependent way.

In summation, although it’s not a major problem in Monterey Bay now, this seaweed has the potential to be more disruptive than the Tea Party. And that, my marine life-loving friends, is almost as scary as the Republicans taking over the White House in November.

Moving along, last Saturday night, while trying to connect with my higher self and TiVo guide, I glanced down and noticed that my foot was glowing red. I turned around and saw that the sky was lit up like it was the first night of Shavous. What a glorious sight for all the visitors who were in town for the UCSC graduations while taking in the gray essence that is the morning coastal fog.

So to make up for missing out on this menagerie of color and to remove the guilt and shame from my photogtraphic palate, I went back into the archives to see if there were any sunsets I had shot from past Junes.

Colorful displays in the sky in June occur about as often as I go on Facebook. My research revealed just one from the previous seven years. And just my Andrew luck, I had never featured this set of photos before. I took them from a little park above the arroyo near my house. It wasn’t McArthur Park, and although it wasn’t melting in the dark, I know I’ll never have that recipe for that sunset again. Oh, no!

On to some late night humor. “Last night on the premiere of a new reality show, Bristol Palin confronted a man in a bar and demanded to know why he hates her mother. In response, John McCain said ‘Leave me alone, I’m having a drink.’” –Conan O’Brien “For the first time in history, the number of Asian immigrants coming into America is larger than the number of Hispanic immigrants. Now even our immigrants are being made in China.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“President Obama is going to a fundraiser at Sarah Jessica Parker’s house. It will be a formal, sit-down dinner for 200 in her shoe closet.” –Conan O’Brien “Mitt Romney said Obama is ignoring the real issues with illegals, which is that they keep blowing the grass clippings into his pool.” –Bill Maher

“Guantanamo Bay is getting millions and millions of dollars of upgrades and renovations. In fact, they’re not even calling it a detention camp anymore. It’s now a gated community.” –Jay Leno “Happy Flag Day. Flag Day is the day in which we honor the symbol of our nation and the 8-year-old Chinese kids who make them for us for a nickel apiece.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our last gasp for June 2012. Happy anniversary wishes today go out to my mother and father, who celebrate their 162nd, er 62nd wedding anniversary. Unbelievable! As a wise guy once said, “Marriage is when a man and woman become as one; the trouble starts when they try to decide which one.”

And congratulations go out to their grandson, Jason, who was named as one of the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s All-County Athletes of the Year. If you can find one of those dictionaries the pioneers used and look up “scholar athlete”, you’ll see Jason’s picture.

We’ll catch you showing the entire planet why you’re the best player in the world. Aloha, mahalo and later, LeBron James fans.

June 17, 2012

Could You Be A Little More Pacific?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 3:47 pm

Good morning and greetings, NBA Final fans. Well, the tide has turned, as two weeks ago it was low tide city in the morning, and as a result, I saw more things exposed than while wandering around the various campsites at Woodstock.

In last week’s post, I wrote of how the tides are created, why they shift and what it’s like to be up at the plate with the score tied with two out in the ninth. So to stay in harmony with Mother Earth and make sure everything is even Steven, our photo emphasis today will be on high tides and greenhouse grass forever, with some big wave action thrown in as an appetizer.

These shots were taken along West Cliff Drive on two consecutive big swell days, when the surf community’s adrenaline was pumping like my heart during my daily weight training program. It’s always a treat, like seeing Marty Short banter in the late night, to see the waves smashing up against the cliffs, creating spectacular shows of spray that would make any fireman or firewoman jealous.

So what do these tides have in common? They both feature my favorite ocean, the Pacific, and that is what our non-government sanctioned, fun fact-finding tour today is all about.

I may have grown up frolicking in the Atlantic, but now the bacteria from the Pacific is in my heart, lungs and bloodstream. For the past 38 years and eleven hours, I have viewed this amazing body of water almost every day. Some days, when I’m feeling brave, I actually go in up to my knees. This is because when the water temperature is in the low 50′s, my body goes into cyrongenic shock mode. My shaman says I’m too old for this. I don’t want to say that I’m aging, but in the words of the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, “The other day I was walking by a cemetary and two guys came running after me with shovels.”

So let’s look into a few specifics of the Pacific. It is the largest, deepest, oldest and wisest of the five oceans on Earth. The Pacific covers about 46% of the Earth’s water surface. The water temperature ranges from freezing in the pole areas to about a delightful 86 degrees near the equator. Its depth is more than the height of Mount Everest. There are more than 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean, including one I’ll be visiting next month in the Hawaiian chain. As the natives say, Kauai not?

The Pacific was the last ocean uncovered by Europeans and the Discovery Channel. The first European to take a peek was the Spanish explorer Vasca Nunez de Rocky Balboa, who in 1513, climbed a peak in Panama and stared out over the water. He then took possession of the ocean in the name of King Ferdinand, Queen Isabella, Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz of Spain.

This would be a high point for our friend, Balboa, as when he returned to his mother country, his jealous enemies accused him of treason. He was later arrested, convicted and beheaded. I think in gratitude, he would have preferred a simple thank you. With enemies like this, who needs friends?

The Pacfic Ocean was named by Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first navigator to sail around the globe. Back in 1519, Magellan and his motley crew sailed into a body of water he described as a “beautiful, peaceful ocean.” Thus, it was named the Pacific, meaning beautiful. He found its winds and climate more gentle than those of other oceans, and he loved dining outside along the beach in Malibu.

The highlight of this trip was when Magellan and his crew, who were the first Europeans ever to sail across the Pacific, underestimated the vastness of this body of water. They went for 98 days without seeing any land and had to eat rats, sawdust, tofu, kale and boiled leather to avoid starvation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found boiled leather to be a little chewy, even when served medium rare. Maybe it’s just me, but a little bit of scurvy always throws off my game.

On to some late night. “A new book claims President Obama smoked a lot of marijuana while in college. And in a related story to boost his street cred, Mitt Romney admitted he was once hooked on phonics.” –Jay Leno “Somebody has been leaking classified information. John McCain is outraged. He wants to get to the bottom of who is leaking the classified information and also he wants to find out who keeps messing with his thermostat.” –David Letterman

“Mitt Romney is going on a six-state bus tour. Mitt is very excited because he’s never been on a bus. “Last month Mitt Romney raised $76 million. He found it in an old sport-coat pocket.” –David Letterman

“It’s great to be back in Chicago. Illinois Rep. Derek Smith has been accused of accepting a $7,000 bribe. If he’s found guilty, he could serve up to four years as the state’s governor. “The last time I did a late-night show in Chicago, my guest was an up-and-coming senator called Barack Obama. And now just six short years later, he’s gone on to become a socialist Muslim from Kenya.” –Conan O’Brien

“This weekend President Obama’s daughter, Sasha, will turn 11 years old. Sasha didn’t ask Obama for a present — you know, because she’s still waiting for him to deliver the gifts he promised three birthdays ago.” –Jimmy Fallon “In Greece, the unemployment rate has risen to 22%. The solution to the problem was to raise taxes on the rich, according to the Greek president Barack Obama-opolis.” –Jay Leno

“Mayor Bloomberg has outlawed giant cans of soda. When you outlaw stuff it creates crime. I saw a guy today walking down the street and a cop is arresting him because he’s got a huge can of soda, and he said ‘No, no, this is medicinal Mountain Dew.’ “Now Mayor Bloomberg wants to make something else illegal. He wants to remove the third layer from a club sandwich.” –David Letterman

So that’s our last blast for the spring of 2012, as next week we move into Donna Summer mode. We’ll catch you throwing the 22nd perfect game in major league history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Matt Cain fans.

June 10, 2012

Swing Low Tide, Sweet Chariot

Good morning and greetings, French Open fans. The weather on the central coast recently, much like LeBron James 45 point outburst against the Celtics in game six, has been NBA fantastic. If you like thunder and lightning up the scoreboard, it’s a great time to be an NBA fan.

Last week on my morning strolls along West Cliff Drive, I noticed the tide was lower than my expectations of the Warriors making a good lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Low tide is always a treat, as it uncovers a plethora of the coastline’s hidden treasures. So last Tuesday, before you could say, “Sofia Vergara,” I headed down to Lighthouse Point to take in the green grass and low tide action. Forever.

As you can see in photo #1, the tide down at Its Beach was lower than my score on my math SAT’s. I was hoping to be able to walk through my favorite arch to photograph this classic structure from both sides, but I hadn’t brought along my snorkeling gear, so Samuel Gompers and I had to settle for the lovely view looking west. But if I had been able to Dwyane wade through, the view would have looked very much like photo #2.

I then headed back up the steps to catch the marine mammeled flavor of Seal Rock (photo #3.) There were a couple of pods of sea lions lounging in the water nearby, but my zoom wasn’t more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, so I wasn’t able to get a good shot.

But the swell was up and Steamer Lane was full of surfers trying to catch some wave action. Some nice sets were rolling in (photo #4) and at that moment, I reflected back on the words of The Rascals, “It’s a beautiful mornin’. I think I’ll go outside for a while. An jus’ smile. Just take in some clean fresh air boy. Ain’t no sense in stayin’ inside. If the weather’s fine an’ you got the time.” And boys and squirrels, luckily, one thing I do have, besides an almost clean driving record, is time.

By the way, not to date myself, but I saw The Rascals in concert iin New Jersey at Palisades Amusement Park in back in the mid 1960′s. I don’t want to say I’m getting old, but at the breakfast table I hear snap, crackle and pop, and I’m not eating cereal.

Anyway, today’s six pack of photos was brought on by the advent of low tide. And as we know, Tide gets out the stains that others leave behind. Dirt can’t hide from Tide.

So now you’re probably thinking to yourselves, I wonder what causes the tides to change? I thought you’d never ask. And remember, if it’s got to be clean, it’s got to be Tide.

According to Jeff Spicoli and surfingsantacruz.com, tides are created because the Earth and the moon are attracted to each other, just like magnets are attracted to each other. These are known as lunar tides. The moon tries to pull at anything (except Rush Limbaugh) on the Earth to bring it closer. But, the Earth is able to hold onto everything except the water and sometimes Oprah.

Since the water is always moving, the Earth cannot hold onto it, and the moon is able to pull at it The moon is pulling upwards on the water while the earth is pulling downward. Slight advantage to the moon and thus we have tides. And as we know, tides go to the runner.

Each day, there are two high tides and two low tides. The ocean is constantly moving from high tide to low tide, and then back to high tide. There is about 12 hours and 25 minutes between the two high tides, or about the same amount of time it will take me to catch up on the episodes I missed of the first three seaons of “Justified.”

When the sun and moon are aligned, there are exceptionally strong gravitational forces, causing very high and very low tides which are called spring tides, though they have nothing to do with the season. The gravitational force of the moon is one ten-millionth that of earth, or the same odds that I will one day be paid for writing this blog. But when you combine other forces such as the earth’s centrifugal force created by its spin, you get tides. Or as the Spin Doctor say, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

The sun’s gravitational force on the earth is only 46 percent that of the moon. This makes the the moon the single most important factor for the creation of tides. And Tide knows fabric best. Since the moon moves around the Earth, it is not always in the same place at the same time each day. So, each day, the times for high and low tides change by 50 minutes. I believe it was either George Carlin or author Robert C. Gallagher who said, “Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.”

So to then complete my tidal wonderings, I kayaked over to the wharf to photograph some sea lions up on one of the boat landings. But Instead, much to my delight, there was a pod of around 60 lions lounging right off the pier. Rumor has it that earlier in the morning the crowd numbered 300, but I was happy to catch this group of rafting revelers.

So being that it was low tide city in the morning all of last week, after Tuesday’s outing I headed up to Four Mile Beach on Wednesday and Natural Bridges on Thursday. Both trips, much like the NBA conference finals, had their magic moments, and I’ll blast out these photos along with my thoughts on Larry Bird in the upcoming weeks.

On to some late night. “According to a new book coming out by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, apparently when he was in high school, President Obama smoked large amounts of marijuana. You know what that means? He could be our first green president. Unemployment is still looking pretty bad. In fact, the White House has a new slogan on job creation: ‘Hope and change the subject.’ The unemployment numbers are higher than President Obama was in high school.” –Jay Leno

“On Friday, President Obama spent the night at his home in Chicago for the first time in over a year. It was nice – he even went down to the basement and dusted off some old campaign promises. Mitt Romney has been giving his volunteers a free sweatshirt for making phone calls on his behalf. The sweatshirts are just like Romney, 100 percent reversible.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A new survey found that Mitt Romney is ahead of Obama among those who make $36,000-$90,000. Or as Romney put it, ‘And they said I can’t
connect with the poor.’ Obama gave Bon Jovi a ride to New York City on Air Force One. Makes sense – Bon Jovi’s living on a prayer, while Obama’s campaigning on one.” –Jimmy Fallon “There’s a rumor that President Obama will stop by today’s L.A. Kings hockey game. He doesn’t want to draw attention to himself. He just wants to blend in with all the other black, Hawaiian hockey fans.” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s all I’m giving of myself this week. Try and take a moment to be grateful for all you have. We’ll catch you blowing the minds of NBA fans and reminding people why you’re the king. Aloha, mahalo and later, LeBron James fans

June 3, 2012

And Here’s To You, Mrs. Robinson

Good morning and greetings, cap, gown and tassle fans. Well, it’s June and diplomas are in the air. I’ve never looked forward to this ceremonial experience as it meant the end of the high school days for my favorite son. He is matriculating on to UC Santa Barbara, and if I weren’t unpaid for this blog, I would give up four years salary to join him in South Beach.

His graduation from Pacific Collegiate School was last Friday, which brought to an end twelve years of his education at the site of the former Natural Bridges elementary school. Yes, time has flown by and in the words of author Harvey McKay, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

So what is it about time? Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? Does anything fly by faster with the exception of LeBron James or Russell Westbrook in the open court? I believe it was either Jerry Garcia or Spanish philosopher Blatasar Gracian that said, “All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.”

The most important thing we don’t know in life is how much time we have. Or if the home team is going to cover the spread. But it seems no matter how much time you have, it still flies by faster than a 747. The only place where it would seem that time isn’t in a hurry is in prison, or as businessman Malcom Forbes once said, “There is never enough time, unless you’re serving it.”

Writer Robert Orben said, “Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.” I remember Jason as a small child growing up in southern California. He loved playing with any kind of ball, and spent his preschool years hitting jumpers and whacking line drives down on the strand in Hermosa Beach.

The South Bay is the birthplace of beach volleyball, and it definitely rubbed off on him, as last week he was once again named a first team, all-SCCAL selection as an outside hitter. For a hitter, it’s all about the spectacular kills. To paraphrase author Tom Robbins, “There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, and the only thing worth killing happens on the volleyball court.”

So this is a child that I started thinking about missing back when he was just eleven years old. Just the thought of him one day leaving was not my favorite thought of the day. So I tried to savor my time with him and not to sob uncontrollably in his presence. As either Frank Sinatra or author Kay Lyons once said, “Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.”

So Jason’s high school years have gone by in a blur. Fortunately, it included a host of basketball games and volleyball matches, where as a parent, I truly got to enjoy the talents of my child. I don’t get to see him acing math, science or English tests, but I’ve haven’t missed many no-look passes or jump float ace serves. I won’t say I lived semi-vicariously through him-it was totally vicarious all the way on the athletic front.

Not too many things are greater than watching your child excel at sports or the stock market. This decade as his parent and sometimes coach has been beyond priceless. Or as Jimi Hendrix or poet Carl Sandburg once told me, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”

Either sportscaster Jim Rome or author Jim Rohn once said, ““Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” My favorite inventor, Ben Franklin once remarked that “Lost time is never found again.” French composer Louis Hector Berlioz said that “Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.” Stay thirsty, my friends.

But my favorite sayings about time comes from author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein and Mel Brooks.” Or in the words of Lili Von Schtupp from Blazing Saddles, “Hello, handsome, is that a ten-gallon hat or are you just enjoying the show?

So I”ve got a few more months of at-home fun with my son, who penned his college essay about the first time he beat me playing one-on-one. Then he’ll be heading down to his oceanfront dorm with the two full court basketball courts and sand volleyball court. I’m going to miss him but to see how excited he is about the next chapter in his life makes it more than okay. After all, he’s just down the coast, not at the University of Kiev. And while he’s doing neuroscience research, I’ll be researching the new fall shows on the networks. Busy, busy, busy.

Now the fun really starts, as I get to focus all my attention on my soon-to-be sweet fifteen-year-old daughter. We are going to be doing some major father-daughter bonding, which I know for her, will be a dream come true. Let the games begin.

So in honor of my National Honor Society son heading to the Honors Program at Santa Barbara, I thought some roses would be appropriate. It’s too bad these pictures aren’t scratch and sniff, as they smell lovelier than success. But remember what author Henry David Thoreau said about these beauties. “Truths and roses have thorns about them.” That’s why I always like to thistle while I work.

On to the late night. “This Facebook fiasco is one of the biggest clusterf**ks ever on Wall Street. Regular people got screwed and the banks and the insiders did okay. Or as Mitt Romney calls it, ‘The American Dream.’ Mitt Romney was attacking Obama about our failing education system. He has a point. We are graduating millions of people in this country who are so lacking in basic analytical skills, they are considering voting for Mitt Romney. As George Bush once said, ‘Our kids is not learning.’” –Bill Maher

“Mitt Romney has begun vetting his vice presidential candidates. This is a tough thing because they want to appeal to the Republican base. They want a strong conservative there, but someone who will not upstage Mitt Romney. So the search is on for a strong conservative in a coma. “Mitt Romney is trying to get the Latino vote … He maintains he’s always had a great relationship with the Latinos in his life, as long as they don’t wake him up with the leaf blower.” –Bill Maher

“Former President Bill Clinton posed for pictures with his arms around two women, both of whom turned out to be famous porn stars. See, this is why we miss Clinton. He was like a president and a Secret Service agent all rolled into one. A Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA hunt for Osama bin Laden has been convicted of high treason in Pakistan. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping us. Think how much worse the sentence would have been if Pakistan wasn’t our ally.” –Jay Leno

“First lady Michelle Obama said that if she could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Beyoncé. Of course it got awkward when Barack was like, ‘I’m ame!’”–Jimmy Fallon “Next week Mitt Romney will campaign in Las Vegas with Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich. Did somebody say ‘The Hangover, Part III?’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our first blast for June 2012. Enjoy the conference finals and we’ll catch you putting up one of the most amazing performances in NBA playoff history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Rajon Rondo fans.

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