September 30, 2012

Size Matters

Good morning and greetings, NBA training camp fans. Well, September, like any hopes of the oil companies earning a trillion less in profits per year to help out with global warming, is now history. Suffice it to say, boys and girls, “too little, too late” is heading right down the pike, and our children will be the beneficiaries of this oncoming ecological train wreck. In the words of humorist Dave Barry, “If you asked me to name the three scariest threats facing the human race, I would give the answer most people would: nuclear war, global warming and Windows.” For my money, you can throw in cell phones, texting and tweeting.

So now that we’re off to a positive start, let’s trot out the weather map. September in Santa Cruz was supposed to be the warmest month of the year, but no one told my Tommy Bahama sweatshirt. I don’t want to say it’s been a tad chilly, but when I went down at the wharf the other day, I saw a sea lion buying a fur coat. This past week of persistent fog and gray skies reminded me of wintertime in my humble westside abode, when we don’t clean the house, we just defrost it.

And that brings us to this week’s subject du jour. Now I am very fortunate to live in a nice home with plenty of room. It’s not Trump Palace or the Taj Mahal, but it’s comfortable and equipped with two TiVos. I believe it was Katie Holmes divorce attorney who once said, “A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

And as I am well aware, everyone in this country is not as fortunate, as some people are forced to live in condos and igloos. As German playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said between bites of wienerschnitzel, “He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home with Direct TV Red Zone.”

Then we have our basketball, hip hop stars and presidential candidates, who live in 20,000 square-foot palatial estates, and let’s fact it, for some, a house is not a home without 18 bedrooms, a car elevator and a bowling alley. But despite these outrageous displays of ostentation, many cities are in need of a new housing model (New York, Boston) or an NFL team (Los Angeles.)

In story by the Associated Press, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are set to vote this week on a proposed change to the city’s building code that would allow construction of the smallest, thimble-sized apartments in the country. Under the plan, these matchboxes, er apartments could be as small as 220 square feet, which is a little more than double the size of some prison cells, which has the residents at San Quentin in hysterics. And their digs come with free room and board.

These downsized petri dishes, which has sardines puffing out their chests, include a kitchen, bathroom, closet and guest house, which will be perfect for a small munchkin. We’re talking about living life to the fullest in an area the size of a full-sized parking space. It’s like living in a hotel without room service or housekeeping leaving a chocolate on your pillow every night.

According to the Grateful Dead archives, current regulations require the living room alone to be the size of these new souped-up shoeboxes. Schematics for the 300-square-foot planned units include window seats that turn into spare beds, beds that turn into tables and glasses of water than turn into bath tubs.

Proponents say the smaller coffins, er apartments would provide a cheaper option for the city’s many single residents, who have been priced out of the rental market as the region experiences a resurgent technology industry.

Let’s face it, Giant fans, city living ain’t cheap. San Francisco apartments rented for an average of $2,734 in June. These mini-submarine-sized micro-units are expected to rent for $1,200 to $1,700 a month. It allows them to accommodate up to very thin two people and requires an additional 100 square feet of space for each occupant above that number, like a goldfish or baby shrimp.

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner, who drafted the legislation for these tiny abodes where your bedroom, living room, kitchen and closet all fit neatly into a hat box says “Although in our fantasy world everyone would live in a single-family home or a huge spacious flat, the reality of life is that not everyone can afford that.” Or as NBC news anchor Brian Williams commented, “If you have a backyard, count your blessings.”

But critics and the old woman who lives in a shoe counter that the units wouldn’t help families and could boost population density, straining public transit and have San Francisco ending up looking like Singapore without the gambling casinos.

Housing experts and Dr. Ruth say that going from big to small, “can be liberating. If you downsize your stuff along with your expectations of square footage, you really can do more with less.” And you never have to worry about hosting holiday meals, pot-luck dinners, tupperware parties or orgies. But you would have room for the grapes.

Interior decorators and claustrophobics say that the smaller the space you have to work with, the bigger your imagination and creativity becomes to accommodate it. That may be true, but I don’t want to take my bubble bath in a soup bowl.

But, of course, there are ways of being resourceful. For example, you can sleep on your sofa bed at night, use it as a couch during the day and the rest of the time bang your head against it when you realize you’re paying $1700 a month to live in place that’s slightly larger than Rover’s doghouse. Futilities not included.

So to kickoff the new month, we are going back in the time tunnel, starting off with a couple of shots from a late September sunrise. Next we are cyber traveling back to two years ago today, October 1, 2010. This was an unusual sunset, as the pinkish-purplish hue emanating from the clouds (photo #5) was coming from the east, where normally the most vivid colors trend from the west. I haven’t seen this scenario very often, perhaps as frequently as I agree with something a Tea Party member says. Just a spectacular fall night on the bay.

On to some late night. “Congratulations to both Mitt Romney and President Obama. They both won Emmys for their performance on “60 Minutes” last night. Obama won for acting as if everything has gotten better over the last four years, and Romney won for pretending to care about that other 47 percent. “A civil rights group said that up to 10 million Hispanics could be blocked from voting in the upcoming election because of these changes to the voting laws. 10 million. And that’s just here in LA.” –Jay Leno

“A lot of people are commenting that Mitt Romney is looking extremely tan lately. In fact, if Romney gets any darker he’s not going to vote for himself.” –Conan O’Brien “Mitt Romney just released a new campaign ad aimed at seniors too. It’s called, ‘Least we can do’ — named after how much he plans on doing for seniors.” –Jimmy Fallon “A new book claims the reason Texas Gov. Rick Perry did so terrible in the debates and forgot everything was due to a sleep disorder. Apparently the disorder was he slept through grade school, high school and college. “Obama has gone from ‘Yes we can.’ to ‘I’m sorry. No one can.’” –Jay Leno

“They taped Mitt Romney explaining his positions in a roomful of rich bastards, I’m sorry, I meant heroic job creators. And he said 47 percent of Americans are basically welfare bums who are mooching off the government. And he said, ‘My job is not to worry about those people.’ You know, where do people get the stuff that Mitt Romney is a heartless, calculating mother******?” “This tape is like so incriminating. Everything that liberals suspect mitt Romney says behind closed doors, now there’s a tape of Mitt Romney saying that exactly behind closed doors. It’s like if Republicans had a tape of Obama where he was reading Karl Marx with a highlighter while forging a birth certificate and getting serviced by Cleopatra Jones.” –Bill Maher

Ah, he paints such a pretty picture. So that’s our first blast for October. Big birthday wishes go out next Sunday to my old Ivy league pal, Dr. Michael Schur. The Rory Mcllroy of pediatric anesthesiology is a modest man, as few people know that he is the person who actually designed Dean Smith’s four corners offense.

We’ll catch you helping bring pro football gamblers back to their senses. Aloha, mahalo and later, NFL referee fans.

September 23, 2012

Don’t Equinox It Till You Try It

Good morning and greetings, late September fans. Unfortunately, this week’s post won’t be quite as sentimental as last week, as my son has trotted off to college and now I get to focus all my attention on my 15-year-old teen angel. As the Greek poet Euripedes once tweeted, ” To a father growing old, nothing is dearer than a daughter.” But it believe it was Bill Cosby’s gardener who once said, “Daughters are like flowers, they fill the world with beauty, and sometimes attract pests.”

So much like the seasons, my mind has been going through them changes. On Saturday we went from summer to fall, as the autumn equinox took center stage. The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year when the prodigal sun crosses the celestial equator. What this means is the sun and my daughter are rising later, that the night is coming sooner as day and night are almost equal in length. When comedienne Totie Fields was asked about this she said, “I’ve been on a diet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is fourteen days.”

So with a big nod to Deborah Boyd at earthsky.org, let’s take a look at this harmonic convergence of astronomical delights. At this time of the year south of the equator, it’s spring as they prepare for Carnival in Rio and the new coca planting season. The equinox is caused by the Earth’s tilt on its axis and its relentless orbit around the sun. Astronaut Neil Arnstrong put my favorite planet in perspective when he said from space, “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small, like Paul Ryan.”

Back in the olden days, way before the time folks used maps, encyclopedias and pay phones, early man spent much more time outside because of slow internet access. Instead, they used the sky as a clock, calendar and TV Guide. When they looked to the sky, they could tell what time it was, what time of the year it was and what was coming up on Fox’s fall preview. They also checked out the shifting locations of the sunrise and sunset during the year, which culminated in one of the earliest photo blogs, www.sunrisefromthecave.com.

There are indications that our early ancestors built observatories and crude tanning salons to track the sun’s progress. In a somewhat out of the way location high up in the Andes mountains of Peru, the Incas built the city of Machu Picchu and a Holiday Inn Express, where an overnight stay comes with the “Express Start” breakfast bar. At this “Lost City of The Incas,” they set up the Intihuatana stone, a group of rolling stones that have been proven to be be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and first Grammy Awards.

This sacred site of Machu Picchu, much like the American Music Awards, was forgotten for centuries by the outside world. It was brought to international attention back in 1911 by Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham, while in search of a Peruvian take-out joint that had shrimp cioppino, grilled guinea pig and and piranha with sauteed vegetables on it’s menu.

By the way, Hiram Bingham initially thought that this place of incredible beauty was a sanctuary and day spa for female priests, known as the Virgins the Sun. According to early writings discovered under a fossilized chalupa, these well-tanned priests lived here, harmonized with the earth and sky and took Zumba fitness, salsa aerobics and Brazilian butt classes.

So why is it springtime in Caracas as fall takes center stage in New England? Well, that’s because Mother Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but instead is tilted on it axis, which is not to be confused with Santana’s second studio album, “Abraxas,” featuring “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” Because of this tilting action, the Northern and Southern hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light, warmth and atmospheric love. But since this planet of ours never stops moving around the sun, these day of equal sunlight and darkness will change quicker than Mitt Romney’s position on abortion, health care, gun control and the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax and chew sugarless gum.

So as the snow birds, butterflies and drug mules migrate towards the south, the days are getting shorter than my tolerance for losing one more unnecessary U.S. soldier’s life in Afghanistan. It’s reassuring to know that 20% of Americans killed in combat this year in Afghanistan have come at the hands of our supposed allies, the Afghans. With friends like this, who need the ZZ Top-loving Taliban?

So while we’re on the change of seasons subject, because of my love for everything sweet and sour, let’s take a look how our friends in Beijing view the autumn menu.

For the Chinese, the fall season and memories of my high school graduating class are associated with the color white. So is the sound of weeping along with the images of a white tiger and a black mamba. Autumn, much like my frequent visits to the dentist, is associated with courage, sadness and frequent suctioning.

Fall is also in line with the thought of the direction west, considered to be the direction of dreams, visions and Kobe Bryant and the Laker’s task of having to go through LeBron James and the Miami Heat to win another NBA championship.

So to celebrate the autumn equinox as the early Chinese philosophers and Panda Express sous chefs once did, you might stand facing west for a few moments and consider your dreams, visions and whether your path in life leads to fried rice or chow mein, both of which come with a choice of two entrees and and unfortunate cookie.

You can also light white candles to ease the darkness of the universe, arrange white flowers in a vase, or listen to the Beatles “White Album” till your eardrums bleed. And according to the bylaws of PF Changs, you could gently weep like a Red Sox or Raider fan. But for this season, we all must find the courage to face what’s ahead, or with to-go orders, the strength to call ahead.

For this week’s photo derby we are featuring some shots that are hot off the presses. The sky blew up Friday evening on the last night of summer, and I was fortunate enough to be at Stockton Avenue along West Cliff to take in the spectacular action. It was a great sign of things to come. I believe it was my tantra yoga teacher or Ann Landers who once said, “Sensual pleasures have the fleeing brilliance of a coment. A happy marriage has the tranquility of a lovely sunset.”

On to the late night. “Mitt Romney is trailing in the polls. After being accused of being too vague, Romney’s campaign team says they will start being more specific. When asked when, they said, ‘Soon-ish.’” –Conan O’Brien “Mitt Romney was here meeting with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He’s looking for a housekeeper for his place in La Jolla.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Mitt Romney was on ‘Live With Kelly and Michael.’ At one point Mitt was asked what he wears to bed. He said as little as possible. It’s the same philosophy that Mitt has in regard to paying taxes.” –Jimmy Kimmel “On Saturday, Mitt Romney took some time off from campaigning to watch his grandson’s soccer game. Though it got awkward when one team pulled their goalie and Romney was like, ‘Look at that – another job lost under President Obama.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“All of these political strategists are trying to explain why Mitt Romney can’t seem to get his message out. I’m no strategist but it’s hard to talk with both a silver spoon and a foot in your mouth.” –Jay Leno “It’s Fall. Unless you’re Mitt Romney, and then it’s freefall.” –David Letterman “All over the world people are chanting, ‘Death to America.’ Except in China, where they’re chanting, ‘Not until we get our money back.’” –Jay Leno

So that’s my statement and I’m sticking to it. We’ll catch you, the 38-year-old former American league rookie-of-the-year and MVP, going 7 for 8 and stealing four bases in a doubleheader for the Yankees last week while trying to help Bronx Bombers make it to the postseason. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ichiro Suziki fans.

September 16, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To College He Goes

Good morning and greetings, rising college cost fans. Well, much like my wedding day, the birth of my children and my first colonoscopy, this is one of those milestone moments, as my favorite son is heading off to college on Saturday. While it will be a sad day for his mother and myself, it should be extremely exciting for Jason, who has been chomping at the bit like Secretariat coming down the homestretch to get his college career underway, as most of his friends have already departed and scattered off to places like Colorado, Massachusetts and the Bermuda Triangle.

Back when Jason was 11, the thought of him leaving one day, like the prospect of the Mitt Romney in the White House, was quite painful. Now that he’s a young man of 18 and on the Selective Service hit list, I am much more emotionally prepared for his departure. I believe it was the philosopher David Lee Roth who said “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

This is a child who I saw come flying out of his mother’s womb, and then for the next hour just stared at him like a mental patient, totally amazed that this little person was now part of us. It was the highest moment of my life since making the Dean’s List at Syracuse. And we knew we had something special when an hour later Jason picked up a John Grishman novel and started reading it before taking a shot at the New York Times crossword puzzle.

He spent his first five years in Southern California along the Strand in Hermosa Beach, a community which doubles as the world’s largest outdoor health club. There, he was introduced to the world of beach volleyball, and along with his partner Nathan Carson, has parlayed this into three tournament wins this summer and a national ranking a few sideouts below Olympic gold medalist’s Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser.

We then packed up the wagon train and moved back to Santa Cruz, so he could be raised in a place where the Shadowbrook, Crow’s Nest and redwoods meet the sea and where he could fine tune his Spanish by ordering a super burrito from every taqueria along the central coast. As Spanish conductor Pablo Casals once tweeted, “The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.”

Along the way, my 6-foot point guard with a 5″9″ wing span achieved academic excellence at one of the finest charter schools in the nation, which has led him to his next destination. Jason could have chosen to go back east but decided he’d like to see the sun while in college, and that the best place for him was on the scholar’s floor in an oceanfront dorm at UC Santa Barbara. He’s on the road to making a difference. Or as Mother Theresa once told me at the Sizzler, “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”

So I won’t be able to walk into his room any hour of the day or night to run by my thoughts on sports, news and sports. Up until now, I’ve had an unobstructed view of his unarrested development. Now he’s moving on to a place of higher learning with cafeteria dining, while I’ll be playing Macaulay Culkin, home alone with my NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, that sweet child of mine Aimee and my golden retriever Summer, who I know will never leave me.

So my neuoscience-majoring son will now be part of the Gaucho family at a major university with its own private beach. We will all miss him, including his younger sister, who will probably get through the pain with the knowledge that his TiVo system is now in her hands. His mother will dearly miss her first born, and will have to figure out what to do with all her free time now that she’s not his personal laundress.

As for me, I’ll miss watching him playing hoops and volleyball, talking sports and feeding him like an iron chef. But what I’ll miss most will be watching him seize the moments of his new found independence and discovering who he is while growing into the man that we’ll all be so proud of. Up until now I’ve had a front seat for the show. Now I’ll have to scalp a ticket. It was the writer Robert Gallagher who once said, “Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”

So my son is entering onto the freeway of the next phase of his life. What routes he takes from here no one knows. Spanish writer Rosilia de Castro once penned, “I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” I believe the final word on this higher road of education belongs to Irish poet Oscar Wilde, who once told a group of IRA terrorists, ‘Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Or as the t-shirt says, “I got my degree in liberal arts. Do you want fries with that?”

So since Jason will be reaching for the academic stars, I thought we would head up into the sky and take a look at a couple of moon rises over Monterey Bay. The first three shots feature the earth’s only natural satellite coming up over the wharf and the Santa Cruz mountains. This January rise featured the biggest moon of the year, and when this celestial body first appeared, it was as exciting as last week’s return of Jax and the boys on the “Sons of Anarchy.”

I took the next three photos a few September’s back with the moon rising over Steamer’s Lane. I never tire of seeing a full moon rise over the water or an episode of Annie Walker’s CIA adventures in “Covert Affairs.” As Van Morrison texted me later on this fantabulous night, “What a marvelous night for a moondance.” Ah, the moonlight on this magical night.

On to some late night humor. “Early this morning in Los Angeles police were involved with a high-speed chase with a suspect drawing a crowd by throwing money out the window. Is it me or is Mitt Romney getting desperate? In Yemen, a U.S. drone strike has killed al-Qaida’s number two leader, the sixth second in command the U.S. has killed. This is one area where Obama can say he definitely is creating jobs. Over the weekend Mitt Romney made an appearance at a NASCAR race in Virginia. There was an awkward moment when he asked a NASCAR driver why he didn’t just hire a chauffeur.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama spoke last night. The speech must have been pretty good because today Clint Eastwood said he was voting for the chair. Did you see the Bill Clinton speech? He killed them with one word: arithmetic. He said Republicans lack skills in arithmetic, which by the way, is not fair to Sarah Palin because if there’s one thing her family has proved it can do is multiply.” –Bill Maher “Mitt, you just keep demanding that Americans answer the question: are you better off than you were four years ago? But just don’t answer it yourself, cause that would mean releasing more than two years of tax returns.” –Stephen Colbert

“We got some bad economic news. The United States has slipped further down the global ranking of the world’s most competitive economies. We’re now #7. Switzerland is number one. Romney said, ‘See, that’s why I keep my money there.’ “The economy is so bad, I saw Mitt Romney at the supermarket buying Lobster Helper.” –Jay Leno “Yesterday, Nicki Minaj revealed that in her new song, she only sarcastically endorsed Mitt Romney. Or as Republicans put it, ‘Wow, you too?’” –Jimmy Fallon “Mitt Romney released another ad that features Hispanic voters speaking in Spanish. The ad ends with him saying, ‘I’m Mitt Romney, and I have no idea what these people are saying.’” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s my college report. On this sweet day of apples and honey, let’s hope, for at least for our children’s sake, that one day the world comes to its senses, and we can watch the national news without wondering what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on. However, I’m not counting on it real soon.

We’ll catch you once again winning the U.S. Open and showing the world why you’re the most dominant female player in tennis history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Serena Williams fans.

September 9, 2012

I Deserve Better And Soda You

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 2:35 pm

Good morning and greetings, Indian summer fans. Early last week, Dusty Springfield and I were wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’ and prayin’ that the morning dreariness along the coast would disappear like the Tea Party and that the air will be electrified with the warmth the crowd felt during Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Then Friday came along, and like yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. I no longer needed a place to hide away, as the weather pattern that comes along with living in a Mediterranean climate kicked in. What we weren’t lacking for along the coast was pelicans, as I saw more swan diving into the ocean than shots at the RNC about Obama’s economic programs. Throw in some dolphins, seals and Heidi Klum and it was a good week along West Cliff.

So after taking a steam with my rabbi the other day, he asked if I was better off now than I was four years ago? I replied, “Darn right. The Giants won the Super Bowl last year, the Lakers picked up Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the offseason and both Coke and Pepsi are going crazy trying to figure out ways to make soda into a health drink. Or as Bill Murray would say.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

And that leads us into this week’s top and only news story. In an article written by Candice Choi for the Associated Press, Coke and Pepsi, like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and Romney and Ryan, are reaching for the stars, going for the Olympic gold. Their goal is to develop a soda with no calories, no artificial sweeteners and no funny aftertaste along the sugary highway to anywhere.

These two soft drink giants hope that elusive trifecta will quiet down health concerns about the pleasant poison we call soda and reverse the decline in consumption of these wonderfly carbonated drinks. But such a formula, much like obliterating the Taliban, balancing the U.S. budget or eliminating concussions from pro football is years away. And let’s not forget that Pepsi is the choice of the new generation.

The key ingredient that makes soda taste so damn good is also what drives the obesity train and packs on the pounds: high-fructose corn syrup. Artificial sweeteners like Kim Kardashian and aspartame, that are used in diet drinks, come along without any calories but are seen as processed and fake. Just ask Kris Humphries. Plants that provide natural sweeteners give us the most promising alternative, but the white knights in the research departments haven’t figured out yet how to mask their metallic aftertaste that comes with an ACDC quality flavor. Because life should taste good.

There’s good reason why Coke and Pespi are working faster than Usain Bolt running the 100 meters to tweak their formulas. Once an American pastime, sodas are now number one on the hit list for America being the Woodstock nation of blimps and bulging waistlines, as two-thirds of the country’s adults are overweight, obese and overstocked at the beltline. But as you know, you’ve got a life to live and Pepsi’s got a lot to give.

Because of supersizing and the never ending variety of flavored water, sports drinks and antioxidant fruit shakes, consumption of soda has plummeted down 17 percent to about 1.3 cans a day since its peak in 1998, according to data from Beverage Digest, an industry tracker that also provides me with stock tips. So wherever you are, whatever you do, wherever you may be, when you think of refreshment, think of ice-cold Coca-Cola.

Aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in drinks like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, doesn’t have any calories, but most sweetners are still as unnatural as Joan Rivers. These concerns have led makers of Fresca, Mountain Dew and Mr. Pibb to search for natural, zero-calorie sweeteners, like stevia, which is derived from a South American shrub. Natural sweeteners have neither the calories of sugar nor the negative associations of artificial sweeteners but taste kind of crappy in colas, which is not good along the highway to anywhere.

Stevia is already used in Coke and Pepsi’s orange juice and bottled teas, but it’s striking out in cola. We want maximum taste with zero calories to go along with great taste and zero sugar. So the soft drink monoliths continue to search the world for other naturally occurring sweeteners, because when it comes to soda drinkers, there’s no rhyme or reason as thirst knows no season.

So I’m not going to get into the negatives effects of soda consumption, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, weight gain, water retention, increased blood pressure and uncontrolled fits of laughter. I’ll leave it up to Chris Rock to put the benefits of our friend soda pop into perspective. “I think all addiction starts with soda. Every junkie did soda first. But no one counts that. The soda connection is clear. Why isn’t a presidential commission looking into this. Or at least some guys from the National Carbonation Council?”

For our photo entourage we are heading back to the last Wednesday, the opening night of the NFL season. The clouds were spectacular all day, but when I went out at around 6 pm it didn’t look all that promising for any sunset action. I then got caught up in watching my New York Giants come out flat as pancakes until I was jolted by a call from field scout Kevin Deutsch, telling me the sky was blowing up.

Like Eli Manning on a rollout play, I grabbed my camera, raced outside and spotted a caravan of brightly-colored, puffy orange clouds. However, by the time I got to my shooting spot, the sky had called an audible and I had to settle for the sun dipping into the mountains over UCSC. This would have been a tremendous occasion to be shooting from the cliffs above Davenport, but like the Giants that night, you snooze, you lose.

On to some late night. “The Democratic Convention began tonight. What a difference four years makes. Last time the theme was ‘Hope and change.’ This year the theme is ‘Hope you don’t make a change.’ It is day two of the Democratic convention, and apparently they had a huge lighting problem in the convention hall today. They worked all day on it. They still couldn’t get President Obama out of Bill Clinton’s shadow. “President Obama’s re-election campaign said that this year they’ll knock on 150 percent more doors than they did in 2008. Well, of course they will. They have to. There’s so many foreclosures it’s tough to tell where people live.” –Jay Leno

“Today was the start of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. They’re going all out to make sure it tops last week’s Republican convention. In fact, I heard at this one they’re going to have Clint Eastwood yell at a couch.” –Jimmy Fallon “Mitt had to follow that. He’s a little stiff. He makes Al Gore look like James Brown at the Apollo. And for five minutes the crowd was chanting, ‘Bring back the chair!’ Ann Romney was telling details of their personal life. She said that when she and Mitt were young, ‘He was nice to my parents, but really glad when my parents weren’t around.’ And with his Medicare plan, they won’t be.” –Bill Maher

“First the good news: Louisiana, knee-deep in water, but this time, the levees held from the big hurricane. That’s good. However, Tampa, Florida this week nearly drowned in bulls**t.” Paul Ryan made a speech the other night, even a columnist for Fox News said it set a world record for the greatest number of lies in a single speech. To which Mitt Romney said, ‘Game on.’” –Bill Maher

“Michelle Obama said the first car Barack picked her up in was so old, you could see ground below them. Today, Ann Romney said the same thing about Mitt’s first helicopter.” –Conan O’Brien “I always like how the politicians show how that they’re just regular guys. Like Obama says he likes to have a beer with people. And Romney said, when it comes to shopping, he chooses Costco. In fact, last week, he bought three of them.” –Jay Leno “Outside it’s like 82 and cloudy – like Clint Eastwood.” –David Letterman

So those are my thoughts from the world where Coke, which is the pause that refreshes, joins with Pepsi, who’s got your taste for life. We’ll catch you watching everyone touchdown, fumble, interception and cheerleader cutaway shot on the NFL Network. Aloha, mahalo and later, NFL RedZone channel fans.

September 2, 2012

One Man’s Treasure Is Another Boy’s Cash

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:51 am

Good morning and greetings, Labor Day fans. Yes, there’s nothing like a three-day weekend to help keep my Dixie cup half-filled with that much needed positive perspective.

Having three days off from the regular work routine gives one time to relax and do things like working in the garden, going for walks on the beach, or gathering the kids around the TV to watch the “Law and Order SVU” marathon on USA network. Nothing like 13 hours of watching Detectives Stabler and Benson trying to solve crimes ripped from the headlines to bring a family together. And for you trivia nuts keeping score at home, Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson, is the daughter of Jayne Mansfield, who was known as the “Working Man’s Marilyn Monroe.”

But I digress. I love to stroll along the sand, as I am a semi-avid shell collector, being that at this stage of my life, I’m just a shell of my former self. I love to see what the ocean washes up along shoreline, whether it be shells, sea glass, or oil blotches from a Chevron tanker. Or as the sticker says, “I love poetry, long walks on the beach and poking dead things with a stick.” Which begs the question, “What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?”

Well, last week, on the southern coast of England, 8-year-old Charlie Naysmith was taking a nature walk along the beach with this parents when he came upon a yellowish-brownish rock. As it turns out, this wasn’t just any old rock, but a solidified piece of whale vomit called ambergris, which is a very expensive perfume ingredient that prolongs the scent. In the words of C. Joybell C., “You are never fully dressed without perfume!”

Well, young Charles in Charge started to do some research, and after consulting with the It’s My Lucky Day Institute, it was determined that this whale of a find could be worth somewhere between $15,850 and $63,350. Holy Moby Dick. And I thought I was lucky when I spotted up a quarter on the ground at a gas station last week.

Our friend Ambergris is formed in the intestinal tract of sperm whales and often vomited or secreted into the ocean. It’s a waxy, bile-lile substance that’s as soft as a baby’s bottom, and when fresh has an aroma similar to a bad batch of sweet and pungent shrimp. It’s use is to help navigate the travel of material such as squid beaks and tiger prawns through a whale’s digestive tract, but what do I know, I’m no stool pigeon. This rock of ages had probably been floating in the ocean since the early days of the Beatles, just bobbing along and trying to avoid getting caught up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The scent of ambergris, not to be confused with Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman,” is what makes it so damn valuable. It has been used as incense, peppermints, the color of thyme, fragrance, flavoring, remedies and as an aphrodisiac, going back to ancient Egypt, China and the set of “Free Willy.”

Today, many perfume makers have switched to synthetic versions of ambergris because of it’s association with whaling and the sperm whale, which much like elderly children, pregnant women and Warrior fans, is a vulnerable species. It was banned from use in the U.S. in the 1970′s, along with my idea for a clothing line featuring asbestos shorts and t-shirts.

The ancient Chinese called the substance “dragon’s spittle fragrance” or moo goo gai pan. Ambergris is used in Egypt today for scenting cigarettes and adding a fresh, clean fragrance to counteract the smell of camels double parked in Tahrir Square.

It was punk rocker Iggy Pop who once declared,” I never believed that U2 wanted to save the whales. I don’t believe the Beastie Boys are ready to lay it down for Tibet.” Bottom line, who knew that something whales pooped could be so valuable? We’ll end with this thought. If swimming is such a good way to stay in shape, explain whales?

For this week’s photo array, we are going back to August and featuring the only sunset I subscribed to this summer. The date was August 17 and the clouds looked like they were going to put on a little show that night, so I grabbed my camera and a nectarine and headed up the coast to Davenport.

The aerial display didn’t turn out to be as colorful as I had hoped, but the cormorants keep flying up and landing in the Monterey Cypress tree that lined the cliff. There this group of sleek sea birds spent their time fighting and squawking while the sky performed its final act of the day. It was a great way to watch the curtain go down.

On to some late night. “Did you all watch the Republican convention last night? It’s good to see scripted television finally making a comeback. Ann Romney spoke last night. I thought she was quite eloquent. Analysts say her role was to show that Mitt has a tender side. And then the Romney family dog gave the rebuttal. Hurricane Isaac turned out to be not much of a threat to the Republican convention. But to their credit, the Republicans had a contingency plan. If the hurricane did hit hard, delegates were instructed to evacuate to Mitt Romney’s tax shelter.” –Jay Leno

“Donald Trump was bumped from speaking at the Republican convention because of Hurricane Isaac. See, nobody ever talks about the good things hurricanes do.
“According to a poll released last week, Mitt Romney has zero percent of the black vote. In fact, if it weren’t for John Boehner, Romney wouldn’t have any support from people of color at all.” –Jay Leno “John McCain was at the convention. He just wandered out on stage in his bathrobe.” –David Letterman

“Some of the Republicans, I think, are over-reacting to Hurricane Isaac — like today Rick Santorum was seen gathering up two of every animal. “Herman Cain was in Tampa. When a reporter asked him if Isaac reminded him of Katrina, he said, ‘I never even met the woman.’ A hurricane is scheduled to hit Tampa during the Republican Convention. These winds are so strong they could actually blow some of Mitt Romney’s money back in the United States.” –Jay Leno

“According to a new poll, Mitt Romney is at zero percent among African Americans. Here’s the sad part: That’s up 5 percent from last week.” –Jay Leno “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan had a campaign event at an apple orchard… There was one awkward moment when they told the granny smiths they were considering cutting their Medicare.” –Jimmy Fallon “The winds in Tampa are so strong today, they blew the dog off the top of Romney’s car. This year the theme of the Republican convention is ’50 Shades of White.’” –David Letterman

So that’s our first blast for September 2012. Back in 1966, the Happenings sang, “See you in September, when the summer’s through.” Well, that’s not necessarily true here on the central coast, as I’m hoping Indian Summer and a Yankee winning streak are just around the corner.

So get ready for Wednesday’s kickoff of the the 2012-13 NFL season, with a matchup featuring the Super Bowl champion New York Giants against the Cowboys. We’ll catch you being not only the former no. 1-ranked player in the world and winning the U.S Open in 2003, but also being the lucky spouse of Brooklyn Decker. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andy Roddick fans.


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