November 24, 2013

Why Do Birds Fly North?

Good morning and greetings, college basketball fans. If you’re someone like me who thinks the NBA season is too short (eight months,) then you can always double your hoops pleasure and double your fun by tuning in to the college game. This year’s crop of incoming freshmen are an exceptional group, as NBA general managers are salivating at the thought of adding a piece of this young talent to their squads. In the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “One person can make a difference.” I think Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan’s agent would back him up on that.

Now normally, I’m too busy to take in the college game, as being a life long learner and a gold card member of the NBA League Pass Club doesn’t leave me much time to watch these collegians toil away in the college ranks before being allowed to apply for NBA membership. And if I’ve learned anything from the folks at American Express, it’s that membership has its privileges.

So these highly-sought-after prospects attend universities of higher learning for a year and then before you can say, “one and done,” they’re are out the door and on their way to million dollar paydays. Not all are ready to go, but when you’re offered the opportunity to earn more money than you can spend in a thousand lifetimes, it’s tough to say no.

But they’re not all happy endings. Some of these players should have stayed in school, as an education might have been more helpful than being planted at the end of the bench or playing in the NBA’s Developmental League. In the words of NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, “I’m not comfortable being preachy, but more people need to start spending as much time in the library as they do on the basketball court.” And he should know, because the Kareem always rises to the top.

Speaking of the NBA D-League, the 2013-14 season opened up on Friday night at the downtown Kaiser Permanente Arena, and the Santa Cruz came away with a 121-102 win. The building was sold out and the crowd was rocking, as the Warriors have an exciting young team that is well worth the price of admissions for fans who don’t want to make the drive to Oakland but want to see NBA caliber basketball. As the saying goes in the D-League, “The dream starts here,” which is the same thing that happens every night when my head hits the pillow.

For my preview of the upcoming Santa Cruz Warrior season, go to or check last week’s edition of the Santa Cruz Weekly.

So my morning strolls along West Cliff were once again wonderful last week, as the rush hour traffic of gulls, cormorants and pelicans was bumper to bumper. Now I realize that I’ve been writing about this aviary activity for months, but the action is still hot and heavy. Each morning, I see thousands of birds in flight, and the same thoughts always come to mind. Where are they going, how do they decide on who is the leader, and are they having trouble signing up for Obamacare?

During the morning commute, most of these frequent fliers are headed south towards Macy’s and the Capitola Mall. The number of cormorants flying by last week was off the charts, as these sleek sea birds flap their wings at a furious pace and always seem to be in a hurry. But I have no idea where they’re headed, and I always get the feeling that they’re late for an appointment, as they never have time to chat or share a scone. I just stand along the coast and stare in amazement, as people pass by and wonder, “Doesn’t he ever wear long pants?”

So for today’s photo society, we are harkening back to the evening of November 2. There was a pleasant gathering of clouds in the western sky, and I knew there was action heading in my direction. But the bonus on this night was the unending chains of pelicans flying north. We’re talking about thousands of birds flying by in single file, in flocks that were longer than the lines on Thanksgiving Day that are going to form outside Walmart, Kmart and Get Smart. Sorry about that, chief. Missed it by that much.

I was lucky enough to capture a group of silhouetted pelicans as the passed by the sun on the horizon. After the sun set, this harmonic convergence of flight continued as the sky turned into a magical array of colors. Then as darkness came, they kept on coming, cradling little flashlights in their beaks. It was ever so lovely. It brought to mind an old Chinese proverb, “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” And the glow from that night is still alive, warming my heart and a few other organs.

On to some late night humor. “Here we go again. Freshman Congressman Trey Radel of Florida has been arrested for possession of cocaine in Washington, D.C. He admitted he is an alcoholic and pled guilty to possession of cocaine. The judge sentenced him to four years as mayor of Toronto.” –Jay Leno “Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he’s not going anywhere, even after his recent crack scandal. He said he hopes to run for prime minister of Canada one day. When asked what party he’d choose, he said, ‘Why choose one? I usually hit, like, five parties a night.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Former President George W. Bush is on the show tonight. We’re very excited about that. As you know, his nickname is 43 because he was the 43rd president. President Obama is nicknamed 44 because that’s how many people have signed up for Obamacare.” –Jay Leno “Obama and other Democrats have even stopped using the term ‘Obamacare,’ when referring to the new healthcare law. Yeah, now they’re calling it ‘The Affordable Care Act.’ Americans were like, ‘Just let us know when you can call it ‘fixed.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“The New York Times is calling this Obama’s Katrina. Which of course is great for George Bush. He loves this. He called up Obama today and said, ‘You’re doing a heck of a job, brownie.’” –Bill Maher “So far, only 106,000 people have signed up for Obamacare. Even more disappointing is that it turned out to be one man who accidentally signed up 106,000 times.” –David Letterman

“Obama is wrestling with the healthcare rollout debacle. He urged Americans not to be put off by the Obamacare website and offered alternative ways to enroll, such as using the mail. Then the president got on his horse and rode off to spread the news to the next town.” –Conan O’Brien “A growing number of women are joining the CIA. The CIA is now 46 percent women. Which explains that new method of torture: the silent treatment.” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our pre holiday report. Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family, and remember, the best attitude is gratitude. With lots of stuffing.

We’ll catch you setting a Santa Cruz single game scoring record with 36 points in your first game of D-League action. Aloha, mahalo and later, Seth Curry fans.


  1. Great photos… especially, the person sitting on the fence enjoying the sun and the surfer coming out of the surf. These are rare images in your collection of images. Wishing you a festive holiday surrounded by family and friends.

    Comment by babs — November 25, 2013 @ 10:25 am

  2. Nice colors. Think you meant “does that guy ever wear long pants?” Some people might not get the shorts reference. Or you could just be a very free spirit, lthough there may be a shrinkage factor.

    Comment by Jabari Parker — November 25, 2013 @ 11:11 am

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