May 25, 2014

Does Size Really Matter?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:10 am

Good morning and greetings, Mesozoic Era fans. I was thinking of not posting a blog this week because of the tragedy in Santa Barbara. I just wasn’t feeling that funny.

My son Jason was in Isla Vista that night and close to the carnage. He knew Katie Cooper, who was one of six students killed and lived in the apartment building next door to where he was visiting. And he worked with Chris Martinez, who was gunned down in front of a deli after going to get a sandwich for dinner. And a third student, George Chen, who was stabbed to death, was his friend Drew’s roommate.

This tragedy could have been much worse, as the shooter had three semi automatic handguns and 400 unspent rounds of ammunition in his car. All were purchased legally. Life goes on. And so does the insanity.

As children, we learned that a long, long time ago, well before the birth of Larry King’s grandparents, dinosaurs roamed the planet, as all of the earth’s continents were joined together as one.

But then around 65 million years ago, scientists believe a massive meteorite hit the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The impact blocked out all sunlight, and with no food or tacquerias open, the dinosaurs were sent into extinction. This significantly changed the Earth’s ecology and provided a massive boost for the tanning industry.

A 112-mile-wide crater was created by a rock six miles in diameter. It hit the Earth with immense force, sending shockwaves around the planet, with nothing larger than big dogs surviving. But some species lived on, including fish, sharks, jellyfish, lawyers and TV agents.

People have always been fascinated by dinosaurs. Many of today’s scientists studying these supersized creatures said they got interested after viewing the movie “Jurassic Park.” In the words of the book’s author Michael Crichton, “God creates dinosaurs, God kills dinosaurs, God creates man, man kills God, man brings back dinosaurs Dinosaurs then eat man…Woman inherits the earth.”

Or as Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus once tweeted back in the early 1500′s,” Women, can’t live with them, can’t roam the earth without them.”

So when I ran across this story written by Michael Warren for the Associated Press, it spoke to me. It wasn’t so much that another dinosaur fossil was discovered, it was that it could have been the largest creature ever to walk on the face of God’s green earth.

We’re talking about the Big Kahuna, one that would make the Tyrannosaurus Rex look like a pip squeak.

Or as Porsche’s former Chief Executive Officer Wendelin Wiederking once remarked, “If size did matter, the dinosaurs would still be alive. Porsche, there is no substitute.

So here’s the facts. Scientists in Argentina uncovered bones of a super titanosaur that was as tall as a seven story structure and faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bounce.

Paleontologists say that this titanosaur could have been 65 feet tall and 132 feet long. Think two semi trucks, one after another, weighing the equivalent of 14 or 15 adult African elephants. On a good day, we’re talking about 165,000 pounds. To put this giant vegan’s enormous size into perspective, a T-Rex weighed about 7 tons. This big boy was not counting carbs.

The thigh bone discovered was eight feet long and fully dwarfed a grown man or a WNBA center. It had a long neck and tail and a surprisingly small skull that a yarmulke could fit on nicely.

Experts agree that this new find is a previously undiscovered species, and that it was at least as big as the Argentinosaurus, which had been thought to set the record for size.

Ruben Cuneo, the director of the museum sponsoring the dig, says “What they discovered is a cemetery of dinosaurs the likes of which we had never seen in the history of Argentine paleontology.” Scientists have only uncovered 20 percent of the find and already have found the fossils of seven other dinosaurs, a Che Guevara headband and a pair of sweat socks worn by the San Antonio Spurs Manu Ginolbi.

So they’ll keep digging. Because if you don’t know about the past, you don’t know your future. Or as I once told my rabbi, “What we need to know about the past is that no matter what happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new.” L’chaim.

Before we move on, here’s a few more fun facts about dinosaurs courtesy of randomhistory.com.

Dinosaurs dominated the Earth for over 165 million years, humans have been around for 2 million years, while the crime drama series,”True Detective” has been on for one season. It’s not TV, its HBO.

The Stegosaurus had the smallest brain for its body size of any known dinosaur. It was the size of a Chevy van, but its brain was the size of a walnut, so it was probably a little smarter than a giant fern or a Tea Party candidate.

And finally, paleontologists believe a Tyrannosaurus rex male reproductive organ might have been up to 12 feet in length. Whoa. You would have needed a chain saw for the circumcision.

Moving along to the photo arcade, today I am showcasing some semi silhouette action along the coast. I usually try to keep people out of my landscape shots, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. But today they are deliberately in play, as their dark outline provides an interesting contrast against the colorful back drop of clouds and sky.

On to some late night humor. “The Billboard Music awards were last night and there was an amazing hologram of Michael Jackson. He performed a new song called “Slave to the Rhythm.” It was so realistic, Tito actually asked it for money. Yeah, a Michael Jackson hologram at the Billboard Music Awards. Then he left to play golf with holograms of Tupac and Elvis. – Jimmy Fallon

“They say this season of “The Bachelorette” will have fewer hot tub scenes than previous seasons. Which explains the show’s new name: “What’s the Point?” A new study found that legalizing marijuana in Colorado has created more than 10,000 jobs. And that’s just selling lava lamps at Spencer’s Gifts.” -Jimmy Fallon

“A man from Houston is attempting to visit all the Starbucks locations in the world. It’s been four years since he started. He still hasn’t left Houston. A Japanese company unveiled a robot that can tell jokes and then detect if the joke was well received. In a related story, I start my shift at Quiznos tomorrow.” – Conan O’Brien “According to a new survey, fewer than 2 percent of hiring managers said they were actively recruiting graduates with liberal arts degrees. Said liberal arts graduates, “Latte for Karen.” -Seth Meyers

So birthday wishes go out to my wife, Allison, who turned 55 years young on Sunday. As I’ve said before, except for TiVo, she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. On these special occasions, I often harken back to the fateful day I met her, when her first words to me were, “When is this damn game going to be over?”

And then on Wednesday my Marin County based sister-in-law Wendi celebrates her special day, surrounded by friends, family and enough chocolate to take us through the NBA Finals.

We’ll catch you coming back from a painful injury and getting your team back into the Western Conference Finals. Aloha, mahalo and later, Serge Ibaka fans.

May 18, 2014

Do You, You, Peel Like I Do

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:16 am

Good morning and greetings, plantain fans. If you’re like me and visit Safeway seventeen times a week, you’ve probably noticed the changing of the guard in the produce department. Where apples, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit once filled the bins, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches and strawberries have moved to center stage of this fruit frontier.

These tasty botanical treats are part of our life blood. I don’t think I’ve gone more than an hour over the last few months without injecting a California Cutie into my bloodstream. And it’s not because they’re super sweet and an excellent source of Vitamin C with an easy to peel zipper skin. They’re just the perfect snack and so portable for a blogger on the go.

But like the NBA, their season is soon coming to an end. Or as Mark Twain once put it, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”

So in my cyber travels, I came across this edibly delightful story involving an old friend. Last week, at a department store in Tokyo, Dole Fruits released 59 limited-edition premium bananas priced at 590 yen or $5.80 a pop.

They were Dole’s prized Gokusen variety, the best of the best, and were emblazoned with a fancy serial number and elegantly wrapped in a red felt gift box. A perfect gift for a birthday, bar mitzvah or the Sultan of Brunei’s fruit salad.

Now you or your grocer might be wondering, why in the wide, wide world of sports would someone fork over six bucks for a banana when you can pick up a half dozen for half the price?

Well, here’s the scoop. According to Japan Today, Dole scientists used 100 different types of bananas to breed what it deemed a perfect specimen. They then grew the resulting strain at an undisclosed location 500 meters above sea-level, where temperatures fluctuate at just the right range and speed for optimum sweetness.

All this research and development supposedly resulted in a banana that’s 36.5 percent sweeter, 33.4 percent more fragrant, and 40 percent better textured than conventional bananas. We’re talking banana royalty, as this must be one plastic fantastic, super delicious and extremely scrumptious banana.

You may be wondering, why only 59 bananas for this promotion? It’s just coincides with the date, which was 5/9, or May 9th if you’re keeping score at home.

It seems the Japanese are very particular about their produce. Another Japanese company ripens its bananas in a room with Mozart playing continuously because it results in a sweeter fruit. It’s the same reason why I blast out the Doobie Brothers while I’m taking a shower.

So this got me thinking. Bananas have been my companions all my life, from the early days of bananas and sour cream, to the college years of chocolate banana milkshakes to the present day fruit smoothies. And we both bruise easily, so I can relate.

So here’s a few fun facts about this starchy gem. Bananas do not grow on a tree, but are actually a giant herb. This makes the banana plant the largest in the world which does not have a stem made of wood. Until recently, I had two big banana palms adding a tropical touch to my backyard. They didn’t produce any fruit but did keep the rat and raccoon population under control.

A cluster of bananas sold in supermarkets is a “hand” of bananas, while the individual bananas on the hand are called “fingers.” The strings that go up and down the length of bananas are called “phloem bundles,” that help distribute nutrients to every part of the growing bananas. As Johnny Carson would say, “I did not know that.”

It is believed by many experts that bananas were the first fruit cultivated by humans. Why, I do not know. I would have gone with watermelon.

According to my first grade teacher, Miss Chiquita, bananas were introduced to the United States at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Celebration, where they were sold wrapped in foil for 10 cents each. And it wasn’t till 1923 that the banana split came along, when some visionary decided to cut the bananas length wise and then load on three flavors of ice cream and sauces, then garnish it with crushed nuts, whipped cream and finished off with cherries from the maraschino tree on top.

The term “banana republic” was coined by American writer O. Henry. It is a reference to any Latin American, Caribbean, or African country that was politically unstable, relied heavily on basic agriculture, was not technologically advanced and had no Gap Outlets. Like the country of San Marcos, that Woody Allen traveled down to in his movie comedy “Bananas.”

Woody played a New Yorker named Fielding Melish, who gets dumped by his girlfriend and then relocates to Central America to take part in a revolution and is named the country’s new president. Here’s a quick sample of his humor.

Fielding Mellish: “You busy tonight?” Norma: “Some old friends are coming over. We’re gonna show some pornographic movies.” Fielding Mellish: “You need an usher?”

The movie’s a classic. One of my all-time favorites. I have the poster hanging in my garage along with my track medals.

A boy boards a bus and sees a man sitting with a banana in each ear. He says to the him, ‘Hey mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” There’s no response. So he says it louder, “Hey, mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” Still nothing.

Finally, he screams at the top of his lungs. ‘Hey mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” At that point, the man looks up and says, “Sorry I can’t hear you. I’ve got bananas in my ears.”

Ah, the simple life.

Moving along to the photo parade, we return to Lighthouse Point and West Cliff Drive on the morning of January 11. This is the place where it all happens. This sunrise was beautiful from every angle as the clouds went through some interesting changes. But what I even liked better was the sunrise the next day, which was off the charts color wise. So stay tuned.

On to some late night humor. “Part two of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper aired on CNN tonight. It may have been the first time I’ve ever seen an apology that was more offensive than the thing being apologized for.” – Jimmy Kimmel “How about this weather, ladies and gentlemen. It’s 81 and cloudy, just like Donald Sterling. – David Letterman

“During his trip to the White House yesterday, Uruguay’s president said that more Americans should be bilingual. Then Joe Biden said, “Thanks, but I’m happily married.” – Jimmy Fallon “Dr. Dre may become the world’s first hip-hop billionaire. So maybe my mom was right. I should have become a doctor.” – Conan O’Brien

“It’s a very exciting time in television. This is the time when all of the networks and TV show providers get together and announce their new TV line-ups. CBS has a wonderful new show. It’s called CSI-SPU — Special Parking Unit. Justin Bieber is accused of stealing a cellphone from a fan. The police now say that he is at large. He’s armed and Bieberous.” – David Letterman

“New research suggests that people who are more ambitious will live longer. While people who are less ambitious will live longer with their parents. A new study claims that 1 in 10 Americans no longer carry cash. They’re called English majors.” – Seth Meyers

So another post is in the books. We’ll catch you being the mastermind of the most efficient running offense in the NBA while in the aiming for another championship. Aloha, mahalo and later, Greg Popovich fans.

May 11, 2014

What A Bay For A Daydream

Good morning and greetings, warm-blooded mammal fans. A few months back, I wrote that more whales had been spotted people watching in the bay than had ever been recorded. Last Tuesday, I spotted four whales on my morning walk, as I saw a calf, her mother, a close friend, and perhaps the father or a body guard heading up the coast.

Well, our favorite bay is once again teeming with exotic marine life. In a recent article posted on sfgate.com, outdoor writer Tom Stienstra wrote, “In the past year, Monterey Bay has become the richest marine region on the Pacific Coast. In the past three weeks, it has reached a new peak with unbelievable hordes of anchovies, along with other baitfish, and with it, the highest numbers of salmon, marine birds, sea lions, gray whales, humpback whales and orcas anywhere.”

So with billions of tons of baitfish roaming the bay, the action has once again been spectacular in our front yard. I only wish I could make these whale watching trips a regular event, but I get sea sick watching Jacques Cousteau specials.

Which reminds me of a joke. A doctor, a dentist and an attorney were in a boat together when a wave came along and washed them all overboard. Unable to get back into the boat, they decided two would hold on to the boat and the third would swim to shore for help.

They noticed that there were hundreds of sharks between them and land. Without a word the lawyer took off! As he swam the sharks move aside. The dentist yelled, “it’s a miracle!”

“No”, said the doctor, “That’s professional courtesy!”

So what do we know about Monterey Bay? Back in 1602, or around the last time the Cubs won the World Series, Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizciano discovered Monterey Bay while searching for a good location for the Capitola Mall. He was seeking a port along the California coast that would be a safe harbor for Spanish ships. He named the bay in honor of the Viceroy, the Conde de Monterey, which is I believe is the sandwich I ordered for lunch last week at Chili’s.

Vizciano reported that the bay was a safe harbor and sheltered from all winds, which didn’t turn out to be true. He also said that he didn’t think an aquarium would be succcesful in Monterey or the Warriors would make it into the playoffs two years in a row. But he did think Mark Jackson would be fired.

Actually, Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo was the first European explorer to navigate the coast of California back in 1542, but he sailed right by the entrance of Monterey Bay, as he was concerned with the high cost of living in the area. And that is why they only named a junior college after him, instead of a four year university.

But it was not until 1769, around the golden age of television, that an outpost was established on Monterey Bay. It was called Del Taco and was open 24 hours a day with a drive thru for horses and covererd wagons.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1992, in an effort to preserve the ocean environment that’s currently being enjoyed and polluted by the population surrounding it. It includes the Pacific waters along the central California coast from Cambria to north of San Francisco, and extends out to sea an average of 30 miles, or the same distance I walk every two weeks to stay slim and trim as I ease into my summer wardrobe.

Monterey Bay actually comprises less than 1/15th of the entire sanctuary, which is all open water, as no land is included. It is the largest marine sanctuary in the U.S. and the second largest in the world after the Hawaiian Islands. Monterey Bay’s underwater canyon is larger than the Grand Canyon, and considered to be the Yankee Stadium of the Pacific.

The bay is a Camp Pendleton of marine life, with approximately 345 species of fish, 450 plus species of plants, 94 species of seabirds, 30 species of marine mammals, 4 species of turtles, two turtle doves and the Patridge family in a pear tree. It’s Atlantis gone wild.

From 1854 to the early 1900s, the Monterey Bay harbor was a major cargo and whaling port. Its sandy beaches were white with whalebone, which was also the name of my band in high school.

Grey whales make their biannual visits during migrations between Alaska and their breeding grounds in Baja California. Blue whales appear from late spring to late autumn, along with Minke whales, Fin whales, Humpback whales, the Prince of Wales, Pacific Right whales, Sperm whales, Howard Wales along with pods of Orcas, whose favorite item on their spring menu is young gray whales.

So a man in a movie theatre notices what looks like a whale sitting next to him. “Are you a whale?” asked the man, surprised. “Yes.” “What are you doing at the movies?” The whale replied, “Well, I liked the book.”

So throw in the frequent sightings of dolphins, porpoises and sea lions and there’s always action on the bay. There have also been 1,276 reported shipwrecks, which does not include the last twenty years of Oakland Raider football.

Giant kelp forests are underwater inhabitants of the bay. With the exception of the marijuana industry, it is the fastest growing plant on earth, growing up to 14 inches a day. Which does not explain why 90% of the brussel sprouts grown in the United States are from Santa Cruz County.

So what else to say about this playground of natural wonders? I believe former Beatle Ringo Starr summed it up best when he said, “I’d like to be, under the sea, in an octopus’s garden in the shade.” Life is good when you can sit by the dock of the bay watching time roll away.

Moving along to the photo department, back in January and February, the sunrises and sunsets were coming fast and furious. Today’s spread is from the evening of January 9. It wasn’t anything to tweet home about as the sky turned different shades of tangerine, but when I loaded up the zoom lens, I came up with a pretty good shot of some gulls amidst an orange sherbert sundae. Not a bad dessert.

On to a little late night humor. “Richard Branson has announced plans to develop a new type of plane that could fly from New York to Tokyo in one hour. Apparently the engines are powered by human screams.” – Seth Meyers “A new study found that a growing number of dog owners are giving their pets anti-anxiety medication as a way to calm them down and reduce unwanted stress in their lives. Then dogs said, “Or, you could just sell the vacuum cleaner.” – Jimmy Fallon

“For the second time in three days, the White House has gone into lockdown after someone threw an object over the fence. Finally today, President Obama took away Joe Biden’s Frisbee. Sony has invented a new kind of cassette tape that could store 47 million songs. They estimate that they’ll be ready to demonstrate the new cassette for the public sometime in the year 2267 when it finishes rewinding.” – Seth Meyers

So we’ll catch you being one of the top point guards in the league while leading your team to an amazing come-from-behind win on Mother’s Day. Aloha, mahalo and later, Chris Paul fans.

May 4, 2014

Twister And Shout

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:37 am

Good morning and greetings, thunderstorm fans. As I mentioned before here on the Weather Channel, I’m always amazed by the diverse meteorological events that occur throughout our great nation. This does not include weather conditions in Hawaii, which are always sunny with no chance of it not being paradise.

So last week, aided by a high pressure system that dropped in for the best first round ever of the NBA playoffs, we experienced near record high temperatures here on the central coast, as Wednesday the thermometer hit a sizzling 93 degrees.

Pinch me, am I dreaming? Temperature in the mid 90′s? What’s next, ocean temps in the 70′s?

And just in case you’re thinking about taking a dip into Monterey Bay today without a wetsuit, the thermometer will read a chilly 54 degrees, which to me, is still dangerous shrinkage territory.

We rarely see this kind of heat in Santa Cruz, except when it comes to the homeless problem, as the average high for the month of April is 67.5 degrees. That’s what you get when you order a Mediterranean climate.

So last Wednesday was the hottest day of the year, a good, old-fashioned scorcher. How hot was it? I saw a sign on a store downtown, “No Shirt, No Pants, No Problem.”

Now contrast these warm, breezy conditions with a slow moving storm system that produced a four day barrage of violent, wet weather that wreaked havoc, with record breaking rainfall and 159 tornadoes over fifteen states. Hardest hit by the twisters were Arkansas and Mississippi, as tornadoes destroyed neighborhoods while snapping trees in half and sending trailer trucks airborne like toys.

The White House declared Arkansas a major disaster, and that had nothing to do with the Bill Clinton’s past relationships with Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones. The death toll kept rising, as winds up to 200 mph tore through helpless communities. Families were destroyed and their homes completely leveled, leaving them dazed and confused as to what just happened.

And all in just a matter of seconds.

Now I usually like to keep my subjects light and fluffy like a cheese souffle, but it’s tough to talk about tornadoes in those terms. Nature has a vast arsenal of weapons, but even with early warning systems, folks are no match for these twisters, the most violent of all earth’s storms.

Each year, about a thousand tornadoes touch down in the United States, and with them come winds that are the fastest on Earth. A tornado in Oklahoma once destroyed a whole motel. People later found the motel’s sign in Arkansas. Or as comedian Jay London once pondered, “At Motel 6 in Amish Country, I wonder if they leave the light on for you?”

Their favorite place to play and spawn is Tornado Alley, which stretches from western Texas to North Dakota. This is where the dry polar air from Canada meets the warm moist tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico, forming thunderstorms and setting the stage for disastrous results, like any new drama series on Fox TV.

These cyclones start out very lightly colored or transparent, but the more debris they pick up, the darker they become. Sometimes you can see these violent twisters coming, but like friends and relatives, many show up with little or no warning. Or in the words of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, “You might be a redneck if you’ve been on TV more than five times describing the sound of a tornado.”

Getting back to the weather map, this same storm system produced a month’s worth of rain that fell in a 24 hour period last week. This led to dangerous flash flooding from Florida to New York, with city streets swamped and roads collapsing. These torrential downpours led to historic rain totals and umbrella sales going through the roof.

So what can you say about Mother Nature? She acts like summer but walks like the rain.

So for today’s photo lineup, we are heading straight to my front yard, where as you can see, everything has been coming up roses. The action has been non-stop all spring, as the variety of colors have been nothing short of semi-spectacular. And when you add the bonus of a fragrance into the mix, life is just a little bit better.

So if you have a moment, take some time to smell the roses.

Since while we’re on the subject, a blonde and a brunette walk past a flower shop and see the brunette’s boyfriend buying flowers. She sighs and says, “Oh crap, my boyfriend is buying me flowers again. Now, I’ll be expected to spend the weekend on my back with my legs in the air.”

The blonde says, “Don’t you have a vase?”

On to some late night humor. “In the middle of his second term, President Obama’s approval rating once again has dropped. Obama’s approval rating is so low that today Hillary Clinton said, ‘I’ll take it from here.’” –David Letterman “President Obama is calling Donald Sterling’s racist remarks ‘incredibly offensive.’ And you know it’s bad when even Vladimir Putin says, ‘I hate to say it, but I am with Obama on this one.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Sterling’s girlfriend said she’s “going to be president of the United States” one day. Yeah, like we’re going to elect someone who secretly records people’s private phone calls and conversations. L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was recorded on tape making racist comments. He now has been banned from the league for life. Great, just where Sterling wanted to end up — the blacklist.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Right now every NBA fan here in Los Angeles knows there’s a dark, ugly cloud of shame hanging over the Staples Center. But enough about the Lakers. There’s also the Sterling thing.” –Craig Ferguson “The Royal Court of Saudi Arabia has launched a website that will accept complaints against the government and send them directly to the king. You can even submit a second complaint if you want — using your remaining hand.” – Seth Meyers

So we’re on to the second round of the NBA playoffs. We’ll catch you taking your team to the brink but just falling short in the first round of the playoffs. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mark Jackson fans.


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