May 10, 2015

There’s No Drought About That

Good morning and greetings, rainfall fans.  As we know, when dealing with important issues of the day, there are always differing opinions, two sides to every coin.  Someone is right, someone is wrong.  And in these pages, I sometimes poke fun at the conservative point of view, because to paraphrase the late Art Linkletter, “Conservatives say the funniest things.”

But one thing we can agree on these days is that the state of California has been going through a severe drought.  People are now showering in the sinks while folks are watching as their lawns go from green to red.   The state is in a crisis.

And, of course, this does not apply to the people of Beverly Hills, but that’s because they have immunity to floods, hurricanes and price increases of whitefish at Nate ‘n Al’s Deli on North Beverly Drive, where they honor one simple commitment.  To serve the finest deli favorites prepared with the best ingredients, featuring the finest corned beef, brisket, stuffed cabbage and short ribs.

Now a long time reader of this blog, who tends to lead to his right and drive to his left, wanted me to bring up the facts concerning this important issue.  In a story written by Malia Zimmerman for Fox News, the long-running California drought, which began back in 2102, could have been avoided if proper measures had been set in place.Now according to the critics ,the Golden State’s misguided environmental policies allowed much-needed rainwater to flow straight into the Pacific. In an average year, California gets enough snow and rain to put 200 million acres under a foot of water, but environmental opposition to dams over the last several decades has allowed the majority of the freshwater to flow into the ocean.

The current drought has left farmlands scorched and residents under strict water consumption orders.  According to Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research. “This is a man-made disaster.  Southern California is an arid part of the world where droughts are commonplace, and knowing this, you’d think the government of California would have included this mathematical certainty in its disaster preparedness planning, but the government has done nothing, not even store rain, as the population has continued to grow.”

It seems that Mr. Cohen is pointing the fickled finger of fate at the administration of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who back in April mandated the state’s residents cut water usage by as much as 35 percent, saying, “As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can.”  One drop at a time.  Three coins in a fountain.

To hear it from the Republican side, “Droughts are nothing new in California, but right now, 70 percent of California’s rainfall washes out to sea because liberals have prevented the construction of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades, during a period in which California’s population has doubled,” says Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard and a 2016 GOP presidential candidate. “This is the classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology.”

Let’s forget she laid off 30,000 people at Hewlett-Packard.  Fiorina places the blame for the loss of agriculture on the  manuvering of those dreaded liberal environmentalists, as 400,000 acres of farmland went unplanted last year.

Face it, the farmers are having a tough go of it.  Critics point the fingers at wanting to divert the water to boost fish populations rather than it going to farmers.  Forget about the cashews, save the endangered Delta Smelt.

California produces more than 250 different crops, with $44 billion in sales.  It is the only state to produce 12 key crops such as almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, raisins, kiwi, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, walnuts and a host of great TV shows,like “Secrets and Lies” on ABC.

But my big concern is, what will be the fate of our friend, the avocado?   I ran across an interesting story written by Adam Sternbergh in the April 20, 2105 issue of New York Magazine, titled “Guacanomics, Have You Eaten Your Last Avocado.”  In it, he discusses our lust for this precious fruit, and it’s future on this planet.

Charley Wolk is 78 years old and an avocado farmer, living a half-hour drive north of San Diego in Fallbrook, CA.   Fallbrook is unofficially known as “the Avocado Capital of the World,” and Charley serves as the chairman of the California Avocado Commission, while writing a blog called Growing Avocados, on which he’s billed as “California’s foremost avocado expert.”

Charley says the global demand for avocados has never been higher. People are going crazy for this creamy, fat filled fruit. But there’s only thing that’s troubling Charley and the avocado farmers.  You guessed it.  WATER.  What to do about the drought?

This ongoing dry spell has lasted three years and will extend to a fourth.  California farmers pay dearly for the delivery of water, and it is getting very, very expensive.   “The avocado’s native environment is tropical, and we’re growing them in a desert,” Charley says. It takes 72 gallons of water to grow a pound of avocados, compared to, for instance, nine gallons to grow a pound of tomatoes. “The issue with water used to be cost. Now it’s availability.”

Now this is slightly off track, but here’s a scary scenario from Jan Eliassson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, on the world wide scarcity of clean water. “We have a dramatically dangerous situation right now, a new dimension which is creeping into the water equation.  The fact that you have a finite situation, there’s competition about these resources.  There is a risk that water scarcity could be a threat to peace and security.”

“History if full of stories where you fight about resources.  Fighting about water is fighting about our survival.  If we don’t deal with the problem of responsibility in this stage, the problem will grow into a disastrous situation.  I think it’s time for us to wake up.”

Now back to the story.  Technically, the avocado is a berry. But it’s not like any other berry, because it’s not sweet to eat off the tree. The name avocado comes from the Aztec word ahuacatl, which means “testicle,” so named because avocados typically grow in pairs and hang heavy on the tree.

The avocado didn’t land in California until the 1850s, when a tree was imported from Nicaragua by a private citizen as a botanical curiosity.  I’m guessing she was a female admirer.

According to my sources, 44 percent of California is classified as being in “exceptional drought.”  California has missed out on a full year’s worth of precipitation over each of the last three years. Last year was also the warmest year in the state’s recorded history.   When Charley started farming avocados four decades ago, water cost about $72 per acre-foot of water.  Now in some areas it costs about $1,500 per acre-foot.  Holy guacamole.

So the avocado farmers in California are searching for new, more efficient ways to grow avocados, and looking to develop new, heartier, more drought-resistant strains of avocado to grow. So it all comes back to the drought, and the policy and politics involving the state of California.   The critics have pointed the fingers of blame.  Time has been wasted.  Now it’s time for action.  I just hope it’s not too late.

Moving from agriculture to photos, I thought I’d take a break from the landscapes and feature some animal, bird  and marine life I have photographed in the past months of May.

We start out with the an elegant pelican cruising the skies over Monterey Bay, and then onto a great blue heron in the tide pools off West Cliff Drive.  Then we head up the coast to Four Mile Beach, where three harbor seals are keeping a watchful eye on me.  Then we run across a bobcat I found making sand castles up at Four Mile, before returning to town to check out this baby elephant seal and this fully grown sea lion.

We then look in on my sleeping daughter, a monkey and Summer, our golden retriever who celebrated her 10th birthday on Saturday.  And for the grand finale, we check in on Aimee’s pet rabbits, Marvin and Scarlett, who will chew through anything she can get her teeth on.

On to some late night humor.  “Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar from the show “19 Kids and Counting” say they are supporting Mike Huckabee for president because he has “common sense.” If there’s anyone who knows about common sense, it’s a family with 19 kids.” – Jimmy Fallon  “A woman held hostage by her boyfriend in Florida managed to escape this week after she convinced him to let her order a pizza using Pizza Hut’s app and wrote “911 hostage help” in the comment section. But really aren’t all Pizza Hut orders a cry for help?” – Seth Meyers

“Remember “deflate-gate”? After the Patriots beat the Colts, 11 of the 12 footballs were found to be deflated. I hope deflate-gate is a good lesson for kids. If you cheat and don’t play fair you will be the MVP of the Super Bowl and marry one of the most beautiful women on earth. Remember that.” – Jimmy Kimmel   “Happy Cinco de Mayo. Today is the day Americans celebrate Mexicans beating the French in the Battle of Puebla by getting blind drunk, listening to mariachi music, and then vomiting in a cab. Or as we call it in Britain — Tuesday.” – James Corden

“Welcome to the program. My name is Dave Letterman, and tonight I’m giving my two-week notice.  Don’t worry about me. I plan to continue to be in show business. I have already been booked to be in a production of “The Sunshine Boys” with Jay Leno.” – David Letterman

“You know what’s going to be big this summer is the new “Indiana Jones” movie. Now Indiana Jones is a little older. In this film he goes in search of a tomb for himself.  Now instead of outrunning a giant boulder, Indiana Jones has to pass an enormous kidney stone.” – David Letterman

“Happy Cinco de Mayo. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, mayor Bill de Blasio is filling all New York City potholes with guacamole.  Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby.  The thing about the Kentucky Derby is that it’s usually won by the horse from Kenya.” – David Letterman

 So we’ll catch you lighting it up for 16 third quarter points and riding your team to a game three victory over the Rockets.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Austin Rivers fans.

February 5, 2012

Sunday, Bloated, Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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