April 25, 2011

Signed, Elephant Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours

Good morning and greetings, central coast fans. Since we last met cybernetically, tornadoes have continued to blast down across the south and midwest, with hail the size of softballs raining down on unsuspecting infielders and outfielders. This April has set the all-time record for tornadoes and putouts recorded. On Saturday, the airport in St. Louis was struck by the worst tornado in 40 years that left passengers clutching their bags of mini-pretzels and Albert Pujos’ jerseys.

My Kentucky-based field scout Nancy Mager told me last week of storms with howling winds and golf-ball sized hail that came along with thunder and lightning in the middle of the night in Bowling Green. I guess that comes with the territory when you live in tornado or Kirstie Alley.

Moving along to a place with a more gentle weather pattern, during the month of April, I have been focusing on the coastline beween Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the unincorporated community of Davenport and last week it was pesky Pescadero. For today’s action, we’re trapsing halfway between these two coastal oasis as we venture to the Ano Nueva State Reserve, which lies 25 miles north of Santa Cruz, which would be 50 miles south of San Francisco and 3,000 miles west of Yankee Stadium.

Because of my deep cover work, I last visited this sacred spot for elephant seals back in 2007. The Ohlone Indians, no relation to the Cleveland Indians, were the first people known to build condos in the Año Nuevo area. But then around the birth of John McCain in 1791, Mission Santa Cruz was founded and the Indian population, much like like my stock account back in 2009, plummeted due to the various diseases and some bad paella that Spanish had brought with them.

The Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino sailed by the point on January 3, 1603, which I believe was a Wednesday. His diarist, chaplain and flamingo dance instructor on the expedition, Father Antonio de la Ascensión, named it Punta de Año Nuevo (New Year’s Point) for the day on which they sighted it. They had recently stopped in Monterey for some clam chowder, calamari strips and pan-fried sand dabs and passed Año Nuevo while heading north for a rave concert.

Today, Ano Nuevo remains much like the way Vizcaino saw it and the way I see myself-wild, lonely and underdeveloped. What happens on this jutting out stretch of land, like my first year at Syracuse University, is magical and something, like the Supreme Court giving Bush the nod over Al Gore, that I won’t soon forget. Hundreds of elephant seals, seal lions and Navy Seals come ashore to rest, mate and give birth on the beach, sand dunes and private cabanas.

Año Nuevo State Park is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal. The surrounding area is also the number one location on the planet for great white shark attacks, as they love to snack on elephant seals and any other marine mammal that goes for a leisurely swim in this area. I don’t know about you, but being attacked by a great white shark has been something I’ve always wanted to avoid, like taking the SAT’s again.

So if you like to watch giant male elephant seals fighting, goring and tearing at one another to see who gets to be King Inseminator, (and who wouldn’t want to be?), than this the place where you get a front row seat. The top bull, like a Shawn Kemp, typically sires 50 pups each year without breaking a sweat. In one four-year period, a lone dominant male inseminated at least 225 females, after which he signed a few autographs and took a well-deserved nap.

Now here are a few, quick fun facts about elephant seals. Much like teams during the first round of the NCAA tournament, the seals journey thousands of miles as males head north to frolic in the waters near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and females swim west out to sea. During the migration, most of the seals never return to land, which would be a problem for someone like myself, who doesn’t like being in water or conversations that go over my head.

Elephant seals are capable of swimming in waters a mile deep for 90 minutes at a time, then taking a quick breath and going right back down again. Unbelievable. The seals are thought to nap while they dive, which is what I used to do during most of my upper division math classes.

Much like Mother Theresa and Queen Latifa, the females are big-time givers, as for four weeks, they forgo eating, massages and on-line shopping, as they lose as much as 40 percent of their weight in the production of milk and cheese. That’s no Jenny Craig experience. But after home schooling and nursing her pup for a month on land, Mommy abandons the youngster, mates, and heads back to sea for a much need spa treatment. That is, if she makes it by the Great Whites.

These hallowed grounds, much like the NBA Store in New York, is an exotic spot to visit. Since it was April, the seals you see in today’s photos are females and pups just relaxing, flipping around sand and doing crossword puzzles. But the fact that all this breeding, fighting and molting goes on with these gigantic creatures just 25 minutes up the coast is mind-blowing. So do yourself a favor and take the mile and half walk on the wild side. You’ll be glad you did and a grateful nation thanks you.

On to the humor of the late night. “Donald Trump is apparently on top among Republican voters. People are responding to his straight-forward honesty, tough talk, and utter lunacy.”–Jimmy Kimmel “NBC executives say that if Donald Trump does run for president, they will not renew ‘The Apprentice.’ So some good may come out of this.” –Conan O’Brien “Donald Trump is attacking President Obama’s background. And I said, ‘Wait a minute, Trump also is from a mixed background. He’s half jack and half ass.’” –David Letterman

“Donald Trump said that if President Obama releases his birth certificate, Trump will release his tax return. Obama said he won’t run for a second term if Trump releases that thing on his head. President Obama is celebrating Passover with a Passover Seder. After hearing this, Sarah Palin said, ‘Ah, so he is a Muslim. Obama will participate in a town hall meeting hosted on Facebook. So just like everyone else in America, Obama will be on Facebook when he should be working.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama celebrated Passover with a Seder at the White House. This morning, Donald Trump demanded to see Obama’s bar mitzvah certificate.”–Jimmy Kimmel “The governor of Hawaii said he first met President Obama just days after he was born. He knew it was Obama because he kept pointing to his diaper and calling for “change. To celebrate Kim Jong Il’s birthday. North Korea held the biggest magic show ever. Things got out of control when the magician pulled a rabbit out of his hat and it was immediately eaten by 28 million people.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama’s critics are lashing out over him shutting down the poker sites. Sarah Palin called it an overreaction, Tim Pawlenty said it was irrational, and Donald Trump said, ‘Be sure to watch ‘Celebrity Apprentice.” Gambling and Washington don’t seem to go together at all. One’s full of whores and seedy, soulless bastards and the other’s the gambling industry. Forty percent of Americans say they would rather cut their own hair than do their taxes. And then there are people that would rather do neither. I’m talking to you, Willie Nelson.” –Craig Ferguson

“Lenscrafters is upset with Tea Partier Michele Bachmann because she called Planned Parenthood ‘the Lenscrafters of abortion.’ Lenscrafters released a statement today calling her ‘the Costco of crazy.’ The FAA suspended an air traffic controller for watching a movie on the job. The controller said he was only watching a movie because he couldn’t sleep.”–Conan O’Brien “Pakistan says they are slowing down their hunt for bin Laden. Slowing it down? What is it, 10 years now? Could you go any slower?” –Jay Leno “Speaker of the House John Boehner says he will not host a Cinco de Mayo celebration this year. Boehner says he has nothing against Hispanic Americans, and in fact his speaker of the housekeeper is Hispanic.”–Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our last word for April, as time continues to fly by faster than our involvement with non-lethal aid and advisors to the Libyan rebels. I hope you NBA viewers having been enjoying the playoffs, as the first ten days of action has been as good as it gets, unless of course, you’re a New York Knicks fan. The NBA, where amazing comebacks happen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Brandon Roy fans.

August 1, 2010

The Baked Apple

Good morning and greetings, August fans. Well, July 2010 is now history, and it will not go down as the warmest month of my life. Officially, that would have been November of 1952, when I spent the month perfecting my back stroke in the amniotic fluid. Which reminds me of the old joke, “waiter, there’s a fly in my soup. Force of habit, sir. Our chef used to be a tailor.” Or “don’t worry, the spider on your bread will get him.”

Anyway, I was at my daughter’s championship softball game last Wednesday night, and I don’t want to say it was chilly, but my electric blanket was shivering. Now, while we’ve been experiencing frigid summer weather, folks on the east coast have been sweating like Levi Johnston alone with Sarah Palin on a moose hunting trip.

I bring up this meteorological data up because my wife, children and various nannies just left on a ten day trip to New York City. Now, my bride has spent some time back east enjoying the wonders of the heat and humidity, but my son and daughter have never enjoyed that special feeling of extreme discomfort one gets from being in an summer sauna. As the slogan says, I love New York, especially when the humidity is over 100 percent.

Back in the old country, on those days of stifling heat and unbearable humidity, we would just lock down the compound, turn on the air conditioning and wait for Yankee baseball. And of course, there would be runs to the sacred Pizza King for a slice or a chicken parmesan sandwich. As I used to tell our family psychiatrist, “a slice a day keeps the doctor away.”

Which brings us back to New York, New York, the insomniac city that never sleeps. So much to do and see and be afraid of. The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the Museum of Unnatural History, Yankee Stadium, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, Ground Zero, Little Italy, Big Italy and of course, Chinatown, featuring Hop Kee at 21 Mott Street, a true Cantonese experience that’s open till 4am on weekends. Reports are that the lo mein and wor shu gui chicken are still why God created chopsticks.

Throw in the Disunited Nations, Late Night with David Letterman, Rockefeller Front and Center and riding the New York City subways and you’ve had yourself quite a day. I would love to have gone on this trip and visited my ancestor’s sacred burial grounds, but Tommy Wolfe called to remind me that “you can’t go home again,” so I had to pass.

So for those of you who’ve never been to New York or who just love Derek Jeter, here are a few fun facts about the city they say is the greatest in the world. It was once said, if you stand at Times Square long enough, you’ll see the entire world walk or crawl by.

The Dutch purchased the island of Manhattan (really its southern tip) from the Algonquin tribe for trinkets, tools and some duct tape worth about $24. With that they built the Holland Tunnel. More than 60 percent of NYC’s residents do not own a car, a percentage higher than in any other city in the United States. Of the 60 percent who do own cars, 50 percent have had them stolen. The New York subway system is the largest mass transit system in the world with 468 stations and 842 miles of track that runs 24 hours a day. An average of 4.9 million people ride the New York City subway each weekday, with 3.9 million wishing the person next to them would move over a little bit.

New York City has 4,000 street food vendors selling hot dogs, pretzels, falafel, kebobs, and fake Rolexes. The first pizzeria in the United States was opened in NYC in 1895 by Gennaro Lombardi and his brother Pepperoni. Toilet paper was invented by NYC resident Joseph C. Gayetty in 1857, after enjoying a desert of plum pudding. America’s first vending machines were installed in the subways of New York City in 1888, and were broken into for the first time later that same day.

New York’s Yellow Cabs are yellow because John Hertz, the company’s founder, craved daffodils and learned from a study that yellow was the easiest color for the eye to spot. The “New York Post,” established in 1803 by Alexander Hamilton, is the oldest running newspaper in the United States and the place were my thoughts about the NBA could be consistently read by inquiring minds throughout the 1990′s. And finally, New York City is the most populated city in the USA with more than 8.2 million people. 37 percent of the city’s population is foreign-born, which makes this the U.S. city with people utterering obscenities in the most foreign languages at 170.

Moving on to our photo festivities, I like to start out each new month with some color and play-by play. Now, I shoot sunrises and sunsets in August about as often as I admire what the Republicans are doing in Washington, so it came as a bigger surprise than my SAT scores when this sunset hit the skies back on August 5, 2008.

I was shooting this parade of clouds from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive. What added to the drama were the unending chains of pelicans flying thru this glowing festival of light, with some more than sixty strong, adding a Nature Channel bonus to this blessed event. And if that wasn’t enough, a rainbow appeared in the eastern sky, making this the most photographically spectacular August evening since Chelsea Clinton’s bachelorette party.

On to the late night. “Vice President Joe Biden has declared that the heavy lifting is over for the year, and it’s time to begin campaigning and talking about the White House’s accomplishments. The heavy lifting might be over, but it sounds like the heavy shoveling is just beginning.” –Jay Leno “WikiLeaks has posted over 90,000 classified documents about the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon is outraged, the White House is furious, but British Petroleum is relieved: ‘Finally, a leak we had nothing to do with.’” –Jay Leno “Leaked documents show that Pakistan has been taking American money and using it to fund the Taliban. The Pakistanis are denying it, and they’re like, ‘The Taliban bought those iPods with their own money.’” –Craig Ferguson

“Congress’ approval rating has hit an all-time low of 11 percent. To give you an idea of how bad that is, the BP oil spill is at 12 percent.” –Jay Leno “BP is firing its CEO, Tony Hayward. They’re negotiating a settlement for $18 million. Boy, that’ll teach him.” –David Letterman “BP CEO Tony Hayward complained that he was unfairly ‘demonized’ in the U.S. over his handling of the Gulf oil spill. In response, demons complained that they were unfairly compared to BP CEO Tony Hayward.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Continental announced a new feature called ‘self boarding.’ There’s no ticket agent taking your boarding pass anymore, and you scan it yourself as you board the plane. It’s part of Continental’s ‘Terrorists Fly Hassel-free’ program.” –Jay Leno “A federal judge has blocked Arizona’s immigration law. Immigrants have been celebrating and throwing confetti. The governor of Arizona said, ‘Sure, now they’re showing us their papers.’” –Craig Ferguson Starbucks’ profits went up 37 percent in the third quarter of this year. They say they owe the increase to their new strategy of opening a Starbucks inside an existing Starbucks.” –Jimmy Fallon

So Jeb Bush is running for president. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but thank God, ladies and gentlemen, the comedy recession is over! “A lot of security at the Chelsea Clinton wedding, a huge security detail, and that’s just to keep Bill from the bridesmaids.” -David Letterman “Facebook now has 500 million users. The previous record holder was heroin.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our first blast for of the new month. Special birthday wishes on August 7 go out to my favorite daughter Aimee, who’s turning sweet 13 and growing more beautiful and entertaining every day. Celebrating on this same day is my old Hermosa Beach pal Bruce Meyers, who when he hears the word “strand,” doesn’t think hair. Also joining the parade this day is my old Syracuse partner in crime, Rhonda Starer, who first turned me on to the the wonders of Hop Kee and chow fun. Then on the 8th, my favorite microbiologist, Dr. Charlotte Borgeson, celebrates her special day with cake, ice cream and a lecture on the wonders of mozzarella cheese.

Reports from the Big Apple say the humidity is on hold, so my family got luckier than Heat fans in Miami. So enjoy the good moments of the day. And if you know someone who’s not doing so well on the health front, say a little prayer for them. We’ll catch you down the left field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Lance Berkman fans.

July 26, 2009

It’ll Costa Rica You An Arm And A Leg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:41 pm

Good morning and greetings, summer lovers. Last week, we journeyed on a trip south to Costa Rica, where monkeys roam the jungle landscape like Republicans roam the Congressional floor in their campaign in to snuff out plans for national healthcare. Well, today here at Sunrise Santa Cruz, we are raising the skirt stakes as we’re bringing in another guest blogger. He’s been on the pre-med path since exiting the womb, but more importantly, has been shooting with confidence and knocking down his three pointers this summer, which will be of great benefit to the thousands, er hundreds, er, dozen PCS basketball fans and his teammates next season. On that note, I present to you, in his own words, a point guard who loves pushing it up in the open court, Jason Sean Gilbert.

Hola, and welcome to this week’s blog. I was thinking about writing this whole thing in Spanish for bilingual readers, but I would have to re-read my Espanol 2 textbook to figure out how to say “Late Night Political Jokes”. Since my sister did last week’s write up, I felt obligated to share with you my experience of the beautiful Rich Coast (Costa Rica). And my dad was bugging me to do it.

Anyway, our journey first landed us in Arenal; a small town named after it’s active volcano that spits out more fire than Stan Van Gundy during a timeout. This segueways into this week’s backup blog titles “Arenal these Pictures Great” and “Why Arenal the Blogs as Good as this One?” The first picture is the magnificent view outside our window. At night, if it’s not cloudy, one is able to see the red lava on the top like a flame at the end of a candle. And here would be my dad’s first rock and roll reference, The Doors “Light My Fire”.

The second picture (top right) is from a hike that we took to get to the beach one morning. It’s an amazing picture that defines the natural beauty of Costa Rica. These types of shots are almost ubiquitous around the country, just like gallopinto (rice dish served on all the menus), soccer, and mosquito bites.

The next picture is of 11 crocodiles relaxing in Rio Tarcoles (accent on the “i” and “a”). I was talking to our driver (in his native tongue, of course) and I asked him if there were any crocodiles near the Pacific Coast. He said, “Si” and he drove us to the river and parked the car. At first, we couldn’t see them but sure enough as we walked along the narrow sidewalk on the highway, we saw these giant, dinosaur-like creatures. They were scaly beasts that looked almost unreal. They were floating around, wading in shallow waters, not really doing much, kind of like the Golden State Warrior’s defense. It was an incredible site that I had never seen before.

For our next image, we see an iguana. In my in-depth google research, I could not figure out which type of iguana this is. Nevertheless, one day, this reptile surprised us while we were eating lunch and parked itself right under the table, like our dog Summer. It was just two feet away from each of us and thankfully it didn’t try to take any of our legs off. Iguanas do bite although they have very small teeth. We saw many different iguanas during our stay in Manual Antonio, including one across the way up in a tree. This was a green iguana, although some are not green in color. It was beautiful with a reddish hue, or maybe it was just wearing a new Trevor Ariza jersey. (Let’s see how many basketball references I can make in one blog)

The fifth picture is of a toucan we found in the Manual Antonio National Park. I put this picture hear (misspelled for pun) to symbolize all the noise that the birds were making. There was always a background noise of chirping, squawking, and yelping (oh wait, that was my cousin Miles). The birds had a constant rhythm going. The loudest bird noise was from the Three-Wattled Bell birds. They omit a high, screeching sound that gives one a genuine jungle feel.

The last but not least picture is of another capuchin white-face monkey. Aimee did a pretty good job of explaining what they were so I won’t bore you and explain it again. Plus, she stole the better picture. These monkeys were right up above our heads, eating coconuts then dropping it on us. It was incredible how they moved around, jumping from tree to tree with ease. They were very friendly and the tour guide told us we could have reached out and fed them.

All in all, Costa Rica was an amazing experience that I will forever remember. Now it’s time to go back to the blogger who can still hit the three, unfortunately when playing me one on one. Adios!

Thank you, Jason. You know what they say in Hawaii, the papaya doesn’t fall far from the tree. Now on to the important late night political jokes of the week.

“Good News for California. This just came out. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has apparently found a way to close the state’s $26 billion budget shortfall. Now I can’t get into all the details, but in short, Fresno is now part of China. “Gov. Sanford is still trying to recover from his sex scandal. This is the latest. This weekend, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wrote an editorial apologizing for his behavior. I’m not sure he’s sincere, though, because it starts out, ‘Dear Penthouse.’” –Conan O’Brien “Several weeks ago, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disappeared without explanation for five days. Now of course, as it turns out, he didn’t really disappear. It turns out he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Which is a trail that starts in Maine and ends in an Argentine woman’s vagina.” –Jon Stewart

President Obama recently said that the best way to pay for his health care plan is to raise taxes on people like him. As a result, the government is raising taxes on all half-Kenyan, half-Kansan presidents who were born in Hawaii.” –Conan O’Brien “Did you guys see Michelle Obama last night? She just got a new haircut. It’s the first real cut of the Obama Administration.” –Jimmy Fallon “The Republicans had been running a surprisingly effective campaign against the proposal for national healthcare, but the President found a very clever way to get them on board. Behind the scenes, he offered a key provision that would provide free breast implants for their girlfriends.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“This weekend, it’s very cool. It’s the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, considered by some to be mankind’s greatest achievement. … Unless, of course, you count the time we put the cheese inside the pizza crust.” “Yesterday, Sonia Sotomayor’s questioning finally came to an end. Sotomayor said that she had received a ‘gracious and fair’ hearing. Her exact quote was, ‘Thanks a lot, you old honkies. I’m outta here. You can kiss my a**.’” –Conan O’Brien The tag Republicans kept throwing to hang around Sonia Sotomayor’s neck was ‘reverse racist.’ They said, you know, it’s reverse racists like her that give regular racists like them a bad name.” –Bill Maher

“Here’s news from Pakistan. They believe now, intelligence believes, that a US missile attack about six months ago killed one of Osama bin Laden’s sons. And the CIA believes that it was the hot-tempered Sonny.” –David Letterman “Walter Cronkite’s influence on the news is still felt today, in that news anchors still wear ties. Other parts of his legacy have become obsolete. For instance, dispassionate reporting is fine for covering the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, but not for an issue as complex as Octomom. Sadly, Cronkite’s passing is not getting the kind of cable news attention I believe it deserves. I watched the coverage this weekend and I didn’t see one helicopter shot of his home. I don’t even think his family has booked the Staples Center yet.” –Stephen Colbert

So that ends our latest installment of “What my children did on their summer vacation.” And speaking of children, congratulations go out to my daughter Aimee, who yesterday celebrated her Bat Mitzvah before a packed house here on the westside. This provided me the opportunity to acknowledge the love and joy that friends and family bring into our lives. It was a tremendous day and one I shall cherish and remember forever, or at least till Aimee says to me, “Dad, this is my boyfriend, Todd.”

As I write this, I can still feel the warm glow eminating from my heart after yesterday’s family affair. So enjoy the summer as it rolls along and we’ll catch you on the warning track. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ronnie Guidry fans.

August 21, 2008

Cloudy, With A Chance Of Paradise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:19 pm

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Good morning and greetings, island lovers. The Hawaii siege continues here on day three as we head to the skies for some cloud and sun convergence. But before we harmonically do that, let’s take a look at some fun facts about our 50th state that happens to lie in the middle of the South Pacific. How and why this tropical paradise is part of the United States I don’t know, but as the locals say. Kauai not?

Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face and neck of the earth. It is 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 from Japan and light years from my home state of New Jersey. It is the only state that grows coffee and donuts and supplies the world with one-third of its commercial supply of pineapples. Speaking of which, we bought a fresh golden pineapple every afternoon from our local roadside stand and each day it tasted like sugar-as sweet as Misty May and Kerri Walsh’s gold medal win in beach volleyball over the Chinese.

There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and from east to west Hawaii (and not Charles Barkley) is the widest state in the U.S. Undersea volcanoes that erupted thousands of years ago formed the islands of Hawaii and the ABC stores scattered throughout the islands. Hawaii has its own time zone ((Hawaiian Standard Time) and there is no daylight savings time or school closings on snow days. It is our only state completely surrounded by water and not geographically located in North America. Yet, somehow it is part of the good old USA although there are many native Hawaiians who are not in agreement with this American vacation reality.

So let’s move on to today’s photos of Sunset Beach. At night before sunset, clouds would move across the sky (photo #1) faster than John McCain buys houses. These white puffy pillows of magnificent moisture would blow by overhead at amazing speeds. Sunrises on the North Shore are nothing to text message home about but the best occurred on our first morning (photo #3 and my 11th daughter’s birthday.) With the air temperature around 72-75 degrees and the northeast trades blowing its it’s just a delightful way to start the day. Well, that and a trip to the fabulous Ted’s Bakery, another legendary spot on the North Shore. Throw in some fresh papaya and I’m a happy Hawaiian camper.

The last three shots are from the end of another action packed day of chanting, meditation and tackling those 1-2 foot waves at Sunset Beach. The most colorful sunset to decorate the sky presented itself to us on our final night and we’ll take a look at that next week. Also coming in week two we’ll take a look at some Hawaiian flowers, exotic plants and different flavors of smoothies across the island. So enjoy the sky, have a fabulous weekend and we’ll catch you Monday. Mahalo, Olympic fans.


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