Good morning and greetings, severe weather fans. As many of you and my hairdresser know, I’m fascinated by the diversity of weather throughout the United States. Last Wednesday was a perfect example of the weather map going wild and crazy, as the nation experienced the good, the bad and the ugly, which put me under a lot of barometric pressure. Or in the words of Clint Eastwood, “I tried being reasonable, but I didn’t like it.”
Now Clint Eastwood is a true American classic. And never more so as Inspector Harry Callahan in the movie “Dirty Harry.” As he said to a serial killer, in one of the classic movie lines of all time, “I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?”
Now there’s a man who had little regard for rules but always got results, which is not what we’re getting in the battle for gun control. The former mayor of Carmel also had a few words to say on this highly controversial issue. “I have a strict gun control policy. If there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.”
Getting back to the good, bad and not very pretty from last week’s meteorological front, Wednesday was a doozy. In Santa Cruz, the day was as lovely as California Attorney General Kamala Harris, with warm breezes softly kissing my cheeks as the thermometer reaching 83 degrees. However, in the midwest, it was a different story, as blinding snow and driving winds left thousands without power. The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency, even though the Cardinals shut out the Reds Wednesday night. As author Margaret Atwood once said, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Or at the very least, not have to deal with a powerful spring storm spiraling in your back yard.
For those of you planning a trip to the midwest, let me give you a little Ohio Valley perspective. Here they were, ten weeks away from the summer solstice, in the middle of what is referred to as “Black Swan” extreme weather conditions, which is not to be confused with an Amanda Knox extradition. We’re talking ice, sleet, plagues, flooding, locusts, hail and heavy snow, creating treacherous driving conditions. They only time I want to notified about a severe ice warning is when it’s in my drink. Throw in a few killer tornadoes into the picture and they’re at a spring breaking point.
But the early days of last week were some kind of wonderful here on the central coast, as the birds were singing, the butterflies were floating and the bees were humming. And that leads us into today’s topic du jour.
According to wiki.answers.com, where I usually shop for pants, there are about one million species of insects in the world, half of which have somehow taken up residence in my house. Scientists and census takers estimate that there are 200 million insects for every human in the world, while less than one hundred supermodels have graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated bathing suit issue. So it stands to reason if we’re talking insects, we’re talking billions and billions and billions and billions. And billions.
Well, if you like to hear insects screaming, and you know I do, the place to be in the next few weeks is the east coast. In a story written by Daniel Stone for National Geographic News, cicadas, the cousins of katydids, katydidn’ts and crickets, are preparing to overrun the landscape from North Carolina to Connecticut after living underground like Weathermen fugitives for the last 17 years.
Much like the female black widow spider, who sometimes washes down the male with a glass of milk after mating, the are some quirks that go along with cicadas and breeding. They spend their lives, like a Chilean miner, in complete darkness underground, sucking the fluid out of the roots of trees, shrubs and unmanned jacuzzis. They don’t bite or sting, and help the earth by moving around nutrients, recycling, planting trees and buying local. The periodic cicadas will not come popping out of their burrows until the ground is 64 degrees or the NBA playoffs begin.
At the end of their lives, they emerge to shed their exoskeletons, mate, watch a little TV and die almost instantly. This completes a lifecycle that humans and the Neilson family have studied for centuries. We’re talking about a four to six week period, or the time it takes for a Haagen-Daz bar to leave my bloodstream. That is, if they can avoid predators like birds, raccoons, foxes, skunks and reality show producers. The next generation will emerge in 2030 to repeat the cycle, probably around the same time “Mad Men” returns for its seventh season.
Now we’re talking several million cicadas per acre, which will bring the noise level up to slightly above a Dixie Chicks concert. The noise is the mating call of the male, which is similar in tone to the begging sound of the American male. To make themselves look appealing to the females, male cicadas resort to popping a set of muscles on their abdomen in and out, which can also be seen poolside at spring break locations around the country. But here’s the kicker. These 17 year cicadas are affected by the massosporan fungus, an infection that is the equivalent of Cicada STD. It is spread through mating and causes the abdomen of adult cicadas to fall off! And you thought herpes was annoying.
I was back there when they emerged one spring in the Garden State of New Jersey. The year was 1962, and I was nine years old and studying for my driver’s license. All of a sudden, they were everywhere, like tourists from New York trying to find their way to Palisades Amusement Park. I remember my friends and I collecting them in paper grocery bags. I will not say what we did with them, because the statue of limitations concerning the laws of insect genocide may still be in effect.
For today’s photo engagement, we are heading back to wacky weather Wednesday. This was to be the first April sunset I had photographed in years. After checking out the dinner time sky, the clouds and my basal body temperature, I grabbed my Serena Williams windbreaker and quickly headed up the north coast to Davenport.
When I arrived at my usual spot on the cliffs, I noticed new signs had been posted on the Monterey Cypress trees, stating that trespassers would either be prosecuted or persecuted. Well, God knows my people have been persecuted enough, so I took at quick shot of the cliffs and then bolted out of their faster than Carlos Quentin leaving Dodger Stadium Thursday night.
The wind was blowing harder than my son’s Abnormal Psychology final at UC Santa Barbara as I approached the bluff overlooking the Pacific. Then the sun, clouds and light proceeded to do their thing, creating beauty and awe on a night when little was expected. I believe it was Oprah’s pilates coach who once said, “Surprises are beautiful because they come without waiting.” And as they say in the restaurant business, good things come to those who are waiters.”
On to the late night. “After withdrawing from public life Anthony Weiner is ready to stick it back in. Folks, that takes balls. Sadly, we know he has them. Weiner’s brother pointed out, ‘No one has been harder on him than he has been on him than he has been on himself.’ And we all know how hard he can be on himself.” –Stephen Colbert “Former Congressman Anthony Weiner said that he’s considering running for mayor of New York City. If nothing else I’m sure that he’ll provide some stiff competition. Come on, he’s the total package. I don’t want to be too hard on him. I don’t have a bone to pick with that guy.” –Jimmy Fallon
“Little is known about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un other than the fact that he is ruthless, he supports torture, and he is a huge basketball fan. I’m sorry, that’s not Kim Jong Un. That’s Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice. I had them confused.” –Jay Leno “In high school Kim Jong Un starred in a production of the musical ‘Grease.’ That’s also where Kim met his first wife, Olivia Newton Jong.” –Conan O’Brien “Dealing with the North Koreans is very difficult. They have a history of making irrational decisions to divert the world’s attention from the fact their system has totally collapsed. No wait, sorry. I was thinking of NBC.” –Craig Ferguson
“This week on the ‘Today’ show, Chelsea Clinton said she’s open to running for political office one day. When she heard that, Sasha Obama was like, ‘Cool. How does secretary of state sound?’” –Jimmy Fallon “It was this day in 1967 that Russia sold Alaska to the United States for 2 cents an acre. You know why they sold us so cheaply? Just to get rid of the Palins.” –Jay Leno
“President Obama is in trouble for saying that California Attorney General Kamala Harris is good looking. When asked for comment, Bill Clinton said, ‘That guy is out of control.’” –Conan O’Brien “Because Obama said California Attorney General Kamala Harris was attractive, people are calling his remark sexist. Now the President is overcompensating and trying to balance it out. Today he said Attorney General Eric Holder has a great ass.” –Jay Leno “During a fundraiser, President Obama raised some eyebrows when he called California’s Kamala Harris, quote, ‘the best-looking attorney general in the country.’ Of course he said it was just a joke. Then Michelle was like, ‘Well, here’s another one: What’s black and white and sleeps on the couch?’” –Jimmy Fallon
So enjoy the last few days of the NBA regular season and nows it’s on to the playoffs. And here’s a shout out to my father, Daniel Gilbert, who celebrated his 96th birthday last Friday with a haircut, a Chinese feast and disbelief. As we chanted at dinner, ‘Four more years, four more years.”
We’ll catch you trying to will your team into the playoffs before suffering a devastating injury that left Laker and all NBA fans reeling. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kobe Bryant fans