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 9, 2014

Milkweed Does A Body Good

Good morning and greetings, precipitation fans. Well, some rain fell on our drought ravaged central coast last week, but forecasters and soothsayers claim that it was not nearly enough to make up for what so far has been one of the driest rainy seasons on record. What the weather boys and girls are basically saying is that we would have to double the amount of rainfall over the next four months to get back to the normal.

Now that could happen, just like the Democrats and Republicans back in Washington getting together to agree on tax cuts, jobs growth, health care, federal spending and gun rights. I’ll just put away my umbrella for now. As I’ve often remarked, I love walking in the rain because then no one knows I’m crying.

Or as my daughter Aimee says, “I like to cry at the ocean because only there do my tears look small.”

On to another unfortunate subject. In a story written by Mark Stevenson for the Associated Press, there is trouble in the world of the danaus plexippus, which for you non-scientists, are monarch butterflies.

Back in late January, experts and four out of five lepidopterists (butterfly specialists) who recommend milkweed for their patients, say that the incredible and little-understood annual migration of millions of Monarch butterflies spending the winter in Mexico is in danger of disappearing. This was after their numbers dropped to their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1993, as reported by researchers from the Sinaloa Drug Cartel.

The big problem is the loss of the milkweed plant that the monarchs feed on for survival. The finger of blame is being pointed at the genetically modified crops and urban sprawl in the United States and extreme weather trends, along with the dramatic reduction of the butterflies’ habitat in Mexico due to illegal logging of the trees they depend on for shelter and orange flight.

After steep and steady declines in the previous three years, the orange-and-black butterflies now cover only 1.65 acres in the pine and fir forests west of Mexico City, compared to 2.93 acres last year. They covered more than 44.5 acres at their recorded peak in 1996. That was also the year that Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Michael Jackson, though I don’t think there is any connection.

Because the monarchs clump together by the thousands in trees, they pay very little in rent and utilities, and are counted by the area they cover.

While the Monarch is not in danger of extinction, the decline in their population is not a happy thought for butterfly or pinata lovers. For you statistics nuts, it has morphed into a long-term trend and can no longer be seen as just a year-by-year or seasonal event, like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano or the running of the Bulls in Chicago.

The announcement came on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or what we in the business call NAFTA, which saw the United States, Mexico and Canada sign environmental accords to protect migratory species such as the Monarch. And according to my sources at the U.S. Customs, the Border Patrol and Baja Fresh, that is the last thing these three countries were in agreement on.

Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia and one of my favorite experts on bugs says, “The main culprit is now genetically modified herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA, which leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch’s principal food plant, common milkweed.”

This is particularly true in the midwest, where most of the butterflies migrate from. Extreme weather, including severe cold snaps, unusually heavy rains and droughts in all three countries have also played a role in the decline. Hey, but if Sarah Palin says there’s no proof of global warming, that’s good enough for me.

As we know, the migration of monarch butterflies to our California coast has been in steep decline, so we should step up and start planting our own weed, er milkweed, to help out the cause.

In Mexico, their annual trek is the world’s biggest migration of Monarch butterflies and the third-largest insect migration in the world, after a species of dragonfly in Africa and mosquitos coming in through my screen door in the summertime. The migration is a source of pride and heritage to the people of this region and should not be lost or stolen.

Writer and environmentalist Homero Aridjis says, “The governments of the United States and Canada have washed their hands of the problem, and left it all to Mexico. I think President Obama should take some step to support the survival of the Monarch butterflies.”

President Obama is scheduled to visit Mexico on February 19, with events scheduled for Toluca, a city a few dozen miles from the Monarch’s reserve. Then he’ll knock back a couple of chimichangas, down a Corona and try not to see any decapitated heads along the roadside before heading back on Air Force One.

So I say this. There are plenty of monarchs throughout the world, so there is no danger of extinction. But as our Commander in Chief, if you were man enough to call the shots so that Osama Bin Laden to now sleeping with the fishes, you could probably figure out of way to make life easier for our little fluttering friends. Or as Michelle whispered to you in the White House garden, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

So on that note, today I’m featuring some monarch butterfly shots from some classic westside locations. We’re talking Natural Bridges State Park, the Alan Chadwick Gardens at UCSC and the parking lot outside Subway. As they say, “Think fresh, eat fresh. The way a sandwich should be.”

Or in the words of Conan O’Brien, “Subway has announced a major new campaign to get people to eat healthier. I’m no health expert, but maybe the first thing to do is not sell people piles of meat and bread by the foot.”

On to some late night. “The Seahawks had a great slogan: “Why not us?” That’s what they would say to each other before the game. That is much better than the Broncos’ slogan: “Hey, why not hike it over the quarterback’s head?” People were partying in Seattle on Sunday night after the game. They were singing, they were laughing, they were hugging complete strangers, dancing in the streets. Basically, the same thing they’ve done every night in Seattle since they legalized marijuana.” – Jay Leno

“It wasn’t much of a Super Bowl game. The Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8. You know how after the game the winning players go to Disney World? Some of the Seahawks went halfway through the third quarter. It cost $4 million for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. I’m always surprised at which companies elect to pay that. How did a pistachio company afford $4 million? What kind of mark-up are they getting on those nuts?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“After appearing in a commercial during last night’s Super Bowl, people are accusing Bob Dylan of selling out. Today Dylan responded by saying, “Everyone needs to calm down, have a Bud Light, and relax at a Sandals Resort.” – Conan O’Brien “The NFL announced that veteran referee Terry McAulay will lead the referee crew at Sunday’s Super Bowl. So if you had him in your referee pool . . . please contact Gambler’s Anonymous. You have a problem.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton is encouraging Hispanic families to read to their kids. She’s also telling Asian families to ease up on the math so the rest of us can catch up.” – Conan O’Brien “CVS is no longer selling cigarettes. They say, “It’s the right thing to do for our customers and our company in their path for better health.” I go to CVS all the time. If they want to promote better health, maybe they should stop selling Cheese Whiz, Circus Peanuts, Little Debbie jelly rolls and all the ingredients for meth.”- Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s the show. We’ll catch you blazing away like an all-star point guard and keeping your team in the playoff hunt in the western conference. Aloha, mahalo and later, Goran Dragic fans.

July 22, 2012

Well, It’s A Drought Time

Good morning and greetings, decathalon fans. According to John Calipari and my WikiLeak sources in the U.K., London has spent billions in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics. We’re talking about the construction of state of the art stadiums, installation of ultra tight security and drug tests for the Rolling Stones. But there is one thing besides Keith Richards that the organizers of this summer extravaganza can’t control, and that is the wacky British weather.

Julie Andrews once said that this is a country where you can have four seasons in an afternoon. Much like myself, many Londoners never leave the house without an umbrella and sunglasses. During the recent Wimbledon Tennis tournament, England was hit by violent rainstorms with enough precipitation to flood Abbey Road and a yellow submarine. In the words of John Lennon, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.”

Reports from Michael Caine and the UK’s national weather forecaster said this past June was the wettest since they began keeping records in 1910. We’re talking double the average rainfall. July has brought more rain, flash floods and the British invasion. The Olympic organizers would like conditions to be as dry an sunny as possible for the athletes, but that’s about as likely as the Beatles reuniting on Ed Sullivan. I think good day, sunshine just went out the bathroom window.

So the forecast for the games, which run from July 27 to August 12, is for below average sunshine and temperatures. Let’s call it cloudy, with a chance of chaos. Myself, I prefer cloudy with a chance of paradise.

But we would kill for that rain over here, as according to the Huffington Post, not to be confused with the New York Post or my son Jason’s post-up game, we’re in the midst of the worst drought in decades. Conditions are getting worse by the day and might not improve until after Halloween. Only the droughts in the 1930s and the 1950s covered more land, and farmers in the epicenter in the midwest are taking a beating. We’re not talking in terms of a Dust Bowl-type catastrophe yet, but every day more corn is wilting in the fields. It’s been a brutal summertime, and the livin’ hasn’t been easy because although the fish may be jumpin’, the cotton is definitely not high.

Bloomberg.com reports that because of the drought, over a 1,000 counties in 29 states are being named natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The declaration makes farmers and ranchers eligible for low-interest loans to help them weather the drought, wildfires and other disasters, like another season of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” It’s been helter skelter here and back in the U.S.S.R.

Climatologists and medicine men, not to be confused with Don Draper and ‘Mad Men,” have labeled this year’s dry spell a “flash drought,” because it developed in a matter of months, not over multiple seasons or years. Despite this very difficult time, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that “Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy, along with a Starbucks on every corner in America.”

Corn has been hit the hardest, as this year’s crop of 96 million acres was the largest ever planted. Optimism has been replaced severe pessimism, as the fields are burning and no signficant rain or movement by Congress is in the forecast. Farmers will have to survive with a little help from their friends.

Corn is perhaps the second most important thing on the planet next to water and beer, as it is used for feed for livestock and poultry and in the making of things like crayons, car tires, corn dogs, shampoo, makeup and unmanned drones.

The drought continues to be an ongoing disaster, much like when Roseanne Barr tried singing the national anthem. Last Tuesday she was asked by David Letterman Tuesday night about macadamia nuts. “They are so good for you. They’ve got a lot of the right fats that keep your brain working the correct way, so you don’t vote Republican and stuff like that.”

So while we’re on the subject, have you ever wondered where’s the driest place on earth? Well, I’m glad you asked, as according to nationalgeographic.com, the Atacama Desert is the winner. This lovely stretch of land covers 600 miles from Peru’s southern border into northern Chile. At its chocolately, creme-filled center, a place climatologists call absolute desert, the Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth.

This is a place where rain has never been recorded. In this extremely dry, stretch of teenage wasteland, you won’t see a leaf, cactus flower, snake or television agent, much like Palm Springs was before being discovered by Dinah Shore.

Interestingly enough, the United States, Canada, Europe, East Asia and Chile have partnered together, at a cost of more than a billion dollars, to construct the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array. It’s a group of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert in northern Chile where astronomers go to have their minds blown. From this high desert outpost, ALMA is expected to provide insight on star birth during the early universe, detail imaging of local stars and planet formation and keep an eye on the comings and goings of Venezuela’s top nut, Hugo Chavez.

So sticking with our desert theme, today’s photo lounge features colorful shots from my favorite oasis, Palm Desert. These sunrise and sunset shots were taken during many of my strenuous hikes around the Palm Valley Country Club, where things can get pretty treacherous, especially around the putting greens and 15th fairway.

I love the feel of the warm desert breezes, the spectacular colors in the sky and the ice scuptures at the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunches up at the clubhouse. And let’s not forget the corned beef at Sherman’s Deli and Bakery, with two convenient locations In Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

On to the late night. “I was just the guy with the smoke screenish, yet still legal title of CEO and Managing Director who was paid at least $100,000 a year to do what, according to me, Mitt Romney, was nothing. That’s the kind of common sense business experience I hope to bring to the White House. Nobody cares that Mitt Romney is rich. It’s Romney’s inability to understand the institutional advantage that he gains from the government’s tax code largesse, that’s a little offensive to people, especially considering Romney’s view on anyone else who looks to the government for things like, I don’t know, food and medicine.” –Jon Stewart

“On Friday Oprah Winfrey interviewed Mitt Romney. They talked about politics, foreign policy, and what it’s like to lose a million dollars in the couch cushions.” –Conan O’Brien “A new poll found that 54 percent of Florida voters think the country is on the wrong track under President Obama. While the rest of Florida’s voters still think Teddy Roosevelt is president.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Sarah Palin is saying she still hasn’t been invited to the Republican National Convention next month. The RNC says it’s all a misunderstanding — as in, Palin misunderstands the meaning of the phrase, ‘You’re not invited.’” –Jimmy Fallon “The big news in Washington now is the disappearance of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Nobody can find him. He’s completely disappeared.People think he’s either in rehab or he might have been given his own show on CNN.

“I guess you heard about this; the U.S. Olympic Committee is coming under fire after it was revealed that the uniforms for Team USA to be worn in the opening ceremony were made in China. Turns out they were made by some of the same kids who could beat us in gymnastics. We have American athletes in uniforms made in China, wearing French berets. I don’t know if we’re supposed to compete, ask for a loan or surrender.” –Jay Leno

On a more somber note, let’s hope that someday in our lifetime, lunatics won’t be able to buy an assault rifles and mow down innocent people, destroying lives and families forever. How many tragedies is it going to take?

We’ll catch you being the most exciting thing in Pittsburgh since a young Ben Roethlisberger came on to the scene. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andrew McCuthchen fans.

July 17, 2011

Nobody Knows How Dry We Are

Good morning and greetings, summer breeze fans. Santa Cruz is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, which consists of warm
to dry summers and mild to cool, moist winters. This climate is found in
only a few areas of the world, which includes southwestern Australia,
central Chile, the western cape of South Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, coastal California and a strip mall in Hoboken, New Jersey.

So we’re talking no freezing temps in the winter and little
rain in the summer. Although we don’t see much precipitation at this time of year, Santa Cruz seems like a pretty moist place, from the fog that hugs the coast to the Pacific Ocean that looms as an ever-present force of moving moisture. After the rainy winter and spring, we are in no danger of any drought action, but unfortunately, a good part of our nation cannot say the same. You’ve heard of dry counties, we’re talking dry country.

What they’re calling the Great Drought of 2011 has spread across 14 states, from Florida to Arizona. 14% of the country has suffered through the driest six months since 1895. Hardest hit is Texas, where no part of the state has been left untouched by the virtual lack of rain. Taking the biggest shot is cotton, which accounts for half the U.S. crop, as the plants are too weak to break through the soil that is drier than my sense of humor.

Life has been miserable for Texans due to excessively high heat, scorching dry winds and the retirement of Yao Ming. More than 30% of the state’s wheat crop may be lost. It’s law of the jungle, the wheat shall perish.

Back in June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 213 counties in Texas and the Oakland A’s batting order as natural disaster areas. Even if the weather changes, the rains come and the A’s start hitting, agricultural losses in the state will surge beyond $3 billion due to the blistering heat and lack of precipitation.

Oklahoma has only had 28% of it’s normal summer rainfall. It has been
triple-digit scorching hot for days on end and last week Governor Mary Fallin asked Oklahomans to pray for rain and Russell Westbrook to
pass more. And this comes after Texas Governor Rick Perry earlier in the year asked Texans to pray for rain and to try and forget his serious social networking faux pas when he singled out members of the media and blocked them from following his Twitter account.

So after a spring that was dominated by floods, tornadoes and the Dallas Mavericks, why is the earth being scorched like this? Four out of five meteorologists who recommend sugarless gum blame the high-pressure system that won’t leave the country’s midsection, making it impossible for cooler air from the north to break through. Many in the parched regions are now hoping for heavy tropical storms, drenching monsoons and the end of the NFL and NBA lockouts for relief.

The outlook through late September shows some possible improvement, but the chances of this natural disaster continuing are stronger than my weakside help defense. Further blame goes to La Niña, which is cooling our Pacific Ocean but bringing less moisture to the atmosphere, which prevents the storm systems from getting anywhere near these parched regions. We’re talking dead landscape, which much like the recent actions of the Republican Party, will take years to recover from. At this point, hope is flying solo.

And as an added bonus, a massive heat wave hit the upper midwest states and east coast last Friday, which topped off a week of record-breaking temperatures from Minneapolis to JFK airport In New York. Which brings us to the words of George Carlin as hippy dippy weatherman Al Sleet, “Temperature at the airport is 88 degrees, which is stupid because I don’t know anyone who lives at the airport.”

As of late last week, 900 high temperature records in the United
States had been tied or broken. And the bad news is, for July heat and humidity fans, as Karen Carpenter once whispered in my ear, “We’ve only just begun.”

Speaking of airports, last Wednesday night, 40 planes at Denver International Airport were damaged as hail stones larger than Carmelo Anthony’s ego fell for 15 minutes during a severe thunderstorm. Winds reached 70 MPH as a new single day record for rainfall was set. And
remember, Colorado borders Oklahoma and is a stone’s
throw from Texas, where the rain gauges have been emptier than my invoices paid box.

Moving onto today’s photo lunch special, we’re are going totally lunar. Last Thursday, as I was returning from my son’s summer league basketball game and on the way to my daughter’s softball game, I noticed the full moon rising as I cruised by COSTCO. I really would have preferred to see my favorite natural satellite rising up over Monterey Bay, but my timing and jump shot just aren’t what they used to be.

So instead, let’s head back to January of 2009 and take a look at the
biggest and brightest full moon of that year. I took in this lunar experience from West Cliff Drive on the cliffs above Cowell’s Beach. As you can see, this night was spectacular, and with the stars up above in my eyes, this evening goes down as my favorite among lunar loveliness. Or as my friend Van Morrison commented later, “What a marvelous night for a moon dance. And a fantabulous night for your blog.”

On to the late night. “A report says that a growing number of Americans are worth $1 million. The bad news: last year they were worth $5 million. Hitler’s birthplace in Austria has revoked his honorary citizenship. Talk about a rush to judgment. Michele Bachmann and her husband run this institution where they try to ‘pray away the gay.’ They want gay guys to think outside the bun.” –Jay Leno

“In Arizona they had a dust storm that was two miles high and 15 miles wide. It looked like something out of a movie. Visibility in Arizona they said was so bad that police were hassling white people.” –Bill Maher “A lawmaker in California is pushing for 13 counties to break away and form a new state called South California. Meanwhile, residents are pushing for a more fitting name: ‘North Mexico.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today he’s going back to the thing he does best. No, not that thing; the other thing. He’s going to star in a new Western. I think it’s called ‘Butch Cassiday and the Illegitimate Kid.’” –Craig Ferguson

David Letterman’s “Top Six Signs the United States Is Running Out of Money” 10. For $10,000, you get your face on the dollar
9. The White House now has a two-drink minimum 8. There’s a listing on eBay for North Dakota 6. Americans now attempting to sneak into Mexico 4. Costs $25 for each bag the president wants to check on Air Force One 1. Applied for a $40 billion loan from Oprah

So despite a tough finish, congratulations go out Abby Wambach and the U.S. Women’s soccer team for their inspiring play during World Cup action. And the same goes for the writers, actors and
crew from the epic series “Friday Night Lights,” which just
finished an wonderful five-year run on NBC. No program, with the possible exception of “Sons of Anarchy,” has ever moved me emotionally like this show did about families and high school football. The series finale was exceptional. As they say, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Texas forever.” We’ll catch you down the right field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Riggins fans.


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