July 11, 2010

Birds Fly Over the Oil Spill, Why Then, Oh Why Can’t I?

Good morning and greetings, heat wave fans. While the east coast was suffering under scorching, brutal, record breaking heat and humidity last week, the central coast was cooler than the other side of my pillow. If you like cold and foggy weather in the July, then Santa Cruz was the place to be. What tourist doesn’t love wearing mittens and a down jacket at the beach? Or to paraphrase my old pal Mark Twain, “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer riding the Big Dipper.”

The temperatures have been sweltering inland, but the chilly, gray sky mornings are normal weather for the coast. According to meteorlogist Diana Henderson of the National Weather Service in Monterey, “it’s not unusual. This happens every year at this time. That’s why they film ‘Baywatch’ in Hawaii.” It’s understandable, because we wouldn’t want to see Pamela Anderson wrapped in a blanket as she tries to save a school of baby dolphins from getting caught in a riptide. That would defeat the porpoise.

The central coast’s frigid summer conditions comes mostly from the chilly Pacific Ocean, which acts as an air conditioner and minty air freshener, according to Henderson. “Without it, we’d be Nevada.” That’s right, blackjack, showgirls and the illusions of Siegfried & Roy, right here, where the redwoods meet the sea and anarchy.

My thanks to Shanna McCord of the Santa Cruz Sentinel for the weather service updates. When I woke up Tuesday morning, the ground was soaked like my tank top after a ten mile run up the coast. It looked like rain, but it was actually the drizzle from the heavy fog. I hadn’t seen that much condensation on the ground since Jennifer Beals took the stage in ‘Flashdance.’

That brings us to our top news story of the week. As reported by Andrew Zajac in the Los Angeles Times, the Agriculture Department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service said it would begin paying some gulf region farmers, ranchers and football coaches to flood their fields so that migratory birds can find alternative rest and nesting grounds to oil-fouled habitats.

The Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative will pay to use up to 150,000 acres of land “to provide feeding, resting and reading areas for migratory birds.” The program applies mainly to former wetlands, low-lying land and skateboard parks in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas and France. Conservation officials are hoping to attract birds who don’t have internet access to safe areas before they land on shores and wetlands contaminated by the massive oil spill.

Landowners would be expected to flood fields and promote the growth of vegetation and snacks favored by migratory birds, or to enhance existing wetlands on their properties, as rice fields, fish farms and Long John Silver restaurants are particularly suited to the initiative.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has fouled off numerous pitches along with marshes and coastal areas relied on by birds and other wildlife. The gulf region sits beneath one of the world’s major migratory flyways, with about 1 billion birds from more than 300 species passing through annually, says Greg Butcher, a vegetarian and director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society. “None of this is guaranteed to work,” Butcher says. “We’re expecting that this will work at least a little bit. We’re hoping that it’ll help a lot. What I’m really trying to say is these birds are screwed”

On that positive note, in a story reported by Michael Kunzleman for the Associated Press, less than three years before New Orlean Saints won the Super Bowl and the Gulf oil spill erupted, federal regulators and a couple of fortune tellers concluded several offshore drilling projects posed a low risk to endangered wildlife – a determination that contrasts sharply with recent scenes of birds and vacationers struggling to survive the slick.

A September 2007 memo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said large oil spills from the proposed Gulf drilling projects under review were “low-probability events” that weren’t likely to affect brown pelicans, sea turtles, other animals or the economic futures of fisherman, shrimpers and oyster lovers with Gulf Coast habitats.

The memo concluded that the chance of oil from an offshore spill of at least 1,000 barrels reaching endangered species or their habitats was no greater than 26 percent. Now, I’m no math whiz, but I’d calculate their estimates were off by, approximately, let’s say, a million percent.

Less than three months before the Fish and Wildlife Service issued its memo, the National Marine Fisheries Service concluded that the same Gulf leases, including BP’s for Deepwater Horizon, were “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of threatened or endangered species.” Well, I’m sure that comes as a relief to all the migrating birds and their families. Because as we all know, a bird in the hand is worth two gallons in the Bush administration.

So in honor of Larry Bird and friends, I thought we would take a look at some winged creatures who reside here on the central coast. We start with a great blue heron, who I photographed right outside the arch early one morning at Its Beach. I shot the snowy egret in the landing mode right after it had flown through the same arch on an extreme low tide afternoon. This was the same day I photographed a rainbow through the arch and decided that I wanted to be Mikhail Baryshnikov when I grow up.

Then it’s onto four snowy egrets in a marshland up in Richardson Bay in Mill Valley, followed by some pink flamingos vacationing in Palm Desert and a snowy egret reflecting in the pond at Natural Bridges. Flamingos don’t actually live here on the central coast but sometimes journey to Monterey Bay for a spa weekend and to have their legs shaved. Much like myself, they enjoy standing on one leg with the other tucked beneath their body. It’s both relaxing and a way to save on the wear and tear of our shoes.

The final image is a red shouldered hawk, who I photographed at Antonelli’s Pond, which is less than a mile by the way the crow flies from my compound here on the westside. It was early in the afternoon when I spotted this beauty. With my zoom, I was able to get close enough to get a shot of those incredible talons wrapped around the branch. And the best part is, this is the only hawk, besides Dominique Wilkins, that I’ve seen in this spot over the past eleven years. There’s something about capturing the flag or the moment.

Here’s a taste of the late night. “The East Coast is suffering from a terrible heat wave. Wall Street bankers are jumping out of windows just for the cool breeze on the way down. You people are so lucky you live in California. This heat wave back east is just unbelievable. … It was so hot in Washington, Nancy Pelosi skipped the Botox, had her face injected with frozen yogurt. Back in 1776, Americans were fighting to escape British rule, these days we’re fighting to escape British oil. They say traces of BP’s oil has started turning up in disturbing places, like congressmen’s pockets.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our show, petroleum lovers. Here’s a few quick petro facts before I cruise off into the fog bank. Americans drivers consume 19-20 million barrels of oil every 24 hours. That’s 10,000 gallons a second. If we all drove 30 miles less per week, oil consumption would drop 20%. Then again, if my aunt had,er, spheres, she’d be my uncle. Just a few things to think about the next time you fill up the old Hummer.

So in honor of the uniting of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, I’m taking my Sonny Crockett jacket out of mothballs. Sorry Knick fans, but your suffering will continue.

So enjoy the long days of summer and let’s hope someday that we leave Afghanistan. And if you have moment, say a little prayer for the displaced and homeless. We’ll catch you in the American Airlines Arena. Aloha, mahalo and later, David Lee fans.

June 13, 2010

Hey, We All Make Misnakes

Good morning and greetings, summer days fans. The weather has certainly turned for the better, as the fog and marine layer have temporarily left the building, leaving sports fans with blue skies, warm breezes and a pollen count that’s higher than my cholesterol was after a summer full of Yankee games, Shakespeare in the Park and chocolate Haagan-Dazs bars.

So it was a nice change of pace last Wednesday, when I went for a walk to have it misting on West Cliff. I thought to myself, how many places could it be sunny and warm one day and having this wonderful moisture in the air the next? We are blessed with having relatively mild weather all year round as that’s what you get with a Mediterranean climate-cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Santa Cruz, where the redwoods meet the sand, the sea and the homeless.

June has always been a great month on the nature front. On that Wednesday stroll along the coast, my power-walking wife and I saw the usual array of otters, sea birds, and some porpoises or dolphins doing flips into the water. A friend walked by and told us that whales had been spotted cruising up the coast. I thought to myself, how lucky we are to live alongide Monterey Bay, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Now, if they could just warm up the water and get rid of that kelp, I might actually put my toes in the water.

So for today’s photo pleasure, we go back to last week, when I performed a reptile rescue just outside of Natural Bridges. I was driving home from a windsurfing outing when I spotted this beautiful snake (photo #1) in the road. I quickly pulled my electric car to the curb and dashed into the street, as this fella was sitting there happily sunning himself, but at the same time in danger of being squished like a slow-running native during an elephant stampede.

For a moment I thought about picking him up, putting him in a basket and carrying him to the sidelines, but when I approached he was curled up and appeared ready to strike, so I decided to play it safe and let him slowly work his way to the sidewalk while I redirected Stevie Winwood and traffic.

Well, in less time than I would take to pop in a Tawny Kitaen Whitesnake video, a woman stopped her car, walked over to the snake, picked him up and brought him over to the grass. She informed me that this was a gopher snake that could be found all over the Wilder Ranch area. Although I was still a bit rattled, she assured me it was safe to take off my catcher’s mask. Still noticing that I was a bit reticent, she queried, “Are you a man or a mouse?” I replied, “Put a piece of cheese in front of me and you’ll find out.”

So in honor of my snake charming experience, I thought I would feature some other westside wildlife. Last week, as we were walking through the Pogonip, I spotted a gorgeous coyote in the meadow. When he turned back to look at me, I was just amazed by the incredible character of his face. Kind of a combination of Yul Brenner and Peter Coyote.

We then ran into some folks who live in the area, who told us they see coyotes all the time, and that at dusk they can be spotted in packs of three to five to seven. Or was it twenty-five or six to four? They then warned me to stay off the path at dusk as the mountain lions hit the trail and with my sinewy muscles and slender physique, I could be mistaken for an antelope or young gazelle.

Due to global warming, I wasn’t carrying my camera on this jaunt so instead I’m showcasing a coyote I spotted last June outside Natural Bridges State Park. It was lightly raining that morning and you can see that his coat was pretty wet (photo #3.) I offered him my poncho but he wasn’t interested. After I had him sign a release, he let me take a few shots before running off (photo #4) and scurrying under a hole in the fence back into the park.

I then photographed that fattest squirrel I’ve even seen, whom I’ll call Jenny Craig. We stopped and talked sports, politics and Oprah. She was a fascinating rodent who spoke three languages and had traveled all over Europe. This little chipmunk was an amazing conversationalist who gave me a whole new perspective on storing nuts for winter.

I shot the great blue heron in pond just north of Natural Bridges. I see these birds all over town, and I spotted one in the ocean on a walk along West Cliff last week. Unfortunately, when I returned with my camera, the long-necked beauty was gone, so we’re going with another contestant. These birds are beautiful to watch in flight, as they move in the same motion that my son Jason does when he’s jump serving. As his mother whispers to him every night before heading off to volleyball dreamland, “good-night and side out, my son.”

On to the late night. “Using electron microscopes, scientists have now discovered the slowest moving thing on Earth. Turns out, it’s the White House responding to the oil spill. BP — they are spending $50 million on an advertisement budget to try and put a PR spin on this whole thing. Like, you hear what they said today? This is unbelievable. They said fishermen down there are catching tuna that are getting 35 miles per gallon.” –Jay Leno “BP was kind of bragging about it today … the top hat. Oh yeah, they put a top hat on it, was collecting about 6% of the oil. Yes, they found a solution that stops as much oil as the margin of error. It lets 94% of the oil through. It was built by the same people who built the Mexican border fence.” –Bill Maher

“The oil spill is getting bad. There is so much oil and tar now in the Gulf of Mexico, Cubans can now walk to Miami. James Cameron has volunteered to go down to the Gulf of Mexico and consult. I love it when a guy who’s an expert in fake disasters gets involved. And if that doesn’t work, they’re going to contact Superman and he’s going to weld the pipe with his X-ray vision.” –David Letterman “People want (Obama) to be madder. His press secretary said he was enraged today. He was on Larry King, last night, and he said, “I am furious.’ He said ‘I am so angry, I have asked Rahm Emanuel to unleash a string of obscenities on my behalf.’” –Bill Maher

“Al Gore and his wife, longtime married couple, are separating. Tipper Gore. And they may get a divorce. Apparently what happened, they experienced global cooling.” –David Letterman “After 40 years, Al and Tipper Gore have split up. Nobody knows why, but there is a rumor today that Al came home early last week and found another man’s carbon footprints. “Rush Limbaugh is getting married this weekend for the fourth time … It’s a traditional wedding. Well, not that traditional. They say instead of throwing rice, throw Vicodin.” –Bill Maher It was so romantic. First, the couple wrote their own vows and then they wrote their own prescriptions.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Here now the official Rush Limbaugh wedding announcement. Rush Limbaugh wed Kathryn Rogers in a quiet Florida ceremony on Saturday. The bridegroom is a controversial radio host and an influential opinion leader in the conservative movement in the United States. The bride is clearly insane.” –David Letterman
“Rush Limbaugh got married over the weekend. This is actually his fourth marriage; he blames the first three breakups on Obama.” –Craig Ferguson
David Letterman’s “Top Ten Things Overheard At Rush Limbaugh’s Wedding 8. “Do you take this woman to be your future ex-wife?” 6. “They have a tent in case it rains. No wait, those are Rush’s pants” 2. “It’s ironic that a guy named ‘Rush’ takes 20 minutes to walk down the aisle”

That’s our mid-June report. I’m not going to mention the oil spill, but like my upcoming 40th high school reunion, it’s constantly on my mind. So with the Lakers in a must-win situation, enjoy game six of the NBA Finals and we’ll catch you playing the box and one. Aloha, mahalo and later, Paul Pierce fans.

September 6, 2009

It’s A Labor Day Of Love

Good morning and greetings, college football fans. Well, it’s Labor Day, the national holiday that traditionally signals the end of the summer for most of the nation. But that is not true for the residents of the central coast, for this day, which serves as a salute to women getting ready to deliver, brings on the start of our Indian Summer, which is not to be confused with my golden retriever Summer, Donna Summer or Johnny Winter.

Temperature and personality wise, September is our warmest month of the year here in Santa Cruz. So far this month, the days and nights have been extremely pleasant with the evening sky highlighted by the full moon that rose on Friday night. As per my recent streak of photo luck, my camera is still in the shop and it’s just not the same etch-a-sketching the rising harvest moon. But I was mistaken last week when I mentioned that my Canon replacement part was coming via rowboat. Actually, I had a choice of stage coach, covered wagon, horse and buggy or pony express. I checked the last box thinking it said Fed express, thus I’m still playing the waiting game. But as the adage says, good things and tips come to those who are waiters.

So for today’s photo fantasy tour, I thought I would share some of the wildlife I viewed this summer when I was still in possession of a working Digital Rebel. We start out with a sea lion that was lounging on the rocks in front of my old house on West Cliff Drive. The reason I’m alluding to this location is because I lived here for 14 years (1975-1989, better known as the wonder years) and never once in my lifeguarding, frisbee-throwing, cave-exploring days did I see a sea lion venture to this beach. And since my return from the southland there were no sightings until a couple of months ago, when this lovely marine mammal had its back arched up in the air like it was posing for the cover of Vogue.

Of course, being the intrepid photographer that I am, I don’t carry my SLR on these coastal walks so I scurried home like Katie Couric, grabbed my camera and Usain Bolted back to this spot. This lion of the sea was no longer in an Annie Liebowitz pose, but was snoozing on the rocks (photo #1.) I approached and asked a few questions, and as you can see from the second photo his tiny ear perked up as he was fascinated by my Bob Woodward, Deep-Throat type of reporting.

We then move over to the pond at Natural Bridges State Beach where I shot this snowy egret (photo #4) reflecting on what’s important in a bird’s life. I actually shot this a couple of years ago but it just went along too well with the previous shot, which is in a little water hole just north of Natural Bridges. I happened upon this great blue heron as he edged out from the reeds and caught him in the silver ripples. This is one of my favorite new shots that will be available for purchase at the Capitola Art & Wine Festival. And good news is, I’m right next to the Bonny Doon Vineyards so if my photos don’t work for you I’m sure the alcohol will.

We close aloha-style with a pair of North Shore geckos that were running amok on the deck and lawn of our beachfront cottage. The vibrant green fellow was climbing up and down the bamboo trees and resting in some exotically-colored plants which made for some great photo ops. The final shot depicts a brown gecko I believe I caught in the mating throws. It is giving out one of its three courtships signs with its thrush. This orange means caution, red means stop and green means go. And of course, always come to a full stop when you approach an intersection and yield to some pedestrians in a crosswalk.

On to the late night jokes. And there were plenty to choose from this week. “Former VP Dick Cheney says President Obama is setting a ‘terrible precedent,’ not to be confused with George W. Bush, who was a terrible president. That’s a different deal. In 2012, the Republicans are now talking about the presidential ticket, Dick Cheney and running as vice president Sarah Palin. Talk about your dream ticket. Oh buddy, the comedy recession is over. I mean, come on, talk about your shotgun marriage. An article in Vanity Fair claims that Sarah Palin really couldn’t see Russia from her house. The article also says that Sarah Palin was not much of a hunter. And I was thinking, I don’t know, she killed John McCain’s chances.” –David Letterman

“Summer vacation’s sadly coming to an end. Not for the Obama family. They just got back from Martha’s Vineyard. And now they’re going on another vacation to Camp David. Joe Biden is really excited for the car trip. He loves sticking his head out the window.” –Jimmy Fallon “Of course, the healthcare debate is raging. And yesterday, John McCain spoke to nearly 100 doctors and nurses. It wasn’t a political meeting. It was McCain’s annual checkup.” –Conan O’Brien “McCain at one point had to have a crazy woman removed by security at one of these town hall meetings. And I’m thinking, jeez, he should have done that a year ago.” –David Letterman

“Big election scandal in Afghanistan. The loser of the Afghanistan presidential election, a man named Abdullah Abdullah, is claiming that the winner, Hamid Karzai, artificially inflated his number of votes. In response, Karzai is claiming that Abdullah Abdullah artificially inflated his number of Abdullahs. Abdullah Abdullah says he deserves to be president and, ‘They’re going to hear from my lawyer, Shapiro Shapiro. State Department’s conducting a big investigation into a wild party thrown at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. Of course, in Afghanistan, a wild party is any event where a girl takes her socks off.” –Conan O’Brien

“It looks like they’re starting to get the wildfires under control. Firefighters in the LA area have been working nonstop all week long. And this morning, as a reward, Governor Schwarzenegger personally served them breakfast. Unfortunately, due to the California’s budget crisis, he was forced to charge them $12.99 each. As of today, same-sex couples may now legally get married in Vermont. So finally, finally, after years of waiting, we’ll get to hear these words out of Vermont: ‘I now pronounce you Ben and Jerry.’” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s our first post for September, 2009. And I’ve got some breaking news. No, I’m not talking soaring unemployment numbers, national health care reform or the ongong debate about the senseless war in Afghanistan. No, this week, my now 5’10″ son Jason dunked a baseball and nerf ball for the first time on a 10 foot hoop. He said he could have done it a couple of months ago but didn’t want to take the spotlight away from my summer three-point shooting clinic. You know, I love the straight A’s and the academic awards, but it’s sports and particularly basketball that coarses thru my veins. He’s getting closer to the Gilbert Family’s Mount Everest so I’ll keep you updated as he nears that Pat summit.

No blog next week as I’ll be in deep meditation at the Capitola Art & Wine Festival. Stop by and say hello, I love to see my cyber peeps. So enjoy the start of the NFL season and we’ll catch you warming up in the bullpen. And try not to sweat the small stuff. Aloha, mahalo and later, Paul O’Neill fans.

January 25, 2009

Action Speaks Louder Than Birds

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:01 pm

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Good morning and greetings, Michelle Obama fans. Well, it was quite the week as we made the transition (and I don’t mean from offense to defense) that this country and the rest of the world had been eagerly awaiting. It was out with the old and in with the new. Or as Jay Leno put it, “On Tuesday, America got to hear those four words we’ve been waiting for, ‘former President George Bush.” And “President Bush said he is leaving Washington with his head held high, because it is the best way to spot shoes that are coming at you.”

I’m going to miss George W, but only, and I do mean ONLY, in terms of this blog. Or as NBC’s future “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien remarked, “President Bush is winding things down. Yep, Monday was President Bush’s last full day in office. He called the leaders of Denmark, Italy, Russia and South Korea to say, ‘thank you.’ Yeah, his exact words were, ‘thank you for being one of the last four countries that will still take my calls.’” It’s a shame the Bush error, er, I mean era, has to come to an end.

Monday also said goodbye and good riddance to Dick Cheney. His former company, the war profiteering Halliburton, has benefited more than anyone from the ongoing Iraq conflict. And he and Bush were also just a tad too cozy in their relationship with the oil companies. Or as Jay said, “Monday was also Dick Cheney’s last full day in office. Actually, he spent the entire day trying to get the price of gas back up to $4 a gallon. And at the end of the day they went in and removed the gas pump that Exxon installed in his office.”

Here’s a take on the outgoing VP from David Letterman. “Big interview with Dick Cheney over the weekend. Dick Cheney said that he’s actually lovable. Dick Cheney. Actually loveable. I’m thinking about this. It really does melt your heart when he flashes that winning sneer.” Thanks, Dave.

And more, this time some insight from ABC’s late night jokemeister, Jimmy Kimmel. “Former Vice President Cheney was in a wheelchair at the inauguration. His aides say he pulled a muscle while moving boxes yesterday. But I don’t know if I believe that. In fact, if you look closely, you can see the reason he’s in a wheelchair is because his feet turned back into hooves a day before they were supposed to. That was not as it was agreed upon in the pact.”

Tuesday was inauguration day and a moment in our history that many Americans thought they would never see. Once again, Jay Leno. “Two million people attended the inauguration, compared to less than 500,000 when Bush was inaugurated four years ago. But that makes sense because four years ago, you know, people had jobs to go to.” And “Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made a mistake during the swearing in of Barack Obama. That’s the second mistake the Supreme Court has made with a president, if you count the time they declared Bush the winner.” And my favorite, “Barack Obama said his first act as president will be to pardon Aretha Franklin’s hat.”

So there is sense of excitement and renewed hope in the air. Americans are counting on Barack Obama to make good on his campaign promises and bring about the changes this country so desperately needs. But it will not be easy for the new President, as there is more optimism in the sports books in Las Vegas for the Arizona Cardinals than there is among Wall Street investors. Personally, I haven’t been this excited since “Friday Night Lights” returned to NBC.

All right, enough with politics and onto today’s photo ensemble. Each morning after I finish meditating, chanting and doing 100 pushups, I head down to Natural Bridges to check out the action. There are always pelicans and cormorants on the big rocks but today we’ll peruse the ever changing pond off the beach. Our first three subjects are a great blue heron, a snowy egret and a very good, or should a say, great egret. I have lot of shots of these birds in flight, which we’ll check out some time before the “E” Entertaiment Network runs the show, “Whatever Happened to Scooter Libby?”

The shot of our long-necked friend and his quacking pals was taken a couple of hundred yards up from Natural Bridges. I had heard about them from Eric Clapton, “I told you ’bout the swams, that they live in the park.” That would be DeAnza. The final photo of the exotic looking duck was taken over at Schwan Lake on the eastside. I’m not sure what kind of duck it is (maybe wood) but I know it’s not Peking. Maybe we could ask George Bush-he seems to a little bit about ducking.

That’s it for our inauguration special. After the sky cleared on Thursday night there was a beautiful pink sunset but I was inside a gym watching my favorite son play basketball. I could see the colors of the clouds reflecting off the gymnasium doors but when it comes to choosing between the son and the sunset it’s no contest. But it was somewhat painful as I am into bringing the most vivid and spectacular colors in the sky to this site and this night was magnificent, like LeBron James at the buzzer in Oakland on Friday night. But when your son throws no-look passes and threads the needle like Betsy Ross on a fastbreak, the Steve Nash in me has to watch and keep stats.

So celebrate the final days of January and get those snacks and hot hors d’oevres ready for Super Sunday. I hope you enjoyed the collage of late night political humor. We’ll catch you across the middle in February. Aloha and later, Monta Ellis fans.

November 6, 2008

Barack Of Ages

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Good morning and greetings, electorial college fans. Well, Tuesday’s gone with the wind and we are still buzzing about the history made by Barack Obama. That was a day like no other. While we were in the process of electing the first black President since the first season of Jack Bauer and “24,” I thought I would showcase what this historic morning looked like on the westside of Santa Cruz. The place was Natural Bridges State Beach, and the time was for change.

It was a beautiful morning as the sky was filled with interesting clouds, pelicans lined the both sides of the rock and the beach was a gathering place for local gulls. Add to the mix the great blue heron reflecting in the pond and it was great to be there just Joe Biden my time. At one point the heron took off and flew up into the iceplants. That’s where I took my final shot but my foot was on the line so it wasn’t a three-pointer.

To quote the late Buddy Miles, who was the drummer in Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, “Well, my mind is going thru them changes.” It’s hard to believe we are finally done with this moron in the White House who has done a tremendous job of dividing this country while getting the rest of the world to depise us. Those days are over. The fact that Bush feels he has done the country no wrong and that history will prove him right on Iraq is somewhat galling, but with any luck Karl Rove, Condy Rice or his dog Barney will explain to him that the Obama landslide victory was a huge statement against everything he stands for.

A couple thoughts on Johnny McCain. I thought his gracious concession stand speech was the best thing he’d done in the campaign. If he had spoken like that more often instead of espousing “Joe the Plumber” or Obama as an “elitist” or “socialist” who parties with terrorists, he might be on his way to the White House instead of the early bird special. His choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate still blows what’s left of my mind. That he would actually believe that she was his best choice is just stupefying. As I’ve written before, I think she was a huge insult to the intelligence of the American voter and Americans spoke in huge volumes to this point at the ballot box on Tuesday. Goodbye Sarah, and don’t come back real soon.

So things are looking up. The country is in a mess but unlike the Oakland Raiders, at least we’re headed in the right direction. It’s a new dawn and there’s finally hope but it will not be easy. If we could backtrack for just a moment, here’s my favorite pre-election line of the week courtesy of David Letterman. “Today Barack Obama was compaigning in Florida and Virginia. And McCain campaigned in two states-panic and desperation.” On that note, enjoy the fall weather, the sights at the beach and have a fabulous sports weekend. We’ll catch you somewhere near the sideline marker. Later, Michelle Obama fans.

July 6, 2008

Once Upond A Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:53 pm

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Good morning and greetings, Independence Day fans. You know, when it comes to segments of time, it doesn’t get much better than a three day weekend. Well, except maybe for a four day weekend. There’s just something extra special about that added day. It’s no longer the dynamic duo of Saturday and Sunday, we’re talking extended weekend bonus time, where one can just sit back and say, “Hey, it’s only Friday. I still have two days to either work on a cure for an infectious disease, help out some people who are truly in need or just take the time to
accomplish as little as possible.” You know, like our forefathers and mothers did when the built this great country home of ours.

It’s the same feeling I get when I’m watching the NBA playoffs and there are three or four games a day. No matter how good the first one is, you still have two or three more contests coming down the pike. I have to believe this is what heaven is going to be like. But with no commercial interruptions.

For myself, it’s a day where I can just wrap myself up in a terrycloth robe and really experience televised sports to its fullest. Much like watching the national news every night, it’s not easy but someone has to do it. While some of us are hiking, surfing or kayaking, I’m taking in tennis, beach volleyball and major league baseball. These are my Olympic trials. And by the way, they are setting world records faster in these swimming races than the FARC rebels are imploding down in Colombia.

The tennis I’m talking about was Sunday’s Wimbledon Final between reigning champion Roger Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal. We may have seen the changing of the point guards today as the five-time champ Federer from Switzerland was defeated in a five set thriller by Nadal in a match that had NBC analyst and former tennis bad boy Johnny McEnroe calling it the greatest he’d seen in his lifetime. It was drama city at the All England Club as the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor were partying in their seats like it was 1999. Unfortunately, I only saw the beginning and end of the most classic of matches as a rain delay in England threw off my equilibrium and I was instead watching a week’s worth of SportsCenters when the action was the most dramatic. It was Epic City, truly as good as it gets.

Anyway, it was all part of the Fourth of July weekend experience. And every year on this day there is a parade at my parent’s complex that runs along the coast. My daughter is always a part of the parade. As she says, “Dad, it’s a tradition.” Just like me being non-judgemental. I thought I would walk the parade route and capture some of the color and pageantry of the event and then blog it out into cyberspace.

Usually I’m bringing up the rear, but on this day, besides having a birds-eye view of the lovely blonde and a long-limbed Uncle Sam, who definitely had the reach around move down in the lead car (photo #6,) I didn’t really see anything that was James or photo worthy. So after the parade I moseyed on down to the pond at the complex and immediately spotted some lily pads (photo #1). No, I’m not talking Lily Tomlin, Lily Allen or the lovely Lilly Von Schtupp, but greenery along with red and yellow flowers floating on a golden pond. As I got closer I saw that in one of the luxury pads was a duck who looked more comfortable than Ken Griffey Jr. from the left side of the plate. Then splashing onto the scene was a mother and a family of ducklings and intrepid Great Blue Heron. And finally, in the words of the great Eric Clapton, I’d have “to talk about the swans, that they live in the park.” When I saw this combination that the 4th of July Gods had put together, I knew I had today’s blog. Something wet and exciting.

So my sister-in-law and the Queen of Comments, Wendi Gilbert, asked me if I could the make blogs a little shorter. Unfortunately, my union chief and my meditation guide say I can’t but in her honor and the fact that the Yankees were winners over the Red Sox in 11 innings tonight I’m going to make this one a little less wordsome. Because that’s just the kind of guy I am. Very tolerant and Mr. Positive. At least according to my son, Jason. So have pleasant valley Monday and we’ll catch you on Wednesday when we’ll head to over the Nile, or denial, which is not just a river in Egypt. Later, tennis fans.

June 17, 2008

I Don’t Want To Crow Up

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Good morning and welcome to my world. Today we are going to look at six different flavors of birds I’ve observed in the last week. On Saturday my daughter and I took the dog for an outing at Antonelli’s Pond and before you could say “Rajon Rondo” we came upon these two geese (photos #1 & 4.) Where they had flown in from I couldn’t say, how long they were staying was never discussed and just what where they doing there at that moment was never asked. But they were very observant and said I seemed quite relaxed, or as “loose or as goose.” When I returned the next day both had flown the coop with their Canadian passports.

I spotted the Great Blue Heron doing aerobics in an open field on Delaware Avenue. The cormorant was nesting along West Cliff Drive while grooving to Blue Oyster Cult. The little black and white fellow I actually shot a few weeks ago at Four Mile Beach. He seemed lost and wondered aloud if John McCain was really the Republican party’s best choice. The final shot is a couple of baby gulls who were just born on the rocks at Natural Bridges. With them are the proud mother and father who posed for this shot before getting back to the business of sending out birth announcements.

So let’s stay with the bird theme. There’s a crowing, or should I say growing problem in the Japanese city of Kagoshima. Crows have been setting up their nests on electric poles causing strings of blackouts in this city of 500,000 on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. Blackouts are just one of the problems caused by an explosion of Japan’s crows, which have grown so numerous that they seem to compete with humans for space and jobs in this crowded nation. There are said to be 150,000 crows, 2 blue jays and an albino pigeon in Tokyo alone. Communities are scrambling to find ways to move or reduce the crow population as the birds have taken over parks, nature reserves and miniature golf courses, frightening away residents and caddies .

With wingspans up to a yard, intimidating beaks, sharp claws and money to spend, Japan’s crows are bigger, scarier and more aggressive than those usually seen in North America. Hungry crows have bloodied the faces of children while trying to steal candy from their hands and have carried away ducklings, prairie dogs and sushi vendors from Tokyo zoos. The city stepped up its efforts after a crow buzzed the head of the governor while he was trying to shoot an eagle while playing golf.

Japanese bird experts say the crow population and the use of teriyaki sauce have increased enormously since the 1990′s. Experts say that behind the rise is the growing abundance of garbage, many of them TV shows imported from the U.S. Actually, it’s because the Japanese have adopted more of a western lifestyle. This has created an orgy of eating for the crows and we’re not talking just grapes. They have become scavengers with an attitude. So the Kyushu Electric Power company has put together crow patrols that have removed 600 nests and a sushi bar since they began three years ago.

But despite these jumpsuited men in gray, the crows are winning as the nests, blackouts and adults with crows feet keep increasing. These birds are quite crafty. They have begun building dummy nests to draw patrol members away from their real nests. The crows have also shown a surprising ability to disrupt Japan’s supermodern technical infrastructure as over the last two years Tokoyo has reported 1,400 cases of crows cutting fiber optic networks, apparently to use for nests and better cable reception. Fortunately these black crowes are confined to Japan and have been unsuccessful in making the long flight to the U.S. mainland. I would estimate that’s about 6,000 miles by the way the crow flies.

So that’s our look at the black plague that’s reeking havoc in the land of the rising sun. Enjoy the menagerie of birds and congratulations go out to the new NBA champion Boston Celtics. This year’s playoffs were a tad disappointing (er, weak) as with a few exceptions the games and series did not live up to the hype. The western conference battles down the stretch during the regular season were a lot more intense. LA was a joke and a choke during the Finals. I guess this means I won’t be wearing my Kobe Bryant pajamas again till next season. Those padded feet were annoying anyway. Aloha, Laker fans.


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