September 29, 2013

Birds Of A Feather Dine Out Together

Good morning and greetings, fall weather fans. Last Saturday, folks on the central coast were surprised as rain showers from a cold front blew in and soaked local basketball courts. It was the first significant amount of rain we had since the end of June, as the summer weather was a rather dry. How dry was it? A salmon knocked at my door asking for a drink of water.

But lo mein and behold, it’s been ever drier in the Bay Area, as they have received less rain from January 1 to mid-September than in any year in recorded history, which goes back to the gold rush and early years of Joe Montana.

According to Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury, only 3.94 inches of moisture has fallen since New Year’s Day in San Francisco, not including the amount of tears shed by 49er fans after recent losses to the Seahawks and Colts. San Francisco has the oldest rain gauge and strip clubs west of the Mississippi, dating back to 1850, around the birth of John McCain. At least that’s why Carol Doda told me.

San Jose and Oakland are also experiencing record dry years for 2013. Now I don’t need a weatherman to tell me which way my hair is blowing, but I would think that our little community would be on close to a record pace. In the words of either Julius Erving or Irving Berlin, “Nobody knows how dry I am.”

But according to clinical psychologists and local meteorologists, the lack of precipitation is not as bad as it looks. Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey says, “Don’t panic yet. We need to look at all the winter rain from the end of last year to put this in perspective.”

Which reminds me of a story. Two frogs fell into a bowl of cream. One didn’t panic, he relaxed and drowned. The other kicked and struggled so much that they cream turned to butter and he walked out. And then God created ice cream.

It rained 50 percent more than normal in November and December in the the Bay Area. Those early winter storms filled reservoirs and had Golden State fans getting soaked in the parking lots outside Oracle Arena.

Now unlike the chances of the Warriors making the playoffs this year, the odds of having a wet winter aren’t looking good. Water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean indicate an El Niño year of a wet winter is not in the cards. According to four out of five climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who chew sugarless gum, the chance of an El Niño developing through Dec. 31 is only 6 percent, or the same odds that the Oakland Raiders will be a playoff team this year.

But then again, if weather forecasters were really able to predict what lies out there on the weather front more than a month from now, they’d be in Las Vegas, playing roulette and doubling down on Wayne Newton. And when it comes to large cities, Las Vegas gets the least amount of rain in the country. But it does get the most degenerate gamblers pouring into town. So I guess you could say it’s a wash.

So once again, pelicans took center stage of my morning strolls along West Cliff last week. On Wednesday I had to stop twice in my tracks to admire the formations flying by, as they were easily each 200 to 300 strong. Their flight patterns were amazing, and as I stood there, an old Chinese proverb came into my mind. “You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but can can prevent them from building nests in your hair.” And that’s why I wear I baseball hat whenever I walk.

Then on Thursday, after having breakfast on the wharf with my brother Paul, we took a leisurely drive along West Cliff and as we approached the parking lot at Natural Bridges, all hell broke loose. In the water and the air were hundreds and hundreds of pelicans dive bombing head first after the anchovies. Every time a group would hit the water, the gulls would scream like they were at a Justin Bieber concert.

There were thousands and thousands of gulls and various shore birds stretched out a half mile along the coast, as they were twisting and shouting all morning and then late into the afternoon. It was a spectacular sight that also included some seals, sea lions and enough anchovies to make Caesar salad dressing to fill Lake Michigan.

The only thing missing were the whales, but field scout Jerry Hoffman reported seeing them breaching along the coast in Aptos that afternoon. And then the next morning, as I patrolled along the shoreline, the vast majority of birds were gone, with just a few stragglers to entertain the troops.

It had been one of those magical moments which lasted for hours. This event brought to mind a Turkish proverb that says, “God finds a low branch for the bird that cannot fly.” Yet this is the same guy who couldn’t find his way to let me dunk once. I guess no one said life is fair.

On to the late night humor. “So to express your opposition to Obamacare, you go to the book about a stubborn jerk who decides he hates something before he’s tried it, and when he finally gets a taste, he has to admit after he’s tasted it, ‘This is pretty f**king good.’” –Jon Stewart on Sen. Ted Cruz reading Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor. “Texas Senator Ted Cruz had quite a day yesterday. To protest a government bill that would fund Obamacare, he decided to take the floor of the Senate and keep speaking until he was no longer able to stand – at which point he would collapse, be taken to the hospital and be treated for exhaustion by Obamacare.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Ted Cruz read “Green Eggs and Ham” aloud. That has now replaced jumping on Oprah’s couch as the weirdest thing done by a Cruz on television.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Breaking Bad” airs its final episode on Sunday. It’s about a chemistry teacher who has cancer and starts making meth to help cover his medical bills and provide for his family. Or as Republicans call that, a legitimate alternative to Obamacare.” –Jay Leno “Thanks to “Breaking Bad,” the ratings for AMC have skyrocketed. You know what else has skyrocketed? — the number of high school kids now taking chemistry.” – Conan O’Brien

“The U.N. General Assembly is here in New York City. Today, President Obama gave a big speech on the Middle East. The leaders from the Middle East said, ‘You have touched our hearts, and from now on we shall have peace.’ And Obama said, ‘Really?’ and they said, ‘No, but the look on your face was priceless.’ Another study says parents are biologically programed to dislike their children’s spouses. I asked my father-in-law if that was true, and he was like, “Not now, I’m watching “Craig Ferguson.” – Jimmy Fallon

“The NBA is considering introducing jerseys with players’ nicknames rather than their last names. Players like the nickname jersey because it’s easier for fans to relate to them and harder for women looking for child support to find them.” – Conan O’Brien ” A North Carolina woman stabbed her roommate’s ex-boyfriend because she claimed he wouldn’t stop playing Eagles music. He’s OK, but apparently she stabbed him with those steely knives but she just couldn’t kill the beast.” – Jay Leno

So that’s my last blast for September. We’ll catch you making your last appearance on the mound at Yankee Stadium one of the great moments in baseball history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mariano Rivera fans.

January 13, 2013

I Wish They All Could Be California Gulls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:39 am

Good morning and greetings, NFL playoff fans. Well, since the start of the new year, I’ve been busy as a beaver, building dams and shooting away with my new Canon T3i. And right now we’re in the midst of the classic sunrise and sunset season here on the central coast, which lasts about as long as this year’s NHL regular season. Or as Chris Rock noted about this form of Canadian disorderly conduct, “Black people dominate sports in the United States – 20 percent of the population and 90 percent of the Final Four. We own this sh**. Basketball, baseball, football, golf, tennis, and as soon as they make a heated hockey rink we’ll take that sh** too.” Hey, we all have to have goals.

So the the mornings have been a bit chilly, with the air cold and rice crispy, as the clouds have been lighting up on a regular basis like fans at a Snoop Dogg concert.

Last week was a particularly good one on the sunrise front, as Monday through Thursday mornings brought great color and pageantry to the skies above Monterey Bay. Friday was a clear as my sinuses. I’ll be showcasing a couple of those in later posts. I would feature all of them, but even at this advanced stage of digital servitude, I still manage to miscalculate these mornings of glory for reasons unknown to this photographer and his therapist.

But despite my whirlwind schedule, I still manage to set aside some time during the day (every half hour) to reflect upon missed photo ops that I would have shared because I’m a serial giver. And even though I’m younger today than I’ll ever be, as I wait for my ship to come in, I somehow keep missing a few of the cabin cruisers.

Right now, I know you might be thinking, “Geoff, we’ve heard this all before. Just breathe and let it go.” Hey, that’s easy for you to say. I’ve got a destiny and paragraphs to fulfill.

But that’s the beauty of life. You pick out your clothes and then wait nine months for the sunrise season, and then because you didn’t see where algebra would fit into your life, you suffer disappointments. I’ve already photographed enough spectacular sunrises to qualify for the senior tour. But there were some hot pink clouds that filled the sky last week that I would like to have added to the scrapbook. So that’s why I reflect back to what coach Kyle Chandler of “Friday Night Lights” fame told his team. “Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.” I heard fame knocking, but I wouldn’t let it in.

Now I realize that what I’m reflecting on is not earth shaking news, like the Berlin Wall coming down, reports of global warming or Justin Beiber’s getting a new tattoo. However, the current Mrs. Gilbert says she likes it when I write about myself, and besides the fact that I lost a half pound this week, this was the biggest news flash floating around my cranium. I just hate missing anything on the photography front, because sunrises are like fingerprints, snowflakes and the Kardashian sisters. No two are alike. And remember, we’re all individuals. Or in the words of Jon Bon Jovi, “Each one of us has something no one else has, or has ever had: your fingerprints, your brain, your heart. Be an individual. Be unique. Stand out. Make noise. Make someone notice. That’s the power of individuals.” For me, it would be my social security number.

So brace yourself, because for today’s photo appetizer, we are switching gears and not going the usual sunrise/sunset route, but instead heading up the coast to Four Mile Beach. It was late December and the post sunrise sky was filling up with with love, peace and cloudiness, so I hopped onto my Harley and rode up to an old reliable spot, where my camera and I could have some fun, fun, fun till my daddy takes me t-bird away.

Four Mile never lets me down. As I skipped down to the beach, rabbits hopped into the bushes as I saw that the sand was loaded with gulls. Bingo. This did not upset me, as the thought of hundreds of gulls lifting off into the the air with a backdrop of big waves, crashing surf and bands of gypsys always makes for great North Coast action. As you can see from the photos, the gulls were out in full force, as this is a place where they come to for peace, solitude and have their patience tested by a boy and his new camera.

When I go to a beautiful nature spot like this, I try not to leave a carbon footprint. But what I do take away are some images that capture the solitude and beauty of the North Coast. These photos are a labor of love. Or as my mother’s cardiologist once told me, “Once someone touches your heart, the fingerprints last forever.” So will these images, which are now in cyber space for eternity, or at least till “Parenthood” runs of out storylines on NBC.

On to the late night. “A political opponent is accusing Governor Chris Christie of praying for Hurricane Sandy. In response, Christie said the only weather-related thing he’s ever prayed for is a Dairy Queen Blizzard. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to work today and as a joke, her staff gave her a helmet. This is the second time a Clinton in government has been asked to wear protection.” –Conan O’Brien

“The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, was seen partying in Mexico with Charlie Sheen. I believe that celebration is called ‘Cinco de Career-o.’” –Jay Leno “Well, Al-Jazeera has purchased Al Gore’s old TV network, Current TV. It has some fabulous programming lined up. They’ve got a new show called ‘Storage Jihad.’ They have ‘Project Burka.’ And a show called ‘Real Virgins of Fallujah.’” –David Letterman

“What do you put on a trillion dollar coin? On the tail side obviously a bald eagle breathing fire while making love to the American flag. What is on the heads? Obama? Boehner? I’ll tell what you it should be, those Charmin bears – because when you pull an idea like this out of your ass, you’re going to need something soft.” –Stephen Colbert. Jon Stewart to congressional Republicans who voted against Hurricane Sandy aid: “If you guys can’t vote for this, then we’re f**ked for the next few years. And I’m not saying you’re responsible for all the problems facing our country, but you sure are making them a lot harder to fix.”

So that’s my report. I would be remiss as a meteorologist not to mention the extreme weather we had around the nation last Friday. It was 20 degrees colder in San Diego (a chilly 35) than it was in Chicago. Utah and the Dakotas was bombarded with whiteout blizzard conditions, the Grapevine (Interstate 5) in Southern California was closed because of ice and snow for 16 hours while Louisiana had a foot of rain and tornadoes. Meanwhile, in Florida, they experienced record highs of close to 90 degrees. And I don’t want to say it was a cold here in Santa Cruz, but last week I baked a cake and then set it out to cool. Ten minutes later it was frosted.

So birthday wishes and good thoughts go out to my favorite American novelist, Natalie Serber, who celebrates her big day on Thursday. Hope you caught that Ravens-Broncos game over the weekend. It was one for the ages. We’ll catch you running wild and leading your team to a huge win in Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game. Aloha, mahalo and later, Colin Kaepernick fans.

July 3, 2011

You Could Have Knocked Me Over With A Weather

Good morning and greetings, Independence Day fans. Now, I know the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains, but I had no idea that the rain in
Santa Cruz fell merrily in June. This being the case, much like during the math section of the SAT’s, I was somewhat surprised and bewildered when torrents of moisture dropped down from the sky last Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service in Monterey, where I go to get my international news and latest cricket scores, two inches of rain fell in the month in June. Now, I know this doesn’t seem like much compared to the world’s record rainfall, when 12 inches came down in just 42 minutes back in Missouri in 1947. That, my raindrop-loving friends, was precipitation gone wild.

Tuesday’s surprise rainfall amounted to about .03 inches, which is the
same amount I shrink height-wise each year. When the skies opened up that morning, shocking locals, tourists and sunblock salesman, it went on the books as the wettest June on record in Santa Cruz history, breaking the previous mark set back in 1929, before there was skype, twitter and the newest Republican nut on the block, Michele Bachman.

This storm came spinning down from the Gulf of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, as a result of a strong low pressure system. Or in the words of the great George Carlin, as hippy-dippy weatherman Al Sleet, “the weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused
with a Mexican high.” The storm also brought snow to the Sierras, which meant smiles on the face of skiers, snowboarders and saint bernards as both the slopes and my sinuses are open today on the Fourth of July.

Although this weather didn’t stick around much longer than my plans of going to medical school, it got me thinking about wild weather around this geographically diverse nation of ours. So thanks to Dan Baker at
http://web2.airmail.net, here are some fun and amazing facts that you may not have known or cared about from the weather front.

On February 12, 2010, which I believe was a Thursday, 49 of our 50 states had snow on the ground, with the exception of Hawaii, where snow was banned by the State Board of Tourism and signed into law by Commander Steve McGarrett of the new Hawaii Five-O. This is not really true, as snow recently fell on the Big Island on the slopes of either Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea or some kind of macadamia nut.

On January 11th of this year, snow was on the ground in every state except Florida, which received an exemption due to voting fraud and
the impending free agency of Orlando center Dwight Howard. The reason I bring these snow stats up is that it is very unusual for many of the southern states to have the white-powered ground cover, as it would be if the Republicans supported any legislation by Michelle Obama.

If you like dry spells, but how about the the goings on in Bagdad, California, a ghost town located in the eastern Mojave Desert? They
did not see any rain for 767 days during a two-year period between 1912 and 1914. The only drier period of time in history was the Golden State Warriors just sniffing the playoffs once in the last two hundred years.

When one hears Seattle, we think of Gus Williams, Kurt Cobain and rain.
Well, believe it or not, umbrella fans, although the Emerald City is cloudy 227 days a year, it receives less rain than New York, Miami or Fort Lee, New Jersey. So there goes the joke that it rains only twice a year in Seattle: August through April and May through July.

We think of Chicago as the “Windy City” or the city that Michael
Jordan built with the help of Scottie Pippen. However, when it comes to wind speed, it’s not close to being wind central, as New York’s average wind speed is higher, but that could be from all the hot air that Rush Limbaugh is blowing out over the radio.

And finally, Cherrapunji in northeastern India is considered the wettest place on earth. I always thought it was a mountaintop in Kauai, but obviously I’m no Al Roker. Anyway, in the iron of ironies, these poor folks experience severe water shortages due to pollution and deforestation. As a result, they must walk miles to obtain drinkable water. Thus, they are walking in the rain, but I have a feeling
they’re not singing and don’t have that “glorious feelin’, I’m happy again.”

For today’s photo symphony, we start out with a late afternoon sky full of clouds at Stockton Avenue before heading up to Natural Bridges to take in the sunset. Photo #3 is my salute to Fourth of July as I caught this gull in full regalia. I call this shot “Flying Free,” which is my personal Declaration of independence from British rule and rock.

We then finish up with an image from the same night of the final arch at the Bridges and then the dancing clouds reflecting on the sand. These
peach-like colors were unusual to view at sunset, and their reflection
decorated the beach in just the right way on this enchanting evening.

And now a little late night. “Anthony Weiner is reportedly involved in
choosing his successor. The first question he asked his potential replacements is, ‘What’s the difference between ‘reply’ and ‘reply all?” –Conan O’Brien “Anthony Weiner is back in the private sector now.
When he was a congressman from New York, I think it was his private sector that got him in trouble.” –David Letterman “President Obama was in New York today. There was an awkward moment in Times
Square when he saw the Naked Cowboy and said, ‘Please tell me you’re not a Democratic Congressman.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Michele Bachmann is kind of like Sarah Palin but without the charisma — or marksmanship. “You know, maybe we should stop telling kids that anyone can grow up to be president of the United States.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Michele Bachmann said her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, is the birthplace of John Wayne, when it is actually the birthplace of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. She then said her favorite sitcom from the 80s is ‘Charles Manson in Charge.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat. As the verdict was read, Blagojevich’s face remained expressionless while his hair remained ridiculous.” –Conan O’Brien “Rod Blagojevich was charged with corruption — and unlawful imprisonment of a badger. Have you seen his hair?” –David Letterman “Rod Blagojevich was convicted of extortion, wire fraud, bribery, and
criminal abuse of styling mousse.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Speaking of Sarah Palin, this week, Palin tweeted that her daughter
Bristol’s new memoir is quote ‘shocking, refreshing, honest, inspiring, and perfect.’ Of course, she said the same thing about the movie ‘Cars
2.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Yesterday Sarah Palin said that she read Bristol
Palin’s new book and she found it ‘shocking.’ When asked what was shocking, Palin said ‘the fact I read a book.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Newt Gingrich says he does not support gay marriage. He says marriage is a sacred sacrament that should only be between a man and his first, second, and third wives.” –Conan O’Brien “Newt Gingrich said Republicans shouldn’t be afraid to go into black neighborhoods and tell them Obama failed them. To which every Republican replied ‘You first.’” –Bill Maher

So that’s my Independence Day blast. Birthday wishes go out today to my favorite high school Homecoming Queen, the fabulous Vicki Grimsland. So enjoy the NFL and the NBA lockouts and we’ll catch you at the negotiating table. Aloha, mahalo and later, Novak Djokovic fans.

July 18, 2010

Roses Are Red, Whales Are Blue

Good morning and greetings, capped oil well fans. Well, the weather, much like my love for skinny jeans, has turned here on the central coast, as the fog, chill and gloom have been temporarily replaced by clear, sunny skies. But the blue sky, warm breezes and clam chowder in a bread bowl are not the only things that have returned, and as an incredible number of blue whales came to party in Monterey Bay about two weeks ago. Combine that with the reaper fans who swam here to see Blue Oyster Cult at the Boardwalk on June 25, and the bay’s burnin’ for you.

In a story, or “In-A-Gadda-Vida” for you Iron Butterfly fans, written by Laith Agha for the Monterey Herald, July 7 was once of the most extraordinary whale watching days ever here on Monterey Bay. Nancy Black, a marine biologist and owner of the Monterey Bay Whale Watch, says this is the first time since 2003 that blue whales or Dodger fans had been seen in any sizable numbers in the Monterey Bay.

At the time, including humpback whales and Miami Dolphins, 140 baleen whales were feeding in local waters. They flocked to Monterey’s waters to visit the acquarium and to feed on the abundance of krill, a favorite food of baleen whales. Instead of teeth, blue and humpback whales trap their food with baleen, a flexible bone structure that looks like a gigantic comb and acts as a filtering system that sieves small animals from ocean water, which is the same process I used to filter thru the sweet and sour shrimp at the Mandarin Garden’s all-you-can-eat buffet.

Because of the ecotourism, Northern Pacific blue whales typically breed and vacation 400 miles west of Costa Rica, then head north and toward the coast to feed. Though they often are spotted around the central coast from July to October, they have been spending the past few feeding seasons fattening up near Santa Barbara and farther south. This is because that is where the most krill has been and many are Laker fans, says local blue whale expert Tony Lorenz.

The prevalence of krill in local waters depends largely on oceanic upwelling, a wind-driven process that causes nutrient-rich water from the ocean depths to move toward the surface. So it’s not just the Kareem that rises to the top. Conditions have not been right in recent years to support large krill populations in the waters around Monterey, Lorenz says. Because blue whales primarily feed on krill and the fact that the Warriors only have made the playoff once over the last 16 years, they have not come around much.

At 75 to 100 feet long and upward of 100 tons, blue whales are the largest animals on Earth. They are larger than any dinosaur or anyone in Yao Ming’s family. To satisfy their appetites, they eat 4 tons of krill and a sandwich each day. There are about 10 million krill and a kosher pickle in each ton. Krill and avocado salad are the only things blue whales eat. The tiny shrimp-like creatures cluster together and whales ingest hundreds of thousand of them on at a time along with cocktail sauce and a few Ritz crackers.

Because of unregulated whaling in the first half of the 20th century, the blue whale was nearly hunted to extinction. That’s why I’m not crazy about harpoons or anyone mentioning my blubber. About 360,000 were killed from 1900 to 1966, when the International Whaling Commission banned hunting of blue whales. The global blue whale population is estimated at 10,000, with about 2,200 believed to live in the Pacific Ocean off North America or in Capitola.

Because of their size and oil inside them, blue whales were one of the most hunted whales for centuries. By the early 1900s they were almost extinct and rebuilding the species or a franchise is not easy, just ask Golden State Warriors fans.

The whales seem to be using long range communication or Facebook, as they can hear each other from a couple miles away to try and get the word out about the krill a minute. When blue whales have shown up in the past, they have been known to stay through summer and fall, then some head south as late as Christmas while the Jewish whales stayed thru Hanukah.

But how long they stay this time will depend on the food supply. “They could be here for a few days or a few months,” Black says. “We hope they’ll stay around here for a while.” Most likely they’ll stick around until, in the words of BB King. “the krill is gone.”

Let’s move onto this week’s photo entry. It was exactly three years ago today that I was heading down to the Boardwalk the see the fabulous Eddie Money in action. As I walked along West Cliff Drive, I spotted a pelican feeding frenzy in progress and hustled back to my car, grabbed my camera and proceeded to take more shots than Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert did at LeBron James after he announced he was joining Dywane Wade in South Beach.

Some kind of bait fish was running in the bay as the pelicans were dive bombing into the water like baseball fans going after a Derek Jeter home run ball at Yankee Stadium. It was a warm, beautiful night as I joined the pelicans to soak in the Money Man’s medly, including my personal favorite, “Wanna be a rocker, wanna be a rocker, wanna be a rock n’ roll star.” Eddie, who’s been performing here for years, was in classic form that evening. In his words, “I remember coming here in the 70′s when I was snorting South American countries.” All his greatest hits and a geography lesson.

I took the last couple of shots of the gulls and the coastline after the show. Just a classic combo of nature and rock, as there was a whole lot of shakin’ going on along the edge of the continent. The Money Man hits the Boardwalk this summer on July 30, with two shows at 6:30 and 8:30. And the best part is, the sand, sea, and sounds are free. As they say at Fort Knox, rich or poor, it’s nice to have Eddie Money.

And here’s the late night. “Rush Limbaugh had an apartment here in New York City. He sold the apartment for $11.5 million. That is $2.5 million for the apartment and $9 million for what they found in the medicine cabinet. But it was a huge apartment — 4,000 square feet of space. No, wait a minute, that’s Rush. Sold it for $11.5 million. It has a very narrow view. It overlooks the flaws of the Republican Party.” –David Letterman

“Let me say congratulations to Spain. They won the World Cup yesterday. Spanish people all over the world celebrated in the streets, except of course, in Arizona.” –Jay Leno “South Korea has new robots along its border with North Korea that can detect and kill intruders. Meanwhile they’re installing robots along the U.S. border that say ‘Hola.’” –Jimmy Fallon BP is putting a new cap on the leaking oil well. It could capture up to 90 percent of the disgusting filth that’s spewing from there. And if it works, they’re going to try the same thing on Mel Gibson.” –Craig Ferguson

“A lot of people continue to be very upset by the fact that we can’t get Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden? We can’t even get Roman Polanski. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner passed away. He was a tough guy. Within five minutes in heaven, he fired God and told Jesus to lose the beard.” –Jay Leno “If you know anything about the big spy swap here in New York City, there were 10 spies and they were running around New York City stealing secrets. They arranged a big spy swap. It was very exciting. We sent them 10 spies, and they sent us four spies, plus a Cuban pitcher.” –David Letterman

So that’s it for this week’s entertainment. Last Wednesday, a gopher came out of a hole in my front yard and saw his shadow, which means at least six more weeks of saying, “what the hell are we doing in Afghanistan?” On a more positive note, congratulations go out to my cousin Gina, who’s softball pitching daughter Julie gave birth the same day to a 8 pound, 11 ounce boy. Reports are both mother and son Landon are doing well while Gina is warming up in the bullpen.

So enjoy the super selection of summer fruits and let’s all look forward to the day when we start to rebuild the Warriors and this country. We’ll catch you on the warning track. Aloha, mahalo and greetings, Joe Lacob fans.

June 20, 2010

One Shoe Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Good morning and greetings, summer solstice fans. As you know, the Katie Couric in me likes to report on the important news of the day. Whether we’re talking the oil spill, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the secret to those “nooks and crannies” in Thomas’ English Muffins, I don’t want my cyber peeps to miss out on anything important that occurs on my watch.

So you may not have seen this next story, reported by Randolph E. Schmid for the Associated Press, but fear not, my weekly readers, for I have it covered like buttercream frosting on a triple fudge chocolate cake.

Ethel Merman once crooned, “there’s no business like shoe business.” Well, about 5,500 years ago, or around the birth of John McCain, someone in the mountains of Armenia put their best foot forward in what is now the oldest leather shoe ever found. It will never be confused with a clog, a Jimmy Choo or Cinderella’s glass slipper, but this well-preserved Prince Charming of footwear was made of a single piece of leather, laced up the front and back, like a Paris Hilton sweat suit.

Worn and shaped by the wearer’s right foot, the shoe was found in a cave along with an argyle sock and an insert from Dr. Scholl’s. The shoe had been stuffed with grass, a lawn mower and a tiny rake, which all dated back to the same time as the leather of the shoe – between 5,637 and 5,387 years ago.

“This is great luck,” enthused archaeologist and mocassin collector Ron Pinhasi of University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, who led the research team. “We normally only find broken pots, egg timers and microwaves, but we have very little information about the day-to-day activity” of these ancient people. “What did they eat? What did they do? What did they wear? What was Bernie Madoff thinking? This gives us a real glimpse into their society and secretive hedge-funds.”

Previously the oldest leather shoe discovered in Europe or Asia was on the famous Otzi, the “Iceman” found frozen in the Alps a few years ago and now preserved in Italy. Well, either that or a Chuck Taylor hightop Converse sneaker dating back to the early Harlem Globetrotter days. Otzi’s shoes were made of deer and bear leather held together by a leather strap. The Armenian shoe appears to be made of cowhide, which is very similar to a pair of leather chaps I bought at a rodeo in San Francisco.

Older sandals and a pair of Ugg Boots have been found in a cave in the state of Missouri, but those were made of fiber rather than leather. The shoe found in what is now Armenia was found in a pit, along with a broken pot, some wild goat horns and a letter of apology from Tiger Woods.

It’s not clear if the grass that filled the shoe was intended as a lining or insulation, to maintain the shape of the shoe when it was stored or an early cure for preventive glaucoma. The Armenian shoe was small by current standards – European size 37 or U.S. women’s size 7 – but might have fit a man of that era, like a young Wayne Newton or Pee Wee Herman.

While the Armenian shoe was soft like a piece of brie cheese when it was unearthed, the leather has begun to harden like Coach Bobby Knight since it has been exposed to air. And unlike a lot of old shoes, it didn’t smell, which explains the bottle of Dr. Scholl’s Odor Destroyer All Day Deodorant Spray found nearby.

Pinhasi says the shoe is currently at the Institute of Archaeology in Yerevan, but he hopes it will be sent to laboratories in either Switzerland or Germany where it can be treated for preservation with Desenex Antifungal Spray and then returned to Armenia for display in a museum or a Lady Foot Locker. Because as we all know, the shoe must go on.

Moving on to our photo funhouse, in honor of the first day of summer, we’re featuring the first sunrise of the new decade (photos #1-2.) On the morning of January 1, 2010, I journeyed down to West Cliff Drive to meditate and greet the new millenium. It was an overcast morning, but then a hint of light appeared in the east, and as I strummed “this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius” on my autoharp, the sky broke and this delightful color appeared. There is something to be said about being first or a Yankee fan.

We follow this sunrise with a beautiful sunset from eleven days later. These rich images were captured at Natural Bridges as January was a spectacular month for experiencing the pagentry and colors of the coastal sky and for returning holiday gifts. My favorite image is #5, as I zoomed in on this squadron of pelicans heading south at happy hour, who, I found out later, were headed for the early bird special.

On to the late night fun fare. “President Obama is now in the Gulf of Mexico. This is his fourth visit since the spill. So the president has been down there four times. And the head of BP is saying, ‘Well see, it hasn’t affected tourism.’ “Thanks to BP, the Gulf now has two new islands: self-service and full.” –David Letterman “There is good news! BP today finally managed to almost completely stop the flow of information. There is good news. Scientists sent a probe down there in the Gulf of Mexico today and they found traces of seawater.” –Bill Maher

“Here’s a little bit of good news. The Coast Guard says that BP is now catching up to 630,000 gallons of oil a day. The bad news is that they’re capturing it with ducks. The White House said today that BP is moving up its timeline for containing the oil by two weeks. They said they’d get it ‘done, even if they have to work six hours a day, four days a week.’ “There’s some good economic news here. Employers plan to hire 5 percent more college graduates this year than in 2009. Unfortunately, almost all these jobs involve rubber gloves, paper towels, and a one-way ticket to the Gulf of Mexico.” –Jimmy Fallon

“According to a new report, BP has the worst safety record of all the oil companies. They’ve paid over $372 million in fines. Oh, they don’t call them fines. They call them ‘campaign contributions.’” –Jay Leno “The U.S. will face England in the World Cup, and the U.S. ambassador and the U.K. ambassador have made a friendly wager on the game. If England wins, we have to buy their ambassador tea and crumpets, and if we win, they have to buy us a new ocean. “Did you hear about this? In Afghanistan, the U.S. has discovered large deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and lithium. Or, as most people would call it, ‘not Osama bin Laden.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Today, President Obama finally met with BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, but the meeting was only scheduled 20 minutes. Call me crazy, but I think it should take more time to discuss an oil spill than it does to get your oil checked.” –Jimmy Fallon “These British Petroleum guys can’t do anything right. The chairman of BP, Carl-Henric Svanberg, told reporters that sometimes large oil companies are greedy and don’t care, but ‘not BP. We care about the small people.’ That’s what he called the residents of the Gulf — ‘the small people.’ But to be fair, English is not the guy’s first language. Money is. See, the problem is I do believe they care about the small people. Problem is, they don’t care about the big leak.” –Jay Leno

“And then today, the president met with BP CEO Tony Hayward, and Obama was demanding that BP clean up the gulf. And I’m thinking, good luck. They can’t even clean up their gas station restrooms.” –David Letterman David Letterman’s “Top Ten Things Overheard During President Obama’s Meeting with Tony Hayward” 7.”Speaking of leaks, where’s the men’s room?”
6.”Thanks for giving my administration something to worry about besides two wars, a crushing debt, global warming and the worst economy in 70 years” 2.”Biden, please, enough with the vuvuzela”

That’s our first post for the summer of 2010. Congratulations go out to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers for knocking off the Boston Celtics in a hard-fought, seven game series to capture their second consecutive NBA title. It’s always sad when the short, eight month NBA season comes to end, but it will give me a chance to work on my poetry, song writing and body sculpting.

So enjoy the official start of summer, the longest Monday of the year and we’ll catch you at the NBA draft. Aloha, mahalo and later, Phil Jackson fans.

May 23, 2010

Hey Babe, Take A Walk On The Wildflower Side

Good morning and grievings, stock market fans. Well, last week was another wild one for the Dow Jones, as the market has been more volatile than my stomach after a jalapeno burger and a chocolate shake. The dow lost 387 points last Thursday, and then, like many of my long-buried childhood memories, came back a little on Friday.

But as I gaze into the crystal ball with my naked eye, I think we may be headed into a bare market. The bottom line is, ten years ago, if you had invested $10 in the stock market, it would be worth $10 today. The financial unrest overseas is putting a dent in our economic recovery. Despite my love of baklava, Greece is not the word.

My family never really invested in real estate, which was a huge mistake, like trusting that British Petroleum knew how to cap a leak. I rented a house on West Cliff Drive for 14 years, and next door was an empty lot full of weeds, ice plants and sailors on leave. Because I was so involved with my missionary work and medical studies, it never occured to me that I should purchase this oceanfront property. Where was my family when I needed that intervention?

In 1989, my landlord finally realized I was having all the fun and tossed me out of there like a frisbee. I then did a ten year stretch in Hermosa Beach, studying the effects of global warming on beach volleyball players before returning to the swim in the kelp, enhance my spiritual growth and hang with gang members.

In the meantime, my landlord tore down the beach house with no heat and built himself a large white Victorian. Looking back, it was a tad nippy in this house on the ocean, or as my brother Paul told the sellout crowd at our wedding, “when I first met Allison, I wasn’t sure if she was shy or frozen.”

So it was much to my surprise that when I strolled by the old homestead last week, a For Sale sign appeared out front. I picked up the flyer and read, “when you sit on the front porch and see the panorama of white water, ocean life, pristine Bay, you should know this is paradise. This is a Beach Jewel that can be your oasis of ocean breeze, old world charm and a welcoming retreat every morning.” Now here comes my favorite part. “Yours for $3,100,000.”

Holy down payment, Batman. I almost choked on my chai tea and protein muffin. I immediately harkened back to my renting days at $850 a month and thought about how things have changed. And then I thought, if I had only bought that lot next door, I, too, could now be gouging some lucky investor for this oceanfront prize. I wanted to kick myself like Pele in a therapy session, but like every other negative thought I’ve ever had, I just let it go so I could be at peace with the universe. I then went into a Buddhist chant, repeating over and over, Om, Om, Om my God, I can’t believe I didn’t buy that lot.”

Let’s head over to the photo department. It had been a while since I had treated myself to some North Coast beauty, so I got on my Harley and zoomed up to Four Mile Beach to check out the springtime action. The wildflowers were in bloom as I searched the trails for color along with bobcat and leprechaun tracks. It was low tide, as all the sea life normally found underwater (photo #5) was as over exposed as the pictures taken by the paparazzi at my bar mitzvah.

The beach was deserted, except for a couple of surfers, hundreds of gulls and a mariachi band who got washed away during Cinco de Mayo. As walked along the sand, humming the theme from “Baywatch,” I noticed the swallows had built their nests into the cliffs (photo #6.) This was the icing on my cupcake, as the beauty of this beach always astounds me, much like every word that comes out of Sarah Palin’s mouth.

Onto the late night. “I love this. On the news today, the CEO of British Petroleum says he believes the overall environmental impact of this oil spill will be very, very modest. Yeah. If you live in England! BP has inserted a siphon tube into the well to suck up all the oil from the spill. And they’ve had a lot of experience in this area, by the way. This is the same tube they’ve been using to suck the money out of our wallets for the past 50 years. Scientists say they have developed a car that can run on water. The only catch is, the water has to come from the Gulf of Mexico.” –Jay Leno

“In Louisiana, BP claims that it’s making progress with the leaking oil in the Gulf. They’re working on a plan to heat the Gulf up to 600 degrees and use it to fry chicken.” –Jimmy Kimmel “There is so much oil now in the Gulf of Mexico, and you can thank the folks of British Petroleum for this, you can now park on it.” –David Letterman “A family values conservative Republican from Indiana, Mark Souder, has admitted to having an affair with a woman on his staff. Apparently Souder would take this woman to remote locations inside state parks and have sex with her. See, this is what Republicans mean when they talk about opening up our public lands for drilling.” –Jay Leno

“Just in time for Christmas, the queen of ‘Drill Baby Drill,’ Sarah Palin, has a new book out. It’s called, America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. And for Sarah, that’s two books in two years, or as she calls it, her trilogy.” –Bill Maher “Sarah Palin coming out with a second book in November, which is pretty impressive. This book was written almost as fast as the first book she didn’t write.” –Jay Leno

“Thousands of bees swarmed the White House on Sunday morning. And President Obama doesn’t miss a trick. He is smart. Because all these bees were worker bees, he’s now counted them as 10,000 new jobs he’s created.” –Jay Leno ” We have as a guest tonight Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I’m going to ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind: ‘As a bishop, do you always have to move diagonally?’” –Craig Ferguson “The Times Square bomber bungled the gig. So the Taliban got wind of this and they said, ‘That’s it.’ So they downgraded the guy. And he doesn’t get 72 virgins. Here’s what he gets: 72 vegans.” –David Letterman

“The Los Angeles City Council voted to boycott Arizona to protest the new anti-immigration law. The council vote wasn’t even close. The council voted, trece to uno.” –Jay Leno “Arizona passed a bill banning public schools now from offering any courses in ethnic studies. It’s funny, you know, they never say they’re targeting Mexicans specifically, but I think we get that idea. Today they passed a bill that said beans can only be fried once.” –Bill Maher

“For the first time ever, an Arab-American woman has been named Miss U.S.A. Her name is Rima Fakih from Dearborn, Mich. She says she hopes winning this title will finally help get her name off the no-fly list.” –Jay Leno “Did you see the new Miss U.S.A. pageant over the weekend. Miss Michigan won. Congratulations to Miss Michigan. And, well, it gets better. John McCain has already selected her as his 2012 running mate.” –David Letterman

That’s our show. I threw in a little extra late night action because the days are getting longer and the nights are getting funnier. I’m not sure what to say this week about the oil spill, but I’m not going to award President Obama the Nobel Clean Up Prize on this one. This environmental catastrophe is devastating the marshes along the coastline of Lousiana. The Gulf is bleeding as there is more oil in the water than fans wearing Kobe Bryant jerseys at a Dodger game.

This horrific situation leads to lots of unanswered questions, like why did CBS cancel “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” Either way, enjoy the blue skies, blooming flowers and game four of the western conference finals between the Suns and the Lakers. We’ll catch you at the free throw stripe. Aloha, mahalo and later, Amare Stoudamire fans.

April 25, 2010

Hey, We’re Packed In Like Sardines

Good morning and greetings, nuclear disarmament fans. Well, spring is in full bloom, and for allergy sufferers, April flowers bring congestion, sneezing, runny noses and the urge to rip out the back of your throat. Fortunately for me, all I’m allergic to is penicillin and Fox News, so I’m on a sinus roll.

So while a good segment of the population is experiencing that postnasal drip, headachey, watery eye type of feeling, my wandering eye was elsewhere. For today’s story, we head to the far northeastern corner of our nation, a place where the sun rises first. It was filed by CLARKE CANFIELD of the Associated Press. And as you know, four of out five dentists recommend the Associated Press for their patients who are looking for material to entertain their blog readers with.

For the past 135 years, sardine canneries have been as much a part of Maine’s small coastal villages as clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl on the Santa Cruz wharf. It’s been estimated that more than 400 canneries have come and gone as the lone survivor, the Stinson Seafood plant, shut down last week after a century in operation. It is the last sardine cannery not just in Maine, but in the United States. In the words of Don McLean, “bye, bye, Miss American Sardine Pie.”

Like english muffins, french toast and Penelope Cruz, sardines were once considered an imported delicacy. They are any of dozens of small, oily, cold-water fish that are part of the herring family that are sold in tightly packed cans. They are very familiar to me as I once had a ballroom dance instructor who was a very cold fish.

The first U.S. sardine cannery opened in Maine in 1875. Dozens of plants soon popped up, sounding whistles, loud horns, and a medly of Bee Gees’ greatest hits to alert local workers when a boat came in with its catch. By 1900 there were 75 canneries, where knife-wielding men, women, robbers and young children expertly sliced off heads and tails and removed innards before packing them tight into sardine tins, like riders on a New York subway train at rush hour.

Production at Maine canneries has been sliding since peaking at 384 million cans in 1950. Last year, Stinson produced 30 million cans. As Robert Plant used to ask in the middle of Stairway to Heaven, “does anyone remember sardines?”

Still, it came as a surprise to employees when Bumble Bee Foods LLC announced in February that the plant would close. The plant was under pressure from shrinking consumer demand, increased foreign competition and the that fact that diners could never get that intense fishy smell off their fingers.

Sardines at one time were an inexpensive staple for many Americans who packed them into their lunchboxes and shirt pockets. Ronnie Peabody, who runs the Maine Coast Sardine History Museum and a Popeye’s Chicken in the town of Jonesport, has a cookbook published in 1950 called “58 Ways to Serve Sardines.” It includes recipes for sardine soup, casserole, parmesan, creamed sardines and spinach and my personal favorite, spaghetti and sardine balls.

Sardine consumption began falling decades ago, he said, after canned tuna came on the market and Americans’ tastes changed. In Monterey, California, a group of self-described “sardinistas,” who deny ever trying to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, have taken on the task of trying to get Americans to eat more sardines. The group is formulating a business plan in hopes of returning “the lowly sardine to the American palate and bring and NFL team to Los Angeles,” said Mike Sutton, a vice president at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

But not canned sardines. That’s over, Johnny. Sutton’s group wants to promote fresh sardines sold at fine dining establishments like Wienerschnitzel or in prepared foods at retail stores, much the way tuna, salmon and Pepperidge Farm goldfish are now sold.

“We recognize the American public turns their noses up at sardines,” Sutton said. “It may be a challenge and it may be insurmountable, but our motto is ‘It’s not your grandfather’s sardine.’”

Well, my grandfather, who loved the New York Yankees and break dancing, never showed any fondness for sardines. I’ve never had a bite of sardines in my life. But I remember when I was a youngster, we’d grab our fishing poles and head down to the river to catch catfish, crayfish and my grandpa’s favorite, gefilte fish. We’d come home, fry them up and then just text each other all night. Ah, life along the Mississippi.

But wait, there’s more. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have written a letter to Maine Governor John Baldacci encouraging him to press for something other than seafood processing at the site of the recently closed Stinson plant. PETA official Tracy Reiman says “lobsters and fish are smart, sensitive and unique individuals who should be respected, not killed and canned.” Reiman suggests using the plant to package blueberries instead of seafood. I think she may have a point. Fish are considered brain food, they swim in schools, and when was the last time you heard someone say, “look, you stupid trout.”

So let’s move on to today’s photo fantasy tour. For you Alex Trebek fans, this is what is known as the daily double, the sunrise and sunset from the same day. We’re heading back to early January, when this amazing color filled the morning sky down at Lighthouse Point. Later that day, after watching a little Jeopardy, I came back down to the cliff as returning champion to finish my task, and you can see the the results. The final shot was taken after the sun had set and featured some really unusual colors-I hadn’t see those kind of hues since I wandered into the Rainbow Family’s meditation circle at Woodstock.

Let’s bring on the late night fun. “As you probably know, the volcano on the tiny island of Iceland has shut down air traffic. President Obama had to cancel his trip to Poland. President Obama said he hopes the volcano will stop smoking soon and the volcano said the same thing about him.” –Jimmy Kimmel “The volcanic ash from Iceland disrupted air travel all over Europe. Everything’s grounded. Commercial flights. Private jets. The only thing still flying — Toyotas. “President Obama and some prominent Democrats proposed a solution to the erupting volcano — they want to pour money into it. “According to a top Iranian cleric, earthquakes and volcanoes are caused by women wearing immodest clothing. Or as most guys would call it: a fair trade-off.” –Jay Leno

“The British government sent a warship to France to bring home stranded Britons. There was an embarrassing moment — when the ship pulled up to the port, the French immediately surrendered.” –Jay Leno “The volcano cloud is gritty ash and it’s making its way toward Russia. In fact, Sarah Palin can see it from her house.” –David Letterman “Sarah Palin got an iPad and she was complaining that it’s not really that absorbent.” –Bill Maher “Everyone knows if a Republican comes out of the closet and sees a gay shadow, it means six more years of a Democratic administration.” –Jon Stewart

“Well, the government said today Somali pirates being held in U.S. custody will be brought to the United States for prosecution, and they will be tried by a jury of their peers. So I’m guessing that’s what, Goldman Sachs? Well, just four days after Goldman Sachs cost investors $12 billion by failing to tell them that they’re being investigated for fraud, they gave out another $5.4 billion in bonuses. Huh? Even Somali pirates are going, ‘Come on! This is rather disturbing. A government panel made up of all retired military personnel says that the school lunches are a threat to our national security because they make our kids too fat to serve the country. It’s unbelievable. Remember the old days, when the Army wanted the best and the brightest? Now they’re stuck with the biggest and the widest.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our final blast for April. The NBA playoffs are going full tilt and the action was hot and heavy last week. Laker fans are sweating like Bernie Madoff waiting in the shower line. So enjoy the warm days, sunny skies and we’ll catch you at the scorer’s table. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kevin Durant fans.

January 24, 2010

Blast From The Last

Good morning and greetings, winter storm fans. Last week, we had five straight days of driving rain, heavy winds and big surf. I don’t want to say things were a bit moist, but it rained harder than the tears coming down the cheeks of Democrats in Massachusetts. Fortunately, my writing is covered by an umbrella clause, so I remained high and dry during the blogging process.

But in honor of our inclement weather and to celebrate the moisture we so badly needed here out west, I thought I’d pass on a few rain jokes. You know, some raincoat humor. And away we flow. There’s a technical term for a sunny, warm day which follows two rainy days. It’s called Monday. “Gosh, it’s raining cats and dogs,” said Fred looking out of the kitchen window. “I know,” said his mother. “I’ve just stepped in a poodle!” There was a communist named Rudolph. One day he looked out the window and said, “It looks like a storm is coming.” “No it isn’t,” said his wife. “Besides, how would you know?” “Because,” he responded, “Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

Moving along, let’s revisit the lyrical front, where in the words of the Carpenters, “Rainy days and Mondays always bring me down.” But that is not true for yours truly, as Monday is the day that I share my flowing stream of unconciousness with the ever increasing cyber world, my parents and my rabbi. The Allman Brothers told us, “They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad,” but according to Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Tuesday’s gone with the wind.” Jimi Hendrix proclaimed, “Rainy day, dream away. Let the sun take a holiday.” But our last word of precipitation today will come from the great Eric Clapton, who said, “Let it rain, let it rain, let you love rain down on me.” And that my cyber friends, is why I never carry an umbrella.

But let’s move out of the rain and into the sun. Today’s photo journey brings us back to the final day of the decade, December 31, 2009. I wanted to make sure I captured this day on the photographic front, so we start off with a lovely sunrise from Its Beach and Lighthouse Point, two locations I am as familiar with as Julianna Margulies’ character on CBS’s “The Good Wife.” It was a good start to the special day, which at this point held more promise than the violent drug war ending in Mexico anytime soon or the US convincing Afghan farmers not to grow opium. How’s that for a smooth political transition?

But wanting to make this a full day experience, much like my graduation day from driving school, I then headed up the coast to Four Mile Beach to take in the gulls and the furthering clouds expansion. The beach was deserted, except for the large flock of gulls, and they greeted me with the same warmth and understanding as did the Iraqis on our decision to continue to occupy their country. Basically, okay, you got your shots in, now get out of here and leave us alone.

For the end of the day tapestry, I returned to the coast and Its Beach. It was an extreme low tide, so I strode thru my favorite arch the same way as General Sherman did thru Atlanta in his March to the Sea back in 1864, but a tad less destructively. I was hoping for a spectacular sunset to close out the decade, but a cloud front blew in from the north, so the final shot features the last bit of pure sunlight from the decade. And because of the low tide, brilliantly colored sea anenomes and sea stars were scattered throughout the beach, all rock stars in their own right. All in all, a tremendous end to the decade, although if a few more colors had appeared in the sky, I wouldn’t have held it against the big guy, and I don’t mean Alec Baldwin.

On to Conan O’Brien’s former neighborhood. “I’ve been having a hard time explaining this whole situation to my kids, because they’re still very young. So I had a doll made of myself, and now I can show my kids exactly where NBC touched daddy. I should have known something was up when NBC sent me that 2010 calendar that only went up to January.” –Conan O’Brien “Things are crazy. I don’t know what is going on on NBC. I don’t know what going on in the ‘Tonight Show.’ Earlier today I get a call from the executives at CBS and they wanted to know if I would consider a jaw enhancement. What? Are you kidding?’” –David Letterman

‘The big CBS show here, anybody seen the ‘Medium?’ It’s about a woman who can communicate with the dead. A woman without can communicate with the dead. As a matter of fact, this Sunday, this week, Johnny Carson calls up the medium and he asks her what the hell is going on with the ‘Tonight Show.’” –David Letterman “Former presidential candidate John Edwards has finally admitted that he did father a love child with his former mistress, Rielle Hunter. He released a statement today. Edwards said, ‘It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she’ll forgive me.’ Hey, if she inherits that hair, what’s to forgive?” –Jimmy Kimmel “The heaviest snowfall in over 60 years is being reported in Beijing, China. To give you an idea of how bad it is, the army is now having to use snowplows to run over dissidents.” –Jay Leno

“You know, it’s hard to believe President Obama has now been in office for a year. Isn’t that amazing? It’s a year. And you know, it’s incredible. He took something that was in terrible, terrible shape, and he brought it back from the brink of disaster: The Republican party.” –Jay Leno “President Obama says he blames himself for the upset in the Massachusetts Senate race because he was too remote. Meanwhile, today in Arizona, John McCain couldn’t find his remote. One of Osama bin Laden’s sons has written a book. He said his father was a cruel parent. For example, he made the kid wait until he was 18 years old before he let him blow up his first car.” –David Letterman

So that’s this week’s version of “Meet the Impressed.” Rumor has it that next week will be our first guest blog of the year, and mark my words, you will be impressed or we guarantee your money back. Caught a beautiful sunrise on Sunday that made up for the missed snow on the mountain shots from last Friday, as the clouds, just like my 9th grade algebra teacher, just wouldn’t cooperate. Hope you caught the NFC Championship game yesterday, as it had all the drama of Don Draper on a good night out. So enjoy the moisture from the skies and we’ll catch you deep in the end zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, New Orlean Saint’s fans.

August 2, 2009

I Haven’t Seen You Four Mile

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:10 pm

Good morning and greetings, August fans. A few posts back, I wrote about the summer humidity on the east coast as compared to the summer frigidity that inhabits our central coast. This past week, on my early morning jaunts along West Cliff Drive, the ground and air were soaking wet. I hadn’t experienced that kind of moistness since I roasted a cornish game hen in honor of Anthony Randolph’s spectacular play in the Las Vegas summer league. I was thinking, here we are in the middle of fog season, while other parts of the nation are sweltering like Scotter Libby before the pardons board. Across the country, the weather has been wackier than Mark Sanford’s travel intinerary.

Meanwhile, 3,000 miles to the east, New York experienced it second coldest July on record. Fortunately, Mark Teixeira and New York Yankee bats were hot which counteracted the lack of summer sun for beachgoers and Met’s fans. Up and down the eastern seaboard it’s been cold and wet, as frustrated families ask themselves, “Where is summer?” I believe right next to thumbkin.

At the same time, last week in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle recorded the hottest temperature in its history at 103 while Portland topped out at 106, one shy of the all-time record. We are talking a major Martha and the Vandellas heat wave, my marine layer loving friends. Folks in these parts were flocking to the coast faster than Brandon Roy scorching up the floor on a Blazer fast break.

So as the moist air filled my delicate lungs, I was hit with my usual early morning revelations. I never ceased to be amazed by the 24/7 travelcade of birds as the flyways along the edge of the continent are always going full tilt. Prehistoric looking pelicans fly by in both directions, sometimes stopping to dive headfirst in search of some fish sticks, cormorants furiously flapping their wings in flight while their compatriots line the cliff walls. Throw in some screaming gulls, exotic pigeons and other various sea birds and I’ve painted your daily aerial display. It reminds me of the first time I visited Yankee Stadium. I was initially shocked by the foul language, drugs and alcohol, and those were just the security guards.

So once again, you may be thinking, what’s this bi-monthly obsession with byrds? The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind. There is a reason that I come out blasting with my Canon. And a time for every purpose under heaven. It’s my honest attempt to turn, turn, turn and try and churn out the best stream of conciousness this mind has to offer. And as we know, a mime is a terrible thing to waste.

Today’s photo lineup takes us back to the north coast, as we return to the sands of Four Mile Beach. When I’m looking for large quantities of gulls draped against the background of cumulating clouds, there’s no other place in this area I’d rather be. If you were to shoot these same shots without the birds in the sky, it’s an empty landscape. These gulls just wanting to have fun give the pictures life, liberty and in my case, the pursuit of semi-happiness. Here’s the bottom line. I love shooting birds and three-pointers. Just seeing them in motion and hearing the sound of the ball swishing thru the net, to paraphrase the Doobie Brothers, “it keeps me running.”

Let’s go to the late night. “Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin resigned yesterday, and during her speech, she was heckled. Apparently, it was just someone in Russia yelling, ‘Keep it down over there!’” –Conan O’Brien “Sarah Palin’s decision to resign has resulted in an 18-point drop in her approval rating among Americans and a 52-point drop among terrified moose. She says she’s going to divide her time between traveling to support conservative causes and learning to pronounce the ‘G’ at the end of words” –Jimmy Kimmel “Some people now are saying, this is true, that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin wants to host her own TV show. The show is going to be called ‘Am I More Coherent Than a Fifth Grader?’” –Conan O’Brien

“This August, President Obama is renting a vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s amazing. It has a basketball court, swimming pool, apple orchard and a driving range. The president says he can’t wait to shoot hoops, while Michelle looks forward to pulling apple trees out of the ground with her bare hands.” –Jimmy Fallon “President Obama held a Q & A session about healthcare reform with senior citizens over the Internet. Unfortunately, the senior citizens spent the entire hour typing questions into their microwave ovens. “President Obama is hosting a delegation of 150 Chinese officials in Washington. Among the questions the Chinese have for the U.S.: ‘What’s your military policy? What is your stance on global warming? And where’s our money?’” –Conan O’Brien

“Of course, President Obama has invited Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and the policeman who arrested him to the White House. Reportedly, Obama is going to serve them Budweiser. And in the spirit of racial harmony, Budweiser is changing its nickname from the ‘King of Beers’ to the ‘Martin Luther King of Beers.’” –Conan O’Brien “Now here’s the way President Obama likes to do stuff. They had this problem up there at Harvard. So President Obama says, ‘Here’s what we’ll do. Come to the White House. We’ll settle our differences. We’ll have a beer.’ And if it works for those guys he’s going to try it with Jon and Kate, and he is going it to try it with the Israelis and Hamas. “And then in the spirit of this, I thought it was nice today, Rush Limbaugh called up Professor Gates and Officer Crowley and he invited them over for some OxyContin.” –David Letterman

So that’s our first post for August 2009. I’ll be taking next week off, as the Gilbert family is heading to Sunset Beach on the fabled north shore of Oahu. In between body painting seminars and cooking with coconut classes, I’ll be studying the effects on the psyche of gentle trade winds, scented plumerias and most importantly, warm ocean water that doesn’t lead to shrinkage action. Of course, it will all be documented for those of you not making a trip to the South Pacific or the new Safeway on the westside this summer.

So enjoy the weeks before the back to school fever kicks in. And again, thanks to Aimee and Jason Gilbert for their guest blogs. Now if they would just stop asking me about royalties. We’ll catch you at Waimea Bay. Aloha, mahalo and later, Pipeline fans.

January 11, 2009

The Tears Of A Cloud

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 10:09 pm

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Good morning and greetings, NFL playoff fans. It’s been a week of chilly mornings and clear skies here on the central coast so we’ll have to journey (or is it Foreigner?) back to December of 2008 for today’s photo highlights. But before we hit the North Coast, for a little taste of politics, let’s head to our nation’s capital. “Barack Obama’s daughters started at their new school in Washington, DC. Yeah, their teachers are really impressed and said that both girls are already reading well above President Bush’s level.” And earlier this week, Obama met with all three living ex-Presidents and one current brain dead President. Thank you, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno. I’m going to miss our Commander in Chief. Our as the bumper sticker says, “Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its Idiot.”

Within ten miles of my lovely abode on the upper westside lie many spectacular North Coast beaches. We’re talking Wilder Ranch, Laguna Creek, Panther Beach, Bonny Dune, Shark’s Tooth and Davenport Beach, among others. But my personal favorite is Four Mile Beach, which according to the way the Black Crowes fly, is just four miles up the coast. As I mentioned in this blog before, it’s a beautiful feeling pulling off of Highway 1 and being the only car in the lot. As Dave Mason would say, “Alone, Together.”

I then hop out of my car and sprint like Usain Bolt to the railroad tracks where I always stop to take a couple shots and perhaps score a few brussel spouts that have swan dived off the passing trucks. You can see two of the tracks of my dreams moments in today’s photo display. The cloud cover on these two mornings was thicker than the swarm of golden raisins I add to my morning oatmeal which created a pleasant backdrop to highlight the always present groups of gulls that like to party at Four Mile.

But my favorite shot from this December cloud conference would be the first photo. The reflection of the clouds in the stream the feeds into the very surfable Pacific really works for me. Back in 2004 I saw a photograph of a sunrise by the now deceased photographer Galen Rowell. The sky was on fire and it was reflected in a lake in a mountain setting. When I saw that picture I said to myself, “This is what I want to do” and since than have always been fascinated by the reflection action. I believe I nailed it in this photo. Then again, I voted for Mondale.

What would be a blog without some jokes? Once again the credits go to my favorite son Jason. Two women were arguing over whose dog was smarter. The first woman said, “My dog is so smart that every morning he waits for the paper boy to arrive, then he takes the paper from the letterbox and brings it to me.” The second woman said, “I know.” “How do you know?” asked the first woman. The second woman said, “My dog told me.”

This next one is a little long but definitely worth it. A man was passing a pet shop when he saw a talking monkey advertised for sale. He was so impressed by its vocabulary that he bought it on the spot. That evening he took it to his local bar and bet everyone ten dollars that the monkey could talk. A dozen people accepted the challenge but despite the new owner’s coaxing, the monkey refused to say a word and the man had to pay up. When he got home, the man was puzzled to hear the monkey chatting away merrily.

The next evening the man returned to the bar and bet everyone twenty dollars that the monkey could talk. Again there were plenty of takers, but to the man’s anger, the monkey remained silent. After paying up, the man took the monkey outside. “I’m taking you back to the shop, ” he screamed. “You’re a complete waste of money.” “Chill out,” said the monkey. “Think about the odds we’ll get tomorrow.”

That’s the end of our programming for today. And the dream is over for the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants as Eli Manning and the Giant offense put on a pathetic display in the Meadowlands yesterday as they lost to the Eagles. I’m not a big Philadelphia fan but I do love their cream cheese. Shot that beautiful full moon rising on Saturday night that we’ll check out in our next blog. So until then, enjoy the magic that comes from living along the edge of the contintent and able being to see, hear and experience NBA basketball. We’ll catch you in the lockeroom. Aloha and later, LeBron James lovers.

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