September 14, 2014

Kiss Me, I’m Polynesian

Good morning and greetings, NFL fans. I am almost a month removed from my Hawaiian vacation, as each day it recesses further into my memory bank, which is now open from 9-5 on Saturdays.

At the ripe old age of 61, to say I spend a lot of time in the tropics is laughable. It’s quite one-sided, as I am one week on and fifty-one weeks off these fantasy islands.

Hey, I know I’m just fortunate to able to fly over to the Garden Isle and pay the Hawaii State Tax on rentals at 13.962%. That’s the true aloha vacation spirit.

Hawaii is our 50th state, and how the U.S. came to acquire this prime piece of real estate is questionable at best. So let’s go back to the very beginning, when God created heaven, earth and the macadamia nut, and see how this exotic archipelago in the South Pacific found its way into the union.

About 40 million years, or around the first episode of “Law and Order,” volcanoes erupted creating the Hawaiian Islands and the early ABC Convenience Stores. Kauai is about five million years old, joining Oahu, Maui, Staten and the Big Island as the major players in the area.

Today there are underwater eruptions happening off the southern end of the Big Island, and a volcano will be emerging to form a land mass and join the Hawaiian chain of islands. The volcano, named Lo’ihi, starting forming around 400,000 years ago,and should be making an appearance above sea level in approximately 10,000 to 100,000 years, or when they let Ray Rice back into the NFL.

Back in ancient times, when violence in the NFL was limited to the playing field, the first visitors to Kauai came from the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. The arrived, not in speedboats, but in double-hulled outrigger canoes, loaded with pigs, chickens, VCRs, dogs, coconuts, iPhones, sweet potatoes, taro, Charo, sugar cane, bananas and packets of Soy Vey teriyaki sauce.

The Hawaiian islands are the Earth’s most isolated parcels of land, which makes them squeezably soft and biologically unique. There was no lauas, hula dancing shows or Thomas Magnum sightings, so the flowers and plants grew in relative isolation for millions of years.

We then fast forward to the early 1800′s, when the islands were ruled over by one big kahuana, King Kamehameha the Great. This great Golden State warrior had twice tried to invade Kauai, but was unsuccesful both times.

The first time, severe weather coming over from Oahu sank many of his war canoes, and once his men reached shore, they were slaughtered like kalau pigs. The survivors were later sacrificed to the gods. I guess the road to paradise isn’t always paved with good intentions.

The head muckety muck of Kauai, King Kaumaualii, realized that three times might be the charm, so he saved his people from annihilation by negotiating an agreement with King Kahehameha. The island was never conquered and with no blood spilled, became the last piece of the kingdom. That’s one for the books, Danno.

In 1778, British explorer James Cook was the first European to set afoot on the islands. He named them the Sandwich Islands, after one of his sponsors, the Earl Of Sandwich. On his third visit to Kauai, this man who was first greeted as a local god because he first arrived during a sacred festival, was killed by the local natives, and thus became toast.

Cook’s arrival opened the floodgates for Europeans, missionaries, acrobats, laborers, businessmen, sailors and surf instructors. Along with them came a fabulous array of Western diseases, which helped thin out the local population.

Then we move to 1893, when Queen Liliuokalani tried to introduce a new constitution that would have ended democracy and restored the island to a monarchy. Well, a group of civic minded European and American business leaders didn’t find this quite to their liking, so to preserve the democracy, they overthrew the Queen with the help of U.S. Marines and established a Provisional Government in her place, which did not exactly seem kosher.

Hawaii was then made a U.S. territory in 1898 and in 1959 achieved statehood. There are many Hawaiians who are still pissed off about the deposing of the Queen and non-locals surfing Oahu’s north shore.

In 1993, on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Congress passed a resolution, which President Clinton signed into law, offering an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for its involvement in the illegal invasion by the U.S. and his future involvement with Monica Lewinsky.

It is easy to realize why they call the islands a vacationer’s dream. The weather is perfect, the beaches are beautiful, and the rains warm and frequent. On the north shore of Kauai, nobody is in a hurry. This is a place where sweatshirts go to retire.

So if I’m lucky, someday I may call this land where NFL games start at 7am my home. But if not, that’s okay, because when you grow up in New Jersey and then move to California’s central coast, you’ve traded up. I mean, where do you go from here? Moving to the islands is just a natural progression.

So for today’s photo feature, we are heading back to the Garden Isle. We start off the program with a sunrise taken from inside our beachfront house in Anahola, then on to the beach where this surfer was paddling in as the sun rose on the horizon.

We then move to a nice closeup shot of a group of coconuts hanging from a coconut palm tree, and then it’s on to a bunch of sweet Hawaiian bananas that were growing on banana tree in a neighbor’s yard.

Then we see a nice variety of colorful shells I picked up along the beach, followed by some fragrant plumeria flowers that were moist from a recent rain shower. We move along to a snail the size of an Buick before we come upon a critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. There are only 1,100 remaining in the wild, all centered around the islands, so seeing one is a rare treat.

On to a little Hawaiian humor. A man was walking along the beach and found a bottle. He looked around and didn’t see anyone so he opened it.

A genie appeared and thanked the man for letting him out. The genie said, “For your kindness I will grant you one wish, but only one.”

The man thought for a minute and said, “I have always wanted to go to Hawaii but have never been able to because I’m afraid of flying and ships make me claustrophobic and ill. So I wish for a road to be built from here to Hawaii.”

The genie thought for a few minutes and said, “No, I don’t think I can do that. Just think of all the work involved with the pilings needed to hold up the highway and how deep they would have to be to reach the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the pavement that would be needed. No, that is just too much to ask.”

The man thought for a minute and then told the genie, “There is one other thing that I have always wanted. I would like to be able to understand women. What makes them laugh and cry, why are they temperamental, why are they so difficult to get along with? Basically, what makes them tick?”

The genie considered for a few minutes and said, “So, do you want two lanes or four?”

So that’s my story of Hawaii. We’ll catch you wondering what in the wide, wide world of sports you were thinking about when you suspended Ray Rice for only two games for domestic violence. Aloha, mahalo and later, Roger Goodell fans.

August 24, 2014

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To Anahola I Go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:05 am

Good morning and greetings, summer vacation fans. Yes, I have returned refreshed, rejuvenated and almost fully resuscitated from a much needed sojourn to the South Pacific. While off the continent, I tend to live the simple life and take relaxation to new heights. Or as writer Robert Orben so aptly put it, “A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it.”

So despite the threats of Hurricane Julio threatening to blow our Hawaiian holiday out of the water, we forged ahead. I tend not to sleep well the night before a flight, so it wasn’t unusual when I awoke at 12:50, fully rested for our 7 am departure out of San Jose. I figured I’d catch up on my sleep during the halftime ceremonies at our kosher kalua pig luau party.

We boarded our Alaska Airlines flight, and I was hoping to be seated next to a super model, as my wife was sitting up in first class. When I laid eyes on my newest possible best friend for the next five hours, I asked the flight attendant if I could sit in the emergency row seats, which were as empty as my pockets after being stripped search by a TSA agent.

After raising my right hand and swearing that I would open the door during an emergency landing, I now had junior air marshall status and all the leg room in the world. To quote the great Dr. Martin Luther King, I was “Free at last free at last, God almighty, free at last” from mindless chatter.

Well, that lasted about one minute, because the woman sitting behind me was a blabbermouth. Yes, a blabbermouth. It was bad enough that I had to hear her life story, as she had a voice that boomed out like a megaphone on steroids. Fortunately, I brought along author John Grisham’s first non-fiction book to read, and this and 35 cups of orange passion guava juice carried me the 2,200 nautical miles over the water.

We landed at 9:30 Kauai time and picked up our rental car, before heading over to a sacred landmark on the Garden Isle, the Costco in Lihue. We just needed to pick up some essentials for the trip, which included a two pound container of Grade A, 100% Hawaiian grown Macadamia nuts. These gourmet kernels were planted on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island and were hand picked on the beautiful Island Princess Orchard Estate. They were like my skin tone after a day in the tropical sun-dry roasted, lightly salted and deliciously smooth.

Macadamia nuts were first grown in Australia and are one of Australia’s few contributions to the world’s food plants, along with dingos ate my baby and shrimp on the barbie. These sweet, buttery nuts are essential for a healthy, nutritious, well-balanced diet, so we picked up a bowling bowl bag size of Mauna Loa Premium roasted macadamia nuts covered in creamy white chocolate, sweet shredded coconut and luscious milk chocolate, just to play if safe.

I then hand picked out a half dozen, beautiful yellow skinned papayas. This “Fruit of the Angels” is a true taste of the tropics, and the first thing that smacks my vacation taste buds each morning. Hawaiian papayas, like a sunny August morning in Santa Cruz, are rarely seen on the mainland. As my Swedish nanny always used to say, “Forbidden fruit always tastes the best.”

Another island essential is the Extra Sweet Maui gold pineapples, which were glowing with an exotic rust color that I had rarely seen before. These babies take 18 months to grow, and were so juicy that I needed to wear a lobster bib while cutting them up.

But on vacation, man cannot live by food alone, so there must be tropical beverages. Now I’m not talking Hawaiian margaritas, mai tais, pina coladas or Molokai milkshakes, but the Aloha Made Guava, Passion, Strawberry and Pineapple Orange drink. They are formulated in the islands and are 100% All Natural, made with natural cane sugar and containing enough fruit juice in each can to fill up a tsetse fly.

Oh, did I mention that I ran into the megaphone women and her entourage in Costco? It was like a mini reunion, as a few tears were shed as we swapped phone numbers and exchanged air hugs.

We then packed up the car we headed north to Kapaa, where we stopped at Foodland for a few more essentials before heading north again to our final destination, Anahola.

Now when people talk about places in Kauai, names come up like Princeville, Hanalei or Poipu Beach. Anahola is rarely mentioned in the guide books, as it consists of a post office, convenience store and an overpriced hamburger stand. It’s an old native Hawaiian village were pineapple and sugar plantations once thrived. Now it’s home to mainly the trade winds, native Hawaiian and a some lucky vacationers.

If you prefer seclusion, or for me, near total isolation, then you’ve come to the right place, because Anahola Bay is a hidden secret. A large stream flows into the ocean, and the golden sand beach is mostly deserted, except for sand crabs, pieces of the coral reef and locals fishing for dinner.

So we arrived at our oceanfront rental, and were thrilled at first sight. I had driven by the house before, but hadn’t been inside. Well, after entering, all I could see was water, as the view was real and spectacular.

There was a breeze blowing through the house 24/7, so the air was delightful and the view consistently fantastic. The ocean was 30 feet from the living room, and with the water temperature a pleasant 81 degrees, we were set for a week in paradise.

So that’s part one of what I did on my summer vacation. Coming up next week in part two, I’ll discuss sunrises, sea turtles, wild boars, fresh mangos, spear fishing and University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Wahine volleyball program.

So for today’s photo party, we’re staying local and taking a general look around Anahola. The first shot is the view looking west out of our living room. The next shot is Anahola Bay, followed by our favorite beach, with a rainbow over the stream that feeds into the ocean.

Next is a photo of another stream along the beach, followed by some early morning light on Kalalea Mountain, which from a side view bears a striking resemblance to King Kong. We then look upon some fragrant plumeria flowers that are used to make leis, and then it’s on to one of the locals I shot climbing in a banana palm plant. More photos to follow.

On to some late night humor. “SeaWorld just announced that it will soon double the size of its killer whale habitats. The whales say it’s almost as good as their previous tank — the ocean. Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian have ended their so-called feud after eight years. Then John Kerry said, “Man, that was rough. Now on to the Middle East. – Jimmy Fallon

“Whole Foods has started selling rabbit meat. They’re killing them humanely. They’re using only rabbits that died of shock after seeing the prices at Whole Foods. The man who created the first Internet pop-up ad now says he’s sorry. The man also says that a 15-minute call to Geico could save you 15 percent on car insurance. The U.S. Postal service has lost $2 billion this spring. Postal officials are busy emailing each other wondering how this could happen. – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama announced last Thursday night that the U.S. would begin air strikes in Iraq. So in a way, it was the ultimate throwback Thursday. Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner is planning to open a new farm-to-table restaurant in Queens. So, whatever you do, don’t ask to see the special. According to a new study, men over 5’10″ are twice as likely to cheat on their partners. And men under 5’10″ are twice as likely to cheat on forms where you have to enter your height.- Seth Meyers

So that’s my first Hawaii blast. We’ll catch you having the quickest comedy mind in show business but leaving this planet much too soon. Aloha, mahalo and later, Robin Williams fans.

March 10, 2014

Does Anybody Really Know What Daylight Savings Time It Is?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 9:02 am

Good morning and greetings, daylight savings fans. Yes, sports fans, it’s the time of year when most of us spring forward to take advantage of more daylight. Or as Phil Collins so delightfully put it in the Book of Genesis, “Let there be light.”

And as every season turns, on Sunday we shifted from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time. The extra hour gives us a chance to savor the daylight, letting our love lights shine by not sleeping while the sun beams away. However, I haven’t awoken after the sun has come up since before there was history, so I am unaffected and emotionally unavailable.

Let’s face it, I don’t think anyone is thrilled when it gets dark at 5 pm. Furthermore, I’m really not crazy about dark chocolate. As Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “Darkness is only driven out with light, not with more darkness.” Or in the words of Muhammed Ali, “Prejudice comes from being in the dark, sunlight disinfects it.” Then he knocked out Sonny Liston.

So everyone’s happy when when the days are longer and the nights are stronger than moonshine, which is my shout out to U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens and the wonderful cast of FX’s drama “Justified.”

So who came up with this brilliant idea of more daylight? Well, the credit goes to one of our Founding Father’s, Ben Franklin. According to his friend Jerry, back in 1784, Ben noticed people burning candles and incense late at night, yet sleeping in past sunrise in the morning. Thus, Franklin’s famous quote: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” And this notion helped pave the way for one of Ben’s first major inventions, the VCR.

Now this founding father didn’t actually invent DST, but as Ambassador to Paris, he wrote an amusing letter to the Journal of Paris about his “discovery” that the sun gives light as soon as it rises, and needled Parisians for their night-owl, candle-burning ways. He wanted people rise up and go to bed earlier, to get up and make their lives shine. Or in the words of Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres, “Go to bed in your fireplace and you’ll sleep like a log.”

Ben Franklin wanted people to take advantage of the light, to open up their shutters and blinds and let the sunshine in. In his words, “Do not anticipate trouble or worry what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” But always use sunblock to absorb the sun’s ultra violet rays. Or wear a hat or bonnet.

So the U.S. officially started observing DST in 1918, one year after my 96 year old father was born. There are two states that don’t observe this practice, Hawaii and Arizona. Indiana came around and adopted the program back in 2006 in response to the wishes of Hoosier native David Letterman, who ironically, shares the same birthdate as my father, April 12.

Coincidence? I think not.

The Hawaiians don’t observe it because the U.S. government took their islands away from them, so they don’t have to listen to anything besides Don Ho. Besides, they’re our only tropical state and we don’t want to mess with paradise. We’ve already paved enough paradises and put up parking lots.

And what can we say about Arizona? They didn’t want to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday as a federal holiday, are not crazy about diversity and aren’t big on immigration. The only thing growing in Arizona is the crime rate. It’s like the old joke, how many Arizona State freshman does it take to change a light bulb? None, it’s a sophomore course. Sorry, Wildcat fans.

We know that crime goes down during DST, as muggers and low lifes prefer to operate in the dark. And here’s a little known fact. According to the website www.acurite.com, back in September 1999, the West Bank was on Daylight Saving Time while Israel had just switched back to standard time. West Bank terrorists prepared time bombs and smuggled them to their Israeli counterparts, who misunderstood the time on the bombs. As the bombs were being planted, they exploded–one hour too early–killing three terrorists instead of the intended victims–two busloads of people. Sounds like they had a blast.

So take advantage of the light. There’s an old proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” We all know that we are but a moment’s sunlight, fading in the grass. So don’t forget to smile on your brother. Or sister. Right now.

So not only is the time changing, but so are the patterns of the clouds, as I haven’t shot anything sunrise or sunset worthy in over two weeks. So for today’s photo ensemble we are returning to the morning of December 8. Just a beautiful culmination of red, orange and yellow colored clouds in the sky, which is not the worst visual to start off the day. Throw in some waves, the reflection on the Pacific Ocean and you got yourself a Santa Cruz sunrise.

Oh, and by the way, I got my blood test results back and the results were “greatly improved in all areas.” In a two month period, my total cholesterol was down 32 points, my triglycerides down 56, my good HDL cholesterol was up 4, my LDL 26, and my non-HDL down 37. So thanks to all of you who were praying for me. It just goes to show what a little exercise and low-wheat, low-carb starvation diet can do for you.

On to some late night humor. “This week the Russian government gave all 44 of its Olympic medalists a new Mercedes. When asked what happened to the athletes who didn’t medal, Putin said, ‘Do not open trunk.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Russia gave all of its gold medalists from the Sochi Games $120,000 plus a brand-new Mercedes SUV. While the silver and bronze medalists all received life in prison.” –Seth Meyers

Despite the fact that the Ukraine has been all over the news for the past few weeks, a survey found that 64 percent of U.S. students still couldn’t find Ukraine on a map. Said Vladimir Putin, “Soon nobody will.” – Seth Meyers “Because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, President Obama is threatening them with economic sanctions. Obama said if Russia doesn’t pull out of Kiev we’re not going to let them borrow any of the money that we borrowed from China.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama this week launched a new effort to help young minority men warning them not to make the same mistakes he did when he was their age such as get high and not take school seriously – unless, of course, they definitely want to be president.” –Cecily Strong on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” “Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the birth of the Tea Party. They had a big celebration and played their favorite party game: pin the blame on the darky.” –Bill Maher

“Vladimir Putin said the tanks that you see rolling through the streets are just part of the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.
This situation in Ukraine is very serious. As a matter of fact, today George Clooney and Matt Damon flew in to rescue the artwork. Anybody see the Academy Awards last night? I watch every year to make sure I’m not in the dead actors montage.” – David Letterman “A new survey found that the average American child watches 24 hours of TV every week. In fact, experts say it’s important for parents to lay down the law and tell their kids to get outside and look at their phones. – Jimmy Fallon

So bring on the light. We’ll catch you putting up most improved player like numbers while dazzling NBA fans with your spectacular dunks on a nightly basis. Aloha, mahalo and later, Gerald Green fans.

September 8, 2013

No Man Is A Garden Island

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 8:32 am

Good morning and greetings, NFL fans. Maybe it’s a delayed reaction from the 1987 Harmonic Convergence or just Murphy’s Law of tourism, but as soon as our out-of-town visitors exited from our lovely, kelp-filled shores, the weather turned as glorious as the 49ers chances of returning to the Super Bowl this season. And much of it depends on the health of star QB Colin Kaepernick, who has more biblical phrases inscribed on his skin than were on the bathroom walls of Noah’s Ark.

The above statement about our meteorological conditions is not completely true, as the weather for Labor Day weekend was as outstanding as quarterback Peyton Manning’s seven touchdown passing performance against the Ravens on Thursday night.

Summertime comes late here on the central coast, as we have recently been blessed with warm, fog free days accompanied by soft breezes that drive my endorphins crazy. It’s a season with a special feeling. There’s a Swedish proverb that says “A life without love is like a year without summer.” But I much prefer the lyrics, “I could live without love if I wanted to in this lonely room. But I don’t want to so I leave it up to you to wash away my gloom.” And that is why I didn’t get married until age 36.

So I’ve been back from Kauai for over two weeks, yet remnants and traces of love from long ago and the aloha experience are stuck in my mind like gum on the bottom of my flip flops. It’s not easy coming home and transitioning back to the realities of everyday life. It brings on feelings of anxiousness, depression and auditory hallucinations. But it’s an adjustment we all have to make. Which brings to mind something very poignant my wife said to me a few weeks back. “You’ve been on vacation since the day I met you.” Lucky I’m not Mr. Sensitive.

So despite the fact that I like to get away from it all while off the mainland, I will admit to watching a tiny bit of TV over in the islands, so as just to keep up on the local news and any new Seinfeld episodes. I’m totally captivated by the channel that lists what’s being shown currently on the cable, as it’s a 24 hour Hawaiian islands weather report of trade winds, nautical conditions and monk seal sightings.

I love when they drone on about the latest water temperature, buoy and tide reports, sunrise and sunset times, and the amount of lava and macadamia nuts flowing from the Big Island. It’s this constant droning that served as my island mantra. It fills in many of the gaps in my life and covered commercial breaks while watching the University of Hawaii Sports Channel.

We viewed this station rather extensively during the hottest part of the day, when we were forced indoors and replenished ourselves with ladels of guava and orange passion juice. I don’t want to say my son and I watched a lot of previously taped women’s NCAA volleyball, but by the end of our trip, I knew Jane Croson and her Rainbow teammates better than the results of my last blood test.

Ah, Honolulu. What a lovely place to attend an institute of higher learning. I’ve always been a big fan of the University motto, Ma luna a’e na lahui a pau ke ola ke kanaka, meaning above all nations is humanity and don’t worry about your SAT scores.

Immediately upon my arrival in the South Pacific, I adjusted to Hawaiian time and thus slept in until 3:38 am the first morning. I then lay there like a vacationing gecko, waiting for the monsters and darkness to go away. Fortunately, I was not alone as every rooster and cornish game hen on the North Shore had been notified of my arrival.

Finally, at 6 am, I left our beach cottage and headed to where Anahola River meets the Pacific Ocean. There I stood at the ocean’s edge, a warm breeze blowing, alone and unafraid. At that point I knew the challenges that lay ahead. My mission was to shoot all seven vacation sunrises, and later post the highlights of the best mornings in a blog. That’s me, always working. At least till 7 am.

So the sun rose and I took it in. Nothing too spectacular, at least compared to Santa Cruz, but each morning had a few James Worthy moments. Truthfully, it didn’t matter because I was in Hawaii, a tropical paradise, and I get all the sunrises I need and more in the Cruz. And each morning, when I listened closely, I heard like a soft breeze the words, aloha wau la ‘oe, which means I love you and give the islands back to the Hawaiians.

So today I’m featuring the best sunrise shots from a week of shooting from the northeast coast of Kauai. And just for nostalgia sake, I’m throwing in my favorite sunrise shot from last year. It’s always exciting when the sun makes it’s first appearance of the day along the horizon. It’s something, unlike the thought of the U.S. getting involved in the horrific mess in Syria, that I will never tire of. It brings to mind the words Detective Steve McGarrett uttered in every preview episode of the original “Hawaii Five-O, “Be there. Aloha.”

On to the late night humor. “This weekend, leaders from the NAACP met with leaders from the KKK. After seven hours of talks both sides agreed that they don’t really care for Bryant Gumbel. Yesterday a news anchor accidentally hung up on Oprah while he was interviewing her. He is survived by his wife and children. – Conan O’Brien

“Happy Rosh Hashanah. In honor of the Jewish new year, Mayor Bloomberg has banned the 16-ounce brisket. Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage. She swam all the way from Cuba to Miami — accompanied by five Cuban pitchers.” – David Letterman “Senator McCain was caught playing poker during a hearing. The worst part is that he didn’t even know he was playing poker. He was just trying to text his wife. “How’d I lose $1,500 asking Cindy what’s for dinner?” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama is trying to get congressional approval before we attack Syria. And if that works, there’s talk we might even consider bringing back the rest of the Constitution. President Obama is pretty clever. Did you see what he is doing to get Congress to approve the attack? He told them Syrian President Assad supports Obamacare.” – Jay Leno

“All the big-time world leaders are at the G-20 summit. All eyes are on Obama because of Syria. He wants to use military strikes. Even his allies don’t agree with him. Britain wants to use economic embargoes. France wants to use sarcasm. Tonight was the NFL’s season opener, with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens playing the Denver Broncos. I ordered a pizza while we were watching the game — which got weird when Tim Tebow delivered it.” – Craig Ferguson

Over the Labor Day weekend we had amazing back-to-back nights of sunset delight along with a sunrise that wasn’t too shabby. Just goes to show you always have to expect the unexpected.

We’ll catch you putting up perhaps your greatest NFL quarterbacking performance at age 37. Aloha, mahalo and later, Peyton Manning fans.

September 1, 2013

What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

Good morning and greetings, September fans. A new month is now upon us, which means for many, August is a fleeting memory of summer vacation family fun. Or as writer Robert Orben put it, “A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.”

I would say that pretty much describes my level of activity while on holiday, as I try to stay as active as a young veal. However, those calves probably don’t awake early in the morning to shoot the tropical sunrise, so I guess you’d say I’m slightly more motivated than my milk-fed friends.

So back in August, when I was a much younger and a whole lot paler, the Gilbert family took their annual pilgrimage to the South Pacific. When on vacation, we are very concerned with having the choice of numerous activities to go along with a flourishing nightlife. That is why we chose the Garden Isle of Kauai, where the bars and hibiscus flowers close up at 3 pm.

When people talk about Kauai, they think of the Princeville, the lovely sands of Hanelei Bay and the bustling south shore of Poipu Beach. And that’s why we choose to vacation in the lovely isolation of Anahola, which in Hawaiian means “no reception.” It’s 110 miles northwest of Honolulu on the northeast shore. If you like to be alone on a golden sand beach with your thoughts, DNA and sunburn, then this is place to be.

Unlike other beaches on the island that are written about extensively in all the tourist literature, you have to look through a microscope to see any mention of Anahola. And you don’t have to wake up early to make sure the parking lot isn’t filled. We come and go to this beautifully crescent shaped beach all day and rarely see a soul. To me, that is a beautiful experience because the last thing I want to hear on my vacation is someone else’s conversation. Well, that and my rental car is on fire.

But of course, I Iike to remain somewhat busy while in the South Pacific, so I did my fair share of hiking. The Kalalua trail along the rugged Na Pali coast offers a thrill for adventurers seeking the best of what nature has to offer. It is a hidden gem in this tropical paradise. However, I chose to take a different path as my hikes led me to Foodland, ABC Stores and Hilo Hatties in Lihue. And let me tell you, things can get pretty dicey around the calendar aisles when the cruise ship crowds hit the stores. It’s every man for himself, as the terrain can be treacherous when a new batch of “I got lei’d in Hawaii” t-shirts hit the shelves.

Snorkeling on the island is tremendous, and that’s why my brother Brad and his family headed up to Tunnels Beach every morning. Well, that and to catch a glimpse of Charo and Pierce Brosnan. The reefs are full of schools of incredibly colorful, exotic fish and giant sea turtles, who swim around like they own the place.

I did not hit this coral wonderland, as I never liked the way I looked in googles and with paparazzi lurking, that could have been a problem. But I saw it all as Brad was snorkeling with an underwater camera, and each night he showed us the video for us to ohh and ahh about between bites of chocolate coconut macadamia nut pie while we critiqued his camera work. It’s called exploring the wonders of the sea flipper free.

Food might be a little more expensive over in the islands, but it doesn’t bother me. As long as I can wake up in the morning and start my culinary day with a golden papaya, fresh mango or a sweet Maui Gold pineapple, then life and my digestive tract is good. I always like to explore the island’s small fruit stands and sample the various varieties of tropical fruit. We came across a little place on the island called Costco where I purchased five papayas for $5.99. Right then I felt like a was thousands of miles away from civilization and truly in vacation mode.

During the trip I had an exciting agricultural experience, as the house next door to where we stayed had 40 papaya trees with a least six different varieties of this special fruit. I spent the early morning picking papayas and scooping mangos off the top of the trees. I can truly say that it was one of the most enriching experiences since my bar mitzvah, but without the sponge cake and the gifts of savings bonds that put me through hand modeling school.

So here’s the bottom line on a vacation in the Garden Isle. The temperature on the island ranges between 72 and 86 degrees, including Jewish holidays. The beaches are lined with lighty salted macadamia nuts, with the ocean temperature a comfortable 75 to 80 degrees. The smell of napalm and plumeria fill the air, and if you’ve had a whiff of plumeria, you know what heaven smells like. The trade winds blow in and you think to yourself, I’m in paradise. So what if cream cheese is $6 a package?

So it all comes down to this. I believe it was either Buddha or Dr. Phil’s brother who once said, “A vacation is like love. Anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia. And I still have the sun poisoning to prove it. No vacation goes unpunished.

So for our sunny September wall of photos, I am going to be parked in the islands. We will stroll down the aloha highway as I’ll feature images of sunrises, flowers, fruits and jellyfish stings. However, for today, I’ll start with the homefront, as the first shot is Anahola Bay, and then sunrise on the Anahola River, where we were lodged just steps from. I never tired of sitting in the river as the ocean tide flowed in as the river current flowed out. I believe this process is called ebb and flow or how am I ever going to get all this sand out of my bathing suit?

The next shot is the view from the kitchen window of our beach cottage and the mountain where they filmed King Kong. It was also featured as the opening sequence in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” We then head west cruising on Highway 560 towards the north shore through Princeville, where I photographed this lovely mountain range, followed by Tunnels Beach, which is alongside a mountain and has the best snorkeling on the island. We end with a shot at sunset of the sun blowing through the clouds proving once that again, as I like to tell my rabbi, “Maika i no Kauai,” which translated means, “So beautiful is Kauai, especially when you can use your miles to pay for air fare.”

If you want to read more about the Anahola experience, go to http://www.sunrisesantacruz.com/blog/2012/08/i-want-to-anahola-your-hand/

On to some late night humor. “John Kerry said it’s “undeniable” that the president of Syria is using weapons of mass destruction. Kerry said President Obama needs to build a coalition of countries and attack soon, no matter what others might say. Today former President George Bush said, “Hey, good luck with that. Let me know how it works out. The state attorney general of New York is suing Donald Trump for $40 million, claiming that Donald Trump University is not a real university. The state claims it’s not a real college because students get very little education and were unable to find jobs after they graduated. Sounds like a real college to me. I guess the attorney general got suspicious it wasn’t a real college when Donald took the senior class on a field trip to try and find President Obama’s birth certificate.” – Jay Leno

“The Kardashian family — looks like now another marriage may be in trouble. They’re saying now that Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom are having marital problems. And the state department says its warships are already rushing to the area. So former President George W. Bush had to go into the hospital, had a little heart surgery and he’s OK. “Doctors told him to avoid any heavy exertion, so that means no reading. He had a little touch of coronary artery disease. One of his arteries was clogged with old Al Gore ballots.” –David Letterman

“The mayor of San Diego has been accused of sexually harassing 14 women. Now a Hooters in San Diego has put up a sign saying they won’t serve Mayor Bob Filner because he disrespects women. A spokesperson for Hooters said we don’t want him as a customer, but would love him as a manager.” “Sixty-two percent of New Yorkers say they are embarrassed by the sex scandals of Anthony Weiner. Weiner said, ‘Let me know when that number reaches 69.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday, Obama met with the prime minister of Greece at the White House. When he heard the leader of Greece was there, Biden said, ‘John Travolta’s here?’ ” –Jimmy Fallon ” The NFL is considering hiring a mother of three to be a referee. They wanted someone who’s used to giving time-outs.There’s a new cable channel of entirely dog-based programing called Dog TV. In a related story, there’s also an entirely cat-based channel called YouTube.” – Conan O’Brien

That’s our first blast for September. I welcomed in the new month by shooting a beautiful sunset on Saturday that came out of nowhere. It was truly spectacular and I’m taking it as a good sign.

We’ll catch you showing the nation what being a real American hero is all about and being awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House. Aloha, mahlao and later, Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter fans.

January 27, 2013

For Debris The Jolly Good Fellow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 11:33 am

Good morning and greetings, Super Bowl fans. Well, we’re less than a week away from when much of the nation turns their attention towards two teams beating the living daylight savings time out of each for the right to call themselves Super Bowl champions. Or as former Oakland Raider defensive end Dan Birdwell described the action, “You just have to play this game like somebody hit your mother with a two-by-four.”

At the same time, we know there’s two good reasons why people of every race, greed and color are converging on New Orleans. To party and gamble. And as a result, after football fans consume 140,500 millions tons of chips, 80 million pounds of guacamole, 900 million pounds of chicken wings and enough pizzas to cover the entire planet, hundreds of millions of dollars will have been won or lost on the outcome while the nation’s caloric intake will surpass the $16.432 trillion federal deficit mark. Because that’s how we roll.

For myself, I’ll spend the morning in deep meditation, and then just kick back and watch the action accompanied by with my usual array of healthy snacks, including animal crackers, tofu nuggets and fava bean pate. And if I win my wager on how long it will take Alicia Keys to belt out the national anthem, I’ll treat myself to a vegan steak and lobster dinner. Gluten-free, of course.

But really, it’s just another game. Someone will win, someone will lose, and the next day we’ll all be talking about Kate Upton and the commercials. Or in the words of former Dallas running back Duane Thomas, “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”

One place I would like to experience watching the Super Bowl is Hawaii, and that is where we are headed today. In a story by Stephanie Pappas for Yahoo News, there have been some unusual sightings on the beaches in Oahu and Kauai, and I don’t mean Charo in a bikini. No, we’re talking about refrigerators, oyster buoys and a four box set of the TV mini-series “Shogun” that have been rolling in with the tides and beaching themselves on the macadamia nut covered shores.

According to Richard Chamberlain, these items were from the giant tsunami that struck Japan back on March 11, 2011. The Japanese government has estimated that the tsunami, which was triggered by an underwater earthquake, swept about five million tons of debris out to sea. While 70 percent appears to have sunk offshore, the rest is floating like rubber ducks in the Pacific Ocean. The first item to make an appearance was a barnacled-covered seafood storage bin, which arrived last September and was last seen body surfing at Pipeline.

Hawaii is a prime gathering spot for big wave surfers and floating garbage, as the islands are exposed to ocean currents on every side. Some of this ocean litter comes from the fishing industry, while the rest is consumer garbage including soda bottles, toys, plastic goods and adult novelty items. The tsunami debris will be an ongoing problem, but it’s part of a much bigger issue, as Hawaii is inundated with plastic trash from all over the world. Or in the words of Groucho Marx, “She got her good looks from her father. He’s a plastic surgeon.”

This island paradise in the South Pacific has as its neighbor the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a shameful site in the North Pacific Ocean where currents push masses of plastics into a suspended pyre of trash, like sections of North Hollywood. Now I only play a scientist in this blog, but I can tell you, this is no way to treat an ocean. I believe it was either David Hasselfhoff or Jacques Cousteau who once said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” And remember, no one ever drowned on ‘Baywatch.’

Henry David Thoreau said, “My life is like a stroll on the beach…as near to the edge as I can go.” I say, “I love going to the beach, but not being in water over my head.” It seems in the near future, when Hawaiians go to the beach, they’ll be greeted by more than golden sands and shrimp trucks. It’s kind of like a Cracker Jacks experience, a surprise in every wave.

However, Hawaii is still the land of fragrant plumerias, golden papayas and kalua pig wraps. Wherever I go, I carry the aloha spirit with me. There’s just a special feeling in the islands that blows through my mind like a warm trade wind. When on vacations, when I check out of my hotel room, I always try to give back and tell the front desk, “He lumi maika’i keia e ku pololei ana i ke kanaka peke.” That was a wonderful room for a dwarf. Mahalo and good night.

For today’s photo gallery we are headed back to November 15, 2012, a couple of months after the death of Manti Te’o non-existent girlfriend. I was shooting from above the cliffs at Cowells Beach. The clouds were in an unusual formation, creating an interesting canvas of color in the sky. I then proceeded to catch the sun rising over the mountains of Monterey as its beams shot out over the bay. Variety is the spice of life, and these clouds added some quality thyme and a nice dash of paprika to this early morning exercise of beauty in the sky with diamonds.

On to some late night. “It was reported that President Obama’s 2013 Inauguration Committee is receiving fewer donations than it did in 2009. The scaled-back event will feature fewer inaugural balls, a shorter parade, and a musical performance from the Black Eyed Pea. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey Thursday, Lance Armstrong admitted to using banned drugs and blood transfusions to get his seven Tour De France victories. Which explains why, during his last two races, he didn’t even need a bike. Firearms groups across the country have declared today the first annual Gun Appreciation Day. So don’t forget to set your clock back 100 years.” –Seth Meyers

“The NRA made an ad saying that Obama is elitist because his kids have armed guards. Yeah, that crazy Obama thinking his kids need special protection. I love the NRA accusing anyone of being paranoid. It’s like a septic tank saying, ‘You need a mint.’” –Bill Maher “The CEO of Whole Foods is criticizing Obamacare, once again calling it fascism. He did this before when he called it socialism. And he said the problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money. As opposed to shopping at Whole Foods, where you eventually run out of your own money. “The post office may sue Lance Armstrong for all of the money they spent sponsoring his team. In fact, after all these lawsuits, they say that Lance Armstrong could end up as broke as the post office.” –Jay Leno

“More than a million people gathered in our nation’s capital yesterday, and tens of millions more watched from home to celebrate the first lady’s new haircut.
Most people seem to like the hair style, though some Republicans are demanding further cuts. But bangs aren’t easy to pull off. As far as I know, the only other women who have done it successfully this decade are Jessica Biel and Justin Bieber.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our pre Super Bowl report. Enjoy the game and take a moment to remember the troops, who are fighting for us so that we can live in a country where anyone can grow up and one day host a Super Bowl party.

We’ll catch you putting up all-star numbers and being the best shooter in the NBA. Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

August 12, 2012

I Want To Anahola Your Hand

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 3:34 pm

Good morning and greetings, Olympic beach volleyball fans. Well, I have returned relaxed, rejuvenated and emotionally resuscitated from one of the most delightful vacations in my first lifetime. Nothing like seven days of tropical bliss on the Garden Isle of Kauai to get my engines reloaded for another 51 weeks of dishing out the free flowing stream of unconciousness that swirls around my mind like the veins of chocolate running thru Breyer’s Vanilla Fudge Twirl frozen dairy dessert.

This year’s destination was the northeast part of the island, a lovely little spot called Anahola, which translated from Hawaiian means, “no damn tourists.” The place was pure Hawaiian, and Anahola Bay (photo #1 ) packed quite a punch. We stayed in a lovely beach cottage across the street from the ocean, and at night all we could hear was the pounding of the waves and the opening of the boxes of Mauna Loa macadamia nuts covered in milk chocolate.

Anahola Bay was an incredibly beautiful beach (photo #3), and as a surprise bonus, a river (photo #2) flowed into the crystal blue persuasion-colored ocean, which gaves us two bodies of water for the price of one. So when you got tired of the never-ending waves, you could parlay the experience into the river and just float with the current. I have to admit, floating on my back, with my eyes and thighs closed was an incredible feeling. I hadn’t been that relaxed since I audited a vibrational meditation class back in the 60′s. I’m all about the body-mind connection to get a passing grade in the spiritual world. Hare krishna, krishna krishna, haagen-dazsey.

When you wake up in the South Pacific, and I usually like to sleep in till at least 4:30 or 5 am, you are greeted by an air temperature of 72 degrees. During the day, the thermometer will hit a high of around 84 degrees, which makes wearing a shirt as unnecessary as paying attention to anything that comes out the mouth of a Tea Party member. And as luscious and soothing as the air temperature is, the ocean temp of 76 degrees launches me into another mind-blowing state of liquid relaxtion. One of my few goals in life is to bask in the warm ocean water everyday, and as of this writing, I am 1/52nd of the way to putting the finishing touches on this watery dream.

The beach cottage we stayed in was old Hawaiian, which was even more nicely decorated than my black-lighted dorm room back at Syracuse. The view from the kitchen (photo #4 ) looked over the mountain range where they filmed “King Kong” and the opening scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It was truly outstanding, and along with the antique furniture, wall hangings and King Kamehameha dish towels, gave one a real feeling of yesteryear. The only thing that was new Hawaiian was the flat screened TV, which allowed as to watch enough Olympic coverage till our corneas started to bleed.

The culinary calendar was magnificent, as I started and ended each day with a fresh papaya, which is not only a delicious tropical treat, but a rich source of nutrients that promotes healthy living. At least that’s what the agent who strip-searched me at the agricultural inspection station told me. Throw in some fresh mangos, teriyakl chicken and beef, chicken katsu and enough rice for a year of weddings and we were living aloha style on the dining front.

Since we were on the northeast side of island, I started off every morning by shooting the sunrise, which I’m sure comes as a shock to many of you. There were five good ones and one spectacular showing that blew the lens off my camera. This trip photographically will cover at least a month’s worth of blogs, as we’re talking beaches, waterfalls, baby geckos, sunrises, rainbows, octopus, waterfalls, flowers and Kona Coffee glazed macadamia nuts.

And for those inquiring minds, the first macadamia nut tree was planted on the island of Hawaii in 1881, by a certain Johnny Macadamianutseed. Unlike my parents were with me, you have to be patient with these trees, as it takes seven years to produce a commercial crop and 15 years to really pick up steam. And lo and behold, back in 2004, the Hershey company acquired the Mauna Loa brand, making them the kings of the world’s hardest nut to crack, which is something that my rabbi once remarked about me.

Overall, it was a wonderful tropical experience, as I haven’t been in warm water like that since my backstroking in the amniotic fluid. I will leave you with the paraphrased words of travel writer Paul Theroux, who once said outside an ABC store, “Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of Will and Grace.”

And finally, there’s the old Hawaiian proverb, “O Hawaii no ka ain makai O,” meaning, “After all, Hawaii is the best land,” especially with the Alaska Airlines escape to paradise airfares of $169 each way. I drank enough passion orange guava juice on those flights that I could have floated home.

On to the late night. “The Romneys have a horse competing in the Olympics. Ann Romney’s horse failed to win a medal in the dressage event today, which is a shame because if there’s one thing that family needs, it’s more gold. Romney’s Olympic horse is named Rafalco. She said I needed a silly name that no one’s ever heard of before and Mitt was taken.” –Conan O’Brien

“A former U.S. Olympic swimmer in an interview said that nearly all elite competitive swimmers pee in the pool regularly. So apparently I am an elite competitive swimmer. Saudi Arabia’s first female athlete will be allowed to compete while wearing a head scarf. The Saudi woman said she was thrilled about the ruling all she needs now is a man to drive her to the Olympics.” –Conan O’Brien

“Did you hear this big scandal? Eight female badminton players were expelled from the Olympics for trying to lose on purpose. So tragically, they’ll never have another chance to play badminton unless they get invited to a picnic. Seriously, the Olympic badminton players were apparently trying to lose on purpose, a big story. But really, think about it, if you train day and night for four years to be in the Olympics for badminton, in a way, haven’t you already lost?” –Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney is getting a lot of attention for a series of gaffes he’s made while he’s in London. And in response, Romney said that he has nothing but respect for the people of England, especially their monarch, Queen Latifah. The favorite to win the Olympic gold medal in archery is a legally blind athlete from South Korea, mainly because everyone else is too scared to compete next to him.” –Jimmy Fallon

“So far China has won the most gold medals, ladies and gentlemen. The Chinese athletes can’t wait to get home and show the medals off to the kids who made them.” –Conan O’Brien “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he will think about running for president in 2016 if Obama wins in November. But until then he said he’ll just think about pancakes.” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my first blast since returning to the mainland. Enjoy these August days and pinch yourselves if you’re a Laker fan. So revel in being the best team in the history of beach volleyball. Aloha, mahalo and later, Misty May Treanor and Kerry Walsh Jennings.

March 11, 2012

You’ve Got To Go With The Flow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 2:35 pm

Good morning and greetings, severe weather fans. I’m still blown away by the power and destruction of the recent tornadoes, which wreaked havoc, death and destruction throughout the south and midwest. This has been the deadliest year for twisters since 1936, or back when the Republican party stood for something moral and decent.

So while nature’s most violent storms were leveling small towns while lifting homes and people’s lives off their foundations, another kind of destruction was going in our nation, but in a much more tropical setting. And in this scenario, it was more than tears that were flowing in the aftermath of this freaky Friday.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported last Sunday that a lava flow destroyed the last home in the Big Island’s Puna district. The neighborhood’s last resident, Jack Thompson, left his home about an hour before the river of molten rock plowed down a hill and burned his house to the ground, which was not a great way to celebrate the end of the work week. Personally, whenever I see a river of volcanic ash headed in my direction, I always like to get at least a two-hour head start on my dash to higher ground.

“I got as much stuff out of there as was practical, and everything else, had to leave it,” Thompson said. The lava was “pretty much coming in the back as we were going out the front.” Call me inhospitable, but I always hate it when old friends or lava drop by uninvited.

“I’ve been on this mountain about 40 years, and this is the second house I’ve had in this subdivision,” Thompson said. “I don’t think anybody will be living up here anymore.” Just to play it safe, if Thompson changes his mind and returns to the neighborhood, he might want to consider renting.

Mount Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983 and like my weight gains, has shown no signs of stopping. Scientists warned several weeks ago that the lava was becoming more active. Over the years, it has destroyed homes, cut off roads and put a damper on neighborhood luaus.

“I’ve been preparing for this for years. You’re hoping for the best, but in time expect the inevitable,” Thompson said. “It could have gone somewhere else just as easily, but this time I was in the way.” In the words of the Rolling Stones, “Time and lava waits for no one.”

So what do we know about the most dangerous volcano in the United States? Mount Kilauea is located on the Big Island in Volcanoes National Park,which grows around 42 acres every year thanks to Kilauea’s eruptions and the Mauna Loa Nut Factory. Locals continue to worship and pay homage to the goddess Pele, who lives inside the volcano, making offerings of fruit, flowers, fish and fatburgers to soothe her fury and to thank her for her generosity in expanding the great land of Hawaii with her perennial eruptions and sponsorship of surf contests.

K?lauea means “spewing, “much spreading, or holy crap, that’s hot” in Hawaiian. Thirty-five eruptions have taken place since 1952, the year my parents hit the jackpot. The volume of erupted material is large enough to pave a road around the world three times, not including toll plazas, vista points or Denny’s, a good place to sit and eat.

After Ted’s Bakery on the north shore of Oahu, home to the original chocolate haupia pie, Kilauea is the most visited attraction in Hawaii. The image of black rock, orange fire, volcanic fog, smoldering sea waves, smoke on the water and fire in the sky is a must-see for anyone who visits the Big Island. At least that’s what the people from www.exinarticles.com tell me. Like LeBron James, it’s one natural wonder you shouldn’t miss.

I’ve been to Volcanoes National Park and it was spectacularly eerie. Lava flows, steam rising out of the earth and craters the size of football fields made for an amazing adventure while on my honeymoon. The excursion there was just like my wedding night, except I didn’t develop a cramp.

But before we leave the South Pacific, here’s an aloha update. Last week, Hawaii Governor Steve McGarrett declared Oahu and Kauai disaster areas after three days of relentless rain and rainbows which caused mudslides, never before seen hail, water spouts, eensey, weensy spiders, a tornado, severe flooding, dangerous surf and a rerun of the new ‘Hawaii Five-O.’

It was a nightmare on the north shore of the Garden Isle as vacationers were paddle boarding through strip mall parking lots. So far, four feet of rain have fallen in a week with more storms on the way and no let up in sight. Sounds like it’s been a tad soggy for sun-loving vacationers. But like the slogan says, come get lei-ed, but if it’s in March, you might want to pack an umbrella.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of Volcanoes National Park, as I hadn’t yet begun my digital journey. However, today I’m showcasing the beauty of our 50th state, starting in Kauai with a shot of Waimea Canyon, the island that was created by the collapse of a volcano approximately four million years and a week ago.

We then get into the flow of water with four spectacular beaches, starting with a double shot of Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. We then move on to the loveliness of Waimea Bay, before moving back to Kauai and Hanalei Bay, the location for the recent George Clooney drama, ‘The Descendents.’ We finish up at the golden sands of Lumahai Beach, where Mitzi Gaynor “washed that man right out of her hair” in ‘South Pacific’ before rinsing with a coconut oil hair conditioner.

On to the late night. “There is an HBO movie coming out about the 2008 presidential election. Apparently John McCain is very unhappy with the way he was portrayed. He said he came across as a clueless and angry man. No one had the heart to tell him he was watching the toaster.
Mitt Romney’s wife said she doesn’t even consider herself wealthy. Then she said, ‘If you don’t believe me, just ask my chauffeur. “Gas prices — it is $6 a gallon here. People in L.A. are furious. You can’t tell, of course, because of the Botox.” ” –Craig Ferguson

“Romney spent five and a half million bucks on TV advertising in the Super Tuesday states. Meanwhile, Ron Paul put a sticker on a light pole. Mitt Romney’s been out on the campaign trail even though he’s suffering from a terrible cold. I’m not surprised he’s sick. It’s very unsanitary to keep putting your foot in your mouth like that. It didn’t help matters that Romney kept blowing his nose into $100 bills.” –Craig Ferguson

“A man in Albuquerque has registered his dog to vote. Apparently the dog likes the current administration but he’s not sure he wants another 28 years of Obama.“Today is the multi-state primary known as ‘Super Tuesday.’ It’s going to be followed tomorrow by ‘Now we’re really stuck with Romney Wednesday.’” –Conan O’Brien “Last night was Super Tuesday – a 10-state GOP Primary orgy. A big, sweaty pile of lever-yankin’ Republican voters. And like most orgies, it involves a bunch of middle aged guys who are not appealing to women.” –Stephen Colbert

So that’s it for our update from the South Pacific. For college basketball fans, heaven has arrived as we begin three weeks of March Madness. If you like big dances, this is the prom we’ve all been waiting for.

Take a moment to be grateful everything you have. We’ll catch you hitting game winning shots at the buzzer when the other team doesn’t force you to give the ball up. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derrick Rose fans.

January 1, 2012

I’ve Got A Great Past In My Future

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 2:41 pm

Good morning and greetings, New Year’s fans. Well, 2011, much like the hopes of my camera not breaking down on me while I was about to shoot Saturday morning’s New Year’s Eve sunrise, is now history. Ah, karma.

It reminds me of the old joke, “What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence? Time to get a new camera.” I could sum up the missed morning experience by paraphrasing the lovely Teri Hatcher from a classic Seinfeld episode, “it was real and it was spectacular.”

This missed morning magnificence then led into Saturday night’s sunset, which had fans lining the coast to check out the super sky along West Cliff Drive. I was in possession of my daughter’s Kodak pocket camera to capture this magic moment, but it just wasn’t quite the same without that Canon in my hand. Yes, size does matter. But with any luck, I’ll display some memorable images from this night before breaking my New Year’s resolution.

When I think about the 365 days that I just crossed off my Justin Bieber calendar, I’m left with the thought of what a wild and wacky year it was. So in honor days of future passed and a Canon trashed, let’s take a quiet stroll down Lois Lane and see what washes up on the memory banks of what’s left of my mind.

The first thing that jumps out is the state of our nation. God bless America, land that I love, where last year President Obama and Congress couldn’t even agree on anything, including whether Michelle should have gone sleeveless on New Year’s Eve. Is it just me, or is something wrong when the approval rating for our elected officials hovers at 1%? As amazing as it was that Barack Obama was elected President, I have to wonder if he and the kids are enjoying the experience? But then again, despite his difficulties in making progress with our economy, I guess he had a better year than Osama Bin Laden or that wacky Khadaffy.

Late night political comedy was off the charts last year, as the Republican presidential candidates provided more material than an Orson Welles’ bathrobe. There were so many statements and foot-in-the-mouth moments to choose from, but I believe the top spot must go to the lovable Herman Cain, who it seems was rolling around in more than dough in his days as the Godfather of pizza.

Just the fact that he could run for the top job in our country with an expertise in mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce is one thing. But to have, for lack of a better term, the basketballs to run for the top office with those skeletons in his closet was just simply amazing. He was definitely Cain but certainly not able.

For us folks here on the central coast, the weather, like my blood pressure when not watching the New York Giants, was relatively stable. But for the rest of the country, it was simply bonkers. Never has there been 365 days of such extreme weather conditions. Texas was brutalized with severe drought conditions, raging wild fires and Rick
Perry. Oklahoma saw massive heat waves and the Oklahoma State football team get screwed out of playing for the BCS national championship. We had killer tornadoes in Missouri and Alabama and massive flooding in Tennesseee. And then Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey, Connecticutt and Vermont, leaving these states in worse shape than the Indianapolis Colts without Peyton Manning.

This weather was more extreme in 2011 than some statements made during the NFL and NBA lockouts, and one has to wonder if this will be the norm from now on or just a one-year cool hand fluke? It made for riveting watching on the nightly news, as I have always been amazed at how diverse the weather is around the fifty states. I mean, an earthquake in New Jersey? This would never have happened if Tony Soprano still had a back office at the Bada Bing club.

And speaking of our 50th state, when the reporters covering President Obama’s Hawaiian vacation were doing their standups, we could see dozens of people swimming in the warm tropical water in the backgound. This is while a good part of the country is shivering. God bless Hawaii. Anywhere you can wake up where the temperature is 72 degrees, the birds and papayas are singing and Steve McGarrett is on patrol is truly a plumeria paradise.

There was much evil and suffering in the world in 2011 and it continues to reign in 2012. What some people continue to do to others on this planet is unspeakable. That is why every day that you wake up with a healthy mind and body is a blessing that should never be taken for granted. Why bad things happen to good people will never be fully answered for me, so I take life one game at a time and always remember to re-up my TiVo programming every 12 days.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that after all the painful and difficult situations people have gone through over the past year, I came out relatively unscathed. Sure there have been moments of me not whistling Dixie (like New Year’s Eve morning,) but the overall picture still looks relatively bright, even if I’m not watching in HD. Both my parents (94 and 85) are still roaming the planet, everyone in my family is healthy, and our golden retriever just got accepted into law school. There’s always plenty of food on the table, so it seems I’m just one lucky boy who has a forum to make a small cyber contribution while displaying a little beauty from life when my camera isn’t on the injured list.

So although the holidays have passed, it’s still looking a lot like Christmas here at Sunrise Santa Cruz, as for our photo replay, we are venturing back to the night of December 25. It was a very spiritual day, as the NBA kicked off its shortened season with five back-to-back games on the inner tube.

But while these millionaires in shorts were jamming and slamming, the evening sky was lighting up like Ray Allen from the three-point stripe, treating holiday beachgoers to this exciting show. I decided to observe the festivities from the sands of Natural Bridges State Beach. It was an entertaining low tide experience, and one that I was excited to share with my mistletoe and menorah fans.

And as a bonus, the final shot is from local photographer Judy Bingman, who made the trek on Christmas Day down to Pfieffer State Beach in Big Sur to capture this spectacular sunset. She had hoped to shoot the light coming through the arch at sunset, but instead had to settle for the panaromic moment of holiday reflection.

So that’s a brief look back at 2011, as we move on to the new year of hope, dreams and NFL and NBA playoffs . And this one is a biggie, as my friends and compatriots from the Fort Lee high school class of 1970 all will be turning the big 60. That’s a frightening number to write, no less say.

So I’m hoping it was a good holiday season. With the latkes and jelly donuts behind me, I can now get back to focusing on the important things in life, like keeping Jason’s high school basketball stats. We’ll catch you making amazing plays from the slot back position. Aloha, mahalo and later, Victor Cruz fans.

September 4, 2011

Pardon Me, I’ve Got A Fog In My Throat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:26 am

Good morning and greetings, Labor Day fans. The action really picked up last week during my morning walks along West Cliff, as a south swell hit the coast, bringing with it big waves, big rides and huge hopes that the dreary coastal fog might actually blow away before I start carving my vegan Thanksgiving turkey.

Personally, I don’t have anything against fog, which is defined as a gathering of water droplets that are partying in the air at the Earth’s surface. However, when it comes to pea soup, I prefer it in a cup instead of hovering along the coastline. Speaking for myself and I believe, a large percentage of sweatshirt-wearing folks on the central coast, now that it’s September, let’s hope the party is over.

But as we know, if it’s summertime, that means the Yankees and Red Sox will be going at it in the A.L East and a thick layer of home-grown coastal fog will be parked along Monterey Bay. In a story last month in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, writer Lily Drayton gave us the inside scoop of our moist summer friend that like some relatives and friends, just doesn’t know when to leave.

Fog plays a vital role in making sure that Monterey Bay lives up to its name on the beauty front. The fact that fog could disappear from the coast has caught the attention of scientists, waitresses and skimboarders, as these crystal droplets in the atmosphere play almost as an important role in our lives as my updated TiVo programming.

According to Emily Limm, the director of science at Save the Redwoods League, “what’s important about fog is timing — it occurs in the summer months when there is no rainfall in California.” The fog provides much-needed water to plants in a time of drought while keeping moisture in the ecosystem, much like putting a lid on an empty jar of Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce.

Fog thrives on the central coast because of the temperature difference between cool ocean water and warmer air. We get slammed here because Monterey Bay is a giant canyon, with deep cold water that is chillier than the look I got when I sauntered into my draft board back in 1970. When the summer breezes that gather over the Pacific hit the ice water in the Bay, the air chills and all of a sudden it’s condensation city and we’re
socked in.

For the folks that study fog for a living, the central coast is nirvana with a young Kurt Cobain. In the words of Daniel Fernandez of CSU Monterey Bay, “There is something almost magical about fog, as it’s variable and constantly changing. We have a great living laboratory for fog in Monterey along with a tremendous example of clam chowder in a bread bowl at Phil’s
Fish House in Moss Landing.”

Now there has been much talk about the depressing amount of this daily drizzle from this past August. According to the National Weather Service in Monterey, there were 24 days of fog in August 2010 and 25 in 2011. Now I will admit under oath that I was gone the first week of August. But according to my statistical estimations of my algorithmic calculations, there were two sunny mornings last month, which means it was one depressingly foggy month for beach goers. To this mild-annered reporter for a great metropolitan blog, it seems like it has been getting foggier every year. But lo and behold, this is not the case.

According to Professor Todd Dawson of UC Berkeley, word on the street and a recent study shows that coastal fog in California has declined since the 1950’s. Over the last 60 years, the fog and my hopes and dreams have dropped by more that 30 percent. Dawson says because the air temperatures are warming up, so are the oceans, and if that warm air is not hitting the cool ocean, then we’re not fogged in, we’re fogged out. But as the boys from Foghat would say, “Slow ride, take it easy.”

Moving along on the fog front, for you tree lovers, the redwoods gather 30 to 40 percent of their moisture from coastal fog. They are more dependent on this moisture than my parents are on me, who expect a gourmet dinner delivered every night from yours truly. And as Dawson adds ,”Redwoods trees wouldn’t achieve their great heights if they didn’t have the boost of a fog bank every summer.” And size does matter. But remember, only God can make a tree. And only you can prevent forest fires. And Forest Whitaker.

On today’s photo laugh track, we are not featuring fog, but instead some scenes that would be emotionally available to us if the coast weren’t socked in every morning like a wet gray blanket. We return to Kauai as the first two shots are a sunrise taken on the north shore skies above Hanalei. Next comes sunset on lovely Hanalei Bay. Photo credits go to my gluten-free brother Brad, who is chomping at the bit to be dropped off on top of a glacier in Alaska next winter so he can go heli-snowboarding down it. I was planning on going with him but recent blood tests revealed that I’m allergic to terror and prone to night sweats when I’m within 100 yards of a large persistent body of ice.

The final two shots are from a August sunrise over Poipu Beach on the south shore of the Garden Isle. And since I don’t want you to go completely cold turkey without some info from Hawaii, here’s a news flash. The future island of Loihi is being created 20 miles southeast of the Big Island. It’s still about 3,200 feet below the surface of the ocean, so hotel rooms, tropical lauas and sunset catamaran cruises are still available at bargain prices. Stay tuned for more details and savings coupons.

On to the late night. “Dick ‘Kaboom’ Cheney has written a book, and he says he wouldn’t change anything. He feels strongly about this. He’d still invade the wrong country.” –David Letterman “Dick Cheney’s new memoir contains some startling surprises. For example, he is still alive.” –Jay Leno

“Gadhafi is apparently on the run, though today he released a message congratulating Beyonce on her pregnancy. “Moammar Gadhafi had escape tunnels, gold plumbing fixtures, and pictures of Condoleezza Rice. It’s like I have a twin.” –David Letterman

“President Obama’s popularity is slipping while he’s on vacation. When he went for a walk on the beach, the tide went out.” –David Letterman “President Obama’s uncle has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. “How sad is it for the uncle? He got thrown in jail and the only relative he could call for bail money is $14 trillion in debt.” –Jay Leno

“Our thoughts go out to everyone on the East Coast waiting for Hurricane Irene. In Washington, D.C., thousands of people have been left without power. They’re called Democrats.” –Craig Ferguson “John McCain turned 75 today. He thought Hurricane Irene was a flapper he had a crush on in the ’20s. On Friday the world’s oldest woman celebrated her 115th birthday in Georgia. John McCain said, ‘Irene!?’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my first jolt for the month of September. So enjoy what I hope will someday be the beginning of Indian summer, U.S Open Tennis and the start of the NFL season. And of course, the 90 minute season premier of the “Sons of Anarachy” on Tuesday. That’s feel-good TV at its best. We’ll catch you coming off the mound. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ivan Nova fans.

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