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 31, 2014

Kauai Am I Still Writing This Blog?

Good morning and greetings, Labor Day fans. For some, the first Monday in September celebrates the American labor movement, a tribute to the contributions American workers have made to the prosperity of our nation. For others, it symbolizes the end of our summer dreams, when life is good and the living is easy.

But for the rest, it’s just another three-day holiday weekend, because as soon as Tuesday rolls in, it’s like we never skipped a beat. I believe it was either the Reverend Al Sharpton or Aristotle who said, “The end of labor is to gain leisure.” But I prefer to quote from the Talmud, where it is written, “No labor, however humble, is dishonoring, with the exception of blogging.”

So when we left off last week, I had just arrived at our oceanfront rental in Anahola. I knew we were going to a place of extreme beauty, but I was still overwhelmed when we entered the premises. The color of the water looked fantastic, and there wasn’t a drop of kelp or seaweed for thousands of miles.

I thought to myself, “Hemolele i ka mâlie,maika`i nô Kaua`i,” which means, so perfect is the calm, so beautiful is Kaua’i. I was ready for a week in paradise, to be surrounded by the ocean, the trade winds and the gentle sounds of my neighbors partying from the house next store.

Yes, lo and behold, there was some festivities going on, as preparations were in place for some impending nuptials the following day.

It turned out being a beautiful ceremony, and afterwards I congratulated the happy couple and left them with this thought. The only dreams that matter are the ones you have when you’re awake, so recycle your damn beer cans and get the hell out of here.

And just like the gigantic butterfly tattoo on the bride’s shoulder, they flew off, never to be seen again.
So the first couple of days we just hung around our Hawaiian hacienda, enjoying the beachfront experience. Fortunately, we had all brought water shoes with us, as the beach out in front is on a coral reef, which is a little rough on the feet. But with the water temperature a delicious 81 degrees, it was all good, as I spent time trying to perfect my dead man’s float.

The next day my daughter wanted to go to her favorite beach, so we drove west through Princeville and Hanalei before reaching Lumahai Beach. There are no signs marking this spot, you just park on the road and hike down through an exotic tropical jungle. There’s no lifeguards, just signs warning you about strong rip tides, powerful backwash, and treacherous shorebreak waves. Perfect for families with young children.

This beach is exotically beautiful, as when you enter you see black lava rock along with crystal clear blue water and golden sand. The beach is very swimmable in the summer time, and if you get their early, you can have a slice of tropical paradise all to yourself.

Kauai gets a lot of precipitation, as these frequent rain showers make the north shore is as lush as on any island on the planet. Fragrant plumeria flowers bloom all year round, and walking through a tropical rain forest after a liquid shower is a frenzy of excitement for the olfactory senses.

We stopped for lunch in the lovely little town of Hanalei on the way back. When off the mainland, we only dine in the finest establishments, so we hit L & L Hawaiian Barbecue for the traditional plate lunch of two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni salad and a hot entree, which included teriyaki chicken, barbecued beef, short ribs and enough chicken katsu to feed Detective Steve McGarrett and cast and crew of the new “Hawaii Five-O.”

A couple of days later, we hit the road again, this time to Tunnels Beach on the north shore. We arrived at 10 o’clock and the parking lot was overflowing. When on vacation, I need to be quarantined from other tourists, so although the beach is snorkel gorgeous, it was not a memorable trip, except for this shot of a local holding his board while checking out the surf. I spoke to him briefly and he said he was due for a light trim.

On the way home we stopped at the magnificent St. Regis Princeville Resort, where the rock lobster entree will run you $63 in the Terrace Restaurant. It comes a la carte, but with a tremendous view of Hanalei Bay.

Overlooking the majestic Hanalei mountains, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. The St. Regis introduces an unparalleled level of sophistication and serene luxury to one of the most remarkable destinations in the world. And that’s the way I roll.

Now one afternoon, my daughter’s friend came running in yelling,”Geoff, get your camera, there are turtles hatching down the beach.” Well, before you could say “Jacques Cousteau,” I was watching baby sea turtles crack out of their shells, hit the water, and then take their first strokes before heading out to sea.

It was an amazing sight, as there must have been sixty eggs shells scattered around. There were another thirty eggs buried in the sand, but they were just empty shells the following morning. It was one of those Animal Planet/National Geographic moments, but with no commercial interruptions.

So our week in paradise went by quickly. One of our neighbors on Aliomanu Road gave me a bunch of mangos plucked right off her trees, along with papayas and lychee fruit, which I hadn’t sampled before. The downing of those juicy mangos was a religious experience, something I wished at I had at my bar mitzvah alongside the gefilte fish.

Mount Waialeale on Kauai is the second rainiest spot on Earth, averaging 440 inches per year. It’s where umbrellas go to die. The constant rain showers on this Garden Island produce fantastic waterfalls. So on the way back to the airport we dropped in to see Wailua Falls. On the way there we ran across a wild boar and her piglets, which made me feel a lot better about not ordering the baby back ribs special the night before.

Moving on to the photos. The first shot is Lumahai Beach, where they filmed “South Pacific”, and then on to Tunnels Beach, where I ran into my dreadlocked friend. Then it’s the view of Hanalei Bay from the St. Regis Resort.

The next photo is one of our neighbor’s papaya trees, before moving on to the baby sea turtle exiting his shell, and then what this bad boy is going to look like when he’s a bit older. We then finish up with the majestic Wailua Falls, where you can just drive up and shoot from the roadside. Now that’s the aloha spirit.

Next week, sunrises and more, so stay tuned.

Now here is comedian David Cross’ favorite joke. So a guy’s walking down the street. He sees a friend approaching him, and his friend has a Band-Aid on his forehead. And the guy says, “What happened?” The friend says, Oh, my God, this was f**king nuts, man!

I was at this rooftop party on the 12th floor, sitting on the edge, and a gust of wind blows me off the building. Twelve stories up. Unbelievably, there are these to clotheslines about three stories down that break my fall. I sort of bounce over them, and end up hitting this awing, and then I bounce off the awning into the pile of mattresses.

And then I bounce off the pile of mattresses and get flung up another 20 feet in the air, ‘I’m dead,” but then I land on this open truck hauling marshmallows. And you know, I scratched my forehead with my finger at one point.

And the guy’s like, “Holy sh**t! You must be the luckiest man alive.” And his friend says, “No, no, no. That’s Jim Belushi.”

So that’s part two of my Kauai adventure. Next week you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know and more about this lovely Garden Isle.

We’ll catch you two making the sequel to one of the great comedy movies of my generation. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels 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.

August 3, 2014

Summer-Don’t Leave Home With It

Good morning and greetings, August fans. Now what red and white blood celled American doesn’t look forward to a summer vacation? Whether it’s renting a cabin on Mosquito Lake, visiting Yosemite or the Grand Canyon or just sitting around in your backyard relaxing like a mental patient, everyone loves a summer sabbatical.

For our nation’s students, it means two to three months weeks away from the grind and pressure of homework, tests, incessant bullying and the cafeteria’s salisbury steak.

But it wasn’t always like this. According to the folks at tidbit.com, back in the early 1800s, around the birth of John McCain’s babysitters, schools went year-round as the National Lampoon and summer vacation had not yet been invented.

Then along came a spider and Horace Mann, the great education reformer, who worried that overstimulating the minds of children could lead to mental breakdowns, insanity and worst of all, low SAT scores. Educators worried that if there were no breaks to take children away from schools, the insane asylums would be filled with teachers. Or in the words of Woody Allen, “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

So in the 1840s, the summer break was created. Everyone was now happy as a clam, as teachers and students got that much needed break from one another. Meanwhile, doctors no longer had to be concerned about children spreading disease while packed in like sardines inside sweltering classrooms.

As the sign reads at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., “There are three good reasons to be a teacher-June, July and August.”

Now transitioning into August, it tis the season when the Gilbert Family Robinson takes their annual trip to the South Pacific. It is a time for relaxation, rejuvenation, reincarnation and macadamia nut elation, in a land filled with aloha spirit, fresh papayas and angry Hawaiians.

Unfortunately, our son Jason will not be going to the islands, as he’s in Santa Barbara taking an organic chemistry lab class, which I never had the pleasure of partaking in as a sociology major. It’s the first time the four of us will not be together enjoying chicken katsu and macaroni salad in this tropical paradise. But we’re taking our daughter’s friend along because we like even numbers.

So we are heading over to Anahola Bay, on the northeast shore on the Garden Island of Kauai. We rented a house right on the water, so life shouldn’t be too stressful. I’ve been looking forward to it all year, and can’t wait to feel the trade winds and the sand beneath my feet while exploring the Napili coast and the food aisles at the Costco in Lihue.

So I’m taking a two week break from the blog, and shall return to these pages on August 25. So let me say to all of you aloha kakou, which translated means may there be love between us and don’t bother texting me.

So for today’s photo conference, we are heading down to West Cliff Drive on the morning of February 18. It wasn’t a spectacular sunrise by any means, but the sky lit up with some gentle red clouds which turned into a light orange sherbert sundae float. And then the sun rose up through the lighthouse and all was good on a winter’s morning.

On to some late night humor. “According to French officials, the gardens at the Louvre have become overrun with rats. Officials later apologized and promised to refer to us as Americans in the future. Wikipedia is now accepting donations using the online currency Bitcoin. So now you can support information you’re not sure is true with currency you’re not sure is money.” – Seth Meyers”

Seventeen siblings from New Jersey just won $20 million in the lottery. When asked how they plan to spend the money, they said, “Remodeling the shoe we grew up in.” The TSA is offering a $5,000 reward for the best idea on how to speed up airport security lines. So far the best idea is making a line for people who know what they’re doing and another line for people who have never been to an airport before.” – Jimmy Fallon

Actor Orlando Bloom threw a punch at Justin Bieber last night during an argument at a night club in Spain. Orlando’s hand was pretty sore today, you know, from all the high-fives he got. A new study found that having a sense of purpose can actually help you live longer — While having a sense of porpoise can help you swim longer. – Jimmy Fallon

So birthday wishes go out this week to my daughter Aimee, who is turning sweet 17 on Thursday. She’s beautiful and ambitious, and I am very proud of her and the rabbit ranch she’s currently running out of her bedroom.

Also celebrating his birth on this date is my old Hermose Beach pal and financial consigliere Bruce Meyers, who smiles every time he hears the word “strand.”

So that’s my story. We’ll catch you making blockbuster trades as GM of the Oakland A’s, as you’re going for it all this baseball season. Aloha, mahalo and later, Billy Beane fans.

September 15, 2013

The Bay Of The Jackal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:41 am

Good morning and greetings, late summer fans. You know, life is full of surprises and prizes, and I don’t just mean the kind you find in a box of Cracker Jacks. If you keep your eyes open and your wings spread, you never know what you’ll encounter in the the journeys that lie ahead.

So with that thought, let’s go back to last Tuesday, when a light rain and my radio career were falling when I awoke. Since the coast looked drearier than the news I had received the day before, I decided to try and clear my head by walking around my neighborhood. It’s not nearly as exciting as skipping along the edge of the continent, but it does get my heart pumping and that’s just what my psychiatrist ordered.

So with my Steely Dan poncho on my back and my trusty golden companion leading the way, we set off into the mist. What immediately came to mind was a couple of classic Woody Allen lines, “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable,” and ‘Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering-and it’s all over much too soon.” Okay, so I was a little down.

But what happened next caught me completely by surprise, as standing not 30 feet away was a large coyote, who was licking his lips like wanted to order something off the menu. Now I’ve partied with a few of these jackals on the westside, and my greatest coyote moment was when I photographed one in the rain outside of Natural Bridges State Park. The amazing thing was that when I first saw him, I was without my camera, so I raced home and luckily when I returned, he was still there, talking to an insurance salesman.

So there he stood, his tan pelt dusted with moisture, eyeing my two legs like a couple of medallions of cocker spaniel. I waited at the edge of the arroyo, hoping for a roadrunner to zoom by so as to distract him from sizing me up like a Yom Kippur appetizer. And after a few minutes, this wily creature trotted down the street and disappeared back into the Animal Planet. I stood there and quietly took my place back at the top of the animal kingdom.

Now early one morning two weeks ago, I watched the movie “Life of Pi,” the story of a boy who is shipwrecked and ends up stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger and Cincinnati Bengal’s cheerleader. The film was a visual masterpiece, and the 3D images of fish, waves and clouds were extraordinary. With these images seared in my mind like some ahi tuna, I headed down to West Cliff, and was immediately taken in by the flocks of the birds flying over the water.

In my mind I was back in movie mode, but this was the real thing, and it was fantastic. I then equated the relationship between the boy and the tiger onto my oceanside journey with my golden retriever. While there was not a life and death issue at stake, she can be as dangerous as the big cats if you don’t pet her enough.

Right then a large chain of pelicans came upon us. Now flocks of pelicans flying by are no big deal, but this group seemed to have no end. I immediately started to count, and I gave up when I hit 160. The gathering was at least 200 strong, and I just stood there and watched in amazement as these prehistoric-looking birds kept changing formations and exchanging tweets as they headed north up the coast.

This image marinated in my mind all week, and then last Wednesday, I was back again on West Cliff in search of answers to the question, “Why do bad things happen to people with good hair?” But before I could take a look within, wave after wave of pelicans flew by in formations on their way south. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. There was something incredible happening to the south in Monterey Bay, and it wasn’t the combo seafood sliders at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing.

I later learned these fish-loving sea birds were joining an epic number of humpback whales, who were feasting on the massive anchovy blooms in the bay. In an article written by Nadia Drake for wired.com, marine biologist Nancy Black says there were “tons and tons” of anchovies in the area, more than have been seen in years. She spotted one school estimated to be 200 feet deep and more than a mile long by the way Sheryl Crow flies. Black estimated that there were 250 whales in the bay, the most she’s seen in her 26 years in the area, which has provided folks with the best whale watching since the humpbacks left Notre Dame.

And best of all, sports fans, this wild scene with the humpbacks blowing giant underwater bubbles to herd the fish into a bait ball and then go to town was happening right in the giant submarine canyon located in our front yard. It’s nature gone wild on Monterey Bay. I chalk it up to another prize awarded along the journey, but one that requires some dramamine for those of us who aren’t so crazy about the motion of the ocean, if you catch my continental drift.

So for today’s floral display we are heading back to our 50th and most tropical state. My brother Brad joined us on our recent adventure to the Garden Isle, and the home he stayed in had grounds that looked like botanical gardens. The variety of exotic plants were simply amazing, with one flower more vibrant and exotic than the next. But being a simple man, its the basic garden variety plumeria (photo #8) that does it for me. The fragrance of these flowers drives my olfactory system aloha wild. It is the true scent of the islands. Well, either that or Old Spice.

On to the late night humor. “Fox opposes a Syria peace plan because its modus operandi is to foment dissent in the form of a relentless and irrational contrarianism to Barack Obama and all things Democratic, to advance its ultimate objective of creating a deliberately misinformed body politic whose fear, anger, mistrust, and discontent is the manna upon which it sustains its parasitic succubus-like existence.” –Jon Stewart

“You can tell that fall is coming. The leaves are changing faster than the White House position on Syria. “A new survey found Americans clicked on Miley Cyrus stories 12 times more often than stories about Syria and President Assad. Well, that makes sense. Wouldn’t you rather watch a twerk than a jerk?” –Jay Leno “John Kerry has given Syria one week to hand over its chemical weapons. And if they don’t . . . he’ll give them another week.” –Jay Leno

“Secretary of State John Kerry said that Arab countries have offered to pay the entire cost of unseating Syria’s president if we take the lead militarily. They will pay for the whole thing. See, this is how global politics works. We invade Syria to get money from Saudi Arabia that they got from us for putting their oil in our Japanese cars so we can pay back China all the money we owe them.” –Jay Leno

“The United States is going to make a deal with Russia and Syria. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s the deal: Syria will turn over their stockpiled chemicals and we send them Alex Rodriguez. Syria is now saying they will agree to give up their chemical weapons if Miley Cyrus agrees to give up whatever it is she is doing. McDonald’s is now serving steak. Nothing says fine dining like rolling down your car window and screaming out, “medium rare!” – David Letterman

“Today was the primary for mayor of New York City. The city had to use old, lever voting machines from the 1960s because the electronic machines were too hard to program. Of course, it was awkward when Anthony Weiner said, ‘That’s not a lever.’” –Jimmy Fallon “If Christine Quinn wins the New York City mayoral race, she’ll be the city’s first lesbian mayor. Which is why her campaign slogan is, ‘Christine Quinn: as far away from Weiner as you can get.’” –Conan O’Brien

So the final post of summer 2013 is in the books. For all of you Rosh Hashanah fans, I hope the upcoming year will be a sweet one. For New York Giant football fans, you have my severe sympathy.

We’ll catch you doing more than signing autographs and wowing a national audience by throwing for a career-best 464 yards in the loss to number one ranked Alabama. Aloha, mahlao and later, Johnny Manziel 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.

August 26, 2012

It’s An Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny, Yellow, Polka Dot Facekini

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:46 am

Good morning and greetings, Missouri Senate race fans. Well, it’s late August, and sun worshippers are still hitting the beaches in an effort to procure that all-important summer tan. As for me, I’m always tan on the inside. Or in the words of Woody Allen, “With my complexion, I don’t tan, I stroke.”

When folks hit the beach, they bring along sunbock, umbrellas and Yankee hats to make sure they don’t get toasted by the sun. Well, hold onto your SPF 50, beach lovers, as there’s a new beach craze hitting the sands. You’ve heard of the bikini. Well, get ready for the facekini.

This unusual beach accessory has been around in China for five years, but it is just now hitting the western cyber shores. The facekini is made of elastic fabric and covers a person’s entire melon and neck down to the collarbone. There are holes cut out for the neck, nose and mouths. Think Zorro in a Speedo.

So you ask, why are Chinese woman covering up their lovely faces at the beaches of Qingdao, which is in the eastern Chinese province of Shangdong, just down the road from Shama Lama Ding Dong? White skin is considered a sign of beauty in China. The Chinese have an old sayng that translates as “white skin covers up a hundred uglinenesses” and “soup not included on to-go lunches.”

Chinese women feel that tanned skin is not as pretty as white skin. Skin color is an indicator of your social status. Darker skin means you work outside in the fields or at a tanning salon, where summer never ends. The lighter you are, the wealthier and more professional and respected you seem. Having darker skin is reminiscent of peasants, laborers, farmers and NBA players.

So the female population in China is making sure their skin stays as white as the Aryan Brotherhood during the summer tanning season. Swimmers wear full-body bathing suits, while strollers carry umbrellas in full body armor while strolling along the streets of the city. Or in the words of the Lovin’ Spoonfuls. “Hot down, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.” Well, my friends, not in a facekini.

This item has become such a hit that vendors have gone facekini wild, with dozens of colors available, from electric blue to hot pink to sizzling rice soup. Personally, I prefer the Kung Pao purple. They also have different size eye holes, seam placements and turtleneck models for winter swimming. The cost ranges from $2 to $4, with a Friday special of buy one facekini at full price and get a half order of barbecue spare ribs.

For Chinese women, wearing a mask to the beach is no big deal. I, myself, am used to wearing a mask, but that is just to hide my emotions. But there are other benefits to the facekini. Not only does it shield wearers from UV rays, but it also keeps away pests like sharks, insects, jellyfish stings and kids playing smashball.

So when did being tan become the thing to do? In 1923, fashion designer Coco Chanel accidentally got sunburned while sailing aboard a yacht to Cannes. When she returned from the Riviera golden brown, her fans and followers went wild. So before you could say, “the healthiest tan is no tan,” an industry was born. Or as I recently told my wardrobe consultant,” I am made of blue sky and golden light, and I will feel this way forever…share the fantasy”-Chanel No. 5.”

For today’s photo ensemble, we are once again heading back to the South Pacific. This is your basic Garden Isle variety pack, featuring waterfalls, flowers, wildlife and traces of love, long ago, that didn’t turn out right.

Photo #1 is of Wailua Falls. which is your basic drive-thru waterfall located about ten minutes from the airport in Lihue. Personally, I prefer to hike in to shoot my subjects, cutting through the thick underbrush with a machete while fighting off leeches, but driving right up and shooting out the car window also works for me. Because of the gray sky, the shot did not include the everpresent rainbow that usually appears, so I just had to just settle for this majestic, 80-foot cascading river of macadamia nut love.

Then it’s on to Opaeka’a Falls, which flow all year round from Wailua River. The name dates back from days when walnut shrimp swarmed the river and were seen rolling in the turbulent waters at the base of the falls along the banks of macaroni salad with two scoops of rice.

We now move onto the wonderland that is the plumeria. This flower blooms year round in the islands, and it’s fragrance is right out of heaven, a combination of jasmine, gardenia and Old Spice. When you smell the beautiul blossoms of this plant, there is no denying that you are in paradise. As the say about leis, betcha can’t smell just one.

We then come to a Hawaiian octopus, which was caught by a fisherman from Honolulu, who came from a family where all eight brothers were divers. I watched as this eight tentacled octopus changed colors, and was amazed by the way it moved and its beauty. This exotic creature was later used that day as live bait in hopes of reeling in a 90 to 100 pound fish. Good things come to those who bait.

The final shot features an electric green fella that was from a band of geckos that spent the day lounging around in an Australian palm tree on the property. He didn’t have much to say, although he did mention that “15 minutes could save me 15% or more on car insurance.

On to the late night. “Today the Republicans are getting ready for the convention. They’re busy down there in Florida auditioning minorities.” –David Letterman “They’re now worried that Tropical Storm Isaac could hit Florida during next week’s Republican convention. But Florida is ready for it. Thanks to President Obama’s economic policies, many businesses down there are already boarded up.” –Jay Leno

“Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to develop into a hurricane in the next few days. Unfortunately, the Republican National Convention starts in Florida on Monday. The National Weather Service says the storm could reach category 5, which is strong enough to move Mitt Romney’s part to the other side of his head.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Rest assured, no matter how high those winds get, not a single hair on Romney’s or Paul Ryan’s head will move. They have guaranteed that. “Mitt Romney says if he is elected he will create 12 million new jobs in his first year in office – and that’s just for people to do his taxes.” –Jay Leno

“In a new interview with Fortune magazine, Mitt Romney says he wants to cut funding for PBS. When he heard that, Oscar the Grouch was like, ‘Seriously? I already live in a garbage can — how much worse can my life get?’” –Jimmy Fallon “Paul Ryan just released his tax returns for the last two years, and it turns out he and his wife had a combined income of over $323,000 last year. To which Mitt Romney said, ‘See, I do reach out to poor people.” –Jay Leno

“Happy birthday to gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt. He turned 26 this week. You know the sad thing? His world record time has already been broken by Republicans running away from Missouri Congressman Todd Akin. He announced that he is staying in the race. Is that a surprise? A guy who knows so little about a woman’s body doesn’t know when it’s time to pull out.” –Jay Leno “Mitt Romney has asked Todd Akin to step down. That’s too bad. Todd Akin was the guy to lead the Republican Party into the 16th century. Akin apologized on Rachel Ray’s show and then they made veal mea culpa.” –David Letterman

So that’s an update from the shores of the People’s Republic. I’m not even going to bring up the lunacy of 66 American troops being killed in Afghanistan in August, the single deadliest month since the war began in 2001. The first 1,000 U.S casulties occured over a ten-year period. The next 1,000 happened in 27 months. These aren’t just numbers, they are brave Americans with families. How about a surge to bring them home?

We’ll catch you showing everyone, why at 21 years-of-age, you’re the best player in baseball this season. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mike Trout fans.

August 19, 2012

Thou Shalt Not July

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 4:20 pm

Good morning and greetings, NFL training camp fans. Well, the glow from a week in paradise is still with me, but the memories of the sweet papayas and warm trade winds are growing fainter by the day, much like the chances of Sarah Palin being invited to perform her stand-up routine at the GOP convention. I have slowly readjusted to mornings on the central coast, which I like to refer to as the “Seven Shades of Gray.”

This is not a complaint, just an observation of the everpresent marine layer that makes me feel like I’m stationed at Camp Pendleton. Or in the words of Ronald Reagan. “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they have made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.” Nor do the Kardashians.

I believe it was either David or Robert Frost who once said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the toll road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” I love cruising down this weekly cyber highway of adventure. I remember telling my babysitter back in my first year of colllege, “Never be afraid to do something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.”

So that’s the thought that I bring to this posting every week. I’m hoping in some small way that my photos and thoughts are making a difference in people’s cyber existence. In the words of Tom Brokaw, “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” And I believe it was either Joyce or Val Kilmer who once told me, “Poems are made by fools like me, but at crunch time, only God can make a three.” Okay, so I’m NBA paraphrasing.

So let’s get down to business. July 2012 will be remembered for its brutal, scorching, unrelenting heat. Highways were buckling, planes were trapped on runways in melted asphalt while the earth cracked all over the midwest. July was hotter than the U.S. Women’s gymnastic team’s Q Rating, which right now is higher than a Michael Phelp’s Louis Vuitton ad.

In a story written by Seth Borenstein for the Associated Press, it has been officially confirmed by federal scientists and the cast of “Baywatch” that this past July was the hottest month ever recorded in the lower 48 states. Climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center was standing up straight when he said, “It’s a pretty significant increase over the last record.” In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl and the New York Giants victory in the Super Bowl to argue that the recent heat isn’t unprecedented.

But Crouch says the current year “is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years.” The average temperature in July was 77.6 degrees. That breaks the old record from July 1936 by 0.2 degree. Records go back to 1895, CDs to 1979 and 8-Track tapes to 1964, when the Beatles and Rolling Stones first sailed to America and landed on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation. And August 2011 through July this year was the warmest 12-month period on record. According to Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the record in July isn’t such a big deal. “But the fact that the first seven months of the year are the hottest on record is much more impressive from a climate standpoint, and highlights the fact that there is more than just natural variability playing a role: Global warming from human activities has reared its head in a way that can only be a major warning for the future.” In the words of Al Gore and Foreigner, “Urgent, urgent, emergency.”

As of this writing, 63 percent of the nation is experiencing drought conditions. 70 wildfires are burning in 13 states west of the Mississippi. Two million acres were scorched in July. Throughout the midwest, the massive heat has warmed lakes up to 80 degrees plus, causing massive fish n’ chips kills. If this is the new normal, then we’re all in trouble. Or as Whoopie Goldberg once told Billy Crystal, “Normal is nothing more than a cycle on the washing machine.”

We’ll end this subject with a thought from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who took a moment to blast some colleagues and climate change contrarians.

“The seriousness of this problem is not lost on your average American. A large majority of people finally believe climate change is real, and that it is the cause of extreme weather. Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.

“These people aren’t just on the other side of this debate. They’re on the other side of reality. And don’t get me started on Mitt Romney and his tax returns.”

For today’s photo fondue, we are returning to the skies of the Garden Isle. Because of the Patriot Act, I decided to photograph each morning’s sunrise on Anahola Bay. What we are looking at are the peak moments from Tuesday through Monday, with Thursday taking the day off. Things really got interesting on Friday (photo #3), when the clouds turned vivid orange and red in a display of the color that I had never seen in the islands, either at sunrise or dusk. It was world-class, all the way. Or as one local told me, “I’ve never seen a sunrise this vibrant. And you have such soft hands.”

On the to the late night. “Mitt Romney kept his selection of Ryan as his VP nominee secret for more than a week. You know how he was able to keep it secret? He had it hidden next to his tax returns. Ever since it was announced Sarah Palin will not be speaking at the Republican Convention, the Romney campaign has been flooded with thousands of texts and emails demanding that she be allowed to speak… all from President Obama.” –Jay Leno

“During the announcement, Mitt Romney said that he and Paul Ryan are ‘America’s Comeback Team.’ You know, as in ‘come back in four years and try again.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Romney and Ryan kind of look like a father and son in an ad for Super Cuts.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Paul Ryan’s plan is to cut government spending with his razor-sharp widow’s peak…You could open a can of beans with that.” –Jimmy Kimmel “It was a great Olympics – Team USA finished the games with 17 more medals than China. China said it was tough to swallow – especially when they had to make all of our “We’re #1” T-shirts.” –Jimmy Fallon

Let’s end on a political note. According to NBC News, as of last Thursday, the spending on the 2012 presidential radio and TV ads has now surpassed the half billion mark. With $37 million spent just last week, the total is now $512 million. That’s about as much as was spent on the 2008 campaign, and it’s not even Labor Day.

The money goes to TV stations and the networks. Just in case you were wondering what other ways you could spend $500 million, you could feed 9.2 million malnourished children for 50 days, immunize 29 million children for life or provide clean water for 500 million children for 40 days. Instead, it’s just buying attack ads on TV stations. That’s obscene. Think anyone in America is hungry? Homeless? It’s disgraceful.

So on that happy thought, enjoy the warm days of August and remember this site is all about beauty and laughter. We’ll catch you showing everyone why you’re the only player in baseball, along with “Say Hey” Willie Mays, to have 3,000 hits, 1,200 RBI’s, 300 steals and 250 homers,. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter 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.

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