October 19, 2014

You Snooze, You Lose

Good morning and greetings, fall foliage fans. Yes, the leaves are changing color and dropping off the trees, as we are going through some changes here on the central coast. I believe our lovely 90 degree October days, much like me sleeping peacefully through the night, are now history.

Or as author Anthony Burgess once said, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Snore and you sleep alone.”

As my body and what’s left of my mind continues to age, I don’t believe I’m getting the proper amount of sleep. Now according to researchers, if it takes you less than five minutes to fall asleep, then you are very likely sleep deprived. The ideal amount of time is about ten minutes. I chime in at about ten seconds.

And to think, I used to be so good at sleeping that I could do it with my eyes closed

So some might say I am suffering from severe sleep deprivation. The problem is lately, I am now waking up every couple of hours for no reason at all. Even though I consume half of Lake Erie before I go to sleep, I never need to visit the men’s room. And I know it’s not my wife drop kicking me because of my snoring, because that is no longer a problem.

In the past, I would always fell asleep first, and that would drive her batty. But, problem solved, as she now has aids that render her safe and gentle sleep. She has offered to share, but I hesitate to take anything stronger than milk and cookies, as my body is a synagogue and I want to remain meditation and medication free for as long as possible, or at least until the opening of the NBA season.

I’ve always been an early riser, which works well in the sunrise business. But I am not in love with being awake in the four o’clock hour, and recently, that’s the time that my mind has decided it wants to go to work. Because when my brain goes on red alert, further sleep and dreaming is out of the question.

Oh, I try to go back to that unconcious state by thinking of pleasant experiences in my life, like my bar mitzvah party, being massaged like an eggplant and taking the SAT’s, but it rarely works. Once my concious mind gets ahold of the rolodex of thoughts that have been lingering from the previous day, it’s over, Johnny.

We all know that it’s torture not being able to sleep. Or being waterboarded by Dick Cheney. Many a night I have woken up and laid in bed like a mental patient, wishing for sleep to come back on, and always being denied. Listen, I love TV, but I don’t want to be watching the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” at 3 am.

Okay, maybe a little “Three Stooges, but my brain gets enough TV stimulation during normal business hours. And it better be an episode with Curly. “I’m a victim of soicumstance.”

In the middle of the night, I want my mind to be open only to dreams. When I dream during our REM (Rapid Eye Memory) Sleep, they are usually wild and crazy. But it’s the same dream during the non-REM phases that drives me nuts. I have dreamt it dozens of times over the last forty years. I’m at school and heading to a class that I’ve never attended and haven’t studied for the test. It’s always math. I have this uneasy feeling of not being prepared. Half the time I can’t even find the classroom.

Author James Baldwin, talking about dreams, once said, “The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened.”

Now I have always been a wild REM dreamer, as in my dreams I am frequently in company of celebrities, old high school friends and Miss Universe contestants. My subconcious life is much more exciting than my concious state, as the excitement has slowed down in my care giving years.

So by not getting enough sleep each night, I spend my day my day actively yawning. This act of inhalation and exhalation of of air is linked to exhaustion, stress, ISIS, overwork, lack of work, Ray Donovan, fatigue, boredom and watching the first eight innings of a baseball game. I’m taking drowsiness to a new level.

However, I know in paradise, everyone naps.

It seems like I’m always somewhat tired. I know I suffer from sleep apnea, but my doctor says if I’m not falling asleep while doing 65 on the freeway, then not to worry about it.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping. I have already slept twenty years. I not asking for much when it comes to sleep. As rocker Warron Zevon once quipped, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I just really want to pass that damn algebra test.

So for today’s photo library I am showcasing the first sunrise of the fall season. The day was last Thursday and the place Lighthouse Point. I hadn’t shot a sunrise since last February, and the view from the sand down at Its Beach and Steamer Lane was spectacular.

In the words of the Chicago Transit Authority, it’s “only the beginning.” And what a delightful and colorful entrance it was.

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On to some late night humor. “Right around the corner is the midterm elections. There’s an anti-incumbent mood in the country. People are sick and tired of people who have been in the job too long and are lazy and overpaid and out of ideas. Wait a minute. I’m sorry. That’s me. The administration now has a name for the war against ISIS. Every military operation has to have a name so people can get behind it, and they now have a name for the war against ISIS — Operation Hillary’s Problem.” – David Letterman

“I was very happy to see that our old friend Jay Leno is coming back to television. He’s coming back to CNBC and he’s got a brand-new show. Jay drives a variety of exotic vehicles, and each week he runs down a different NBC executive.” – David Letterman “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance yesterday in over 40 days. But since he saw his shadow, that now means 60 more years of nuclear winter.” – Jimmy Fallon

“On this day in 1912, President Teddy Roosevelt was shot, declined to go to the hospital, and gave a 90-minute speech with a bullet in his chest. Then on this day in 2012, I spent the whole day on WebMD because my eyelid wouldn’t stop twitching. Brad Pitt said in an interview this week that he doesn’t feel safe in his own home without a gun. Said Pitt, “I don’t even know half these kids.” – Seth Meyers

“For the last two months evil North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has been missing. Well, apparently he is back in public. It turns out he was buried in the end zone at Giants Stadium. He claims he was kidnapped by Neil Patrick Harris.” – David Letterman “Today they announced the Nobel Prize winner for economics. It went to the guy who sold Derek Jeter’s socks for 400 bucks ” – Seth Meyers

So that’s another week. Be grateful for your health and think positive thoughts for others much less fortunate.

We’ll catch you hitting a three run walk off blast in the ninth inning and sending the Giants into the World Series. Aloha, mahalo and later, Travis Ishikawa fans.

July 20, 2014

Now Batting, The Shortstop, Number 2, Derek Jeter

Good morning and greetings, national pastime fans. Last Tuesday, the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star game was played in Minnesota and broadcast by Fox TV. The wind was blowing out to left, which Fox News later blamed on President Obama.

Many who tuned into this summer classic were there to watch the final chapter of New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter’s all-star game experience. Jeter did not disappoint the baseball nation, as in his first at bat he smacked a double to rightfield and then later scored the game’s first run.

At age 40, Jeter still looks tremendous in those Yankee pinstripes. As a youngster growing up he dreamed of played for the Yankees. Early in his career he spoke from the heart when he said, “God, I hope I wear this jersey forever.”

For baseball fans, the game was a must see TV moment. Derek Jeter exemplifies everything that is good about sports. He is finishing up his 20th and final season with the New York Yankees, whose pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries and as a team are drowning in mediocrity.

But the Yankee captain has had a great run as a Bronx Bomber. As he says, “My office is at Yankee Stadium. Yes, dreams do come true.”

So this was a chance for the five-time World Series champion and baseball’s all-time leader in hits as a shortstop to step up once again and look good on the national stage. And that he did. Early on he made a nice play in the field and singled in his second at bat, before he was replaced and got a well-deserved standing ovation.

Retired Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson, a man with an ego the size of Manhattan, once said of the young Jeter, “In big games, the action slows down for him where it speeds up for others. I’ve told him, ‘I’ll trade my past for your future.’”

As for me, I’ve still have a great future behind me.

Derek Jeter exudes style and class as an athlete. He’s been a winner on and off the field, as his ex-girlfriends would put together a very formidable all-star lineup.

From Mariah Carey to a former Miss Universe to a Sport Ilustrated swimsuit model to actresses Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly and more, the the Yankee captain is the envy of many and is one of the most clutch daters of all-time.

So I’ll leave it up to former Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to put Jeter in perspective. “The name Derek Jeter is made for stardom. He’s got an infectious smile, and he’s so handsome and well-behaved. He’s just a fine young man who does everything right. He’s like Jack Armstrong and Frank Merriwell, guys I grew up rooting for. Some guys come along who just measure up.”

As they chant at Yankee Stadium, ‘Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter.” It has a nice ring to it.

Now growing up in New Jersey, baseball was my favorite sport. I started playing organized ball at any early age. During my first official at bat, I was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by a friend of mine.

Luckily I was wearing a batting helmet and I did not experience any effects of a concussion, although after that I had an incredible urge to take piano lessons.

My favorite baseball memory involves my old friend Steve Margolin. We pitched against each other in minor and little league growing up. He was the top dog on our side of town.

This led up to us dueling on the mound in the championship game at the Little League field. With the game on the line and runners in scoring position, I struck him out to end the game with three sidearm fastballs. Just pure smoke.

Stevie boy, the league’s home run champion, just stood stunned at home plate, as my coach and teammates carried me off the field on their shoulders.

It’s a fond memory for me and a nightmare for Steve. He recently told me he’s still shell shocked from whiffing on three straight pitches.

But what really irked him was the the smirk on my face after I threw it by him. What I would give for a picture of that.

After the game my father took me to Artie’s Luncheonette, where I celebrated with a chocolate milk shake. Some things in life don’t change. The memories just get a little hazier.

So in honor of the all-star game, today I am featuring an all-star sunrise. This was from the morning of February 4 down at Lighthouse Point, and is one of my favorite sunrises of the year.

The colors and the changes in the cloud were spectacular, and the reflection on the sand at Its Beach was amazing. This was a truly magnificent morning along the coast and what world-class sunrises are all about.

On to some late night humor. “Yesterday was the big World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. And if you caught only the last couple of minutes of the game, don’t worry – you saw the whole thing. During yesterday’s World Cup final, a guy ran onto the field with the phrase “natural born prankster” written on his chest — because nothing says good clean fun like spending the night in a Brazilian prison.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Well, it was an amazing weekend in sports. LeBron went back to being a Cavalier, Carmelo went back to being a Knicks, and soccer went back to being a thing you drive your kids to. Brazil’s coach resigned following the country’s historic 7-1 loss in the World Cup last week. He says he wants to spend more time focusing on not being murdered.” –Seth Meyers

“It’s a great day for a man in Brazil. He’s 126 and has been called the world’s oldest person. He says the highlight of his life was playing goalie for Brazil in this year’s World Cup. Yesterday, Iran asked the U.S. for an extension on disabling their nuclear program. When asked how much time they needed, they said, “10, 9, 8…” – Craig Ferguson

“According to a new report, 81 percent of people would cheat on their partner if there were no consequences, while 19 percent of people are pretty sure this is a test.” – Seth Meyers “Authorities at the airport in Los Angeles intercepted an illegal shipment of 67 live giant African snails. It’s being called the world’s slowest perp walk.” – Conan O’Brien

So the summer moves along. We’ll catch a pod of about 15 of you returning to Monterey Bay last week for an anchovy feast at Moss Landing. Aloha, mahalo and later, humpback whale fans.

July 6, 2014

Don’t Swett The Small Stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:12 am

Good morning and greetings, workout fans. Four score and ten pounds ago, my doctor, in an effort to lower my cholesterol and keep me from turning into the Goodyear Blimp, told me I needed to exercise more. She didn’t mean just ramping up my gentle morning strolls along West Cliff. She wanted me to sweat, with blood and tears to come later.

Well, I took her advice under consideration, and then for the next ten months, not a drop of extra sweat, with the exception of my Saturday basketball outings, left my pores. I lived like a canteen.

Now these days I do a little running, with the emphasis on little, on my morning jaunts. But I’m still not working up a healthy sweat, except on my people’s Sabbath, when I hit the courts to try and conjure up a remnant of past greatness.

The reason I bring up this subject of perspiration, and this is a huge stretch, is because of a story I ran across this week written by IIyce Glink for Yahoo News.

People in America like to own things. Whether it’s a new car, boat, 80″ flatscreen TV or a Dean’s List certificate, we value our possessions. I always wanted a little piece of land and ended up with part ownership of a house in Poipu Beach, Kauai. Or as Roman philosopher Seneca put it, “What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.”

Well, hold on to your credit reports, as there is a unique real estate opportunity available. For the small price of just $399,000, you can own the tiny, and I’m talking miniscule, town of Swett, South Dakota. Population: 2, with Lance Benson and his wife, being the only two residents in this thriving mini metropolis.
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Swett, pronounced sweat, is about 70 miles outside the Badlands National Park. The park is a work of natural art, featuring fantastic views of beautiful, rock-like formations formed by winds and glacial erosion from 35 million years ago, or around the birth of John McCain’s early ancestors.

So the deal for this little piece of Dakota heaven includes 6.5 acres of prairie land, a garage-turned-tire-shop, a home, three trailers but no Starbucks. However, it does include the pride of Swett, the Swett Tavern. It’s a local watering hole that’s been a gathering place for decades. Where the elite meet to eat.

There’s not much crime, as no one has so much ever drowned in Swett. The town’s owners have changed a handful of times. A grocery store came and went, along with a 1932 post office, but no 24 Hour Fitness. The population peaked at around 40 people in the 1940′s, but those folks fled to the big cities. Now all their houses are gone, as images of a ghost town emerge.

But it’s the tavern that makes the town. In an interview with the Rapid City Journal, the newspaper from Swett’s nearest city, which is almost three hours away by car and six by buffalo, area resident Gerry Runnels said, “The tavern is the place is pretty much where the highway ends and the Wild West begins.” This is the land where Indian Chief’s Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Running Tab were laid to rest.

The tavern clientele includes local cowboys, pheasant hunters, wheat growers and relatives of Tom Brokaw. It had a reputation of being a rough-and-tumble kind of place, but now you can come in and have a meal with your family, rather than defend your family. I recommend the broken leg of lamb.

A friend of Gerry Runnels visiting from Seattle commented that Swett looked liked “a good place to be killed.” Runnels replied, “You could be killed anywhere. At least here it will be exciting.” A visitor from Oklahoma once remarked that “you need a Bowie knife to get in this place and a chainsaw to get out.” And remember to call ahead for reservations.

The owner of Swett, Lance Benson, is selling the town to focus on his burgeoning snake oil concession business. You can own the town but you can’t elect yourself mayor, because Swett is unincorporated, and you need at least 100 people or 30 registered voters to register as a municipality.

But there is one loophole: You can incorporate with just one person by forming a municipality for historical and educational purposes. So there are ways of getting around it. So don’t sweat the small stuff.

While we’re in this neck of the woods, I’m giving a thumbs up for the dark comedy crime drama “Fargo” on FX. It’s very quirky. As the producers put it. “This is a true story. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2006. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

For today’s photo entree we are returning to the morning skies above Lighthouse Point. The day was January 28, and the sky performed a colorful morning dance while going through some changes of light and texture. It was a nice beginning.

I’m just about done with the January highlights, but February was an exotic month in the skies. I still have over dozen sunrises and sunsets sitting out on the runway, so the hits will keep on coming.

No late night humor this week. We’ll catch you making unbelievable saves in World Cup play as goalkeeper for the USA soccer team. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Howard fans.

June 22, 2014

Time Keeps On Slippin’ Into The Future

Good morning and greetings, World Cup fans. As I child growing up in the Garden State of Tony Soprano, I was in love with sports. Whether it was football, baseball, basketball, kickball, stickball, tether ball, bocci ball or Lucille Ball, I was totally on board.

Sun up to sun down on weekends and summer months, you could find me on a field or some asphalt, bonding with the neighborhood crew while not having a care in the world. I enjoyed the feeling of competing and winning, as it had the same taste as a chocolate shake. Or as another Jersey guy, Coach Vince Lombardi, once said, ‘If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?”

So during my childhood wonder years, sports was my number one priority. But for some reason, the game of soccer never came across my radar. As a youth, I never recall playing this international game which is called football around the world. This led to later developing the theory that if God had wanted us to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms.

Now I know that this is not the world view, as soccer fans are as passionate and crazy as mad dogs. I’ve seen very little of the World Cup play, as I am still coming to terms with the NBA having gone into summer hibernation.

But word on the street has people buzzing about the Cup. Last week, the USA beat a very tough team from Ghana, a country the size of Rhode Island on steroids. The soccer nation swelled with national pride, while I was still contemplating the championship proclaimed by the San Antonio Spurs and the mental state of LeBron James.

People around the planet take this sport very seriously, or in the words of English soccer manager Bill Shankly, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” I say, the more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.

So one night last week, after my wife and I had finished watching an episode of “Halt and Catch Fire,” the new AMC series that replaced ‘Mad Men,” she remarked that time seems to be flying by. I thought to myself, when does it ever not?

Our son is now halfway through his undergraduate college career, with two years down and two to go. He did not follow in the footsteps of his father, who thought four years would be nice, but seven would be heaven. I was living the good life on West Cliff Drive, and was in no hurry to leave the academic world of the hardwood floors up at UCSC’s East Fieldhouse.

So I’m now in my seventh decade on the planet. Hitting the 60th birthday was fairly trumatic, as telling people I was that age was just nuts. 60! Now that I’m 61, all of a sudden I’m Roger Maris.

I don’t want to say I’m getting old, but in today’s mail I received a letter from the Trident Society, informing me that “cremation just makes sense,” as there would be no need for embalming, funeral homes, cemetary property, caskets, tiskets and taskets. And I would be helping the environment. Or in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift: that’s why the call it the present.”

So yeah, time is racing by. We’re more than halfway through June, and soon the July 4th holiday will be history. My daughter is going to be a senior in high school, but I’m not worried about any empty nest, as I believe she is determined to convert our house into a rabbit rescue haven.

Right now, she has two bunnies, Marvin and Scarlett, who are currently residing in her room. They’re pretty easy to take care of, as they only demand hay 24 hours a day. They are actually very cute, and if Aimee is lucky, one day within the next century she will actually be able to hold the grumpy Marvin.

So I’m hoping for a solution in Iraq and for them to stop pooping on Aimee’s floor. We all have our hopes and dream. As either Aimee or writer Jarod Kintz once remarked, “You know what I like most about people? Pets.
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We are all on our own paths. Time keeps rushing by faster than the speed of my DVR, and I’m just trying to hang on for the ride. It’s not always easy, as life is full of everyday challenges.

But remember, you know what they call the person who finishes last in their medical school class? Doctor.

All I know is “Life lives, life dies. Life laughs, life cries. Life gives up and life tries. But life looks different through everyone’s thighs.

So for today’s photo funnies you’re getting two January sunrises for the price of one. The first is from January 24, where I was shooting from Bird Rock along West Cliff Drive. There wasn’t any great color in the sky, but waves were pumping and the clouds were puffy enough, so it worked for me.

The second, which was from January 24, was kind of like a sunrise lite, with the muted red clouds briefly lighting up the sky above Lighthouse Point. The last two shots brought out shades of orange and yellow, and I enjoyed that, because in the words of Monty Python, “I’m always looking on the bright side of life.”

On to some good late night humor. “Congrats to the U.S. soccer team for beating Ghana in the opening round of the World Cup. Yeah, they did the impossible — getting Americans to watch soccer. “Alex Trebek has broken a world record for game-show hosts, after hosting 6,829 shows in his career. When asked how he’s made it through so many shows, Trebek said, “What is Scotch?” – Jimmy Fallon

“Yesterday, the Iranian president tweeted a picture of himself all alone watching a World Cup game on television. Yeah, then he watched his favorite show — “It’s Always Sunni in Philadelphia.” This morning the Pentagon announced that the United States has captured a leader responsible for the Benghazi attacks. Republicans were ecstatic and said, “So, they finally got Hillary?” – Conan O’Brien

“Match.com is charging $5,000 to set you up with someone who looks like your ex. You wouldn’t believe how many guys on Match.com once dated Kate Upton.” – Conan O’Brien “Rob Ford is running for re-election. He’s got a very catchy campaign slogan. You’ll see it on bumper stickers all over Canada: “The crack stops here.” – David Letterman “Kourtney Kardashian is reportedly pregnant. Just this morning I was thinking to myself, “There just aren’t enough Kardashians.” – Craig Ferguson

“Starbucks has teamed up with Arizona State University to create a program that will pay for Starbucks employees to get a college degree. Starbucks is doing this because without an educated workforce, nobody will be able to afford $10 for a cup of coffee.” – Jimmy Kimmel “Over the weekend Starbucks announced a new program that will pay employees to take online classes at Arizona State. Said Starbucks employees, “We already went there. That’s why we work at Starbucks.” – Seth Meyers

So that’s my report. Congratulations go out to my parents, and particularly my mother, as they are celebrating their 64nd wedding aniversary on Wednesday. I don’t want to say they rushed into it, but they were registering for gifts on their first date.

We’ll catch you leaving the announcing table at TNT and taking the head coaching job with the Golden State Warriors. Aloha, mahalo and later, Steve Kerr fans.

June 8, 2014

Pardon Me, I Have A Fog In My Throat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:00 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA Finals fans. Well, the June gloom has returned to the coast, excluding any sort of color in the sky during my morning treks along West Cliff Drive. Last week’s early morning weather could be described with one just word-dreary, with a nice touch of drizzle.

Now dreary is defined as dismal, boring, dull or sad, kind of like the state of the New York Yankees this season, with the exception of the Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. But it perfectly defines the state of the early morning sky, as it has been more than fifty shades of gray for the month of June.

However, the waves were still collapsing along the shoreline, the dolphins were jumping and the pelicans were flying through the fog in formations that have been more than impressive. If you like more than a touch a gray, and long for the climate of Pacific Northwest, then you were right at home last week, as we didn’t see traces of blue sky till early to late afternoon.

Which reminds me of a joke. It’s two o’clock in the morning and a husband and his wife are asleep when suddenly the phone rings. The husband picks up the phone and says, “Hello? How the heck do I know? What am I, the weather man?” promptly slamming the phone down. His wife rolls over and asks, “Who was that?” The husband replies, “I don’t know, it was some guy who wanted to know if the coast was clear.”

Moving along, the national weather scene was another story, as there was solid precipitation hurtling down on parts of the nation.

Last Tuesday, baseball-sized hail smashed homes and cars in Nebraska and Iowa, as powerful thunderstorms moved through a nice slice of Midwest states, bringing with it severe flooding, tornadoes and insurance claims.

The National Weather Service said the system involved a “training” of thunderstorms, which involves a series of storms following one after another, along with winds up to 100 MPH and drenching rain. It brings to mind the thoughts of writer Al Bernstein, who said, “Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.” Okay, so even the Big Guy (or Gal) is entitled to a mistake every once in a while.

Last Tuesday, the weather in Iowa was described as nasty, with the skies “black as the ace of spades.” There were 13 reports of tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. Weather forecasters main concern that night was widespread straight-line winds. As they like to say in the midwest, “It doesn’t have to rotate to be dangerous.” I say anger is only one letter short of danger.

This hail storm was monster by any standards, The most damage was done at a car dealership 30 miles outside of Omaha, where their brand new-vehicle inventory was sitting out on the lot Tuesday when the storm blew in. Approximately 4,500 new cars and trucks were nailed by the hail as the hoods, roofs, windshields were smashed to smithereens, with damages estimated at $162 million.

So if you’re driving through the Cornhusker State and are looking for some new wheels, this might be a good time to buy, as it will be discount city after they replace the glass and pound out those dents.

So what the hail is this about? Hail is frozen, solid water droplets formed at the top of thunderclouds that fall at speeds up to 120 MPH. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, hail causes approximately $1 billion in damage annually in the U.S. to houses, buildings, cars, crops and baseball hats.

If you’re a fan of this form of solid precipitation, the place you want to be is Hail Alley, a 625-square-mile area located near the borders of Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. This area receives an average of 9 to 11 days of hail per year, more than any area in North America, with Cheyenne, Wyoming being the hailstone capitol.

Approximately 24 people are injured each year by hail in the U.S. The last fatality attributed to this act of God was back in 2000, in Lake Worth Village, Texas. A 19-year old man was struck by softball sized hail while trying to move a new car and died the following day from associated head injuries. That’s why I always drive wearing a batting helmet.

The largest hailstone in terms of diameter and weight ever recorded in the U.S. fell in 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota. It measured 8 inches in diameter and 18.62 inches in circumference, weighing in at 1.93 pounds. According to the Weather Channel, it later fell in love, got married and now leads a quiet life out in the suburbs..

But as size matters, in April of 1986, huge balls of ice fell from the sky and crashed to the ground in Bangladesh. 92 people were reported killed as hailstones weighing more than two pounds and the size of mangos were the culprits.

Hailstorms can be deadly to nature. In 1953 in Alberta Canada, a giant hail storm smacked down on a five mile wide area, killing more than 36,000 ducks and ducklings. Four days later another hail storm passed through the same area, killing another 27,000 waterfowl and a hockey goalie.

Then in July 1978, 200 sheep died when baseball sized hail rained down on them in Montana. It was a sad week for animal lovers but a good week for lamb chop fans.

For our photo fun zone today we are returning to Lighthouse Point on the morning of January 12. The sunrise the previous day was outstanding, and I wasn’t that upset to return to the cliff on back-to-back days to take in the morning magnificence. The colors of the clouds and the reflection on the sand at Its Beach was spectacular, just the way world class sunrises ought to be.

On to some late night humor. “We bring back a POW, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, from Afghanistan and to get him back we traded five Taliban thugs. These guys were down in Gitmo and now they get freed after 10 or 15 years. So now they’re released and they get to fly home. And I’m thinking, if you go to the airport and you’re stuck behind these guys in security, good luck. “When they sent the Taliban thugs back to Qatar, they got picked up in a stretch camel.” –David Letterman

“The United States has traded an American POW for five Taliban prisoners. Originally, the deal included Joe Biden, but the Taliban said no.” – David Letterman “In a new interview, President Obama revealed that his daughter Malia recently went to her first prom. She wore a corsage on her wrist while her date wore a red laser dot on his head.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Last Friday CNN had its worst 10 p.m. ratings of all time, with only 35,000 viewers tuning in. I left it on for my dog, and when I came back, she was reading a newspaper. Tim Tebow said that he’s staying in shape in case he gets another opportunity to play in the NFL. Then his boss said, “That’s great, but these Waffle Tacos ain’t going to make themselves, so . . .” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our show. I’ve been posting some of my photos on Santa Cruz Waves. The link is https://www.facebook.com/santacruzwaves. Check it out, it’s all about living large in Santa Cruz.

We’ll catch you losing in the Conference Finals but still being the most explosive and exciting player in the Western Conference. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

June 1, 2014

The Daze Of May

Good morning and greetings, sports fans. April showers and May flowers, like my once perfect eyesight, are now history. I can still remember the day I realized I needed some cheater glasses. I blame it on the lemon chicken.

I was sitting inside a darkened room at O’mei, a restaurant on the westside of Santa Cruz that has been serving Chinese provincial cuisine with an understated elegance since 1979. For people in the know, it’s the best Chinese food in town. The only problem was that every time I walked out of the place, I was left wanting more.

But why point fingers? As my favorite Swami Tejomayananda once said, “If your heart is full, you don’t feel that hungry.”

Now I could have ordered more food and come away with a fuller belly, but at the time, my digestive tract was more suited for the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets, where I rarely left not totally satiated.

Back in the 80′s, these noon time feasts were always a Friday tradition, as we would roll out to the Mandarin Palace on a search and destroy mission, intent on devouring anything and everything that came down the pike. Egg rolls, pot stickers, fried rice, Condoleezza rice, beef and broccoli, cashew chicken, shrimp toast, french toast, chow fun, spare ribs, mu shu and grits, along with enough sweet and sour sauce to fill Lake Tahoe.

Back in those crab rangoon days, I was counting cream cheese filled won tons rather than carbs. The cooks would come out and fill the display trays. We would immediately empty them and eagerly anticipate the next round. It was the circle of life.

Or as the old Chinese proverb goes, “A peasant must stand a long time on a hillside with his mouth open before a roast duck flies in.”

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, I was trying to read the menu but I couldn’t tell if it was beef with baby corn or corn beef. One of the gentlemen at the table pulled out of pair of cheater glasses and before you could say, “red chili dumplings,” it all became clear. I had seen the light. Help was on the way.

Anyway, April started out in fine fashion, as the first round of the NBA playoffs got underway and were beyond fantastic. Everybody talks about the greatness of March Madness and college hoops, but this was full blown April insanity.

The opening round were all best-of-7 series, which means you have to win four times to advance. That leaves lots of time to sit around recapping the action and anticipating the what happens next.

The first round matchups featured San Antonio-Dallas, Oklahoma City-Memphis, LA Clippers-Golden State and Houston-Portland. Eight solid, exciting NBA teams. All wanted to move on in their quest for an NBA championship.

Turned out, three of the four series went the full seven games, while the fourth went six. Every night there was a game going down to the wire, and better yet, eight overtime contests, which is just a hoop dream. This was a two week stretch of wall-to-wall excitement, with fantastic finishes as the excitement kept building as the series moved along.

It was basketball heaven, as the first weekend in May brought us to the deciding game seven action. Then it was on to the semi-finals and then the conference finals. Now we are back to a rematch of last year’s finalists, which features the Miami Heat, led by the best player on the planet, LeBron James, who are gunning for their third straight championship and the San Antonio Spurs, who are seeking redemption for a title they had within their grasp last season but let slip away.

But as May brought joy, it also drew pain, as tragedy struck when a crazed madman slaughtered six students in a rampage in Isle Vista, which borders the UC Santa Barbara campus. The six killed were all UCSB students. None needed to die.

My son, a sophomore at UCSB, was there that night in the area where the shootings took place. For not some sort of fate, he could easily have been out on the street when the bullets were flying and never would have known what hit him.

Turns out, he knew three of the students who were slain, which is three more than needed in anyone’s lifetime. Jason has seen other friends and classmates die. It seems strange, as when I was growing up, I can’t remember anyone dying, except my dreams of playing in the NBA.

The shootings hit a little too close to home. When I saw the video of Richard Martinez, the father of Chris Martinez, who was shot and killed as he walked into a deli, his pain, grief and anger was heartbreaking. If Jason had decided to go out for some dessert, that easily could have been me being the new poster Dad for our latest national tragedy.

So this Memorial Day weekend was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. Jason’s life is now back to semi-normal, as as he is studying like a maniac for finals. The Isle Vista shooting are fading out of the national news cyle, replaced by other disasters around the globe.

But will this insanity ever end? We have gun and mental health issues that are out of control. Parents should not have to bury their children.

On today’s photo front, we are returning to Lighthouse Point on the evening of January 21. There was a lovely sunrise that morning, so this was a day that I took a double dip on the digital frontier. As you can see, the swell was up, as the waves had been pumping since dawn’s first light. They continued to roll in at Its Beach as the sun set, which delighted everyone who had gathered along the edge to take in the evening’s hazy festivities.

No late night humor this week so I’ll go with a couple of jokes.

A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named ‘Amal.’ The other goes to a family in Spain, they name him Juan’. Years later; Juan sends a picture of himself to his mum. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wished she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, ”But they are twins. If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”

A turtle was walking down a street in New York and suddenly got mugged by few snails. A policeman arrives to investigate the matter and asks the turtle, “Could you please explain to us about the incident.” The turtle not knowing what to say, replies, “I don’t remember. It happened so fast.”

So that’s our first blast for June. We’ll catch you coming up big down the stretch and leading your team in the quest of another championship. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Duncan fans.

May 18, 2014

Do You, You, Peel Like I Do

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:16 am

Good morning and greetings, plantain fans. If you’re like me and visit Safeway seventeen times a week, you’ve probably noticed the changing of the guard in the produce department. Where apples, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit once filled the bins, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches and strawberries have moved to center stage of this fruit frontier.

These tasty botanical treats are part of our life blood. I don’t think I’ve gone more than an hour over the last few months without injecting a California Cutie into my bloodstream. And it’s not because they’re super sweet and an excellent source of Vitamin C with an easy to peel zipper skin. They’re just the perfect snack and so portable for a blogger on the go.

But like the NBA, their season is soon coming to an end. Or as Mark Twain once put it, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”

So in my cyber travels, I came across this edibly delightful story involving an old friend. Last week, at a department store in Tokyo, Dole Fruits released 59 limited-edition premium bananas priced at 590 yen or $5.80 a pop.

They were Dole’s prized Gokusen variety, the best of the best, and were emblazoned with a fancy serial number and elegantly wrapped in a red felt gift box. A perfect gift for a birthday, bar mitzvah or the Sultan of Brunei’s fruit salad.

Now you or your grocer might be wondering, why in the wide, wide world of sports would someone fork over six bucks for a banana when you can pick up a half dozen for half the price?

Well, here’s the scoop. According to Japan Today, Dole scientists used 100 different types of bananas to breed what it deemed a perfect specimen. They then grew the resulting strain at an undisclosed location 500 meters above sea-level, where temperatures fluctuate at just the right range and speed for optimum sweetness.

All this research and development supposedly resulted in a banana that’s 36.5 percent sweeter, 33.4 percent more fragrant, and 40 percent better textured than conventional bananas. We’re talking banana royalty, as this must be one plastic fantastic, super delicious and extremely scrumptious banana.

You may be wondering, why only 59 bananas for this promotion? It’s just coincides with the date, which was 5/9, or May 9th if you’re keeping score at home.

It seems the Japanese are very particular about their produce. Another Japanese company ripens its bananas in a room with Mozart playing continuously because it results in a sweeter fruit. It’s the same reason why I blast out the Doobie Brothers while I’m taking a shower.

So this got me thinking. Bananas have been my companions all my life, from the early days of bananas and sour cream, to the college years of chocolate banana milkshakes to the present day fruit smoothies. And we both bruise easily, so I can relate.

So here’s a few fun facts about this starchy gem. Bananas do not grow on a tree, but are actually a giant herb. This makes the banana plant the largest in the world which does not have a stem made of wood. Until recently, I had two big banana palms adding a tropical touch to my backyard. They didn’t produce any fruit but did keep the rat and raccoon population under control.

A cluster of bananas sold in supermarkets is a “hand” of bananas, while the individual bananas on the hand are called “fingers.” The strings that go up and down the length of bananas are called “phloem bundles,” that help distribute nutrients to every part of the growing bananas. As Johnny Carson would say, “I did not know that.”

It is believed by many experts that bananas were the first fruit cultivated by humans. Why, I do not know. I would have gone with watermelon.

According to my first grade teacher, Miss Chiquita, bananas were introduced to the United States at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Celebration, where they were sold wrapped in foil for 10 cents each. And it wasn’t till 1923 that the banana split came along, when some visionary decided to cut the bananas length wise and then load on three flavors of ice cream and sauces, then garnish it with crushed nuts, whipped cream and finished off with cherries from the maraschino tree on top.

The term “banana republic” was coined by American writer O. Henry. It is a reference to any Latin American, Caribbean, or African country that was politically unstable, relied heavily on basic agriculture, was not technologically advanced and had no Gap Outlets. Like the country of San Marcos, that Woody Allen traveled down to in his movie comedy “Bananas.”

Woody played a New Yorker named Fielding Melish, who gets dumped by his girlfriend and then relocates to Central America to take part in a revolution and is named the country’s new president. Here’s a quick sample of his humor.

Fielding Mellish: “You busy tonight?” Norma: “Some old friends are coming over. We’re gonna show some pornographic movies.” Fielding Mellish: “You need an usher?”

The movie’s a classic. One of my all-time favorites. I have the poster hanging in my garage along with my track medals.

A boy boards a bus and sees a man sitting with a banana in each ear. He says to the him, ‘Hey mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” There’s no response. So he says it louder, “Hey, mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” Still nothing.

Finally, he screams at the top of his lungs. ‘Hey mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” At that point, the man looks up and says, “Sorry I can’t hear you. I’ve got bananas in my ears.”

Ah, the simple life.

Moving along to the photo parade, we return to Lighthouse Point and West Cliff Drive on the morning of January 11. This is the place where it all happens. This sunrise was beautiful from every angle as the clouds went through some interesting changes. But what I even liked better was the sunrise the next day, which was off the charts color wise. So stay tuned.

On to some late night humor. “Part two of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper aired on CNN tonight. It may have been the first time I’ve ever seen an apology that was more offensive than the thing being apologized for.” – Jimmy Kimmel “How about this weather, ladies and gentlemen. It’s 81 and cloudy, just like Donald Sterling. – David Letterman

“During his trip to the White House yesterday, Uruguay’s president said that more Americans should be bilingual. Then Joe Biden said, “Thanks, but I’m happily married.” – Jimmy Fallon “Dr. Dre may become the world’s first hip-hop billionaire. So maybe my mom was right. I should have become a doctor.” – Conan O’Brien

“It’s a very exciting time in television. This is the time when all of the networks and TV show providers get together and announce their new TV line-ups. CBS has a wonderful new show. It’s called CSI-SPU — Special Parking Unit. Justin Bieber is accused of stealing a cellphone from a fan. The police now say that he is at large. He’s armed and Bieberous.” – David Letterman

“New research suggests that people who are more ambitious will live longer. While people who are less ambitious will live longer with their parents. A new study claims that 1 in 10 Americans no longer carry cash. They’re called English majors.” – Seth Meyers

So another post is in the books. We’ll catch you being the mastermind of the most efficient running offense in the NBA while in the aiming for another championship. Aloha, mahalo and later, Greg Popovich fans.

February 2, 2014

Sunday, Sunday, Can’t Trust That Day

Good morning and greetings, NFL fans. Well, Super Bowl XLVIII is now a thing of the past, as yesterday America came together to consume more alcohol in a 24 hour period than on any other day of the year, with every other day, besides New Year’s Eve, coming in second. American, love it or drink it.

Being a non-consumer of the spirits, I only participate in the consumption of the 800 million pounds of guacamole along with 145,000 tons of chips consumed on this day. Of course, I always down a half dozen Hansens Natural Sodas made with real cane sugar to keep myself hydrated.

But this year, I hadn’t had time for the cane, as my doctor said if I don’t get my cholesterol down I’m facing possible castration. So no sugary liquids made it into my bloodstream. Face it, my body is a temple. Anyway, I don’t handle alcohol well. I’m more from the Woody Allen school of drinking, or as he once said, “The last time I had a drink I tried taking my pants off over my head.”

But that’s no reason for the rest of the nation not to party like it’s 1999. Yesterday, during the commercial-free battle between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, there was major consumption of food and drink. Because after all, this is America, and it was be the most super of Sundays.

It’s the way sports fans and raging alcoholics celebrate. Or as Frank Sinatra once chimed in, “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.” Well, Frank, I guess I’ll just have to continue doing it “My Way.”

But there was much pregame excitement leading up to the build up to the big game. Super Bowl fans spent more money on food, snacks and recreational activities than on a year’s worth of the national Obamacare bill.

Actually, at this point, between Covered California and Anthem Blue Cross, I’d be better off if I had signed up for Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care.

Back to the game. On the food front, we’re talking about the intake of enough slices of two topping pizzas and cheesy breadsticks to blanket the continental U.S. from the eastern seaboard to to pepperoni coast. If you line up the chicken wings and throw on some honey barbecue sauce, we could stretch that to Marshall Islands before halftime.

As for myself, I went low key on the snack front, as I’m trying to lower my hopes and triglycerides. I had some buffalo tofu fries, vegan snickerdoodles and a gallon sized chocolate milk shake, so I was good for three quarters. The fourth quarter was just lots of lemon water to satisfy my sugar cravings and a big plate of low fat double cheesy nachos.

So I hope you gathered with friends, family or your probation officer and enjoyed the game, which was a great matchup on paper. It was the legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, with the league’s best offense versus the mild-mannered Richard Sherman and the Seahawk defense.

We all know what happened, as there was jubilation in the Emerald City as the Seahawks completely demolished the Broncos. And there was a lot of interest in who won or lost, as over $99 zillion dollars were wagered yesterday on all different aspects of the game.

We all know that you can bet on who scored the first touchdown, who led at halftime or if Madonna was wearing any underwear in 2012. But let’s go back to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and check out some of the prop bets you could have made. And as Pete Rose says, “please gamble responsibly.”

So here we go, courtesy yours truly and Bovada at www.Bovada.lv. Will it snow during the game? What will the temperature be a kickoff and the lowest temperature during the game? Will the power go out in the stadium? Will there be an earthquake, typhoon, or a one-sided, total blowout eclipse of the sun?

Lots of pregame action. How long will it take opera star Renee Fleming, and one of my favorite Sopranos, to sing the national anthem? Will she forget or omit at least one official word? Will she be wearing gloves when she starts singing, and if so, what color will they be? Will she showing any bare midriff? And will Denver running back Knowshon Moreno cry during the singing of the anthem, and if so, how many tears?

On to the Manning boys. How many times will Peyton Manning yell “Omaha” or “Help” during the game? Will Peyton throw a pick six? Will he throw a touchdown pass or interception first? How many times will his father, Archie, brother, Eli Manning, or Peyton’s first girlfriend be shown? And if she’s shown, did he get to first base on his first date?

On to the halftime celebration. What song will Hawaiian-born and raised Bruno Mars perform first? Will he and the Red Hot Chili Peppers play a song on stage at the same time? Will any member of the Chili Peppers be shirtless during their performance.? Will any go without pants? And will the halftime show break the record for most watched, set by Madonna in 2012, when she threw two touchdowns and ran for another in Indianapolis?

Will any player receive a penalty for excessive celebration? Who will Barack Obama pick to win the game? What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach? What will happen to the Dow Jones on Monday? And finally, will announcers Joe Buck or Troy Aikman say the word “Marijuana” during the game? How about ganga or Mary Jane?

Well, since it was Super Sunday, for Super Monday, I am featuring a sunrise I shot on a Super Saturday. I’m referring to last Saturday, January 25, and the location was Lighthouse Point. This was a sunrise that did not disappoint. When the sky was peaking and blowing up red, it was just awesome, and the fact that it comes and goes so quickly is not lost on me.

However, this morning continued to evolve, as the sun came up and the clouds stuck around, creating a fantastic collage on the big screen of life. Throw in the soundtrack of big waves crashing along the cliffs and shoreline and it made for me my favorite sunrise so far this season. It was a sight to behold. In the words of the boss, Bruce Springstein,”Glory days, glory days.”

On to some late night humor “A petition to have Justin Bieber deported got over 100,000 signatures, which means the White House now has to legally rule on it. So finally a chance for Obama to issue an executive order that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on.” – Jay Leno “There’s more trouble for Justin Bieber. Last night he was arrested in Toronto for assaulting a limo driver. First a DUI, now an assault charge. If Bieber keeps this up he’s never going to get into a good college.” – Jimmy Fallon

“A petition on the WhiteHouse.gov website asks the U.S. to deport Justin Bieber. If they get 100,000 signatures, the White House has to respond. They already have 87,000. The Canadian military is scrambling jets and mobilizing troops along the border to make sure this doesn’t happen.” – Jimmy Kimmel “Here’s some advice for Justin Bieber. Be nice and don’t beat up limo drivers, Justin, because one day you could be one.” – David Letterman

“Once again, President Obama will grant an interview to a journalist from the network broadcasting the Super Bowl. The game is on Fox this year, so Bill O’Reilly will do the interview. I’m taking O’Reilly with the points.” – Jimmy Kimmel “Joe Biden said that Hillary Clinton’s decision to run for president won’t affect his decision to launch a campaign. While Hillary says Biden’s decision to run for president won’t affect her becoming president.” – Jimmy Fallon

“You heard about the snowstorm in Georgia. A snowstorm in Atlanta resulted in a 10-hour traffic jam. To which people in Los Angeles responded, “You guys need snow for that?” – Conan O’Brien “Iran says they want to encourage more tourism from the United States. They might want to change that “Death to America” slogan. A lot of families are not comfortable with that.” – Jay Leno

“Subway has announced a major new campaign to get people to eat healthier. I’m no health expert, but maybe the first thing to do is not sell people piles of meat and bread by the foot. The mayor of Sochi, Russia, said that his city has no gay people. Yeah. Then his son said, “Dad, we need to talk.” – Conan O’Brien

So that’s it for January 2014 as February is now at the plate. We’ll catch you retiring from thirty years of running pro basketball and making the NBA a must-see international product. Aloha, mahalo and later, David Stern.

December 29, 2013

The Wolf Of West Cliff

Good morning and greetings, 2013 fans. Well, we’ve come to the end of the year, and what a year it’s been. We survived the idiocy of the debt crisis, hopped on the love train called Obamacare, and saw Kim Kardashian have a baby with Jerry West. And God willing, by the end of 2014 or the time my children are grandparents, we won’t have any more troops dying in Afghanistan.

Of course, I could drone on about other major news stories, like the Jonas Brothers’ feud, Justin Beiber’s monkey retiring or Miley Cyrus getting more ink than Michelle Obama, but that’s just the way of the world these days. It seems the more skin you show, the more the media pays attention. I can relate. I’m naked under my clothes every day.

So the Christmas holiday has come and gone, and this year my family celebrated it in the traditional way. Being Jewish, we don’t have a Christmas tree, but to get into the holiday spirit I always hang a sprig of mistletoe from my rear view mirror.

So on Christmas Eve, with my in-laws in town, we followed in the foot steps of our ancestors and went out to dine on some Chinese cuisine. We cruised over to Golden City, where we enjoyed some beef chow fun, chicken and eggplant in garlic sauce, and Mao’s personal favorite, sweet and sour chicken. The place was packed, and rest assured we had more than enough for a minyan.

The food was delicious, made even better as we played Pat Sajack by spinning the Lazy Susan that rotated the garlic chicken chow mein and the chicken fried rice. When the check was brought out, it was accompanied by fortune cookies and fried sesame balls. I quietly remarked to my daughter, “I wish we had some almond cookies,” as I’m trying to lower my cholesterol.

Well, before I could say, “Are there any more egg rolls?,” the restaurant’s owner walked over and handed me a container of Bakery Street Gourmet Almond Cookies wrapped in a red bow. I was momentarily taken back and canceled the order of pot stickers to go. I knew at that moment that it was going to be a White Christmas, as it was going to take lots of milk to down these little cakes of almond joy.

I bowed and thanked her, as we were amazed by the synchronicity of the moment. We paid the bill and left with 49 take out boxes of food. The only down moment came when I opened my fortune cookie and it read, “The fortune you seek is in another cookie.” Slightly dismayed, I cracked open another cookie that read, “That wasn’t chicken.” Still wanting to leave on a positive note, I went for a third try. “Confuscious say, if you think we’re going to sum up your whole life on this little piece of paper, you’re crazy.” I almost spit up the crab rangoon.

Then it was on to Christmas Day, or should I say NBA Wednesday. The league had scheduled five highly anticipated matchups, but due to player injuries and the Dow Jones hitting a new high, I was not prepared to sit inside on a gorgeous winter day and watch 13 straight hours of basketball. So instead, I taped the first two games and decided to go to the movies. I had no idea what an emotional commitment I was in for.

My son wanted to see “The Wolf of Wall Street,” so with my father-in-law in tow we headed downtown. Now, I hadn’t heard much about the movie, but it came highly recommended, a “must see” by Grantland’s Bill Simmons. Well, let me say this. This three hour spectacle of the rise and fall of Leonardo DiCaprio is still seared in my mind like a filet of ahi tuna
.
I hadn’t seen that many naked women since I accidentally wandered into a Rainbow Family’s tea party at Woodstock. There were more hookers than you’d find in the lobby at happy hour at the Hotel Del Ray in San Jose, Costa Rica. The movie made Sharon Stone and “Basic Instinct” seem like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

And I don’t want to say that the drug use by Leonardo and this buddies was over the top, but there hadn’t been that much snow blown since the blizzard of Buffalo back in 1977. They also took quaalude use to a new high or new low. And let’s just say we saw a lot more of Australian actress Margot Robbie then we had ever bargained for. I think we saw the first and second Noel, if you catch my drift.

We then returned home and finished up the day with three good NBA games, with the Warrior win in the finale being the best of all. Now that’s what I call a merry Christmas. God bless the Father, the Son and the Holy DVR.

Moving along, last week I posted a beautiful, smoke enhanced sunset from back on December 16. For today’s photo follies we’re are going back to the early morning hours of this same day, when the waves were munching and crunching the shore along West Cliff Drive.

The sky lit up early and red was the color. The volume of the morning was turned up high as the wave action at Lighthouse Point and Steamer Lane was going at full tilt. Surfers were rushing like lemmings to the sea. It was a fabulous morning. I say that any time I can capture a gorgeous sunrise and a spectacular sunset on same day, my work is done.

A guy tells his psychiatrist: ‘It was terrible. I was away on business, and I emailed my wife that I’d be back a day early. I rushed home from the airport and found her in bed with my best friend. I don’t get it. How could she do this to me?” “Well,” says the psychiatrist. “Maybe she didn’t see the email.”

So that’s our last post for 2013. We’ll catch you in the new year showing NBA fans that you’re more than a prime time dunker. Aloha, mahalo and later, Blake Griffin fans.

August 11, 2013

A Walk Is Better Than A Hit

Good morning and greetings, summer vacation fans. About ten years ago, my personal physician suggested that I should get more exercise. Now up until until my mid- forties, I had been playing full court basketball five a days and week and playing half court on Saturday, as it was my people’s Sabbath. I was in fairly good shape and was considering a career as a personal fitness trainer and hand model.

But then reality came calling, and it was a bitter pill to swallow. Work. I remember walking during this time and spotting a youngster dribbling a basketball, as he headed over to the park to play hoops. My heart sank like an open jumper, as the realization set in that I was no longer footloose and fancy free and that my life had changed.

But I was determined to make the best of it. It was not an easy task. Looking back on it today, those five days of work were longest days of my life.

So I discussed with my physician the exercise options that were open to me. Swimming was out, as I may have drowned in a past lifetime. I could go bike riding, but I never really built up a sweat riding my beach cruiser along West Cliff. And riding a stationary bike is just not that scenic, although it saves a lot of wear and tear on the tires.

Bowling, badminton and cliff diving just weren’t vigorous enough, so it came down to running. I had run track in high school, but those were the short sprints. I was never really excited about running long distances as my shoulders hurt from this activity. It was probably because I’m highly sensitive to the feelings of everyone around me and that I had the body fat of a young veal.

So I decided to start running around my neighborhood to work up a sweat, so that my heart knew I was still alive. I started strong, as I used to be able to run a good mile and a half before the heart palpitations set in.

And then something nutty happened. Instead of getting stronger so I could leap tall bushes in a single bounce, I found the more I ran, the weaker I got. This was not a case of what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. I had to face a harsh reality. My Olympic dream was over.

But out of this darkness came shining light, as my failings led me to my weekday strolls along West Cliff Drive. I still needed to get some exercise, and what better place to take in the sights while kick starting my heart and soul.

So the weather last week was not unusual here on the central coast. It’s nothing like what I experienced in the summertime back east, when it was hazy, hot, and most consistently, humid. I’m not saying it was like that all the time, as there were pleasant summer days, but the unbearable humidity dominated the headlines. It was hot when I awoke and the air conditioners would still be humming when I drifted off to sleep.

This is in contrast to last Wednesday morning, when I woke up to a light mist or what the locals calls rain. I remember putting the heat on in my car as I headed down to the cliff thinking, I can’t believe they refer to this as summer weather. Still, there was a certain charm to walking through the dreary fog and precipitation, as the pelicans, cormorants and gulls weren’t giving it a second thought.

Then came Thursday, and the sun was peeking through the clouds as I exited my westside abode. When I got to the parking lot at Natural Bridges, there were the faint signs of a fading rainbow alongside the remaining arch. I took this as a good sign. The ground was wet but the air was warm. We’re talking short sleeve weather, a rarity on summer mornings. I’m always somewhat shocked to see the sun or my under eye circles in the early part of the coastal day.

I was more than pleasantly surprised at this rapid turn of events, but I shouldn’t have been, as I had been down this road before. As I strolled along with my faithful golden companion, the sun was gleaming across the water, and a gorgeous cloud bank painted the eastern sky above Lighthouse Point.

As I headed south, a seal popped its head out of the water at Stockton Avenue, while further out, a great egret was hanging out in the kelp beds. The air was a glorious temperature, and despite the fact that I had woken up at 4:40 am and couldn’t get back to sleep no matter how many sheep I counted, life was good at that moment.

However, by the time I returned home, the clouds had come in and and erased all this morning majesty. I got lucky on this day, so I guess timing is still everything. Just a great day to take a walk on the mild side in this cold water paradise.

For today’s photo conclave, I am featuring moments from three sunrises for the price of one. The first and third were taken from the end of my street along the upper westside. The skies above Monterey Bay conveniently lit up on these two January mornings, which made the silhouette of the tree of life that much more vivacious.

The middle rise was shot during the same month from the cliffs above Cowell’s Beach, looking across to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. For you folks keeping a scorecard at home, last January was a fabulous month for sunrises. Just goes to show that they do make sunrises like they used to.

On to the late night humor. “U.S. embassies are closed all around the Middle East this week due to a terrorist threat. What happened was the U.S. intercepted a conference call of 20 al-Qaida operatives. Twenty on one conference call! Who is their carrier? I go under a bridge and my cellphone drops the call, but they can get 20 people in one call from a cave? I guess you all heard about this terrorist threat the president warned us about. One of the reasons al-Qaida is upset with the United States is because we are giving aid to Yemen. We didn’t have a choice. When life hands you Yemen, you give them Yemen aid. This story just gets crazier: Two more women have come forward to accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual misconduct. That brings the total to 13 — or as Filner calls it, a groper’s dozen.” -Jay Leno

“As our studio audience knows, the security today for President Obama was incredible. In fact, first lady Michelle Obama already had the Secret Service sweep the president’s dressing room for chips, pizza, ice cream. This weekend President Obama celebrated his 52nd birthday. For his birthday, Michelle Obama jumped out of a cake and told him he’s not allowed to have any. Happy birthday to President Obama! He will be 52 years old on Sunday. If you’d like to get the president a gift, you can’t go wrong with Edward Snowden. He would love that. You can see that the President is getting a little grayer. In fact, they are starting to call him “The Silver Fox.” That’s because most of the silver in his hair was caused by Fox.” – Jay Leno

“Alex Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for using performance-enhancing drugs, but then he appealed, so technically he can still play. Last night he played his first game since the suspension and hit a bloop single. And then he said, “Imagine how far that would have gone if I was still on steroids!” Baseball suspended 13 players for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, most notably baseball’s highest paid player, Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. A-Rod is suspended for 211 games. That is an odd number, but .211 is what they calculated his batting average would have been without the drug.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Fifty years ago today was “the great train robbery.” Robbers got away with $63 million in cash from a postal train in Britain. My father worked for the post office at that time. He was supposed to be working on the night that it was robbed, but he had the flu. He called in sick. Coincidence? All I know is right after the great train robbery, we ate well around my house. Yes, that is the night we got a brand new potato. I like heist movies. “Oceans 11″ was a good one. Then there was “Oceans 12″ where they robbed the people who went to see the movie.” – Craig Ferguson

“The Boston Globe newspaper has been sold for $70 million, even though 20 years ago it went for $1.1 billion. I couldn’t believe that story when I saw it for free on the Internet. LeBron James of the Miami Heat had to report for jury duty today. Of course there will be 11 other jurors to help decide the case, but you know he’ll wind up doing it all by himself. The NFL is about to get its first full-time female referee. Good for them. It will be a little different though. When a player asks her what he did wrong, she’ll say “Oh, you know what you did.” – Jimmy Fallon

So let’s it for August. I’m taking some time off and heading to the Garden Isle in South Pacific to study the mating habits of the chocolate covered macadamia nut. I shall return on September 2nd.

We’ll catch you showing the world the Australians can produce great TV crime dramas. Aloha, mahalo and later, “Underbelly” fans.

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