October 21, 2012

I Don’t Know Weather I’m Coming Or Going

Good morning and greetings, warm weather fans. Well, for a stretch last week, Indian summer was on full alert, as October had been hotter than my outside shooting when I was a streetballer at Jade Street Park back in the 80′s.

So like Sponge Bob, I’ve been soaking in every moment of these warm autumn days, as the insulation in my westside abode, like my vertical leap, is almost non-existent when the colder weather hits. What this means is, on a warm day, I’ve got that natural air conditioning going, making me the coolest guy in town. But as soon as the weather changes, I go back to living in what could be only called the land of the frozen tundra, brought to you by Direct TV. Don’t just watch TV, Direct TV.

So it’s all about the weather. Or should I say climate? That’s what brought me to our beloved coldwater paradise, where the redwoods meet the kelp. I believe it was either Timothy Leary or educator Anthony J. D’Angelo who said, “Wherever you go, no matter the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” And as John Denver once crooned, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.” Just make sure to slab on the sunblock.

My journey to the Cruz started back in the Garden State in 1970, when I had to make a very difficult decision about whether to attend Syracuse or Northwestern University. After doing my due diligence, talking with school administrators and consulting my astrologer, it suddenly became crystal clear. I could drive the six hours to Syracuse, or hop on a plane to attend Northwestern. Before you could say, “AAA,” it was off to Syracuse, which is an old Indian name meaning “place where snow goes to sleep.”

It was during my sophomore year, when it went from a winter to summer with no spring, that I decided it was time to move to greener pastures. Too many gray, rainy days. Singer Roger Miller once remarked, “Some people walk in the rain. Others just get wet.” I was getting soaked.

English writer John Ruskin had this observation. “There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” Obviously, Johnny boy hadn’t spend much time around the northeast corner of the Finger Lakes region. I was in the New York state of mind and wanted out After all, I was only planning on being an undergraduate for seven years, and was determined to attend an institution of higher learning where the sky was blue.

A friend who was attending Colorado State in Fort Collins sold me on the idea of a Rocky Mountain high experience, so after filling out my transfer application forms (which I have absolutely no memory of), it was off to University of Colorado in Boulder.

It was the first time I had ever flown on an airplane. Before getting on the flight, I remembered the words of American writer Jean Kerr. “I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me they are wonderful things for others to go on.” As I climbed on board, it harkened me back to a scene from the movie classic “Airplane” when as the plane was about to take off, an elderly lady in the seat next to Ted Striker if he was nervous? Ted replied, “Yes.” She then said, “First time?” Replied Ted, “No, I’ve been nervous before.”

I still remember the first moment I got a glimpse of Boulder, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies. Now here’s where the story gets interesting. On my first night on campus, I met a stunning summer school student named Thea Ford, who was from a wealthy family in San Francisco. After telling her my life story, she said these nine words to me. “You should be going to school in Santa Cruz,” followed by “Wow, I’ve never met a runway model.”

My education in Boulder was like Dr. Ruth, short and sweet. Although the sky was bluer than a Red Foxx monologue and the sunsets over the Continental Divide spectacular, the climate was a tad chillier than what I was seeking. And besides, I needed a break from my intensive studies, so after two inglorious semesters it was time to go on sabbatical.

I decided to try and expand my horizons, so I bought myself a U-Rail pass and headed over to Europe. It was a great experience, except for the fact that there were too many Europeans over there. I spent some time doing research in Morocco, where the local culture was at least 100 years back in time. While at the local marketplace in Marrakesh, I bought a necklace made of figs that I proceeded to ingest, which then allowed my digestive system an opportunity to ride the Marakesh express. All aboard the pain.

Meanwhile, my old linebacker pal from Syracuse, Doug MacKinnon, had set up shop on West Cliff Drive, while my brother Paul was up at the dorms at Stevenson College. So in February of 1974, I flew out to the Golden State, where I was met by this dynamic duo at the airport and we headed down the coast.

My memory gets a little hazy from here, but what I do remember were drought conditions that brought on 23 straight days of 70 degree plus weather, which was liveable for an east coast boy in February, I thought, this will work for me, and decided to attend Cabrillo College in the fall. From there it was on to the basketball courts at UCSC, and the rest is meterological history.

So it all began 38 years ago, and that brings us to today. Weather continues to play an important role in my life, as being a photographer, I need more than sunny and blue. As superstar portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz once told me between bites of whitefish at a Bat Mitzvah, “Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy, your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” To this day, I still have no idea of what she was talking about.

So as we move towards baseball’s fall classic, we are getting closer and closer to the prime time season for the world-class sunrises and sunsets, where my light shines brightest.

Today’s photo groupon is from last Sunday night. I started shooting the sunset at Natural Bridges, where there was a wonderful pocket of yellow light in the sky to go along with the surfers, pelicans and big waves. But the intense action came after I got into my car and drove over to the entrance to the Long Marine Laboratory. The horizon was turning different shades of blood orange and red, and I used the bushes to create a silhouette effect that I learned in a class I had never taken. It was an exhilarating way to end a day, especially after watching the New York Giants crush the 49ers in the afternoon.

On to the late night. “In an interview Wednesday Mitt Romney, who had previously stated he would not introduce legislation limiting abortion, vowed that he would still be a ‘pro-life president.’ Which makes sense because Romney defines ‘life’ as anybody making over 250,000 dollars a year.” –Seth Meyers “Romney took two different sides on abortion within 24 hours this week. There are shorter waiting periods for actual abortions.” –Bill Maher

“Biden aggressively contested nearly every claim his opponent made during their debate. Then President Obama was like, ‘Wait — you’re allowed to do that?’ A new poll found that only 47 percent of voters find Mitt Romney to be trustworthy. Then Romney was like, ‘Well, I hope it’s not the same 47 percent I don’t care about.’ This week President Obama’s Facebook page received more than a million ‘Likes’ in a single day. All of them from Republicans who watched last week’s debate.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Today the Secret Service caught a woman trying to sneak into the White House with a mysterious package. Turns out it was just Ann Romney with some carpet samples.” –Jay Leno “After Paul Ryan stopped by for a photo op at a soup kitchen, the head of the charity said Ryan did nothing. In other words, that man is ready to be vice president.” –Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney is refusing to participate in the long-running special on Nickelodeon called ‘Kids Pick the President.’ Romney said it’s nothing personal; he just says that these kids are part of that 47 percent who contribute nothing to the country and mooch off their parents and grandparents.” –Jay Leno “People close to the campaign are saying that Mitt Romney’s son, Tagg, is now one of his chief advisers. That’s right, when Mitt asked him to join the team, he put his arm on his son’s shoulder and said ‘Tagg, you’re it!’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my story, weather you buy it or not. We’ll catch you showing football fans why you’re the most impressive rookie quarterback to come into the NFL in years. Aloha, mahalo and later, Robert Griffin III fans.

April 4, 2010

No Woman Is An Island

Good morning and greetings, championship game fans. As many of you know, I’m rather fond of orchids and running in ultra marathon races. My brother Paul recently gave me an oncidium named Sherry Baby that I placed in my office, and when the spray of flowers opened, it smelled like vanilla heaven. The intoxicating scent gently wafted thru the air, emitting the same delicious smelling sensation one gets from the rain forests of Maui. Just a very intense olfactory experience, much like my freshman year at Syracuse.

I’ve fallen in love with a magazine called “The Week,” which is the best of U.S. and international media. I’m so impressed that I got my son a subscription that will run thru his final year of rabbinical school. Whether it’s the recent skirmish between the U.S. and Israel, the political turmoil in Turkey or a great recipe for walnut raisin stuffing, this publication covers it all. It’s like a combination of Time, Newsweek, National Review and Mad Magazine. I haven’t been this up to date on the world scene since Walter Cronkite called me for my recipe for matzo brei.

So on that note, I recently ran across an item that I thought was blog worthy. It was written by Associated Press writer Nirmala George (no relation to Curious) with a no-look assist from yours truly.

For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now, rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them, as much like my dreams of becoming a puppet, a poet or Somali pirate, the island’s gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor and wresting coach at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery, sea patrols, and judges from the Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest. “What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, emailing and chat rooms, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Scientists in India have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels, the cost of shrimp cocktail and glass bottom boat rides have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal. A nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to swim the backstroke in a freestyle relay to the mainland. At least 10 other islands in the area, are also experiencing that sinking feeling, Hazra said.

Bangladesh is one of the countries most-affected by global warming. It is a low lying nation, unlike Rush Limbaugh, who is a low lying fool. Officials estimate 18 percent of Bangladesh’s coastal area will be underwater and 20 million people will be displaced by 2050 if sea levels rise continue to rise. The rich get richer, the poor get drenched.

India and Bangladesh both claimed the empty New Moore Island, which is about 2 miles long, 1.5 miles wide and as deep as an episode of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory.” Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti or Someone Tell Patty This Rock Is Sinking. There were no permanent structures on New Moore, but India sent some paramilitary soldiers to its rocky shores in 1981 to hoist its national flag and open up call center for Delta Airlines.

Bangladesh officials were not immediately available for comment but a spokesman later summed up the situation with these words from Simon and Garfunkle, “I am a rock, I was an island.”

So having been voted off the island and in honor of our first look of April, I thought I would blast out with some skylights of color. I know you’re probably thinking, “Wow, how unusual that Geoff would want to feature some color on this site.” Well, every once in a while I like to venture out of my comfort zone. Or as Robert Palmer once told me, “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to color.”

The first two shots are from December and a previously unseen sunrise. We then move to the cliffs north of Natural Bridges for the next photo duet. I was a little late on this night and just caught the final act of this sunset sonata, but fortunately, much like having chocolate fudge cake for dessert, it ended on a sweet note.

In our final photo segment, we move back to the sunrise mode. This is from a morning in January that blew the doors of the lovers and strangers along West Cliff Drive. I had previously featured a couple of jolts from this morning, but the sky was so amazing that it warranted more coverage. Moments of intense color like this are why I wake up the roosters.

On to the late night. “President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan this past weekend. I guess after the last 14 months in Washington, he wanted to go someplace where there was less fighting.” –Jay Leno “President Obama met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. This was an important meeting. Both presidents agreed that we have to work to wipe out terror networks, like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Fox News.” –David Letterman “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered the armed forces to initiate changes to their policy of discharging homosexuals. They’ve changed from the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, to the ‘If you think he’s gay, look away’ policy.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Well, according to ‘Newsweek,’ the FBI now says Osama bin Laden is healthy and giving the orders once again for al Qaeda. Today, Republicans blamed it on the new healthcare bill.” –Jay Leno “And unemployment in Florida hit a record high of 12.2 percent. You want to know how bad it is down there? Today, the Coast Guard picked up 50 Cubans off the coast of Miami trying to swim back to Cuba.” –Jay Leno “Pamela Anderson on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. You know who else is on ‘Dancing with the Stars’? Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Pam Anderson and Buzz Aldrin. Honest to God, it looks like a Republican ticket.” –David Letterman

“Well, here’s some good news for us. Iran’s top nuclear scientist has defected to the CIA and is now here in the United States. He’s now on our side. And he had some frightening information. He said Iran was just weeks away from developing their very own Toyota Prius.” –Jay Leno “Thursday is Census deadline day. The census would like every resident of the United States to fill out their form and mail it in. If you don’t know how many people live in your house, just count the number of iPods.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Here’s a fascinating story. The Republican National Committee got together and said, ‘Let’s have a party.’ We’ll get the Republican National Committee to pay for it — money that we get from donations and contributions. And they said, ‘Well, let’s go to Los Angeles to a sex club.’ So they end up there at a bondage club in Los Angeles. And I thought that makes perfect sense because Republicans love tying things up: health care, climate control; financial reform.” –David Letterman

So that’s our Opening Day preview. Enjoy tonight’s NCAA title game, as two teams will play for the right to proclaim, in the words of the late Freddie Mercury and Queen, “We are the champions, my friend.” Next week we’ll head out to the southland and check out some desert sky action. So enjoy the final drops of March Madness and the opening of our national pastime. We’ll catch you’re running the box and one. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mike Krzyzewski fans.

Good morning and greetings, championship game fans. As many of you know, I’m rather fond of orchids and running in ultra marathon races. My brother Paul recently gave me an oncidium named Sherry Baby that I placed in my office, and when the spray of flowers opened, it smelled like vanilla heaven. The intoxicating scent gently wafted thru the air, emitting the same delicious smelling sensation one gets from the rain forests on Maui. Just a very intense olfactory experience, much like my freshman year at Syracuse.

I’ve fallen in love with a magazine called “The Week,” which is the best of U.S. and international media. I’m so impressed that I got my son a subscription that will run thru his final year of rabbinical school. Whether it’s the recent skirmish between the U.S. and Israel, the political turmoil in Turkey or a great recipe for walnut raisin stuffing, this publication covers it all. It’s like a combination of Time, Newsweek, National Review and Mad Magazine. I haven’t been this up to date on the world scene since Walter Cronkite called me for my recipe for matzo brei.

So on that note, I recently ran across an item that I thought was blog worthy. It was written by Associated Press writer Nirmala George (no relation to Curious) with a no-look assist from yours truly.

For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now, rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them, as much like my dreams of becoming a puppet, a poet or Somali pirate, the island’s gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor and wresting coach at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery, sea patrols, and judges from the Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest. “What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, emailing and chat rooms, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Scientists in India have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels, the cost of shrimp cocktail and glass bottom boat rides have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal. A nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to swim the backstroke in a freestyle relay to the mainland. At least 10 other islands in the area, are also experiencing that sinking feeling, Hazra said.

Bangladesh is one of the countries most-affected by global warming. It is a low lying nation, unlike Rush Limbaugh, who is a low lying fool. Officials estimate 18 percent of Bangladesh’s coastal area will be underwater and 20 million people will be displaced by 2050 if sea levels rise continue to rise. The rich get richer, the poor get drenched.

India and Bangladesh both claimed the empty New Moore Island, which is about 2 miles long, 1.5 miles wide and as deep as an episode of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory.” Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti or Someone Tell Patty This Rock Is Sinking. There were no permanent structures on New Moore, but India sent some paramilitary soldiers to its rocky shores in 1981 to hoist its national flag and open up call center for Delta Airlines.

Bangladesh officials were not immediately available for comment but a spokesman later summed up the situation with these words from Simon and Garfunkle, “I am a rock, I was an island.”

So having been voted off the island and in honor of our first look of April, I thought I would blast out with some skylights of color. I know you’re probably thinking, “Wow, how unusual that Geoff would want to feature some color on this site.” Well, every once in a while I like to venture out of my comfort zone. Or as Robert Palmer once told me, “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to color.”

The first two shots are from December and a previously unseen sunrise. We then move to the cliffs north of Natural Bridges for the next photo duet. I was a little late on this night and just caught the final act of this sunset sonata, but fortunately, much like having chocolate fudge cake for dessert, it ended on a sweet note.

In our final photo segment, we move back to the sunrise mode. This is from a morning in January that blew the doors of the lovers and strangers along West Cliff Drive. I had previously featured a couple of jolts from this morning, but the sky was so amazing that it warranted more coverage. Moments of intense color like this are why I wake up the roosters.

On to the late night. “President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan this past weekend. I guess after the last 14 months in Washington, he wanted to go someplace where there was less fighting.” –Jay Leno “President Obama met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. This was an important meeting. Both presidents agreed that we have to work to wipe out terror networks, like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Fox News.” –David Letterman “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered the armed forces to initiate changes to their policy of discharging homosexuals. They’ve changed from the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, to the ‘If you think he’s gay, look away’ policy.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Well, according to ‘Newsweek,’ the FBI now says Osama bin Laden is healthy and giving the orders once again for al Qaeda. Today, Republicans blamed it on the new healthcare bill.” –Jay Leno “And unemployment in Florida hit a record high of 12.2 percent. You want to know how bad it is down there? Today, the Coast Guard picked up 50 Cubans off the coast of Miami trying to swim back to Cuba.” –Jay Leno “Pamela Anderson on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. You know who else is on ‘Dancing with the Stars’? Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Pam Anderson and Buzz Aldrin. Honest to God, it looks like a Republican ticket.” –David Letterman

“Well, here’s some good news for us. Iran’s top nuclear scientist has defected to the CIA and is now here in the United States. He’s now on our side. And he had some frightening information. He said Iran was just weeks away from developing their very own Toyota Prius.” –Jay Leno “Thursday is Census deadline day. The census would like every resident of the United States to fill out their form and mail it in. If you don’t know how many people live in your house, just count the number of iPods.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Here’s a fascinating story. The Republican National Committee got together and said, ‘Let’s have a party.’ We’ll get the Republican National Committee to pay for it — money that we get from donations and contributions. And they said, ‘Well, let’s go to Los Angeles to a sex club.’ So they end up there at a bondage club in Los Angeles. And I thought that makes perfect sense because Republicans love tying things up: health care, climate control; financial reform.” –David Letterman

So that’s our Opening Day preview. Enjoy tonight’s NCAA title game, as two teams will play for the right to proclaim, in the words of the late Freddie Mercury and Queen, “We are the champions, my friend.” Next week we’ll head out to the southland and check out some desert sky action. So enjoy the final drops of March Madness and the opening of our national pastime. We’ll catch you’re running the box and one. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mike Krzyzewski fans.

September 6, 2009

It’s A Labor Day Of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 10, 2009

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Flight

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Good morning and greetings, Jefferson Airplane fans. As you may know, here on the central coast, the air is certifiably filled with all kinds of bird life. Just take a stroll along West Cliff Drive and you can view pelicans, cormorants, exotic pigeons and gulls just wanting to have fun. Stop by at Natural Bridges and you see snowy egrets, great egrets, great blue herons and maybe Gil Scott Heron. Which brings to mind the aviary thoughts of David Crosby and The Byrds, “There is a season, tern, tern, tern. And a time for every purpose, under heaven, during the NBA playoffs.”

Our first set from the flight deck takes place over on the east side at Twin Lakes beach. It was back in December and as I drove by, I thought I was in a Jonathon Livingston Seagull novella as these gulls were learning about life, flight and the pursuit of happiness. I’m always fascinated by birds in motion, as earlier in the week I stopped my car to watch a snowy egret cruising the skies. When I asked Petula Clark where that bird might be heading she replied, “Downtown.”

I believe in this situation I would have been better off talking to the gangster of love himself, Mr. Steve Miller. After all, this space cowboy knows birds. As he once said, “I want to fly like a sea gull, to the sea. Fly like a sea gull, let me spirit carry me and Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals.”

We then venture photo wise back to Natural Bridges to check out a great egret in flight. This large, long-legged Dwyane Wading bird has a wingspan of almost five feet and a vertical leap of 48 inches, which makes it tough to defend in the low post. They are truly magnificent in flight, much like Dr. J or Michael Jordan taking off at the free throw line and throwing it down like my son Jason on an 8 foot hoop.

We then see a group of happy pelicans discussing politics and LeBron James selection as league MVP, as their compradres land and take off from the remaining arch. That brings us to our final photo of a hummingbird receiving its nectar fix from the pride of madera flowers. I took five shots in a five second sequence and in only one photo did the maroon thrush appear. I’m not sure what to make of it but either way, I won’t thrush to judgement.

Now here are a few fascinating facts about our flittering friends, the hummingbirds. These little fellas have the most rapid wing beat, 80 per second in normal flight, 200 beats/second in courtship flight and 400 beats per second on the night of the actual honeymoon.

Hummingbirds have hearts that are proportionally larger than any other animal on earth, accounting for 2-4% of their actual total body weight, not including socks and shoes. Their hearts beat at an average of 500 times per minute at rest, 1,200 times in stressful situations and 1,500 when being audited by the IRS or driving on an LA freeway.

These little hummers may consume 50-100% of their body weight in food per day and 200% of their weight in water per day. That’s why you often hear female hummingbirds ask, “Do I look bloated to you?” And lastly, four of five dentists recommend sugarless nectar for those hummingbirds that do chew gum.

Now on to the late night action. “Well, here’s the latest. The White House says, as of now, the swine flu not contained. It could continue to get worse. And they were just talking about Joe Biden.” “Cheney, he overreacted, too. Today, he waterboarded a pig. There’s no reason for that. No reason.” “President Obama spoke on the phone this weekend for 20 minutes with Mexican President Calderon on how to cooperate on fighting this swine flu thing. Afterwards, he said the people of America and Mexico have found common ground. I believe it’s called Los Angeles.” –Jay Leno

“They say that swine flu is not as potent as they originally thought. You know, like the Yankee pitching staff.” “Supreme Court Justice David Souter is stepping down. Now this guy has been called a reclusive loner who is against marriage. It’s like I have a twin.” –David Letterman “A vacancy on the Supreme Court. This is something we haven’t seen in awhile. Let’s just hope the president is better at picking a justice than the justices were at picking a president.” –Jay Leno

“Barack Obama and Joe Biden made a surprise trip outside the White House yesterday for burgers. Yeah! Obama ordered a cheeseburger and Biden asked for whatever comes with the toy.” –Jimmy Fallon “Hey! Some happy news. As you may have heard, the White House has a brand-new puppy. I believe his name is Arlen Specter.” “And a Georgia man is recovering in Pittsburgh after becoming the first U.S. recipient of a double hand transplant. Got two hands transplanted from another guy. He used them for the first time today to grab his heart when he saw the bill.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our show for today. Earlier this week I hit the Arboretum again at UCSC and captured some great moments of May moistness which we’ll peruse later this month. I’ve got to mention the sports highlight of the week, which took place on Wednesday, when my daughter Aimee got both the win and the save in her softball game against a very tough New Brighton/Cabrillo Crushers squad. In the final inning, with the score 10-9 and the bases loaded, she stuck out their biggest hitter to end the game and the place just exploded. Well, maybe not exploded…perhaps a sitting ovation. The win and the save-stats the way it is and was.

And finally, congratulations go out to my brother Paul and his lovely wife Wendi, who hosted their daughter Samantha’s Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, amongst the redwood trees up in Marin County. It was a quite the experience, kind of like the wailing wall meets the Jonas Brothers. All I can say is mazel tov and what about those Houston Rockets? So enjoy the birds, don’t forget to smell the flowers and we’ll catch you in the paint. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dominique Wilkens fans.

January 25, 2009

Action Speaks Louder Than Birds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 28, 2008

December The Alamo

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:21 pm

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Good morning and greetings, vacation fans. I normally spend the first part of the winter break meditating along the lovely fairways of the Palm Valley Country Club in Palm Desert , but due to programming changes we decided to stay here at home on the central coast. I miss the desert experience-nothing like cascading waterfalls, palm trees swaying in the wind and orange, grapefruit and tangerine trees in full bloom in late December. Throw in the San Jacinto mountains changing color as often as Henry Paulson changes his plans for use of the bailout money and you can imagine what Moses saw when he first ventured to the desert on a horse with no name. It must have felt good to get out of the rain.

Anyway, it’s been clear and cold here in Santa Cruz as the rest of the nation has been bombarded by snow, ice and blizzard conditions. It’s been particularly frigid in New York. How cold has it been? It was so cold in New York City last week that Bernard Madoff asked if he could actually go to hell early to warm up. And it was so cold that the Statue of Liberty was actually holding her torch under her dress. Thank you, Jay Leno and his staff writers.

Staying in the area has allowed me to catch some coastal highlights that I normally miss at this time of year. Our photo funhouse today features moments from our twelvest of months. We begin and end with sunrise splendor from Lighthouse Point. The rainbow hails from Christmas Eve. The skies had been gray all day but just before sunset the sun dropped thru and horizon was suddenly flooded with bright yellow light streaming from the north. At the same time, a vivid double rainbow appeared in the east which I shot over the trees at Natural Bridges State Park. I hit the coast as the colors of this beauty were fading but seeing the rainbow flowing into the ocean with the plethora of white water was just an amazing sight. It would have even been more amazing if I had recorded it digitally rather than in my offshore memory banks.

2008 has been an challenging year, with the mortgage crisis, the stock market crashing and the Yankees not making the playoffs. And according to Conan O’Brien, “The White House staff has been briefing Barack Obama’s team on a series of worst-case scenarios that could face the country after President Bush leaves office. Apparently, the absolute worst case scenario is that Bush doesn’t leave office. On the positive side, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl, the Giants won the Super Bowl and the Giants won the Super Bowl. I’m really hoping for good things in 2009, like the Giants repeating as Super Bowl champs but I’m not holding my Eli Manning breath on that one. But fortunately, Ford Motors is working on a brand new car called the Fusion. It’s a hybrid that runs on a combination of gas and bailout money-Jay Leno.

Now here’s some more good humor, these jokes courtesy of my weight-training (he says it will make him quicker) son, Jason. A man walks into a psychiatrist’s office with a cucumber up his nose, a carrot in his left ear and a banana in his right ear. He says, “What’s the matter with me?” The psychiatrist says, “You’re not eating properly.” And a woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: “That’s the ugliest baby that I’ve ever seen. Ugh!” The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: “The driver just insulted me!” The man says: “You go right up there and tell him off – go ahead, I’ll hold your monkey for you.”

So that’s our last blog for 2008. I hope you’ve enjoyed these stream of unconciousness postings as they have been picked up by my medulla oblongata for the 2009 season. Yesterday (Sunday) was this year’s daily double as I shot both a gorgeous sunrise and a dazzling sunset. Combine that with ten hours of NFL football and some Kobe Bryant NBA action and I’m a happy camper. So bring on the NFL playoffs and congratulations to the Golden State Warriors for knocking off the world champion Boston Celtics last week. Now go back to Maui, Don Nelson. So enjoy the final days of 2008, have a fantabulous New Year and we’ll catch you in 2009. Aloha, mahalo, peace and later, Sunrise Santa Cruz fans.

November 30, 2008

Tuesday’s Gone With The Wind

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Good morning and greetings, post-holiday fans. As the captain of this photographic ship of fools, I continue to search for truth, justice and the American way along with magnificent color in the morning and evening sky. In a trend that continued throughout our eleventh month, the dawn experiences as of late have been weak, listless and dull, much like my performance on my high school math achievement test.

Each morning I awake with fresh and renewed hope that, along with getting dial tone, the day will bring the colors that my mind, body and digital soul so yearn for. Instead, it has been fog city with a marine layer sitting on the coast that prevents the red, orange and yellow light show extravaganza that the month of November has so often brought.

The one exception to this party cloudly, fog party was last Tuesday morning. Like a reptile smuggler going thru customs I hurried down to West Cliff and positioned myself like an Eagle Scout along Bird Rock. As you can see from the first three shots the sky put on a pretty good pre-sunrise performance as the Russian judge scored it as a 9.5. I would normally have driven over to Steamer Lane to shoot the clouds and the inspiring reflection over the wharf and Boardwalk but it was getting late and I heard my children’s french toast calling me.

The next three photos are from Monday night’s sunset on a day where we saw very little sun until it dropped thru the clouds in late afternoon. There has been some color in the evening sky but nothing to really text message the Weather Channel about. At this point in my first lifetime I am seeking only the spectacular, when the sky is just exploding with color and you just want to savor the moment and think, “Yeah, there is no other place I’d rather be.” Except Hawaii. This low tide sunset, much like a trip to the Hindquarter for the best burger in town, had it’s moments. Thus we are going with the sunrise, sunset, theme as tribute to “Fiddler on the Roof.” If only I were a rich man.

On to our comedy section of the show. Here’s the best thing I heard coming out of the late night monologues last week, courtesy of Jay Leno. “Looks like the government is going to bailout CitiGroup but they don’t want to bailout the auto companies. See, I don’t think this is fair for blue collar workers who make our cars, they don’t get the bailout but the white collar guys who work on Wall Street, they get the bailout. You know what I think they should do? I think they should work together. I think the guys in Detroit should keep making the cars and the guys on Wall Street should make the license plates.”

We continue with some bonus Thanksgivng humor. I used this joke last year but I thought it was amusing enough of bring back for a return engagement. A turkey farmer was always experimenting with breeding to perfect a better turkey. His family was fond of the leg portion for dinner and there were never enough legs for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store. “Well I finally did it! I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!” They all asked the farmer how it tasted. “I don’t know” said the farmer. “I never could catch the darn thing!”

That’s it for another week of what’s in the skies above Monterey Bay. I hope it was a pleasant Thanksgiving holiday for all of you out there in cyberspace or New Jersey. With the tragic news out of Mumbai it’s just another reason to be grateful for all we are blessed with. This includes the defending Super Bowl champion New York football Giants, who are now 11-1 on the season. Unbelievable. So as we bid farewell to November, let’s bring on December, which will hopefully be filled with peace and prosperity. We could use a good month to end this year. Aloha, mahalo and we’ll catch you on the end around. Later, LeBron James fans.

October 2, 2008

On Your Mark, Sunset, Go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 7:59 pm

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Good morning and welcome to the west coast. Sunrise Santa Cruz is back with our first blog of October 2008. We always like to start off the month with something colorful so let’s journey back to the evening of January 23, 2008. Our last blog featured the sunset from the evening before so we are looking at back to back epic nights. The way the clouds were lining up along West Cliff Drive I knew we were peaking into the realm of spectacular, like my defense on the freshman basketball team back at Fort Lee High School. As you can see from the photos, the sky changed from a goldish rust to a peach-like salmon spread before finishing off with a outrageous red alert.

I was shooting at Natural Bridges State Beach this evening and still feeling the effects of the extreme low tide from the day before. As I was taking the final group of shots I realized that at this moment there was no place (besides Hawaii, Magic Mountain and Legoland) that I’d rather be. I’ve blogged out this sunset before but these are shots that never made it off the cutting room floor. To see more of this westside magic I am inviting you to attend my Open Studios on the westside on the second and third weekends in October. I’ll have more information about this next week.

BUT ON TO THE BIG NEWS OF THE DAY. MY HARD DRIVE CRASHED LAST WEEK AND WITH IT WENT MY ADDRESS BOOK WITH ALL YOUR ADDRESSES. AND NO, I DID NOT HAVE IT BACKED UP. I GUESS THAT COMES WITH LIVING ON THE EDGE. SO IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND ARE INTERESTED IN RECEIVING THESE BLOGS PLEASE EMAIL ME BACK AT GEOFFNBA@ATT.NET. AND PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.

So that our October debut. May this be a sweet year for everyone out there in cyber space land. So enjoy the sky, savor your good health and have a fabulous sports weekend. Aloha, Raider fans.

July 31, 2008

Like Father, Like Sunset

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

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Good morning and welcome to our final blog for July 2008. This month has flown by faster than John McCain flip flops on economic issues. Anyway, during the summertime here on Monterey Bay the skies are usually bankrupt of the clouds needed for our world-class sunrises and sunsets. I actually had not taken any sunset shots this summer until this past Monday evening when out of nowhere, clouds appeared in the western sky. Before you could say, “Let’s drill for oil off the coast” I headed down to Natural Bridges for a light changing experience.

As you can see from the first few photos, the sky was not hurting for clouds. At this point I was just amazed because summer sunsets come around as often as I praise the Bush administration. But it was cloud central as along the coast the gulls were screaming, the cormorants were clustering and the pelicans were flying in formation . But the most fascinating part of this evening extravaganza was when the sky started to change color, almost out of nowhere the whole sky filled with clouds, (photo #3) with an texture I had rarely seen. Overall, just a spectacular display of color and pageantry along the edge of the continent.

One quick news item. Our good friends at Exxon Mobil just reported a record profit over the last quarter (3 months) of $12 billion dollars. In laymen’s terms, that’s $90,000 a minute, or $1,500 a second, which is actually not much compared to over the $3,000 a second we spend in Iraq. Anyway, congratulation, oil boys. You deserve it. While American motorists spend their paycheck at the pump, you guys can go out and party. I guess oil is fair in love and war.

So Sunrise Santa Cruz is going on hiatus from the blogging business for a couple of weeks while I head over to Sunset Beach for some papaya therapy, macadamia nut meditation and trade winds analysis. Throw in some 80 degree water temperature on the North Shore and I’m a happy camper. When I return, we’ll see show you some shots of this tropical paradise in the middle of the South Pacific.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard from a lot of you out there in cyber space. I would love to hear your thoughts on the blog, the baseball races or life in general. You know, reach out, connect. Get in touch. Check in. You know the drill. Until then, enjoy the summer sky, your good health and we’ll catch you around the 18th of August. Aloha, mahalo and Derek Jeter rocks. Later, Olympic fans.

July 10, 2008

No Ifs, Ands Or Butts

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Good morning and greetings, photo fans. As we are all aware, time is flying by. Unless, of course, you’re locked up in solitary confinement at a fancy resort like San Quentin. Then, perhaps, time is not moving quite as rapidly as it does for the rest of the general and major population. In the words of Mick Jagger, “Tiiiime is on my side, yes it it.” I’m wondering if he meant the left or right?

I’ve been shooting digital photos since 2005. However, not to be negative, there was a time that I was using a process called film. I realized the other day as I searched through my photo albums looking for a picture that I ultimately couldn’t find that I have been taking shots of the sites and mounds of the westside and north coast for many years. I was amazed at how far back the archives went. No, I’m not talking cavemen rubbing two sticks together at sunset but West Cliff Drive in the 70′s. Today’s shots are from the days of yesteryear when negatives were the positive. Unfortunately, I have managed to permanently misplace many of them but who knew at the time that I’d ever need those extra dendrites.

I call the opening shot of the sunrise at Lighthouse Point “First Light.” Then it’s moving on to the lone cypress tree on West Cliff for an image I refer to as “Sky on Fire.” Then it’s your classic rainbow over the cypress tree from the same location. As we move to the evening hours we come upon a cloud convention taken from Stockton Avenue. And here’s the beauty of it all. Shots two (Sky on Fire) and four (sunset clouds) were taken the same day-it’s the ultimate daily double, Jeopardy fans, the double dip of sunrise and sunset from the same day (November 17, 2005.) It’s a westside classic. Then it’s onto to the coral salmon sand at dusk at Natural Bridges followed by another sunset that if I had been wearing any would have knocked my socks off.

Some of these pictures are smoking hot, and that leads us into today’s laugh and learn segment. As it turns out, offering a cigarette is as common as a handshake in Egypt, where the culture of smoking is so entrenched that patients sometimes light up in hospital rooms. You know you’re in trouble when your surgeon walks into the room puffing away on a Newport or Pall Mall. Or as the much-trafficked Stevie Winwood would say, “Light up or leave me alone.”

But now the government is getting serious about the health risks, beginning a campaign of visual warnings about tobacco’s dangers. And to show just how seriously they are taking this issue, smoking is no longer allowed in the emergency rooms or in the hospital ICU units, just in the general population areas. Furthermore, patients are no longer allowed to smoke during certain surgeries. No longer will we hear the doctor request, “Scalpel, gauze, ashtray.”

Starting August 1, cigarette labels in Egypt will be required to carry images of the effects of smoking: a dying man in an oxygen mask, a coughing child, the Marlboro Man in an oxygen tent, Joe Camel’s funeral and a limp cigarette symbolizing impotence.

It is a major step in Egypt’s fledgling anti-smoking campaign and a dramatic change in a country where public discussion of smoking’s health risks and NHL hockey are nearly nonexistent. The impotence image may have a particularly strong effect on Egyptians as well the dachshund not entering the tunnel and a pharaoh not being able to climb the old pyramid.

The photo of the limp cigarette comes with the warning that “long-term smoking has an effect on marital relations” – a somewhat milder version than the European Union has recommended for its member countries, which states directly that smoking causes impotence and shows a discontented young married couple sitting apart in bed watching Dr. Phil.

Twelve countries, including Canada, Jordan, Bird, Magic, Brazil and Thailand require graphic photos of the effects of smoking to be printed on cigarette packs. Many have reported success in at least reminding smokers of all the fun associated with lung cancer and emphysema. But the campaign faces a tough challenge among Egypt’s totally addicted, mummy-loving, smoke ring blowing citizens.

Egypt is one of the top 15 smoking countries in the world and they are not referring to supermodels sunbathing in the parks of downtown Cairo. Nearly 60 percent of all adult males in the country of 79 million people use tobacco in some form, compared with 24 percent of men in the United States. This might have been what Deep Purple was referring to when they sang “Smoke on the water, fire in the Nile.”

While anti-smoking campaigns have been in place for decades in the West, the issue has not even been on the agenda in Egypt or the Middle East. According to the American Cancer Society, in the 1990s, when smoking in the developed world declined, it increased 8.6 percent in this region. They were actually going for a double digit increase but ran out of Bic lighters.

So here’s Egypt’s master plan. A month ago, the country’s tobacco control department was launched, though it consists of only two people in a closet-sized office with no telephones and an annual budget of just $12,500. They also have a printer with no ribbon, a fax machine but no paper and a Omar Sharif autographed hookah for office and holiday parties.

For the new label requirements, authorities field-tested a variety of images. They found that warnings linking tobacco with death were not particularly effective with Egyptians, because dying is perceived as inevitable anyway. Hopefully the same theory doesn’t hold true with showering. Also, images of diseased lungs left people confused about what was being shown as many perceived it to be a tar and nicotine party.

Instead, the new warnings focus on threats to health and, particularly, to family, like the effect on children and pregnant women and the risk of impotence. “We need something to give the smokers a shock that they are in great danger,” said Dr. Mohammed Mehrez, head of the tobacco control department. I’m with you, Doc. I believe it all comes down to the words of “The Honeymooner’s” Ralph Kramden when asked by his pal Ed Norton, “Mind if I smoke?” Replied Ralph, “I don’t care if you burn.”

That’s our health news for the week. Tune in again Monday when we’ll go back in the time tunnel and check out some more classic photos from when I was still dealing with film hesitation. Now, I click away like Madonna at a Kabala retreat in the Catskills. So have a beautiful weekend, enjoy the colors of the cliff and let’s hope the fires fade in California. Aloha, mahalo, thank you firefighters and I’m outta here.

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