January 27, 2013

For Debris The Jolly Good Fellow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 17, 2012

Could You Be A Little More Pacific?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 3:47 pm

Good morning and greetings, NBA Final fans. Well, the tide has turned, as two weeks ago it was low tide city in the morning, and as a result, I saw more things exposed than while wandering around the various campsites at Woodstock.

In last week’s post, I wrote of how the tides are created, why they shift and what it’s like to be up at the plate with the score tied with two out in the ninth. So to stay in harmony with Mother Earth and make sure everything is even Steven, our photo emphasis today will be on high tides and greenhouse grass forever, with some big wave action thrown in as an appetizer.

These shots were taken along West Cliff Drive on two consecutive big swell days, when the surf community’s adrenaline was pumping like my heart during my daily weight training program. It’s always a treat, like seeing Marty Short banter in the late night, to see the waves smashing up against the cliffs, creating spectacular shows of spray that would make any fireman or firewoman jealous.

So what do these tides have in common? They both feature my favorite ocean, the Pacific, and that is what our non-government sanctioned, fun fact-finding tour today is all about.

I may have grown up frolicking in the Atlantic, but now the bacteria from the Pacific is in my heart, lungs and bloodstream. For the past 38 years and eleven hours, I have viewed this amazing body of water almost every day. Some days, when I’m feeling brave, I actually go in up to my knees. This is because when the water temperature is in the low 50′s, my body goes into cyrongenic shock mode. My shaman says I’m too old for this. I don’t want to say that I’m aging, but in the words of the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, “The other day I was walking by a cemetary and two guys came running after me with shovels.”

So let’s look into a few specifics of the Pacific. It is the largest, deepest, oldest and wisest of the five oceans on Earth. The Pacific covers about 46% of the Earth’s water surface. The water temperature ranges from freezing in the pole areas to about a delightful 86 degrees near the equator. Its depth is more than the height of Mount Everest. There are more than 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean, including one I’ll be visiting next month in the Hawaiian chain. As the natives say, Kauai not?

The Pacific was the last ocean uncovered by Europeans and the Discovery Channel. The first European to take a peek was the Spanish explorer Vasca Nunez de Rocky Balboa, who in 1513, climbed a peak in Panama and stared out over the water. He then took possession of the ocean in the name of King Ferdinand, Queen Isabella, Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz of Spain.

This would be a high point for our friend, Balboa, as when he returned to his mother country, his jealous enemies accused him of treason. He was later arrested, convicted and beheaded. I think in gratitude, he would have preferred a simple thank you. With enemies like this, who needs friends?

The Pacfic Ocean was named by Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first navigator to sail around the globe. Back in 1519, Magellan and his motley crew sailed into a body of water he described as a “beautiful, peaceful ocean.” Thus, it was named the Pacific, meaning beautiful. He found its winds and climate more gentle than those of other oceans, and he loved dining outside along the beach in Malibu.

The highlight of this trip was when Magellan and his crew, who were the first Europeans ever to sail across the Pacific, underestimated the vastness of this body of water. They went for 98 days without seeing any land and had to eat rats, sawdust, tofu, kale and boiled leather to avoid starvation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found boiled leather to be a little chewy, even when served medium rare. Maybe it’s just me, but a little bit of scurvy always throws off my game.

On to some late night. “A new book claims President Obama smoked a lot of marijuana while in college. And in a related story to boost his street cred, Mitt Romney admitted he was once hooked on phonics.” –Jay Leno “Somebody has been leaking classified information. John McCain is outraged. He wants to get to the bottom of who is leaking the classified information and also he wants to find out who keeps messing with his thermostat.” –David Letterman

“Mitt Romney is going on a six-state bus tour. Mitt is very excited because he’s never been on a bus. “Last month Mitt Romney raised $76 million. He found it in an old sport-coat pocket.” –David Letterman

“It’s great to be back in Chicago. Illinois Rep. Derek Smith has been accused of accepting a $7,000 bribe. If he’s found guilty, he could serve up to four years as the state’s governor. “The last time I did a late-night show in Chicago, my guest was an up-and-coming senator called Barack Obama. And now just six short years later, he’s gone on to become a socialist Muslim from Kenya.” –Conan O’Brien

“This weekend President Obama’s daughter, Sasha, will turn 11 years old. Sasha didn’t ask Obama for a present — you know, because she’s still waiting for him to deliver the gifts he promised three birthdays ago.” –Jimmy Fallon “In Greece, the unemployment rate has risen to 22%. The solution to the problem was to raise taxes on the rich, according to the Greek president Barack Obama-opolis.” –Jay Leno

“Mayor Bloomberg has outlawed giant cans of soda. When you outlaw stuff it creates crime. I saw a guy today walking down the street and a cop is arresting him because he’s got a huge can of soda, and he said ‘No, no, this is medicinal Mountain Dew.’ “Now Mayor Bloomberg wants to make something else illegal. He wants to remove the third layer from a club sandwich.” –David Letterman

So that’s our last blast for the spring of 2012, as next week we move into Donna Summer mode. We’ll catch you throwing the 22nd perfect game in major league history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Matt Cain fans.

December 4, 2011

It Just Dawned On Me

Good morning and greetings, December fans. Yes, time is flying by faster than Herman Cain could come up with denials for his extracurricular activities. I’m saddened to see the Godfather of mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce withdraw from the Presidential race, but it was a nice slice of campaigning while it lasted.

So with Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, it’s full steam ahead into the season where families and shoppers shift their focus from food and warm feelings to the holiday tasks of giving, receiving and most
importantly, returning.

December is also the time of year where I wake up every morning and
immediately search the sky for signs of clouds, color and intelligent life.
If I think there’ll be any possibility of viewing a this menagerie of color, I get dressed faster than J-Lo during a costume change, grab my camera and pepper spray and head down to West Cliff. I then eagerly await the heavens lighting up, so I can snap away like Ansel Adams on methamphetamine without any film hesitation. With any luck, the skies over Monterey Bay will cooperate and I’ll walk away with a prize that few can claim that morning.

That’s the beauty of shooting sunrises along West Cliff Drive. 99% of the time, I’m shooting alone. I guess that makes me part of the 1%. It’s not like sunset, when the the cliff is loaded with strollers, gawkers
and stalkers armed with their cell phone cameras, taking in the twilight
action. Shooting sunrise, much like my daily bubble baths, is a much more solitary affair, and in the last seven years I can count on one hand the amount of people who have joined me on this early morning excursion into photographic splendor. Alone but together.

Like chocolate, it’s usually semi-dark with when I hit the cliff, and then the sky lightens up as I await the immersion and conversion of this cloud conversation. It’s quite a diversion. What I enjoy most, besides the intense colors, reflection and finding a good parking space, is that this particular sunrise shot I’m getting is mine alone. I know there are people shooting this same spectacular moment up and down the coast, but from this particular location, it’s usually all mine. At least until this posting.

The reason for this sentimental journey is to capture these incredible moments and share it with cyber readers throughout the world and the west side. Like my old days as a Navy Seal, it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure. You do the hokey pokey and you turn your mind around, and that is what Sunrise Santa Cruz is all about.

So today’s photo montage showcases the first sunset I encountered this fall. We harken back to October 10th, where unlike my dreams and aspirations, everything fell into place that morning. I first shot the sky blowing up and the glowing reflection on the sand, before changing my location and moving back to Bird Rock to capture the full magnitude of this early morning convention of clouds.

I then continued photographing this happy gathering of cumulus at Four Mile Beach, where hundreds of gulls and a band of gypsys were waiting my arrival. For a sunrise shooter like myself, the dawning of clouds
is what it’s all about, and this was a fine way to start off the fall
festivities in this stage of Aquarius.

On to some late night humor. “Well, the inside talk is that Sarah Palin is going to endorse Newt Gingrich. If you think Newt is happy, you should see Mitt Romney.” –Jay Leno “Mitt Romney admitted in an interview, ‘I tasted a beer and tried a cigarette once as a wayward teenager and never did it again. This has the makings of the lamest ‘Behind the Music’ special yet. “If you think that’s bad, Jon Huntsman is now admitting that in college he experimented with parting his hair to the left.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Last week in New Hampshire, Herman Cain said that presidents don’t need to know every detail of every country in the world and he said he’s going to take that message across America to all 30 states.” –Jimmy Fallon “The star of the debate was Herman Cain. He didn’t talk much because the debate was about national defense and his area of expertise is pizza.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Tonight was the 14th republican presidential debate, or as Barack Obama has started calling them, campaign ads.” –Jimmy Fallon “It looks like the supercommittee chosen by President Obama to come up with
a plan to solve the deficit has failed. But don’t worry, he has announced a new plan. Next week, he’s appointing a super duper committee.” –Jay Leno “I just heard about a woman in Germany who just gave birth to a baby boy named ‘Jihad.’ Or as the TSA put it, ‘Hope you like Amtrak!’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our first blast for the December. In case you missed it, it was a tad breezy here last week on the central coast. How windy was it? In the morning, I windsurfed from my bed to the bathroom. We’ll catch you throwing deep in the bayou. Aloha, mahalo and later, Drew Brees fans.

September 25, 2011

Pardon The Eruption

Good morning and greetings, fall equinox fans. That’s right, last Friday, Donna Summer left us and we are now autumn bound. That means the days, like my memory, are getting shorter, while the nights are stronger than moonshine. We’re talking later sunrises and earlier sunsets, which I will continue to monitor for the the hundreds of thousands, er, hundreds, er, many dozens of loyal readers of Sunrise Santa Cruz.

This week I want to talk big booms, not to be confused with big boobs, which would describe our current lawmakers. Last week there was a massive rumbling in the Himalayas, as a strong earthquake hit India, Nepal and Tibet. When Bob Seger heard about this, he said, “I’m think I’m going to Kathmandu, that’s really, really where I’m going to.” The world around us is a rockin’ and a shakin’ and that’s where we pick up today’s story.

When I think of massive explosions, the first things that come to mind are Mount St. Helens, the 2010 eruption of Eyjavjallajokull in Iceland and the berating of referees by former Indiana University basketball Coach Bobby Knight. But they don’t come close to being the world’s deadliest eruption.

Mount Tambora is on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, which is flanked to the north and south by the oceanic crust, which is not to be confused with what my mother cut off my sandwiches as a young child. In a story reported by Nasrullah Roa for the Associated Press, she reports that the mountain has been a rumblin’, causing families that live next to this live volcano to flee the area faster than Tricky Dick Nixon exited the White House in 1973 after proclaiming, “I am not a crook.”

Indonesia is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, in an area known for its frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tasty waves to surf. We’re talking 130 active volcanoes and surf shops. Mount Tambora has the unfortunate honor for being ground zero for the world’s deadliest eruption. Back around the birth of John McCain on April 10, 1815, the mountain exploded and the blast left a crater than was 7 miles long and and a half a mile deep. It launched an estimated 400 million tons of sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, leading to the worst famine of the 19th century and “the year without summer” in the United States and Europe, which had a very negative effect on the baseball pennant races.

Prior to the eruption, much like today’s Congress, Tambora had stood dormant for around 5,000 years. There have been only five blasts like this in recorded history, not counting 1973, when Barry Bonds set the Major League record with 73 home runs.

The death toll from this natural disaster was horrific, with estimates between 90,000 and 117,000 in Indonesia alone. 12,000 died immediately as a direct result of the eruption, while tens of thousands more were killed as a result of starvation and disease. Thick layers of ash from the volcanic fallout ruined crops as animals, rice fields and President Sukarno disappeared from the earth. Nobody was partying in Bali.

This Super Bowl of eruptions brought on 16-foot tsunamis along the coast of Indonesia. The resulting waves of hot lava reached speeds of 124 mph, killing everything in its path. Mount Tambora continued to erupt until July 15, 1815 when in the words of Alice Cooper, “enough’s enough.”

Then in the summer of 1816, the dense volcanic ash from Mount Tambora’s eruption blew into the skies over the Northern Hemisphere. It cut off much of the sun, and if you know me, I like my sunlight like my apple juice, unfiltered. Snow fell in the northeastern United States well into July, which really cut back the summer beach action. What resulted was unseasonably low temperatures, crop failure, a failure to communicate, famine, disease, death and a lousy TV season across Europe and North America. This is what historians and TV critics refer to as “the year without a summer.” Truly, a major, major bummer.

This all-time, most deadly explosion was 10 times more powerful than Indonesia’s much better-known Krakatoa blast of 1883, which is history’s second deadliest. But it doesn’t share the same claim to international fame, because back in 1815, the only way news spread across the world was by the slow boat, smoke signals and the lucky few who were able to get reception on the Weather Channel.

Much like the Chicago Cubs, Mount Tambora had been pretty quiet for the last 200 years, until there was a new rumbling that started back in April. In August, white smoke started shooting in the sky. Then in September, it was seismic city, with 12 to 16 earthquakes a day coming up on the radar screen. I don’t know about you, but any time earthquake totals hit double digits in a single day, I’m just not myself.

This new activity forced local residents along the mountain to high tail it to lower ground. When I asked Stevie Wonder what he would do in this situation, he replied that he was “Gonna keep on tryin’, till he reached the higher ground.” I don’t think he quite understands the gravity of the situation, as local authorities fear there will be toxic gas as a result of the seismic activity or even worse, they may be exposed to MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”

And just in case you thought all the action was in the South Pacific, volcanologists in our 49th state are concerned that an eruption could be forthcoming from Mount Cleveland, which is located 940 miles southwest of Anchorage. This volcano lies below a major flight path between North America and Asia, and an eruption could create havoc to airline travel and more importantly, put a big crimp in the nation’s longest-running regular season basketball tournament, the Great Alaskan Shootout, scheduled for late November. I don’t want to miss that opening round matchup between Dartmouth and the USF Hilltoppers.

And finally, if you think we had lousy weather here on the central coast in September, we’re not alone. The Great Lakes region is usually sunny and pleasant but this year has been the exact opposite. It’s been cloudy and rainy to go along with cool Northerly breezes. Meteorologists, weather nuts and Big 10 football fans can’t remember when they ever that had weather like this across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley in September. It looks like it’s lining up to be another brutal winter, so I’ve already ordered my shorts from Tommy Bahama’s winter collection.

For today’s photo rendezvous we are we opening up the archives and journeying back to a September’s past. We start out with sunrise over the water at Steamer’s Lane, before moving up to Lighthouse Point be finishing this mini-road trip at my favorite cypress tree along West Cliff Drive. When I contacted the Lovin’ Spoonfuls about these photos, John Sebastian said, “What a day for a day dream, custom made for a daydreamin’ boy.”

For the sunset portion of today’s program, we catch a beautiful late September low tide experience at Its Beach. We finish off the program with the prodigal sun shining through my favorite arch down at Its. Fittingly enough, on the first night of fall last Friday, a pretty sunset graced the western skies, so the wonderful world of color is on the way. Now I can just spend a day taking a walk in the sun, “dreaming ’bout my bundle of joy.”

On to the late night. “Gays are now allowed to serve openly in the military. So maybe our next war could be a musical. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that he is releasing the two American hikers from captivity in Iran on humanitarian grounds. Then he went back torturing dissidents. A satellite is now headed toward earth and the people at NASA have no idea where it will land. How would they know? It’s not like they’re rocket scientists.” –David Letterman

“Two new books about Sarah Palin came out today. All of a sudden, I’m feeling OK about Borders going out of business. “The military’s controversial ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy was officially retired. This marks a new age of tolerance, acceptance, and awkward showering for everyone in the military.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is now over. Gay people can enlist, fight overseas, and then not be able to get married when they get back home.” –Jay

“Moammar Gadhafi released an audio message saying that he’s still in power, and just ‘temporarily’ going underground. Sure, just like my local Blockbuster is ‘temporarily’ closing its doors. “President Obama is speaking to the General Assembly tomorrow and he’s expected to urge the delegates to fight global warming, reduce poverty, and find out what the heck is happening at Netflix.” –Craig Ferguson

So that’s our last blast for September. I don’t know about you, but time is flying by faster than the NBA canceled their preseason games. It’s lockout city, baby. Get ready for Derek Jeter and the baseball playoffs and we’ll catch you coming off the mound. Aloha, mahalo and later, Justin Verlander fans.

September 4, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 21, 2011

Big Girls Don’t Kauai

Good morning and greetings, back-to-school fans. That’s right, last week it was mid-August, and my kids were happy as linguini and clams to back in the classroom. For me, it’s been two weeks since my return from vacationing in the South Pacific and I still have the aloha spirit sprinting daily through my mind. Kauai is a slice of paradise one doesn’t soon forget, and besides, I’m going to be milking these pictures from the Garden Isle longer than I reminded my parents I made the Dean’s List at Syracuse back before there was history.

So while I still have the island fever, let’s learn some more fun facts about our 50th state.

According to the early descendants of Steve McGarrett, the Hawaiian Islands were one of the last places on Earth discovered and occupied by humans. The first Polynesians landed in Hawaii after leaving their home in the Marquesas Islands some 2,500 miles away, in search of pineapples, papayas and plate lunches with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

As I mentioned last week, modern contact was not made until Captain James Cook first anchored off Kauai in 1778. He named this sweeping archipelago the Sandwich Islands after his sponsor, the 4th Earl of Sandwich and his wife, the 1st Dutchess of Soup.

Hawaii is the most isolated population center on Earth. It is 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China and light years from Fort Lee, New Jersey. Much like my midsection, it is the only state whose land area is increasing as a result of lava flows from volcanic eruptions and the addition of Roseanne Barr to the Big Island.

Hawaii is the only state that is is not geographically located in North America, although some wonder if Arizona still belongs in the mix. It was one of only four independent countries before becoming a state, joining the Republic of Texas, the Vermont Republic, the California Republic and the Banana Republic, where new fall styles are now available for him and her.

Kauai offers seven distinct microclimates and breweries, from lush interior jungles to very dry areas on the west side. Mount Waialeale is at the center of the Garden Isle and is the rainiest spot in the world. Ancient Hawaiians recognized the importance of this location and built a temple on the summit along with a gift shop.

How it rains over 400 inches a year on the middle of the island while just 18 inches drop on the west side is a mystery to me and to the surviving members of Fleetwood Mac. Fortunately for the Tourism Bureau, much of the rain falls at night and the showers are brief, like my resolution to follow through on projects. But island rains bring rainbows, and that’s where dreams that you dare to dream really come true. Just ask any happy little bluebird.

Hawaii consists of eight larger, populated islands and 124 small, uninhabited islands, reefs, atolls b-tolls, and the Rolling Stones. It spans the distance of 1,524 miles, making Hawaii the longest island chain in the world. The islands are the subtropical tops of the biggest mountain range in the world. Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, is higher than Mount Everest and Yao Ming when measured from its base, which is on the ground floor of the Pacific Ocean, from which there is no elevator, so you have to take the stairs up.

Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee and whose majority of people are non-white. Except for big wave surfers, It has the highest life expectancy in the United States. Aloha is a Hawaiian word that means hello, good-bye and slow down, this isn’t the mainland. The oldest newspaper found west of the Rocky Mountains is the Sandwich Island Gazette in Hawaii, which has a great sports and lava flow page. And finally, by law, no building on Kauai is allowed to be built taller than a palm tree. Suck on that for a while, Empire State Building fans.

For this week’s pictorial pleasure, we are going with a variety pack. We start out at the golden sand of Lumahai Beach, one of the most photographed beaches in the world where Mitzi Gaynor in “South Pacific,” washed that man right out of her hair” using a coconut conditioner. We then move on to the basketball court at the Hanalei Community Center. It’s always nice to be shooting jumpers with waterfalls cascading down the mountain in the background.

We then cruise over to Opaeka’a Falls, which flows year round off the north branch of the Wailua River. The names dates back to the day when shrimp swarmed the river and were seen frolicking in garlic sauce at the base of the falls. Next we head to the south shore and Poupi Beach, where the waves are smashing against the rocks in an area teeming with sea turtles and more crabs than you’ll see on Chinese New Year. Then about 100 yards from this spot, I snapped a shot of this highly endangered monk seal. The Hawaiians call them llio holo i ka uaua, which means “dog that runs in rough water.” (As a side note, back in Jersey, they used to call me, llio hoho i ka italiano, which means “boy that walks with thin crust pizza.”)

There are less than 1,000 monk seals left on the planet and is was a treat to take a quick snooze with this one. We close out the tour with a shot of the world’s largest snail that I shot cruising along the front lawn at our house in Hanalei. With a cornucopia of amazing colored birds, exotic fish and tanned locals, Kauai is truly a visual paradise.

We’ve still got more to come on the photo front, including island flowers, south shore sunrises and red clay waterfalls, so stay tuned, Magnum P.I fans.

On to the late night. “Obama said the housing market may not pick up again for another year or longer. On the bright side, President Obama now has nine people interested in his house.” –Conan O’Brien “Donald Trump may be running for president, and why not? He’s got that everyman quality that we can all relate to. Donald Trump told CNN he may consider getting back into the presidential race. He said he has to mull it over, comb it over, and he’ll go from there.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Michele Bachmann wished Elvis Presley a happy birthday even though it’s actually the anniversary of his death. When told about the mistake, Bachmann said, ‘My apologies to Elvis, and the entire Costello family. Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll. She said she hasn’t been this excited since she won last year’s ‘Who’s Crazier Than Sarah Palin’ contest.’” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama will begin a three-state bus tour. I believe the three states are confusion, delusion, and desperation. The Republicans had their big debate in Iowa. You know who the winner was? Anyone that didn’t watch.” –Jay Leno “Some political analysts are saying that President Obama is making many of the same mistakes that President Bush made. Obama said, ‘That’s ridiculous, and if you’ll excuse me, ‘Spongebob’ is on.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Finally some good news: the price of gas is going down. They say it could soon be under three dollars a gallon. Do you know what that means? You can now afford to drive by the house you used to live in, go by the job you used to have, and go see the bank where you used to have money. It’s the trifecta of the recession! According to the Mexican government, the number of people leaving Mexico for the United States is now practically zero. It’s true. The other day I was in downtown Los Angeles and I heard something down there I haven’t heard in years: English.” –Jay Leno

“Sarah Palin’s daughter-in-law just gave birth three months after getting married, and thus won the annual Palin Almost Abstinent Award.” –Jay Leno “Levi Johnston, who got Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol pregnant, has a sister Mercede, who just posed for ‘Playboy’ and said some very unflattering things about the Palins. She said Track Palin, who she dated, used cocaine and oxycodone, that Sarah Palin forced him to go into the military to protect herself, and that if Palin became President she’d have a mental breakdown. Then the photographer asked her to turn a little so he could get both nipples.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“There was a small fire today at President Obama’s vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard. Or as Obama told China, ‘Darn! That’s where I was keeping the $14 trillion I was about to give back! After all the rioting in London this week, officials are worried that it could mean security problems for the Olympics next year. On the bright side, the guy running with the torch will just blend right in.” –Jimmy Fallon “A study showed that every hour of TV you watch after the age of 25 shortens your life by 22 minutes. That doesn’t sound too bad to me. You’d probably watch TV with that 22 minutes anyway.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s it for our South Pacific fact finding tour. I was shocked last Monday when we had our first clear morning in over two months, before it went back to the usual dreary fog the next day. For me, sports fans, it’s a completely different feeling when the sky is Carolina blue and not Joel Grey.

Enjoy the NFL exhibition season and we’ll catch you going deep to right center. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jim Thome fans.

July 24, 2011

Just Smile And Waves

Good morning and greetings, big wave fans. During the summer in Santa Cruz, the surf crowd doesn’t have all that much to get excited about, as the swells are smaller than the chances the Warriors will be playing opening night against the Lakers in November. At this point in my life, I would prefer to “luck out” rather than have a “lockout” of my favorite sport, but as the Dali Lama once told me, “Basketball is life and the rest is just karma.”

But let’s get back to the subject and predicate at hand. In a story written by Suzanne Bohan in the Contra Costa Times, the winter of 2009-10 was more brutal on the coastal erosion front than the Taliban’s continuing campaign against women and education. These super storms, which were faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall seawalls in a single bound, eroded huge chunks of shoreline and my faith in sand bags.

To see this displacement of Mother Earth in action, just stroll
along West Cliff Drive and you get a birds-eye view of the process.
According to a new study by scientists and Al Gore’s pilates
instructor, the coastline may be disappearing faster than Rupert Murdoch’s justification for Fox News, as climate change will be bringing encores of these powerful storm seasons.

During the 2009-10 winter season, waves in the Pacific and my urge to dance were 20 % stronger on average than any other year since 1997, when the whole ballroom obsession thing just took over me. The higher-than-usual sea levels, like my desire to rumba, foxtrot and tango, eroded away California state beaches at “unprecedented levels,” according to coastal geologists and lifeguards who saw their towers washed away. It’s the kind of winters we may continue to experience as global temperatures and out-of-control tuition
hikes for UC schools continue to rise.

In the erosion department, it is natural for the coastlines to be
stripped of sand by the powerful winter waves. In the summertime, it is replenishment city as the sand makes a return engagement on the backs of smaller waves. Unfortunately, after the stormy winter of 2009-10, King Neptune taketh more than he giveth, leaving the beaches more vulnerable to worsening erosion problems from than my thoughts and feelings after watching an episode of “Parenthood.”

Now normally you would blame these big-time storms on our old friend, El Nino, but instead, the finger gets pointed a his second cousin, El Nino Modoki, with Modoki being Japanese for “similar, but different,” or “does that come with teriyaki sauce?” This involves the raising of central Pacific water temperatures along with the salt and dried kelp content of miso soup.

What we’re really talking about is warm sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific flanked on the east and west by cooler waters, a sort of tempura condition. It’s akin to putting your right foot in, then taking your right foot out before putting your right foot back in and shaking it all about. It sounds like a lot of hocus pocus to me but that’s what it’s all about.

So to give you a look at what some of those waves blasting against the coast looked like, let’s journey back to a glorious day along
West Cliff. As you can see, the swell was pumping, bringing with it a high energy feeling and big spray. Photo number four is my favorite, as it’s the new wave hitting the backwash of the previous one and cresting up to form this furious entanglement of white foam. I really wanted to give this spectacular shot of fluid dynamics a clever title and thought long and hard before coming up with, “The Wave.”

We end this photo faire with a couple of landscape shots from
Its Beach during the golden hour from the same day. If anyone out there is cyber space knows how they came up with the name ‘Its’,
please clue me in. I could take a guess, but this blog is rated strictly PG-13.

On to the late night. “While testifying in Parliament, Rupert Murdoch was attacked by a man who threw a pie and yelled insulting names. Murdoch immediately gave the man a show on Fox News. NASA is considering replacing the space shuttle with a space taxi. It can do everything the shuttle can do, except pick you up if you’re black. A panel of medical experts has recommended that health insurance
companies provide free birth control to their customers. The recommendation has been hailed as ‘historic’ by women’s’ groups, and as ’10 years too late’ by Maria Shriver.” –Conan O’Brien

“Rupert Murdoch was testifying in his phone hacking case today, and a man attacked him with a pie. Fortunately, Murdoch knew to move out of the way, because he heard about the plan on the guy’s voicemail.” –Jimmy Fallon “Borders bookstores announced that it will liquidate its stock and close all of its stores nationwide. I don’t think this is what the Republicans meant by ‘closing our borders.’ The United States’ soccer team lost to Japan, which means we’re now losing to Japan in math, science, and penalty kicks.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“It’s rumored that Arnold Schwarzenegger is working on a memoir. Yeah, it’s apparently over 500 pages long — and that’s just the dedication to his kids.” –Jimmy Fallon “Rupert Murdoch said yesterday at the House of Commons that he was shocked, appalled, and ashamed. So apparently he watches Fox News, too.” –Jay Leno
“Sarah Palin’s son Track and his wife are having a baby. They haven’t picked a name yet, but they do know it will be a verb.” –Conan O’Brien

Top Five Surprising Facts About the Moon Landing
10. Was filmed on the same soundstage where they shot ‘Green Acres’ 8. They returned to the moon a week later because one of the astronauts dropped his car keys 6. Buzz Aldrin stuffed his space suit to make himself look bigger 4. Astronauts were charged extra for not returning the capsule with a full tank of gas 1. Neil Armstrong was also the first man on Mrs. Armstrong

So that’s my last blast for July. I’m going to take a couple of weeks off and head to the islands, so look for some aloha action on my return. In the meantime, be grateful for the food on your table as the current famine in Somolia is more horrible than words. It’s worse
than last week’s record-breaking heat and humidity in New York and the truly senseless massacre in Norway. We’ll catch you at home plate. Aloha, mahalo and later, Don Rickles fans.

July 17, 2011

Nobody Knows How Dry We Are

Good morning and greetings, summer breeze fans. Santa Cruz is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, which consists of warm
to dry summers and mild to cool, moist winters. This climate is found in
only a few areas of the world, which includes southwestern Australia,
central Chile, the western cape of South Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, coastal California and a strip mall in Hoboken, New Jersey.

So we’re talking no freezing temps in the winter and little
rain in the summer. Although we don’t see much precipitation at this time of year, Santa Cruz seems like a pretty moist place, from the fog that hugs the coast to the Pacific Ocean that looms as an ever-present force of moving moisture. After the rainy winter and spring, we are in no danger of any drought action, but unfortunately, a good part of our nation cannot say the same. You’ve heard of dry counties, we’re talking dry country.

What they’re calling the Great Drought of 2011 has spread across 14 states, from Florida to Arizona. 14% of the country has suffered through the driest six months since 1895. Hardest hit is Texas, where no part of the state has been left untouched by the virtual lack of rain. Taking the biggest shot is cotton, which accounts for half the U.S. crop, as the plants are too weak to break through the soil that is drier than my sense of humor.

Life has been miserable for Texans due to excessively high heat, scorching dry winds and the retirement of Yao Ming. More than 30% of the state’s wheat crop may be lost. It’s law of the jungle, the wheat shall perish.

Back in June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 213 counties in Texas and the Oakland A’s batting order as natural disaster areas. Even if the weather changes, the rains come and the A’s start hitting, agricultural losses in the state will surge beyond $3 billion due to the blistering heat and lack of precipitation.

Oklahoma has only had 28% of it’s normal summer rainfall. It has been
triple-digit scorching hot for days on end and last week Governor Mary Fallin asked Oklahomans to pray for rain and Russell Westbrook to
pass more. And this comes after Texas Governor Rick Perry earlier in the year asked Texans to pray for rain and to try and forget his serious social networking faux pas when he singled out members of the media and blocked them from following his Twitter account.

So after a spring that was dominated by floods, tornadoes and the Dallas Mavericks, why is the earth being scorched like this? Four out of five meteorologists who recommend sugarless gum blame the high-pressure system that won’t leave the country’s midsection, making it impossible for cooler air from the north to break through. Many in the parched regions are now hoping for heavy tropical storms, drenching monsoons and the end of the NFL and NBA lockouts for relief.

The outlook through late September shows some possible improvement, but the chances of this natural disaster continuing are stronger than my weakside help defense. Further blame goes to La Niña, which is cooling our Pacific Ocean but bringing less moisture to the atmosphere, which prevents the storm systems from getting anywhere near these parched regions. We’re talking dead landscape, which much like the recent actions of the Republican Party, will take years to recover from. At this point, hope is flying solo.

And as an added bonus, a massive heat wave hit the upper midwest states and east coast last Friday, which topped off a week of record-breaking temperatures from Minneapolis to JFK airport In New York. Which brings us to the words of George Carlin as hippy dippy weatherman Al Sleet, “Temperature at the airport is 88 degrees, which is stupid because I don’t know anyone who lives at the airport.”

As of late last week, 900 high temperature records in the United
States had been tied or broken. And the bad news is, for July heat and humidity fans, as Karen Carpenter once whispered in my ear, “We’ve only just begun.”

Speaking of airports, last Wednesday night, 40 planes at Denver International Airport were damaged as hail stones larger than Carmelo Anthony’s ego fell for 15 minutes during a severe thunderstorm. Winds reached 70 MPH as a new single day record for rainfall was set. And
remember, Colorado borders Oklahoma and is a stone’s
throw from Texas, where the rain gauges have been emptier than my invoices paid box.

Moving onto today’s photo lunch special, we’re are going totally lunar. Last Thursday, as I was returning from my son’s summer league basketball game and on the way to my daughter’s softball game, I noticed the full moon rising as I cruised by COSTCO. I really would have preferred to see my favorite natural satellite rising up over Monterey Bay, but my timing and jump shot just aren’t what they used to be.

So instead, let’s head back to January of 2009 and take a look at the
biggest and brightest full moon of that year. I took in this lunar experience from West Cliff Drive on the cliffs above Cowell’s Beach. As you can see, this night was spectacular, and with the stars up above in my eyes, this evening goes down as my favorite among lunar loveliness. Or as my friend Van Morrison commented later, “What a marvelous night for a moon dance. And a fantabulous night for your blog.”

On to the late night. “A report says that a growing number of Americans are worth $1 million. The bad news: last year they were worth $5 million. Hitler’s birthplace in Austria has revoked his honorary citizenship. Talk about a rush to judgment. Michele Bachmann and her husband run this institution where they try to ‘pray away the gay.’ They want gay guys to think outside the bun.” –Jay Leno

“In Arizona they had a dust storm that was two miles high and 15 miles wide. It looked like something out of a movie. Visibility in Arizona they said was so bad that police were hassling white people.” –Bill Maher “A lawmaker in California is pushing for 13 counties to break away and form a new state called South California. Meanwhile, residents are pushing for a more fitting name: ‘North Mexico.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today he’s going back to the thing he does best. No, not that thing; the other thing. He’s going to star in a new Western. I think it’s called ‘Butch Cassiday and the Illegitimate Kid.’” –Craig Ferguson

David Letterman’s “Top Six Signs the United States Is Running Out of Money” 10. For $10,000, you get your face on the dollar
9. The White House now has a two-drink minimum 8. There’s a listing on eBay for North Dakota 6. Americans now attempting to sneak into Mexico 4. Costs $25 for each bag the president wants to check on Air Force One 1. Applied for a $40 billion loan from Oprah

So despite a tough finish, congratulations go out Abby Wambach and the U.S. Women’s soccer team for their inspiring play during World Cup action. And the same goes for the writers, actors and
crew from the epic series “Friday Night Lights,” which just
finished an wonderful five-year run on NBC. No program, with the possible exception of “Sons of Anarchy,” has ever moved me emotionally like this show did about families and high school football. The series finale was exceptional. As they say, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Texas forever.” We’ll catch you down the right field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Riggins fans.

July 10, 2011

Hope Doesn’t Float

Good morning and greetings, summer weather fans. It’s the time of year that folks jam Highway 17 to flock to the beaches here on the central coast. As for myself, due to the fact that the sun is no longer my friend and the water temperature (57 degrees) is a tad cool, you won’t find me frolicking in the waves or burying myself in the sand. And besides, with the chilliness of the water, in the words of George Constanza, we are looking at “significant shrinkage.”

So when I ran across a story written by Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury News that may affect beachgoers here on Monterey Bay, I
wanted to get the word out to the people.

Back in March, Japan was hit by an devastating earthquake and tsunami that decimated the landscape north of Tokyo. It was truly March Madness. Millions of tons of debris, including everything from couches to convertibles to chop sticks, were swept into the ocean. This conglomeration is now floating in the Pacific and heading towards the west coast. More than 200,000 buildings were washed out to sea by waves the size of Godzilla. This has created a floating concoction of rubbish never before seen on the open seas, the History Channel or at a Tea Party convention.

Like a floating flea market of assorted junk, this giant mass is moving
across hundreds of miles of the open Pacific. We’re talking cars,
boats and even fully furnished homes that are bobbing along in the Pacific, which could create real problems for ships, marine life and Somali pirates. By the way Russell Crowe flies, it is expected to say aloha to the Hawaiian Islands by next spring and hit the beaches in California, Oregon and Washington in 2013 or early 2014. It will give new meaning to the term “the coast is clear.”

This body of awful Japanese memories is moving at a rate of about 10 miles a day, or the same distance I run twice daily in preparation for the Ultra Ironman Triathlon. It is spread out over an area about 350 miles wide and 1,300 miles long, which is basically the size of California without Starbucks or In-N-Out Burgers. What makes it even trickier is that neither scientists or skim boarders know the exact density of this mess, as to what is still floating and what, like my hopes of my future being ahead of me, have sunk.

The Pacific Ocean is a rather large glass of water, as there is about 3,800 miles of wide open ocean between the land of the Rising Sun and Waimea Bay. If the debris doesn’t make it to our shores by 2014,
it will end up in the “North Pacific Garbage Patch,” a lovely little spot
1,000 miles west of California where plastic goes to die. Reports
say it is three times the size of Texas and that several dozen abandoned yachts have been spotting in this floating continent of litter. I believe it all comes down to the the scene in “The Graduate” when a Los Angeles businessman takes Dustin Hoffman aside and declares, “I just want to say one word to you — just one word — plastics. There’s a great future in plastics.”

So coming to our shores sometime in the near future, the newest
Japanese import, a gigantic floating mass of tragedy never before seen, courtesy one of the great natural disasters of our lifetime. No one knows for sure how much of an environmental mess this will result in, but either way, it will certainly be an unfortunate and inconvenient truth.

So while we’re on the subject of beaches, I thought for our photographic test flight that we would journey up to one of the hidden jewels of the north coast, Panther Beach or as others prefer, Hole-In-The-Wall Beach. The color of the sandstone cliffs here is beyond amazing, as are the number of sea stars and sea anemomes that
cling to the jagged rocks. This wind-swept spot is just south of Davenport, less than ten minutes from the westside and well-worth the trip. And here’s a little tip-the beach is only accessible at low tide, so check your charts before you head north.

Now for a little late night. “North Korea has shut down all of its
universities for 10 months so students can work in factories. Or, as they call it in North Korea, ‘spring break.’” –Conan O’Brien “We’re celebrating our independence from the British. I hope that in a
couple years, we’ll be able to celebrate our independence from the
Chinese.” –David Letterman “The Senate canceled their vacation to work on the budget. Either they really can’t agree or they’re looking for an excuse to not go on vacation with their families.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“The government is warning that terrorists may try to blow up airplanes by implanting bombs under their skin. The airlines responded by saying they’ll charge any terrorists that do this a $50 carry-on fee. “According to the New York Times, a cell phone found in Osama bin Laden’s compound had phone numbers belonging to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. But authorities say it’s unlikely they ever spoke because apparently bin laden had AT&T. “A new study shows that home births are up 20% in the united states. More and more moms are giving birth at home. Or as in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s case, giving birth in the home they’re cleaning.” –Jay Leno

So another week is in the books. For Yankee fans, history was made on Saturday when Mariah Carey’s favorite Bronx Bomber, Derek Jeter, became the first pinstriper in history to collect 3,000 hits in a career. The Yankee shortstop embodies what is great and classy about sports, and that fact that he reached this epic mark with a home run on a 3-2 pitch, went 5-5 on the day and had the game-winning RBI made it even better.

So enjoy the warm days of “Friday Night Lights” and we’ll catch you around the batting cage. Aloha, mahalo and later, Minka Kelly fans.

July 3, 2011

You Could Have Knocked Me Over With A Weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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