June 6, 2010

The Oily Bird Catches The Worm

Good morning and greetings, Gulf Coast fans. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop thinking about all that oil gushing out into the ocean. Well, that and chocolate air. Just think, how many gallons flowed into the Gulf in the time that it took you to read that last sentence? So when I ran across this next story, written by Holbrook Mohr for the Associated Press, I had to share it with my cyber peeps, proving that sometimes co-dependence can be a wonderful thing.

The Gulf of Mexico is a superhighway for hurricanes that form over pools of hot water, then move north or west toward the coast. The site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded on April 20 is along the general path of some of the worst storms ever recorded, including Hurricane Camille, which wiped out the Mississippi coast in 1969, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane George in 2000, which ravaged our military and nation’s economy.

My daughter’s softball practices and the hurricane season officially started last Tuesday, and while scientists and the Klu Klux Klan seem to agree that the sprawling slick isn’t likely to affect the formation of a storm, the real worry is that a hurricane might turn the millions of gallons of floating crude into a crashing black surf.

Some fear a horrific combination of damaging winds, large waves and BP accountants pushing the oil deeper into estuaries and wetlands and coating miles of debris-littered coastline in a pungent, sticky mess, which happens every time I attempt to make chop suey.

And the worst effects of an oil-soaked storm and my Asian cooking might not be felt for years: If oil is pushed deep into coastal marshes that act as a natural speed bump for storm surges, areas including New Orleans, the Florida panhandle and the frontcourt of the Miami Heat could be more vulnerable to bad storms for a long time.

Experts say there are few, if any, studies on such a scenario. In this “untreaded water … it’s tough to theorize about what would happen,” said Joe Bastardi, chief long-range hurricane forecaster and high hurdler with AccuWeather.com. My family goes way back with Joe, as I grew up with his cousin, that Rat Bastardi, back in Jersey. Sometimes it seems like these lines write themselves.

The lone precedent, experts agree, is the summer of 1979, when Hurricane Henri hampered efforts to contain a spill from a Mexican rig that eventually dumped 140 million gallons off the Yucatan Peninsula. This environmental disaster ruined my summer vacation, as we had to cancel all our deep-sea fishing excursions and instead spent the entire trip indoors sipping margaritas, eating quesadillas and bustin’ up pinatas at Senor Frogs. But on the plus side, my batting stroke improved tremendously for wiffle ball.

Still, while oil from that spill coated miles of beaches in Texas and Mexico, tropical storms, unseasonable cold fronts and guacamole, chips and salsa helped reverse offshore currents earlier than normal and drive oil away from the coast. “That’s what I think would happen this time,” he says. “I’m sure a hurricane would do a great deal of diluting the oil, spreading it out where the concentrations would be much less damaging. Of course, if I’m wrong, we’re all screwed”

Experts are predicting a busy hurricane season with powerful storms. Bastardi predicts seven named storms, two or three major hurricanes and overweight windbag named Rush Limbaugh will have an effect on land this year. Hurricane season began June 1 and runs through November. Early season storms, much like responses when I send out my resume, are uncommon. The busy part of the season is August through October as stronger storms typically form during this time, as the start of the NFL and new TV season approaches.

A hurricane like Katrina or having eight more years of the oil companies being in bed with the Bush family “would be a worst-case scenario” with oil pushed far ashore, says National Wildlife Federation scientist and pole vaulter Doug Inkley.

“It would suffocate the vegetation. You’d get oiled birds and other animals. It’s virtually impossible to clean up oil. It would be worse than the pajama parties the Bushes were having with the Saudi Royal family.”

By August 1, even under the best case scenario offered by federal scientists, there could be some 51 million gallons of oil that is spilled into the Gulf-five times the size of the Exxon Valdex disaster off Alaska’s coast in 1989. If all that oil were put into gallon milk jugs, the jugs could be lined up and span a round-trip between Salt Lake City and New York City. If you are including cookies to along with them, then think Las Vegas.

Here’s the bottom line, sports fans. This oil is going to continue to flow into the Gulf until at least August. It will have environmental repercussions for my children’s children and their pets. Because of our insatiable thirst for this bubbling crude, we’ve gone through all the readily accessible oil and are now searching for new fuel in places that only Flipper, Jacques Cousteau’s family and the cast from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” should be visiting.

So if you want to be outraged, listen to this. According to Mary Kate Cary in USNews.com, “Since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the Obama Administration has granted at least 19 environmental waivers of gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits for deep water projects.” I’m screaming right now, Mr. President, can you hear me?

Here’s one more tidbit for you. Many people are wondering, will this disaster affect the price of oil this summer? Well, according to Brian Williams of NBC News, “the sad truth is, if you added up all the millions and millions of gallons of oil that has spilled out into the gulf, it equals only about an hour’s worth of our nation’s energy consumption.” In the words of the Ides of March, “I’m your vehicle, baby, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”

Due to the Bush administration’s atmosphere of non-regulation and the corrupt federal Mineral Management Service, who enjoyed a much too cozy relationship with BP, we find ourselves playing catchup in the Gulf. Two months ago, President Obama was promoting offshore drilling, and his administration and BP were about as ready to handle a spill like this as I was for my math SAT.

My son asked me the other night, “Dad, why are we killing the earth? It seems like we go from one disaster to the next. Why is this happening and can I please have my allowance?”

These are difficult questions to answer but a believe the “g” word plays a big part. No, not gee, I don’t know, but greed. The final word today, my fellow Americans, comes from Robert Palmer, who says, “might as well face it, we’re addicted to oil.” There’s so much more I’d like to rant about on this subject, but the solar panels of my wind turbines are dusty so I’ve got to gas up my electric car because I’m down to my last liter of vegetable oil.

So in honor of our oceans, I’d thought we’d take a look at a few marine animals that inhabit the waters of our central coast. I headed down to the wharf on Friday to check out the action, and was greeted by the fog enshrouding the Boardwalk (photo #6). I then walked over to a boat landing on the wharf and was welcomed by this gang of sea lions (photos #4-5,) who were relaxing in the sun while discussing the adjustments the Celtics needed to make in game two of the NBA Finals.

I shot this seal in the sand (photo #3) last week at Natural Bridges. However, the first two images of the pelicans are probably the most meaningful. I photographed them on Thursday, right after seeing pictures of the brown pelicans drenched in oil in Louisiana. The sad thing is, even after they capture and clean off the birds, it takes ten days to rebuild their feather’s natural waterproofing and file insurance claims.

But here’s the big problem. Even when the birds are released in Florida where the oil hasn’t hit yet, because of their ability to follow their internal homing device, their compass brings them right back to Louisana. It’s no Mardi Gras in these marshlands. It’s migratory madness for millions of birds who don’t read the newspaper, watch the news and have never heard of anyone named Katrina.

Here’s a little late night action. “Today, President Obama flew to Louisiana to see the gulf cleanup effort firsthand. And it was just like President Bush’s trip to Louisiana, except Obama actually landed. A new poll found that 43 percent of Americans think President Obama is doing a good job at handling the BP oil spill. Of course, the same poll found that 43 percent of Americans hate pelicans.” -Jimmy Fallon

“In fact, President Obama fired the head of the Mineral Management Services, because of lack of oversight of offshore oil rigs. It’s got to be tough finding another job after that. It’s like, ‘I see you were head of the department in charge of preventing oil spills? And this was during the huge oil spill?’ ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ ‘You may not be Wendy’s material.’” This is a crazy story. An American adventurist strapped himself to a bunch of helium balloons and floated from England to France. Immediately afterward, people in Mexico asked, ‘Exactly how many balloons?’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our environmental update. It’s been a tough time for wildlife fans and the families of the oil rig workers that were killed in the blast. But besides our oceans being poisoned, thus creating oxygen depletion zones where nothing thrives and BP’s use of 700,000 gallons of Corexit, a chemical oil dispersant that’s toxic to army, navy and marine life, it was a pretty good week, as I helped rescue a gopher snake, spotted a coyote in Pogonip and heard reports of porpoises in the kelp beds in the bay. So enjoy the warm June days , the NBA Finals and we’ll catch you at midcourt. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ray Allen fans.

January 24, 2010

Blast From The Last

Good morning and greetings, winter storm fans. Last week, we had five straight days of driving rain, heavy winds and big surf. I don’t want to say things were a bit moist, but it rained harder than the tears coming down the cheeks of Democrats in Massachusetts. Fortunately, my writing is covered by an umbrella clause, so I remained high and dry during the blogging process.

But in honor of our inclement weather and to celebrate the moisture we so badly needed here out west, I thought I’d pass on a few rain jokes. You know, some raincoat humor. And away we flow. There’s a technical term for a sunny, warm day which follows two rainy days. It’s called Monday. “Gosh, it’s raining cats and dogs,” said Fred looking out of the kitchen window. “I know,” said his mother. “I’ve just stepped in a poodle!” There was a communist named Rudolph. One day he looked out the window and said, “It looks like a storm is coming.” “No it isn’t,” said his wife. “Besides, how would you know?” “Because,” he responded, “Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

Moving along, let’s revisit the lyrical front, where in the words of the Carpenters, “Rainy days and Mondays always bring me down.” But that is not true for yours truly, as Monday is the day that I share my flowing stream of unconciousness with the ever increasing cyber world, my parents and my rabbi. The Allman Brothers told us, “They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad,” but according to Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Tuesday’s gone with the wind.” Jimi Hendrix proclaimed, “Rainy day, dream away. Let the sun take a holiday.” But our last word of precipitation today will come from the great Eric Clapton, who said, “Let it rain, let it rain, let you love rain down on me.” And that my cyber friends, is why I never carry an umbrella.

But let’s move out of the rain and into the sun. Today’s photo journey brings us back to the final day of the decade, December 31, 2009. I wanted to make sure I captured this day on the photographic front, so we start off with a lovely sunrise from Its Beach and Lighthouse Point, two locations I am as familiar with as Julianna Margulies’ character on CBS’s “The Good Wife.” It was a good start to the special day, which at this point held more promise than the violent drug war ending in Mexico anytime soon or the US convincing Afghan farmers not to grow opium. How’s that for a smooth political transition?

But wanting to make this a full day experience, much like my graduation day from driving school, I then headed up the coast to Four Mile Beach to take in the gulls and the furthering clouds expansion. The beach was deserted, except for the large flock of gulls, and they greeted me with the same warmth and understanding as did the Iraqis on our decision to continue to occupy their country. Basically, okay, you got your shots in, now get out of here and leave us alone.

For the end of the day tapestry, I returned to the coast and Its Beach. It was an extreme low tide, so I strode thru my favorite arch the same way as General Sherman did thru Atlanta in his March to the Sea back in 1864, but a tad less destructively. I was hoping for a spectacular sunset to close out the decade, but a cloud front blew in from the north, so the final shot features the last bit of pure sunlight from the decade. And because of the low tide, brilliantly colored sea anenomes and sea stars were scattered throughout the beach, all rock stars in their own right. All in all, a tremendous end to the decade, although if a few more colors had appeared in the sky, I wouldn’t have held it against the big guy, and I don’t mean Alec Baldwin.

On to Conan O’Brien’s former neighborhood. “I’ve been having a hard time explaining this whole situation to my kids, because they’re still very young. So I had a doll made of myself, and now I can show my kids exactly where NBC touched daddy. I should have known something was up when NBC sent me that 2010 calendar that only went up to January.” –Conan O’Brien “Things are crazy. I don’t know what is going on on NBC. I don’t know what going on in the ‘Tonight Show.’ Earlier today I get a call from the executives at CBS and they wanted to know if I would consider a jaw enhancement. What? Are you kidding?’” –David Letterman

‘The big CBS show here, anybody seen the ‘Medium?’ It’s about a woman who can communicate with the dead. A woman without can communicate with the dead. As a matter of fact, this Sunday, this week, Johnny Carson calls up the medium and he asks her what the hell is going on with the ‘Tonight Show.’” –David Letterman “Former presidential candidate John Edwards has finally admitted that he did father a love child with his former mistress, Rielle Hunter. He released a statement today. Edwards said, ‘It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she’ll forgive me.’ Hey, if she inherits that hair, what’s to forgive?” –Jimmy Kimmel “The heaviest snowfall in over 60 years is being reported in Beijing, China. To give you an idea of how bad it is, the army is now having to use snowplows to run over dissidents.” –Jay Leno

“You know, it’s hard to believe President Obama has now been in office for a year. Isn’t that amazing? It’s a year. And you know, it’s incredible. He took something that was in terrible, terrible shape, and he brought it back from the brink of disaster: The Republican party.” –Jay Leno “President Obama says he blames himself for the upset in the Massachusetts Senate race because he was too remote. Meanwhile, today in Arizona, John McCain couldn’t find his remote. One of Osama bin Laden’s sons has written a book. He said his father was a cruel parent. For example, he made the kid wait until he was 18 years old before he let him blow up his first car.” –David Letterman

So that’s this week’s version of “Meet the Impressed.” Rumor has it that next week will be our first guest blog of the year, and mark my words, you will be impressed or we guarantee your money back. Caught a beautiful sunrise on Sunday that made up for the missed snow on the mountain shots from last Friday, as the clouds, just like my 9th grade algebra teacher, just wouldn’t cooperate. Hope you caught the NFC Championship game yesterday, as it had all the drama of Don Draper on a good night out. So enjoy the moisture from the skies and we’ll catch you deep in the end zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, New Orlean Saint’s fans.

October 4, 2009

I’m My Own Worst Anenome

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 8:35 pm

Good morning and greetings, Open Studio fans. That’s right, once again it’s that time of year when I plunge into my Trini Lopez rountine (“If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning”) and put 500 new nail holes in our beautifully painted living room walls. I then transform what is normally a place of dining, relaxation and important satellite TV viewing into a gallery of landscape and nature wonderment. It’s right up Lou Reed’s alley as he urged us to “Take a walk on the wild side.” Well, this is as close as I’m getting as we’re going for a stroll on the westside.

So having just finished my first weekend of this year’s Open Studio experience, I thought I might answer some frequently asked questions I hear at this event. For example. “Why do you spell you first name with a ‘G’, what’s it like being a hand model and “Are you really on a sabbatical from Harvard?” Wait a minute, those aren’t questions from Open Studios, those were asked last week at the break the fast meal on Yom Kippur.

Visitors to my studio/married bachelor pad often pose the question, “How long have you been doing this?” Usually, they are referring to my taking pictures although it once involved my cleverly arranging a plate of chocolate chip cookies into the shape of a unicorn. Back before there was history, I received a camera as a Bar Mitzvah gift, but I believe the only use I got out of that was trying to put together a modeling portfolio for my next door neighbor, the lovely Marie Zucconi. Looking back on that, it would have been helpful if I had had film in the camera during those shoots.

I first visited Santa Cruz in 1974 and became a mayoral candidate in 1975. I immediately moved onto West Cliff Drive and starting snapping away and also taking pictures. I brought with me a Canon AE-1, and I used to walk that long half block down to Stockton Avenue to shoot the sunset. I’d also shoot birds, cloud formations and family interventions, so when I go back to the photo album archives I realize I’ve been capturing images of the westside for close to 25 years, give or take a few pelicans.

But I really started to get serious (or was it Roebuck?) a few years ago when we moved the family from lovely Hermosa Beach back to the central coast. I took some pictures while in the southland, but it was mostly of roller skaters, spineless television agents and bumper-to bumper traffic on the 405. On my return to this cold water paradise, I started hitting the cliff at sunrise, thus transforming myself from a mild mannered reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper to the non-Emmy winning creator of Sunrise Santa Cruz. And when friends and art critics starting asking me, “Do you sell these?” I knew it was time to go from a young boy with dreams of greatness to a man who is now asked the question at Open Studios, “Is there a bathroom here I could use?”

So that brings us up to date. As you may be able to tell from my photos, I am totally self-taught, and what was once a hobby is now a profession which could feed a small African nation for about a half an hour. Or as the Doobie Brothers album title reads, “What were once habits are now vices.” There are photographers who travel all over the world to capture the beauty and magnificence of this incredible planet. My journey is conducted on a slightly smaller scale as I travel from Lightouse Point to Natural Bridges with occasional trips to the wharf, Boardwalk and the north coast. Capturing the moments on this two and a half mile stretch along the edge of the continent is what my photographic journey is all about and I’m glad you are all along for the ride.

On today’s photo menu we are featuring some friends and sea anenomes. I shot these one afternoon in a small cove by the arch at Its Beach that is only emotionally available at low tide. Sea anemones are polyps that looks like plants but, much like NRA cardholders, are really voracious meat eating animals. In order for them to dine they must wait for their food to swim by and when the prey touches one of their tentacles, it mechanically triggers a cell explosion that fires a harpoon-like structure which attaches to the organism that triggered it and injects a dose of poison in the flesh of the prey. Ironically, this is very similar to the much of grand jury testimony heard in the David Letterman debacle. This gives the anemone its characteristic sticky feeling while at the same time paralyzes the prey which is then moved by the tentacles to the mouth for that day’s entree, which is served medium rare with a tangy white wine sauce.

You can see an example of the this in photos 5 & 6. I was walking thru the remaining arch on an extreme low tide evening at Natural Bridges when I spotted this unfortunate crab being slowly devoured by the anemone. Sadly, it was literally being eaten alive but I did not intervene because I wanted to allow nature to take its natural course and I was making linguine and clams that night. Rest assured, I have not had a bite of crab rangoon since.

On to some late night action. “Here’s a story. And it’s about time. Director Roman Polanski, they finally get this guy. They arrest him in Switzerland. And I was thinking well, you know, great, I’m glad they got Polanski but what about bin Laden? And then they had the madman hour yesterday afternoon. And it was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and he gave a speech to the U.N. He said he hated the US, said he hated Israel, and he hated that dumb pedestrian mall on Broadway. But Ahmadinejad did say if Iran is given access to uranium, he promises not to make weapons. And I said, ‘Well, that’s good enough for me.’” –David Letterman “Sarah Palin gave a speech to a conference of investors in Hong Kong yesterday morning. Then she spent the afternoon shooting pandas from a helicopter.” –Jay Leno

“President Obama made a big speech. He welcomed the members of the U.N. General Assembly to New York, and he said, ‘I’d like to encourage you to do some shopping while you’re here.’ I think it worked because China immediately bought eight banks, two car companies, and the state of Wyoming. While he’s in New York for the U.N. conference, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi is traveling with an entourage of 50 attractive female bodyguards. The guards are there in case Qaddafii gets attacked or in case he wants to make a music video from 1985. This week, Chrysler announced it’s replacing its owners’ manuals with a DVD. In a related story, most Americans have replaced their Chrysler with a Toyota.” –Conan O’Brien

“Settle down. If you came here tonight for sex with a talk show host, you’ve got the wrong studio.” –Jay Leno “I was shocked that Letterman has been having affairs. I had no idea he was even running for office. I’ve never had sex with members of my staff — the guests, yes, of course, but not the staff. Hey, next to Roman Polanski and Mackenzie Phillips’ dad, I think Dave looks pretty good.” –Bill Maher “There’s a new book out called ‘Why Women Have Sex’ that says there are 237 reasons why women have sex. And folks, Letterman knows the top 10.” -Jimmy Fallon

As usual, I like to keep my audience in tune with the important topics of the day. Sorry, Dave. So enjoy these cool fall days and get ready for baseball playoffs. We’ve got that New York Yankee fever. We’ll catch you at deep short. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

April 5, 2009

Whale, I Guess This Is Goodbye

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 9:08 pm

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Good morning and greetings, Monterey Bay fans. In my quest to expose my larger-than-life story to the cyberworld, each weekday morning, to paraphrase Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, I like to “Take a walk on the west side.” For me, this coastal experience takes me to my favorite street (besides Jason on “Friday Night Lights”) in the western hemisphere. That would be West Cliff Drive, where the cutting edge of the continent bonds with the blue Pacific. Along with man’s best friend and my consigliore Summer, we mink stroll the cliff, never knowing who or what we will encounter. It could be a whales, dolphins, prison pen pals, porpoises, pelicans, otters or insurance agents, and not necessarily in that order.

For this hybrid of a blog, I always like to start off the new month with something exotic and was all ready to showcase an incredibly gorgeous sunrise from a few winters back. But then news came to me, or in the words of Marvin Gay, “I heard it through the grapevine” that a whale had washed up along the cliff. Well, faster than you could say “Jacque Cousteau” I sprang into action faster than Shamu downing a bucket of popcorn shrimp at Red Lobster. But as darkness was approaching and not wanting to break my 8pm backcourt ordered curfew, I decided to venture back on Friday morning.

As you can see from photo #1, I was not alone in my holy quest to see this fallen giant of the sea. As it turns out, a year-old female California gray whale had been found dead, floating alongside the wharf on Wednesday. It was towed a mile out to sea, but then drifted back in and landed just north of my favorite arch at Its Beach. Rather than burying it in the sand or Fed Exing it up to Ano Nuevo to become an appetizer for the great whites, the city decided to use a tow truck to haul it up onto West Cliff, put on on a flatbed truck and bring it to the city dump. Or as Joni Mitchell would say, “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.”

You can see in photo #2 a couple of wetsuited boys getting ready for some action. When this 25-foot long, 8,260 pound juvenile was brought up from the beach, it was just surreal. It was as if one of marine life artist Wyland’s painting had come to life, as this decomposing beauty was dangling in the air while knocking the iceplants off the cliff. This was a very unusual disposal method for a whale and certainly nothing that has been seen before here in Santa Cruz. The whaling wall of West Cliff had come to life. And as a special bonus, this yearling had a certain scent to it and I’m not talking Old Spice-more like old Sock.

So much like sleeping past 7am, helping my son with his math homework and my journey down the birth canal, experiencing this whale’s tale was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was sad that all this attention was being paid to a deceased mammal but many people gathered on the cliff had never seen a live whale, so they were happy just to get a peek at one of these beautiful creatures that roam the sea and food shop in our Monterey Bay.

Much like Fernando Valenzuela, this youngster was born in the warm Baja California waters and was heading north to the nutrient-rich waters off of Alaska when she encountered some kind of problem that led to her ending up dead on Its Beach. According to Saturday’s Santa Cruz Sentinel, Joe Rodgers, a longtime Santa Cruz boat captain and marine surveyor, said he spotted a whale that size this week several times, going back and forth across the bay, seemingly looking for its mother. Gray whales, which can grow to 50 feet in length, travel an incredible 12,500 miles in their annual migration. For me, I drive to the bank, stop at Longs and the dry cleaners and I’m ready for a nap.

Well, enough of my blubbering and onto some late night humor. “Today at the White House, President Obama met with the CEOs of all the major U.S. banks. A lot of these big bonus guys. The CEOs looked around the White House and said, ‘You live in this dump? You know what’s interesting? Today, a reporter in Crawford, Texas, asked former President George Bush how he felt about General Motors and Bush said, ‘You know, since I left office, I don’t really follow the Iraq war anymore.” And “see, I feel confident that it’ll go well, because President Obama is very good with these economic leaders. He is a very good speaker, of course, and a good speech writer. See, the problem with President Bush was when he went to the summit, any time anyone said G20, he’d go, ‘Bingo!’” –Jay Leno

“Earlier today, President Obama filled three of the remaining top jobs at the Treasury Department. Their job will be to collect taxes from all the other cabinet members that haven’t paid them yet.” Actually, this is highly unusual for the government to take the kind of action they did with General Motors. I mean, the closest the previous administration came to getting involved in the car industry was Bush using jumper cables to jump-start Dick Cheney’s heart.” –Jay Leno And “President Obama visited Buckingham Palace and he met with the Queen of England, and here’s what they did. They briefly shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. I mean, it was just like my honeymoon.” –David Letterman

“Now here’s a story. A guy in Brazil goes spear fishing, and he accidentally gets shot in his own head with the spear. Well, they operate on the guy. He’s unconscious. They pull the spear out and he’s going to be fine. And you know the first thing he said when he came to was, ‘Well, that’s the last time I go spear fishing with Dick Cheney.’” –David Letterman “Looking back at his presidential run this week, John McCain said that he got a lot of votes because of Sarah Palin. And weirdly enough, that’s the same thing President Obama said.” –Jimmy Fallon And finally, “MTV, Music Television, is putting actual music videos back on their network. If it works, Fox News said they’ll start doing actual news again.” –Craig Ferguson

I’d like to say that all’s whale that ends whale, but by bringing this magnificent creature that graces our seas to the city dump for its burial just doesn’t seem completely right. Anyway, we’ve got a pair of birthday wishes going out for Tuesday as my snowboarding-crazed brother Brad turns the big 50 and my outside hitting, volleyball playing, sprinter of a son Jason turns 15. Brad, who I have known since he was a small child, is the President and CEO of the nationally renowned People Productions Media Services based in Boulder, Colorado. Through the years he has been like a sports brother to me. Or as Lilly von Schtupp in “Blazing Saddles” once said of my youngest sibling, “What a nice guy.”

As for Jason, if I loved him any more or was any prouder of him, my heart would burst. But even more importantly, he still hasn’t beaten me one-on-one in basketball yet, although I haven’t given him the opportunity in a while. But now that Bernie Madoff is incarcerated and my Vietnam war injuries have magically healed, I’m running out of excuses.

So enjoy the spring break, baseball’s opening day and tonight’s NCAA championship game. Four Tar Heel seniors put their future NBA careers on hold and returned to North Carolina this season in their quest for the title. They’re hungry, talented and in the words of James Taylor “In my mind I’m going with Carolina.” Only Michigan State stands in their way. We’ll catch you on the backdoor alley-oop. Aloha, mahalo and later, Magic Johnson and Yankee fans.

June 3, 2008

Ooh Dream Beaver, I Believe You Can Get Me Through The Night

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Good morning and greetings from the windy west side of Santa Cruz. For Monday’s photo entertainment, we went with a montage of the color red. Today we are going to stay with the single color theme as we’re talking shades of green. We’re talking lime green, Lorne Greene and Al Green. We’re looking at pine cones and flowers on the west side, patterns on the rock at Laguna Creek Beach, extreme low tide at Four Mile Beach and a family of quackers at Neary Lagoon. We’ll be doing more of these color coded days as we’ve got mellow yellow, brilliant blue, outrageous orange and passionate purple waiting to take their cuts at the plate.

So what’s happening on the nature front this week? Well, according to a all-star team of California scientists, the earth may be on the verge of a massive release of methane similar to one that caused a global warming that ended the last “snowball” ice age. Writing in the journal Nature, lead researcher Martin Kennedy of UC Riverside suggested the same kind of warming could be about to occur, not over thousands of years but within a human lifetime In the words of the group Spirit, “It’s natures way of telling you something’s wrong.”

Methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide and 10,000 gigatons of frozen methane are stored zip lock bags in the world’s oceans and permafrost. The current trend of accelerated permafrost melting as the Arctic warms rapidly could release vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere, triggering a sudden climate change. Kennedy worries that rising carbon dioxide levels could drive enough warming to destabilize the Earth’s stored methane reserves. Says Kennedy, “Unzippering the methane reserve could potentially warm the Earth tens of degrees.” Personally, I live by the words of the lovely Carly Simon, “I haven’t gone time for the methane.”

Sunscreen lotions used by swimmers around the world are contributing to a phenomenon known as coral bleaching, (not to be confused with Cloris Leachman,) threatening the coral and the marine life that depend upon it. A study sponsored by the European Commission found that even tiny amounts of cream based UV filters used to protect the skin from the sun’s rays caused bleaching of the coral reefs.

The chemical compounds join climate change, industrial pollution, high UV radiation due to the “ozone hole” and talk radio as the leading threats to coral reefs. According the the report, an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen are released annually in water near coral reefs, with 25 percent of the sunscreen ingredients on skin released into water over the course of a 20 minute swim. And incidentally, this is after staying out of the water for an hour after eating.

Now onto my favorite story of the day. Beavers will soon be living in the lakes, streams and the Joan rivers of Scotland for the first time since before Mary Queen of Scots was executed in 1587. The beaver, Wally, Lumpy and Eddie Haskell were all hunted to extinction across Scotland in the 18th century and the government plans to capture four beaver families in Norway and then release them in the lochs of Argyll’s Wildlife Reserve.

When the animals are released next spring, it will mark the first time that native mammals have been reintroduced in Scotland. Scientists will closely monitor the beavers over the following five years to determine the impact on the local environment, economy and entertainment business before any decision is made on a wider reintroduction. “By bringing these useful creatures back to their natural environment, we will have the chance to restore a missing part our our world of wetland ecosystems and re-establish much needed natural processes,” said Alan Bantick, chairman of the Scottish Beaver Trail Steering Group. As far as the beavers are concerned, I say dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t.

That’s it for today’s look and world news and sports. I will leave you with the words of one Mr. Gary Wright. “I’ve just closed my eyes again. Climbed aboard the dream weaver train. Driver take away my worries of today. And leave tomorrow behind.” You know, after writing that, I really believe we can reach the morning light. Enjoy the green and get ready for the Lakers and Celtics to go at it in the NBA Finals. Let’s hope it’s as epic as the nature I saw today that I’ll blog out next week. Defense is desire. Later.


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