November 16, 2014

Numb And Number To

Good morning and greetings, polar vortex fans. Now if I’m being perfectly honest, I really don’t like the feeling of being cold. Or for that matter, being imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp.

Nor do I like feeling hot, except when I’m raining down jumpers on the basketball court. I just get into a zone. Auto Zone.

So when I heard last week that the midwest and rockies were preparing for a blast of polar air that was to send temperatures and toilets plunging, I knew Snowvember was upon us. Pardon my french, but to quote either Elton or Tommy John, “The bitch is back.”

Holy guacamole. Meteorologists and Al Roker’s cousin were calling it the “Arctic Outbreak.” We’re once again talking about a huge mass of whirling and swirling cold air that sent thermometers soaring downward. It had been a hundred years since Denver had been this cold this early, as the thermometer dropped faster than the Dow Jones average did a month ago.

Last Wednesday, the thermometer didn’t rise above the six degree mark all day in Denver. How cold was it? Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick. The only thing colder was the Denver Nugget’s defense that night at Pepsi Center, as they gave up 84 points in the first half in the loss to Portland.

Denver set a new record with a recording of minus 14 below. So how cold was it outside the arena? Ladies of the night were charging twenty bucks just to blow on your hands.

So what in the wide, wide world of weather is this polar vortex? For those of you who have forgotten or don’t give a rat’s behind, it’s a large pocket of the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere that swoops down from the north, leading to bitter cold freezing conditions while making life miserable for the masses, unless you’re a badger or wolverine.

Residents of Chicago are still in a panic. That’s what 32 feet of snow last year will do to you. And just in case you were wondering where the coldest spot in the nation was on Wednesday, the honor went to Casper, Wyoming, where it was a bone chilling 26 below. Pickpockets were sticking their hands in stranger’s pockets just to keep them warm.

So I say, America, let’s band together and send this weather back to where in belongs, to a land with ten provinces, three territories and one escaped Bieber. Canada. America’s attic. Or as they like to say about themselves, “We’re not colder, we’re cooler.”

Now I have nothing against Canadians, although I have never made love in a canoe. I may have on occasion sampled some their bacon in eggs benedict. A Canadian is sort of like an American, but without the gun. Or as the gangster Al Capone once said, “I don’t even know what street Canada is on.”

So while it’s 81 degrees in Palm Beach County, Florida, there’s four feet of snowing dropping in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, California bathes in sunshine and the drought continues to rage on. Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite fair, but if we didn’t have the weather to talk about, what would we start our conversations with?

So to update a previous post, I have remained in touch with my old friend Dennis, who’s doing quite well, but for security purposes did want me to reveal his last name (Haggar). My old high school buddy celebrated his 62nd birthday on Thursday with cake, ice cream and animal balloons. We had been out of touch for 44 years, but now we are reunited, and it feels so good.

But under the category of, “Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear,” low and behold, last Wednesday, I received an email from my closest comrade from grammar school, who I also hadn’t been it touch for over four decades. He somehow ran across my blog and reached out to me.

It was a glorious reunion. But out of respect for his privacy, he wanted me to keep our conversation on the down low, so as not to reveal his profession, (attorney), relationship status (married), hobbies (jazz music) and most importantly, his Pacific Northwest location (Seattle.)

Turns out my old Fort Lee running buddy is a big NBA hoops fan, and has named all his sons after Shawn Kemp. I had been dreaming about his mother’s banana cake for years. It was a blast heading back to the past, and where we go from here is basically a jump ball.

But if these things happen in threes, I’m ready, because if something else is coming down the pike, I really hope it’s a pony.

So for today’s photosynthesis, we are returning to West Cliff Drive on the morning of October 26. I wanted to get a wider shot of the sunrise over the bay, so I set up shop at Fair Avenue. The sky was vivid red and orange before the sun rose, casting a painted canvas look at the heavens above Monterey Bay.

The sun then rose, the sky turned blue, and I packed up my stuff and drove home to confront the ghosts of my future. I’ve got a great past in front of me.

On to some late night humor “I’m so excited. Jay Leno is on the show tonight. He brought some really funny jokes and some great stories. Although I’m a little concerned he also brought his old desk and Kevin Eubanks.” – Jimmy Fallon “At the economic summit in China, Vladimir Putin is being accused of flirting with the first lady of China. Then again, Putin does have a history of not respecting boundaries.” – Conan O’Brien

“”Director Oliver Stone says he’s going to make a movie about Vladimir Putin. I can’t believe anyone would want to work with that insane communist. And Putin is a little crazy as well.” – Craig Ferguson ” Welcome to our special “Sons of Anarchy” show. I’m a huge fan. When I was a young man, I ran with a gang of redheaded punks. We were called the Ginger Snaps. Our biggest enemy was sunlight. “Sons of Anarchy” is the No. 1 show in its time slot. They were No. 2 but then they had the No. 1 show executed in an abandoned warehouse.” – Conan O’Brien

“Pepsi is testing a new drink flavor, which is a mix between Mountain Dew and Doritos. Or as stoners call it, “instant breakfast.” The October jobs report was released and it showed that unemployment has hit its lowest point in six years. Also hitting its lowest point: anyone who tried that new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew.” – Jimmy Fallon “PepsiCo is developing a Doritos Mountain Dew called Dewitos. I think I’ll wait until they come out with Diet Dewitos.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Pepsi has a new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. No, we don’t have an Ebola vaccine, but we do have the Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. You know Kim Jong Un, the evil dictator of North Korea? Apparently, a guy in his inner circle used his ashtray while smoking and Kim Jong Un had him executed. I remember the same thing happened when a guy used Martha Stewart’s personal lemon zester.” – David Letterman

“The Secret Service said there have been 40 fence-jumping incidents at the White House in the past five years. Half of them were intruders trying to get in. The other half was President Obama trying to get out.” – Conan O’Brien “A tiger has been seen running around Paris. Citizens were told to stay indoors and do whatever’s necessary to protect the wine and cheese. They should leave home only to smoke and to judge others.” – Craig Ferguson

So full speed ahead, as clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. We’ll catch you making great comedy movies classics for American audiences. Aloha, mahalo and later, Bobby and Peter Farrelly fans.

June 30, 2013

The Jet Stream of Consciousness

Good morning and greetings, super moon fans. Well, the weather last week was nuttier than a holiday fruitcake, as it went from two days of rain to picture perfect weather a couple of days later. One day I was strolling through the fog and early morning drizzle, feeling for vacationers who had hoped for a couple of beach days along our kelp-lined shores. But then, before I could say, “Where’s Eddie Snowden?,” the temperature was warmer than my feelings for actress Thandie Newton, the star of DirectTV’s Audience Network drama “Rogue.”

And my admiration for this morally compromised undercover detective continues to grow like the morning glory surrounding my home since I’ve learned the series has been picked up for a second season. I believe the late Andy Warhol was on to something when he said, “When I got my first televison set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships.” Tune in, turn on, drop out with no commercials.

Yes, I have many friends from the TV world. And I’ve learned so much from watching. Just like Groucho Marx. “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

And I’m excited about my summer reading list, as I’ve got a couple of books lined up that I am chomping at the bit to read. But I’ve learned that man cannot live by TV alone, although God knows I’ve tried. Or as comedian George Gobal once said, ‘If it weren’t for electricity we’d be watching television by candlelight.”

Let’s get back to the weather. In a story written by Seth Borenstein for the Associated Press, scientists say the jet stream, that river of air high above Earth that dictates much of the weather and reality television programming for the Northern Hemisphere, has been, like this post, unusually erratic over the past few years. The polar jet stream dips down from Alaska, goes across the United States or Canada, and then across the Atlantic and over Europe, It is fiscally responsible for most everything we experience on the weather front and on “The Housewives of Tahrir Square.”

Two weeks ago, the jet stream was responsible for record downpours that led to historic flooding in Canada and the Chicago Blackhawks winning the NHL Stanley Cup. Then there was the record-breaking heat in Alaska, where temperatures fluctuated between 94 and 15 degrees in a three week period and led to this joke.

An Eskimo was tapping on some ice looking for some fish when a voice said, “You won’t find any fish under there.” The Eskimo just ignored it and carried on tapping. Again, the voice echoed saying, ‘You won’t find any fish under there.” The Eskimo shouted, “Who are you, God?” and the voice replied. ‘No, the ice rink manager.”

The jet stream usually rushes rapidly from west to east in a mostly straight direction. But lately it’s been wobbling and weaving like Mel Gibson behind the wheel, wreaking havoc as it goes. The more the jet stream moves north and south, the more changeable and extreme the weather, thus giving Weather Channel personnel a reason to grow and smile.

The extreme weather continued in May, as early California wildfires fueled by the Miami Heat contrasted with more than a foot of snow in Minnesota. One day Seattle was the hottest spot in the country, while Maine and Edmonton, Canada, were warmer than Miami and Phoenix. This is what we refer to in the business to as thermometers gone wild. And speaking of which, if you were in Death Valley over the weekend, where temperatures hovered around 130, give me a call.

The fun and games continue as the winter of 2011-12 produced little snow while 2012-13 was chocolate blizzard city. A French dip in the jet stream and high pressure caused Superstorm Sandy to left turn and smack into New Jersey, a maneuver so rare and unusual as that happens once every 714 years, depending on traffic on the George Washington Bridge.

But when it comes to weather extremes, tornadoes take the cake and the ice cream. Over a recent 12-month period, the nation experienced a record 1,050 tornadoes. That was followed by a 12 month period where there was a record low for these killer twisters. But there’s no need to panic. It’s just the jet stream playing mind games. Or in the words of Mark Twain, “Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.”

Moving along, last Sunday the biggest moon of the year rose over Monterey Bay. But unless you were a pilot or wearing infrared night googles, you wouldn’t have been able to see this supermoon from the westside because of cloud cover. So today I’m showcasing my favorite harvest moon rising. This blessed event took place back in January of 2009. I was shooting from the cliffs at Cowells Beach across from the Municipal Wharf. Surfers were out in force as the late sun was lighting up the water. When that glowing orange sphere peaked up over the mountain, it was quite a rush. Just another fantastic night on Monterey Bay.

I’ll end our lunar discussion with this. Two guys were walking home from a bar. One says to the other, “What a beautiful night, look at the moon.” The other replied, “You’re wrong, that’s not the moon, that’s the sun.” They start arguing until they come upon a drunk walking in the other direction. They stop him and said, “Sir, could you please settle an argument? Tell us what that is up in the sky that’s shining, is it the moon or the sun?” The drunk look at the sky and then looked at them at said, ‘Sorry, I don’t live around here.”

On to some late night humor. “NSA leaker Edward Snowden somehow managed to get out of the U.S. with all their information. Now where is he? He’s in Russia now, going to be in Ecuador or wherever. He remains at large. Now what are the odds out of 350 million Americans, the only one the government wasn’t watching was him? In the middle of all these scandals, President Obama got some good news today. The IRS ruled that he can write off the first half of his second term as a total loss.

“President Obama gave a big speech on climate change. He believes global warming is getting worse because apparently he’s sweating a lot more during his second term. Yesterday, the Supreme Court opened the door for same-sex marriage to resume in California. Apparently, the judges were really swayed by that Liberace movie. Tourism officials in Paris have launched a campaign to make Paris friendlier to tourists. First step? Kick out the French.” – Jay Leno

“You folks know anything about climate change? I used to know a little bit about it but I don’t care anymore. There’s nothing we can do about it. But on the bright side, I’ve got a closet full of short-sleeved shirts I don’t otherwise get to wear.” – David Letterman “Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have named their newborn girl North West. The baby was named after the direction in which it will try to escape.” -Conan O’Brien “It was just announced that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have named their daughter North West. Or as Southwest Airlines put it, “Please don’t have a second child.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our final blast for June 2013. Time continues to go by faster than I can change channels. We’ll catch you showing basketball fans what good TV theatre was all about on the night of NBA draft. Aloha, mahalo and later, David Stern fans.

May 5, 2013

What A Day For A May Dream

Good morning and greetings, spring flowers fans. It’s the magical month of May, a spectacular time to be alive and smelling the roses on this marvelous planet of ours.

The weather on the central coast has been as impressive as Lindsay Lohan’s vow to turn around her life, and I, for one, am fully in her corner. I fell in love with her in “Mean Girls” and my admiration for her courage has grown from there. As Lindsay says, “Life is full of risks, why not take them?” Or you could simply pay for them first.

Last week, I found myself being asked the questions, “Can you believe it’s May?” and “What was it like being a supermodel?” Yes, the days on the calendar continue to hurry by like Kim Jong On’s wife trying to escape from under his demilitarized zone.

Last Wednesday was May Day, the first of May, and if the weather around the nation was any indication of what’s in store, then hold onto your barometers, thermometers and wind chimes. I never judge a book by its cover, except for Playboy’s party jokes, but this opening chapter of our fifth month was a doozy.

May Day is a celebration of the international workers movement. In Seattle, it’s celebrated annually by brave anarchists smashing windows of local businesses while dodging pepper spray. Yes, nothing helps keep the focus on the global economic crisis and the immigration reform movement than creating havoc and running wild in the streets with a bandana covering your face.

In Hawaii, May 1 is Lei Day, which always brings smiles to vacationing honeymooners. It celebrates the history and tradition of the lei, the fragrant floral necklaces that have become synonymous with the aloha spirit and vacation rentals on the Big Island. In the Hawaiian culture, giving or receiving a lei carries a special meaning, like here on the mainland, when you give that special someone cash on their birthday.

Let’s head back to the weather map. In Colorado and Wyoming, May started out with a blast of wet spring snow. I received a first hand report from my brother Brad in Boulder, who was snowboarding down his driveway so he could de-ice his mountain bike. But as they say in Colorado, ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes,” as one minute it will be blizzarding and then sunny the next day with blue skies and 70 degree temps, making that snow disappear faster than a box a donuts from Rush Limbaugh’s desk. For you Denver basketball fans, the only months that snow hasn’t fallen or people weren’t grumbling about the Nuggets being knocked out of the first round of the playoffs have been July and August.

The first day of May also brought buckets of heavy snow and fried chicken all across the midwest. For those of you who aren’t geography majors, Sioux Falls, which is the largest city in South Dakota, got its first May snowfall in 37 years. Kansas City experienced a May snow for the first time since 1907, which coincidentally is that last time the Chiefs had a shot at the Super Bowl. Schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota were closed as children frolicked and played and went ice fishing. I may be old-fashioned, but nothing says spring to me like mittens, boots and snowplows on the road. That sound you hear is the groundhogs chuckling.

Meanwhile, trouble loomed to the north in Fargo, North Dakota, which I didn’t even realize was part of the United States. For the last four out of five years, the Red River has flooded, swamping this city of 105,000 and ruining prom plans. It’s an annual event for high schoolers in this area to come together and bond over filling up sandbags, of which a million were filled this year in preparation for the rising waters. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” The good news is the river crested over six feet below record levels, which means the newly built sandbag dykes remained dry. The bad news is they’re still in North Dakota.

So while the snow was coming down harder than Oprah running wind sprints, a natural disaster was taking place in southern California. No, I don’t mean the announcement of Fox’s summer TV schedule, but wildfires, fueled by dry, gusty conditions, were burning out of control all over the Inland Empire. Conditions throughout the Golden State are drier than my mouth in the middle of the night when I wake up and hear the camels laughing, but that’s nothing that a little sleep apnea can’t take a care of. With high winds, high temperatures, high cholesterol, low humidity, dry brush and a wet comb, it adds up to a perfect storm for wildfires. It’s one thing to be stuck in traffic on the 101, it’s another when fire is burning in the diamond lane.

Since we had some April showers, I feel it’s my cyber duty to feature some magnificent May flowers. Today’s beauties are bearded irises, the fleur-de-lis symbol that for centuries has represented French royalty, which makes them the flower most likely to surrender. These ornamental masterpieces feature more colors blended together than you’d see in the stands at a day game at Yankee Stadium. Their name comes from the fuzzy hairs growing from the downward facing petals that are called beards, leading to the name of bearded iris, which is still no excuse not to shave.

So let’s end with a flower joke. Two friends, a blonde and a redhead, are walking down the street and pass a flower shop where the redhead happens to see her boyfriend buying flowers. She sighs and says, “Oh, crap, my boyfriend is buying me flowers again.” The blonde looks quizzically at her and says, “What’s the big deal, don’t you like getting flowers?” The red head says, “Oh sure, but he always has expectations after giving me flowers, and I just don’t feel like spending the next three days on my back with my legs in the air.” The blonde says, “Don’t you have a vase?”

On to the late night. “An elementary school here in New York City has become the first school in the country to serve only vegetarian food. It’s serving only vegetarian foods, like tofu. Now when bullies say, ‘Give me your lunch money,’ students are like, ‘Here, take it.’ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in trouble. He was arrested this week for threatening to expose some sensitive government secrets. And you can tell it’s serious. His bail was set at 200 goats. New reports say New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will not run for president in 2016 if Hillary Clinton does. In a statement, Hillary said that she appreciates the decision and the support. Then she added, “Because I would crush him.” – Jimmy Fallon

Washington Wizards center Jason Collins just came out of the closet, making him the first pro athlete in a major sport to be openly gay. He is getting credit for being the first openly gay pro athlete. Or as Martina Navratilova put it, “Hello!” – Jimmy Fallon “More news keeps coming out about Jason Collins, the NBA player who revealed he’s gay. It turns out he’s a free agent looking for someone to sign him. He’s got some interest from Chicago. Not the Bulls, the Broadway musical. There’s a trend now of prison inmates reviewing their prison on Yelp. The downside is that people are now committing crimes just to get the amazing fish tacos at Rikers Island.” –Conan O’Brien

“There’s now talk here in California of letting noncitizens serve on juries. The bad news: If you’re ever on trial for underpaying your nanny, you could get the death penalty.” –Jay Leno “It’s been two years since the SEAL team busted in and got Osama bin Laden. On the night of the raid, the guy never knew what hit him. It’s like being married to a Kardashian.” –David Letterman “I don’t consider myself a baby boomer. To me, that means hippies. What do I have in common with a hippie? I never went to Woodstock. I never wore flowers in my hair. I never took huge amounts of LSD and then battled killer ducks who I swear were out to kill me. All right, I did the last one but I didn’t think it was groovy.” – Craig Ferguson

So welcome to May and the second round of the NBA playoffs. We’ll catch you showing fans what gems there are to be had in the second round of the NBA draft. Aloha, mahalo and later, Draymond Green and Chandler Parsons fans.

April 14, 2013

You’re Cicading On Thin Ice

Good morning and greetings, severe weather fans. As many of you and my hairdresser know, I’m fascinated by the diversity of weather throughout the United States. Last Wednesday was a perfect example of the weather map going wild and crazy, as the nation experienced the good, the bad and the ugly, which put me under a lot of barometric pressure. Or in the words of Clint Eastwood, “I tried being reasonable, but I didn’t like it.”

Now Clint Eastwood is a true American classic. And never more so as Inspector Harry Callahan in the movie “Dirty Harry.” As he said to a serial killer, in one of the classic movie lines of all time, “I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?”

Now there’s a man who had little regard for rules but always got results, which is not what we’re getting in the battle for gun control. The former mayor of Carmel also had a few words to say on this highly controversial issue. “I have a strict gun control policy. If there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.”

Getting back to the good, bad and not very pretty from last week’s meteorological front, Wednesday was a doozy. In Santa Cruz, the day was as lovely as California Attorney General Kamala Harris, with warm breezes softly kissing my cheeks as the thermometer reaching 83 degrees. However, in the midwest, it was a different story, as blinding snow and driving winds left thousands without power. The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency, even though the Cardinals shut out the Reds Wednesday night. As author Margaret Atwood once said, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Or at the very least, not have to deal with a powerful spring storm spiraling in your back yard.

For those of you planning a trip to the midwest, let me give you a little Ohio Valley perspective. Here they were, ten weeks away from the summer solstice, in the middle of what is referred to as “Black Swan” extreme weather conditions, which is not to be confused with an Amanda Knox extradition. We’re talking ice, sleet, plagues, flooding, locusts, hail and heavy snow, creating treacherous driving conditions. They only time I want to notified about a severe ice warning is when it’s in my drink. Throw in a few killer tornadoes into the picture and they’re at a spring breaking point.

But the early days of last week were some kind of wonderful here on the central coast, as the birds were singing, the butterflies were floating and the bees were humming. And that leads us into today’s topic du jour.

According to wiki.answers.com, where I usually shop for pants, there are about one million species of insects in the world, half of which have somehow taken up residence in my house. Scientists and census takers estimate that there are 200 million insects for every human in the world, while less than one hundred supermodels have graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated bathing suit issue. So it stands to reason if we’re talking insects, we’re talking billions and billions and billions and billions. And billions.

Well, if you like to hear insects screaming, and you know I do, the place to be in the next few weeks is the east coast. In a story written by Daniel Stone for National Geographic News, cicadas, the cousins of katydids, katydidn’ts and crickets, are preparing to overrun the landscape from North Carolina to Connecticut after living underground like Weathermen fugitives for the last 17 years.

Much like the female black widow spider, who sometimes washes down the male with a glass of milk after mating, the are some quirks that go along with cicadas and breeding. They spend their lives, like a Chilean miner, in complete darkness underground, sucking the fluid out of the roots of trees, shrubs and unmanned jacuzzis. They don’t bite or sting, and help the earth by moving around nutrients, recycling, planting trees and buying local. The periodic cicadas will not come popping out of their burrows until the ground is 64 degrees or the NBA playoffs begin.

At the end of their lives, they emerge to shed their exoskeletons, mate, watch a little TV and die almost instantly. This completes a lifecycle that humans and the Neilson family have studied for centuries. We’re talking about a four to six week period, or the time it takes for a Haagen-Daz bar to leave my bloodstream. That is, if they can avoid predators like birds, raccoons, foxes, skunks and reality show producers. The next generation will emerge in 2030 to repeat the cycle, probably around the same time “Mad Men” returns for its seventh season.

Now we’re talking several million cicadas per acre, which will bring the noise level up to slightly above a Dixie Chicks concert. The noise is the mating call of the male, which is similar in tone to the begging sound of the American male. To make themselves look appealing to the females, male cicadas resort to popping a set of muscles on their abdomen in and out, which can also be seen poolside at spring break locations around the country. But here’s the kicker. These 17 year cicadas are affected by the massosporan fungus, an infection that is the equivalent of Cicada STD. It is spread through mating and causes the abdomen of adult cicadas to fall off! And you thought herpes was annoying.

I was back there when they emerged one spring in the Garden State of New Jersey. The year was 1962, and I was nine years old and studying for my driver’s license. All of a sudden, they were everywhere, like tourists from New York trying to find their way to Palisades Amusement Park. I remember my friends and I collecting them in paper grocery bags. I will not say what we did with them, because the statue of limitations concerning the laws of insect genocide may still be in effect.

For today’s photo engagement, we are heading back to wacky weather Wednesday. This was to be the first April sunset I had photographed in years. After checking out the dinner time sky, the clouds and my basal body temperature, I grabbed my Serena Williams windbreaker and quickly headed up the north coast to Davenport.

When I arrived at my usual spot on the cliffs, I noticed new signs had been posted on the Monterey Cypress trees, stating that trespassers would either be prosecuted or persecuted. Well, God knows my people have been persecuted enough, so I took at quick shot of the cliffs and then bolted out of their faster than Carlos Quentin leaving Dodger Stadium Thursday night.

The wind was blowing harder than my son’s Abnormal Psychology final at UC Santa Barbara as I approached the bluff overlooking the Pacific. Then the sun, clouds and light proceeded to do their thing, creating beauty and awe on a night when little was expected. I believe it was Oprah’s pilates coach who once said, “Surprises are beautiful because they come without waiting.” And as they say in the restaurant business, good things come to those who are waiters.”

On to the late night. “After withdrawing from public life Anthony Weiner is ready to stick it back in. Folks, that takes balls. Sadly, we know he has them. Weiner’s brother pointed out, ‘No one has been harder on him than he has been on him than he has been on himself.’ And we all know how hard he can be on himself.” –Stephen Colbert “Former Congressman Anthony Weiner said that he’s considering running for mayor of New York City. If nothing else I’m sure that he’ll provide some stiff competition. Come on, he’s the total package. I don’t want to be too hard on him. I don’t have a bone to pick with that guy.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Little is known about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un other than the fact that he is ruthless, he supports torture, and he is a huge basketball fan. I’m sorry, that’s not Kim Jong Un. That’s Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice. I had them confused.” –Jay Leno “In high school Kim Jong Un starred in a production of the musical ‘Grease.’ That’s also where Kim met his first wife, Olivia Newton Jong.” –Conan O’Brien “Dealing with the North Koreans is very difficult. They have a history of making irrational decisions to divert the world’s attention from the fact their system has totally collapsed. No wait, sorry. I was thinking of NBC.” –Craig Ferguson

“This week on the ‘Today’ show, Chelsea Clinton said she’s open to running for political office one day. When she heard that, Sasha Obama was like, ‘Cool. How does secretary of state sound?’” –Jimmy Fallon “It was this day in 1967 that Russia sold Alaska to the United States for 2 cents an acre. You know why they sold us so cheaply? Just to get rid of the Palins.” –Jay Leno

“President Obama is in trouble for saying that California Attorney General Kamala Harris is good looking. When asked for comment, Bill Clinton said, ‘That guy is out of control.’” –Conan O’Brien “Because Obama said California Attorney General Kamala Harris was attractive, people are calling his remark sexist. Now the President is overcompensating and trying to balance it out. Today he said Attorney General Eric Holder has a great ass.” –Jay Leno “During a fundraiser, President Obama raised some eyebrows when he called California’s Kamala Harris, quote, ‘the best-looking attorney general in the country.’ Of course he said it was just a joke. Then Michelle was like, ‘Well, here’s another one: What’s black and white and sleeps on the couch?’” –Jimmy Fallon

So enjoy the last few days of the NBA regular season and nows it’s on to the playoffs. And here’s a shout out to my father, Daniel Gilbert, who celebrated his 96th birthday last Friday with a haircut, a Chinese feast and disbelief. As we chanted at dinner, ‘Four more years, four more years.”

We’ll catch you trying to will your team into the playoffs before suffering a devastating injury that left Laker and all NBA fans reeling. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kobe Bryant fans

March 24, 2013

Wherein Butterflies The Problem

Good morning and greetings, springtime freshness fans. As we all know, last Wednesday was the first day of spring, also known as the vernal equinox or thank God it’s not winter anymore. It’s a day when the equator, the center of the sun and my car’s brakes are fully aligned, which includes a free rotation of my seasonal conciousness.

For the next three months and throughout the NBA playoffs, the sun will gently warm my heart and the northern hemisphere, which will bring smiles to those living in the Mountain West and Great Lakes region and New England states, where recently it has been colder than a reception for Mel Gibson at a B’nai B’rith luncheon.

On the first day of spring, temperatures were up to 25 degrees below my usual scoring average, with more snow than you could find at a Pablo Escobar stash house. The calendar may have read late March, but the ground was snow covered and frozen, which reminds me of the Woody Allen line, “Who bothers to cook TV dinners? I suck them frozen.”

So how cold was it? It was so cold down at a city morgue, you couldn’t tell the stiffs from the guys who worked there. A guy fell out of bed and his pajamas broke. Republicans were actually hugging Democrats while waiting for the bus. A chicken was seen walking down the street with a cape on. Sherwin Williams needed a third coat. And it was so cold that a guy saw one dog trying to jump start another. At least that’s what he thought he was doing.

The arrival of spring also means thousand of college students heading south across the border to sunny and cartel free Mexico, to celebrate and inebriate the annual ritual of spring break. We’re talking places like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Myself, I was always more interested in fast breaking than spring breaking, as because of my Quaker upbringing I don’t drink alcohol or jump off balconies from my hotel room.

I know the draw of surf, sand, suds and sun is a powerful one, but boozing it up was never my thing, as it interfered with my study of the Torah. I’m just kidding, I was always much more of a Kaballah man. But those decapitating cartel boys, who have total disregard for bystanders, umpires and referees would deter me from heading south to where the party never stops. But being a tanned hard body, I can still relate to the words of Robin Williams, who says “Spring is nature’s way of saying, let’s party.”

So on that note, we’re heading down to Mexico. In a story written by Mark Stevenson for the Associated Press, scientists reported last week that the number of Monarch butterflies making it to their winter refuge in Mexico dropped a shocking 59 percent this year, falling to the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began 20 years ago. It was the third straight year of their decline of the migration from the United States and Canada to spend the winter living in mountaintop fir forests in central Mexico. Six of the last seven years have shown drops, and there are now only one-fifteenth as many butterflies as there were in 1997. This is not good news as I have spent half my life chasing the bright, elusive, butterfly of love.

So what are the reasons? The World Wildlife Fund, one of the groups that sponsored the butterfly census, blamed climate conditions, jealousy of moths and agricultural practices, especially the use of pesticides that kill off milkweed, the Monarchs’ main source of food. The butterflies breed and party in the U.S. in the summer, and then migrate to Mexico in the winter. Mexico says they have down their part to protect the butterfly reserves by eliminating large-scale illegal logging and promoting the movies of actress Salma Hayak, who once said, “I keep waiting to meet the man who has more bats, er balls than I do.”

The loss of milkweed in the U.S. makes it hard for the butterflies to lay eggs, and for their young that do hatch to find enough food to grow to maturity. In addition, unusually hot or dry weather can kill eggs, meaning fewer adult butterflies. South of the border, unusual cold weather, lack of water, tree cover and mariachi bands means that Monarchs are less likely to survive the winter and reach adulthood. And thus they will never see Eva Longoria’s new reality TV show, “Devious Maids,” based a Mexican series that that follows four maids who work in Beverly Hills but dream of their own success. And all this time I just thought she was a desperate housewife. Or as the former Mrs. Tony Parker once put it, “I find it a turnoff whenever men aren’t into some kind of sport.” And that, my friends, is why I watch NBA TV.

Lincoln Brower, an entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, says, “To blame the low numbers of monarchs solely on what is happening north of Mexico is misleading. Herbiciding of soybean and corn fields that kills milkweed is a serious problem, but the historical decline over the past 19 years has multiple causes. All three countries need to face up to the fact that it is our collective activities that are killing the migratory phenomenon of the Monarch butterfly.” So some fingers, including the middle, are being pointed. And I believe it was either actress Jessica Alba or Mexican writer Oscar Funetes who said, “What the United States does best it understand itself. What it does worst is understand others.”

The head of Mexico’s nature reserves, Luis Fueyo, said there are still some problems to be solved at the wintering grounds in Mexico, including some scale-logging and water availability. The Monarchs don’t drink any water throughout their long migration until they reach Mexico, and the mountain streams in the area have been affected by drought, human use and pinata parties. No butterfly lives to make the round-trip. The millions of Monarchs cluster so densely on tree boughs in the reserve that researchers don’t count their individual numbers but rather measure the amount of forest they cover. It’s just another reason why they can’t see the forest through the trees.

This winter, the butterflies covered just 2.93 acres, down from 7.14 acres last year. That doesn’t bode well for us, as who knows what we’ll be seeing this fall in the eucalyptus groves at Natural Bridges and Lighthouse Field. It doesn’t sound promising. So the final word on this situation south of the border comes from Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who said ” I would rather die standing than live life on my knees.” Viva la revolution, and for you Elvis and Ann Margaret fans, “Viva La Vegas.”

For today’s photo enclave, I’m featuring a group of butterflies at play. The final shot shows the Monarchs clustering in the trees at Natural Bridges State Park. When you look up at this sea of orange and black, you’re viewing one of the true wonders of nature, as their migration north to reach this safe haven, much like me trying to get back down to my high school weight, is brutal. Or as Jennifer Aniston once said, “I love the feeling of being in love, the effect of having butterflies when you wake up in the morning. That is special.” I can relate, as I’ve always savored the early stage of being in love, when I woke up feeling like a happy caterpillar.

On to some late night humor. “A guy in Great Britain found a way to make cars run on coffee. The good news is if cars start running on coffee, it means once again I can smoke at the pumps. Are you folks excited about St. Patrick’s Day? It’s the day I tell Irish jokes written by Jewish writers.” – David Letterman “To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Carnival Cruise had all their toilets overflowing with green water.” – Jay Leno “For many colleges, this is spring break. College kids will go to places like South Beach to make mistakes they will cherish for a lifetime. Spring break is an important American tradition. It’s how we grow a new crop of MTV teen moms.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Last night on “The Tonight Show,” during the monologue Jay Leno called NBC executives “snakes.” The response came quickly. “Jay Leno has crossed the line and gone too far,” responded the snakes. The new show “Bates Motel” premiered last night. It was very suspenseful. The whole time watching it I was thinking, “Will that guy get stabbed? Will he survive to see the next week?” I’m sorry, that’s while I was watching “The Tonight Show. Julius Caesar was romantically involved with Cleopatra for 14 years. After he dumped Cleopatra, there were rumors that Julius Caesar fathered an illegitimate child by a housemaid. But those rumors turned out to be false. It was actually Caesar’s cousin, Julius Schwarzenegger.” – Craig Ferguson

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced that he supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Or as illegal immigrants put it, “Who do you think’s going to build that path?” Kate Middleton revealed that she wants to have a boy, but Prince William is hoping for a girl. However, they both agree that no matter what gender it is, its nanny will love it just the same. Burger King is now offering a turkey burger on its menu. Or as horses put it, “Nope, still us.” There’s talk that “Today” show host Matt Lauer is the top choice to replace Alex Trebek when he leaves “Jeopardy.” Or as Alex Trebek put it, “Who is Matt Lauer?” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our Monarch update. I hope you have been relishing the incredible play this week of LeBron James and of March madness, as we are now down to what my daughter will be turning in August, the sweet sixteen. Enjoy the week and the celebration of matzos. We’ll catch you shocking the world by going alley-oop crazy and pulling off the biggest upset in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. Aloha, mahalo and later, Florida Gulf Coast University fans.

March 7, 2010

It’s More Than I Can Bear

Good morning and greetings, Arctic Circle fans. I have always been fascinated by animals, nature and quantum physics. In our home growing up, we had a menagerie of critters, including frogs, turtles, gerbils, hamsters, parakeets, snakes, lawyers and a drug-sniffing golden retriever. So when we speak of wildlife photography, we’re now talking about catching these exotic creatures of the wild in action, whether it’s kung-fu fighting, candlelight dining, first-class flying or just watching Letterman’s stupid pet tricks.

So today, sports fans, we are once again going to the guest mode, as we are featuring the work of photographer Judy Bingham, who I met at a local art show and has been stalking me ever since. Judy, who taught for 35 years at Los Gatos High School, yet never graded a paper, started shooting wildlife back in 1996, as her passion over the years has taken her to Africa, Antarctica and South America. In 2007, she spent five days in the Dominican Republic snorkeling and photographing humpback whales and their calves while planning a small military coup.

Since January, my newest best digital friend has photo safaried to Yellowstone Park to shoot bisons, wolves, coyotes and big horn sheep, Montreal to shoot snowy owls and Yosemite to shoot the sunset at Horsetail Falls. This is in comparison to yours truly, who’s been to Safeway, CVS and Bank of America, and that was just to shoot the breeze.

So here are the bear facts. I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for 24 years and have yet to record a bear sighting. I had a friend who was a Chicago Bear’s fan, and you should have seen his face light up when we served poached salmon. Anyway, last February, Judy traveled to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, to photograph polar bears and their cubs leaving their dens and coming out of hibernation. They should not be confused with the Chicago Cubs, who barely came out of hibernation all of last season.

On this trip to northern Canada, Judy, who much like myself, only travels first-class, stayed in a tundra buggy, which is a lodge on wheels. They hook a series of these buggys together to form a train that features a dining car, lounge, two bunk houses and a spa with aromatherapy and yogurt face masks. From here, they journey out to shoot the bears and collect frostbite.

Now all this photog action takes place in Wapufk National Park. The mother bears come off the melting ice in July and head south onto the land and their denning area in Churchill. Here they mate before going into hibernation. The mothers give birth in December and then dig out of their caves. Much like my Uncle Al, the cubs have no fur when they are born. From the time when they leave the the ice through the birthing process, the mothers eat nothing except for Slim Fast and some snow cones.

The cubs emerge in February and now the family must travel north to Hudson Bay to feed on seals and shrimp cocktail. It’s a sixty-mile trek, as Judy photographed the cubs while at rest stops along the way. As she says, “Seeing the bears in the wild is so incredible. And what would we do if we had to go without food from June thru November?” First, I would buy a new belt. And if I were a bear, I’d find a good take-out place that delivers near the Arctic Circle.

Judy photographed a mother and her three triplets, which are featured in photos #1-3. The look on the mother’s face as she is nursing in photo #2 is just classic. And the bonding we see in photo #3 bears watching. As Judy says, “When you stand out in the snow and ice in minus 38 degree weather and you focus on one den, it’s exciting when they emerge.” It’s the same excitement I would sense when some feeling and circulation returned to my fingers and toes.

We then move the puck from gold medal winning Canada to the silver medal winning USA. For our next three shots, Judy journeyed to Alaska and Katmai National Park, which is southwest of Anchorage and a place from where Sarah Palin can see Russia. The brown bears are there from July thru August, as they hang out and dine as long as the salmon are running. The salmon are on their way to spawn, which I’ve found along with a Swedish massage is always a relaxing way end a journey.

Much like my Hawaiian ancestors, these Alaskan brown bears spend the summer catching fish, and then try and gain back the weight they lost during hibernation. They sometimes lose up to 30%, which once happened to me during a Yom Kippur fast. As for Judy, the excitement is “just being there with them seeing them in the raw. Can you imagine opening your cabin door and seeing a Mom and two cubs?” Sure, if they were bringing me breakfast with a copy of the New York Times.

These pictures are just fantastic, as we view six bears hanging by the falls and then some open mouth fishing before seeing the cub stealing the surprised salmon from the adults. Or as Rodney Dangerfield said to Ted Knight’s wife in Caddyshack, “The last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it.” Judy shot these from a platform alongside the falls, that also doubles as a information kiosk and tanning booth.

Now Judy had sent me shots of otters, owls and politicians, but the bears stole the show. Due to Judy’s pleading and as a special bonus, I have included a shot of two polar bears ice dancing and a bald eagle swooping down for a macadamia nut crusted salmon dinner.

This final shot was taken in Haines, Alaska. When the last of the chinook salmon lay their eggs and finish spawning, they die. More than 1,000 eagles, not including Joe Walsh, Don Henley or Glen Frey, gathered there last November for this steak and filet feast.

Eagles are majestic scavengers, who much like the upper echelon teams in the NBA, like to dine on the dead. According to Judy, the excitement is “the interaction among the eagles. They’re fighting over dead carcasses. And just seeing so many of them, to be able to look them right in the eye and see how intense they are, it’s incredible.” Sounds like my last visit to the Oakland Raiderette tryouts.

On to some humor from the late night. “President Obama met with the Republicans for seven hours. “Being politicians you know, they all got to sharing their personal stories. Obama talked about his mother’s battle with cancer. And Harry Reid talked about a kid with a cleft palate. And John McCain’s told how he once carried a brain dead woman through an entire campaign.” –Bill Maher “And over the weekend, President Bush said that he is writing a book about how he made decisions while he was president. We have an advanced copy of it here. It’s called ‘What Would Dick Cheney Do?’” –Jay Leno “President Obama had his annual physical checkup. The physical went well, until a couple of uninvited guests showed up for the colonoscopy.” –David Letterman

“The weather in L.A. is unbelievable. Today I had to dig my car out from under 18 inches of sunshine. The whole East Coast is covered in snow right now. Millions of people are unable to get to where they used to work. The Winter Olympics ended on Sunday and even our weather is beating Canada. We’re completely out-snowing them.” –Jimmy Kimmel “I love the biathlon. That’s the sport that involves skiing and shooting the rifle. Or as Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, call it, ‘date night.’” –Jay Leno “Weren’t the Winter Olympics fantastic? The U.S. won a gold medal in downhill economy.” –David Letterman

“Hey, did you hear about this story today? This is pretty wild. The FAA is investigating why a child was allowed to direct air traffic at John F. Kennedy airport. Authorities say they got suspicious when five of the planes landed at a Toys ‘R’ Us parking lot.” –Jay Leno “Did you hear that Rush Limbaugh’s Manhattan penthouse is on the market for $14 million? It’s an amazing property. Over 4,000 square feet. And that’s just the medicine cabinet.” –Craig Ferguson “It’s a bad day for General Motors. They’re shutting down the Hummer. The Chinese were going to buy it, but after careful consideration, the Chinese decided they don’t want it. You know you’re in pretty bad shape when you can’t even give away a Hummer.” –Craig Ferguson

So I hoped you enjoyed our guest photographer’s photos. As you can see, Judy is as passionate as a baby harp seal about her work. To view more of her work, check out her blog at www.judybingmanphotography@blogspot.com or her photos at www.gallerysaratoga.com. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing more of Judy’s work on this site, particularly if she comes up with the big bucks she promised me for this first appearance.

So that’s our bear market report. Coming up next week we’ll return to the skies of Monterey Bay. So enjoy the calm before the college basketball storm and we’ll catch you in the low box. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tyreke Evans fans.

December 21, 2008

On Your Mark, Get Set, Snow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:02 pm

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Good morning and greetings, winter solstice fans. Yesterday, December 21 was the Martin shortest day of the year. I haven’t seen it get dark that early since my parents shipped me off to summer camp right outside the Arctic Circle. Who knew penguins had feelings? I love the Johnny winter sky but I prefer the longer days of Donna summer.

The weather has been wet and wild here on the central coast. Across the midwest and eastern seaboard it’s been pouring snow and colder than a Elliot Spitzer holiday party. How cold has it been? In Chicago, Governor Blagojevich was trying to sell Senate seat warmers-Jay Leno. On Tuesday we had the white stuff come down in the Santa Cruz mountains. Not your Rocky Mountain blizzard or the New Jersey snowstorm where you go to sleep and you wake up and everything is Betty white. But it’s always unusual to see the powder along the central coast as I can remember one snowfall at the beach. That was back in 1976 and unfortunately I didn’t record the momentous occasion as was too busy concentrating on building the perfect snowwoman.

The first shot is the snow-dusted mountains above the wharf and the boardwalk. I then moved over to Lighthouse Point to show the storm clouds to the Oliver north. As the sky turned blue the clouds became more exotic so I returned to West Cliff in the afternoon and shot the cotton candy over Steamer Lane. For fans of the south side of the bay I included a photo of the snow in the mountains above Monterey before finishing off with a sunset shot that night from Stockton Avenue. All in all, a wild day on the cliff but as they say, there’s no business like snow business.

I couldn’t let the Bush shoe throwing incident go by without a few jokes from the late nite boys. Here are my favorites. The first three are courtesy of Jay Leno. As you know, yesterday in Iraq, President Bush was attacked by a ‘shoe-icide’ bomber. You see what he did to keep from being hit? Something he’s never done before. Lean to the left.” “Well, looks like we finally found something President Bush is good at. Dodgeball!” And “It’s not just President Bush, today somebody threw a pair of shoes at Sarah Palin. And she was very upset. She said, ‘Do you have these in black?’ and threw them back.”

These next three are from David Letterman. “You’ve got to give Bush credit. I mean, the guy moved pretty quickly. Too bad he didn’t react that way with Bin Laden, the mortgage crisis or Lehman Brothers.” “I don’t think Bush really has dodged anything like that, well, since the Vietnam War.” And “I’ve got to give President Bush credit for this, because he’s taking it all pretty well. He says that he’s actually happy about the shoe-throwing episode, because he says it proves finally that Iraq does, in fact, possess foot wear of mass destruction.”

And finally, this from Conan O’Brien. “The man who threw his shoes at President Bush is being hailed as a hero in Iraq. In fact, when he dies, he’ll be greeted in heaven by 72 podiatrists.”

Since we’re in the holiday spirit here are a few more, courtesy of Jay Leno. “President Bush, looking back on his terms in office, says he didn’t strive to be popular. So to use his own words, ‘Mission Accomplished.’” “He also made a surprise visit to Detroit today. I don’t want to say the people in Detroit are upset with him, but I understand auto workers threw brake shoes at him.” And finally, “An Arkansas woman has given birth to her 18th child. Pretty amazing. Today her husband announced they will stop homeschooling their kids due to classroom overcrowding.”

That’s the end of our regularly scheduled program. Birthday wishes go out to my old New Jersey pal Steve Margolin, who I have known for close to 50 years. We go so far back I actually pitched against him in a minor league championship game. I don’t want to say who won but you never get tired of being carried off the field on your teammate’s shoulders. And congratulations to the New York Giants, who secured home field advantage in the NFL playoffs last night with an overtime win over Carolina. That’s what I call a sweet Hanukah gift. So stay dry, enjoy the clouds and we’ll catch you in the open field. Aloha and later, Derrick Ward fans.


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