February 22, 2015

We’re As Cold As Ice

Good morning and greetings, deep freeze fans.  Last week, I wrote about our lovely February weather, which lasted on through the three day President’s weekend.  It made for perfect golf conditions for the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro Am National Golf Tournament.   Well, at least till the fog blew in on Sunday.
Or as it says on the wall at the DMV, “Living without faith is like driving in a fog.”  Don’t let the shroud surround you.
Yes, the weather was ideal, with the tournament play being televised on the Golf Channel.  When you tuned in, besides seeing the celebs, the beautiful fairways and landscape of the three golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula, you also had a chance to view the incredible coastline and overhead shots of dolphins, whales and corporate sponsors, along with the abundance of sea life that is Monterey Bay.
Now I don’t usually watch much golf, as I think it’s more enjoyable to listen on the radio, but recently retired anesthesiologist Dr. Michael Schur was heating up my phone lines, calling in from his waterfront estate in Satellite Beach, Florida.A couple years back, he had celebrated his 60th birthday playing on the course at Pebble Beach, calling it “a lifetime dream come true,” and he wanted me to experience the majesty and wonder of God’s most beautiful golf arena.
So I put down the Hardy Boys book I was reading, (“The Mystery of the Chinese Junk”) and turned on the tube, and watched in amazement.  And then the fog blew in and blew out on Sunday and Tiger Woods was nowhere to be found.  Game over.
The conditions couldn’t have been any better for the tournament, but as the golfers teed off, the east coast was being bombarded with an arctic blast and freezing conditions.  The blizzarding snow just kept on falling, so as soon as people dug themselves out, they were greeted with another large dose of the white stuff.  .
To this point, I believe it was either Oprah, Dr. Phil or the Dali Lama’s brother who once said, “Sex is like snow, you never know who many inches you’re going to get or how long it will last.”
It has been a nightmarish 2015 for residents in the northeast, as the storms just haven’t let up, as Boston set a record for the snowiest February in history.  It doesn’t seem like winning the Super Bowl came with any good weather karma.
It’s like the old Chinese proverb, “Three feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather.” Or as the old Eskimo proverb says. “You never know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks.”  I’ve always said, if you’re going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance.

So as our week began, the skies went temporarily gray.  As we donned our sweatshirts, another winter blast of snow and ice swept into the midwest and into the south, burying some regions in more than a foot of snow while paralyzing transportation and cutting off power to a quarter of a million homes.  The eastern third of the country was locked in a deep freeze.

The bitter cold air was coming down from Siberia, where the the temperature was minus 50 below.  Southern states like Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and the Carolinas were frozen like popsicles.  You didn’t need to head to the local skating rink.  Just open your door and step outside, as admission was free and no skates were needed.

And reporting in on the weather carnage coming out of Nashville is field scout Nancy Mager, who’s the director of Sponsored Programs at Western Kentucky University.  As she reported, “It’s all ice and Syrian rebels.  We had an inch of ice on the trees, roads and power lines.   The schools have been closed all week.”

“The ice is beautiful and sparkling, but it’s dangerous as hell, as the roads haven’t been plowed or the sidewalks shoveled.” A New Jersey native, she added that with the wind chill factor at minus five degrees, “It’s never been this cold.”

I’ve also skated on thin ice and driven on icy roads and it’s a nightmare.  You hit the brakes but you just start sliding, with no control over your vehicle.

I had the pleasure of being in an accident like this years ago back in New Jersey, when a car had stopped ahead of me, but when I hit the brakes, I just went into a slide and rammed him.  And the ironic thing was, I was on my way to the gas station to put snow tires on the car, something we east coasters have the pleasure of doing.

So bitter cold temperatures shattered decades old records last week all across the Great Lakes region and in cities like Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Miami, just to name a few.  They’re shivering in Chicago as it’s been the coldest February since 1876.  Niagara Falls was turned into an ice spectacle and in Eastport, Maine, they’ve had 109 inches of snow in 23 days.  That’s brutal.
But the grand prize went to the city of Embarrass, Minnesota, where folks woke up to a thermometer reading Thursday morning of 41 below zero, without the wind chill factor.  I just have one word for them.   Brrrrrrrrr.
And finally, to put the cherry on top, on Friday, twenty one states had temperature in double digits below zero.  It was the coldest day in February history in Cleveland (minus 17), Flint, Michigan was a balmy minus 25, and in the blue grass state of Kentucky, it was the chilliest day in Lexington in 21 years (minus 18.)
And over the weekend more misery was headed their way, with another blizzard warning for the northeast,with more storms on the horizon .  While out here on the central coast, we’re struggling with temps in the mid 60′s, while in the Hawaiian Islands, they’re looking at a high of 82 degrees.  Somehow, it all doesn’t seem fair.
But as the late, great, Johnny Carson once quipped, “If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.”  Amen.
For our photo department, we are returning to the morning of Christmas Eve.  I was a fantastic sunrise, with vivid cloud colors, painted reflections and wild surf pounding in the background.  I was shooting from the sand at Its Beach, before making my way over to catch the sun coming up over the bay at Steamers Lane.  Just awesome beauty.
On to some late night humor. “Jeb Bush gave a speech yesterday. He had a pretty rough time. He accidentally said that ISIS has 200,000 men instead of 20,000, and then he mispronounced the name of the terrorist group Boko Haram. So if history has taught us anything, Jeb is well on his way to winning the White House.” – Jimmy Fallon  “Yesterday during a speech on national security, Jeb Bush mispronounced Boko Haram and got confused between Iran and Iraq. When reached for comment, his brother George W. said, “He sure sounds presidentiary to me.” – Conan O’Brien

“Starbucks has launched a home delivery service. It’s perfect for anyone too lazy to walk one block in any direction.  Little Caesars has introduced a giant, deep-dish pizza with a crust wrapped in three feet of bacon. Two hours ago Pizza Hut surrendered.  Here’s a new device that allows airline passengers to completely isolate themselves from their row mates. The device is called a baby.” – Conan O’Brien

“Gallup, the polling company, released its annual well-being index where they rank the health and happiness of residents of each of the 50 states. Alaska finished first and Hawaii was No. 2. It’s interesting that the top two happiest states are the ones that are farthest away from the rest of us.” – Jimmy Kimmel  I spent the past four days in Cuba shooting a special episode of this show.  I had an amazing experience in Cuba. People there are fantastic. But I do have to say it’s very nice to be back home in front of all of you capitalist pigs.” – Conan O’Brien

“The Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show is going on in Madison Square Garden.I want to tell you something about that dog show. If I want to see rolling over and playing dead at Madison Square Garden, I’ll go to a Knicks game.  At the NBA All-Star Game, the West beat the East 163-158, but the loss will be credited to the New York Knicks.” – David Letterman

So again, 60th birthday wishes go out to my brother Paul, who I celebrated the blessed occasion with on Friday along with his son, Josh and our old pal Doug Mackinnon, at the Oracle Arena, as the Warriors blew out the Spurs.  I just wish the game was as good as our seats.

So we’ll catch you putting up big numbers and playing like the first pick in last year’s NBA draft.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Andrew Wiggins fans.

February 8, 2015

We’ll Head ‘Em Off At The Pass

Good morning and greetings, football fans.  Well, we are more than a week removed from the Super Bowl, and what a fantastic finish it was to the most hyped game on the planet.Well, with the exception of Seattle fans, like my old grammar school pal Neal Friedman, who was a bit upset with the outcome, as the Seahawks managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Now this game again personified the excitement and greatness of sports.  No one, not Alfred Hitchcock, the Farrelly Brothers or Mad Magazine could have scripted out the final few moments.  Throughout all of America, people could be heard shouting, “Unbelievable, why, why, why, and where are my pants?”  as the final seconds counted down.

Here’s the set up.  With the Patriots leading 28-24, Seattle had the ball on New England’s one yard line.  All QB Russell Wilson needed to do was hand the ball off to the human battering ram, running back Marshawn Lynch, to get the final yard and into the end zone for the game winning touchdown. Just one yard and the celebration is on.

Now on the other side, New England fans and bettors were set to commit hari kari. The Patriots had trailed 24-14 earlier in the game, before they mounted a fourth quarter comeback and scored two touchdowns against a Seattle defense that hadn’t allowed a fourth quarter touchdown in the last sixty years.

But at this moment, hopes were fading, as it looked like Paul Revere and the Patriots were going down to another late game defeat.

Now Seattle had quickly gotten down to the Patriots one yard line, as receiver Jermaine Kearse made a spectacular catch while laying on the field after juggling the ball, in a version of hot potato.   It was reminiscent of the New York Giants David Tyree’s unbelievable “Helmet Catch” in Super Bowl 42, that ruined the Patriot’s undefeated season.  You just don’t see mind blowing, miracle catches like this every day, no less when the Super Bowl title is on the line.

This was heavy sports drama, folks.

So Russell Wilson drops back into a shotgun set and fires a slant pass to his receiver on the goal line, only to have the ball intercepted by the Patriot’s Malcolm Butler.  What!  An interception!  Somebody pinch me.

Pandemonium then ensued as no one could have imagined this turn of events.  Up in the NBC broadcast booth,  a stunned play by play announcer Al Michaels described the play as “Unreal.”  Michaels, who was behind the mic for the “Miracle on Ice ” hockey game in Lake Placid when we upset the Russians, had counted down the final seconds of that call with, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!
Well, this wasn’t quite on par with that Olympic moment, but it was damn close.  For Seattle fans, this should not have happened in their lifetime.NBC’s color analyst Chris Collingworth was also stunned by the play call, not believing what he saw take place.  His immediate reaction, “I cannot believe the call.  You got a guy (Marshawn Lynch) who’s been borderline unstoppable in this part of the field.  I can’t believe the call.”
Well, Chris, neither could the rest of America.
Here is the play on You Tube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7rPIg7ZNQ8&feature=player_embedded
It was a shocking turn of events.  Reaction to the call came fast and furious to what was being called the worst coaching decision of all-time.  Former Cowboys running back Emmit Smith described it as “The worst play call in the history of football.”  Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson chimed in with “WCE.  Worst Call Ever.  Beast Mode in the backfield and you throw it?”And finally Donald Trump, who these days has what looks like a blond muskrat sitting on his head, said “It must have been President Obama that called in what will go down as the DUMBEST PLAY IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL.”  You’re fired.
And everyone who was anyone tuned in and turned on.  Super Bowl XLIX was officially the most-watched television broadcast in history, as the game was seen by 114.4 million total viewers, beating out the “Parenthood” series finale.

For the Seahawks and their fans, they will be forever left wondering, why didn’t they hand the ball off on their final offensive play of the season?  Seattle Coach Pete Carroll, who took responsibility for the pass call, had this to say about the play and his team a few days later.

“I don’t think at this point that everyone’s on the same page about the sequence.  We’re going to make this right by getting to the truth. By facing up and talking about it, letting everyone clear their mind.  When you finally gather and you’re ready to take the next step, we’re going to places that will be extraordinary.”
Well, it’s sounds like a story of redemption, and according to the coach, “It’s well under way.”  Only time will tell.
For today’s photo countdown, we are returning to the morning of December 9. I started shooting this beautiful sunrise along West Cliff Drive, and then headed down to Its Beach to capture the vibrant reflection of the colorful clouds in the sand. I then hit Steamers Lane to catch the surf action as the waves were pumping.  As the sun rose over the mountains, the colors started to fade, and it soon disappeared behind the clouds. Just another late fall classic.
On to some late night humor  “The city of Boston today held its Super Bowl victory parade. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle held Seahawks coach Pete Carroll out a window by his ankles.  Tom Brady says he wants to give the truck he was given as the Super Bowl MVP to the guy who won the Super Bowl for the Patriots. So Brady’s giving his truck to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.” -Conan O’Brien”Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted this week that he’s cried and lost sleep thinking about his controversial pass call at the Super Bowl. He just keeps running it over and over in his head. Well, actually he keeps passing it over and over.” – Seth Meyers  ”President Obama unveiled a $4 trillion budget for 2016 that would increase taxes on the wealthy and spend more money on education. He also made a snowball and put it in the oven, just to see which would last longer, his budget or the snowball.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush admitted that he smoked a notable amount of pot in school. He said, “You would too if your parents had named you ‘Jeb.’

Scientists have discovered that a 5,000-year-old mummy is covered with at least 60 tattoos. Scientists are calling him the earliest known member of the NBA.” – Conan O’Brien

So I’m one day late, but birthday wishes go out to my beloved mother Lee Gilbert, who turned a young 89 yesterday.  This past year has been a tough one, but she’s still smiling and in the running for sainthood.
And there was great news on the medical front for my old pal Jerry Hoffman, who had been going through some tough times recently, but got some fantastic news on Friday that left all of us stunned and elated.  It’s a new ballgame, my friend.
So we caught you Friday night looking like one of the top players in the NBA, after hitting your first three point shot of the season that was a game winner at the buzzer.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Anthony Davis fans.

July 13, 2014

There’s No Place Like Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:03 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA free agent fans. Well, if you’re an admirer of summer fog, then last week was a superb time to vacation in Santa Cruz, as the mornings were moister than my eyes during the season finale of “Parenthood.”

It seemed odd, while being in the midst of the worst drought in California history, to be walking in the morning rain. I wasn’t singing in the rain, but it was a glorious feeling and I was happy again.

Well, the basketball world was shocked on Friday, when Mr. LeBron James, who happens to be the best player on the planet, announced in a first-person essay on the Sports Illustrated’s website that he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Holy mistake by the lake. This is the team he had fled from four years ago when he made his decision to team up with the Big Three and take his immense talents to South Beach.

“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” James told Lee Jenkins of SI.com. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now. “I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”

LeBron ranks as one of the greatest of all-times, a superstar among superstars. It’s not every day that the league’s top talent is there for the taking, as NBA teams were wildly clamoring for his guest services. The consensus was he would return to Miami.

After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown.”

The player who teamed up with the Big Three in South Beach is returning to Cleveland as a different LeBron. ” Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go … without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.”

When we speak of LeBron, we’re talking about a 30-year-old, four-time MVP who’s in the prime of his career. He has the charm and charisma that make him the top dog on the court as he has dominated the league over the last half decade. At 6’8″, 250 pounds, LeBron is built like a freight train, with the quickness of a cheetah and mad skills that have led him to putting up insane numbers for his career.

As he says, “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been the best player. I love being a leader, and I love being the best. I just want to get better. It’s not about being cocky or selfish or anything like that. It’s just how I am.”

And ladies and gentlemen, this world wide conglomerate of a small forward was available on the open market, but few thought he would leave the confines of South Florida.

LeBron had led the Heat to four Final appearances and two straight championships over the past four seasons. But in an attempt for a threepeat, the team looked old and were blown out in this year’s Finals by the San Antonio Spurs.

LeBron didn’t want to wither on the vine in South Beach. He was all about winning championships, but I guess he got a little homesick. And he had his doubts about whether team President Pat Riley would be able to put together another title bound team.

“I went to Miami because of D-Wade and Chris Bosh. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life.”

So Lebron kissed and made up with Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert, who called James a “coward” when he left. It seems that LeBron is all about forgiveness. “I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?”

So for LeBron at this point in his career, it’s not all about the money. It’s about the rings and where he will ultimately rank in the NBA hierarchy. Celtic center Bill Russell has eleven, Michael Jordan has six and Kobe Bryant has five. Those are the legends he’s chasing. When you’re in a stratosphere like LeBron, this is the way greatness is measured. The ring’s the thing.

But for a guy chasing titles, this move back home alters the landscape. As for next season, “I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. ”

Cav’s new first-year coach David Blatt was asked if he was excited to be coaching the four-time MVP. His response, “That would be understatement of the millennium.”

LeBron James is not just a basketball player, but a global icon, and knows the power that comes along with it. As he said a few years ago, “In the next 15 or 20 years, I hope I’ll be the richest man in the world. That’s one of my goals. I want to be a billionaire. I want to get to a position where generation on generation don’t have to worry about nothing. I don’t want family members from my kids to my son’s kids to never have to worry. And I can’t do that now just playing basketball.”

So for the player who guaranteed “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” championships in Miami, it came down to this. “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can.”

So Cav’s fans must be feeling like they’ve died and gone to heaven, as the Ohio’s favorite son is taking his talents back to Cleveland. Few saw this coming. It’s one of the great stories in sports on a few different levels.

In the words of the King, “I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”

I think it’s a wise decision.

For today’s photo circus we are heading over to Steamer Lane on the morning of February 3. When I arrived at this sacred spot of surfing, the sunlight was shooting up through the array of red clouds. The waves were coming through in big sets, and the sky turned from candy apple red to exotic orange. And then the sun rose and shone across the water, and all was good.

On to some late night humor. “There was a huge blowout at the World Cup yesterday when Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals. It got so bad that the refs told Brazil, “You know what? Go ahead and use your hands.” – Jimmy Fallon “Happy birthday to Ed Lowe, the man who invented Kitty Litter. Here’s what I admire about Ed Lowe. Here was a guy who was thinking inside the box.” – David Letterman

“Today is National Sugar Cookie Day. The entire month of July is National Cream Month. You’re welcome, diabetes. Cheesesteak is the dish Philadelphia is known for. I don’t know what dish we’re known for here in L.A. It may be kale salad that you can eat and then throw up later because you have an audition.” – Craig Ferguson

“Justin Bieber will be charged with one count of misdemeanor vandalism for throwing eggs at his neighbor’s home in January. Or as he calls that, “street cred.” People who wanted to go on the new Harry Potter ride at Universal had to wait in line for more than seven hours this week. That’s right, seven hours of waiting just for a couple minutes of action. Or as that’s also called, “watching soccer.” – Jimmy Fallon

So another post is in the books. We’ll catch you being the happiest people in America. Aloha, mahalo and later, Cleveland Cavalier fans.

January 26, 2014

If It Swells, Write It

Good morning and greetings, Mavericks fans. Yes, due to cooperation from the father, the sun and the holy coast, the Body Glove Mavericks Invitational was a go on Friday, as 24 big wave chargers from around the planet got together for a little party in Half Moon Bay. For big waves surfers, in the words of Santa Cruz’s Shawn Dollar, “Mavericks is the place where it matters.”

Earlier in the week, surf forecasters were talking about the scoring exploits of Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, along with the strongest storm of the season heading for the west coast. It would be accompanied by light offshore winds and a huge swell coming in from a westerly direction, which would be ideal conditions for one of the world’s premier big wave surfing contests.

As westside thrasher Zach Wormhoudt says on what it takes to surf this break, “Big heart. Mavericks demands a lot of desire and passion to do what common sense dictates otherwise.”

As longtime surf scribe Bruce Jenkins reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, when a swell like this hits Mavericks, there is a combination of excitement and anxiety. For me, it would be nothing less than total terror, as the only time I like to be in water over my head is in the shower under a waterfall. These days I get my adrenaline rushes from body surfing in the hot tub.

As Jenkins noted, “northwest swells produce the most powerful, compressed waves at Mavericks, and they are especially dangerous because they produce a south-to-north current. And that is why I always dog paddle east to west.”

What happens a half mile off shore at Half Moon Bay is terrifying, because if you lose your board or get caught inside the pounding, churning, burning chamber of white water insanity, you end up taking a sea cruise through a dangerous jagged rock formation. At this point we’re dealing with life and death issues. It’s not like the danger of fouling out of a basketball game.

So why do it? Why risk life and limb for this gigantic rush of adrenaline? In the words of Maui-based, tow-in legend Laird Hamilton, who’s married to the lovely Garbriella Reese “For those searching for something more than just the norm, we lay it all down, including what others call sanity, for just a few moments on waves larger than life. We do this because we know there is still something greater than all of us. Something that inspires us spiritually. We start going downhill when we stop taking risks.” That’s what’s called preaching to my choir.

The excitement continued to build throughout the week, as there were 20-foot waves on Tuesday with 40-foot faces and 60-foot noses. But it did not come without a price, as one entry rider, Alex Martins, was involved in a severe wipeout and ended up in the hospital and out of the contest.

So Friday’s surf prediction was cloudy with a chance of paradise. We’re talking about a gathering of the best and the brightest big wave surf riders from Santa Cruz and from across the planet. When the word got out that a storm was brewing, our local contingent of all-stars flew back from Maui after surfing the break at Jaws.

So what does it take to surf this bad boy, whose waves and fury have sent big-time surfers to their graves? South Africa’s Chris Bertish, winner of the 2010 Mavericks Big Wave Invitational says, “Courage hardly sums it up. You have to be completely motivated to overcome your fears, especially when everyone is telling you not to do it.”

And how do they measure the size of the waves at places like Jaws, Mavericks and Coney Island? According to big wave pioneer Buzzy Trent, “Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.” Added Laird Hamilton, “Surfing’s one of the few sports that you look ahead to see what’s behind.”

So Friday’s contest went off as planned, with sets that we close to 40 feet in size. But according to Jenkins, “The dreaded southeast winds came up a little before noon, putting chop on the water. The swell was out of the west, focusing all of the ocean’s energy onto a narrow section of reef known as the “bowl,” producing waves so thick, fast-moving and hollow, only a world-class surfer would even think of taking the drop.”

The winner was South Africa’s Grant Baker, who put on a clinic under the most treacherous of conditions. This was Mavericks at its most dangerous, and world-class wipeouts were the featured item on Friday’s menu along with sand dabs and macadamia crusted mahi mahi.

“The conditions made it so nerve-wracking,” said San Francisco’s Ryan Seelbach. “Some of those waves – I mean, you’re right there, but then you look down, and whoa … I don’t want any part of that.”

So although I did not make the trip up the coast to Mavericks, I did manage to get into the spirit of the occasion by spending some quality time down at Steamers Lane last week. So for today’s photo funhouse we are going to the sunrise from Friday morning, as the feeling of big wave competition was in the air.

The early sky was not in a cooperating mood, but it eventually opened up and allowed the sun to shine through. And to get a little flavor of the competition going on up the coast, I posted a couple of shots from earlier in the week at Steamers.

Surfing at sunrise does a body good. Or in the words of the Hawaiian surf legend Duke Kahanamoku, “Out of the water, I am nothing.” Or as the bumper sticker says on my car, “Geoff would never go.” Aloha.

On to some late night humor. “Chris Christie is getting a lot of support from New Jersey’s Hispanic community. Some Hispanics like his moderate conservatism while others believe if you hit him he’ll break open and spill out candy. The former president of Trader Joe’s is opening a store that sells only expired food. The new store will be known as 7-Eleven.” – Conan O’Brien

“According to a new study, smog is drifting across the Pacific Ocean from China and polluting our West Coast. Can’t we make anything in this country anymore? Kanye West is in trouble after allegedly assaulting an 18-year-old. You know, if Kanye is going to beat up a teenager, couldn’t it be Justin Bieber? This week in his inaugural address, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spoke of wanting to bring the people of New Jersey together. He wanted to bring them together by having them all try to merge into one lane.” – Jay Leno

“When Governor Christie was sworn in, he put his right hand on a menu. Immediately following the ceremony, Christie closed the Holland Tunnel.” – David Letterman “Yesterday the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks advanced to the big game, which means this year’s Super Bowl will have teams from the two states where recreational marijuana is legal. Or as pizza delivery men put it, ‘Pray for us.’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our surf report. We’ll catch you posting up 62 points and breaking the Madison Square Garden scoring record. Aloha, mahalo and later, Carmelo Anthony fans.

April 28, 2013

It Takes A Village To Raise A Sunrise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:58 am

Good morning and greetings, landscape fans. You know, it’s not easy being a sunrise photographer. It requires a strong commitment and immense dedication, as one must be ready to go to work close to one third of the year. It’s an unusual situation when your work day comes to an end before most people have separated themselves from their dreams.

It was Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, known to his friends as Buddha, who said, “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart and soul’s inspiration give yourself to it.” Wise words from the holy sage, who was also a hell of a first baseman.

So in living the sunrise life, four months of the year become sacred times, when there’s the possibility of the sky lighting up like a Hanukah menorah. The early Aztecs said, right before they were massacred by the Conquistadors, “if you do something you love, then it’s not work.” Furthermore, Irish poet Oscar Wilde once quoted between sips that “I put all my genius into my life: I put only my talent into my works.” After consulting with Confucious, I still have no idea where he was going with that.

I don’t consider taking pictures of a sunrise, sunset or a baby porcupine hard work. It’s a labor of love having the privilege to photograph God’s magnificence. That is, when he isn’t slamming the coast with that damn marine layer. To shoot a good sunrise takes some preplanning, a little bit of luck, and most importantly, a camera which a charged battery.

Donald Kendall, the former CEO of Pepsi Cola, once said to his neighbor that “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” I can relate to those words, as there have been a few times in my life that I have decided to take the Pepsi Challenge. Later on, I regretted some of these actions. I would have been much better off sitting back and having a Coke and a smile.

So this being late April, I’ve been slowly weened from photographing the delightful action from above, as the spring skies have been duller than a Taliban group therapy session. I didn’t get into this business for the money, as much like Henny Youngman, “I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need, if I die by four o’clock.” No, photographing sunrises and sunsets has been like the gift that keeps on giving. I’ve never thought of it as work. Which is good, because who wants to let something so pure be tainted by money? I’ve never got caught up in the commercialization, which is why I would never mention that my photos are available for sale right now on my website, www.SunriseSantaCruz.com, and would make lovely Mother’s Day gifts. That would be way too tacky.

No, I just do it for the pure joy and the artistic integrity. I’m not competing with anyone, although my Rabbi has stated on the record that I could be the most prolific sunrise photographer in the country. Well, I’m not saying I am, (yes, I am), but I would be honored to just be considered a candidate for the Jewish sunrise photographers Hall of Fame. And from what I hear, entry into this exclusive club involves receiving is a five pack box of Yehuda Passover matzos, rated #1 best tasting matzo by the San Francisco Chronicle, as tested by culinary experts and chefs in a blind tasting panel. If that’s the case, how did they find their way to the building?

So these days, I’m just photographing flowers and bunnies and filling future blogs will glorious moments from the past. They say you can’t put your arm around a memory, but when I go to my computer and look over sunrises and sunsets past, I reexperience the joy of the moment and it is glorious. And then I sob uncontrollably for a while, but I’m working on that.

I love what I do and don’t believe it will ever get old. And the best part is there no deadlines, just headlines. In the words of ventroloquist Edgar Bergen, “Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?” Charlie McCarthy couldn’t have said it better, although I was always more of a Knucklehead Smith fan.

So for today’s photo fare, we are heading back to the morning of February 16, 2013. I had slept the night before in a toaster, so I woke up and popped out of bed to a fantastic sunrise. I was all over the terrain that morning, as I shot images of this dawn beauty from more locations than Jamba Juices on the central coast.

The morning color in the sky over Monterey Bay and Steamers Lane was just spectacular. This was one of those classic Santa Cruz mornings were everything was right in the digital world. After that my day was off and running.

So this is my philosophy. “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. I knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or gazelle…when this sun comes up, you better be running.” Or as big game hunter Groucho Marx once told Zeppo, “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

On to some late night humor. “U.S. intelligence agencies have put together a psychological profile of Kim Jong Un. They say he’s a narcissist, and he is obsessed with Hollywood, obsessed with plastic surgery, and obsessed with the NBA. It’s a condition we know as ‘Kardashianism.’” –Jay Leno “You’re probably saying to yourselves, “What big American pointless cultural event is coming up in a couple of days?” The NFL Draft, of course. The New York Jets say they will take the best athlete possible in the draft. They’re going to take the best athlete available. It’s the same strategy the Kardashian sisters use.” – David Letterman

“You know what the worst job in America is? It’s newspaper reporter. I guess the pollsters forgot to ask the guy who cleans the toilets at Dodger Stadium how things are going for him. The Internet celebrated a major milestone yesterday. It’s the eighth anniversary of the very first video uploaded to YouTube. YouTube was founded in 2005 by a small group of visionaries who asked the question, “What if nobody in America ever got anything done ever again?” – Jimmy Kimmel.

So that’s our last blast for April 2013. The roses are exploding in my front yard so get ready for some May flower power. We’ll catch you scoring 34 points on Saturday while putting on one of the greatest fourth quarter playoff performances in NBA history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Nate Robinson fans.

March 17, 2013

She’s Got A Cricket Inside, But She Don’t Care

Good morning and greetings, daylight saving time fans. I think most of us enjoy the light later in the day, as now I don’t hop into my pajamas till at least 8 pm. Light is a very simple concept, although Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he invented the light bulb. Ellen DeGeneres summed up the situation for all of us when she said, “In the beginning, there was nothing, God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.”

As many of you know, I’m very much into sports, although most of my exercise these days come from dragging my heels, pushing my luck and jumping to conclusions. And I’m talking all the sports, including football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, snowshoeing, knock hockey, bass fishing, skeet shooting, ping pong, synchronized swimming, jai alai, bird watching, dog sledding, sky diving, bull fighting, jump roping, log rolling and darts. And that’s just what I’m into on weekdays.

But there is one sport that I’ve never really gotten into, and that would be cricket. For some reason, this bat-and-ball game never really captured my fancy, unlike canoeing, jump roping or my favorite, body building. But for sports fans in many countries, cricket is right up there on the top of the menu, and that’s where we’re headed today.

In a story written by Frank Elaridi for ABC News, a Salt Lake City food company has a new line of energy bars that have people chirping because of their unique ingredients. The company, named Chapul, perhaps because that’s where you might want to go after eating one of their products, has an energy bar that includes, coconut, ginger, lime, and you guess it, crickets.

A chart on their website shows that both cows and insects are 57 percent protein, but cows are 43 percent fats, while insects are just 22 percent fats. No word on centipedes, arachnids, or Arby’s new roast beef sandwich.

According to Chapul founder Pat Crowley, ” What this basically means is that insects have similar protein contents to livestock, but are healthier because they have less fat. We thought the people who would be most receptive are environmentally conscious people who already eat healthy products and energy bars and who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Insect diets are common in many countries but not in the United States and Europe. That is because many Americans have ants in their pants.

Crowley wants to introduce insects into American cuisine, but there is a psychological barrier that Americans have about eating insects because it isn’t part of the culture. That is, unless you go bike riding with your mouth open. He wants to introduce insects into the American diet by using ingredients like chocolate and peanut butter, the way sushi was introduced into American cuisine with the California Roll. Holy Jiminy Cricket! For some reason, this really bugs me.

According to Steven R. Kutcher, an entomologist based in Arcadia, California, there are insects in almost everything Americans already eat. Hey, the FDA allows up to 450 insect fragments in every one-pound box of pasta. The average American consumes about 20 pounds of noodles every year, so you crunch the numbers. It’s like the old joke, ‘Waiter, what’s that fly doing in my soup? Don’t worry, the spider on the bread will get him soon enough.”

“When you eat rice, flour, beans, there are going to be insects in them, but people don’t see them,” Kutcher said. “So that’s always been part of the human diet, especially before there was processed food.” Kutcher says although insects are high in protein while low in sodium and contain no trans fats, there is one negative aspect to snacking on them.

“The downside is, with something like crickets, they have spines, claws and exoskeletons made from chitin and it’s not digestible, so it goes right through you,” Kutcher says. “When you eat crab or lobster, you don’t eat the whole thing, you take off the shell. With something like crickets, you can’t remove the chitin.” No chit?

Chapul grinds the crickets into a flour in its bars so there are no legs, claws or antennae present, which makes for good eating but bad reception. When they are ground up that way, the chitin is still not digestible, but consumers don’t have the problems that come from eating all the body parts and they still get all the nutrients. So this way they have a leg up on the competition.

So what do crickets taste like? Seafood, veal chops, Doritos Loco Tacos? “It’s not quite like chicken,” Crowley says. “It has an earthy taste like sunflower seeds. The insects are pretty mild tasting, so it tastes like whatever you flavor it with. It’s like popcorn, if you flavor it with butter, it taste like butter.” Waiter, I’ll have the fried rice, shrimp and broccoli and the crickets in black bean sauce.

The esteemed TV star, Dr. Oz says that chitin in its ground form is a fat blocker and good for one’s health. That may be all good and well, but I’ve always preferred Beatles on a CD, not as a side dish. As I fumigate the thought of insect ingestion through my mind, I get butterflies in my stomach. If we’re going to start eating what’s crawling, hopping and buzzing around us, we’re heading down a new frontier on the culinary highway. Well, either way, I think I’ve finally figured out why those mantises have been praying about all these years.

Now I have a confession. I previously said that this year’s sunrise and sunset season ,much like my infatuation with Kim Jong Un’s new wife, was pretty much over. This was based on the fact that in the past, there has been less action in the sky in March than visa requests to visit North Korea. But I was wrong, as there was a spectacular sunset Thursday night, a gorgeous sunrise Friday morning followed by another pretty sunset that evening. I don’t know if it was the result of global warming or my digital karma, but I managed to photograph a couple of these events. In the words of the singer Meat Loaf, who I happen to love with mashed potatoes, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

For Friday’s sunrise, I started shooting from the cliffs above Cowells Beach, before moving over the Steamers Lane to capture the sun rising over the water and the mountains of Monterey. But the favorite photographic moments came when I moved onto Bird Rock along West Cliff Drive, and I was able to capture the sun rising through the trees, which was almost as exciting as the NBA action on Friday night. It was some unexpected late winter beauty, and I savored it like last week’s episode of “Justified” on FX, but without the TV MALV rating for language, violence and thank goodness, no nudity.

On to some late night humor. “The big news is the new Pope. His name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. If you’re saying to yourself, “Boy, that name sounds familiar,” you’re right. For seven years he was the ace reliever for the Yankees. With the selection process going on for the new Pope, there’s a lot of papal trivial. For example, did you know that no Pope has ever in the history of the church been elected without carrying Ohio? The cardinals each write down their choice on a small slip of paper and put in a silver chalice and then they mix all the names up and they’re drawn out. It’s the same thing they do for the Vatican’s Secret Santa.” – David Letterman

“In accordance with Vatican tradition, the cardinals in the papal conclave will release white smoke when a Pope is chosen. The practice was started by those two ancient leaders, Cardinal Cheech and Cardinal Chong.” – Jimmy Fallon “After tours of the White House were canceled due to budget cuts, Donald Trump offered to pay for them. All he’s asking is they rename it the Trump White House and Casino.” – Conan O’Brien “Mayor Bloomberg tried to ban giant 16-ounce sugary sodas and a judge overturned the ruling. And I said, “Thank God I don’t have to drive to Canada to get my Mountain Dew anymore.”- David Letterman

“Thanks to daylight saving time, we lost an hour this weekend. If you’re watching this show, you’re about to lose another hour. Everyone is talking about is these Google glasses. People are already worried about radiation from cellphones. So why not make a device that you can put next to your eyes all day?” – Craig Ferguson “According to reports, Saudi Arabia is considering dropping public beheadings because of a shortage of government swordsmen. You don’t want amateurs to cut people’s heads off because that could be barbaric.” – Jay Leno

So that’s our last blast for winter. Birthdays wishes go out on Wednesday to my esteemed writer/editor/deluxe dessert making pal Martha Lawrence, who’s one of the few people in the continental U.S. who never mistakes Encinitas for Escondido.

We’ll catch you streaking up and down the court while running the show for the hottest team in the NBA west. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ty Lawson fans.

February 3, 2013

Beauty Is In The Sunrise Of The Beholder

Good morning and greetings, February fans. Well, last week brought violent weather to parts of the nation, as wild temperature extremes set off deadly thunderstorms and tornadoes, causing major damage and severe power outages. At the same time, Floridians were enjoying picture perfect weather, but it was not rosy for all in the Sunshine State, as Miami’s Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino admitted on his 28th wedding anniversary that he had fathered a secret love child and paid millions to keep it quiet. And all this time I thought not winning a Super Bowl was his biggest problem.

It brought to mind the words of Rodney Dangerfield, “I’ll tell ya, I’m alright now but last week I was in rough shape. I mean, last week I looked up my family tree – I found out I’m the sap. My wife said she was afraid of the dark. Then she saw me naked and now she’s afraid of the light. She made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.”

So all the talk last week was of Super Sunday, as I was peppered with questions like Lindsay Lohan at her latest bail hearing. Where are you going to watch the game? Are you rooting for the 49ers or will you be rooting against them because you’re still bitter from the Giants blowing a three-game lead and not making the playoffs? Do I care if Joe Montana’s hair is going to be straight or curly? What color Gatorade will be dumped on Beyonce? And most importantly, what will the Dow Jones and my stomach be doing the next day?

With all this football talk filling the atmosphere, that according to Al Gore, “We put an extra 90 million tons of heat-trapping pollution into every day, as if it’s an open sewer,” the sun still managed to rise and set. Last Monday and Tuesday were a digital pleasure, as on both days I went for the photo daily double, shooting both the sunrise and sunset. Monday’s sunrise was beautiful and the sunset was pleasingly pleasant, but then on Tuesday morning all bells and sirens went off because as soon as I woke up, I was on red alert. I’ll get back to discussing Al Gore’s views on why the oceans are warming, the Arctic caps are melting, along with his sale of his television network to some guy named Al Jazerra as soon as Tipper tweets me back.

I had slept a little later than usual on Tuesday, as I had to finish off another disconcerting dream of being in school but not having gone to class with exams coming up. But it was still a solid week on the dream front, as in one of the more interesting ones, I was a cop and my partner was Rob Lowe. Over the years I’ve had conversations and adventures during my subconcious atoning with Howard Stern, Mel Brooks, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Lola Falana and a cast of thousands, along with half my high school class.

But that’s another story for another time, but suffice to say that I’m doing a lot more partying on my subconcious time card than during my waking hours. But I always dress impeccably for bedtime, for as my wardrobe consultant once told me, “Be careful what you wear to bed at night, because you never know who you’ll meet in your dreams.”

I believe it was either Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Jason Gilbert who said they were always out there practicing because they knew there was someone else out there working just as hard to be the best. I’m putting in the time when I’m asleep. If just wish I had a DVD to record these middle of the night cranial wanderings because I’d be up for an subconcious Emmy.

Anyway, back to Super Tuesday. I woke to a red sky over Monterey Bay, so I put on my Kool and the Gang poncho and headed for the coast. I wanted to capture the crimson reflection on the sand at Its Beach, but time wouldn’t let me, so I stopped at Fair Avenue to photograph the initial colors of the morning’s brilliance on the bay.

Next I went into silhouette mode, as I shot my favorite cypress tree with the sky blowing up behind it. Then, as the sky moved into a mandarin orange mode, I cruised down to Lighthouse Point to take in the full on magnificence of the morning experience. At the same time, the moon was setting as the sky cast about a pink carnation of color along the sand at Its Beach.

I then completed my photographic journey with a shot taken at Steamers Lane just before the sun made an appearance. It was a spectacular, world-class sunrise over the Pacific that I was thrilled to be a part of. And as a bonus, that night the sky caught on fire at sunset, which made my dinner of vegan veal parmesan and honey cake that much more festive.

On to the late night. “Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino has admitted he fathered a child while having an extramarital affair with a CBS production assistant. And today Manti Te’o said, “See, that’s why you have imaginary girlfriends.” Zimbabwe’s finance minister revealed yesterday that his country has only $217 left in the government Treasury. Today President Obama said, “Stop bragging!” – Jay Leno “A new show premiered tonight on the FX network called “The Americans.” It’s about Russian spies embedded in Washington, D.C., during the Cold War.The first episode was great. Their mission was to fake a drivers license for a young socialist Kenyan boy living in Hawaii.” – Craig Ferguson

“Former NFL quarterback Dan Marino has admitted to fathering a secret child back in 2005. I don’t know why people are surprised — the Dolphins never gave him good protection. A bipartisan group of senators has unveiled a plan that would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Or as immigrants call that, “a tunnel.” An employee of the U.S. Postal Service is retiring after 44 years without using any of her sick days. Friends describe her as “dedicated,” while co-workers describe her as “that lady who gave me the flu.” Last week Iran launched a monkey into space, and it actually returned to Earth alive. It was great news for the space program and terrible news for the monkey who thought he’d finally gotten out of Iran. – Jimmy Fallon

“The Boy Scouts of America is now considering an end to its longstanding policy of banning gay scouts. How about that? And the girl scouts have a new policy during cookie season. It’s called “Don’t ask, just sell.” In a big meeting of the Republican National Committee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.” Then Texas Governor Rick Perry gave the rebuttal. Women can now serve on the front lines in combat. I believe up until now, the only woman who had ever seen action under a general was Paula Broadwell.” –Jay Leno “Women serving in the United States military will now be serving in combat. Finally there will be somebody in the tank who will stop and ask for directions.” – David Letterman

So that’s our first blast for the shortest month of the year. We’ll catch you showing NFL fans how you led your team to a stunning Super Bowl win. Aloha, mahao and later, Joe Flacco fans.

September 16, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To College He Goes

Good morning and greetings, rising college cost fans. Well, much like my wedding day, the birth of my children and my first colonoscopy, this is one of those milestone moments, as my favorite son is heading off to college on Saturday. While it will be a sad day for his mother and myself, it should be extremely exciting for Jason, who has been chomping at the bit like Secretariat coming down the homestretch to get his college career underway, as most of his friends have already departed and scattered off to places like Colorado, Massachusetts and the Bermuda Triangle.

Back when Jason was 11, the thought of him leaving one day, like the prospect of the Mitt Romney in the White House, was quite painful. Now that he’s a young man of 18 and on the Selective Service hit list, I am much more emotionally prepared for his departure. I believe it was the philosopher David Lee Roth who said “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

This is a child who I saw come flying out of his mother’s womb, and then for the next hour just stared at him like a mental patient, totally amazed that this little person was now part of us. It was the highest moment of my life since making the Dean’s List at Syracuse. And we knew we had something special when an hour later Jason picked up a John Grishman novel and started reading it before taking a shot at the New York Times crossword puzzle.

He spent his first five years in Southern California along the Strand in Hermosa Beach, a community which doubles as the world’s largest outdoor health club. There, he was introduced to the world of beach volleyball, and along with his partner Nathan Carson, has parlayed this into three tournament wins this summer and a national ranking a few sideouts below Olympic gold medalist’s Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser.

We then packed up the wagon train and moved back to Santa Cruz, so he could be raised in a place where the Shadowbrook, Crow’s Nest and redwoods meet the sea and where he could fine tune his Spanish by ordering a super burrito from every taqueria along the central coast. As Spanish conductor Pablo Casals once tweeted, “The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.”

Along the way, my 6-foot point guard with a 5″9″ wing span achieved academic excellence at one of the finest charter schools in the nation, which has led him to his next destination. Jason could have chosen to go back east but decided he’d like to see the sun while in college, and that the best place for him was on the scholar’s floor in an oceanfront dorm at UC Santa Barbara. He’s on the road to making a difference. Or as Mother Theresa once told me at the Sizzler, “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”

So I won’t be able to walk into his room any hour of the day or night to run by my thoughts on sports, news and sports. Up until now, I’ve had an unobstructed view of his unarrested development. Now he’s moving on to a place of higher learning with cafeteria dining, while I’ll be playing Macaulay Culkin, home alone with my NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, that sweet child of mine Aimee and my golden retriever Summer, who I know will never leave me.

So my neuoscience-majoring son will now be part of the Gaucho family at a major university with its own private beach. We will all miss him, including his younger sister, who will probably get through the pain with the knowledge that his TiVo system is now in her hands. His mother will dearly miss her first born, and will have to figure out what to do with all her free time now that she’s not his personal laundress.

As for me, I’ll miss watching him playing hoops and volleyball, talking sports and feeding him like an iron chef. But what I’ll miss most will be watching him seize the moments of his new found independence and discovering who he is while growing into the man that we’ll all be so proud of. Up until now I’ve had a front seat for the show. Now I’ll have to scalp a ticket. It was the writer Robert Gallagher who once said, “Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”

So my son is entering onto the freeway of the next phase of his life. What routes he takes from here no one knows. Spanish writer Rosilia de Castro once penned, “I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” I believe the final word on this higher road of education belongs to Irish poet Oscar Wilde, who once told a group of IRA terrorists, ‘Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Or as the t-shirt says, “I got my degree in liberal arts. Do you want fries with that?”

So since Jason will be reaching for the academic stars, I thought we would head up into the sky and take a look at a couple of moon rises over Monterey Bay. The first three shots feature the earth’s only natural satellite coming up over the wharf and the Santa Cruz mountains. This January rise featured the biggest moon of the year, and when this celestial body first appeared, it was as exciting as last week’s return of Jax and the boys on the “Sons of Anarchy.”

I took the next three photos a few September’s back with the moon rising over Steamer’s Lane. I never tire of seeing a full moon rise over the water or an episode of Annie Walker’s CIA adventures in “Covert Affairs.” As Van Morrison texted me later on this fantabulous night, “What a marvelous night for a moondance.” Ah, the moonlight on this magical night.

On to some late night humor. “Early this morning in Los Angeles police were involved with a high-speed chase with a suspect drawing a crowd by throwing money out the window. Is it me or is Mitt Romney getting desperate? In Yemen, a U.S. drone strike has killed al-Qaida’s number two leader, the sixth second in command the U.S. has killed. This is one area where Obama can say he definitely is creating jobs. Over the weekend Mitt Romney made an appearance at a NASCAR race in Virginia. There was an awkward moment when he asked a NASCAR driver why he didn’t just hire a chauffeur.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama spoke last night. The speech must have been pretty good because today Clint Eastwood said he was voting for the chair. Did you see the Bill Clinton speech? He killed them with one word: arithmetic. He said Republicans lack skills in arithmetic, which by the way, is not fair to Sarah Palin because if there’s one thing her family has proved it can do is multiply.” –Bill Maher “Mitt, you just keep demanding that Americans answer the question: are you better off than you were four years ago? But just don’t answer it yourself, cause that would mean releasing more than two years of tax returns.” –Stephen Colbert

“We got some bad economic news. The United States has slipped further down the global ranking of the world’s most competitive economies. We’re now #7. Switzerland is number one. Romney said, ‘See, that’s why I keep my money there.’ “The economy is so bad, I saw Mitt Romney at the supermarket buying Lobster Helper.” –Jay Leno “Yesterday, Nicki Minaj revealed that in her new song, she only sarcastically endorsed Mitt Romney. Or as Republicans put it, ‘Wow, you too?’” –Jimmy Fallon “Mitt Romney released another ad that features Hispanic voters speaking in Spanish. The ad ends with him saying, ‘I’m Mitt Romney, and I have no idea what these people are saying.’” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s my college report. On this sweet day of apples and honey, let’s hope, for at least for our children’s sake, that one day the world comes to its senses, and we can watch the national news without wondering what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on. However, I’m not counting on it real soon.

We’ll catch you once again winning the U.S. Open and showing the world why you’re the most dominant female player in tennis history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Serena Williams fans.

December 25, 2011

Not All Sunrises Are Created Equal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 10:44 am

Good morning and greetings, winter solstice fans. According to the Farmer’s Almanac and my NBA schedule, the days are now getting longer, as gone away is the blue bird, here to stay is Larry Bird, as we frolicked and played, with five games on Christmas Day, watching in a winter wonderland.

Yes, the seasons have changed here on the central coast, and for the most part the skies have been clearer than the roads on Christmas morning. The winter air has turned chillier than President Obama’s presence at a Tea Party clam bake. And luckily for me, my home here on the upper west side was built insulation free, so I never have to worry about things getting too stuffy. I’m just fortunate that I prefer my wine and women the same way; slightly chilled.

So you know that I like to keep you up-to-date on my early morning ramblings. There was a spectacular sunrise last Monday and then a pretty good one on Friday, but due to circumstances that were way beyond my patrol, very little of these mornings of color on parade will grace the pages of Sunrise Santa Cruz. But the good news is that they’d be perfect for my new site, missedsunrisesofsantacruz.com.

It’s always interesting the way these mornings work, as the days when I’m poised and waiting, there’s been no drama in the sky, or at least not the Rose Parade of colors one expects from this site. Then, when I wasn’t emotionally available, the sky blew up once and then twice. Lionel Ritchie then called and said, “congratulations, you’re three times a lady.”

Normally, I’m as prepared for these morning exercises as Mitt Romney answering questions about $10,000 bets, but I should have listened to my astrologer when she said last week was not in the stars. That’s funny, because she didn’t mention anything during my palm reading.

The reason I bring this up is to let you know that at this middle-age stage in life, I am still very much a work in progress, and these mornings of missed opportunities are just a reminder that I am really in control of nothing except my remote. At this point in the aging process, I’m not sure if I’m getting older or just ripening.

December is one of those prime time sunrise and sunset months, but on the precipitation front, the central coast has been drier than North Dakota when it entered the Union. But while we are experiencing fog-free, sunny days, last week the midwest and Rockies saw more drifts of white powder than a backstage party with Led Zeppelin. This deadly snowstorm halted travel throughout the Great Plains as we’re talking blizzarding snow, howling winds and icy road conditions which created havoc for those heading home for the holidays. Now if only the ski operators in Tahoe could be so lucky.

But this being the final blast of 2011, I want to end the year with a bang for the ages. So we are going back into the photo archives and returning to the morning of my all-time favorite sunrise from the month of December. We’re talking a world-class, state of-the-art experience, one that you want to wake up your friends and ancestors for.

Now there are good sunrises, great sunrises and then there are ones that are off the chart. This is one from the category of the spectacular. It was back in 2006, a much gentler time when members of Congress still had a little dignity.

It was the day after a huge swell hit the central coast. This blessed event of high surf just added to the pagentry of the morning, as although I was shooting at low tide, a rather large pool of water remained next to the cliffs along Its Beach. This stroke of luck allowed me to capture the outrageous reflection from the clouds (photos three and four) on this golden pond, a sight I have not seen before or since this glorious morning.

This dawn experience had a little bit of everything, as the sky put on an award-winning show with color changes were simply amazing. We went through a series of various shades of red, orange, yellow and white, and this was all before the sun came up over Steamer’s Lane (photo eight.)

And, as an added bonus, the clouds in the western sky (photo six) were as spectacular as I’d ever seen, with pink swirls of ribbon that made this morning a 360 degree extravaganza.

Sunrises like this are few and far between. When I look back upon the images from this morning, I realize how lucky I am to be living in a place where you can show up for an event like this without a ticket and grab a front row seat. And no cover charge.

On to the late night. “Kim Jong Il, the crazy leader of North Korea who hated us, passed away over the weekend. And get this — his 28-year-old son, Kim Jong Un is taking over. It won’t be easy. He’s got some big women’s sunglasses to fill.” –Jimmy Fallon “North Korea announced the passing of their supreme leader, Kim Jong Il. His younger son will take over. At first, there was speculation that power could pass to one of Kim’s two sisters, Kourtney Jong Il or Khloe Jong Il.” –Jay Leno

“Kim Jong Il made his staff call him ‘dear’ and spent the day drinking cognac. It’s like I have a twin, ladies and gentlemen. The family is saying now that in lieu of flowers for Kim Jong Il, they encourage you to send enriched uranium.” –David Letterman “When Rick Perry was told about Kim Jong Il, he said, ‘I never heard of him, but then again, I don’t listen to that rap.’” –Jay Leno

“Last night Rick Perry compared himself to Tim Tebow. The difference? Tim Tebow actually has a prayer. The candidates all have their position on the Federal Reserve. Ron Paul is anti-Fed. Mitt Romney is pro-Fed. And Newt Gingrich is over-Fed.” –Jay Leno “On the campaign trail, Ron Paul said he does not like his milk homogenized. After this, Rick Perry said, ‘I am also not a fan of gay milk.’” –Conan O’Brien

“In Sioux City, Iowa, there was another debate between the seven Republicans running for president. All your favorites were there: Grumpy, Dopey, the other Dopey, Romney, Bashful, another Dopey, and Happy. “This was the 427th of 2,000 debates to be held between now and when President Obama is re-elected. There are so many debates. For a group of people who don’t want the government interfering in our lives a lot, they interfere in our lives a lot.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So this brings down the curtain for 2011. As I look back upon the year, it’s reassuring to know that our efforts in Iraq were not for naught and that a new civil war hasn’t broken out. But that would be looking at our war efforts as half-empty, and I’m no longer that type of guy.

So savor your family and friends and be grateful for your health and good fortune. We’ll catch you in 2012. Aloha, mahalo and later, Vanessa Bryant 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.

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