March 22, 2015

It’s Spring And Taxes Are In The Air

Good morning and greetings, springtime fans.  After a week of game-winning, buzzer-beating March Madness, there are now the Sweet 16 teams alive in their quest for the magical,mystical national college championship.

Well, let’s just say 15 contenders and the University of Kentucky.  The Kareem always rises to the top.

But in the midst of all this hoop hysteria, there is something else brewing that puts even the biggest gamblers on edge.  Yes, boys and girls, it’s that time of year to let the feds in on if you’ve been naughty or nice.  So open up those W-2′s and 1099′s and let the sunshine in.  It’s tax season.

The Beatles once crooned, “Everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey.” As for myself, I am an open book when it comes to paying the piper.  And this year, I am doing more than my share to help fund federal giveaway programs, like national health care, rebuilding the infrastructure of Afghanistan and support for Yemeni rebels.  Despite what they say, when in Yemen, you make yemenade.

So how did we end up with this tax system?  How did this whole federal income tax program come around, and why in the wide, wide world of sports was it needed?  Inquiring minds want to know.I ran across a site called randomhistory.com, which provided some answers to the tax situation along with some comic relief on this not so thrilling topic .  Or as they say at Morgan Stanley, “You must pay taxes.  But there’s no law that says you gotta leave a tip.”

Let’s face it.  It feels good paying taxes, supporting our government. It’s the ultimate economic cleansing.  According to my sources, which are always sketchy, Americans starting paying income tax to support the American Civil War.  The Revenue Act of 1861 paid for this four year conflict, at a cost of $2.5 million a day, or what Oracle Arena collects in parking revenue on Warrior game nights.

However, the act was repealed and replaced the following year with the tiered income tax, which lead many people to start shedding tears. The current income tax system was made into law in 1913, before the start of World War II.  This came about as the feds needed more coin from the populace to fund our foreign conflicts, so they started withholding taxes from people’s paycheck.

In 1913, the kid friendly federal form 1040 was introduced.  This required all citizens, legal permanent residents and criminals with a net income of $3,000 or more to file their tax returns.  It was simple, as it only consisted of three, fun-filled pages, something that even Ted Cruz could understand.

WW II led to the creation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which became the IRS.  The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for collecting taxes, enforcing revenue laws and messing with people’s heads as part of the U.S. Department of Treasury, which is the world’s largest accounting and tax-collection organization.  I tried to have my name removed from their mailing list, but they refused to cancel my subscription.

Did you ever notice that when you put the words “The” and “IRS” together, it spells “THEIRS?”

Filling out the tax form and taking the proper deductions can be a tricky proposition.  I leave it up to my trustworthy accountant to do my bidding for me.  Let’s just say he knows what’s in and what’s out, where to slice and dice.  This year he’s counting my weight loss as a non-capital gain.

Or as author Herman Wouk once wrote, “Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.”  And Albert Einstein, who was no slouch, professed that “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”  I wonder who did his taxes?  H & R Block?

But hey, if you’re looking to make a little coin around tax time, you can make big bucks by reporting a company for tax evasion.  The IRS Whistleblower Office will pay money to people who blow the whistle on persons who fail to pay the tax that they owe. If the IRS uses information provided by the whistleblower, they can collect up to 30 percent of the additional tax and penalties, tax free.  If you snitch, you can become rich.

Sounds like easy money.  Now some companies get away with murder.  In 2009, Bank of America had an income of $4.4 billion. They paid $0 in taxes.  In 2010, General Electric made $4 billion in U.S. profits. It paid $0 in taxes.  Now that’s imagination at work.Now why I am paying to build roads, bridges and Starbucks in Taliban country, when G.E., an American multinational conglomerate corporation, pays zilch.  Is it because they bring good things to life?

So finally, here’s my favorite fact about taxes.  According to the website historic-UK.com, Lady Godiva, not to be confused with Lady Gaga, was a rich landowner in England.  Her husband was an evil son of bitch and he demanded from the people of Coventry to pay oppressive taxes.

Lady Godiva pleaded with him to stop this hated tax and he is reputed to have said, “You will have to ride naked through Coventry before I will change my ways.”

This jackass was sure that his modest wife would never strip down.  But Lady Godiva took him at his word, and on Market Day in Coventry she rode naked, covered only by her long golden hair, which covered her entire body so that only her face and legs could be seen.

This son of a bitch was so stunned by the whole incident that he believed it was a miracle that no one had seen his wife’s naked body, and he immediately freed the town from paying the hated tax.

And this led to the publishing of the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

So let me end with a little ditty by poet Ogden Nash that sums up my feelings.  “Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes.  The wind will presently disappear, but the taxes last us all the year.”

For our non-taxable photos series, we are heading down to Lighthouse Point along West Cliff Drive on the morning of January 4.  The sky lit up early with vivid red and orange colors, and cast a beautiful reflection down on the sand at Its Beach.  It was my first sunrise of 2015, and it was magnificent, as the sky was a nicely painted canvas of colors.  Then the sun rose over the bay and my work for the day was done.

On to some late night humor.  “In an interview with Playboy magazine, Dick Cheney criticized President Obama and said he’s quote, “the worst president of my lifetime, without question.” Then Cheney said, “But enough talk. When do I take my clothes off?  During his weekly address to the nation, President Obama discussed higher education and said, “The most important skill you can sell is your knowledge.” Or as English majors working at Starbucks put it, “No it’s not.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama filled out his March Madness bracket. You can tell Obama’s mind is elsewhere because his top two picks were Israel and Iran.  President Obama has decided that he wants his presidential library to be in Chicago, not Hawaii. Today Hawaii’s governor said, “Great, who’s going to want to come to Hawaii now?”” – Conan O’Brien

“A new study has shown that women who get more sleep have better sex. Unfortunately, the study was conducted by Bill  Cosby.Officials in Indiana have discovered a working meth lab inside a Walmart. They became suspicious when they noticed a Walmart employee making a decent living.” -Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday was the L.A. Marathon. It’s the only time of year you see someone running in the streets of Los Angeles when it’s not the end of a car chase.  Some people are still angry about the letter written by Republicans to Iran. It’s also not helping that they said, “Dear Iran or Iraq, we can never keep you two straight.” – Conan O’Brien  “A grandmother in South Africa celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday by going skydiving. It’s pretty impressive — most people turning 100 usually go the other direction in the sky. – Jimmy Fallon

So we’ll catch you making your father’s day by hitting the game-winning shot for your Georgia State squad that upset Baylor in the first round of the NCAA’s.  Aloha, mahalo and later, R. J. Hunter fans.

March 8, 2015

The Dark Side Of The Milk

Good morning and greetings, cacao bean fans.  As you may know, my body is a sacred temple, a synagogue to my soul, and therefore, I’m not fond of taking any medications.  But on those rare occasions when I’m in need of something to soothe my inner sanctum, there’s always one drug I can count on. Chocolate.  And of course, TV.

Now I’ve been merrily addicted to this wonderful, sugary brown concoction since early childhood. I can recall skipping with delight into my local candy store, and gazing upon such delights as M & M’s, Hershey Bars, Nestle Crunch, Chunkies and Raisinets, just to name a few.  And these weren’t the mini, bite size versions, these were the real deal.  It was pure almond joy.

So as I got older and matured into a responsible adult, I realized that a chocolate bar a day does not keep the doctor away, so I’ve had to cut back on my intake.  New age doctors say that if you’re going to be ingesting chocolate, it’s healthier to go to the dark side.  Who knew?

Now I will admit there are lots of good dark chocolate bars out there, but you really don’t get that sugar rush that you do with milk chocolate, and isn’t that the point?  Then again, researchers from the Plain or Peanut Institute suggest that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain.  And it’s a great after school snack.

Now I bring up this delicious subject because of an interesting item I found on Yahoo Health News.  In a recent study by the US Food and Drug Administration, they found that 59 percent of dark chocolate products in the U.S. contain trace amounts of milk.  According to my abacus, that’s close to two out of three bars recommended by four out of five dentists.
So your favorite dark chocolate bar contains a little milk, what’s the big deal?

 Well, according to FDA researchers who aren’t on the take,, “Even one small bite of a product containing milk can cause a dangerous reaction in some individuals.”  That explains George Bush.

Now dark chocolate has been the savior for folks who want to experience the sensual flavors and effects of chocolate without bringing the cow along with it.

According to U.S. laws, and thank God there is a law, food products are required to put their ingredients on the label.  Sugar is my favorite, with high fructose corn syrup a close second and hydrogenated soybean oil taking the bronze.

Now this white liquid produced by cows is one of the top food allergies in the country, although as a kid, I thought cookies and milk were as beneficial as penicillin.

The FDA recently conducted a test of more then 100 dark chocolate bars that showed many contained undeclared milk.  Well, how it came about is a mystery that the Hardy Boys could solve.

The contamination probably took place when they cross pollinated the milk and dark chocolate, as the equipment was probably shared in the making of the bars.  Personally, I blame it on the white chocolate.

The results were that two out of seventeen of these products labeled “dairy-free” or “allergen-free”were found to contain milk. Fifty-five of the ninety-three dark chocolate bars without any clear indication of the presence of milk also were found to contain Boosie’s fluid. And six out of the eleven chocolate products labeled “traces of milk” contained milk at levels high enough to cause a reaction similar to the explosion on Mount St. Helens.

And now the news gets even better.  The consumer health watchdog group, As You Sow, who is all about protecting the people and the planet, filed notices of legal action last Wednesday against Hershey’s, (say it ain’t so,)  See’s Candies, and Mars, alleging violation of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act for failure to warn consumers of the toxic chemical cadmium in the companies’ chocolate products.

Holy 3 Muskateers bar, Batman.

It seems our youth are especially susceptible to cadmium, as it has been linked to kidney, liver, and bone damage.  But don’t worry kids, your pancreas and spleen are still safe.

As You Sow, and as we shall reap, had previously initiated legal action against an additional thirteen chocolate manufacturers, including Godiva, Ghirardelli, Lindt, Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, (no, not Trader Joes!), for failure to warn of lead and cadmium in their chocolate products.

Not to worry parents out there, but lead exposure has been a significant public health issue for decades and is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and lower IQ at specific levels.  This explains Texas Governor Rick Perry.

According to Eleanne van Vliet,  As You Sow’s toxic chemical research director, “Consumers need to know that chocolate may contain heavy metals.  Since lead and cadmium accumulate in the body over time, even small amounts should be avoided.”

When asked for a comment, the group AC/DC said they were too busy, as they were on the highway to hell.

Well, it’s your choice folks, but when dealing with small children partaking in these products, I zinc it may be time to take a closer look at it.  Do your due diligence.  You know, the children are our future.

So for today’s photo snack, we are returning to the edge of the continent on the morning of December 14.  The place was Its Beach and Lighthouse Point, and when I arrived at this glorious location, the sky was full of color.  Then the sun rose over the mountains across the bay and vivid colors were added to the canvas.  Simply delightful.

On to some late night humor.  “Jeb Bush is getting his presidential campaign in gear. Last week he said he supports a path to citizenship for immigrants. He said, “I believe in an America where hard work and dedication can lead to any job that your brother and dad once had.  It was reported today that Edward Snowden may return to the United States. He is going to carpool with Julian Assange and Roman Polanski.” – Conan O’Brien

“Two California teachers charged with having sex with students and giving them cocaine. On the plus side, the students involved had perfect attendance. Yesterday Justin Bieber turned 21 years old. Justin started celebrating on Saturday — five years ago.” – Conan O’Brien  ” Happy birthday to Justin Bieber. Yesterday he turned 21, which means he can be tried as an adult.” – Jimmy Kimmel

 ”Taco Bell is testing a new product called “Cap’n Crunch Delights,” which are balls of sweet dough, covered in crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal, and filled with a “milk icing” — you know, Mexican food.” – Seth Meyers  “Taco Bell is testing a new dessert item called Cap’n Crunch Delights. They are warm doughnut holes filled with sugary cream and rolled in Cap’n Crunch. They really know how to capture the flavors of old Mexico.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Boston Medical Center found that 15 percent of 2-year-olds in the Boston area drink as much as 4 ounces of coffee a day.  Pediatricians say giving caffeine to toddlers can cause depression, diabetes, sleep disturbance, and obesity. On the plus side they get a lot more finger painting done.” – Jimmy Kimmel  “President Obama said he wants the United States to establish an embassy in Cuba by April. When asked if Cuba would establish an embassy here, Obama said, “What do you call Miami?” – Jimmy Fallon

So we’ll catch you having a great season with Portland, but unfortunately, you tore your left achilles tendon last week. But you’ll come back strong.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Wes Matthews fans.

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.

December 7, 2014

Brr, It’s Getting Old Out There

Good morning and greetings, Warrior fans. Well, Golden State followers must feel like they have died and gone to basketball heaven, because this team is on a roll. As of this writing, they’re cruising along on a 12 game winning streak, as their record stands at an amazing 17-2 mark. They have been getting out early and blowing their opponents off the floor, and have the look of a championship contender.

I know it’s early and NBA titles aren’t won in December, but this stretch of basketball they have put together has been more than impressive. The great Dr. Martin Luther King, who was known to hit the open three, once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

So it has been a dream season so far, as despite some injuries the team has jelled like a cranberry sauce relish. But head coach Steve Kerr is well aware that challenges lie ahead. “We haven’t faced some major adversity that’s inevitably coming. We’re off to a great start. We’re having fun. We’ve got great guys. But it’s going to get a lot harder. I know that.”

So if you want, there’s lots of room to climb on to the Golden State bandwagon. Everyone loves a winner, and with point guard Steph Curry being the most exciting performer in the league and playing like an MVP candidate, Warrior fans are pinching themselves over the team’s success. In the NBA, it’s all about winning the championship, as the ring’s the thing.

Now speaking of rings, when trying to determine the age of a tree, you look inside the core for the annual circles. One ring represents one year of life. Well, you can add another ring to my core, because coming up on Friday, I turn the big 62. I would prefer that number to be my height, but God made me an undersized, defensive-minded point guard.

At this stage, 62 is somewhat mind-blowing. But I do like the even numbers. But let’s fact it, in dog years, I’m dead.

But life has given me a lot, as I have a few things to be thankful for when my birthday comes around.

Let’s start with the family. As my brother Brad said to me in a private moment over Thanksgiving, my wife Allison appears to be very happy these days. She has been cancer free for more than five years, and that is more than a blessing. I attribute her happiness to the fact that we have a Genie from DIRECTV, the most advanced home HD DVR that can record five shows at once and store up to 200 hours of HD entertainment, which we go through every weekend.

As our rabbi says, with your Genie, your every TV wish is granted.

My son Jason is now a junior and on the premed track at UC Santa Barbara. When he’s not playing intramural basketball or baking chicken parmesan, he finds time to volunteer for Hospice Care, being a campus tour guide, working in a research lab and doing an internship at a local hospital. But what he says makes him happiest these days is taking a break from studying and watching his Golden State Warriors in action.

My daughter Aimee is now a senior at Santa Cruz High, and looking forward to leaving that experience behind her. She works at a restaurant and is a valuable employee at the westside New Leaf Market, which supplies her with endless greens for her rabbits. She also attends cosmetology school three days a week. I’m not quite ready to let her cut my hair, but promised her she could do my makeup in the upcoming year.

My brother Paul and his family are doing quite well, and my brother Brad, who back in March tumbled 1,000 feet down a glacier in Alaska and blew out his knee, but lived to talk about it, is taking the season off from snowboarding. This inactivity is driving him crazy but he has vowed to return to his snowboarding days next year.

To read about his continuing rehab, check out his latest blog at http://www.glutenfreesnowboarder.com/2014/11/its-getting-better-all-the-time/

Now my parents are a whole other story. My father is 97 years old, and has been suffering from dementia for close to a decade. It is difficult to deal with, but my mother, who is no spring chicken at age 88, is always able to have a smile on her face, even in the worst of times, which puts her in the category of sainthood. Well, it’s either that or the Celexa.

And our golden retriever, Summer, who is 9 and half years young, still brings so much joy to my life. Writer Agnes Sligh Turnball hit the nail on the head when she said, “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” Summer also loves the Genie and spends most of her day watching and recording shows from the Animal Planet.

And I will not celebrate this day alone, as my longtime friend, compadre, radio partner and former Mr. Universe, Jerry Hoffman, also shares this date with me. Jerry was recently hit with a sudden illness that knocked him off his feet for a couple of weeks, but he is going through treatment and is doing quite well. He’ll be hitting the slopes in Lake Tahoe this weekend, so happy birthday, my friend, and wishing you many, many more. Just stay away from those trees.

Now since this is the birthday post, I wanted to feature something spectacular for the occasion. So here’s the action from the morning of October 30. I was down at Lighthouse Point and reflection from the clouds on the sand at Its Beach was splashed with amazing color.

Then the sun rose over Steamer Lane, and I captured a couple of shots of the rays shooting through the beacon of the lighthouse. Mornings like this are a gift, and this is why I’m a sunrise photographer. But I’m still hoping for a pony.

On to some late night humor. “This is official today. China has surpassed the U.S. and now has the No. 1 economy in the world. After hearing this, China’s children asked, “So now can we take a lunch break?” For the first time, a major league baseball umpire has announced he’s gay. The umpire did this by pointing at himself and yelling, “OUT!” Over the weekend a couple got married on the New York City subway — on the subway! The couple asked that instead of gifts you send Purell hand sanitizer.” – Conan O’Brien

“It is still raining in Los Angeles. The rain is giving much needed relief to California’s crops. By that I mean “marijuana.” – Craig Ferguson “The trailer for the new “Terminator” movie came out today. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as you may know, is back. Said he’d be back, and he is. A man of his word. In this one he goes back in time to stop Phil Collins from launching a solo career.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So I know that many of you were still recovering from the holiday and may have missed last week’s post, “The Good, The Bad and the Stuffing. I bring it up because the photos are from sunrise from Thanksgiving morning that my brother Paul described as “epic.” So you might want to scroll down and take a look.

So we’ll catch you being the big man coming off the bench and putting up big numbers with the Warriors’ second unit. Aloha, mahalo and later, Maurice Speights fans.

November 30, 2014

The Good, The Bad And The Stuffing

Good morning and greetings, December fans. Yes, the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, as records were shattered in the consumption of stuffing department. I am left with a very pleasant memory, along with 72 cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce to commemorate this blessed occasion.

To year round cranberry sauce lovers, I say, crave the wave. Your taste buds will thank you.

Now in last week’s post, I looked ahead to the holiday, previewing how others celebrated this glorious gathering of food and stress. So with the sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and green beans now just a low carb memory, I thought I would take a look back at the holiday that brings some families together while ripping others apart.

As I’ve always maintained, be someone that brings out the best in you, not the stress in you.

Now first of all, the Pilgrims did not celebrate this festival with Trader Joe’s turkey gravy. Back in 1621, they decided to throw themselves a rave party to celebrate the harvest, so for the fixings, the men went “fowling,” as in the hunting of wild birds. Then a group of Wampanoag Indians showed up with five deer and enough deviled eggs, spinach dip and stuffed mushrooms for 50.

Looking back upon this first feast, the menu was quite exotic for the times. There was lobster, fish, sushi, chicken, rabbit, flank steak, squashes, dried fruits, aging movie stars, eggs, goat cheese, tater tots, chestnuts, hickory nuts, shrimp toast and spring rolls.

Not making it to the table were mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, bagels, corn on the cob, cranberries, whitefish salad and the most important item, gravy, which we all know is a key component to the success of the meal. And no forks were used for this feast, as this utensil didn’t make an appearance in North American until the 19th century. So we’re talking spoons, knives, fingers, chopsticks and slingshots.

Historians say the party raged on for three days, and included the 50 surviving Pilgrims and 90 Indians, as they ate, played party games, shot guns for fun and watched football and the Macy’s Day Parade.

Now according to my sources in the South Pacific, long before the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower, native Hawaiians were celebrating the longest Thanksgiving in the world. This holiday was called Makahiki, and lasted four months, from November through February. During these months of celebration, work, war, surf contests and reruns of “Magnum, P.I.” were forbidden.

So there was no mention of turkey at this original Thanksgiving. And let’s face it, when we think about this holiday, turkey is the number one bird on the hit list. The great American statesmen, Ben Franklin, wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. Me, I always favored the peacock.

So here’s a few fun facts about the approximately 45 million turkeys that were consumed and then exhumed on Thanksgiving.

There is evidence that turkeys have been around for 10 million years, or right around the making of the pilot episode of “Law and Order.”

Only male turkeys can pull off the gobble gobble routine, which is a seasonal call that drives the females crazy during their mating periods. Hens prefer to cluck, like in get me the cluck out of here.

Domesticated turkeys, or farm raised, cannot fly. So they go Amtrak. The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at a hefty 86 pounds, about the size of a large German Shepard or an small Austrian sheep herder.

Now here’s an unusual fact. Due to white meat being the most delectable and popular part of the turkey, these large birds have been bred to have huge breasts. As a result, the female’s backs are always killing them.

Now this takes all the fun out of the equation for both sexes because the domesticated turkeys are no longer able to mate, due to the breasts getting in the way of the mounting of the female. So they have to settle for a romantic dinner, a movie, then on to some heavy petting before they call it a night. Chickens have all the luck.

And finally, let’s give a shout out to Sara Josepha Hale, a magazine editor who is the author of the popular nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little lamb.” She urged President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving, as until 1863, the holiday had not been celebrated annually since the first feast back in 1621. She believed the day would unite Americans in the midst of dramatic social and industrial change and awaken our hearts for love and home and country.

And most importantly, it would create a day for Americans to wake up at the crack of dawn, so they can get in line to wait for the stores to open at great malls of our nation. We know it as Black Friday, a consumer’s dream come true, and just the way God created it. Because only in America, do people trample other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.

So for our holiday photo session, we are returning to Thanksgiving morning, 2014. I had slept in till 6:30, but when I saw that red glow on the eastern horizon, I dashed out of the house, parked the car at Bird Rock and sprinted down West Cliff to catch the amazing glow of the red clouds above Monterey Bay, before catching the sunrise over at Steamer Lane. Just a spectacular way to the start off the holiday.

On to some best of late night humor. “Yesterday New Jersey Governor Chris Chistie was asked about the slow pace of his weight loss and said, quote, ‘Rome was not un-built in a day.’ In fact, Christie and Rome have a lot in common: one was built by Julius Caesar, and the other was built by LITTLE Caesar.” – Jimmy Fallon “Ted Cruz of course, was furious that the big storm back east shut down the government. He said, ‘That my job!’ But you know, there is a big difference between Ted Cruz and snow. Both are white and everyone’s sick of them – but eventually snow goes away.” – Bill Maher

“The Arizona legislature passed a bill that would allow business owners asserting their religious beliefs to deny service to gay customers. Some businesses have already put up signs that read: ‘Nice shirt, nice shoes, no service.’” – Seth Meyers “Presidents Day, of course, started out as celebration of Washington’s birthday. Then someone remembered it was Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th. So now we celebrate Washington, Lincoln and all the other Presidents. I have no idea how this led to mattress sales. It’s probably something do with Bill Clinton.” – Craig Ferguson

“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.’” After the president’s State of the Union address, there will be three separate Republican rebuttals. Obama said, ‘Yeah, I live with two daughters, my wife and my mother-in-law. Three people telling me I’m wrong is a holiday.’” – Jimmy Fallon

So welcome to December. We’ll catch doubling your scoring average for the third straight season while nailing the three ball. Aloha, mahalo and later, Draymond Green fans.

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.

October 26, 2014

He Shoots, He Scores

Good morning and greetings, World Series fans. Last week, I wrote about the change of seasons, as the warm days of Indian summer, along with my recognition memory seemed to be fading. It’s definitely chillier in the morning, as when I start out my walk, the sun and my wife are nowhere to be seen. Or to quote author Jarod Kintz about our relationship. “With my last breath, I’ll exhale my love for you. I hope it’s a cold day, so you can see what you meant to me.
”

I’m not trying to get too mushy. Wednesday is our 26th wedding anniversary and I thought this shout out would go along well with the sugar free chocolate hearts and a bag of diamonds.

Now through the month of October, the fog, marine layer and any sort of joy from the Oakland Raiders have been absent from the area. The morning sky has been as clear as my conscience, with the sun popping up over the mountains of Monterey, delighting locals and green flash lovers.

But the lack of morning clouds is no more, as I recently shot back to back sunrises, one of which was featured in these pages last week. I had taken the last eight months off from the sunrise business, and I really hadn’t missed the action. I want this hobby to be, as Kool and the Gang says, “fresh, exciting, so inviting to me.” Nature never goes out of style.

For some folks, these moments of grandeur aren’t even a blip on the screen. I’ll never start taking these moments of dramatic glory for granted. Remember, everyone has a photographic memory, but not everyone has film.

Photographing at dawn is a noble and peaceful way to start the day, and like the Kardashian sisters, no two sunrises are exactly alike. Or as Kim once said, “I don’t understand why everyone is always going on about my butt. I’m Armenian. It’s normal.”

I don’t know about you, but this is one Kardashian I can never get enough of. Just goes to show, one day your sex tape gets leaked and next day people want your comments on the state of Dennis Rodman.

When I shoot sunrises, I’m looking for maximum reflection action from the clouds, so I usually position myself down on the sand at Its Beach, where the surf hits the turf. The wet sand provides a dramatic backdrop for capturing the amazing colors radiating from the sky. In the words of photographer Ansel Adams, “Sometimes I do get to places when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.”

I have shot four impressive shows at dawn so far this season, which will all go on display in future posts. Last Thursday’s sunrise was epic, with orange ribbons of clouds flooding and lighting up the sky. Wednesday night’s sunset, which unfortunately I did not see in person due to a meeting with the Justice Department, was insane, as the sky turned an outrageous blood red. You snooze, you lose.

Moving along, the San Francisco Giants have been on a roll in the postseason, and are now playing in the World Series. You could call this team a mini-dynasty, with a possiblity of three championships in five years. However, I’m not really a big National League fan. I’m just in it for the AT & T Park garlic fries.

As exciting as it is for Bay Area baseball fans, hoop hysteria is set to get underway on Wednesday night, as your Golden State Warriors travel up to our state capital to take on the young and turnover prone Sacramento Kings.

Now as you may know, I have a slight interest in NBA hoops, as with NBA League Pass, I have access to every regular game for the next five months. It’s just really a part time hobby, as I’m only watching six to seven nights a week.

There are lots of reasons for high hopes for this Warrior squad, as point guard Stephen Curry is a highlight reel every night. He was recently named the league’s top pure shooter and when it comes to scoring, he’s a mini-LeBron James. Although the Western Division is tougher than a two dollar steak, Golden State, if they stay healthy, will be in title hunt.

Yes, I’ve hopped aboard the Warrior bandwagon. We are loud. Proud. The Warrior Girls.

And if that’s not enough, we have our D-League Santa Cruz Warriors starting up, with opening night on November 14th. And the D-League Showcase comes to town in January, when Santa Cruz will be at the center of the basketball universe.

Who knew Santa Cruz would be a hotbed of professional basketball? D-League action. It’s all about following the dream.

One more basketball note. My Western Kentucky Hilltopper friend Nancy Mager heard that I was running fullcourt, and told me, “You’re going to get hurt.” I reassured her I most certainly would not, as I tend to stay away from in the infighting and interaction around the hoop.

Well, two hours later, I was setting a screen and a guy’s head smacked into my eyelid and opened up a beautiful cut. It’s always a relaxing feeling when your blood is flowing like the River Jordan. I had to retire for the day and ended up with a periorbital hematoma, or black eye, which is caused by bleeding beneath the skin in and around the eye. It’s not very painful but a lovely whiter shade of purple.

But not to despair, as I was out playing the following day. Not very well of course, as it was difficult shooting with the eye patch, but those seventh graders aren’t really that tough.

So for today’s photo fastbreak, I am featuring a sunset from five years ago, on October 26 of 2009. The place was Natural Bridges State Beach, and the colors and clouds were wild and crazy. The clouds were in an unusual formation, and when the sky lit up, it was unlike any sunset that I had previously shot. Just another night in a cold water paradise.

On to some late night humor. “Whole Foods is introducing a new system that will label its produce “good, better, and best” depending on their supplier’s farming practices. Good means “no pesticides,” better means “environmentally friendly,” and “Best” means “still not worth five bucks for an apple.” – Jimmy Fallon “In pop culture news, Lady Gaga got married. And yes, she was wearing white meat.” – David Letterman

“Yesterday yet another person jumped the White House fence. It happened again. On the bright side, at least Michelle Obama is finally getting more Americans to exercise.” – Conan O’Brien “Last night, someone jumped the White House fence again. See, the problem is, if the pizza doesn’t get to Obama in 30 minutes, it’s free. And that comes out of their paycheck.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Kim Kardashian turned 34 years old. I hope she got the day off from work. Can you imagine trying to buy Kim Kardashian a gift. What do you get for the woman who has everything for no apparent reason? Kim Kardashian, by the way, shares a birthday with Benjamin Netanyahu and the scientist Alfred Nobel. Which just goes to show you: Horoscopes are crap.” – Jimmy Kimme

“As of today, Starbucks will allow their employees to display tattoos and ear gauges. Those are the round plugs that some people put in their ear lobe to let the world know their dads never played catch with them. Rock ‘n’ roll legend Tom Petty turned 64 years old today. He’s gone from the Heartbreakers to the Hipbreakers.” – Craig Ferguson

Caught the movie “Gone Girl” this weekend. What a lovely slice of evil.

So enjoy the festival of mini chocolate bars we call Halloween on Friday and we’ll catch you getting better with age and going down as the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Peyton Manning fans.

August 3, 2014

Summer-Don’t Leave Home With It

Good morning and greetings, August fans. Now what red and white blood celled American doesn’t look forward to a summer vacation? Whether it’s renting a cabin on Mosquito Lake, visiting Yosemite or the Grand Canyon or just sitting around in your backyard relaxing like a mental patient, everyone loves a summer sabbatical.

For our nation’s students, it means two to three months weeks away from the grind and pressure of homework, tests, incessant bullying and the cafeteria’s salisbury steak.

But it wasn’t always like this. According to the folks at tidbit.com, back in the early 1800s, around the birth of John McCain’s babysitters, schools went year-round as the National Lampoon and summer vacation had not yet been invented.

Then along came a spider and Horace Mann, the great education reformer, who worried that overstimulating the minds of children could lead to mental breakdowns, insanity and worst of all, low SAT scores. Educators worried that if there were no breaks to take children away from schools, the insane asylums would be filled with teachers. Or in the words of Woody Allen, “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

So in the 1840s, the summer break was created. Everyone was now happy as a clam, as teachers and students got that much needed break from one another. Meanwhile, doctors no longer had to be concerned about children spreading disease while packed in like sardines inside sweltering classrooms.

As the sign reads at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., “There are three good reasons to be a teacher-June, July and August.”

Now transitioning into August, it tis the season when the Gilbert Family Robinson takes their annual trip to the South Pacific. It is a time for relaxation, rejuvenation, reincarnation and macadamia nut elation, in a land filled with aloha spirit, fresh papayas and angry Hawaiians.

Unfortunately, our son Jason will not be going to the islands, as he’s in Santa Barbara taking an organic chemistry lab class, which I never had the pleasure of partaking in as a sociology major. It’s the first time the four of us will not be together enjoying chicken katsu and macaroni salad in this tropical paradise. But we’re taking our daughter’s friend along because we like even numbers.

So we are heading over to Anahola Bay, on the northeast shore on the Garden Island of Kauai. We rented a house right on the water, so life shouldn’t be too stressful. I’ve been looking forward to it all year, and can’t wait to feel the trade winds and the sand beneath my feet while exploring the Napili coast and the food aisles at the Costco in Lihue.

So I’m taking a two week break from the blog, and shall return to these pages on August 25. So let me say to all of you aloha kakou, which translated means may there be love between us and don’t bother texting me.

So for today’s photo conference, we are heading down to West Cliff Drive on the morning of February 18. It wasn’t a spectacular sunrise by any means, but the sky lit up with some gentle red clouds which turned into a light orange sherbert sundae float. And then the sun rose up through the lighthouse and all was good on a winter’s morning.

On to some late night humor. “According to French officials, the gardens at the Louvre have become overrun with rats. Officials later apologized and promised to refer to us as Americans in the future. Wikipedia is now accepting donations using the online currency Bitcoin. So now you can support information you’re not sure is true with currency you’re not sure is money.” – Seth Meyers”

Seventeen siblings from New Jersey just won $20 million in the lottery. When asked how they plan to spend the money, they said, “Remodeling the shoe we grew up in.” The TSA is offering a $5,000 reward for the best idea on how to speed up airport security lines. So far the best idea is making a line for people who know what they’re doing and another line for people who have never been to an airport before.” – Jimmy Fallon

Actor Orlando Bloom threw a punch at Justin Bieber last night during an argument at a night club in Spain. Orlando’s hand was pretty sore today, you know, from all the high-fives he got. A new study found that having a sense of purpose can actually help you live longer — While having a sense of porpoise can help you swim longer. – Jimmy Fallon

So birthday wishes go out this week to my daughter Aimee, who is turning sweet 17 on Thursday. She’s beautiful and ambitious, and I am very proud of her and the rabbit ranch she’s currently running out of her bedroom.

Also celebrating his birth on this date is my old Hermose Beach pal and financial consigliere Bruce Meyers, who smiles every time he hears the word “strand.”

So that’s my story. We’ll catch you making blockbuster trades as GM of the Oakland A’s, as you’re going for it all this baseball season. Aloha, mahalo and later, Billy Beane fans.

July 20, 2014

Now Batting, The Shortstop, Number 2, Derek Jeter

Good morning and greetings, national pastime fans. Last Tuesday, the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star game was played in Minnesota and broadcast by Fox TV. The wind was blowing out to left, which Fox News later blamed on President Obama.

Many who tuned into this summer classic were there to watch the final chapter of New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter’s all-star game experience. Jeter did not disappoint the baseball nation, as in his first at bat he smacked a double to rightfield and then later scored the game’s first run.

At age 40, Jeter still looks tremendous in those Yankee pinstripes. As a youngster growing up he dreamed of played for the Yankees. Early in his career he spoke from the heart when he said, “God, I hope I wear this jersey forever.”

For baseball fans, the game was a must see TV moment. Derek Jeter exemplifies everything that is good about sports. He is finishing up his 20th and final season with the New York Yankees, whose pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries and as a team are drowning in mediocrity.

But the Yankee captain has had a great run as a Bronx Bomber. As he says, “My office is at Yankee Stadium. Yes, dreams do come true.”

So this was a chance for the five-time World Series champion and baseball’s all-time leader in hits as a shortstop to step up once again and look good on the national stage. And that he did. Early on he made a nice play in the field and singled in his second at bat, before he was replaced and got a well-deserved standing ovation.

Retired Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson, a man with an ego the size of Manhattan, once said of the young Jeter, “In big games, the action slows down for him where it speeds up for others. I’ve told him, ‘I’ll trade my past for your future.’”

As for me, I’ve still have a great future behind me.

Derek Jeter exudes style and class as an athlete. He’s been a winner on and off the field, as his ex-girlfriends would put together a very formidable all-star lineup.

From Mariah Carey to a former Miss Universe to a Sport Ilustrated swimsuit model to actresses Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly and more, the the Yankee captain is the envy of many and is one of the most clutch daters of all-time.

So I’ll leave it up to former Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to put Jeter in perspective. “The name Derek Jeter is made for stardom. He’s got an infectious smile, and he’s so handsome and well-behaved. He’s just a fine young man who does everything right. He’s like Jack Armstrong and Frank Merriwell, guys I grew up rooting for. Some guys come along who just measure up.”

As they chant at Yankee Stadium, ‘Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter.” It has a nice ring to it.

Now growing up in New Jersey, baseball was my favorite sport. I started playing organized ball at any early age. During my first official at bat, I was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by a friend of mine.

Luckily I was wearing a batting helmet and I did not experience any effects of a concussion, although after that I had an incredible urge to take piano lessons.

My favorite baseball memory involves my old friend Steve Margolin. We pitched against each other in minor and little league growing up. He was the top dog on our side of town.

This led up to us dueling on the mound in the championship game at the Little League field. With the game on the line and runners in scoring position, I struck him out to end the game with three sidearm fastballs. Just pure smoke.

Stevie boy, the league’s home run champion, just stood stunned at home plate, as my coach and teammates carried me off the field on their shoulders.

It’s a fond memory for me and a nightmare for Steve. He recently told me he’s still shell shocked from whiffing on three straight pitches.

But what really irked him was the the smirk on my face after I threw it by him. What I would give for a picture of that.

After the game my father took me to Artie’s Luncheonette, where I celebrated with a chocolate milk shake. Some things in life don’t change. The memories just get a little hazier.

So in honor of the all-star game, today I am featuring an all-star sunrise. This was from the morning of February 4 down at Lighthouse Point, and is one of my favorite sunrises of the year.

The colors and the changes in the cloud were spectacular, and the reflection on the sand at Its Beach was amazing. This was a truly magnificent morning along the coast and what world-class sunrises are all about.

On to some late night humor. “Yesterday was the big World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. And if you caught only the last couple of minutes of the game, don’t worry – you saw the whole thing. During yesterday’s World Cup final, a guy ran onto the field with the phrase “natural born prankster” written on his chest — because nothing says good clean fun like spending the night in a Brazilian prison.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Well, it was an amazing weekend in sports. LeBron went back to being a Cavalier, Carmelo went back to being a Knicks, and soccer went back to being a thing you drive your kids to. Brazil’s coach resigned following the country’s historic 7-1 loss in the World Cup last week. He says he wants to spend more time focusing on not being murdered.” –Seth Meyers

“It’s a great day for a man in Brazil. He’s 126 and has been called the world’s oldest person. He says the highlight of his life was playing goalie for Brazil in this year’s World Cup. Yesterday, Iran asked the U.S. for an extension on disabling their nuclear program. When asked how much time they needed, they said, “10, 9, 8…” – Craig Ferguson

“According to a new report, 81 percent of people would cheat on their partner if there were no consequences, while 19 percent of people are pretty sure this is a test.” – Seth Meyers “Authorities at the airport in Los Angeles intercepted an illegal shipment of 67 live giant African snails. It’s being called the world’s slowest perp walk.” – Conan O’Brien

So the summer moves along. We’ll catch a pod of about 15 of you returning to Monterey Bay last week for an anchovy feast at Moss Landing. Aloha, mahalo and later, humpback whale fans.

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