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.
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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.

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.

July 6, 2014

Don’t Swett The Small Stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:12 am

Good morning and greetings, workout fans. Four score and ten pounds ago, my doctor, in an effort to lower my cholesterol and keep me from turning into the Goodyear Blimp, told me I needed to exercise more. She didn’t mean just ramping up my gentle morning strolls along West Cliff. She wanted me to sweat, with blood and tears to come later.

Well, I took her advice under consideration, and then for the next ten months, not a drop of extra sweat, with the exception of my Saturday basketball outings, left my pores. I lived like a canteen.

Now these days I do a little running, with the emphasis on little, on my morning jaunts. But I’m still not working up a healthy sweat, except on my people’s Sabbath, when I hit the courts to try and conjure up a remnant of past greatness.

The reason I bring up this subject of perspiration, and this is a huge stretch, is because of a story I ran across this week written by IIyce Glink for Yahoo News.

People in America like to own things. Whether it’s a new car, boat, 80″ flatscreen TV or a Dean’s List certificate, we value our possessions. I always wanted a little piece of land and ended up with part ownership of a house in Poipu Beach, Kauai. Or as Roman philosopher Seneca put it, “What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.”

Well, hold on to your credit reports, as there is a unique real estate opportunity available. For the small price of just $399,000, you can own the tiny, and I’m talking miniscule, town of Swett, South Dakota. Population: 2, with Lance Benson and his wife, being the only two residents in this thriving mini metropolis.
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Swett, pronounced sweat, is about 70 miles outside the Badlands National Park. The park is a work of natural art, featuring fantastic views of beautiful, rock-like formations formed by winds and glacial erosion from 35 million years ago, or around the birth of John McCain’s early ancestors.

So the deal for this little piece of Dakota heaven includes 6.5 acres of prairie land, a garage-turned-tire-shop, a home, three trailers but no Starbucks. However, it does include the pride of Swett, the Swett Tavern. It’s a local watering hole that’s been a gathering place for decades. Where the elite meet to eat.

There’s not much crime, as no one has so much ever drowned in Swett. The town’s owners have changed a handful of times. A grocery store came and went, along with a 1932 post office, but no 24 Hour Fitness. The population peaked at around 40 people in the 1940′s, but those folks fled to the big cities. Now all their houses are gone, as images of a ghost town emerge.

But it’s the tavern that makes the town. In an interview with the Rapid City Journal, the newspaper from Swett’s nearest city, which is almost three hours away by car and six by buffalo, area resident Gerry Runnels said, “The tavern is the place is pretty much where the highway ends and the Wild West begins.” This is the land where Indian Chief’s Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Running Tab were laid to rest.

The tavern clientele includes local cowboys, pheasant hunters, wheat growers and relatives of Tom Brokaw. It had a reputation of being a rough-and-tumble kind of place, but now you can come in and have a meal with your family, rather than defend your family. I recommend the broken leg of lamb.

A friend of Gerry Runnels visiting from Seattle commented that Swett looked liked “a good place to be killed.” Runnels replied, “You could be killed anywhere. At least here it will be exciting.” A visitor from Oklahoma once remarked that “you need a Bowie knife to get in this place and a chainsaw to get out.” And remember to call ahead for reservations.

The owner of Swett, Lance Benson, is selling the town to focus on his burgeoning snake oil concession business. You can own the town but you can’t elect yourself mayor, because Swett is unincorporated, and you need at least 100 people or 30 registered voters to register as a municipality.

But there is one loophole: You can incorporate with just one person by forming a municipality for historical and educational purposes. So there are ways of getting around it. So don’t sweat the small stuff.

While we’re in this neck of the woods, I’m giving a thumbs up for the dark comedy crime drama “Fargo” on FX. It’s very quirky. As the producers put it. “This is a true story. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2006. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

For today’s photo entree we are returning to the morning skies above Lighthouse Point. The day was January 28, and the sky performed a colorful morning dance while going through some changes of light and texture. It was a nice beginning.

I’m just about done with the January highlights, but February was an exotic month in the skies. I still have over dozen sunrises and sunsets sitting out on the runway, so the hits will keep on coming.

No late night humor this week. We’ll catch you making unbelievable saves in World Cup play as goalkeeper for the USA soccer team. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Howard fans.

June 22, 2014

Time Keeps On Slippin’ Into The Future

Good morning and greetings, World Cup fans. As I child growing up in the Garden State of Tony Soprano, I was in love with sports. Whether it was football, baseball, basketball, kickball, stickball, tether ball, bocci ball or Lucille Ball, I was totally on board.

Sun up to sun down on weekends and summer months, you could find me on a field or some asphalt, bonding with the neighborhood crew while not having a care in the world. I enjoyed the feeling of competing and winning, as it had the same taste as a chocolate shake. Or as another Jersey guy, Coach Vince Lombardi, once said, ‘If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?”

So during my childhood wonder years, sports was my number one priority. But for some reason, the game of soccer never came across my radar. As a youth, I never recall playing this international game which is called football around the world. This led to later developing the theory that if God had wanted us to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms.

Now I know that this is not the world view, as soccer fans are as passionate and crazy as mad dogs. I’ve seen very little of the World Cup play, as I am still coming to terms with the NBA having gone into summer hibernation.

But word on the street has people buzzing about the Cup. Last week, the USA beat a very tough team from Ghana, a country the size of Rhode Island on steroids. The soccer nation swelled with national pride, while I was still contemplating the championship proclaimed by the San Antonio Spurs and the mental state of LeBron James.

People around the planet take this sport very seriously, or in the words of English soccer manager Bill Shankly, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” I say, the more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.

So one night last week, after my wife and I had finished watching an episode of “Halt and Catch Fire,” the new AMC series that replaced ‘Mad Men,” she remarked that time seems to be flying by. I thought to myself, when does it ever not?

Our son is now halfway through his undergraduate college career, with two years down and two to go. He did not follow in the footsteps of his father, who thought four years would be nice, but seven would be heaven. I was living the good life on West Cliff Drive, and was in no hurry to leave the academic world of the hardwood floors up at UCSC’s East Fieldhouse.

So I’m now in my seventh decade on the planet. Hitting the 60th birthday was fairly trumatic, as telling people I was that age was just nuts. 60! Now that I’m 61, all of a sudden I’m Roger Maris.

I don’t want to say I’m getting old, but in today’s mail I received a letter from the Trident Society, informing me that “cremation just makes sense,” as there would be no need for embalming, funeral homes, cemetary property, caskets, tiskets and taskets. And I would be helping the environment. Or in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift: that’s why the call it the present.”

So yeah, time is racing by. We’re more than halfway through June, and soon the July 4th holiday will be history. My daughter is going to be a senior in high school, but I’m not worried about any empty nest, as I believe she is determined to convert our house into a rabbit rescue haven.

Right now, she has two bunnies, Marvin and Scarlett, who are currently residing in her room. They’re pretty easy to take care of, as they only demand hay 24 hours a day. They are actually very cute, and if Aimee is lucky, one day within the next century she will actually be able to hold the grumpy Marvin.

So I’m hoping for a solution in Iraq and for them to stop pooping on Aimee’s floor. We all have our hopes and dream. As either Aimee or writer Jarod Kintz once remarked, “You know what I like most about people? Pets.
”

We are all on our own paths. Time keeps rushing by faster than the speed of my DVR, and I’m just trying to hang on for the ride. It’s not always easy, as life is full of everyday challenges.

But remember, you know what they call the person who finishes last in their medical school class? Doctor.

All I know is “Life lives, life dies. Life laughs, life cries. Life gives up and life tries. But life looks different through everyone’s thighs.

So for today’s photo funnies you’re getting two January sunrises for the price of one. The first is from January 24, where I was shooting from Bird Rock along West Cliff Drive. There wasn’t any great color in the sky, but waves were pumping and the clouds were puffy enough, so it worked for me.

The second, which was from January 24, was kind of like a sunrise lite, with the muted red clouds briefly lighting up the sky above Lighthouse Point. The last two shots brought out shades of orange and yellow, and I enjoyed that, because in the words of Monty Python, “I’m always looking on the bright side of life.”

On to some good late night humor. “Congrats to the U.S. soccer team for beating Ghana in the opening round of the World Cup. Yeah, they did the impossible — getting Americans to watch soccer. “Alex Trebek has broken a world record for game-show hosts, after hosting 6,829 shows in his career. When asked how he’s made it through so many shows, Trebek said, “What is Scotch?” – Jimmy Fallon

“Yesterday, the Iranian president tweeted a picture of himself all alone watching a World Cup game on television. Yeah, then he watched his favorite show — “It’s Always Sunni in Philadelphia.” This morning the Pentagon announced that the United States has captured a leader responsible for the Benghazi attacks. Republicans were ecstatic and said, “So, they finally got Hillary?” – Conan O’Brien

“Match.com is charging $5,000 to set you up with someone who looks like your ex. You wouldn’t believe how many guys on Match.com once dated Kate Upton.” – Conan O’Brien “Rob Ford is running for re-election. He’s got a very catchy campaign slogan. You’ll see it on bumper stickers all over Canada: “The crack stops here.” – David Letterman “Kourtney Kardashian is reportedly pregnant. Just this morning I was thinking to myself, “There just aren’t enough Kardashians.” – Craig Ferguson

“Starbucks has teamed up with Arizona State University to create a program that will pay for Starbucks employees to get a college degree. Starbucks is doing this because without an educated workforce, nobody will be able to afford $10 for a cup of coffee.” – Jimmy Kimmel “Over the weekend Starbucks announced a new program that will pay employees to take online classes at Arizona State. Said Starbucks employees, “We already went there. That’s why we work at Starbucks.” – Seth Meyers

So that’s my report. Congratulations go out to my parents, and particularly my mother, as they are celebrating their 64nd wedding aniversary on Wednesday. I don’t want to say they rushed into it, but they were registering for gifts on their first date.

We’ll catch you leaving the announcing table at TNT and taking the head coaching job with the Golden State Warriors. Aloha, mahalo and later, Steve Kerr fans.

June 8, 2014

Pardon Me, I Have A Fog In My Throat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:00 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA Finals fans. Well, the June gloom has returned to the coast, excluding any sort of color in the sky during my morning treks along West Cliff Drive. Last week’s early morning weather could be described with one just word-dreary, with a nice touch of drizzle.

Now dreary is defined as dismal, boring, dull or sad, kind of like the state of the New York Yankees this season, with the exception of the Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. But it perfectly defines the state of the early morning sky, as it has been more than fifty shades of gray for the month of June.

However, the waves were still collapsing along the shoreline, the dolphins were jumping and the pelicans were flying through the fog in formations that have been more than impressive. If you like more than a touch a gray, and long for the climate of Pacific Northwest, then you were right at home last week, as we didn’t see traces of blue sky till early to late afternoon.

Which reminds me of a joke. It’s two o’clock in the morning and a husband and his wife are asleep when suddenly the phone rings. The husband picks up the phone and says, “Hello? How the heck do I know? What am I, the weather man?” promptly slamming the phone down. His wife rolls over and asks, “Who was that?” The husband replies, “I don’t know, it was some guy who wanted to know if the coast was clear.”

Moving along, the national weather scene was another story, as there was solid precipitation hurtling down on parts of the nation.

Last Tuesday, baseball-sized hail smashed homes and cars in Nebraska and Iowa, as powerful thunderstorms moved through a nice slice of Midwest states, bringing with it severe flooding, tornadoes and insurance claims.

The National Weather Service said the system involved a “training” of thunderstorms, which involves a series of storms following one after another, along with winds up to 100 MPH and drenching rain. It brings to mind the thoughts of writer Al Bernstein, who said, “Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.” Okay, so even the Big Guy (or Gal) is entitled to a mistake every once in a while.

Last Tuesday, the weather in Iowa was described as nasty, with the skies “black as the ace of spades.” There were 13 reports of tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. Weather forecasters main concern that night was widespread straight-line winds. As they like to say in the midwest, “It doesn’t have to rotate to be dangerous.” I say anger is only one letter short of danger.

This hail storm was monster by any standards, The most damage was done at a car dealership 30 miles outside of Omaha, where their brand new-vehicle inventory was sitting out on the lot Tuesday when the storm blew in. Approximately 4,500 new cars and trucks were nailed by the hail as the hoods, roofs, windshields were smashed to smithereens, with damages estimated at $162 million.

So if you’re driving through the Cornhusker State and are looking for some new wheels, this might be a good time to buy, as it will be discount city after they replace the glass and pound out those dents.

So what the hail is this about? Hail is frozen, solid water droplets formed at the top of thunderclouds that fall at speeds up to 120 MPH. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, hail causes approximately $1 billion in damage annually in the U.S. to houses, buildings, cars, crops and baseball hats.

If you’re a fan of this form of solid precipitation, the place you want to be is Hail Alley, a 625-square-mile area located near the borders of Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. This area receives an average of 9 to 11 days of hail per year, more than any area in North America, with Cheyenne, Wyoming being the hailstone capitol.

Approximately 24 people are injured each year by hail in the U.S. The last fatality attributed to this act of God was back in 2000, in Lake Worth Village, Texas. A 19-year old man was struck by softball sized hail while trying to move a new car and died the following day from associated head injuries. That’s why I always drive wearing a batting helmet.

The largest hailstone in terms of diameter and weight ever recorded in the U.S. fell in 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota. It measured 8 inches in diameter and 18.62 inches in circumference, weighing in at 1.93 pounds. According to the Weather Channel, it later fell in love, got married and now leads a quiet life out in the suburbs..

But as size matters, in April of 1986, huge balls of ice fell from the sky and crashed to the ground in Bangladesh. 92 people were reported killed as hailstones weighing more than two pounds and the size of mangos were the culprits.

Hailstorms can be deadly to nature. In 1953 in Alberta Canada, a giant hail storm smacked down on a five mile wide area, killing more than 36,000 ducks and ducklings. Four days later another hail storm passed through the same area, killing another 27,000 waterfowl and a hockey goalie.

Then in July 1978, 200 sheep died when baseball sized hail rained down on them in Montana. It was a sad week for animal lovers but a good week for lamb chop fans.

For our photo fun zone today we are returning to Lighthouse Point on the morning of January 12. The sunrise the previous day was outstanding, and I wasn’t that upset to return to the cliff on back-to-back days to take in the morning magnificence. The colors of the clouds and the reflection on the sand at Its Beach was spectacular, just the way world class sunrises ought to be.

On to some late night humor. “We bring back a POW, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, from Afghanistan and to get him back we traded five Taliban thugs. These guys were down in Gitmo and now they get freed after 10 or 15 years. So now they’re released and they get to fly home. And I’m thinking, if you go to the airport and you’re stuck behind these guys in security, good luck. “When they sent the Taliban thugs back to Qatar, they got picked up in a stretch camel.” –David Letterman

“The United States has traded an American POW for five Taliban prisoners. Originally, the deal included Joe Biden, but the Taliban said no.” – David Letterman “In a new interview, President Obama revealed that his daughter Malia recently went to her first prom. She wore a corsage on her wrist while her date wore a red laser dot on his head.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Last Friday CNN had its worst 10 p.m. ratings of all time, with only 35,000 viewers tuning in. I left it on for my dog, and when I came back, she was reading a newspaper. Tim Tebow said that he’s staying in shape in case he gets another opportunity to play in the NFL. Then his boss said, “That’s great, but these Waffle Tacos ain’t going to make themselves, so . . .” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our show. I’ve been posting some of my photos on Santa Cruz Waves. The link is https://www.facebook.com/santacruzwaves. Check it out, it’s all about living large in Santa Cruz.

We’ll catch you losing in the Conference Finals but still being the most explosive and exciting player in the Western Conference. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

May 18, 2014

Do You, You, Peel Like I Do

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:16 am

Good morning and greetings, plantain fans. If you’re like me and visit Safeway seventeen times a week, you’ve probably noticed the changing of the guard in the produce department. Where apples, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit once filled the bins, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches and strawberries have moved to center stage of this fruit frontier.

These tasty botanical treats are part of our life blood. I don’t think I’ve gone more than an hour over the last few months without injecting a California Cutie into my bloodstream. And it’s not because they’re super sweet and an excellent source of Vitamin C with an easy to peel zipper skin. They’re just the perfect snack and so portable for a blogger on the go.

But like the NBA, their season is soon coming to an end. Or as Mark Twain once put it, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”

So in my cyber travels, I came across this edibly delightful story involving an old friend. Last week, at a department store in Tokyo, Dole Fruits released 59 limited-edition premium bananas priced at 590 yen or $5.80 a pop.

They were Dole’s prized Gokusen variety, the best of the best, and were emblazoned with a fancy serial number and elegantly wrapped in a red felt gift box. A perfect gift for a birthday, bar mitzvah or the Sultan of Brunei’s fruit salad.

Now you or your grocer might be wondering, why in the wide, wide world of sports would someone fork over six bucks for a banana when you can pick up a half dozen for half the price?

Well, here’s the scoop. According to Japan Today, Dole scientists used 100 different types of bananas to breed what it deemed a perfect specimen. They then grew the resulting strain at an undisclosed location 500 meters above sea-level, where temperatures fluctuate at just the right range and speed for optimum sweetness.

All this research and development supposedly resulted in a banana that’s 36.5 percent sweeter, 33.4 percent more fragrant, and 40 percent better textured than conventional bananas. We’re talking banana royalty, as this must be one plastic fantastic, super delicious and extremely scrumptious banana.

You may be wondering, why only 59 bananas for this promotion? It’s just coincides with the date, which was 5/9, or May 9th if you’re keeping score at home.

It seems the Japanese are very particular about their produce. Another Japanese company ripens its bananas in a room with Mozart playing continuously because it results in a sweeter fruit. It’s the same reason why I blast out the Doobie Brothers while I’m taking a shower.

So this got me thinking. Bananas have been my companions all my life, from the early days of bananas and sour cream, to the college years of chocolate banana milkshakes to the present day fruit smoothies. And we both bruise easily, so I can relate.

So here’s a few fun facts about this starchy gem. Bananas do not grow on a tree, but are actually a giant herb. This makes the banana plant the largest in the world which does not have a stem made of wood. Until recently, I had two big banana palms adding a tropical touch to my backyard. They didn’t produce any fruit but did keep the rat and raccoon population under control.

A cluster of bananas sold in supermarkets is a “hand” of bananas, while the individual bananas on the hand are called “fingers.” The strings that go up and down the length of bananas are called “phloem bundles,” that help distribute nutrients to every part of the growing bananas. As Johnny Carson would say, “I did not know that.”

It is believed by many experts that bananas were the first fruit cultivated by humans. Why, I do not know. I would have gone with watermelon.

According to my first grade teacher, Miss Chiquita, bananas were introduced to the United States at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Celebration, where they were sold wrapped in foil for 10 cents each. And it wasn’t till 1923 that the banana split came along, when some visionary decided to cut the bananas length wise and then load on three flavors of ice cream and sauces, then garnish it with crushed nuts, whipped cream and finished off with cherries from the maraschino tree on top.

The term “banana republic” was coined by American writer O. Henry. It is a reference to any Latin American, Caribbean, or African country that was politically unstable, relied heavily on basic agriculture, was not technologically advanced and had no Gap Outlets. Like the country of San Marcos, that Woody Allen traveled down to in his movie comedy “Bananas.”

Woody played a New Yorker named Fielding Melish, who gets dumped by his girlfriend and then relocates to Central America to take part in a revolution and is named the country’s new president. Here’s a quick sample of his humor.

Fielding Mellish: “You busy tonight?” Norma: “Some old friends are coming over. We’re gonna show some pornographic movies.” Fielding Mellish: “You need an usher?”

The movie’s a classic. One of my all-time favorites. I have the poster hanging in my garage along with my track medals.

A boy boards a bus and sees a man sitting with a banana in each ear. He says to the him, ‘Hey mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” There’s no response. So he says it louder, “Hey, mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” Still nothing.

Finally, he screams at the top of his lungs. ‘Hey mister, you’ve got bananas in your ears.” At that point, the man looks up and says, “Sorry I can’t hear you. I’ve got bananas in my ears.”

Ah, the simple life.

Moving along to the photo parade, we return to Lighthouse Point and West Cliff Drive on the morning of January 11. This is the place where it all happens. This sunrise was beautiful from every angle as the clouds went through some interesting changes. But what I even liked better was the sunrise the next day, which was off the charts color wise. So stay tuned.

On to some late night humor. “Part two of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper aired on CNN tonight. It may have been the first time I’ve ever seen an apology that was more offensive than the thing being apologized for.” – Jimmy Kimmel “How about this weather, ladies and gentlemen. It’s 81 and cloudy, just like Donald Sterling. – David Letterman

“During his trip to the White House yesterday, Uruguay’s president said that more Americans should be bilingual. Then Joe Biden said, “Thanks, but I’m happily married.” – Jimmy Fallon “Dr. Dre may become the world’s first hip-hop billionaire. So maybe my mom was right. I should have become a doctor.” – Conan O’Brien

“It’s a very exciting time in television. This is the time when all of the networks and TV show providers get together and announce their new TV line-ups. CBS has a wonderful new show. It’s called CSI-SPU — Special Parking Unit. Justin Bieber is accused of stealing a cellphone from a fan. The police now say that he is at large. He’s armed and Bieberous.” – David Letterman

“New research suggests that people who are more ambitious will live longer. While people who are less ambitious will live longer with their parents. A new study claims that 1 in 10 Americans no longer carry cash. They’re called English majors.” – Seth Meyers

So another post is in the books. We’ll catch you being the mastermind of the most efficient running offense in the NBA while in the aiming for another championship. Aloha, mahalo and later, Greg Popovich fans.

April 13, 2014

97 Ain’t Exactly Heaven

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:05 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA western conference playoff fans. It’s been a big month for birthdays in the Gilbert family, as last Monday, both my son and brother celebrated with cake, candles and ice cream, along with pony rides and a little pin the tail on the MRI.

So to update my brother Brad’s knee reconstruction, his surgery was postponed until this week so they could do some more tests. But my youngest brother has maintained a positive attitude, unlike his oldest brother, who would be bemoaning his fate to anyone within the continental U.S or Hawaiian Islands.

He’s heard from many people concerning their thoughts on his current predicament. The consensus is that he’s lucky to be alive. My wife says he now has to figure out why he is alive after falling 800 feet down an Alaskan glacier.

I haven’t shared my opinion, as advice after injury is like medicine after death. Luckily, both Abe Lincoln and I agree that “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

By all accounts, his future is still ahead of him, as this catastrophic knee injury won’t keep him down for long. Or as Kobe Bryant once said, “I’ve played with IVs before, during and after games. I’ve played with a broken hand, a sprained ankle, a torn shoulder, a severed lip and a knee the size of a softball. I don’t miss 15 games because of a toe injury that everybody knows wasn’t that serious in the first place.”

Kobe was referring to an injury to Shaquille O’Neal, who refused to comment on this story. He was too busy promoting his AriZona Beverage “Soda Shaq” line of cream sodas, which according to Charles Barkley, is “Spreading diabetes all across the world, as we speak. Got like 50 grams of sugar in one can of that cream soda.”

As it turns out, the Round Mound of Rebound was a bit off. A BevReview.com rundown of Soda Shaq noted that each 23.5-ounce can actually has 70.5 grams of sugar. Hey, who doesn’t love a drink boasting all-natural ingredients while containing just 1% juice? A big can for a big scam.

Or as the Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michale F. Jacobson put it, “Clearly, Shaq knows better. He has said he avoids soda himself, and worries about obesity and diabetes. But he’s now using his name, face, and reputation to make those health problems even bigger. It’s shameful hypocrisy, presumably motivated by money.”

It just goes to show when it comes to the Big Aristotle, it’s tough to separate a fool and his money.

Getting back to the birthday theme, Saturday was my father’s 97th birthday. That’s right. 97. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s nine decades plus seven years. Or to put it in simpler terms, that’s 5,244 weeks or approximately 35,405 days on the planet. Simply mindblowing.

My father is suffering from dementia, so his short term memory isn’t what it used to be. When I asked him a few months ago how old he was, he replied, “70.” He couldn’t even begin to fathom 97. When I asked him the same question on Friday, he couldn’t come up with an answer. Not even a guess.

America’s population of persons aged 90-and-older has almost tripled since 1980, reaching 1.9 million in 2010 and will continue to increase to more than 7.6 million over the next 40 years. People are living longer, but at what price?

There are a few advantages to being older. Basically, it’s that you can eat dinner at 4 pm. Someone once asked comedian George Burns what would he most appreciate getting for his 97th birthday. He replied, “A paternity suit.”

Birthdays are good for people, as statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. But the golden years have not been good to my father. He has been robbed of most of the joy that made up his life, and the dementia has put an incredible amount of stress on my mother, who at 88 years young, is no spring chicken.

But each day, with a little help from the pharmaceutical world, she puts a smile on her face and loves him just the same, although their relationship has totally changed, as she’s now not a equal partner, but a caregiver. I would actually give her the title of a saint, because dealing with dementia is a 24 hour, seven day a week bitch.

But my father still has his one greatest joy, and that is my mother. She’s the gift that keeps on giving.

So for the woman who never breast fed me, in honor of my father’s 97th birthday, here’s a little joke for you. And thanks for never worrying.

A retirement village decided to hold a Singles Dance, at which this very sweet 90-year-old gentleman met a very sweet 90-year-old lady, and they danced and talked and laughed, and just hit it off great.

They continued to see each other for a while and enjoyed each other so much, and danced so well together, etc., that they decided to get married. On their wedding night, they went to bed and he reached over and took her hand and squeezed it, and she squeezed his hand back, and they went to sleep.

On the second night, when they went to bed, he reached over and squeezed her hand, and she squeezed his hand back, and they went to sleep. On the third night, he reached over and took her hand, and she said, “Not tonight, honey, I have a headache.”

So for today’s photo funhouse, we are leaving behind the glorious sunrises and sunsets of 2103 and turning the page to embrace the new year.

We are starting off with the sunrise from January 3, shot at the usual locations along West Cliff Drive, Lighthouse Point and Steamers Lane. It was a classic way to start off the 2014 festivities, as later in the day a gorgeous sunset stopped by to chat, which I will showcase next week.

Anytime I can capture a beautiful winter sunrise and sunset on the same day, I’m left with a feeling of fulfillment. At least until the next morning. So stay tuned.

On to some late night humor. “At the NCAA men’s basketball championship, President Clinton sat with President George W. Bush. In the second half, Bush tried to catch a foul ball.” –David Letterman “George W. Bush and Bill Clinton sat next to each other at the big game. Clinton congratulated UConn on its big win, while Bush gave Kentucky a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A man got a tattoo saying that Kentucky won the NCAA tournament this year even though they lost. The tattoo is right above his tattoo congratulating President Mitt Romney.” –Conan O’Brien “President Obama invited the U.S. Olympic team to the White House yesterday to congratulate them on their performance in Sochi. Of course it got awkward when Biden told the biathletes, ‘I won’t rest until all you guys can get married.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“McDonald’s announced that it has closed its three restaurants in Crimea because of the tension in the region. Then Putin said, ‘Is good to hear. Even I don’t have weapon as destructive as McRib.’” –Jimmy Fallon “The North Korean dictator is in the news again. He was re-elected with 100 percent of the vote. He said, “I haven’t been this happy since I scored 700,000 on the SAT exam.” – Conan O’Brien

“Happy Birthday to Hugh Hefner. He turned 88 years old today. His friends threw him a big party. They had a naked woman jump out of a giant bran muffin.” – Jimmy Fallon “A couple in Michigan is being sued for $2 million after they burned down their apartment complex while trying to cook a squirrel with a blowtorch. I’m not an accountant, but it SOUNDS like they might not have $2 million.” – Seth Meyers

“America’s biggest employer is Walmart, where the average wage is $8 dollars an hour. Meanwhile, Walmart’s owners are so absurdly rich that one of them, Alice Walton, spent over a billion dollars building an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. And she said about it, ‘For years I’ve been thinking about what we can do as a family that can really make a difference.’ How about giving your employees a raise, you deluded nitwit?” –Bill Maher

So that’s a wrap. We’ll catch you being the best shooter in the NBA by hitting mind-blowing threes at crunch time. Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

March 23, 2014

Clothes, But No Cigar

Good morning and greetings, springtime fans. Well, March Madness got underway on Thursday, and it was the greatest opening day in 35 years, as there was major drama, wild upsets and fabulous finishes.

Then Friday started off with the Duke Blue Devils, picked in these pages last week by college guru Dr. Michael Schur and my son Jason to win it all, go flaming down in defeat to the Mercer Bears. It was upset city, baby, as brackets around the nation started crumbling.

Having surveyed the remaining field, despite their opening round loss, the good doctor still likes the Blue Devils to cut down the nets in Arlington.

So we have gone from a field of 64 teams down to the Sweet 16, which just happens to be the age of my ice cream scooping daughter Aimee, who performs her sundae-making, milk shaking, chocolate covered strawberry magic at Sweet Treats on Mission Street, when she’s not hostessing or waitressing at the new “Your Place’ restaurant next door.

At her tender age, she can work 48 hours a week, and she is going for the gold. Or should I say the green?

Now this is basically her first real job, and she’s hit the ground sprinting. She’s got that strong work ethic, as she believes in its inherent ability to strengthen her character. And buy clothes.

As she told me the other day, “Dad, those on top of the mountain didn’t just fall there.” Or as columnist Ann Landers once tweeted out, “Nobody has ever drowned in their own sweat.”

Her new occupation struck a chord with me, as when I was her age, I took a summer job in the Garment Center in Manhattan, New York. As defined by the boys and girls at Wikipeda, “The Garment District is a dense concentration of fashion-related companies, home to the majority of New York’s showrooms and major fashion labels.” It’s packed into an area less than one square mile, just down the road from the very seedy Times Square district. And with not a tree in sight.

This was back in the years before Mayor Rudy Guiliani rode in and cleaned up the area, and if you were looking for sex shops, adult theatres or a little companionship for an hour, Times Square was the place to be. Or as the welcome sign reads down at the Manhattan Visitors Center, “New York. New Jersey is our bitch.”

As a child growing up in the aforementioned Garden State, I would take the bus into the Big Apple with my father. We’d hop off and head to the Greek barbershop on 42nd street, where he’d get a haircut and I was first introduced to the wonders of Playboy magazine. Of course, I only read the interviews.

Then we would head up the street to Tad’s Steak House to dine on salad, garlic bread, baked potato and steak for just $1.29. Fantastic. Of course, the taste of that steak would ruminate through my digestive system for days, but it was worth it.

The Garment District is the center for fashion manufacturing and design in the U.S. For me, it was to be a lucrative adventure, as I was a young man on the loose on the mean streets of New York.

I thought I was being hired as a showroom model, but ended up working in the shipping department of a company called Judy Bee, a manufacturer of children’s clothing. We were shipping out garments to all the major stores in the tri-state area, and I was responsible for making sure the right dresses got on the racks that the truckers came to pick up. It was interesting work, as I was the youngest person in the shipping department and certainly the only one with a possibility of one day landing on the Dean’s List.

I would take the bus through the Lincoln Tunnel and be deposited at the New York Port Authority on 41st Street. From there it was just a short walk through the bustle and the hustlers to work. Most of my fellow workers were immigrants from throughout the hemisphere. It was a melting pot of working souls.

Sometimes we had to deliver our goods to trucking facilities, so we would take the racks down the freight elevator and hit the pavement of the Big Apple. It was wild scene, pushing racks of clothing by whizzing taxis through the streets of Manhattan. For me, this was a summer job. For everyone else, it was their pasts and their futures.

The man running the shipping department was an older gentlemen from the Caribbean named Danny, and a few weeks into my employment he suffered a heart attack. I guess there were limited replacement candidates available, as they offered me the opportunity to take over running the department at a very tender age.

I was thrilled at the time, because of two words. Overtime pay.

I then began working a fourteen hour day. My parents were traveling in Europe and neither of my brothers were around, so I was home alone with our golden retriever. I basically woke up, went to work, came home and then repeated the pattern, as the hours on my time card took on a life of their own.

One of the thrills was when the day shift ended, and I got to order out dinner from one of the many restaurants in the area. I was living large, and although Danny came back to work and ended my brief in foray into management, I look back upon that time with a smile. It was day to day grind, but the my spirits were high and my paychecks kept rising.

Now I didn’t want to make it my life’s work, and I turned down an invitation to go back again the next summer. It was a time of learning, yearning, but especially earning. Opportunity knocked on my door and I answered it. I knew if I hadn’t, that it would be ringing my doorbell for years.

So for today’s photo chronicles we are going back to the final morning of 2013. The clouds were positioned a little further to the east than normal, so I shot this sunrise along a different section of West Cliff Drive. The clouds did their job as they rotated from red to orange to tangerine. After the sun rose, I took the final shot from Bird Rock to take in the waves, the lighthouse and the sky, all in one final December scoop.

On to some late night humor. “President Obama released his March Madness bracket this morning, picking Michigan State to win the tournament. In response, Vladimir Putin started moving troops into Gonzaga. The Obama administration announced it is going to require colleges and vocational schools to demonstrate that they are properly preparing students for jobs after college. So don’t be surprised if your chemistry class tomorrow is all about how to make a cappuccino.” –Seth Meyers

“Vice President Biden said today that the U.S. is considering sending troops to the Baltic states bordering Russia. According to Biden, the Baltic states are the territories located just past Boardwalk and Park Place.” –Seth Meyers “Some American cities go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. In Chicago they dye the river green. In Boston everyone wears green. In Colorado, they smoke the green. Then someone tells them it’s St. Patrick’s Day.” – Criag Ferguson

“St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal here in New York City. Two million people turned out today for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It’s the one parade where the horses are the ones that have to watch where they step. Lawmakers here in New York are considering a plan to bring slot machines to LaGuardia Airport. Of course there’s always that other way to gamble at LaGuardia — checking a bag.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our first post for spring 2014. We’ll catch you perhaps rethinking your plans about entering the NBA draft and going back to college for another year. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins fans.

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