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.

May 4, 2014

Twister And Shout

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:37 am

Good morning and greetings, thunderstorm fans. As I mentioned before here on the Weather Channel, I’m always amazed by the diverse meteorological events that occur throughout our great nation. This does not include weather conditions in Hawaii, which are always sunny with no chance of it not being paradise.

So last week, aided by a high pressure system that dropped in for the best first round ever of the NBA playoffs, we experienced near record high temperatures here on the central coast, as Wednesday the thermometer hit a sizzling 93 degrees.

Pinch me, am I dreaming? Temperature in the mid 90′s? What’s next, ocean temps in the 70′s?

And just in case you’re thinking about taking a dip into Monterey Bay today without a wetsuit, the thermometer will read a chilly 54 degrees, which to me, is still dangerous shrinkage territory.

We rarely see this kind of heat in Santa Cruz, except when it comes to the homeless problem, as the average high for the month of April is 67.5 degrees. That’s what you get when you order a Mediterranean climate.

So last Wednesday was the hottest day of the year, a good, old-fashioned scorcher. How hot was it? I saw a sign on a store downtown, “No Shirt, No Pants, No Problem.”

Now contrast these warm, breezy conditions with a slow moving storm system that produced a four day barrage of violent, wet weather that wreaked havoc, with record breaking rainfall and 159 tornadoes over fifteen states. Hardest hit by the twisters were Arkansas and Mississippi, as tornadoes destroyed neighborhoods while snapping trees in half and sending trailer trucks airborne like toys.

The White House declared Arkansas a major disaster, and that had nothing to do with the Bill Clinton’s past relationships with Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones. The death toll kept rising, as winds up to 200 mph tore through helpless communities. Families were destroyed and their homes completely leveled, leaving them dazed and confused as to what just happened.

And all in just a matter of seconds.

Now I usually like to keep my subjects light and fluffy like a cheese souffle, but it’s tough to talk about tornadoes in those terms. Nature has a vast arsenal of weapons, but even with early warning systems, folks are no match for these twisters, the most violent of all earth’s storms.

Each year, about a thousand tornadoes touch down in the United States, and with them come winds that are the fastest on Earth. A tornado in Oklahoma once destroyed a whole motel. People later found the motel’s sign in Arkansas. Or as comedian Jay London once pondered, “At Motel 6 in Amish Country, I wonder if they leave the light on for you?”

Their favorite place to play and spawn is Tornado Alley, which stretches from western Texas to North Dakota. This is where the dry polar air from Canada meets the warm moist tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico, forming thunderstorms and setting the stage for disastrous results, like any new drama series on Fox TV.

These cyclones start out very lightly colored or transparent, but the more debris they pick up, the darker they become. Sometimes you can see these violent twisters coming, but like friends and relatives, many show up with little or no warning. Or in the words of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, “You might be a redneck if you’ve been on TV more than five times describing the sound of a tornado.”

Getting back to the weather map, this same storm system produced a month’s worth of rain that fell in a 24 hour period last week. This led to dangerous flash flooding from Florida to New York, with city streets swamped and roads collapsing. These torrential downpours led to historic rain totals and umbrella sales going through the roof.

So what can you say about Mother Nature? She acts like summer but walks like the rain.

So for today’s photo lineup, we are heading straight to my front yard, where as you can see, everything has been coming up roses. The action has been non-stop all spring, as the variety of colors have been nothing short of semi-spectacular. And when you add the bonus of a fragrance into the mix, life is just a little bit better.

So if you have a moment, take some time to smell the roses.

Since while we’re on the subject, a blonde and a brunette walk past a flower shop and see the brunette’s boyfriend buying flowers. She sighs and says, “Oh crap, my boyfriend is buying me flowers again. Now, I’ll be expected to spend the weekend on my back with my legs in the air.”

The blonde says, “Don’t you have a vase?”

On to some late night humor. “In the middle of his second term, President Obama’s approval rating once again has dropped. Obama’s approval rating is so low that today Hillary Clinton said, ‘I’ll take it from here.’” –David Letterman “President Obama is calling Donald Sterling’s racist remarks ‘incredibly offensive.’ And you know it’s bad when even Vladimir Putin says, ‘I hate to say it, but I am with Obama on this one.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Sterling’s girlfriend said she’s “going to be president of the United States” one day. Yeah, like we’re going to elect someone who secretly records people’s private phone calls and conversations. L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was recorded on tape making racist comments. He now has been banned from the league for life. Great, just where Sterling wanted to end up — the blacklist.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Right now every NBA fan here in Los Angeles knows there’s a dark, ugly cloud of shame hanging over the Staples Center. But enough about the Lakers. There’s also the Sterling thing.” –Craig Ferguson “The Royal Court of Saudi Arabia has launched a website that will accept complaints against the government and send them directly to the king. You can even submit a second complaint if you want — using your remaining hand.” – Seth Meyers

So we’re on to the second round of the NBA playoffs. We’ll catch you taking your team to the brink but just falling short in the first round of the playoffs. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mark Jackson fans.

October 27, 2013

We’ll Blue Cross That Bridge When We Come To It

Good morning and greetings, health care fans. Well, the weather map has been going through some changes, as the dreary coastal fog and ‘NBA Gametime’ have returned to greet me in the morning. The air, like my martinis, has a certain chill to it. Yes, colder weather has moved in and you can be damn sure I didn’t send out an invitation.

Now I can usually tell when there’s climate change around my house, as my wife goes from wearing three layers of clothes to six. I’m no longer basking in the glow from those September and early October days filled with subtropical temperatures and warm breezes, as they are quickly becoming as distant a memory as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ playoff hopes.

There’s an old Chinese proverb, “Three feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather.” And no soup with to go orders. Now I realize that Jim Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this weather change came around quicker than excuses for the health care website screwup. I want to live in world where all sleeves are short. Or in the words of singer Jimmy Buffet, “The weather is here, wish you were beautiful.

Now last week I wrote about my concerns for my new health insurance premiums, after receiving a letter from the folks at Anthem Clue Cross, explaining to me that my monthly rate was going to be almost doubled if I didn’t change my membership group. I wasn’t thrilled, as I had to wonder how much money I’d have at the end of the month to pay for food, water and HBO.

Now let me give you a little history on this subject. Back in 2010, I received notice from my good friends at Blue Cross that my monthly premium would be going up 39%. I was shocked that they didn’t want 40%. This grossly exorbitant rate request by Anthem led to the passing of a new law by Congress known as the Hopefully Affordable Care Act.

So then a year later, Blue Cross added a little more icing to my health care cake, when I received notice that my premium was going up another 25%. I guess they thought I would be happy with the 14% savings. Even with a huge deductible my monthly premium was now as as high as my home mortgage. But I was relieved when they didn’t ask me to help out with their property taxes.

So not wanting to donate any more organs or my hardly earned money to this wonderful and caring organization, I switched memberships groups at Anthem. But because I switched, I now have to join a new group or pay double. What a wonderful organization. It was the actor Oscar Levant who once said of politicians, “They’ll double cross that bridge when they come to it.” And standing right behind them were a group of insurance company CEO’s.

So when I called my helpful Blue Cross health plan advisor last week, he couldn’t help me as the systems were down until November 1. So I guess it’s hurry up and wait. My concern is that the rate increase on premiums for individuals in California, and particularly the Bay Area, will be astronomically high, and that the argument will be that although they’re more expensive, the new rates are justified.

Listen, when it comes to ‘Justifed,’ the only thing I’m interested in is the performance of Timothy Oliphant, as deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, a federal lawman who dishes out his own brand of justice in Harlan County, Kentucky. This critically acclaimed series returns for its fifth season in January on FX “There is no box.”

So for now, I’ll keep what little faith I have. Everyone deserves affordable health care. But the way things are going, I’m either going to be demoralized or subsidized. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

A man walks into a Doctor’s office. He has a cucumber up his nose, a carrot in his left ear and a banana in his right ear. “What’s the matter with me?” he asks. “You’re not eating properly,” replied the Doctor.

So the last time I checked my Scarlett Johansson calendar, it seems like Halloween was heading fast down the pike. So for today’s photo segment, in honor of this festival of mini-chocolate snacks, we’re going to highlight some fruits of the earth, starting off with rows of orange squash from Rodini Farms up on the North Coast.

We then move over to the Garden Isle of Kauai for photos of some coconuts, papayas, and a young and tender pineapple. And we then finish at home with a double barrel shot of some organic apples, which can be eaten sliced up fresh or made into a sauce. A little water, cinnamon, brown sugar, a touch of vanilla, and bang, homemade applesauce. That, my friends, is a food for the gods and a true fall classic.

On to the late night humor. “The Obamacare website has all these glitches and now tech experts are saying that the only way to fix it is to completely start over and redesign the whole website from scratch. While the guys from the Geek Squad said, ‘Turn it off, wait five seconds, and then plug it back in.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Today there were more problems with the Obamacare website. It seems when you type in your age, it’s confusing because it’s not clear if they want the age you are right now, or the age you’ll be when you finally log in.” –Jay Leno

“It was kind of a rough day today. A friend of mine was given six months by his doctor – not to live, to sign up for Obamacare.” –Jay Leno “Things got screwed up with the healthcare website. So you can wait for them to get the site fixed or you can enroll in medical school, graduate, and then just take care of yourself, which would probably be faster.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Due to system failure today, many people were unable to update their Facebook status. Incidentally, for the several hours Facebook was down we were actually competitive with China. In a speech today President Obama called for a new era of bipartisan cooperation. He said this because Obama likes to start off a speech with a joke.” –Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday John McCain said the government shutdown was worse than the one in ’95. That’s 1795. He was 44 at the time, cleaning a musket for his son. Chris Christie said if one of his children were gay, he would, quote, hug them and tell them I love them. Of course, he said the same thing about the Keebler Elves.” –Conan O’Brien

“Anthony Wiener is back in the news. He said an interesting thing. He said if the Internet didn’t exist he would probably be mayor of New York. Yeah, and I would be flying right now if gravity didn’t exist.” –Jimmy Kimmel “The shutdown cost the economy $24 billion, and caused China to lower our credit rating to A- – or as Chinese parents call it, an F.” –Stephen Colbert

So that’s our last blast for October 2103. It’s a big week, as the 2013-14 NBA season kicks off on Tuesday, with expectations at an all-time high for Golden State Warrior fans. We’ll have to wait and see if they’re justified.

We’ll catch you taking a walk on the wild side. Aloha, mahalo and later, Lou Reed fans.

August 11, 2013

A Walk Is Better Than A Hit

Good morning and greetings, summer vacation fans. About ten years ago, my personal physician suggested that I should get more exercise. Now up until until my mid- forties, I had been playing full court basketball five a days and week and playing half court on Saturday, as it was my people’s Sabbath. I was in fairly good shape and was considering a career as a personal fitness trainer and hand model.

But then reality came calling, and it was a bitter pill to swallow. Work. I remember walking during this time and spotting a youngster dribbling a basketball, as he headed over to the park to play hoops. My heart sank like an open jumper, as the realization set in that I was no longer footloose and fancy free and that my life had changed.

But I was determined to make the best of it. It was not an easy task. Looking back on it today, those five days of work were longest days of my life.

So I discussed with my physician the exercise options that were open to me. Swimming was out, as I may have drowned in a past lifetime. I could go bike riding, but I never really built up a sweat riding my beach cruiser along West Cliff. And riding a stationary bike is just not that scenic, although it saves a lot of wear and tear on the tires.

Bowling, badminton and cliff diving just weren’t vigorous enough, so it came down to running. I had run track in high school, but those were the short sprints. I was never really excited about running long distances as my shoulders hurt from this activity. It was probably because I’m highly sensitive to the feelings of everyone around me and that I had the body fat of a young veal.

So I decided to start running around my neighborhood to work up a sweat, so that my heart knew I was still alive. I started strong, as I used to be able to run a good mile and a half before the heart palpitations set in.

And then something nutty happened. Instead of getting stronger so I could leap tall bushes in a single bounce, I found the more I ran, the weaker I got. This was not a case of what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. I had to face a harsh reality. My Olympic dream was over.

But out of this darkness came shining light, as my failings led me to my weekday strolls along West Cliff Drive. I still needed to get some exercise, and what better place to take in the sights while kick starting my heart and soul.

So the weather last week was not unusual here on the central coast. It’s nothing like what I experienced in the summertime back east, when it was hazy, hot, and most consistently, humid. I’m not saying it was like that all the time, as there were pleasant summer days, but the unbearable humidity dominated the headlines. It was hot when I awoke and the air conditioners would still be humming when I drifted off to sleep.

This is in contrast to last Wednesday morning, when I woke up to a light mist or what the locals calls rain. I remember putting the heat on in my car as I headed down to the cliff thinking, I can’t believe they refer to this as summer weather. Still, there was a certain charm to walking through the dreary fog and precipitation, as the pelicans, cormorants and gulls weren’t giving it a second thought.

Then came Thursday, and the sun was peeking through the clouds as I exited my westside abode. When I got to the parking lot at Natural Bridges, there were the faint signs of a fading rainbow alongside the remaining arch. I took this as a good sign. The ground was wet but the air was warm. We’re talking short sleeve weather, a rarity on summer mornings. I’m always somewhat shocked to see the sun or my under eye circles in the early part of the coastal day.

I was more than pleasantly surprised at this rapid turn of events, but I shouldn’t have been, as I had been down this road before. As I strolled along with my faithful golden companion, the sun was gleaming across the water, and a gorgeous cloud bank painted the eastern sky above Lighthouse Point.

As I headed south, a seal popped its head out of the water at Stockton Avenue, while further out, a great egret was hanging out in the kelp beds. The air was a glorious temperature, and despite the fact that I had woken up at 4:40 am and couldn’t get back to sleep no matter how many sheep I counted, life was good at that moment.

However, by the time I returned home, the clouds had come in and and erased all this morning majesty. I got lucky on this day, so I guess timing is still everything. Just a great day to take a walk on the mild side in this cold water paradise.

For today’s photo conclave, I am featuring moments from three sunrises for the price of one. The first and third were taken from the end of my street along the upper westside. The skies above Monterey Bay conveniently lit up on these two January mornings, which made the silhouette of the tree of life that much more vivacious.

The middle rise was shot during the same month from the cliffs above Cowell’s Beach, looking across to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. For you folks keeping a scorecard at home, last January was a fabulous month for sunrises. Just goes to show that they do make sunrises like they used to.

On to the late night humor. “U.S. embassies are closed all around the Middle East this week due to a terrorist threat. What happened was the U.S. intercepted a conference call of 20 al-Qaida operatives. Twenty on one conference call! Who is their carrier? I go under a bridge and my cellphone drops the call, but they can get 20 people in one call from a cave? I guess you all heard about this terrorist threat the president warned us about. One of the reasons al-Qaida is upset with the United States is because we are giving aid to Yemen. We didn’t have a choice. When life hands you Yemen, you give them Yemen aid. This story just gets crazier: Two more women have come forward to accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual misconduct. That brings the total to 13 — or as Filner calls it, a groper’s dozen.” -Jay Leno

“As our studio audience knows, the security today for President Obama was incredible. In fact, first lady Michelle Obama already had the Secret Service sweep the president’s dressing room for chips, pizza, ice cream. This weekend President Obama celebrated his 52nd birthday. For his birthday, Michelle Obama jumped out of a cake and told him he’s not allowed to have any. Happy birthday to President Obama! He will be 52 years old on Sunday. If you’d like to get the president a gift, you can’t go wrong with Edward Snowden. He would love that. You can see that the President is getting a little grayer. In fact, they are starting to call him “The Silver Fox.” That’s because most of the silver in his hair was caused by Fox.” – Jay Leno

“Alex Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for using performance-enhancing drugs, but then he appealed, so technically he can still play. Last night he played his first game since the suspension and hit a bloop single. And then he said, “Imagine how far that would have gone if I was still on steroids!” Baseball suspended 13 players for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, most notably baseball’s highest paid player, Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. A-Rod is suspended for 211 games. That is an odd number, but .211 is what they calculated his batting average would have been without the drug.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Fifty years ago today was “the great train robbery.” Robbers got away with $63 million in cash from a postal train in Britain. My father worked for the post office at that time. He was supposed to be working on the night that it was robbed, but he had the flu. He called in sick. Coincidence? All I know is right after the great train robbery, we ate well around my house. Yes, that is the night we got a brand new potato. I like heist movies. “Oceans 11″ was a good one. Then there was “Oceans 12″ where they robbed the people who went to see the movie.” – Craig Ferguson

“The Boston Globe newspaper has been sold for $70 million, even though 20 years ago it went for $1.1 billion. I couldn’t believe that story when I saw it for free on the Internet. LeBron James of the Miami Heat had to report for jury duty today. Of course there will be 11 other jurors to help decide the case, but you know he’ll wind up doing it all by himself. The NFL is about to get its first full-time female referee. Good for them. It will be a little different though. When a player asks her what he did wrong, she’ll say “Oh, you know what you did.” – Jimmy Fallon

So let’s it for August. I’m taking some time off and heading to the Garden Isle in South Pacific to study the mating habits of the chocolate covered macadamia nut. I shall return on September 2nd.

We’ll catch you showing the world the Australians can produce great TV crime dramas. Aloha, mahalo and later, “Underbelly” fans.

October 21, 2012

I Don’t Know Weather I’m Coming Or Going

Good morning and greetings, warm weather fans. Well, for a stretch last week, Indian summer was on full alert, as October had been hotter than my outside shooting when I was a streetballer at Jade Street Park back in the 80′s.

So like Sponge Bob, I’ve been soaking in every moment of these warm autumn days, as the insulation in my westside abode, like my vertical leap, is almost non-existent when the colder weather hits. What this means is, on a warm day, I’ve got that natural air conditioning going, making me the coolest guy in town. But as soon as the weather changes, I go back to living in what could be only called the land of the frozen tundra, brought to you by Direct TV. Don’t just watch TV, Direct TV.

So it’s all about the weather. Or should I say climate? That’s what brought me to our beloved coldwater paradise, where the redwoods meet the kelp. I believe it was either Timothy Leary or educator Anthony J. D’Angelo who said, “Wherever you go, no matter the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” And as John Denver once crooned, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.” Just make sure to slab on the sunblock.

My journey to the Cruz started back in the Garden State in 1970, when I had to make a very difficult decision about whether to attend Syracuse or Northwestern University. After doing my due diligence, talking with school administrators and consulting my astrologer, it suddenly became crystal clear. I could drive the six hours to Syracuse, or hop on a plane to attend Northwestern. Before you could say, “AAA,” it was off to Syracuse, which is an old Indian name meaning “place where snow goes to sleep.”

It was during my sophomore year, when it went from a winter to summer with no spring, that I decided it was time to move to greener pastures. Too many gray, rainy days. Singer Roger Miller once remarked, “Some people walk in the rain. Others just get wet.” I was getting soaked.

English writer John Ruskin had this observation. “There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” Obviously, Johnny boy hadn’t spend much time around the northeast corner of the Finger Lakes region. I was in the New York state of mind and wanted out After all, I was only planning on being an undergraduate for seven years, and was determined to attend an institution of higher learning where the sky was blue.

A friend who was attending Colorado State in Fort Collins sold me on the idea of a Rocky Mountain high experience, so after filling out my transfer application forms (which I have absolutely no memory of), it was off to University of Colorado in Boulder.

It was the first time I had ever flown on an airplane. Before getting on the flight, I remembered the words of American writer Jean Kerr. “I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me they are wonderful things for others to go on.” As I climbed on board, it harkened me back to a scene from the movie classic “Airplane” when as the plane was about to take off, an elderly lady in the seat next to Ted Striker if he was nervous? Ted replied, “Yes.” She then said, “First time?” Replied Ted, “No, I’ve been nervous before.”

I still remember the first moment I got a glimpse of Boulder, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies. Now here’s where the story gets interesting. On my first night on campus, I met a stunning summer school student named Thea Ford, who was from a wealthy family in San Francisco. After telling her my life story, she said these nine words to me. “You should be going to school in Santa Cruz,” followed by “Wow, I’ve never met a runway model.”

My education in Boulder was like Dr. Ruth, short and sweet. Although the sky was bluer than a Red Foxx monologue and the sunsets over the Continental Divide spectacular, the climate was a tad chillier than what I was seeking. And besides, I needed a break from my intensive studies, so after two inglorious semesters it was time to go on sabbatical.

I decided to try and expand my horizons, so I bought myself a U-Rail pass and headed over to Europe. It was a great experience, except for the fact that there were too many Europeans over there. I spent some time doing research in Morocco, where the local culture was at least 100 years back in time. While at the local marketplace in Marrakesh, I bought a necklace made of figs that I proceeded to ingest, which then allowed my digestive system an opportunity to ride the Marakesh express. All aboard the pain.

Meanwhile, my old linebacker pal from Syracuse, Doug MacKinnon, had set up shop on West Cliff Drive, while my brother Paul was up at the dorms at Stevenson College. So in February of 1974, I flew out to the Golden State, where I was met by this dynamic duo at the airport and we headed down the coast.

My memory gets a little hazy from here, but what I do remember were drought conditions that brought on 23 straight days of 70 degree plus weather, which was liveable for an east coast boy in February, I thought, this will work for me, and decided to attend Cabrillo College in the fall. From there it was on to the basketball courts at UCSC, and the rest is meterological history.

So it all began 38 years ago, and that brings us to today. Weather continues to play an important role in my life, as being a photographer, I need more than sunny and blue. As superstar portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz once told me between bites of whitefish at a Bat Mitzvah, “Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy, your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” To this day, I still have no idea of what she was talking about.

So as we move towards baseball’s fall classic, we are getting closer and closer to the prime time season for the world-class sunrises and sunsets, where my light shines brightest.

Today’s photo groupon is from last Sunday night. I started shooting the sunset at Natural Bridges, where there was a wonderful pocket of yellow light in the sky to go along with the surfers, pelicans and big waves. But the intense action came after I got into my car and drove over to the entrance to the Long Marine Laboratory. The horizon was turning different shades of blood orange and red, and I used the bushes to create a silhouette effect that I learned in a class I had never taken. It was an exhilarating way to end a day, especially after watching the New York Giants crush the 49ers in the afternoon.

On to the late night. “In an interview Wednesday Mitt Romney, who had previously stated he would not introduce legislation limiting abortion, vowed that he would still be a ‘pro-life president.’ Which makes sense because Romney defines ‘life’ as anybody making over 250,000 dollars a year.” –Seth Meyers “Romney took two different sides on abortion within 24 hours this week. There are shorter waiting periods for actual abortions.” –Bill Maher

“Biden aggressively contested nearly every claim his opponent made during their debate. Then President Obama was like, ‘Wait — you’re allowed to do that?’ A new poll found that only 47 percent of voters find Mitt Romney to be trustworthy. Then Romney was like, ‘Well, I hope it’s not the same 47 percent I don’t care about.’ This week President Obama’s Facebook page received more than a million ‘Likes’ in a single day. All of them from Republicans who watched last week’s debate.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Today the Secret Service caught a woman trying to sneak into the White House with a mysterious package. Turns out it was just Ann Romney with some carpet samples.” –Jay Leno “After Paul Ryan stopped by for a photo op at a soup kitchen, the head of the charity said Ryan did nothing. In other words, that man is ready to be vice president.” –Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney is refusing to participate in the long-running special on Nickelodeon called ‘Kids Pick the President.’ Romney said it’s nothing personal; he just says that these kids are part of that 47 percent who contribute nothing to the country and mooch off their parents and grandparents.” –Jay Leno “People close to the campaign are saying that Mitt Romney’s son, Tagg, is now one of his chief advisers. That’s right, when Mitt asked him to join the team, he put his arm on his son’s shoulder and said ‘Tagg, you’re it!’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my story, weather you buy it or not. We’ll catch you showing football fans why you’re the most impressive rookie quarterback to come into the NFL in years. Aloha, mahalo and later, Robert Griffin III fans.

September 30, 2012

Size Matters

Good morning and greetings, NBA training camp fans. Well, September, like any hopes of the oil companies earning a trillion less in profits per year to help out with global warming, is now history. Suffice it to say, boys and girls, “too little, too late” is heading right down the pike, and our children will be the beneficiaries of this oncoming ecological train wreck. In the words of humorist Dave Barry, “If you asked me to name the three scariest threats facing the human race, I would give the answer most people would: nuclear war, global warming and Windows.” For my money, you can throw in cell phones, texting and tweeting.

So now that we’re off to a positive start, let’s trot out the weather map. September in Santa Cruz was supposed to be the warmest month of the year, but no one told my Tommy Bahama sweatshirt. I don’t want to say it’s been a tad chilly, but when I went down at the wharf the other day, I saw a sea lion buying a fur coat. This past week of persistent fog and gray skies reminded me of wintertime in my humble westside abode, when we don’t clean the house, we just defrost it.

And that brings us to this week’s subject du jour. Now I am very fortunate to live in a nice home with plenty of room. It’s not Trump Palace or the Taj Mahal, but it’s comfortable and equipped with two TiVos. I believe it was Katie Holmes divorce attorney who once said, “A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

And as I am well aware, everyone in this country is not as fortunate, as some people are forced to live in condos and igloos. As German playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said between bites of wienerschnitzel, “He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home with Direct TV Red Zone.”

Then we have our basketball, hip hop stars and presidential candidates, who live in 20,000 square-foot palatial estates, and let’s fact it, for some, a house is not a home without 18 bedrooms, a car elevator and a bowling alley. But despite these outrageous displays of ostentation, many cities are in need of a new housing model (New York, Boston) or an NFL team (Los Angeles.)

In story by the Associated Press, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are set to vote this week on a proposed change to the city’s building code that would allow construction of the smallest, thimble-sized apartments in the country. Under the plan, these matchboxes, er apartments could be as small as 220 square feet, which is a little more than double the size of some prison cells, which has the residents at San Quentin in hysterics. And their digs come with free room and board.

These downsized petri dishes, which has sardines puffing out their chests, include a kitchen, bathroom, closet and guest house, which will be perfect for a small munchkin. We’re talking about living life to the fullest in an area the size of a full-sized parking space. It’s like living in a hotel without room service or housekeeping leaving a chocolate on your pillow every night.

According to the Grateful Dead archives, current regulations require the living room alone to be the size of these new souped-up shoeboxes. Schematics for the 300-square-foot planned units include window seats that turn into spare beds, beds that turn into tables and glasses of water than turn into bath tubs.

Proponents say the smaller coffins, er apartments would provide a cheaper option for the city’s many single residents, who have been priced out of the rental market as the region experiences a resurgent technology industry.

Let’s face it, Giant fans, city living ain’t cheap. San Francisco apartments rented for an average of $2,734 in June. These mini-submarine-sized micro-units are expected to rent for $1,200 to $1,700 a month. It allows them to accommodate up to very thin two people and requires an additional 100 square feet of space for each occupant above that number, like a goldfish or baby shrimp.

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner, who drafted the legislation for these tiny abodes where your bedroom, living room, kitchen and closet all fit neatly into a hat box says “Although in our fantasy world everyone would live in a single-family home or a huge spacious flat, the reality of life is that not everyone can afford that.” Or as NBC news anchor Brian Williams commented, “If you have a backyard, count your blessings.”

But critics and the old woman who lives in a shoe counter that the units wouldn’t help families and could boost population density, straining public transit and have San Francisco ending up looking like Singapore without the gambling casinos.

Housing experts and Dr. Ruth say that going from big to small, “can be liberating. If you downsize your stuff along with your expectations of square footage, you really can do more with less.” And you never have to worry about hosting holiday meals, pot-luck dinners, tupperware parties or orgies. But you would have room for the grapes.

Interior decorators and claustrophobics say that the smaller the space you have to work with, the bigger your imagination and creativity becomes to accommodate it. That may be true, but I don’t want to take my bubble bath in a soup bowl.

But, of course, there are ways of being resourceful. For example, you can sleep on your sofa bed at night, use it as a couch during the day and the rest of the time bang your head against it when you realize you’re paying $1700 a month to live in place that’s slightly larger than Rover’s doghouse. Futilities not included.

So to kickoff the new month, we are going back in the time tunnel, starting off with a couple of shots from a late September sunrise. Next we are cyber traveling back to two years ago today, October 1, 2010. This was an unusual sunset, as the pinkish-purplish hue emanating from the clouds (photo #5) was coming from the east, where normally the most vivid colors trend from the west. I haven’t seen this scenario very often, perhaps as frequently as I agree with something a Tea Party member says. Just a spectacular fall night on the bay.

On to some late night. “Congratulations to both Mitt Romney and President Obama. They both won Emmys for their performance on “60 Minutes” last night. Obama won for acting as if everything has gotten better over the last four years, and Romney won for pretending to care about that other 47 percent. “A civil rights group said that up to 10 million Hispanics could be blocked from voting in the upcoming election because of these changes to the voting laws. 10 million. And that’s just here in LA.” –Jay Leno

“A lot of people are commenting that Mitt Romney is looking extremely tan lately. In fact, if Romney gets any darker he’s not going to vote for himself.” –Conan O’Brien “Mitt Romney just released a new campaign ad aimed at seniors too. It’s called, ‘Least we can do’ — named after how much he plans on doing for seniors.” –Jimmy Fallon “A new book claims the reason Texas Gov. Rick Perry did so terrible in the debates and forgot everything was due to a sleep disorder. Apparently the disorder was he slept through grade school, high school and college. “Obama has gone from ‘Yes we can.’ to ‘I’m sorry. No one can.’” –Jay Leno

“They taped Mitt Romney explaining his positions in a roomful of rich bastards, I’m sorry, I meant heroic job creators. And he said 47 percent of Americans are basically welfare bums who are mooching off the government. And he said, ‘My job is not to worry about those people.’ You know, where do people get the stuff that Mitt Romney is a heartless, calculating mother******?” “This tape is like so incriminating. Everything that liberals suspect mitt Romney says behind closed doors, now there’s a tape of Mitt Romney saying that exactly behind closed doors. It’s like if Republicans had a tape of Obama where he was reading Karl Marx with a highlighter while forging a birth certificate and getting serviced by Cleopatra Jones.” –Bill Maher

Ah, he paints such a pretty picture. So that’s our first blast for October. Big birthday wishes go out next Sunday to my old Ivy league pal, Dr. Michael Schur. The Rory Mcllroy of pediatric anesthesiology is a modest man, as few people know that he is the person who actually designed Dean Smith’s four corners offense.

We’ll catch you helping bring pro football gamblers back to their senses. Aloha, mahalo and later, NFL referee fans.

July 22, 2012

Well, It’s A Drought Time

Good morning and greetings, decathalon fans. According to John Calipari and my WikiLeak sources in the U.K., London has spent billions in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics. We’re talking about the construction of state of the art stadiums, installation of ultra tight security and drug tests for the Rolling Stones. But there is one thing besides Keith Richards that the organizers of this summer extravaganza can’t control, and that is the wacky British weather.

Julie Andrews once said that this is a country where you can have four seasons in an afternoon. Much like myself, many Londoners never leave the house without an umbrella and sunglasses. During the recent Wimbledon Tennis tournament, England was hit by violent rainstorms with enough precipitation to flood Abbey Road and a yellow submarine. In the words of John Lennon, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.”

Reports from Michael Caine and the UK’s national weather forecaster said this past June was the wettest since they began keeping records in 1910. We’re talking double the average rainfall. July has brought more rain, flash floods and the British invasion. The Olympic organizers would like conditions to be as dry an sunny as possible for the athletes, but that’s about as likely as the Beatles reuniting on Ed Sullivan. I think good day, sunshine just went out the bathroom window.

So the forecast for the games, which run from July 27 to August 12, is for below average sunshine and temperatures. Let’s call it cloudy, with a chance of chaos. Myself, I prefer cloudy with a chance of paradise.

But we would kill for that rain over here, as according to the Huffington Post, not to be confused with the New York Post or my son Jason’s post-up game, we’re in the midst of the worst drought in decades. Conditions are getting worse by the day and might not improve until after Halloween. Only the droughts in the 1930s and the 1950s covered more land, and farmers in the epicenter in the midwest are taking a beating. We’re not talking in terms of a Dust Bowl-type catastrophe yet, but every day more corn is wilting in the fields. It’s been a brutal summertime, and the livin’ hasn’t been easy because although the fish may be jumpin’, the cotton is definitely not high.

Bloomberg.com reports that because of the drought, over a 1,000 counties in 29 states are being named natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The declaration makes farmers and ranchers eligible for low-interest loans to help them weather the drought, wildfires and other disasters, like another season of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” It’s been helter skelter here and back in the U.S.S.R.

Climatologists and medicine men, not to be confused with Don Draper and ‘Mad Men,” have labeled this year’s dry spell a “flash drought,” because it developed in a matter of months, not over multiple seasons or years. Despite this very difficult time, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that “Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy, along with a Starbucks on every corner in America.”

Corn has been hit the hardest, as this year’s crop of 96 million acres was the largest ever planted. Optimism has been replaced severe pessimism, as the fields are burning and no signficant rain or movement by Congress is in the forecast. Farmers will have to survive with a little help from their friends.

Corn is perhaps the second most important thing on the planet next to water and beer, as it is used for feed for livestock and poultry and in the making of things like crayons, car tires, corn dogs, shampoo, makeup and unmanned drones.

The drought continues to be an ongoing disaster, much like when Roseanne Barr tried singing the national anthem. Last Tuesday she was asked by David Letterman Tuesday night about macadamia nuts. “They are so good for you. They’ve got a lot of the right fats that keep your brain working the correct way, so you don’t vote Republican and stuff like that.”

So while we’re on the subject, have you ever wondered where’s the driest place on earth? Well, I’m glad you asked, as according to nationalgeographic.com, the Atacama Desert is the winner. This lovely stretch of land covers 600 miles from Peru’s southern border into northern Chile. At its chocolately, creme-filled center, a place climatologists call absolute desert, the Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth.

This is a place where rain has never been recorded. In this extremely dry, stretch of teenage wasteland, you won’t see a leaf, cactus flower, snake or television agent, much like Palm Springs was before being discovered by Dinah Shore.

Interestingly enough, the United States, Canada, Europe, East Asia and Chile have partnered together, at a cost of more than a billion dollars, to construct the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array. It’s a group of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert in northern Chile where astronomers go to have their minds blown. From this high desert outpost, ALMA is expected to provide insight on star birth during the early universe, detail imaging of local stars and planet formation and keep an eye on the comings and goings of Venezuela’s top nut, Hugo Chavez.

So sticking with our desert theme, today’s photo lounge features colorful shots from my favorite oasis, Palm Desert. These sunrise and sunset shots were taken during many of my strenuous hikes around the Palm Valley Country Club, where things can get pretty treacherous, especially around the putting greens and 15th fairway.

I love the feel of the warm desert breezes, the spectacular colors in the sky and the ice scuptures at the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunches up at the clubhouse. And let’s not forget the corned beef at Sherman’s Deli and Bakery, with two convenient locations In Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

On to the late night. “I was just the guy with the smoke screenish, yet still legal title of CEO and Managing Director who was paid at least $100,000 a year to do what, according to me, Mitt Romney, was nothing. That’s the kind of common sense business experience I hope to bring to the White House. Nobody cares that Mitt Romney is rich. It’s Romney’s inability to understand the institutional advantage that he gains from the government’s tax code largesse, that’s a little offensive to people, especially considering Romney’s view on anyone else who looks to the government for things like, I don’t know, food and medicine.” –Jon Stewart

“On Friday Oprah Winfrey interviewed Mitt Romney. They talked about politics, foreign policy, and what it’s like to lose a million dollars in the couch cushions.” –Conan O’Brien “A new poll found that 54 percent of Florida voters think the country is on the wrong track under President Obama. While the rest of Florida’s voters still think Teddy Roosevelt is president.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Sarah Palin is saying she still hasn’t been invited to the Republican National Convention next month. The RNC says it’s all a misunderstanding — as in, Palin misunderstands the meaning of the phrase, ‘You’re not invited.’” –Jimmy Fallon “The big news in Washington now is the disappearance of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Nobody can find him. He’s completely disappeared.People think he’s either in rehab or he might have been given his own show on CNN.

“I guess you heard about this; the U.S. Olympic Committee is coming under fire after it was revealed that the uniforms for Team USA to be worn in the opening ceremony were made in China. Turns out they were made by some of the same kids who could beat us in gymnastics. We have American athletes in uniforms made in China, wearing French berets. I don’t know if we’re supposed to compete, ask for a loan or surrender.” –Jay Leno

On a more somber note, let’s hope that someday in our lifetime, lunatics won’t be able to buy an assault rifles and mow down innocent people, destroying lives and families forever. How many tragedies is it going to take?

We’ll catch you being the most exciting thing in Pittsburgh since a young Ben Roethlisberger came on to the scene. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andrew McCuthchen fans.

January 15, 2012

Hot Fun In The Wintertime

Good morning and greetings, warm weather fans. Well, who doesn’t love summer weather in January? According to Diana Ross, so far this month we’ve had no wind, no rain nor winter’s cold. And you readers know I need to follow the sun wherever it leads, because ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough and ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from writing my weekly declaration of codependence.

So how dry has it been here on the central coast? Well, as they say in Rick Perry country, it’s been so dry the trees are bribing the dogs. Not a drop of rain has fallen in the month of January, although rumor has it that both some moisture and the NFC championship game between the Giants and 49ers are headed our way this week.

Well, thanks to some research by Jennifer Pasko of the Sentinel, here’s some facts about our lack of precipitation on the central coast.

Folks weren’t exactly dodging the rain drops last month either, as according to the National Weather Service and the banana palms in my back yard, it was Santa Cruz’s second driest December on record. These recordings date back to 1893, right around the birth of John McCain, the man who had the vision and foreskin, er foresight to bring the world Sarah Palin.

A total of 0.13 inches of rain fell from the sky in December, as compared to almost 10 inches that dropped in 2010. Up the coast in the Bay Area, they have been keeping rainfall records that go back to the Gold Rush, which is coincidentally the last time the Oakland A’s made a good trade. For 49er fans in San Francisco, who are still rejoicing today, it was the third driest December since 1849, when chow fun was first spotted in the city’s finer Chinese dining establishments.

Until then it was just lo mein and chow mein, but then the floodgates opened and all kinds of appetizers like crab rangoon and shrimp rolls broke loose. In the two drier Decembers, not a drop of rain fell, which would indicate the fog was also out to lunch, which comes with egg drop soup, steamed rice, crispy egg roll and a fortune cookie.

Moving along, in the midwest and Great Plains, the first week of 2012 brought temperatures nearly 40 degrees higher than average. Thermometers were busier than my two TiVo recording systems as 473 high temperature records were set on January 6. As Brad Johnson at Think Progress Green put it, “Fueled by billions of tons of greenhouse pollution, a surge of record warmth flooded the United States, shattering records and CDs from southern California to North Dakota.” Meanwhile, it was 10 degrees in New York that same week, but Derek Jeter was in Paris with Minka Kelly so there was no need to worry.

Every major city in North and South Dakota set records for the date, of which many were shattered by sixteen degrees of Kevin Bacon or more. To put it in perspective, on this balmy January day, it was four degrees warmer in Rapid City, South Dakota than it was in Miami, Florida. Holy Dwyane Wade, Batman.

Now I admit I’ve never been to this midwest tropical paradise known as the Dakotas in January, but I know what it’s like sitting in a meat locker watching the golf channel. The ground is normally more frozen than Joan River’s smile. Believe me, there’s a reason they call it the Badlands.

This same record heat produced the first 60° temperatures ever recorded in Minnesota during the first week of January. We’re talking about an area colder than Mrs. Herman Cain after hubby arrived home from his failed presidential wanderings. Things got so bad in Viking country that they had to cancel a midnight snowshoe hike because there was no snow. I hate when that happens.

But according to Brad Johnson, there is a downside to this heat wave that has me crying and tearing me apart. Although schoolchildren are dancing in the streets, this breakdown of normal seasons threatens serious economic disruption. The total lack of snowcover in the Dakotas means that wildland fires are much more likely and the seasonally cold air following this surge of heat will severely damage the winter crops that are usually protected by at least 3 inches of snow at this time of year.

And then there is the cancellation of one of my favorite fall shows, “Prime Suspect” on NBC. Sure, the program’s name was misleading, but I love the cast, starring Maria Bello as Detective Jane Timini. Actually, this has nothing to do with the heat wave, I just wanted to rant a little bit.

For today’s photo sweepstakes, we are journeying back to the last images recorded before my camera lens decided to take a sabbatical, which would be the morning of December 29th. And it was a sunrise that I won’t soon forget, as it was low tide and I wanted to capture as much of the brilliant reflection from the clouds as possible, because that’s the way I egg roll.

In my effort to get total reflection, I edged out into the water, and before you could say, “Remember the Titanic,” a wave hit me. As I backstroked towards dry land, my zoom lens dove out of my pocket and went for a swim. “No, no, no.” But it was yes, yes, yes, as it turns out, lenses and salt water really don’t mix. Thus, another memorable chapter in the annals of Sunrise Santa Cruz was in the books. Or should I say the Pacific?

On to some fresh late night. “Congratulations to Mitt Romney. He won the New Hampshire primary last night. See, this is proof that even the multimillionaire son of a multimillionaire can beat the odds and run for president of the United States.” –Jay Leno “Seventy-six percent of people polled thought that Mitt was short for mittens. I’d vote for him if his name was Mittens Romney. Other nations would fear us for being so adorable.” –Craig Ferguson “I’m having trouble warming up to Mitt Romney. He looks like the guy in the restaurant that comes to your table to make sure everything’s all right.” –David Letterman

“Fidel Castro posted a blog entry this week titled ‘The Best President.’ Castro thinks a robot would do a better job than President Obama. And if Mitt Romney wins, that could happen.” –Jimmy Kimmel “With all due respect, Castro, we tried the robot thing here in California. And it didn’t work out. I came up with a great slogan for Romney. “It’s time to Mitt or get off the pot.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“During the debates I drank a shot every time I heard the word ‘contraception.’ I was more wasted than a contribution to Jon Huntsman.” –Stephen Colbert “Jon Huntsman is surging in New Hampshire. And it lasts longer than four hours, he’d better call a doctor.” –David Letterman “During the GOP debate on Saturday night, Jon Huntsman spoke Chinese. Not to be outdone during the debate, Newt Gingrich ate Chinese.” –Conan O’Brien

“You know the difference between Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Tim Tebow? When God tells Tim Tebow to run, he wins. “Even though Rick Perry came in fifth, he is not quitting. He said it’s on to South Carolina. And then today, he said, ‘Which way is that?’” –Jay Leno “Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is under fire for a remark he made in Iowa about black people. The remark has sparked outrage among Iowa’s black community, otherwise known as Steve.” –Conan O’Brien

David Letterman’s “Top Five Ways Kim Jong Un Celebrated His Birthday”
5. Enjoyed ice cream made by Kim Jong Ben and Kim Jong Jerry
4. After seeing how good Charles Barkley looks, joined Weight Watchers
3. Nice quiet dinner with a few close human shields
2. Treated himself to a deep-tissue jowl massage
1. Executed his pastry chef for using those trick birthday candles

So another weekend of NFL playoffs is now history. I hope you caught the Saints-49ers game on Saturday, as the end of that contest was as fantabulous as it gets. And on Sunday, it was a New York Giants shocker as they upset Aaron Rodgers and the Super Bowl champion Packers in a game that if I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t have believed it. Unlike courtroom proceedings, the Giant’s defense never rested.

So enjoy Dr. King’s birthday and perhaps take a moment to reflect on the greatness, vision and courage of this man. We’ll catch you coming up huge in the biggest game of your life. Aloha, mahalo and later, Alex Smith fans.

September 11, 2011

I Don’t Know Weather It’s Good Or Bad

Good morning and greetings, tropical storm fans. What is it with the national weather picture? If you’re keeping a scorecard at home, the weather across our nation has been wackier in 2011 than the statements coming out of the mouth of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

It has been a year of extreme conditions in the USA, with killer tornadoes, paralyzing blizzards, unrelenting triple digit heat, record-setting drought, massive flooding, raging wildfires, unusual earthquakes and most significantly, the Yankees having the second-best record in baseball with just one proven starting pitcher.

In an article written by Associated Press Science writer Seth Borenstein, he states that total weather losses so far for the year top $35 billion and 25 cents, and that’s not counting Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee or the upcoming NBA lockout. This is not to say that the rest of the world has been having a picnic in 2011, as there was the horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan, major flooding in Australia, the devastating drought in Africa and the bring your guns to home and work program sponsored by the Mexican drug cartels.

And as Andrew Luck would have it, we’re right in the middle of September, when hurricanes and pro football take center stage. In the first six months of 2011, there were 98 natural disasters in the United States, not to mention the current field of Republican presidential candidates. That is double the average of the 1990′s, which doesn’t include the Columbine school massacre, the O.J .Simpson murder trial and “Beverly Hills 90210.”

Then there’s the unforgiving, relentless, sweltering heat that has been massacring the southwestern states. Tens of thousands of daily weather CD’s and records, including most consecutive mornings on West Cliff Drive without seeing the sun, have been broken or tied. Nearly 1,000 all-time records have been set, with most of them heat or rain, or in the supreme words of Diana Ross, “No wind, no rain, nor winter storms, can stop me babe, oh babe.”

This has also been the hottest summer in Texas history. How hot has it been? It was so hot, Tim Duncan saw an Amish guy buying an air conditioner. More records have been broken than at my high school graduation party. The word scorching doesn’t begin to describe it or Dirk Nowitzki’s outside shooting in the NBA Finals.

The Lone Star state has also experienced it’s worst fire season in history, with over 3.5 million acres burned to go along with it’s driest one year period ever. The stars at night may be big and bright, but it’s been a blazing inferno deep in the heart of Texas. And if that weren’t enough, in July, Oklahoma went into the books as America’s hottest month by any state in recorded history. And this doesn’t include Timothy McVeigh burning in hell.

One of the most troubling aspects of the extreme heat is the record-high nighttime temperatures. It may cool off at night here on the central coast, but a good part of the nation gets treated to the relaxing in an oven experience. The evening highs shows that the country isn’t cooling off at all in the evening, which is what the crops, the human body and my night nurses need.

So why in the wide, wide world of sports do I bring this up? Because here in Santa Cruz, instead of percolating in the heat, we’re still waiting for things to warm up. We had one day last week that I would describe as Indian summer, as the rest of the week was more like August fog mode. Now I’m not complaining, as I’ll take the fog and clouds any day over sweltering heat, but if it warmed up a tad and the sky turned blue before Oprah comes on in the afternoon, Steadman and I wouldn’t be upset.

For today’s photo relay we are going vertical, with three waterfall shots followed by three from the rainbow files from the Garden Isle. The first photo is Wailau Falls, followed by a brilliant red clay waterfall that I shot on the road to Waimea Canyon. The next are cascading waterfalls from after a rain on the mountains that form the backdrop to the town of Hanalei. This was the view from my bedroom on the north shore of Kauai along with an box of Mauna Loa chocolate covered macadamia nuts. It was a tremendous place to quietly read and sob in silence.

We finish up with some vivid Hanalei rainbow moments. According to my lunar calendar, we have one more week’s worth of South Pacific photos before returning to local action, so sunrises, sunsets and more of my fascinating life story are on the way.

On to the late night. “The Republican presidential candidates will have a debate at the Reagan Library. They were going to have it at the George W. Bush Library but they couldn’t fit all eight of them in the bouncy house. The oil industry said if they were allowed to drill more, they could create over a million new jobs. Of course most of those jobs would be cleaning oil off ducks. In Iowa Sarah Palin ran a half marathon and came in second place. Of course no one saw her do it, because she refused to tell anyone she was running.” –Conan O’Brien

“A town in Arizona wants to have its own version of Spain’s running of the bulls. Right. If there’s one thing Arizona is missing it’s thousands of Spanish-speaking people running for their lives.” Apparently, Mitt Romney is planning to build a huge addition onto his beach house in California. And here’s the cool part: They’re using the same wood that they used to build Mitt Romney. A woman in Alaska punched a bear in the face after it threatened her dog Or as Sarah Palin put it, ‘Teach me, sensei.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“‘The White House agreed to move President Obama’s speech from Wednesday to Thursday because the Republicans have a debate scheduled for Wednesday. So the debate that no one is going to watch holds more weight than the speech no one is going to believe. “Michele Bachmann said that if she is elected president, she would consider eliminating the Department of Education because ‘the states could do a gooder job.’ “A New Mexico state trooper in full uniform was caught having sex with a woman on the hood of her car. She was so drunk that halfway through she said, “Hey, that’s not a Breathalyzer!” –Jay Leno

That’s our national weather report. So enjoy the last full week of summer and the start of the new fall TV season.
We’ll catch you banging winners from the baseline. Aloha, mahalo and later, Brooklyn Decker fans.

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