July 27, 2014

Sweet Home Santa Cruz

Good morning and greetings, large mammal fans. Well, the town was buzzing last week, as the humpbacks put on a show all around Monterey Bay. As the gulls were screeching, the humpbacks were breaching, along with tens of thousands of sooty shearwaters playing follow the leader on the upper level of the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

I feel a certain sort of kinship to the humpbacks as all the activity brought back memories of my entrance to this planet. I was breeching at my birth, as I came into the world butt first.

Yet, I have never been a fan of anchovies, as I’ve never been a fan of this oily, little baitfish, much less swallowed a mouthful of thousands in a single gulp.

But their presence brought the humpbacks to our lovely bay. The whales were first spotted over by Cowells Beach, as Tuesday’s lunch special on the wharf included a choice of soup or caesar salad and 80,000 pound mammals leaping out of the water for dessert. Or you could have substituted gelato.

According to my field scouts, the whales were entertaining the westside crowds at Lighthouse Point, Mitchell’s Cove, Natural Bridges and the CVS on Mission Street. I saw a few gliding by on my morning walks, but I supplemented that by lunge feeding while visiting the Facebook photo pages of Santa Cruz Waves.

Their photos of the humpbacks in breach moments have been fantastic. I haven’t taken any whale watching trips as of late, as I prefer paddle boarding around my bathtub.

So last’s week weather bordered on near perfection, as the days were warm and the coast and my mind were fog free. The air and warm water temperatures brought back memories of my youth, when an all-day trip to the beach was the summer highlight.

Despite the fact that we had to travel over the George Washington Bridge, then get onto the Cross Bronx Expressway, then over the Triboro Bridge before entering onto the Southern State Parkway, then the Meadowbrook Parkway and finally through the Khyber Pass before we finally reached our destination, it was always worth the drive.

I would arise at the crack of the dawn, hitting the bakery when they opened for our fresh sandwiches rolls. We always built up an appetite on a ride, so I made sure we had about eighty sandwiches for my brothers and friends.

We hit the parking lot at Jones Beach at 8am, and then had to wait for the umbrella stand to open so we could then drag it down the sand and park ourselves right at the water’s edge.

We then settled in and it was amazing, sitting oceanfront, while jumping the waves and choosing from a selection of steak, meatloaf, pot roast and vegan cream cheese and jelly sandwiches every fifteen minutes. It was a smorgasboard of delights, with enough fruit, cookies, chips and beverages to feed the Seal Team Six.

But my favorite part of the the day was when everyone left the beach and the sun started to sink in the sky. The golden hour was magnificent, and when we were kids my parents would take us over to another beach park to load up on hamburgers, fries and chocolate milk before setting off on the ride home. I couldn’t wait to get back and play with my sunburn.

So these thoughts leave me with a very good feeling about Santa Cruz, the place I call my home and try to avoid jury duty. I have lived in this cold water paradise for almost thirty years, and I’m still amazed at how beautiful it is.

My wife and I had dined twice in a gazebo last week, which has the fantastic view of the white water break at Natural Bridges Beach. Looking out, the mountains of Monterey were as clear as a bell and the ocean water an exotic blend of aqua blue. Allison peered out over the water and said, “It looks like Hawaii.” There is no greater a compliment.

So I am proud to call this cold water paradise where the redwoods meet the humpbacks my home. As I’ve always said, home is where your house is.

Which leads me to this. I received an email last week from a blog reader, who was hoping I could help getting some info out to others who would like to experience this central coast lifestyle and relocate to Santa Cruz. You can check it out at: http://www.propertyinsantacruz.com/relocating-to-santa-cruz/

Anything for my readers.

So for today’s photo funpack, we are going back to the evening of February 13. I was shooting from Stockton Avenue as a full moon was rising to the east. The clouds on this night were fantastic.

The photos really don’t do justice to the immense size and colors of these masses of frozen water crystals, but you get the picture. The sky was awash with 360 degrees of various shades of pink, as sunset watchers gathered in droves all along West Cliff Drive to take in the action.

Seinfeld’s George Costanza might have described the enormous clouds as having a “pinkish hue.” To me they were real and spectacular.

On to some late night humor. “NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is back in the news. He says the military at the NSA often shared nude photos that Americans had emailed to one another. So if your girlfriend won’t send you naked pictures, just tell her, do it for the troops. “You can tell this drought is getting really bad. Today at lunch, my waiter asked if I wanted a glass of water or a future for my children. I took the water.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Kennedy said let’s put a man on the moon, and by God, 10 years later we put a man on the moon. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary. Nowadays a big deal for us is we combined the croissant and the doughnut to get a cronut.” –David Letterman ” According to a new poll, two-thirds of people in Colorado think it should be illegal to smoke marijuana in public, while the other one-third are still laughing at the word ‘poll.’” –Seth Meyers

The summer is flying by. We’ll catch you playing the role of Ray Donovan,a professional “fixer” for the rich and famous in LA, who can make anyone’s problems disappear except those created by his own family. Aloha, mahalo and later, Liev Schreiber fans.

June 10, 2012

Swing Low Tide, Sweet Chariot

Good morning and greetings, French Open fans. The weather on the central coast recently, much like LeBron James 45 point outburst against the Celtics in game six, has been NBA fantastic. If you like thunder and lightning up the scoreboard, it’s a great time to be an NBA fan.

Last week on my morning strolls along West Cliff Drive, I noticed the tide was lower than my expectations of the Warriors making a good lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Low tide is always a treat, as it uncovers a plethora of the coastline’s hidden treasures. So last Tuesday, before you could say, “Sofia Vergara,” I headed down to Lighthouse Point to take in the green grass and low tide action. Forever.

As you can see in photo #1, the tide down at Its Beach was lower than my score on my math SAT’s. I was hoping to be able to walk through my favorite arch to photograph this classic structure from both sides, but I hadn’t brought along my snorkeling gear, so Samuel Gompers and I had to settle for the lovely view looking west. But if I had been able to Dwyane wade through, the view would have looked very much like photo #2.

I then headed back up the steps to catch the marine mammeled flavor of Seal Rock (photo #3.) There were a couple of pods of sea lions lounging in the water nearby, but my zoom wasn’t more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, so I wasn’t able to get a good shot.

But the swell was up and Steamer Lane was full of surfers trying to catch some wave action. Some nice sets were rolling in (photo #4) and at that moment, I reflected back on the words of The Rascals, “It’s a beautiful mornin’. I think I’ll go outside for a while. An jus’ smile. Just take in some clean fresh air boy. Ain’t no sense in stayin’ inside. If the weather’s fine an’ you got the time.” And boys and squirrels, luckily, one thing I do have, besides an almost clean driving record, is time.

By the way, not to date myself, but I saw The Rascals in concert iin New Jersey at Palisades Amusement Park in back in the mid 1960′s. I don’t want to say I’m getting old, but at the breakfast table I hear snap, crackle and pop, and I’m not eating cereal.

Anyway, today’s six pack of photos was brought on by the advent of low tide. And as we know, Tide gets out the stains that others leave behind. Dirt can’t hide from Tide.

So now you’re probably thinking to yourselves, I wonder what causes the tides to change? I thought you’d never ask. And remember, if it’s got to be clean, it’s got to be Tide.

According to Jeff Spicoli and surfingsantacruz.com, tides are created because the Earth and the moon are attracted to each other, just like magnets are attracted to each other. These are known as lunar tides. The moon tries to pull at anything (except Rush Limbaugh) on the Earth to bring it closer. But, the Earth is able to hold onto everything except the water and sometimes Oprah.

Since the water is always moving, the Earth cannot hold onto it, and the moon is able to pull at it The moon is pulling upwards on the water while the earth is pulling downward. Slight advantage to the moon and thus we have tides. And as we know, tides go to the runner.

Each day, there are two high tides and two low tides. The ocean is constantly moving from high tide to low tide, and then back to high tide. There is about 12 hours and 25 minutes between the two high tides, or about the same amount of time it will take me to catch up on the episodes I missed of the first three seaons of “Justified.”

When the sun and moon are aligned, there are exceptionally strong gravitational forces, causing very high and very low tides which are called spring tides, though they have nothing to do with the season. The gravitational force of the moon is one ten-millionth that of earth, or the same odds that I will one day be paid for writing this blog. But when you combine other forces such as the earth’s centrifugal force created by its spin, you get tides. Or as the Spin Doctor say, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

The sun’s gravitational force on the earth is only 46 percent that of the moon. This makes the the moon the single most important factor for the creation of tides. And Tide knows fabric best. Since the moon moves around the Earth, it is not always in the same place at the same time each day. So, each day, the times for high and low tides change by 50 minutes. I believe it was either George Carlin or author Robert C. Gallagher who said, “Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.”

So to then complete my tidal wonderings, I kayaked over to the wharf to photograph some sea lions up on one of the boat landings. But Instead, much to my delight, there was a pod of around 60 lions lounging right off the pier. Rumor has it that earlier in the morning the crowd numbered 300, but I was happy to catch this group of rafting revelers.

So being that it was low tide city in the morning all of last week, after Tuesday’s outing I headed up to Four Mile Beach on Wednesday and Natural Bridges on Thursday. Both trips, much like the NBA conference finals, had their magic moments, and I’ll blast out these photos along with my thoughts on Larry Bird in the upcoming weeks.

On to some late night. “According to a new book coming out by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, apparently when he was in high school, President Obama smoked large amounts of marijuana. You know what that means? He could be our first green president. Unemployment is still looking pretty bad. In fact, the White House has a new slogan on job creation: ‘Hope and change the subject.’ The unemployment numbers are higher than President Obama was in high school.” –Jay Leno

“On Friday, President Obama spent the night at his home in Chicago for the first time in over a year. It was nice – he even went down to the basement and dusted off some old campaign promises. Mitt Romney has been giving his volunteers a free sweatshirt for making phone calls on his behalf. The sweatshirts are just like Romney, 100 percent reversible.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A new survey found that Mitt Romney is ahead of Obama among those who make $36,000-$90,000. Or as Romney put it, ‘And they said I can’t
connect with the poor.’ Obama gave Bon Jovi a ride to New York City on Air Force One. Makes sense – Bon Jovi’s living on a prayer, while Obama’s campaigning on one.” –Jimmy Fallon “There’s a rumor that President Obama will stop by today’s L.A. Kings hockey game. He doesn’t want to draw attention to himself. He just wants to blend in with all the other black, Hawaiian hockey fans.” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s all I’m giving of myself this week. Try and take a moment to be grateful for all you have. We’ll catch you blowing the minds of NBA fans and reminding people why you’re the king. Aloha, mahalo and later, LeBron James fans

July 4, 2010

Beauty Is In The July Of The Beholder

Good morning and greetings, fireworks fans. I know many of you are enjoying the holiday but perhaps wondering, how come most of us are not working today? So as part of my patriotic duty and for the fact that I love singing “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” with the help of Wikipedia, answers.com and my unending stream of semi-conciousness, here’s a quick refresher course on why kids blowing off their fingers and firecrackers on the Fourth of July has become part of the American landscape.

In the United States, Alaska and Hawaii , Independence Day is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence which declared our independence from the Great Britain, which except for their language, wasn’t really all that great. The Fourth of July is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, fist fights, carnivals, fairs, picnics, drunken driving arrests, concerts, baseball games, domestic violence and political speeches that help celebrate one of America’s great three-day weekends.

The trial separation of the American colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence along with an internship for Monica Lewinsky. Congress then turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five and the Five Stairsteps, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams texted to his wife Abigail:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America, and not just because most Americans will be home from work. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival and blowout mattress sale day. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty and Major League Baseball. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more, or at least until we restore our economy, exit Iraq and Afghanistan, and clean up that damn oil spill.”

Adams’ prediction and my birth were off by two days. In a remarkable coincidence, both Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two founding fathers of the United States and the only two men who signed the Declaration of Independence to later become president, died within hours of each other on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the United States’ 50th anniversary, and the same day of birth as my high school homecoming queen, Vicki Grimsland, the Michelle Pfeiffer of Fort Lee High. Happy birthday, Vicki, and will you please sign my yearbook.

The Declaration of Independence declared. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men (with the exception of Michael Jordan) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Coincedentally, this is the same oath I had take from Direct TV when I ordered by NBA League Pass.

With these memorable words, Thomas Jefferson, at the age of 33, laid the cornerstone for the United States of America and later his late wife’s half sister, Sally Hemings. The Declaration of Independence invokes the principle of natural rights and lefts. These are the basic rights of which each individual is possessed, and of which he cannot be stripped by society or government except during the George W. Bush administration.

The adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the opening of the first Circuit City took place against the backdrop of ongoing Revolutionary War hostilities. When the signers affixed their John Hancocks and signatures upon the document they were, in the words of the group Triumph, “laying it on the line,” since there was a bounty on the revolutionaries’ heads. Who knew this kind of trouble could come from absorbent paper towels that clean up the smallest spills and biggest messes.

When Benjamin Franklin said, upon signing the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately,” it was no less than the literal truth. Just ask Saddam Hussein. Fifty-six men and a notary public signed the first copy of the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock, as president of Congress, was first, and he famously wrote his name front, center and large, right before cutting the ribbon on opening of his first insurance company. Remember, for all your financial needs, we have the solution. We’re John Hancock.

Let’s move on to this week’s photo sunspots. Traditionally, July is not a big month for sunrises or the cleanup of the biggest environmental disaster in world history. Looking back into the archives, I have only photographed one July morning sky blowing up over Monterey Bay in the past five years. This is due to coastal fog, lack of clouds and the fact that my contract with National Geographic allows me to sleep in past 5:30 am in the summer.

This central coast beauty graced our skies in July of 2006. It was a warm summer morning, a day that Michelle Obama probably went sleeveless. I woke up from my usual dream of not having studied for my test after not being able to find my car keys while being buck naked. So with that fine start to the day, I grabbed my Miley Cyrus mug, filled it with Red Bull and headed down to the coast.

As you know, when it comes to sunrises, I don’t stray far from Lighthouse Point. But at this time of the year, the sun rises further to the east, so I headed to Cowell’s Beach for the low tide equinox. Surfers were out in full force, as the offshore winds had me swaying as gently as a dancer at a Taliban bachelor party. As you can see, it was a fantastic start to the day, as the clouds, the reflection on the sand and the voices in my head all came together for this convergence of morning light.

On to the late night. “Sunday is July 4, when America combines our two favorite pastimes: alcohol and explosives. The fireworks are beautiful to look at, but more importantly, they drown out the gunfire.” –David Letterman “July 4 is my favorite holiday. No presents, no church, just a lighter and a trunk full of explosives.
Here’s a fireworks safety tip. Don’t get drunk and leave bottle rockets on the grill unless you want to see your hot dogs fly, which is fun too. For the second day, there were no World Cup games. I missed the sound of vuvuzelas so much that I taped a beehive to my head.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“BP’s company newsletter has an article that says most gulf residents aren’t upset with BP because their cleanup crews have boosted the local economy. BP taking credit for boosting the economy in the gulf is like al Qaeda taking credit for creating jobs in airport security.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Here’s something great. Russian spy ring here in New York City. They were busted in New York City. Once again, they were spotted by an alert T-shirt vendor. The Russian spies tried to blend in. They were acting like Americans. As a matter of fact, for two weeks, they were pretending they loved soccer.” –David Letterman

So that’s our first blast for July 2010. Yesterday, I drove by a cemetery, where hundreds of American flags were blowing in the wind. And then it hit me like a ton of emotional bricks, this is what this holiday is all about. For all our faults, God Bless America, home of the brave, land of the free. Or as they say in the NBA, “my country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of free agency.” LeBron James, of thee I sing.

Anyway, take a moment to remember how fortunate you are to be an American. Or a National Leaguer. We’ll catch you in the bullpen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Larry King fans.

February 14, 2010

The Few, The Clouds, The Marines

Good morning and greetings, winter weather fans. Last week, the Atlantic seaboard was bombarded with two blizzards that led to record snowfall, so much so that it completely shut down Washington D.C. for three days, but not the lips of Sarah Palin. Her criticism of President Obama was somewhat puzzling for a woman who admits to not reading a newspaper. But give the former Lens Crafter model and governor of Alaska credit, she was able to read the crib notes written in her palm so that she wouldn’t forget what planet she was on.

Now perhaps I’m being a bit harsh towards the former Vice-Presidential candidate, and if that’s the case, I don’t apologize. How she is being touted as a presidential candidate for 2012 is more mind-blowing than the Warrior’s Monta Ellis not being selected to the western conference’s all-star team. But for now, let’s leave her politics back east and get back to the weather, which was as wild on the central coast this past Tuesday as the snow drifts around the George Jefferson Memorial.

Storm clouds were lined up across the sky and the air was chilly as I headed out onto West Cliff, but fortunately I had come prepared and put on a warmer pair of shorts. The sun was darting in and out from behind the clouds as the light was changing quicker than Peyton Manning’s status from Super Bowl hero to goat. A flock of 35 pelicans (yes, I counted them) flew by in a v-formation, and then all of a sudden turned around in mid-flight faster than you could say “Happy Valentine’s Day” and started heading north. Now, I’ve seen hundreds of squadrons of these prehistoric birds in action, but I had never seen this about-face manuever. There was some strange magic in the air as I really wanted to be pelican briefed.

As I continued my sentimental journey down the cliff, I was joined by an artist friend of mine, who brought up the poet Mary Oliver. Her work focuses on her intense observations of nature from her walks through the wetlands near her home in Massachusetts. She has been called a visionary as “her poetry combines dark interpretation with joyous release.” That would be in contrast to yours truly, who combines dark meat chicken with jellied cranberry sauce.
As the skies starten to darken, I told my friend that I knew where Ms. Oliver was coming from, as when patrolling the coastline, I am always looking for images to capture for my digital sonnets. Mary Oliver says that the self is only strengthened through an immersion with nature. Well, that and NBA basketball.

We continued skipping down the cliff when a rain squall hit while the sun peeked thru the clouds. This meant it was rainbow time. And sure enough, before I could click my feet, grab little Toto and head back to Kansas, a spectrum of light with beautiful colors appeared in the sky. Now, I should mention I wasn’t carrying my camera on this expedition, so I just had to take in the moment for what it was. And in the words of Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, “you know it don’t come easy”

It reminded me of a rainbow I saw early in the morning on the cliff some thirty years ago. I lived on West Cliff Drive from 1975-89 and it was the only rainbow I remember appearing in the western sky. All the others made appearances from the east or the south. And in case NASA, the weather channel or classmates.com is monitoring this report, yes, I do have photos of that multicolored beauty. Oh, and I also have pictures of the rainbow.

It was actually the second rainbow I had seen that morning, so I was already feeling my lucky charms. And as we all know, they’re magically delicious. My son had a basketball game in Monterey in the afternoon, so we headed south down Highway 1. The clouds were performing a matinee show and you could see the rain falling over the mountains in the distance. I then glanced into the rear view mirror and saw a rainbow as big as bus and brighter than Albert Einstein. My son asked me if he should make a wish and I replied, “No, just hit a few three-pointers and I’ll be happy.”

When we arrived at the gymnasium, all the talk from the parents was, “Did you see that rainbow? And did anyone bring water?” It was one of the all-time brightest, shining bows. Jason and I had seen one like that a few weeks earlier as we exited the Oracle Arena after an afternoon contest on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. It was beaming so intently into the Oakland hills that at the time I thought, these colors are just unbelievable. Actually, what was even more unbelievable was that fact the Warriors won that day.

So, you’re probably wondering, where are those rainbow shots and how the hell did they Warriors win? Due to election coverage, there were no photos that day. But to make up for the lack of images from Tuesday’s refracted, reflected and neglected light show, we’re going to dig into the 2010 archives and unearth another recent winter olympic classic.

The date was January 22, and it was late afternoon as I perused the thundercloud-filled sky. I started off by shooting the clouds over the wharf and Boardwalk, before heading down West Cliff and stopping at Woodrow Avenue to take in the sun hiding below the clouds. I then took in the clouds streaming from the north as the sets rolled in at Stockton Avenue. The last shot is from Natural Bridges, looking south back towards Lighthouse Point. All in all, a lot of drama in the sky on this rainbow-less night. Oh, and in case you missed the box score, Jason’s team won going away and clinched it’s first league title.

On to the Conan O’Brien-less late night humor. “Well, tomorrow in Nashville, Sarah Palin will speak at the Tea Party Convention. Tickets are $550 apiece. But Sarah Palin said she will not benefit from the speech. See, that way she’ll have something in common with the people in the audience.” –Jay Leno “I’ll tell you, you woke up this morning, and New York, a tremendous sight. I mean, it was whiter than a Tea Party rally. People are still talking about the Super Bowl. It was the most watched TV program of all time. The second most-watched event was the episode of ‘Dallas’ where J.R. gets shot in the face by Dick Cheney. This President Obama, I mean, give the guy credit. He keeps working and working and working. He’s going to invite a bunch of Republicans to have a televised debate on healthcare. It’s going to be a big, big event. As a matter of fact, at halftime The Who will be there doing a special song about Lipitor.” –David Letterman

“Sarah Palin’s also getting criticized because last week she demanded that Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, step down because he used the word retarded. But then, Rush Limbaugh did the same thing on his radio show and that, she said, was O.K. Unfortunately, she’s been unable to respond to the criticism because she’s wearing mittens. The federal government was shut down today, and they estimate it cost about $100 million in lost productivity. The House is literally stuck in the House, and they can’t do anything. I have to admit, it is nice to see lawmakers shoveling something else for a change, isn’t it?” –Jimmy Kimmel “Hey, be glad you’re not back East. Huge snowstorms. I don’t think Washington has seen a snow job like this since that last stimulus package.” –Jay Leno

“And with all this snow, President Obama told all nonessential White House employees they didn’t have to come in. Well, actually, just Joe Biden. It was so cold, Nancy Pelosi had to sit in her driveway for 10 minutes defrosting her eyeballs.
It was so cold, Sarah Palin had to cancel a speech because she didn’t want to take her gloves off to read.” –Jay Leno “Did everybody watch the Super Bowl? Everybody’s happy for New Orleans. In fact, FEMA announced plans to congratulate them in about two weeks.” –Jimmy Fallon “Osama bin Laden is very ecologically minded. Like, last year, it was documented by the C.I.A. that he switched to a hybrid camel.” –David Letterman

That’s our update from the winter games. Someone asked me last week if I learned anything from shooting clouds. In the words of Joni Mitchell, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow, it’s cloud illusions I recall, I really don’t know clouds at all.” Coming up next week will be our first guest blog of the year. This is one you’ll need your snow shoes for. Hope you caught some footage of the epic waves from Saturday’s Mavericks surf contest in Half Moon Bay which was described “as the best day ever.” So enjoy the skies and keep your eye on the NBA trading deadline. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kelly Slater fans.

January 18, 2009

Rise Matters

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 9:13 pm


Good morning and greetings, Martin Luther King Day fans. Today we celebrate the birthday of a man of who had a dream and a vision for this country, a giant of a man who preached peace, unity and non-violence. I also have a dream, but my includes cheerleaders, chocolate cake and me reverse jamming on a fast break in traffic. It’s an historic week as a new President will be inaugurated, bringing hope to millions of Americans. So let’s go to the sky and see what else is on the rise. Or in the words of the lovely Alicia Keys, “Where do we go from here?”

Let’s first start off with some space info courtesy of our friends at space.com. Last Saturday night’s sunset (January 10) featured a giant moon rise that will go down as the best and the brightest of 2009. Much like my leaping ability, the earth, moon and sun are all bound together by gravity, which keeps us going around the sun and keeps the moon going around us. This also brings us the phases as the moon makes a trip around Earth every 29.5 days, or about as often as I shoot consistently from beyond the three point stripe.

But much like the rotation on my jump shot, the orbit is not a perfect circle. One portion is about 31,000 miles closer to our planet than the farthest part, so the moon’s apparent size in the sky changes. Last Saturday night, my karma and the moon was at its perigee, which is the closest point to us on this orbit.

According to NASA and Bernie Madoff’s accountant, this moon appeared about 14 percent bigger in the sky and 30 percent brighter than some other full moons during 2009. And as you know, four out of five astronomers recommend full moons to their patients who chew gum. This month’s full moon is known as the Wolf Moon from Native American folklore. January’s is also known as the Old Moon, the Snow Moon and for you rock and roll fans, Keith Moon.

At moonrise, the moon will appear even larger than it will later in the night when it’s higher in the sky. This is an illusion that scientists and the NBA Rules Committee cannot explain. Some think it has to do with our perception of things on the horizon versus stuff overhead. Personally, it think it’s Magic, and I do mean Johnson.

Much like the contents of my stomach, the moon is never truly 100 percent full. For that to happen, the moon, the sun and the holy ghost, er, the earth have to be in a perfect line, and when that rare circumstance occurs, there is a total eclipse of the moon. Which is not to be confused with a total eclipse of the heart.

Here’s a little parting fact for you lunar lovers. The moon is moving away as you read this, by about 1.6 inches a year. Eventually this drift will force the moon to take 47 days to circle our world or about the same amount of time it takes me to recover from playing 48 minutes of full-court basketball.

I shot this moonrise on West Cliff Drive on the cliff above Cowell’s Beach. Yes, just ten short days ago, when the New York Giants were still favorites for a Super Bowl repeat, Bush was still searching for weapons of mass destruction in Dick Cheney’s office and the tide was extremely low. How low was it? I saw a sea anenome with a sign, “Will sting for food.” When the moon rose over the mountains it was an awesome sight. I hadn’t seen anything that impressive rising from the east since the Giant’s playoff run last season. Or in the words of Mr. Van Morrison, “What a marvelous night for a moondance.”

Now for some late night humor. “I think everybody has warm feelings for George Bush now. He held his final press conference yesterday. And he admitted, it takes a big man to do this, he admitted that a couple of things didn’t go according to plan. A couple of things went haywire. Yeah, his first term and his second term.” Thank you, Dave Letterman.

Here’s another one from CBS’s late night king. From the Top Ten Reason Barack Obama Appears A Little Nervous: Offered Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich $100,000 for his old Senate seat.

One more from the humor front. A dog was sitting in a movie theater with his owner. The dog never took his eyes off the screen, growling menacingly whenever the villain appeared and wagging his tail at the sight of the hero. And elderly lady, who had been watching the dog’s reactions from the seat behind, tapped the owner on the shoulder and said, “That’s amazing behavior from a dog.” Yes, it is surprising,” said the owner, “because he absolutely hated the book.”

That’s our salute to Dr. King. Enjoy the history that will be made on Tuesday and know it’s a step in the right direction. What we are asking our new President to do is a herculean task as in many ways my overall floor game is in better shape than this country. Let’s keep the faith and remember that unlike my runway modeling days, our country’s future is ahead of us.

Let me leave you with this quote from Dr. King from his historic 1963 march on Washington where he seemed to fortell his own imment assassination. “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” For many Americans, Tuesday will be that day. Fortunately, I have already been to the promised land, for when the Giants knocked off the undefeated Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl, I was on sitting high atop the mountaintop.
We’ll catch you in the red zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, Chris Paul fans.

December 21, 2008

On Your Mark, Get Set, Snow

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 22, 2008

So Don’t Play With Me, ‘Cause Your Playing With Fire

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — geoff @ 9:10 pm


Good morning and welcome to summer. In honor of the Frankie Valli’s favorite season, we were going to look at six of my favorite beaches along the central coast. But the weather gods have been unusually active and the skies have been lit up around Monterey Bay. Here’s what’s gone down and or should I say gone up in smoke.

Around 2:30 pm on Friday I noticed some huge plumes of smoke in the sky. Since there was no Doobie Brothers concert scheduled that afternoon I immediately went on photo alert. It was an extremely hot afternoon-it seemed a little bit like earthquake weather as major smoke was billowing into the sky. It was somewhat surreal and horrific as I had just shot another major blaze the week before. I took the first photo from the wharf while at the time not knowing where the fire was blazing. All I knew is that somewhere people and animals were probably panicking. I later learned the flames forced the closing of a 5-mile stretch of Highway 1 creating even more chaos for residents in the area.

Out on the wharf I ran into a policeman I knew and he said the word on the street was that someone had deliberately set five different fires. My first thought was, what is this kind of evil doing in our golden state? We are in the midst of a horrible drought here on the central coast and haven’t had any rain since April 23. The ground and brush were dryer than a sports bar in Salt Lake City on a Saturday night. On May 22, a fire broke out in Corralitos which torched 4,270 acres and destroyed 35 homes. The cost of fighting that fire was $16 million. Then on June 11, a 520 acre blaze destroyed 3 homes and cost the state another $5 million to extinguish. And more fires were started by lightning on Saturday but that’s a subject we’ll take a look at on Wednesday.

Reports were that someone had witnessed a motorcyclist setting spot fires in four or five areas about 20 feet apart along Highway 1. Those small fires erupted into hundreds of acres within hours, racing up the hillsides, leaving panicked residents little time to collect their belongings and get out and leaving animals trapped with no way out. By this time, more than 600 firefighters had poured into the region. Meanwhile, temperatures were hitting a record 105 in Watsonville near where the fire was centered as the high heat, low humidity and lack of rain contributed to the fast moving blaze.

But luckily, thanks to numerous aircraft attacking the fire, from fixed-wing planes dropping retardant to helicopters dropping water, firefighters were able to control the blaze. But not without cost. This was a disaster for both humans and animals. Anxiety, shock, fear-these are just some of the emotions that go along with these tragedies when people lose their homes. Overall, the fire is out but it burned 630 acres and the loss of pets and homes in still smoldering in our south county.

It’s been a tad on the warm side as the thermometer hit 102 on Friday. I don’t want to say it was hot this day but I was sweating like Bear Stearns executive. It was so hot that I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking. That’s in comparison to last week when it was so windy that I saw Siamese twins looking for one another. Anyway, the all-time record for the warmest day in Santa Cruz was set back on September 7, 1904 when the thermometer hit 108 degrees.

So with any luck that’s our final look at any smoke on the water for this summer season. Coming up on Wednesday we’ll take a look at the very unusual weather that followed on Saturday. Oh, and by the way, the cormorant eggs have hatched along West Cliff and the proud parents and now sitting on the little ones. We’ll check our those youngsters on Friday. So have a magnificent Monday and enjoy the summer mode. Aloha, Tiger Woods fans.

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