Summer is here!

Episode 042 – Off The Cuff

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”   – Maud Hart Lovelace

23.5 degrees. Not the temperature, the angle. I bet you never wasted a single second’s attention on it. You’ll feel differently after E042!

Today’s a special day. It’s the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. 

So I’m doing something a little different on this episode and going off the cuff (and maybe just a little off the rails) with some fun facts about the summer solstice, summer on different planets, and my favorite Baja summer staple that’s as essential as baseball. 

I promise, it’s all connected. Give it a listen. 

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Until next time… Be nice. Do good stuff.

Hey, everyone. What is up? It’s episode 42. Yes, it’s an original episode. Even though the mind unset is still between seasons, I just couldn’t let the first day of summer pass without saying hello. We got a concrete truck parked outside, doves on the roof, but we’re doing this thing, baby. I miss interacting with you guys. And I miss producing the show.

So while we’ve been in the in between, I’ve been republishing some of my favorite episodes from season one. As we keep adding episodes, the earlier shows tend to get buried, and, well, that’s just a damn shame. There’s some good stuff there. So I thought I’d give new listeners a nudge to go back and listen to what was going on at the beginning. And a few of you longtime listeners have reached out and told me that you enjoyed listening to these things for a second time because you caught things you didn’t catch in the first go around. That’s awesome stuff. I love hearing from you guys. Also, over the last few weeks, I’ve had a bunch of requests to do an episode where I just turn on the microphone and talk like I’m doing now.

No script, no slick production, just Me yammering. Now, I’m not sure if Me Rambling stream of consciousness would count as riveting content, but I thought maybe there’s a happy medium. I could meet you guys in the middle, do a rough outline or whatever, and then shoot from the hip. Off the cuff. So here it is, episode 42, off the cuff. Today is June 21, the official day of summer and the summer solstice. It’s the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. As we all know, Science 101 seasons occur because the Earth rotates around the sun as well as rotates around its own axis.

The tilt, did you know, of the Earth is 23.5 degrees? Here’s what’s pretty cool. Every other planet in our solar system also experiences seasons because they also have axial tilts. See, on Earth, our summer lasts between 89 and 93 days. On Venus, by comparison, it lasts 55 to 58 days. On Mars, summer lasts seven months. Jupiter, three years. Saturn, seven years. And on Uranus, well, Uranus has an axial tilt of 98 degrees, and that just sounds wrong, which basically means the planet is rotating on its side.

Excuse me, ma’am. Did you know Uranus is on its side? Sorry. On this unfortunately named planet, summer lasts 21 years, while the other half of the planet experiences 21 years of darkness. No bueno. No bueno. Okay, let’s just move on to Neptune, where summer lasts more than 40 years because of the axial tilt of Neptune, at the other end of the spectrum is Mercury. And Mercury’s axial tilt is so slight, it’s almost impossible to discern one season from the next. You see, I love summer.

I love it. I despise the cold. When I lived in the States, summer meant sweet white corn on the cob, big red, juicy tomato sandwiches with duke’s mayonnaise and bare feet. Thankfully, living here in Baja, I’m shoeless all year, almost. I despise shoes as much as the cold, and I will wear them occasionally, but I won’t be happy about it. So if you invite me to a wedding or to a party, you better first make sure that flip flops are on the list of approved attire. You see, at this time of year, it’s beginning to get really hot here. June 21 pretty much signals the end of my long afternoon bike rides.

Good corn on the cob is nearly impossible to find. And so are tomatoes. I mean, tomatoes that are anything but anemic and pale. Thankfully, I have a cure to any of that imagined longing that occurs around the solstice fish tacos. You see, I am forever on a quest to find the best, most perfectly unmolested fish taco. The one sent directly from heaven. The one when you arrive at the pearly gates and St. Peter tells you to go straight to hell.

You’ll smell on his breath that fish taco. And just as every planet in the solar system has an axial tilt, every beach town from here to Timbuktu has their version of a fish taco. And let me tell you, as one who has consumed hundreds, possibly thousands of fish tacos from the Jersey shore to the jungles of Guatemala, there is as vast a difference between the best and worst fish tacos as there is between the planetary bodies floating overhead. Everything from the type of fish to the preparation, fried, grilled, the toppings. Do they, God forbid, dare put cheese on the thing? Do they serve flour or corn tortillas? I mean, the variables are endless. And usually it’s completely wrong. You see, this is what you get when I’m going off the cuff. We start with the solstice and axial tilts and then descend quickly to Uranus and then to a dissertation on the best fish tacos.

But this is important. Shit. It’s summer, people. Summer. Now, I’m just going to tell you my take on the perfect fish taco. First and foremost, you cannot put cheese on a fish taco. I mean, God help you if you hand me a fish taco buried under a mound of Monterey Jack. You don’t want to see that, I promise.

Okay, so we start with a lovely piece of cabrillo or sea bass or some other white fish grilled to perfection and serve it atop a recently handmade, still warm, molten, so hot you can’t pick it up. Tortilla de Mayes. Wait. You know what? I’m not going to do this. I’m going to go find the guy that makes one of the best fish tacos in town, and I’m going to let him tell you about it. We’re heading over to Restaurante de Cordero and my friend Jose. Okay, let’s go. Okay, so to loosely translate here with my own bad Spanish, jose says that Porter Hemplo, for example.

His preference is tacos de pescado ala plancha, which is grilled, which is exactly the way they should be. They should be grilled lightly with tomato, onion, cilantro, a little squirt of lime and a really fresh hot Pecante sauce. At the end, of course, we say our thank yous. He was gracious enough. We had a restaurant full of people he was gracious enough to talk to. I did indeed bring back a trio of Jose’s tacos de pescado. And while I am a day or two shy of the actual souls to state, I am celebrating the first day of summer in grand, juicy fashion. Think of it as my Stonehenge.

You see, some believe the circle was erected somewhere around 2500 BC as a means to establish and keep track of the solstice. I don’t have a bunch of big rocks, but I got some juicy fish tacos that work just the same. Back in ancient Gaul, which is basically modern day France, in some parts of its neighboring countries, the solstice was also known as the Midsummer Celebration, also called the Feast of Epona. In ancient Germanic and Celtic tribes, pagans celebrated the Midsummer with bonfires. In northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, when the days are the longest, it’s the time of the midnight sun. They celebrate the summer and the fertility of the earth. They dance around. Maples.

Bonfires are lit. Homes are decorated with flower garlands, greenery and tree branches. That’s what I’m talking about. The first day of summer is a big deal. Summer is a big deal. And I don’t care how you celebrate it. I just care that you do take some time and look back at the trail you’ve left so far this year. I bet you’ve come much further than you thought you did.

It’s summer, man. Baseball and barbecues. Sandy feet and sundresses popsicles and pool days. I can’t think of a better time to unset and then reset. If you’re looking for a little boost while you chill on the beach, remember, all of the back episodes can be found at the Mind on Set, Apple podcasts spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite show. And one more thing love on your people. They are more valuable than gold. And take care of your spirit.

And until we come back for season four, I’m going to keep saying it. I’m going to keep playing it. I can write it in a script or speak it off the cuff. Either way, it’s just the same.

Be nice. Do good stuff.


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