Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
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Monthly Archives: December 2010
A quick review of 2010 (and some history that leads into it, too)
I’ve been trying to summarize 2010; it’s really the first year in a while I give a passing grade (so to speak). I think the bottom line is that 2010 is the first year in the last few that I am kinda sad to see go, as opposed to wishing it a fond farewell and that the door not hit it on the butt on the way out. The last few years have brought some challenges, but for the most past, they either seem in the past, or things I now have under control and I can move forward from to other, more fun things. So if I have to grade 2010, I’ll give it a B, and life in general a B+.
2010 was a year of transition and starting the process of moving forward after years of stasis. A body at rest really wants to stay on the damn couch, so it takes some time and energy to get everything going again. 2010 was about figuring out what the priorities are and getting the motion going in those directions, and I’m hoping that translates into momentum on a number of projects I’m trying to get off the ground.
I entered 2010 recently diagnosed with Diabetes — a bit of high blood pressure, triglycerides above 500, A1C about 13% and a blood glucose above 400. For those not versed in medical geek speak, those are numbers that are getting dangerously close to a diabetic coma or some other health crisis. Today, my A1C is normal, my cholsterol and triglycerides are normal, my blood sugar is well controlled and rarely hits 160 after meals, and is more typically 145 or below. My doctor is happy, I’m pretty happy, and I feel great. 2010 was about learning to manage and thrive as a diabetic, because for the rest of my life, no matter what I do, that’ll be part of my life.
There are some challenges remaining; so far, the best I’ve done is battle my weight to a tie. Taking that next step, getting the weight off, is a key goal for 2011. The good news is that my weight is what it was before the diabetes hit, back in 2007; the bad news is that this number needs to be a lot smaller than it is. I’ll be talking about that down the road — one of the things I’ve been doing is figuring out what changes I need to make to make this happen. Now, I actually need to do it.
I feel like I took some positive steps forward in my photography, and I’m quite happy with my work. I still have work to do and areas where I need to grow; I have some ideas on what I want to do in 2011 to move in those directions. I was able to revamp the blog, and I’ve gotten my writing going again on a pretty consistent basis — and I expect to continue that and move it into some new directions in 2011 as well.
Work’s taken up a lot of hours, a lot of energy and created a lot of challenges. The good news is that we did well enough that HP put a billion dollars into us and said “now, go do it better”; in 2011, you’ll see what that means, and I’m looking forward to when we can show that off. Still a lot of work to do, and in reality, that job is just starting, but I like what’s happening and the direction we’re taking, even if I can’t talk about it yet.
So overall, it’s been a good year. More important to me, it’s been a gateway from some pretty sucky years into what I hope and expect to be an even better year. Because of the apnea things started grinding to a halt in 2005; with the apnea and diabetes dealt with, I feel like we put the jumper cables on the battery and we have the bandwagon in gear; we’ll see in 2011 how far we can drive it.
And so, a last look back at 2010, and then we’ll turn the page, and start making 2011 happen. And thanks to all of you for being here and being part of it with me, with your thoughts and ideas and feedback and help. It’s appreciated, and I’m looking forward to seeing 2011 unfold for all of us, together.
2010 Blog Highlights
- January 29: in The Apple TV has not failed, I argued against the geek-echo-chamber-pundits who were writing off the Apple TV as a failure. Since that time, Apple has released the new generation of Apple TV (which many of those same geek-echo-chamber-pundits declared a failure, because it’s not geek-worthy hackable) and of course, they were seriously wrong, since Apple’s noted they sold a million units so far. Ring up another one for the geek community not realizing the consumer device market is very different than the geek market (and much larger) and declaring anything not geeky enough for them a failure. Secondary note — I got my new Apple TV for christmas and installed it today, and it rocks. Not because it’s geeky, but because it sits there and works when I ask it to.
- January 29: I also wrote A few thoughts on lenses, which I still think hits the mark with some interesting ideas on how to decide what lenses you need. Laurie decided she wanted a new lens for her camera for christmas, and I ended up getting her the Sigma 18-125mm f/3.8-5.6, which I decided was the best of the moderately priced wide angle “street” zooms. I ended up choosing that instead of 18-200 because while it doesn’t have quite the zoom power, it’s sharper across the range. I’ve come to think that the superzoom lenses have their place and are growing in prominence in the field, but aren’t always the best option. In my case, I’m rarely using my Tamron superzoom in those zoom ranges, so for me today, the sharpness factor is more important than getting the extra magnification.
- March 31: I hosted I and the Bird. For that, I wrote The Bird(ing) and Me.
- May 27: I fell down and go boom, sprained the left side of my body, and put myself on the shelf for about six weeks.
- July 29: I bought a new laptop. And for the first time in forever, didn’t feel a need to buy the top of the line beastie from Apple. Months later, I’m thrilled at the decision I made, I love this unit.
- August 12: Vacation part deux (and part two): two days photographing on the central coast. Man, I gotta stop being so slackworthy at work and slow down at taking so much time off.
- August 18: and then I talked a bit about why I decided to hold off on going pro with the camera. Something I need to explore further here in the blog. soon.
- October 18: I wrote up my thoughts on defining and using keywords in Lightroom. By far my most popular piece of writing in 2010 — thank you for the links and feedback.
- December 25: A special gift from me to you, the story Downtime; a previously unpublished piece of fiction from me. Expect to see more of my older writing, and more talk about writing, in 2011.
A funny thing happened when I was shooting this game. I shot most of these images with the Canon 1D Mark IV (which shoots 10 pictures per second) but also decided to use the Canon 5D Mark II with a Fisheye lens, like I did at the Winter Olympics. At the beginning of the second break, a gentleman came up to me, a little perplexed, and asked which lens I was using for the close-up shots. I told him about my setup with the Fisheye lens and he told me that he saw and liked my previous wide shots from the Olympics. As I explained to him, there are times when the athletes are right in front of me and I can not photograph them with a long lens (I was using the 70-200mm), so it is fun to try the wide lens to see what I get with that focal length. As you can tell from the image above, it really can pay off. This wide view really makes you feel like you are on the ice with them!
That person was me. I’d seen Jeff’s photography at the Vancouver Olympics and knew he was a bay area photographer, so I’d been quietly not stalking him via his work and his blog, so when I realized he’d shown up at the photo hole at the game, I thought I’d say hi if he wasn’t busy and I had a chance.
Then I saw the lens.
Since Laurie and I are both photo geeks to some degree or another, and we’ve sat down by the tunnel near one of the main photo holes for many years, we tend to keep an eye on who’s down there, and we’ve gotten to know some of the photographers over the years (on the other hand, we know many of them are running on deadline, and we try to leave them alone). When a new face catches our attention we (obviously) check out the gear and try to figure out who they are and where the publish (if they do).
In all the years I’ve been sitting there, I’ve never seen a photographer shoot out the hole with a fisheye. Honestly, I couldn’t believe that’s what it was, which is why I made sure I went and verified that’s what he was doing. It was a great chat, and it’s a fascinating technique. Mostly you see white lenses (or the Nikon equivalent), mostly things like the 200mm or a 70-200, which is to me the sweet spot shooting from a hole in hockey. A lot of photographers will carry a second wider body, but it’s typically something like a 24-70. And most of them can’t focus on the action right out of the hole; most of them are actually bailing if the action comes at them that close — and I don’t blame them, I’ve seen a couple of lenses dinged and we know one of the photogs who got dinged for stitches a few seasons ago.
But a fisheye? That’s not a sports lens! But in fact, it is, What Jeff said he did was set the focus to be about 2 feet out, and then he gaffer taped the focus in place so it wouldn’t move, and if the action comes near him, he can just aim at it and spray shots. it’s a fascinating technique and a great use of that lens, and if you go look at some of his olympic work, it’s quite successful. I never would have guessed how he did it, either, without having that chat.
And it’s a technique I’m already thinking about how to translate back into my nature photography. There’s some interesting concepts there.
Thanks for the chat, Jeff! And it’s always fun to actually say hi to another one of the local photographers….
I’ve had a few people ask me my thoughts on the Sharks this year, so here are a few thoughts about them so far.
Overall, I’m satisfied with what i see. Â There are some rough edges, but name me a team in the NHL that doesn’t have them? We’ve been hit with some injuries, especially on defense, and that’s both shown that we have impressive depth in the organization, but that some of that depth is young. Justin Braun has been a real eye opener to me, he has a very rare ability to get a point shot through traffic and on goal, and isn’t afraid to do so — but he’s taken some time adjusting to the speed of the NHL, and he’s made some mistakes along the way. He pretty much singlehandedly gave up all of the goals in that bad Detroit loss, where the Wings schooled him and fed him his jock (but they do that to a lot of good players); he and the Sharks dealt with it appropriately, and he ratcheted back his pinching and played more conservatively, and he’s progressed very quickly. I expect he’ll go back to Worcester at some point, but he’s shown he’s got a good future as he continues to mature.
The two questions I seem to get asked more frequently are — what about our defense? and what about Nabby?
Nabby first. As big a supporter of Nabokov as I was, I felt the Sharks made the right move. Nabby wasn’t going to get better, and we’d seen what he brought to the team. With what his contract was going to require, I agreed with us moving on to another option, because goaltending that good was available elsewhere, and for less money, allowing us to spend more of the cap space on other needs. I’m not as convinced as some pundits that Nabby will end up back in the league this year, but he well could. Nittymaki was an adequate replacement for Nabokov, and when the Sharks got Niemi as well, I was thrilled. Niemi had a rough start, but he’s found his game, and he’s showing why he beat the Sharks in the playoffs last year. This is definitely an upgrade.
And on defense? we miss Blake, although I don’t miss his once-a-game 2 minute penalty for “I’m old” (usually a hook). While I wouldn’t mind an upgrade, I think the crew we have is good, when healthy. Wallin and Huskins as our 5-6 dmen is pretty good, but when we have injuries and they need to bump those two up to 3-4, it shows. Overall, though, I’m not worried. I like Jason Demers and he’s maturing nicely, and our top four D (Boyle, Vlasic, Murray, Demers) is pretty darn good. I don’t see much need to do anything, but if Wilson finds the right fit, I wouldn’t complain if he upgraded Huskins onto the black aces. the big thing is being healthy in the playoffs, and not depending much on the depth. Joslin is good as a physical body, Braun is a bit of a wildcard but in a year or so, watch out. I’m really impressed overall.
The player the Sharks really miss right now is Manny Malhotra, but I don’t blame them for not matching Vancouver’s money. Nicholl fills part of it and Jamal Mayers isn’t much of a downgrade on ice, but we miss Malhotra’s and Blake’s leadership and work ethic. The team is still figuring out who the new leaders are, and I think that shows in some of the inconsistency. I see no reason to panic, and I expect it to be sorted out by the playoffs.
Marleau is in one of his “enigmatic” phases, but I’ve come to realize at some point in every season we seem to wonder about Marleau, and at the end of the year, his numbers and contribution are there. He’ll kick it in and the questions will stop. Again. I expect that’ll be the way he is the rest of his career. Given the numbers end up being there and he shows up in the playoffs, I’ll live with it and not worry about it so much.
Thornton/Heatley is a great pair, and speaking as someone who was against the Heatley trade, I’m happy to say I’ve been proven very wrong on that deal, and I say that with great enthusiasm for what he’s done since coming to San Jose. Coture is a great pairing with Ryan Clowe, and ought to win rookie of the year. More amazingly, he actually might, despite playing out west were the eastern hockey media doesn’t see hi, regularly because the sharks games are up past their bedtime.
All in all, I give this team a B right now. I expect more, but this team will figure it out and bring it as the season progresses. I don’t see any glaring holes, I don’t see any significant problems that need to be fixed — but this isn’t a team beyond tweaking, and I expect at some point Wilson will. Most likely to not be in teal come the end of the season? Maybe Setoguchi, although I’m in no hurry to move him.
Final question: cheechoo? I think it’s great the Sharks have given him an opportunity in Worcester, but people who think this indicates Cheech might return to San Jose are thinking with their hearts and memory, not their heads and Cheechoo’s current abilities. The best Cheech could be in san jose is a part time player and black ace, if that. If he makes it back to the NHL, it’ll be with a lower tier team, and god help him, I hope it’s not the Islanders.
Every so often I get an email from someone asking why I don’t write about hockey anymore. I figure it’s probably time to talk about it here, if only so I can point to it later and stop writing it multiple times…
Short answer: I haven’t. But I have taken an extended break. I’m starting to write a bit this season, and I have some stuff I plan on writing when I get the time and motivation.
The primary reason I took a break is pretty simple — writing about hockey stopped being fun. I’ve come to believe that some things in your life need to be reserved for fun — if you turn everything into work, then you’re never NOT working. When writing about hockey started feeling more like work than fun, it was time to step back and get back to what hockey really should be — a diversion from real life and something to just relax and enjoy.
A second reason I felt like it was time to step away for a while is that so much hockey and sports writing is really negative; there are writers and bloggers that seem unable to write anything but rip pieces — this is especially true in much of the Canadian press, where it seems if you actually say something nice about a team you cover, you get fired. it seems a lot of writers have taken the “good news doesn’t sell newspapers” concept seriously, to a fault. I find many of them unreadable.
But worse, since I always wanted to try to show both sides of the situation, to write with a balance (and promote what’s good about the sport as well), I tended to end up a target for fans who respond to things they disagree with using abuse. After a while, I just got really tired of the trolls, to be honest, whether those trolls are bloggers who can’t handle someone saying something doesn’t suck, fans who see anything they disagree with as something to be attacked, or professional trolls like Bruce Garrioch. It seemed impossible to try to hold an intelligent conversation without attracting the reactionaries, and so I decided to stop. There didn’t seem to be much of an audience for someone who wasn’t reinforcing the “it all sucks” motif. I’m still not convinced there is, although there are some writers out there (like David Pollak at the Merc) who still have that balance (although, god, read the comment section on just about any posting on his blog, and you’ll see why I stopped)
And finally… there are some really good writers out there, which allows me the ability to sit back and let them write instead. If we’d invented the blogosphere 15 years earlier, maybe I’d have done things differently, but today, with folks like Pollak, Jon Swenson over at Sharkspage, I don’t feel a great need to wade in and have my say these days. I much prefer sitting back and watching and having a good time and not worrying so much about whether they’re using a left wing lock or a modified trap.over on SB Nation and
And here’s a hint: if you hate everything going on about the sport, why are you watching it? If you’ve hit that point where hockey (or sports in general) is nothing but a reason to complain about stuff, go do something else. If it’s not fun any more, why do you inflict it on your eyeballs? And then inflict yourself on us?
That’s a rhetorical question. Please don’t answer it in the comments. I already know the answer….