Monthly Archives: January 2011

Going out for a walk…

The weather was wonderful here in the Bay Area today, so I went out for a walk. Not a huge one — a total of half a mile, but just before christmas, one of my knees decided to secede from the Union and I’ve been working to bring it back into the fold since.

I think I need a bit of a digression for that to make sense. Back in late 2007, I was out birding and walking, and while out, took a step back and landed in a gopher hole, twisting my knee and doing the “hop around on one leg cussing like a sailor” thing. So I got myself home and got ice on it and gave it a couple of weeks to recover.

It didn’t get better. So I resigned myself to having it checked and went to my doctor, and told him I’d torn the meniscus. So he sent me off to the orthopede and we took xrays of the knees, and he sat me down and said “see this? you’ve torn your meniscus”.

And so I asked him if we needed to go in and clean it up. His response wasn’t what I was expecting, it was “no, we’re trying to delay your knee replacements as long as possible”. And then he showed me the arthritis. Which today I realize shouldn’t have surprised me, since there’s a family history — and since i tore the meniscus of one knee back in high school (long before arthroscopic surgery was invented), grumpy knees the predict the weather isn’t exactly a new thing.

But I do have to admit hearing that I should expect knee replacements at some point didn’t exactly make my day. But we talked over various options and ways to manage it when it flared up, and thanks in large part to 500mg of Relafin twice a day, the last three years have been almost painless (literally), beyond the usual weather predicting grumpiness and the occasional twinge.

This wasn’t a twinge, however. For reasons I don’t know (I have no idea what caused the flareup), the other knee, not the one I messed up in 2007, but the one that’s been grumping at me for 30 years, decided to have a major argument; swelled up, stiffened up, lots of pain and general “don’t you know it’s the freaking holiday, why now?” kind of thing. So for the last month, I’ve been living mostly on the couch under a heating pad. There were a couple of weeks where I should have used crutches, but I’m too damn stubborn some days…

This is the kind of thing where it just takes time to get the inflammation down, although I was starting to think I might need to get my dosage raised or consider a switch to a different drug (but the Relafin works well, I tolerate it nicely, and honestly, I really don’t want to load up on larger doses of NSAIDs unless I absolutely have to…). Fortunately, while it flared up a second time during the trip to SoCal (the main reason we cut the christmas trip short and cancelled our plans for Salton Sea….), it’s been slowly getting better and the last week or so has finally been getting almost back to normal.

So when I say I went out for a walk, given how things were two weeks ago, that’s awesome. Not pain free, but now it’s time to start the dance down the thin line of getting exercise onto the joint without so much exercise that it flares up again. The nice thing is, 30 minutes under a heating pad after lunch at work and the stiffness and pain was all gone, which is what I was hoping for. Shows that we’re almost back to normal.

But this has complicated some of my plans for the last few weeks; I couldn’t implement the exercise program because I couldn’t exercise, and I’ve been doing a lot of sitting on the couch with the iPad consuming stuff rather than at the laptop creating stuff, but that’s also a nice break; I don’t do that enough, honestly, and it gave me a chance to catch up on some reading, which I’ll try to do reviews on soon — that’s been on the todo list for a while.

Being limited to what birding I can do from the car has been annoying, so it was nice to get out to EEC in Alviso and wander a bit. And the downtime has given me a chance to put some research time in on some issues, and you’ll hopefully see the results soon.

And I get to keep my own knees for a while longer, even if they occasionally behave like spoiled teenagers and pout when the weather’s bad…

20+ years of hockey.

Laurie and I are both part of the increasingly rare group known as first season sharks fans (and cow palace survivors) — laurie was the 150th person to put a deposit down once the Sharks started taking reservations. Our first year at the Cow Palace we did a partial season, in year two, we upgraded to full season and we’ve been doing full season tickets ever since, and we’ve been sitting in 127 since the arena opened.

It’s hard to think this is the Shark’s 20th anniversary, but it is, and that’s a lot of hockey passing before us. We typically get to between 35-40 games a year in San Jose; every year we tell ourselves we’ll sell off a few more tickets, and every year, we rarely do. Our best guess is we’ve been in the house for 650 Sharks games so far, plus/minus about 20. Add to that our season working for the San Francisco Spiders (35 games with the spiders, plus about 30 games with the Sharks that year), and our regular road trips which have included games all over the west coast, from San Diego (the IHL Gulls) and Vegas (the IHL Thunder) and Phoenix (the IHL Roadrunners) to Vancouver, Portland (the WHL WinterHawks), Seattle (the WHL Thunderbirds and Laurie’s seen games in Everett) and even places like Victoria (go Salsa!) for some junior-A action. We even made it to Fresno for the ECHL all-star game a few years ago, mostly so we could say we did…

All in all, a lot of hockey; not bad for an LA-born southern california boy. As of now, my arena life list includes:

NHL –

  • San Jose Arena (Sharks)
  • Cow Palace (Sharks)
  • The Fabulous Forum (Kings)
  • Staples Center (Kings)
  • The Pond (Ducks)
  • GM Place (Canucks)

IHL (may it rest in peace) –

  • San Diego (Gulls)
  • Las Vegas (Thunder)
  • Long Beach (Ice Dogs)
  • San Francisco (Spiders)
  • Phoenix (Roadrunners)

WHL

  • Portland (Winter Hawks)
  • Seattle (Thunderbirds)

BCJHL

  • Victoria (Salsa) — both in the old arena (now torn down) and while they were playing in Esquimalt

Still on my list to od some day — a trip through the Ottawa/Toronto/Montreal area for the NHL teams and the OHL/QMJHL teams I can fit in along the way; I really want to do the Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton trip in the winter when there’s hockey (we’ve done it for baseball, back when there was still minor league baseball in those cities), and a major run through BC to hit some of the WGHL teams, especially out in the Okanagan. Someday.

Until then, I’ll just have to “settle” for the Sharks. Not that I’m complaining.

I was thinking about this at the game the other night — the Sharks (that were at that point losing to Edmonton and looking ugly doing so and I wondered if this team could win against some of the more classic Sharks teams, and the invoked the name of Robin Bawa as I’m known to do. This is not an insult to Bawa, FWIW — he wasn’t the most talented Shark ever to skate in teal, but he brought his work ethic with him every night.

This got me thinking about the good times and good players back in the early days of the Sharks, and given this is the 20th anniversary, what the heck. I decided to create my personal all-time Sharks All Star team.

The rules were simple. Players had to be no longer playing in the NHL to be eligible. I’m trying to build a full team. For reasons I’ll go into shortly, I decided to do three “offensive” lines instead of two, plus an energy line, plus a fourth line, for five forward lines total. Three defensive pairings and two goaltenders.

Here’s my list.

Forwards:

  • Igor Larionov, Sergei Makarov, Johan Garpenlov
  • Kelly Kisio, Owen Nolan, Jeff Friesen
  • Jamie Baker,  Mike Ricci, Vinnie Damphousse
  • Mike Sullivan, Gaetan Duschesne, Ulf Dahlen
  • Jeff Odgers, Andrei Nazarov, Shawn Cronin

Defense

  • Sandis Ozolinsh, Jay More
  • Rob Zettler, Doug Zmolek
  • Mike Rathje, Gary Suter

Goaltenders

  • Arturs Irbe
  • Mike Vernon

Notes on these choices –

  • The reason I went with five forward lines is because the line of Larionov/Makarov/Garpenlov was a special one for the Sharks (and I hope at some point the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame inducts them in as a line), but I wanted to recognize some of the others that contributed as well and I wanted more than three spots. So I made a special exemption here rather than what typically happens, which is the checkers and energy guys get screwed. So we have three “top six forward” lines, plus a checking line, plus an energy line.
  • I included Nazarov over Link Gaetz because I think in the grand scheme of things, he contributed more,l onger, to the Sharks, even though Gaetz is legendary — albeit not in a positive way. My other candidate for enforcer is probably Lyndon Byers.
  • I declared Nabokov “not retired” and not eligible. And then Laurie and I had a long discussion about whether Vernon would be chosen over Nabokov even if he was eligible. I argued in favor of Vernon; I don’t think I won the argument.
  • Players I’d find a way to attach to this list if they were retired: Ray Whitney, Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm, Evgeny Nabokov (probably; I rarely disagree with Laurie on goalies, because I wouldn’t win).

So, who’d be on your list?

 

why I don’t like photo a day projects…..

30 Post 365 Project: 3 of 365

First, let me say that I’m only 3 days into my first 365 and I can absolutely see why people struggle to get it done. I’m only shooting 30 minutes or a little more and I’m feeling the “crunch” today with time. Wow! You really have to push yourself to get it done.

This statement by Michael Frye, in a microcosm, is why I don’t like photo a day or 365 projects…

I have nothing against them — but personally, I can’t see a purpose for me.

I’ve met too many photographers who’ve committed to one who get in a few weeks or months and find themselves at 10PM at night, taking a picture of their stapler just to do something, and about then, they seem to wonder “WHAT AM I DOING?”

There are many aspects about being a better photographer that this not only doesn’t help, but I feel gets in the way of. It’s not about improving your eye for composition, or practicing your post processing, or studying technique, or extending your craft. It’s about pushing the button — to me, it turns into grunt work very quickly, and sends a message (which I don’t like) that the only thing that matters is pushing the shutter button. How does that improve your craft?

So my recommendation is this: If you go into this kind of project, understand what your goal is and know why this project is going to help you with that goal. The day it turns into a grind you regret starting, or that you don’t feel like it’s helping those goals — stop. it starts being destructive the day it starts making you hate touching the camera….

And remember that pushing the button is really a minor part of being a photographer, and not necessarily a major aspect of photography. if all you’re doing is hauling out a camera once a day and pushing a button while pointing it at something, why are you doing this?

If what you need is some project to force you into the habit of taking pictures — great. but realize that at some point of the year, you’re likely to start taking pictures just for the project, and not for the larger goals. When you do that, ask yourself if the project still makes sense.

And realize that there are many other things you should also be doing to continue your growth as a photographer, and do those as well.

For me, that’s why I made a decision to do the Saturday Foto Fest, and the Friendly Feathery Sunday postings. It forces me to evaulate my portfolio every week, and make choices — and it also forces me to add new material on a regular basis so I don’t run out of stuff to post; but it also recognizes time realities and the other aspects of my life, and that I feel more that it’s about the finished product over time than about a daily ritual of button pressing.

If you want to do a 365 project, have fun! and I guess that’s my point. The day if stops being fun is the day you should stop. Don’t continue just because you started it; continue it because it’s helping you with the goal you set when you started it.