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Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management. Photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and nature who is exploring the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found.
Author and Blogger. They are not the same thing. Sports occasionally spoken here, especially hockey. Veteran of Sun, Apple, Palm, HP and now Infoblox, plus some you've never heard of. They didn't kill me, they made me better.
Person with opinions, and not afraid to share them. Debate team in high school and college; bet that's a surprise.
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Monthly Archives: January 2011
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:
- 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)
- Portland (Winter Hawks)
- Seattle (Thunderbirds)
- 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.
- 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
- Sandis Ozolinsh, Jay More
- Rob Zettler, Doug Zmolek
- Mike Rathje, Gary Suter
- 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?
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.
So I got out for a couple of hours of birding on Sunday, my first of the year. I ended up down in Coyote Valley again, where there’s been a couple of Palm Warblers hanging out. I tried for them once before in December and while I think I saw them, I didn’t get a good enough look for me to feel I could say “yes, I definitely can say they were Palm Warblers” and put them on my life list.
This trip was different. I showed up at the location they’re hanging out in, ran into another birder watching them, he pointed out where they were, and about 20 seconds later, one of them popped out and proceeded to put on a show for about 15 minutes, wandering around in bright, full sunlight about 25 feet away. It was almost anti-climactic. I’ve got some nice pictures, but I haven’t processed them yet for upload.
But it got me thinking about lists, and how to explain them to non-birders. Birdwatchers (like any social group with a similar interest) has a vocabulary and jargon that can be rather opaque to outsiders. If you’re not a birder, when I pop in and go “Hey! Palm Warbler! 251 on my life list!” as though that actually is a good thing, I realize you probably have no clue what I’m talking about…
So a short introduction to why birders talk about lists and what they mean….
Birders tend to keep lists — lists of the species they have seen, when and where. In geek speak, the basic piece of data a birder cares about tends to be the set that includes a species name, a date/time, and a latitude/longitude. Over time, you can define your birding career based on all of that collected data.
It’s possible, of course, to add to that data: sex, age, coloration, environmental data, behaviors, pictures — some birders keep very extensive notes, some (like me) tend to keep it more simple, although in general, the rarer the bird and the higher burden of proof there is about the validity of the identification, the more data you tend to collect and report.
But at its most basic, a birding trip boils down to a list of what you saw, when you saw it, where it was seen.
Early on in my birding life, I decided not to keep lists. I kept one in my head, but didn’t do anything formal; I was interested in enjoying birding, not keeping lists or making birding a competition. Ultimately, my list got long enough i had trouble keeping it in my head, so I switched to keeping a formal list. For that, I use eBird, which is run by the Cornell Ornithology lab, and which has a nice side effect of helping create a useful data set for research.
Once you start keeping data, you tend to organize it. Every birder makes decisions on how they want it organized. There are about 10,000 species of bird in the world, and about 900-1000 that inhabit the US and canada. Of that, here in California, 641 species are recognized as having been found in the state. (digression: not all birds are common in the state, not all birds are willing to be seen easily, so every species is given a rarity number from one to six, where one is endemic, like the mourning dove, and six is exceptionally rare).
So when I talk about my life list, it’s every species I’ve seen since I started keeping track. My list is now at 251. One of the realities of a life list is that as it gets larger, it’s harder to find new species to add to it — you either need to chase the rarities that show up (known as “twitching”), or you need to travel to new areas to find species that aren’t local. 250 is a good number for a late beginner, but to get to 350 is going to take some work. Top birders in the US might have 600 species. There are birders who are well over 1,000 species, but they tend to be ones who do extensive travel over a period of years.
After the year list, every birder has their own preferences. I keep a year list, which is the species seen in a calendar year. Some birders keep state lists and county lists, some keep seasonal lists, since with migration, some birds are in a location only certain times of years. How a birder organizes their lists depends on their interests. In my case, I do 90% of my birding in Santa Clara and Alameda county, so I keep it simple. (I also keep a yard list, which is birds I’ve seen from my home property. While typing this, I had a brown creeper wander up the telephone pole at the back of the property near the bird feeder — a new yard bird, #42, which is a nice high number for a suburban backyard. If you keep your eyes open, life can be full of fun little surprises) I’ve met birders who’ keep county lists and who’s goal is to see 200 species in every county in California. I’ve met others who’s goal is 700 species on the life list.
So when you hear a birder talk about lists, that’s what’s going on.
I’ve been thinking through the goals I want to set for my photography in 2011. I think I’m going to keep it relatively simple:
- Push myself into new areas of photography to continue to improve my skills; specifically, it’s time to get serious about learning how to use flash, and it’s time for me to get serious about both field and studio macro photography.
- I want to try to get back to Yosemite sometime this spring, hopefully when the dogwood is out and alive. I had planned a trip for 2010 at that time and ended up not being able to.
- I want to get out on a photo trip to an area I haven’t been to and photographed and force myself to figure out how to shoot and then publish a piece about that area and tells its story.
- I want to see if I can take at least one workshop as a way to push my skills via hands on work with someone else.
- I want to take a close look at whether I can be “photoshop free”. I’m hoping to see what Apple has up its sleeve with Aperture 4.0 — I don’t know a damn thing if this even exists, but I’m assuming it does, and I”m guessing 2011 might be the year I can retire photoshop completely, and see whether Aperture does what I want and make myself free of all Adobe software (I like Lightroom; I don’t think Lightroom will ever be allowed to innovate enough to make photoshop irrelevant to all but the most hardcore photographers — and apple doesn’t have that political problem with aperture).
- I’m going to do a personal quest to photograph as many species of bird again this year, and see if I can beat my 2010 number of 142
- I need to experiment with video more.
And I’ll note for the record that nowhere in this list is “buy new stuff”; which doesn’t mean I won’t, but the gear needs to be defined by how it will implement the goals, not the other way around…
Happy 2011, all.
I really had no plans to get back into writing. Well, I always felt that “someday” I’d start writing again, but I certainly didn’t see it happening any time soon.
But I was off doing some research on app stores and economic realities because I wanted to be able to talk to developers coming into webOS understand what the realistic expectations would be for sales and income, and to see what insights I could come up with as far as marketing that might be useful.
The more I looked around, the more I became intrigued with what I saw as the early stages of a massive disruption and the creation of a new independent publishing channel — ebooks and the ability to push written content out through multiple channels in multiple formats relatively easily, with the ability to charge for the content without having to build a full e-commerce engine. For the small/independent author and for authors with midlist material, this creates new opportunities, and the market is just starting to happen. In reality, the worlds of app development (what I do in my other life) and that of authors and photographers and other visually-oriented content creation are crashing together, and it’s going to create a massive publishing disruption and many new opportunities. I discussed this a bit back in October, and I’ll nudge you at the blog of Dean Wesley Smith (author and former publisher at Pulphouse Press) if you want to see more about that.
What I didn’t expect was that this was going to get me thinking about writing again — but it did, because I started to think about the opportunities here, and then my novel started whispering at me. My initial thoughts were oriented more towards photography and ebook publication of image-centric books (the most interesting and innovative group figuring this out is David du Chemin and his Craft and Vision, and it’s something I want to return to and talk about in more depth later, but I think he’s got a really interesting handle on how to make this work — and why it’s very different than traditional photo book publishing).
But for some reason, after almost 20 years of having no motivation to write, I kept coming back to thinking about getting back on the novel, and how to use the new publishing realities to move back into fiction writing. I’ve more or less ignored this idea for a couple of months while trying to figure out what my 2011 priorities are going to be, and the more I think about this, the more I realize now is a pretty good time to do try.
So I will.
I’m not entirely sure what this means yet. I don’t have any concrete goals, other than “dust off the novel and start typing”. but it just feels like the right time to pull this out of retirement and see what happens while I continue to try to figure out publishing and ditribution strategies and see how this market forms and how I can be a part of it. There’s something really interesting happening here, and the more I poke at it, the more I want to be part of it and try to make it flourish. Back in the 80′s when I was experimenting with e-publishing with OtherRealms the technology was unbelievably primative and we were feeling our way in the dark. I’ve always wanted to return to that kind of experimentation — and so it’s time to try.
But that doesn’t solve a larger issue, which is also getting that content onto the Kindle and Nook and into the MOBI and EPUB formats. It shouldn’t be too hard (famous last words) to create an environment that you could do some kind of structured set of HTML docs and have it create the navigation for you, and then shove it into phonegap to create apps, and then format it up into MOBI and EPUB, all in an automated or mostly-automated way.
Ultimately, I’d like to be able to build a set of HTML pages that define the content of a publication, push a few buttons, and have it turn into iPhone, Android, webOS, Kindle and Nook packages, all automated and all pretty and worth your $1.99, iwthout a lot of hacking or geeking to get it there.
It seems to be (ahem) there’s a developer opportunity to create a tool suite that (ahem) other content creators would love to take advantage of, and perhaps toss a few shekels at. So that’s a sub-task of this new writing initiative, look into the possibility of creating a tool environment that a writer could use to take their content and push it into the various stores and environments in a graphically pleasant way without needing to be or hire a geek. As someone who more or less lives in both places, I think I have at least a base of information to start exploring this as a possible opportunity…
So I will.
And we’ll see how it goes. But it’s one of the things I’m really looking forward to digging into in 2011.
A short summary of my birding life in 2010…
I was finally able to break 250 species on my life list, adding 11 species in 2010: Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadee, Tropical Kingbird, Band-tailed pigeon, Egyptian Goose, Pine Siskin, Mitred Parakeet, Common Tern, Wrentit, and Northern Fulmar.
I broke my previous number of 197 for year list, getting to 199. I actually broke 197 back around thanksgiving, but a combination of this winter’s really funky and wet weather and a flareup of my knee arthritis stopped me cold for most of December, so it looks like 200 will evade me again. Barely. Well, something to shoot for in 2011. Our plan to go to Salton Sea after christmas was cancelled because of the knees, which was just as well, because two days before we were going to head out there, the Taiga Bean Goose disappeared during a winter storm and hasn’t been seen since. Of course….
Overall, I filed 105 checklists with ebird in 12 counties. Not bad, given time and other contingencies. Over on flickr, a number of us did a photo challenge to see how many species we could photograph in one year. I ended up with, or about 3/4 of my year list. the winner of the challenge had somewhere around 360 species for the year, but this was really about pushing yourself, and I’m quite happy with the results.
I’ve been trying to decide what I want to do with my birding in 2011; mostly, it’s just what I have been doing, and perhaps some bit more of it. But I’m not that interested in twitching for rare species, and birding is something I want to leave as a relaxation and escape and not assign too many rules or deadlines to, so I think my goal for 2011 is “just” to keep working on being a better birder and enjoy the hobby for what it is. It would be nice to expand the life list again, so if I could add another 10 species to the life list, that’d be fun. More even better, but it depends on how much time I have and how able I am to go finding new birds — and whether they’re out there.
For what it’s worth, I filed my first list for 2011; a short feederwatch here in the home office. Nothing too fancy, but the first 9 species of 2011 got ticked off. If the knee and the weather cooperate, I do hope to get out and do some birding before the holiday ends.
Welcome to 2011. If this is how you feel, remember: you did it to yourself, but it’s temporary.
I’m really looking forward to 2011 with anticipation. There have been a number of challenges the last few years, but that which does not kill you makes you stronger, and so far, I’m still breathing. 2010 turned out to be the year I started thinking forward again and deciding what I wanted to focus on, and now that 2011 is here, it’s time to start pushing those things forward.
I don’t know about you, but here in my life I’m interested in way too many things for my own good. My planning isn’t so much about “what should I do?” as it is deciding what of the things I want to do I need to defer, because if I try to do them all — none of them get enough time for me to do them well. One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned the last few years is that I do, in fact, have limits, and while it’s a lesson I don’t like, I’ve learned to try to focus and prioritize and do fewer things well instead of simply pushing harder to do them all.
I have, at least to start the year, chosen to focus on three projects. There are a couple of other projects that I may add to the list later (or replace something on this list with if it makes sense), but I’m not yet ready to talk about them in public, because they depend on decisions by others before I want to commit resources to them. I’ve got a total of five projects on my “A” list right now, but only three of them are at that point I can talk to them and move forward on them now. We’ll bring the others into the light if and when it makes sense.
I’ll be talking about each of these things, but right now, I want to focus on one.
The first — and clearly the most important — project for 2011 is my health and my weight. I was diagnosed diabetic in late 2009 (joining about 1 in 10 of the American population), and 2010 was in many ways a year for coming to grips with diabetes and learning how to keep it controlled and keep things stable. As a friend and fellow diabetic told me, diabetes is one of those things that is no big deal at all — and something you have to take great care with. For 2011, I don’t want to just keep the diabetes under control, but to take the initiative and shove it as far out of my life as I possibly can — by taking off the extra weight I carry, by getting in better physical shape, by learning to be better at managing diet, there’s a good chance I can live life without using diabetic drugs and managing this strictly through lifestyle and diet. It may not happen — but we’re sure going to try.
It’s also crucial that this weight comes off for other reasons; getting it off will reduce the impact of the apnea, and perhaps let me be rid of the darth vader machine I sleep with. Needing a CPAP to sleep has some impacts that might not be obvious at first, but here’s one: you can’t camp or backpack. Life is tied to a hotel room with electricity (which excludes Curry Village in Yosemite, also) — and that impacts your ability to explore as a nature photographer. That was one factor that led me to decide not to try to go pro in my photography this year. another impact on my photography — when you’re carrying around a lot of weight your center of gravity if affected, and so is your ability to scramble off trail or even get down on the ground for a shot and get back up again without looking like a grounded walrus. And when you lose your balance, bad things can happen. Losing weight will in a very direct way make me a better and more capable photographer.
A third aspect of this is — my knees. In late 2007, I was out taking photos and walking when I stepped in a gopher hole and tore the meniscus in my right knee. In talking to the orthepedic surgeon, he showed me the xrays and explained that it wasn’t about going in and cleaning it out, it was about delaying replacement as long as possible, due to the arthritis in both knees. Thanks to 500mg of Relafin twice a day, the knees have been quiet and stable since, until about a month ago when they started acting up, and it’s clear I need to go in and have another chat and probably up the dosage. But the single best thing I can do to improve my knees is to take weight off.
If there’s a plus here, it’s that I weight what I weighed two and a half years ago, and I weigh less than I did at my max in fall of 2008 (but not by much); it’s something that it’s at least not going up. On the minus of that, starting in the fall of 2008, I lost a fair bit of weight — because of the diabetes, and it came back once I started treatment. I do wish I’d been able to keep some of that off, but that’s life.
In American culture — the land of Nancy Reagan and “just say no” — the answer to these problems is seemingly simple: eat less, exercise more. If only; if there was truth to that, the world wouldn’t be having this massive obesity crisis and we wouldn’t be having this conversation (and — hint — pretty much every place some variation of “just say no” is proposed, it fails miserably, whether it’s teenage sex, smoking, catholic priests and little boys, or losing weight. So can I please suggest that we as a society get past simplistic slogans and deal with real problems using real solutions? thanks).
In reality, it’s really complicated. I’ve come up with a set of things I think will work — and now that the holidays are over, it’s time to see if they will; and what needs to be adapted and changed. I’ve also done a lot of research into this whole shebang, and I’ll share some of that with you over time. And no, don’t expect daily weigh ins or any of that; it doesn’t work for me, and it’s incredibly boring for you. but we’ll talk when it makes sense and there’s something useful to say.
This is an initiative I have to make succeed; if I do nothing else, I have to make this work — or I have to decide I can’t, and then start looking at other options seriously, like surgery. And frankly, I look forward to gastric bypass even less than the thought of going through knee replacement, because gastric surgery would be admitting failure over something I honestly believe I can solve — and in fact have been working to solve for the last few years. And now I’ll find out if I’m right, I guess.
The goal? for now, let’s just leave it at ten pounds, and then start on the next ten. I need to lose 100 pounds to get back to the weight I was at 30, and that’s probably a two year process. Step one is to just take that first step, and then build on it… It’s a good question what my goal weight ought to be, but that’s another one of those complicated discussions about something people like to make simple…
and hopefully we’ll chat about that soon.
Until then, to all of you, I hope your 2011 is as good and positive for you as I plan on making it for me.