2013 Playoffs, stanley cup finals edition

So here we are, June 9. It’s down to two teams. Depending on how the finals go, it may be almost July before before the cup is awarded.

this bothers me. I’m frankly ready for something other than hockey, as good as the playoffs are. And it’s a reminder that this lockout-whacked season is, well, whacked. Not a reminder I particularly wanted. But then, I didn’t want June hockey, either. ohwell.

That said, there’s been some great hockey, some really good teams have been sent golfing (the good news: it’s late enough in the year that snow won’t ruin your golf date), and we’re down to Chicago and Boston.

Okay, seriously. Did anyone who hasn’t seen a game live in Boston Gardens pick the Bruins to beat the Penguins? Did anyone in the universe pick them to sweep? No, me, neither. Upsets this drastic are typically first round things, not conference finals. And it’s not like Pittsburgh played badly. It’s not like their goaltending faltered. Instead, it’s that Boston had a really good idea how to play against the Pens — and executed their gameplan very well. My respect for Tukka Rask has gone way up, too. it’s not that I didn’t think he was a solid goaltender, but he’s exceeded expectations.

And in the West? I thought Quick and the Kings would beat the Hawks — and Crawford and the Hawks refused to let it happen. That was a great series, two very good teams playing well, and playing hard. There’s very little I can say bad about the Kings, other than the Hawks were simply a bit better.

But that means I was oh-fer for the conference finals. 0-2, which makes me 8-6 for the playoffs, which means no matter what, I’m over .500 for the playoffs this year, but I’d rather be 9-6 than 8-5.

The finals are hard to judge, though. I like the Hawks. I like the way the Bruins are playing now. I like Crawford, but Rask is impressive. I can make an argument for both teams. I can make arguments against both. And I’m unsure which way to go. I want to see Chicago win, but my gut keeps saying watch out for Boston.

So I think I’m going to pick the Bruins, in six games.

I’ll be happy either way, really. Especially because it means that hockey will be over. for a few weeks, and then it’ll be time for training camp. Don’t expect either of these teams to be able to repeat in 2014 — this schedule makes it impossible.

Posted in Sports - Hockey

Calaveras Bald Eagle Nest 2013

I finally made it out to look at the eagle’s nest for the first time in weeks. Since it’s June, I expected the nest to be empty, and it was. While as far as I know there’s no absolute confirmation the chicks successfully fledged, the nest looks to be undamaged and empty so I think it’s likely this pair once again fledged out one or two chicks. (my intention was, as usual, to watch the nest more closely than I did. Reality amuses itself by inserting complications…)

This year the eagle’s moved the nest, so it wasn’t in the very visible and well-protected power tower location. I was able to spend some time earlier this year with the biologist who’s doing environmental monitoring of the Calaveras Dam project, and management of the species of concern in the work area and the watershed of the reservoir is a large part of his worry-list — with the bald and golden eagles being very high on that list. Any negative impact to those species could create a problem for the dam project, so they were quite sensitive to potential disruptions of the birds while they were nesting.

They invited me out to the project and we had some time to talk about the area, the eagles and how they were managing the impact of the dam project on the local environment, and they took me out and showed me the location of the nest. Because the nest is (a) on private land in a closed area, (b) and somewhat obscured from view, they were very worried about disclosing the location of the nest because it might encourage birders or others to trespass for better views. On top of that, the biologist twice tried to get a better look at the nest himself and both times flushed the adults off of it at 80 yards or further, so he felt that this pair was at high risk of being displaced off the nest if people started wandering out onto the watershed land to get a better look.

Looking at the location and situation, I agreed with him and agreed not to disclose the location until the nesting was done and the nest was empty. Now that this has happened, I’m writing this up as a bit of an info dump on this eagle pair for those interested and so I have this info for future reference.

As it turns out, the eagles moved the nest to a tree nearby the old nest; if you knew exactly where to look, you could see it from the public road. I do know a few of the local birders found it independently. I showed a few birders the location on a one-on-one basis. I had intended to set up a weekend where members of the local birding list could come and get shown the location, but I never had the time to set that up (sorry!).

The general location of the nest is 37°27’48″ N 121°49’58″ W. The original nest we’ve monitored is in a power tower visible from the road. Two years ago this pair moved the nest to a tree near the tower, but the limb that nest was on failed in a winter storm, and last year they moved back to the tower. This year, they moved the nest again back to the tree they nested in two years ago, on a branch about 10′ higher than the previous nest. The nest is about 40′ above ground level.

I’ve been watching this nest since 2008 (images on flickr here). I believe the first year they nested at this location was 2007. their first successful fledge was 2009 with a single chick. They raised two chicks in 2010, 2012, and 2013, and I believe a single chick in 2011, but I was out of the loop that year.

These maps give a general view of the location. As you drive along Calaveras you’ll pass the old nest on the tower, easily visible. There’s a pasture gate at that location, and just beyond it (driving north) is a pull-out under the trees where you can park. Parking is limited, three cars, roughly, and on a couple of occasions I’ve found it occupied by cows that have let themselves out of the pastures and taken advantage of the shade…



Here I’ve set up the scope about 15′ S of the pasture gate on the side of the road.


Across the pasture is a single large oak tree. When you’re there, you can’t miss it.


Look through that tree, just to the right of the trunk and under the canopy. If you’re in the right place, it’ll frame the view to the nest.


There is some worry that this nest is at risk at going down in a winter storm; it’s heavy, and it’s stressing the limb. I was out there one day in some significant breeze and it bounced around like crazy. We’ll see if it survives the winter and if they re-use it next year.

If you look at the location of the nest, you can see why the dam officials are worried about trespassers. It seems like an easy hike to hop over the pasture gate and wander down for a better view. In fact, just past that first tree there’s a significant bluff and a drop-off, and the nest tree is well down the slope and the nest itself about 40′ off the ground.

Given how skittish the eagles were when the biologist approached, there’s no way someone could get a better view before pushing them off the nest. Beyond the general worries about trespassing on private land and the landowners worrying about legal liability issues if someone got injured while trespassing, none of us wanted the eagles to be disturbed. The old tower nest didn’t have much risk of that, but this new one does.

Beyond the general wish to let the birds nest and fledge their chicks without harassment, the dam project had another worry; if the birds were harassed enough that they abandon this nest and relocate, if they relocated into the work area on the dam project, it could require significant mitigation or a complete stop to the dam work while they’re nesting. That could be a very expensive problem — and there is an older bald eagle nest within the work area that shows that bald eagles have in fact nested at locations that would have required a complete stop to the dam work in recent times. It’s unclear whether that nest was built by this pair before moving to the tower, or whether we’ve had multiple pairs of bald eagles nesting on Calaveras Reservoir at the same time, but there’s a history of nesting at the North end of the lake and the dam project managers wanted nothing to occur that might encourage the eagles to move back there. I can’t blame them.

That’s why we tried to be discrete about the nest location. Now that they’re done for the year and the nest is empty, it’s safe to talk about it in more detail.

When I last talked to the biologist, he’d identified this bald eagle’s nest and three golden eagle nests active in the area close to the reservoir, none in areas requiring work mitigation, fortunately. He also had identified the one unused bald eagle nest (which they got permission to teepee) and a number of unused golden eagle nests, plus many red-tailed hawk nests.

In my limited snooping up there this year, I located two red-tail nests in the area as well as strong evidence of an American Kestrel nest (the joyous sound of chicks screaming for food and a male kestrel flying out from that location). This region is a really strong area in the county for raptors of many types — second only to the Coyote Valley area — and one that isn’t as well travelled, but one that we need to make sure stays protected.

Posted in Birdwatching

A quick anecdote about life at Palm…

Since it’s the four year anniversary of the Palm Pre being released, a quick anecdote about life at Palm (while I’m eating lunch and trying to figure out a weird CSS thing….)

It’s September, 2009. The Pre had been out for a few months. We hadn’t yet hired an app review team, so somehow, I ended up in charge of pushing apps out to the catalog. Today was a big day, because Ruby was going to have a talk with the analysts and we were going to announce some milestone as to the number of apps that were now in the catalog (100? 1000? 399, discounted from 500? I have no freaking idea at this point). My job was to make sure those apps were in the catalog when he made the announcement, but not shove them out early and blow the surprise.

How hard could THAT be?

I push the first app. The process typically took about 2 minutes. Ten minutes later, it was still pushing. Twenty minutes later it was still pushing. I started getting phone calls about why the apps weren’t there…

I pulled the cord on the air raid siren with Engineering, and basically let them know if this wasn’t fixed two hours ago, Ruby would be killing all of us. Turns out they’d made an enhancement to the process overnight (yes, let’s make code changes to production systems the night before a major announcement. What COULD go wrong?). The push process used rsync in the background, and in an “oops, silly me” moment, they forgot the rsync flag telling it to only push changed content. So every push was repushing every bit in the repository — 35 minutes instead of 2. per push. with 25 pushes to go. And Ruby about to go on stage.

So I got to have the talk with PR, and let them know it wasn’t going to happen. They invented a new story for Ruby to talk about, who went out and pretended he wasn’t pissed off and ready to kill everyone, and the analyst talk went off well. (I think maybe he did the “we just approved out whatever-special-number-this-is app, and they’ll all be in the catalog later this afternoon…”)

Fortunately for me, I wasn’t party to some of the — discussions — that went on about that little technical faux paus, since I was the messenger. The good news, I guess, was that it was one of those rather nasty moments of pain that nobody sees on the outside.

But that’s not the entire story. During that entire sequence I’d been also exchanging emails with my doctor. That morning I’d gone in for the tests, and they were coming back and confirming that I was diabetic. Yup. While all hell was breaking loose and I was trying to hold the fort I was being diagnosed with diabetes — by email — and my doctor and I were arranging my prescriptions and setting up the first round of followup tests, meetings and all of the stuff that goes with that piece of news.

I’d love to say this kind of — creative chaos — was rare in the Palm buildings, but in fact, this was more the normal state than the crisis state, especially early on. It’s one of the base realities when you’ve got a really large, very complex system that is pushed into production because you have to, not because it’s ready. You either get good at tap dancing and finding workarounds, or you die. As it turns out, Palm and webOS did both… What was great was that we had a group of folks that all piled onto problems like this and figured it out. What wasn’t so great was we had so much practice at it…

And once things settled down, I wandered off to the pharmacy, grabbed my drugs and my tester, went home and collapsed. (for the record, at that time, my glucose was well above 400, my triglycerides had gone past 500. But I can honestly say that on the day I was diagnosed, the diagnosis was not the worst thing that happened to me….

I guess that’s something…

Posted in About Chuq