2009-2010 playoff predictions

The so-called “second season” starts tomorrow, so it’s time for the annual playoff predictions.

But first, a digression.

It was nice not writing about hockey this year. It was nice just going to games as a fan, watching them as a fan, reconnecting to hockey as a fan and not a critique or commentator. I think one of the issues of the so-called talking heads is that since they have deadlines whether or not they have material, little things end up getting blown out of proportion because you have to talk about something, and after a while, the little things take on a life of their own and it can all become a bit obsessive. Everyone loses perspective, including the writer and the fans who read them.

The reality? At the end of the season, the Sharks ended up right where they were supposed to: first in the West, Pacific Division champs, and geared for the playoffs. Did the universe become less interesting because nobody obsessed about a soft goal (or was it?) that Nabokov let in sometime in January in a game the Sharks lost in Overtime. I watch the pundits on NHL network and they are still harping on Nabokov as a potential weak link (well, they’re saying that about Luongo, too, in Vancouver) and I sit back and think “man, that’s the best you can come up with?”

And the answer is — well, yeah.  That’s all they got. The “weak link” of the Sharks was 2nd in wins, 10th in GAA, 6th in save percentage, with ONLY four shutouts. The piker. Yeah, Russia sucked in the Olympics, but that was a group project and it seemed to me the Russian skaters were doing everything but holding Nabokov down and helping the other teams score. So whatever. It’s an axiom of being a talking head that you have to find things to criticize because good news is boring, adn you can never be boring.

That, in a microcosm, is why I was happy to shut up and not prove I had nothing to say this season. The Sharks just went and did what they needed to do. There were no controversies, nobody died, no season ending injuries, no extended slumps, no real MINOR slumps, the team just kind of motored, but at the same time, it never looked too easy and they never seemed to get bored or take it for granted like they did last year. That, of course, makes for boring journalism, which is why you see the pundits running around looking for something to point at as a weak spot. And you can’t blame the ice girls, I guess. Oh, wait. San Jose doesn’t have ice girls (thank you, Greg Jamison!)

Of course, they still have to do it in the playoffs, that much is true. Will they?

Damn good question. We’ll see. I think, however, that if they don’t, it won’t be because of things the Sharks didn’t do, but because of something some other team did better. And there are legitimate worries that as well as this team is put together and as good as it’s been playing — it still might not be good enough. Because ultimately, only one team can win it all, and 29 teams, no matter how good they are, lose.

In the west, to me it’s one of three teams: San Jose, Chicago and Detroit (sorry, vancouver fans. I await your letters…) — and honestly, I can’t choose one as a favorite over the other two. Each has strong points, each has weak spots that can be exploited. It’s going to come down to who stays healthy and who plays their best hockey when they need to. I expect some pretty damn good hockey out here in the west, and nobody’s going to get out of this conference without a fight.

That’s because I think any of the other five teams can take on their opponent and beat them. ANY of the eight could easily take the first round, and yes, while I think San Jose should take Colorado, I don’t think it’s a walk by any means. it might be the match I find easiest to call in the first round, but there are no teams in the west that don’t deserve to be there and won’t put up a fight.

So my western predictions: San Jose (in 6), Chicago (in 6), Vancouver (in 6) and Detroit (in 6).

San Jose’s weak spot: secondary scoring, Joe thornton’s tendency to falter in the playoffs, and Nabokov so far not proving himself in the playoffs. Their strengths: That first line looks killer (on paper), Nabokov looks like he’s in a good groove right now, Patrick Marleau, and Malhotra and Nicholl on the third line bolstering what was always the flawed part of the roster in previous years.

Chicago’s weak spot: unproven goaltending and youth. Their strength? Some really nice key veterans bolstering the kids. These guys scare me.

Detroit’s weak spot: age and jimmy howard being unproven. Their strength? It’s the freaking red wings. This team has a tradition of finding a groove in the playoffs, and their last 20 games? talk about hiding in the weeds and showing up for prime time. They REALLY scare me.

It would not surprise me a bit for Vancouver to go deep, and if they get on a run, they could take everyone else out and exit the west. If the Sharks, Wings and Hawks are my first tier in the west, Vancouver is a 1A. The difference is very narrow here, Canucks fans, but to me, there’s still a difference. But I’ll buy the first round if they prove me wrong and celebrate with yo.

Phoenix and LA? Beware the “mission from god” teams. They get on a run, watch out. they could easily take teams out in the first round, but I’m not convinced they’re ready to get out of the West with the talent in this conference. But they won’t be easy opponents.

Neither will Colorado or Nashville — but I think they’re a bit below the other six teams here.

Coming out of the west? Okay, hold my feet to the fire. I’ll pick — San Jose. Because I must. But any of the top three won’t surprise me and won’t be an upset. I’ll root for any of these teams (except against the Sharks), and if any of these eight make it out to the cup final, I’ll be satisfied.

In the east? Quality isn’t that deep.

I’m picking Washington out of the East, with Pittsburgh as a distant second choice. Buffalo is my dark horse, and ottawa is my choice as most likely to upset the higher seed in the first round. New Jersey has to prove it’s not going to have another playoff fade — sorry, Devils fans, but Brodeur simply hasn’t had it in the gas tank, and that team simply isn’t convincing me it can go deep. First round for New Jersey? yes. But that’s probably it.Me?

So my pick for the cup final? San Jose and Washington, which would be some amazing hockey. But honestly, there’s a good chance that the Sharks will get beat along the way, and a good chance it won’t be any failure by the Sharks, although you can bet the pundits will play it up. It’s what they do. (then again, it’s also possible the sharks DO blow up in the playoffs. if they do, we’ll be sure to talk about it… but I see it as unlikely with this team…)

So to all of the teams in the playoffs, good luck and drop the puck. And we’ll see you at the arena!

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

I and the Bird #122

Welcome to issue #122 of I and the Bird. Today we’re going to visit with a number of birders and get a glimpse into the birds that they are keeping an eye on, from yellow-billed loons that make you twitch to sandhill cranes in your backyard to the birds that remind us that spring is here and that nesting season (and the joyous cacaphony of life that brings) is firing up.

Don’t forget to look out for the next issue of I and the Bird, coming to you April 15 thanks to the kind endeavours of the Idaho Birding Blog. If you didn’t contribute to this edition, you really should write up one of your birding adventures and share it with us through them!

But first, a quick editorial…. If it’s spring, it’s nesting season. If it’s nesting season, it’s a good time for all of us to remember the potential impact our hobby can have on the birds and that we should be very sensitive to approaching a nest. Birds can abandon a nest if they feel threatened and we can significantly hinder their ability to successfully hatch and raise their young if we aren’t very careful about how we interact with the birds, we can cause the nest to fail.

Keep your distance, and don’t push it just to “get that shot”. If the bird has acknowledged you, you’re too close. If you flush a bird, you’re way too damn close and you really should just get out of there and leave them alone. Their successful nesting is more important than that photograph, and we as birders and bird photographers need to take our stewardship of the birds seriously. If you aren’t absolutely sure you aren’t too close, move back and give them more room. (no nests were annoyed in the creation of these photos…)

Now, onward and forward to I and the Bird!

My entry for I and the Bird is The Bird(ing) and Me. I never intended to become a birder. It just happened. You don’t need to be a birder to look at birds. You aren’t a birder because you carry binoculars. Birding is — ultimately — all about birds, but has nothing to do with birds. Birding is the community that surrounds looking at birds, not the activity of watching them.

Neil Gilbert at OCBirding.com talks about one of the classic challenges of the birder: To Twitch…Or Not? Neil got his bird, a Yellow-Billed Loon. I normally don’t twitch — but I considered going after the same bird, but didn’t, so I’m still waiting for my time with that loon.

Corey at 10,000 birds goes birding at Jamaica Bay with a few of his friends — and takes us along to enjoy it with him.

Speaking of lists, Nate at the Drinking Bird Blog does a nice piece in defense of the lister.

Melissa Cooper at Out Walking the Dog has been thinking about the impact and implications of feeding our wild (and urban “wild”) animals, and some of the issues it raises. Very interesting thinking and something to consider.

Dale Forbes, who happens to work for Swarovski in Austria, talks about the technical details of digiscoping and his digiscoping adventures in a trip to Africa and some of the birds and animals he saw there.

Rebecca of Rebecca in the Woods has a bit of an challenge. The good news is spring is back and the birds are nesting. The bad news is — the Carolina Wrens are nesting THERE?

Dave Alcock of DaveA’s Birding Blog brings us some gorgeous photos he took during an unexpected meeting with a Merlin.

Amber Coakley at Birder’s Lounge writes about the Great-Tailed Grackle in A Little Respect. I agree with her, they’re pretty birds that I enjoy watching — but bring earplugs.

Speaking of bringing earplugs, Puca at Anyone Seen My Focus brings us some nice images of one of my favorite birds, the Northern Mockingbird. And it must be spring, because the neighborhood mockingbirds have returned for another breeding season and kicked all of the Scrub Jays out of the area — that’s a turf way that’s been going on as long as we’ve lived here, and the Mockingbirds always seem to win. Our favorite mockingbird is back for another summer as well, the one we lovingly refer to as “Car Alarm”. Laurie says she’s heard one she swears is trying for “Anna’s Hummingbird”, but it’s not working. We’re worried it’s going to sprain it’s throat trying…

And it must be spring, when the birder’s thoughts turn to — the American Robin. Moe at Iowavoice.com brings us some nice images of this harbinger of spring for so many of us.

Tai Haku at Earth Wind and Water has a different sort of bird — some really amazing photos of a Snowy Owl, taken near him home — on an island in the Caribbean. When I saw “snowy”, for some reason I was thinking egret…

Jill Wussow  at Count Your Chicken! We’re Taking Over! has some fun shots of what they think is a Glaucous-Winged x Herring gull hybrid who’s appetite is larger than it’s mouth as it attempts to swallow a starfish that doesn’t seem to want to be swallowed. Yes, it looks about as funny as you might expect. (and thank you, Jill, for admitting that I’m not the only person in the universe who looks at a flock of gulls and thinks to himself “I really should check it for rarities” but just can’t find huge amounts of enthusiasm over the idea….)

Joy at The Little House in the Not-So-Big Woods brings us this former-city-dwellers first vist by a barred own in Surrender Dorothy! There are Flying Monkeys Out There! I bet most of us have one of these WHAT THE HECK WHAT THAT? moments in our background…

Kay Baughman of the Arroyo Colorado Riverblog goes out birding and tells us to Go Fly a Kite. Or watch them…

Wren at Wrenaissance Reflections brings us a few pictures of some of her backyard birds, which just happen to be cranes. I’d kill for that view.

Larry Jordan at The Birder’s Report brings us close and personal with a pair of ospreys and their nest.

John Beetham at DC Birding Blog does a very nice review of the book Birds of Europe, 2nd Edition. I need to put that one on my wish list…

Don’t forget, when you bird, you can help the scientists studying birds to help us all understand them better. If you run into a banded bird, your sighting can help those studying those birds, so please consider reporting it. There’s a centralized banded bird reporting site available to make this easier, hosted by the USGS.

And finally, a free plug: when I visit Southern Cal to see my family, one of my favorite birding places is Bolsa Chica. they’ve just released the latest issue of their newsletter, the Tern Tide, which among other things talks about their new access bridge and urban coyotes. Well worth a read (and a visit!) (pointer via Amy at Wildbird on the Fly)

Posted in Birdwatching

The bird(ing) and me…

I never intended to become a birder. It just happened.

You don’t need to be a birder to look at birds. You aren’t a birder because you carry binoculars.

Birding is — ultimately — all about birds, but has nothing to do with birds. Birding is the community that surrounds looking at birds, not the activity of watching them.

It’s the people, and it’s the people involved in birding that made me a birder.

I felt it was time to acknowledge that, and say thanks.

My roots in watching birds go back a long way. I remember standing on a sand dune in Arcata, California, watching the brown pelicans dive fishing through a bait school and standing in awe and staring at these stunning birds in action. I have never tired of watching pelicans.

I’ve always been attuned to water — I find being near the water, especially near the ocean to be calming and regenerative. When I’m tired, when I’m stressed, getting out near the water helps recharge the batteries, release the tension. Living here in the Bay Area I’m blessed. The ocean is a short drive away, and special places like Fitzgerald Marine Preserve in Moss Beach and Pigeon Point and Pescadero exist away from the crowds so even on fairly busy days you can get to places that aren’t exceptionally crowded.

Better yet is to discover places along the Bay itself; Much has been developed, but we’re making progress at pulling some of it back and making it more accessible, less urban. Areas around Alviso, around Mountain View, around Palo Alto,  around Redwood Shores.

You see your first black skimmer, and you think to yourself How the hell does a bird like that fly? What committee designed that?

Curiousity wins. You buy binoculars to see better. You buy a guide. You buy another. You figure out that the brash little bird out in the wetlands is a Song Sparrow, and you feel that little tingle of pride. You don’t realize it yet, but you’re hooked.

By the mid 1990’s, a camera, a guide and binocs were standard equipment. I’m primarily photographing shorebirds (and pelicans) and trying to make sense of sandpipers (yes, I hear you all out there quietly laughing. I was naive. They STILL don’t make sense). Laurie and I are in northern Oregon on a trip, at a breakfast place near astoria. We have our binocs on the table, which attracts another couple into discussion. They’re heading off to Fort Stevens after black rails. I’m off looking for sandpipers. “Shorebirds are easy. You should be photographing warblers!” she tells me.

But I like shorebirds! and it’s an excuse to get near the ocean. But she piques my interest.

Little did I know the heaven and hell that conversation was going to open up.

Over time you see people out in the places you out in. Some of those people see the binocs and come up and introduce themselves. They point things out. They answer questions. You start recognizing faces and names. They start recognizing you, and wave and point at things. You discover the mailing lists and find out there are people running around pointing out lots of places and birds and things going on you never realized.

And somewhere along the way, you’ve turned into a birder. For me, it was May, 2006. I was getting more and more serious about my photography and more and more serious about my birdwatching. I decided to get out and trip away from the familiar places — go on a birding trip — and see how much I liked it. I did some research, and did a long weekend in Morro Bay.

I ended up in Sweet Springs in Los Osos. Walking through the wetlands and into the trees. It was migration, and there were warblers all over the place — damned if I had a clue which ones. Well, I do now; Townsend’s and Yellow-Rumps primarily. Suddenly a flash of orange and yellow and a bird sits up in the shadows. Madly thumbing through the guide, I realized it was a Western Tanager, a gorgeous male.

At that moment I started Keeping Lists and stopped birdwatching and started birding. I’ve never looked back. My god, she was right. Warblers are fun to chase and photograph. So are the birds that skulk in bushes and flit in the canopy. They are also an endless source of wonderful frustration. I am not someone who tolerates adequacy in myself. If I choose to do something, I have to do it well. Birding is something you don’t get good at quickly, but you can always see the progress — and the next challenge. I have spent hours practicing with white-crowned sparrows how to see birds in bushes and get in position to get a real look at them. I’ve done the same with yellow-rumps in the canopies.

It’s only been the last six months or so where I really have started to feel like I’m good at this. I’ve been enthusiastic for a while — but enthusiasm isn’t a substitute for skill or knowledge. The hardest lesson to learn, and I think one of the most important, is when to back off and not force an ID into a situation where it’s not appropriate; when to just leave it at “a bird I wish I’d seen better”.

As a new birder, it’s all new, it’s all exotic, and your skills and knowledge are far outstripped by your naivete and enthusiasm. My work situation precluded doing many group outing where I could study from other birders, my nature tended to nudge me towards solo birding since I still saw the outings as a way to get away from everything and recharge and reflect. As such, the mailing lists and the online birding communities became my primary contact, my mentors, and as I made my inevitable mistakes they were my occasional audience for some rather enthusiastic pratfalls.

I didn’t become a birder because of the birds. I could have spent the rest of my life happily watching birds and taking photos of them without “birding”. I became a birder because of the people I found who were birders, and the community I found in birding. The last few years have been somewhat of an interesting time, in a chinese sort of way, and I found that birding because my retreat and sanctuary, and occasionally a thing I rallied my sanity around.

So I thought that, when the opportunity to host I and the Bird came up, that it was a great opportunity to talk not about birds, but about the birding community, and what it meant to me — and if you’ll indulge me a bit, to say thank you to a few people who deserve to be recognized.

If I mention nobody else, I have to mention Kris Olson. We lost Kris this year and that leaves a gaping hole in the local birding community. Kris was some of the glue that binded us together — she seemed everywhere. If a strange bird showed up somewhere, she’d appear to help chase it down and confirm it. She was a key driver in Sequoia audubon rebooting the county sighting lists. She was always there to answer a question or offer advice or suggest a place to visit, and with a smile and some gentle encouragement.

Then there are the senior birders, as I call them. Been doing this a long time, really know the region well, and are out there more or less every day surveying. They are the ones that know where to look and point out what’s there to be found, so the rest of us benefit by knowing where to look. In this area, people like Ron Thorn, Bill Bousman, Al Eisner, Bob Reiling,  and Mike Mammoser not only help set the pace for most of the birders, I’ve found them all very willing to answer questions and offer advice (and occasionally kick my butt when my enthusiasm overreaches my skill), and if a report seems strange, they’re folks who’ll confirm it or suggest alternatives and help you get it right. I have been amazed on more than one occasion by Ron’s ability to ID a bird remotely via email better than I could seeing the bird in person.

You can’t pay these people back; they’d be insulted if you tried. So one of the things I’ve been thinking through is how I can contribute back into the community — to pay forward as a way of recognizing what I’ve gotten out of it.

So I’m going to close with a small call to action. Every one of us is an advocate and an ambassador to birding. Whenever we’re out there with binoculars around our necks or a scope on a tripod, our behavior reflects on the entire birdwatching community. If we act like jerks, birders will be seen as jerks — even if we merely act uninterested and aloof, we don’t make our community look good in the eyes of potential birders.

Every time we’re out on the trails or in the marshes there are opportunities for outreach. I’ve found there’s a lot of curious people out there, but many times they’re uncomfortable initiating discussion. When I notice that, I make a point of reaching out and trying to make them comfortable and see if I can answer questions. I’m not the worlds best birder — but I can show off a snowy egret or get a scope on a bluebird and show it off.

I’ve seriously considered having badges created that say “Yes, you can look!” and sew one onto my birding hat, so if I’m glued to the eyepiece, someone can see it and know it’s okay to ask. Anything to get them over that hump and get them engaged. I carry a “business” card with my personal info oriented towards my birding and my photos, and I hand it out a LOT and encourage people to email me if they have questions or want more info. A previous version of that card included a pointer to the signup page for the local birding list; the next version is going to point to a page on my web site that’ll include signup links for all of the regional birding lists as well as the regional Audubon event pages, to help encourage them to seek out a beginners walk or some other kind of activity.

It’s not about recruitment, it’s really just making a good impression and fostering curiousity. If we do that, then we’ll see people recruit themselves into the hobby, and the more people we get involved, the more good we can do for the birds, and isn’t that the point? All it costs is a smile and a hello and a willingness to spend a minute or two explaining or just letting someone look — and you get the benefit of rediscovering the joy of someone going OOH! when the see a great egret in breeding plumage show off. Me, I’m still someone who goos OOH! at that, may I never hit the point that becomes common to me…

And if you’re interested in a “Yes, please take a look!” badge, let me know. If there’s enough interest I’ll make them happen and get one to you…

Posted in Birdwatching

A great way to start the new year…

The best laid plans… I have a bunch of blogging stacked up, none of which you’ve seen yet. Just as the New Year kicked in, so did a bug, which struck both myself and Laurie, and after a few rather grumpy days as a head cold, it headed to laurie’s chest and off camping in my ears, so I started off the new year under the weather and on deadline with both the CES announcements and our newly refreshed developer portal and blog.

Thank god for Sudafed, that’s all I can say, even though they make you sign 37 forms to get the damn pills now. I do not, for the record, recommend the sneezing, Sudafed and Starbucks Diet, but it does seem to work. After one last “battle of the bulge” over the weekend, I seem to have fought the bug off for the most part and the energy levels are returning, so the ability to string words together and have them make sense seems to be back. you really didn’t miss anything — insightful — the last week or so, anyway. Trust me.

But if you’re wondering why I’m just getting to looking back and setting goals as we roll into February, that’s why. So 2010 is off to a rousing start…

But it’s time to get back on the horse and start riding again, and I’m thinking through the next couple of months and one thing I’ve decided is it’s time for a damn vacation. I went looking, and I’ve suddenly realized that in the last

  • 2009: 2 days (an extended weekend in Morro Bay for Photo Morro Expo
  • 2008: 5 days for the trip to Yellowstone
  • 2007: 3 days for my aborted research trip for Dare2Thrive after leaving strongmail, 5 days into the Northwest after leaving Laszlo, and 2 days for a spring trip into Yosemite
  • 2006: 2 days for a christmas jaunt into Yosemite, and the 8 day summer celebration into the Northwest celebrating leaving Apple and moving on to whatever was going to be next…

The trip to Yellowstone (after spending most of the year dealing with Dad’s illness, death and the estate with my mom) seems like forever ago. Because to some degree it was. My moving to Palm was on a tight schedule so no time off, and this last year has been  an amazing year that I’ve loved just about every minute of (the minutes I didn’t love were the ones I was considering throwing myself, or someone else, off a roof…) — but it’s time for a break, so I’m starting to plan out some time off. Not sure what, or where yet, but I know I need to get in the car and take the camera and mostly unplug for a bit.

I’m guessing late february or early march. have to figure out what the work and hockey schedules are, and of course get Laurie’s thoughts and permission (shh.. I haven’t mentioned this to her yet… literally just thinking this through tonight after she’s gone to bed). The obvious ideas come to mind, which include Yosemite (too late for serious winter work(?), too early for waterfalls and WAY too early for spring and dogwood), but also to finally get to Salton sea and maybe spend time in Joshua tree and Anza/Borrego and the deserts — I had a trip planned for Salton Sea when dad got sick, and it got blown up and I’ve never gotten it rescheduled. But I’m hearing other things whispering also, whether it’s Grand Canyon or Bryce and Zion, or even shooting up the coast into the Northwest (but I’m likely to hold that off for a summer trip with Laurie…); some other venues come to mind like an extended visit to the San Diego zoo (I haven’t shot at a zoo in a while) or Disneyland or Vegas for the kitsch.

Dunno. Have to think. Have to make sure I don’t overschedule and spend too much time travelling and not enough time visiting. Maybe define a starting point and then see what happens. Right now I can definitely feel a tug between revisiting comfort zones (disneyland, yosemite) and pushing into fresh territories. I think I need to lean myself towards the latter, this feels like it’s time for some exploring.

I’m definitely open to suggestion. Feel free….

(and I think I’m going to try for a long weekend or a mid-week jaunt to Yosemite for the dogwood this year, if I can. But I’m always up for more than one trip to that place, especially in times when it’s relatively quiet. It’s been probably 15 years since I’ve visited at a time when Tioga was open…)

Posted in About Chuq

Thoughts on the Second Career

As I noted the other day, I expect posting frequency on the blog to go up soon. About this time last year I started serious planning on my “what’s next?” project — that being my long-term look at how I want to make the shift into the second career. I see a time where I’m not going to want to work in Silicon Valley and hack high tech 24×7 (gasp), but I certainly have no plans on retiring.

The elevator speech: I want to earn a respectable income from my home office in Astoria, Oregon without telecommuting.

Yes, you could potentially contract and consult from there (although if I were going to do that game, I’d do it from Ashland or Medford — like, it sometimes seems, half the population of those towns) but that’s not the point. At some point, I know I want to get out of the Silicon Valley rat race and do something else. The question is — what?

I want to emphasize something: this is a long term (3-5 years) thing; in fact for about the last 15 years I’ve been keeping (with more or less intensity) a 3-5 year plan. That’s the first lesson in something like this: planning is good, because it helps you map a path, but it should also be flexible because as you do the planning, you’ll change your mind, new situations come up, the unexpected happens. For me, the planning on the second career wasn’t so much about implementation, but on understanding where I wanted to end up and to influence decisions now that will make it happen someday. And occasionally, after a really bad day at the office, as a way to keep my sense of humor and sanity. Well, okay. My sense of humor.

Now, the day for that second career is closer. I’ve known for a few years roughly what I wanted to aim at here. Various decisions I’ve made over the last couple of years have been driven by this long-term planning. My move of the blog from Typepad back here to chuqui.com was because I knew I wanted total control over my online environment, and I wanted it under my own domain name for branding purposes. I chose WordPress because I really like that tool as a platform for it’s flexibility and the community ecosystem that exists around it (my second choice, even thought I’ve occasionally described it as sportfishing off of an aircraft carrier, is Drupal, and the drupal community has done a really nice job of cleaning up issues that bothered me back when they couldn’t even run the Drupal site on the Drupal 6 release).

Another decision I made was shutting down the “Two for Elbowing” blog on hockey and de-emphasizing my hockey writing. I did that for a few reasons; originally, that blog was supposed to be for both myself and Laurie to write about hockey (“two for… get it? heh. heh.). Laurie’s life took her in other directions and it turned into a solo gig (although the hockey world is missing out on a damn good hockey geek, and I’m not talking about me); as a solo, I much preferred putting all of my writing into one place (the branding thing) again. Also, think about my long-term goal: moving to Astoria. Building an income around writing about hockey and the Sharks and moving to Astoria conflict. Just a bit. Besides, there are plenty of good hockey writers out there now, and if I was 25 (instead of 50+), I might take a run at doing something like what Rich Hammond is doing with the Kings. Instead, I made a decision to enjoy hockey, not sweat about what to write about it — and I only write when I want to. This is a feature, not a bug.

I’m firmly convinced that what Hammond and the Kings are doing is the future model for journalism in pro sports as the newspaper business continues to evolve and implode. NHL teams that haven’t figured this out yet should take a close look and find a good beat guy to bring on board and nurture. The Sharks could do a lot worse than hiring Dave Pollak and bringing him in-house, for instance. Having been writing about hockey online since before the Sharks existed, I do sometimes wish that the online environment that exists today had existed 15 years ago, but it didn’t. Sometimes timing is everything, and understanding that is a key aspect of designing success into your plans.

To succeed in ANY career path, not just a second career, it’s important to know what NOT to do, what not to sidetrack yourself on, what not to invest time and money in. That may be even more important than knowing what to do, in fact, because that’s how you stay focused and moving in the direction you want to end up.

In any event, this is the first in a series of articles on the idea of a second career and my thoughts and plans. I’m hoping this becomes a conversation, not a lecture; I’m doing this in public both because I hope you find it interesting and learn from it to help refine your own plans and ideas — and because I hope you will help me improve my own ideas and fix the flaws in my thinking and make my own second career success happen as well. I hope you find this interesting and useful; I know I’ll learn from your feedback and comments and end up the better for it. Together, everyone wins — and how can that be bad?

So, onward. The future starts today.


Footnote on Astoria: For those not familiar with Astoria, it’s about 2 hours from Portland on the coast, and it’s a very nice, small, homey town, but has some really nice places like the restaurant Baked Alaska and Cellar on 10th that make it more than a small rural town — and it’s well located to a lot of great photographic opportunities). It might not be Astoria (I’m really falling more and more in like with Morro Bay, for instance, and I love the northern Oregon Coast so it could be anywhere from Astoria to Newport…), but that’s a nice placeholder for what I’d like to do.

Small, inviting, not urban, on the coast, lower cost of living but with some nice amenties and close to civilization when I want it. The kind of place most Silicon Valley Geeks seem to wish they lived, unless they’re the hard core urban type. I’m not, but Vancouver tempts me to convert…

Posted in About Chuq