2010 – the birding year.

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 142 species in 140 images, 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.

 

Posted in About Chuq, Birdwatching

Looking forward into 2011

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in About Chuq

A last look back at 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 A last look back at 2010, 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.
Posted in About Chuq

San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers Ice Hockey

Jeff Cable’s Blog: San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers Ice Hockey:

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….

Posted in Photography, Sports - Hockey

State of the Sharks 2010-2011

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.  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.

 

 

Posted in Sports - Hockey

Writing about Hockey

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, Mike Chen over on SB Nation and 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.

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….

 

Posted in Sports - Hockey

Debate continues over hit that brought Sharks’ Joe Thornton a 2-game suspension – San Jose Mercury News

Debate continues over hit that brought Sharks’ Joe Thornton a 2-game suspension – San Jose Mercury News:

Sharks radio analyst Jamie Baker wrote in his blog on the team’s website that the Blues themselves had some responsibility, citing among other things the pass from defenseman Alex Pietrangelo through the neutral zone that put Perron at risk. Baker, as well as several Sharks players, also accused Perron of embellishing the damage by lying prone on the ice, noting he quickly returned to action once penalties were determined. The Blues forward, however, missed his next two games because of headaches.

 

There is a continuing controversy over the ejection and suspension of Thornton after his hit on Perron. It’s devolved somewhat into a lot of sub-arguments, including whether Perron embellished the injury and whether the Blues erred in letting him play later in the game.

My feeling was that given the hit to the head rule and that referees don’t have instant replay or slow motion to evaluate a hit with that the penalty and ejection were fine. The speed and angle of the hit was such I don’t blame a referee at all for making that call. I was convinced, however, that there wouldn’t be a suspension. I don’t understand the two games off. Still don’t.

There is a legitimate issue involving larger players hitting smaller players, and the larger player has to work harder to not hit the smaller player in the head. Player safety should be a priority, my recommendation on this is that larger players get used to it. Believe it or not, they’re not stupid, and they’ll figure out how to make the hit without hitting the head once players realize they’re going to get penalized for it. A few hits will end up called — but I’ll take healthy players here over a few unfortunate hits.

The whole diving/embellishment thing is a thorny problem. How do you solve it? the league hasn’t figured it out yet. But — combine it with the question of whether Perron should have been allowed back into the game, and I think you have an angle towards a solution.

It’s simple. If a player is injured on the ice to the degree that a trainer has to go out an attend to them, that player is not allowed back into the game until seen by a doctor and the doctor clears them to play. That means they have to go to the locker room and be seen. Period. That prevents a player from going back to the bench and convincing a non-doctor he’s okay. It also is a strong disincentive for that player to — embellish. No more “he’s dead! he missed a shift!” and the trained personnel has a chance to evaluate the injury and make sure he really is okay before coming back. In the case of an injury where a player goes down to a hit to the head — the player can’t come back until the doctor and referee talk and the referee approves him back into play (in other words, in between periods). That way, hits to the head have time to be carefully evaluated AND the referee has a chance to be sure proper procedures were followed in evaluating.

The one exception to this rule are goaltenders, but the referee in that case should be given the authority to send the goalie off for evaluation if he goes down and has to be attended to.

Player safety becomes a higher priority, and in a way that discourages diving. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

 

Posted in Sports - Hockey

Book View Cafe

Some days people give you a gift without even realizing it. Here is a gift I am pleased to pass along to you.

This gift started out as a tweet from Vonda McIntyre, noting that Ursula K. Le Guin is now blogging. That in itself was enough to make my day; back in the ancient of days when I was involved with SFWA and writing a bit I got to know many of the authors in the field, but Le Guin is one of those rare writers that changed how I viewed the field, and through her non-fiction and criticism also changed how I thought about life. She is one of those rare people that I bestow the “I will happily read your shopping lists” honor on (the others I’ve given that award to being Ray Bradbury, Gene Wolfe, Terry Carr, and Damon Knight — each of which deserves its own discussion point at some point in the future). She is also one of the most gracious and nice people you’ll ever meet.

It turns out that Le Guin is blogging at a site called “Book View Cafe“, which describes itself as an online consortium of writers; effectively, it’s a shared blog and publicity resource that somehow I hadn’t discovered before today. That’s my loss, because there are a group of really interesting people involved with that site, and the blog looks to be chock full of Interesting Stuff You Probably Want To Read. A quick glance at the authors involved with the site shows a long list of names I can recommend to you as well worth your time, including not only McIntyre and Le Guin, but Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Brenda Clough, Katherine Kerr, Laura Anne Gilman, Phyllis Radford, Judith Tarr (and her horse), Sarah Zettel, and Sherwood Smith.  All of which are extremely nice and interesting people to spend time with as well as writers worthy of your time.

So please consider wandering on over to the Book View Cafe blog, and attach your eyeballs to it for a while. Your eyeballs will likely thank you and ask for a return visit.

Posted in For Your Consideration Tagged , , , , |