in 2014: Site in Review and Lessons Learned

The end of 2014 is a good time to take a step back, look at how the things you do have moved forward (or not), and decide what needs to be changed (if anything). I’ve already decided to redesign my online sites in 2015, but there’s a lot to learn from the existing site that can guide those changes and help me how to better help people find the content they’re looking for here.

In 2014, 47,000 people views 80,000 pages on my blog. Thank you to each and every reader for taking the time to visit. Users were up 50% from 2013, and pageviews up 33%. 77% of the audience is U.S. based. The split between OS’s visiting is interesting. For the first time, Windows users visited more often than Mac visitors, 31% to 29%, but IOS visitors where just behind at 28%. Android was about 7%

Think about that number a second; a third of my visitors are on a mobile device, not a desktop. This shift to mobile viewing is crucial for all of us who maintain web sites. If our sites don’t look good or doesn’t function properly on mobile devices (at the very least, an iPad or Android Tablet) we’re now cutting off an increasingly large percentage of ourr site visitors. If there is one reason why I’m redesigning my sites this year, this is it — while I’ve tweaked my sites to look okay on mobile devices, my designs aren’t really mobile friendly (just “mobile compatible mostly”). By the end of 2015, all of my content has to be redesigned to be mobile friendly and fully responsive to match this trend. How are your sites set up to handle this transition to small screens?

About half my pageviews come in through organic search, and 98% of those come from Google. Thank you, Google, for supporting my site (or a few pages of it, at least). 25% come in direct (no referer noted), and about 12% each social (primarily twitter, no surprise given my activity there) and links from other sites.

Most Popular Articles in 2014

Here’s the most popular pages on the site in 2014

  1. My Fuji Camera Kit
  2. Outfitting the Digital Darkroom
  3. My Canon Birding/Wildlife Camera gear Kit
  4. Getting started in bird photography: Choose Your Weapons
  5. Some Thoughts on Lightroom Keywords
  6. Facebook Steps In It
  7. Life at Apple revisited….
  8. Should you consider upgrading your home network to a NAS?
  9. using WordPress and Photocrati to build a web site
  10. Update on Jasmine Star’s Plagiarism
  11. Thoughts on the new Smugmug and how this fits in to my universe. Or doesn’t.
  12. Thoughts on Jim Goldstein’s ‘Best of 2013′ project
  13. Photography Before and After — Sunrise at Merced National Wildlife Refuge
  14. Building Flash-free galleries for the new Smugmug
  15. My take on Google+ today

It’s interesting to note that one big change I started late in 2013 was a shift from posting stuff to the blog and leaving it there towards building up specific topic pages where I sucked in pieces from the blog and built up longer, more in-depth articles compared to what a typical blog post gives you. This tactic seems to have worked well — the top five pages and 6 of the top eight are all these rewritten (and updated as needed) pages.

There’s a lesson here: a blog post will typically see 90% of it’s forever traffic in the first week, and 98% in 30 days, after which, unless the search engines choose to bless it, it disappears into the mist, and I don’t know about you, but I rarely find time to update those postings if my opinion or changes. I think it’s a good policy that if you have useful information spread across multiple blog postings that you should collect it into a single topic page — and delete the blog posts and redirect those links to the consolidated page.

End users aren’t going to wander the site picking out the bits of content you offer them; web analytics makes it clear most users are looking at 1-2 pages. So the “long form” model works — for you, for the viewer, for the search engine. And if it’s collected in one place, it’s a lot easier to update when it needs changes than when it’s spread around a half dozen blog posts that may (or may not) be linked to each other.

My strategy for the last year has been:

  1. Write blog posts or a series of blog posts to get the content published and available.
  2. Collect those posts into a single topic page as appropriate.
  3. Collect those topic pages into a single bundle of content and publish that as an ebook.

Well, that last one would have been the plan if I’d had the time to do it… Still the plan when I actually can.

I think that’s a good strategy for people wanting their content to be read into the future; you are going to be better liked by the search engines with fewer better pages; a dozen well written pages of content will fare a lot better than 500 blog posts without much coordination. More isn’t better here. Better is better here. The day where “post every day” was more important than “post well” is long, long gone.

Things you can’t depend on

The front page of my site is only the 4th most popular page; the blog home page is 7th. This is because of organic search links and linked content, so you can never assume people ever see your home pages, because many don’t.

Most users are going to look at the page they clicked onto. They might check out one or two other pages. After that, they’ll click off and leave again. They are not going to explore the site. They are not going to search through lists of things for content, they’ll click off and search again.

I’ve used short lists to good effect this year:


But I’m even wondering if I need to trim those lists a bit. I have more extensive lists over on my writing page, but as you notice, effectively nobody clicks that link to go explore them. I’ve also known that the email subscription hasn’t really done much, but I haven’t had time to wrangle that yet. I do think, with the death of Google Reader, that making an easy email subscription as an alternative is a useful thing, but the tradeoff between making it easy and visible and being annoying and grabby at people just trying to look at the site is something I haven’t had the time to do anything about.

I absolutely loathe sites that try to make me sign up for stuff before actually letting me see what I came to look at. Sort of like a restaurant that wants to swipe your credit card before you order. Very off-putting. That said, if you talk to those sites they tell you that tactic is very effective, but I think most of them aren’t really tracking how many users drop off because of it. At its base, it sends a message of “me getting your email address is more important than you seeing my content” and I think that sends a very negative message to users. I don’t ever want to do that. but where’s the acceptable line in the sand? Not sure right now. I’ll have to deal with that in the redesign.

Lessons Learned

My first takeaway: most of the things I tried this year worked pretty well. Shifting to full-page and moving most of the sidebar content to the footer? I was afraid users wouldn’t find it, but they clearly are. Redesigning the affiliate advertising? Revenue went from about $1/mo to about $50/mo. I call that a success, and I think I did a very nice job of not making the advertising annoying or having it distract from the user experience of the site.

What message does the experimentation this last year and these stats tell me?

If you’re website doesn’t run on an iPad, you’re in trouble. (Those of you still in flash-based sites, I’m sorry. Bang bang, you’re dead). Special mobile sites are a bridge, but web sites need to be fully responsive so they are useful even on a phone, because that’s increasingly where users coming to your site are.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Users don’t want complexity. They don’t want to have to dig for content. They want to visit a link and find it. If you make it hard for them, they’ll drop you and go find another site. They won’t explore your site.

As the site designer and content creator, this puts some interesting challenges in front of you: we need to make decisions on what we want to present to the viewer who lands on a given page that will encourage them to visit other pages. But we have to limit your choices on what to present.

So we need to keep it simple, you need simple, effective navigation. The page they land on has to stand on its own, but it can’t be cluttered up with lots of options. If we give someone a list of 15 choices the most likely item they’ll take is none; they’ll go elsewhere. So it’s important to keep these lists short and simple and easy to find (but not in your face annoying). In some cases we can get away with something like an accordion or a tab interface, if you understand that very few viewers will check out the content not visible by default (hint: make sure ONE of them is open by default, or the entire thing will get skipped)

I have some legacy content (OtherRealms, my fiction, etc) I need to keep available but it can’t add to the complexity of navigating my site. that’ll be a fun challenge to work out.

I think this reinforces my thought that it’s time to split the photo content from the rest of the site; if I added to the topic areas, it’d add complexity, and that is in conflict of keeping it simply, organized and easy. Too many choices is a bad thing. We need to guide the user.

My Bottom Line

In 2013 I analyzed my site and came up with some ideas that I thought would improve it, especially in terms of navigation and helping users on the site find other interesting content. I experimented with those ideas in 2014 and have found most of them have worked out quite well. It gives me more ideas I want to try, but I’ve pushed the existing design and infrastructure as far as I reasonably can (and a bit beyond), and what I want to do goes beyond tweaking.

That’s the reason it’s time for a redesign. Web sites are never done, and they are always evolving (or should be), because the universe is evolving around them.

My big limitation is — and will continue to be — time; that implies I have to be careful what I commit to doing and how many things I try to do. Better to do fewer things well than many things poorly. It also implies I need to keep the processes for managing and creating content for all of this simple, and automate where I can (one minor detail that shows this well: on my writing page, I thought putting the year each page was updated in the listings would help people see how current the content way; in practice, I don’t think anyone really cares, and almost all of them are out of date because I never remember to update them when I modify the pages. So they need to be removed)

I think this is the first year in a long time where the list of things I don’t like about the sites I’ve built is shorter than the list of things I think are working well. that makes it a good base to build off of because it’s not as much about fixing the broken as it is about improving and enhancing.

Which should make 2015 a good year, if things go to plan… (but do they ever?)

Posted in Redesign 2015: Upgrading in public, Working on Web Sites

Three Dot Lounge for December 31, 2014

Three dot lounge is a mostly-weekly collection of things that deserve more than a retweet. Stay tuned for fascinating opinions and pithy commentary. Also keep an eye on my Twitter feed for more interesting stuff.

6 Things I learned from riding in a Google Self-Driving Car

6 Things I learned from riding in a Google Self-Driving Car

I know people really want self-driving cars for themselves, but I think we (as a society) are starting into the end game of car ownership as a goal and personal advantage. Where I see the big advantage of self-driving cars is as the last mile solution for urban transit. Merge self-driving cars with an Uber-style request system that allows you to have one come and get you and move you around the urban region you’re in; if you need to travel longer distances, it takes you to a hub to a transit system that can move you between urban areas, or to a larger hub like an airport or train station for longer trips.

Also think of this kind of vehicle as a commercial transport/delivery type service. I know Amazon keeps making noise about using drones, but trucks that can haul goods from place to place is a much more realistic option, if you ask me.

As more viewers cut cable, what will happen to sports?

As more viewers cut cable, what will happen to sports?

I know a lot of people want Ala Carte buying instead of the bundling that Cable and Dish companies push on you, but if you think it’ll save you money, take a close look at some of the numbers in this article.

I do believe this is coming. I think the sports leagues are in good shape to make the transition because they’ve been putting streaming capabilities in place and selling packages that carefully don’t treat on the rights they’ve sold to more traditional media (where the money is today), but that tipping point is coming where it will make sense for them to offer these services directly and start cutting out the sports channels. One big thing holding it back in the U.S. is the poor shape of broadband speed/cost and the insistence on data caps by many of the carriers. At some point, that will all have to be dealt with for this to really push forward.

But it’s definitely coming. And the transition and disruption will be brutal.



Yup. that’s been my model for a while, to use the infrastructure and tweak as necessary rather than build it all from scratch. That’s why I’ve used WordPress and customized themes for years, and why I’m moving to Photoshelter as I mentioned in my 2015 plans. Custom is really nice, but brutally expensive and tough to maintain. The more you can outsource or leverage, the more time you have for what really matters — original content instead of maintenance of your infrastructure.

World’s Largest River Diversion Project Now Pipes Water to Beijing

World’s Largest River Diversion Project Now Pipes Water to Beijing

Keep a close eye on water. I expect the next big war will be about access to potable water. We’ve used too much badly, and there’s too little drinkable water in too many places now, and it’s one thing people are definitely willing to die for, because they’ll die without it.


Posted in Three Dot Lounge

Plans for 2015

The Christmas/family obligations are done for the year and I’ve returned from Southern California alive and ready for a few days off before going back to work. With the holidays behind me, I’m hoping I can get back at it here on the blog. Hope all of your holidays, as you choose to celebrate them, went well and there was much joy in them for you.

While I haven’t had time to get much writing done, I have been doing some planning on what I want to accomplish in the next few months. Here are some of the things I’ve decided I need to work on:

Website Redesigns

I’ve known for a while that 2015 was going to be the year I dug into a major redesign of my web sites. I think I’ve taken the existing design as far as it’s worth pushing it, so it’s time to tear it up, throw it out, and do it again. Here’s what this means in my current plans:

Split out the photography onto its own site.

I’ve consciously kept my photography part of my personal site, just as I’ve consciously tried to think of it as an engaging and serious hobby. A big chunk of my spare time in 2014 involved researching ways to generate revenue and build my passive income opportunities (in english: Amazon affiliate sales). That led to my starting to sell my images through a stock agency (sales to date: $77) and put some effort into upgrading and refining my reviews and my amazon ad look and feel (net increase in affiliate income went from about $3/mo to about $50/mo) — so I can look at the numbers and feel that I’m on the right track.

That tells me it’s time to push the photography out of “Just an amateur” mode and get more serious about how my photography is presented. The design I built around the Photocrati theme is nice, but I feel it needs some serious rework, so that tells me it’s time to stop tweaking it and do a full redesign.

I also want to make that site more responsive on mobile devices. I could do all of that myself (hah! given my free time, no I can’t), so I’ve decided to move my photography over to the Photoshelter site and set up a new site there. I’ll migrate the appropriate parts of the existing site over there and rewrite/update/clean it up as much as needed, plus set up the appropriate images and portfolios, galleries, etc.

As part of this, I’ll be shutting down my smug mug site. I’ve also decided to shut down my flickr site. Some of that will move to the Photoshelter site, some of it will move to my Instagram site (which I barely use now; expect it to have a higher profile), and part of it will move to I don’t know where yet (but decided: not pinterest, not 500px, not google).

Why Photoshelter? I love their designs, all of the feedback I’ve gotten from users has been positive, great SEO, good support, and very turnkey. There are some things I’ve been thinking of doing that I may not be able to do there in my plans, but the time cost of building from scratch on WordPress that I’ve estimated tells me it’s better to live without those features than do it all myself.

Why am I leaving Smugmug? Mostly because I don’t need both Photoshelter and Smugmug. I have almost nothing negative to say about Smugmug, I like the people and site and technology. The only things I wish about Smugmug is that they’d phase out the Flash bits for updated HTML5 equivalents and for a blogging system integrated. I talked to them about the latter over a year ago and they indicated it was somewhere on the roadmap, but there’s still no option there, and I want a blog integrated into my next system, and that was a big decider for me between redesigning on Smugmug or moving to Photoshelter. Photoshelter has functionality I need. I’m currently seeing 3-4,000 views a day on SmugMug, and I wince thinking about the need to rebuild that kind of interest on a new site, but in the long-run, it makes sense.

Why am I leaving Flickr? Because, well, because Flickr still feels very much like Flickr 2004 to me, and I don’t see that changing. There have been some cosmetic changes, but the core functionality hasn’t been updated, especially on the community side, and if you look behind some of the more simple page chrome they’ve added, it feels stale and unloved. This is sad, because I had hopes Yahoo under Mayer would see a renaissance, but honestly, neither Flickr nor Yahoo enthuses me or makes me want to be part of it now, so I won’t continue there. Which is too bad, because I’m seeing 2,000 views a day there and many usage inquiries come from the site, but when I look at the value of those inquiries, inevitably it’s free usage requests.

When I move to the new setups, I’ll be removing Creative Commons licenses from all images and content. Why I’m doing that will have to be its own article sometime down the road. I’m a supporter of CC, but I’m not convinced using it is an advantage to me at this point, so I’m going to drop support.

Building out the reviews/ads into a full For Your Consideration site

Yes, I think it’s time to take the reviews and build them out into their own site. I’ve tried variations of this before that haven’t worked, the experiments I’ve done and the designs I’ve added this year have. the big weakness I have right now is a lot of hand coding, which limits flexibility and with my limited time recently has meant fewer updates, so I’m going to build it out around a WordPress theme and try to make adding content and embedding it across my sites as easy and turnkey as possible. I have some nice ideas here and will talk about them as I move them forward.

Redesign and rebuild

Having taken a couple of big chunks of content out of the existing site, I plan on tearing it down and rebuilding it around a new design and WordPress them. With those other pieces in their own places, that opens up this site to let me expand it into new and different content. I’ve been consciously limited the topics I’ve covered here in favor of trying to focus on photography. Once that moves to the new site, I won’t have to worry about annoying people who only want one set of topics instead of all of them. I do plan to post summaries of what shows up on the other sites here, so if you want access to everything, it’ll still be available here and you don’t need to do anything. If you only want the photography, you can subscribe to the photography site instead.

New Content Plans in 2015

Part of my reason for doing this is to refresh the look and feel and to give some separation for the photography and my personal writing. Another is because I’ve been thinking about expanding the topics I write about. One challenge here is how to do that without bouncing too many articles or topics at people who are only interested in one subject or another of what I write.

I like both the format and structure of the Three Dot Lounge digest posting, and right now, I’m thinking I’ll use that format for a couple of other subject areas: I want to get back on doing linking and commentary of a more editorial form about current optics such as GamerGate or Ferguson — things I’ve honestly avoided because I didn’t have a good way to help people avoid them if they didn’t want to hear them. My best guess right now is that Three-Dot will go bi-weekly, with this new news-ish digest alternating, also bi-weekly. My tentative title for it is Chuqsplaining, which should make it clear what the plan for this is.

I also am looking at firing up an irregular hockey discussion digest under my Teal Sunglasses name that I used back when I wrote a lot about hockey. Both Chuqsplaining and Teal Sunglasses will have email options built in for those that want to read them that way.

By using the digest form, it lets me go into a bit more depth and talk about more than one topic, while not inundating this site with dozens of short individual postings (which I hate on other sites and don’t want here). It also lets (and forces) me write in more of an essay style, which I think works better than the “link and forget” that so many blogs do.

And… A podcast. (of course)

I’ve actually tried to avoid this (honestly!) but it looks like in 2015 I’ll be starting a podcast. One of the most popular sets of writing I’ve done is my Before and After series around taking images and showing how I process them from the raw file to the final image. I always intended to do a number of them and then collect them into an ebook to make available for sale.

There are two problems with the approach I originally took: first, when I started designing out the ebooks, it became clear the images I’d created for the blog articles wouldn’t work in the ebook format and I couldn’t fix that without regenerating all of the images from scratch (ugh). Second, every time I worked on the project, I kept telling myself that the best way to do this was as a video podcast — except I really didn’t want to do a podcast. After half a dozen attempts to restructure the design of these postings to make me happy AND be compatible with an ebook design, I finally realized the damned things had to be done in videos, with an accompanying article that I can turn into ebook chapters later, all of which point back to the Videos. Right now, they’ll probably live on Vimeo but I haven’t ruled out Youtube yet.

Still lots of design work to do here, but if you were wondering why this series had stopped happening, this  is why. Now that I’ve stopped fighting myself over doing the videos, expect a reboot in 2015 on the Photoshelter site I haven’t built out yet.

And then, after lunch…

My guess is it’ll take me four or five months to pull all of this together, which probably means I won’t have it all up and running right until September. Or 2018. God knows. And I do expect it to change along the way, as these things always do. That’s part o the fun. I’ll start in the next week or so starting to build out the new Photo site.

I also plan on doing all of this in public. As I work on things, I’ll document my thoughts, plans and notes here on the blog. As I build out or test designs or try things, the sites will not be hidden or password protected, so you can look in, offer suggestions, or just laugh quietly as I struggle at all of this.

Why? Because one of my thoughts is that some day I might want to hang out a shingle helping others build sites like this — things that do more and are more complicated than you can get downloading a wordpress site and pushing buttons on the theme. What better advertisement for potential customers than having a successful site out there and all this info about how it was built?

Also, I think there’s potential for an interesting ebook on the design and implementation process, so perhaps when I come out the other end, I’ll have the material to create that.

Even if neither of those work, I’ve found the suggestions and feedback I get from doing this stuff in public worth a lot more than the cost of the occasional embarrassment caused by my inevitable mistakes and missteps.

So these are my marching orders looking into 2015. Lots of work, lots of potential.

And hopefully, a lot of fun, since I really love this kind of work, and I’m really looking forward to given what I write and the photos I take a new, fashionable wardrobe to wear around this place…


Posted in About Chuq, Redesign 2015: Upgrading in public, Working on Web Sites

Not Dead Yet #4: thoughts on obesity, exercise and life and fixing your lifestyle

This is probably the final in the Not Dead Yet series. I’m happy to say I’m not dead yet, and still able to write these things, in and around work, which is really busy right now…

It’s now two months since the event as I’m writing this, and I’d meant to write this earlier, but as life is won’t to do, it got a bit complicated, so now I want to summarize what’s been happening.

The good news

  • I’m still here. The blog is pretty quiet, but that’s because other parts of life are really busy and not leaving a lot of time for writing it. I am trying to slowly shift that back now that some other things that have been sucking up my brain are dropping off the critical path of life.
  • I broke under 385 today for the first time, notable because, among other things, that breaks the 30 pound line from my high, ten pounds since my ER visit, and around 8 pounds for the month.
  • The exercise is slowly improving, but I’m starting to notice things are getting better. But it’s still, honestly, slow and sometimes frustrating.  haven’t, however, gotten hurt doing it yet, so that’s something.

The longer discussion

I’ve been trying to understand how I got here, make decisions on what changes I have to make, and start getting those changes started and building the new habits and momentum that will push those forward. Oh, and I took a week off from work to travel to Mono Lake, where I spent a week around 8000 feet walking around and taking photos, and that didn’t kill me, either. It did, however, give me some confidence that I can actually push the exercise harder, if the knees will allow. More on that in a sec.

The weight that’s come off in the last year (my all time high was November 2013) is about 12% of the goal — 415 to 180. A non-trivial amount, but a long way to go, too. I’m not reading too much into this large drop this month, either, since my body has this tendency to try to protect a set point weight for a while and then give up and dump a bunch of weight all at once. It’s not unusual for me to grind out one or two pounds over six weeks, then lose 8-10 pounds in ten days (and go to the bathroom a lot as the retained water weight gets recycled). Why? I don’t know, it’s not like I’m in charge. I just work here.


It does give me the ability to declare a seven bottle event — remember that a two liter bottle is about 4.4 pounds. 30 pounds means I’ve deleted seven of those puppies. Stop and think about stuffing seven of those into a backpack and strapping it on and carrying it all day. And sleeping in it. And…

Do you notice it? The change tends to be slow enough that it’s not always obvious, but one day you realize it’s easier to put on your shoes. Another day you walk out the door and your pants try to fall off and you have to tighten your belt.

Steps up and down are easier, because gravity wins, folks.

Eventually you realize things feel better and some things  are easier to accomplish.

But it’s also just a start. Long way to go, and it’s not something that happened overnight, and not something that’ll go away overnight. Still, progress.

The weight chart right describes the problem. One caveat is that the early data, from before about 2007, is spotty at best and is estimated based on a few key values I captured — like wrestling in the 145 class as a sophomore in high school (summary: I really sucked).

That weight loss around 2009 was the diabetes trying to kill me. Waking up one morning and realizing that the weight loss I was seeing had absolutely zero basis in fact was what finally sent me to the doctor for tests. I do wish in retrospect I’d been more active about keeping that weight off after diagnosis, but I can’t go back and slap myself (and I was busy trying to hold my part of Palm together…)

The long and winding road

In trying to understand why I gave up on my exercise program, I realized there was a specific event — in 2010, I was out birding at a local birding hotspot, and I tripped and fell. I ended up effectively spraining the left side of my body and I was lucky I didn’t dislocate a couple of fingers, but it was a rather unpleasant six weeks while my body put itself back together again.

That seems to have been the last straw. The reality is that the last four times I’ve tried to build up an exercise program, I’ve ended up injured. Twice minor things, once it was the knee injury that led to the diagnosis of all of the knee problems (and the cortisone shots, and the ice bags, and the eventual knee replacements), and then this one. When you weigh this month, it affects your balance and center of gravity — I’m not joking when I joke about being a klutz. Even being careful about it, I have to be careful whenever I get off of a paved path. Some times a hiking stick helps, but other times with the gear I carry it gets in the way and makes it worse. And in this case, I caught the edge of the trail and went down hard.

And that was that. I basically stopped walking and stopped trying, because why bother? Every time I tried, I ended up under an ice bag or in front of an X-ray machine. Somewhere in the back of my head my body just wrote it off, without me really realizing it. I’d still tell myself I needed to, but always found some excuse to put it off. (I did the same to that birding location; despite being one of the best in the county, I’ve visited it maybe three times in the four years since, without even realizing I was shying away from it until recently. Guess what one of my winter projects is?)

It’s not even something I was consciously aware of. I’d decide to go out for a walk and visit the place (Shoreline Lake in Mountain View) and somewhere along the way, I’d decide to shift over to another place like Palo Alto Badlands, a lot more amenable to car birding. I was effectively editing my own decisions without really noticing.

So now I’m working to break those habits and get myself out on the trails and away from the car more. Not always easy with the knees, but the knees will benefit from more work and less weight, too. In the long run.

A side note to that — when I did the Fall Foliage workshop with Michael Frye, one of the things I did was successfully trip and launch myself head first into a creosote bush in the south tufa area during a pre-dawn hike, because I’m a klutz. And so there I am lying in a bush on the side of the trail taking inventory (“does the finger move? does it hurt? no? good. does the wrist move? does it hurt? No? good….”) and I could hear the discussion going on in the back of my head — klutz… loser… just give up… go back to the car… and then I realized I was getting pissed  about this instead, and it turned into a very determined Fuck this, let’s go take pictures…

And I did. And so if the 2010 fall and injury was the inflection point that pushed me into full couch potato mode, it was that workshop and that visit into the bowels of the creosote bush that was the point where it changed back and I started pushing my way back to activity.

Next steps

This is just a beginning. Part of a long process. The next step?

More steps. My overall activity is up about 10% from before the event. A good start, but just a start. One aspect of now working mostly at home is there’s a tendency to get up, sit at the desk, and not leave the room most of the day. That’s a tendency I need to fight by making time to get outside, or get on the exercise bike.

The list of next steps is a long one, and rather boring — thousands and thousands of them, in fact.

But in cases like this, there are no magic cookies, not short cuts, no secret hacks.

Just next steps…



Posted in About Chuq

Three Dot Lounge for November 16, 2014

Three dot lounge is a mostly-weekly collection of things that deserve more than a retweet. Stay tuned for fascinating opinions and pithy commentary. Also keep an eye on my Twitter feed for more interesting stuff.

Probe finds San Francisco Zoo gorilla pen unsafe

Probe finds San Francisco Zoo gorilla pen unsafe

Laurie and I were donors of fairly large donations to the SF Zoo for a number of years. We finally moved our donation money elsewhere for a a number of reasons, some of which included it being far enough away that we simply didn’t get up there very often, and when we went to member functions like night tours, they were so crowded they weren’t worth it.

But the big reason we pulled our funding was how poorly the facility was handling the upkeep and upgrading of its facilities (to be fair, at that time, the zoo was under the control of the City, which did an incredibly bad job of funding and a worse job of allowing the zoo to work around the city’s poor funding — since resolved by spinning the zoo out of City control). The zoo seemed to always have great plans to upgrade the facilities and poor ability to actually implement them.

The San Francisco Zoo is infamous for the Siberian Tiger escape that killed one person, but there have been cases of handlers injured during feeding, and now this tragic death of a gorilla.

Baby Lowland Gorilla

This was shot at that facility on my last trip in 2010. There’s a common theme among all three of the problems I mention: the two Tiger attacks both happened in WPA-era facilities that were planned for upgrades but never were; the Gorilla facility was built around 1980 and is 30 years old; the cause of death of the baby gorilla seems to be a combination of some operator inattention and a door without basic safety equipment (no beam alarm like every garage on every house has had for 25 years) and poorly designed and operating door mechanics.

I felt the facility the gorillas live in looked shabby on my last visit; state of the art clearly has moved on and the Zoo hasn’t updated the facility to match that. This lack of investment in facilities now has led to the death of their gorilla.

And unfortunately, given the people who have led the zoo over the years and the board that backs them, none of this surprises me. Which explains why they don’t get any of our money any more, and why my last visit there was four years ago…

this is an incredibly sad event, should have been 100% preventable, but wasn’t, and that just reinforces my belief that this zoo needs a complete reinvention starting with their executive and leadership teams. I don’t blame the handlers and the people on the ground, it’s not their fault the facilities at this zoo are so far behind state of the art.


Posted in Three Dot Lounge