Category Archives: About Chuq

Back from Yosemite

Back from a couple of quickly planned days in Yosemite. With the early closing of Badger Pass, I noticed that rooms were available from spring skiiers who canceled and so I scheduled myself in for two nights at the Lodge at the Falls.

The Lodge has just finished a $10m renovation and it was money well spent. My room was quite pleasant. I’ve commented in the past that staying at the Lodge sometimes felt like ending up in a 70’s Travelodge, but while the buildings are the same, the interiors have been significantly upgraded. Not spa-like or resort-type accommodations, but comfortable and very much in tune with the location; the facility knows who gets top billing here and didn’t try to do too much.  They’ve put a lot of energy into sustainability which I appreciate. Overall, I have to give the Lodge update top marks.

I do enjoy the restaurant at the Lodge; had an extremely nice piece of Salmon one night, a very nice steak the second. The wine list is solid but not adventurous but fits the food well. And I want to call out a thanks for their petite dessert options, which are smaller servings that let you finish the meal without a huge sugar overload. I hope more restaurants make the move away from 800 calorie sugar bombs…

Breakfast the first day was at the lodge cafeteria, which was, well, about what it’s always been. I’m sure their lack of a Michelin star is an oversight. No, seriously, the food there makes me wish there was a McDonald’s handy. Oh well.

The one thing to remember is that there’s basically no off season in Yosemite any more, and it’s expensive. Staying inside the park saves me a hunk of driving, but you’re paying more for the food and the room. For this trip, definitely worth it. There’s something about standing outside your room and watching yosemite falls do its thing…

I missed the winter storms by a few days; when I got there is was nice and sunny and warm, everything had melted. Yosemite Falls had picked up from a week prior but was starting to fade again; it’s going to be a weak waterfall spring. The light was, well, uninspiring. Which is to say the visit was like spending time with your girlfriend when she’s without makeup and dressed to help clean out the garage; not the greatest time for astounding photography but still quite a lot of fun to spend time with. I early on decided to just unplug and relax, so I came home with maybe half a dozen images, which may or may not be worth keeping. Instead I spent the time wandering the park and exploring (um, “scouting”), relaxing and just generally doing very little but enjoying the views.

Which was awesome to do. I think sometimes those of us who are part-time photographers forget that sometimes you need to just pull the plug and take a break. I know I put pressure on myself to come back with something useful and many times that means I come back as tired and stressed as when I left on the trip. It was pretty clear at the start of the trip I was unlikely to create something that improved my portfolio, so rather than fight that, I put the cameras down and just enjoyed being there.

Sitting needs to move higher on many of our todo lists. just thinking out loud.

Now that I’m back, a few days of puttering and projects and wandering around the area. Maybe some time out with the cameras, maybe not. It’s nice to be off the clock a bit….




“Rhymes with Crisco” — Really?

Someone dropped me an email and called me to task for using “Rhymes with Crisco” in my note yesterday announcing my new job. The email could be boiled down to “Dude, really?”

They have a point. It’s trite, silly and rather 12 year old. That was, in fact, the point. Let me explain.

First, I’ll admin: guilty as charged. It’s silly, and supposed to be. I get to have a bit of fun here if I want to.

But it also serves a more serious purpose. I used it for the same reason I use “Mama Fruit” when talking about one of my former employers. And I do that not just because it’s silly — and we all take this stuff way too seriously some days, especially when talking about the tech industry — but because it prevents my comments from being easily found in the search engines.

When I write here I write on a personal basis and not as a formal representative of my employer or any organization that I’m writing about. I learned — the hard way — that you can load your stuff with disclaimers all you want, all it takes is one troll with an axe to grind to choose to ignore that to make your life miserable.

You learn to watch what you say. But I’ve also found you can limit the chances of what you say ending up in the hands of random idiots looking for a fight by managing how you say things to stay away from hot button terms. Like using “Mama Fruit” and “Rhymes with Crisco” instead blah and blah. I’m not pretending this is more than it is — it’s like talking quietly at a party about a topic instead of grabbing the mike from the DJ — but it makes it easier to talk about some aspects of some organizations with less risk of those discussions getting hauled into larger discussions  I want to stay out of by someone trolling specific keywords for content to start fights with.

Effectively, it’s a way to make it easier to talk about some things with you all, the people who normally read this blog without a lot of risk of those comments ending up in some troll fight that I’m not interested in getting dragged into. That’s what this blog is primarily about — sharing and interacting with the people interested in what I say and do. This is just one way of managing the audience that sees some of the comments I make and limiting that audience to people who understand the context.

It serves a useful purpose. It’s a tool I’ve adopted in cases where I specifically don’t want to try to attract a large audience and instead talk more quietly to people already involved with me and this site at some level.

So yeah, it’s silly. But to date, it’s worked pretty well…

15 of the interesting and influential

Every year I try to do a short list of people and sites that I find interesting or that have influenced me significantly in the last year. Here’s the list for 2013. Not surprisingly it’s heavily biased towards photographers. These are in no particular order.

I do hope you’ll take a look and give them a chance to influence you as well.