Month: April 2015

Road Trip 2014: Yellowstone in the Spring

Lots of people talk about and keep bucket lists. Some of them are huge and clearly unattainable by any mortal. Others are short and simple. They can be a fascinating insight into a person, or simply a random list of shinies that caught the eye of a magpie one day. I’ve known one too many person who kept a bucket list instead of actually emptying it, until the day came when the  day never came. But first, a word from our sponsor Ten years ago my head exploded all over myself and the people around me. Nervous Breakdown. For six weeks I was an absolute basket case and my team and management carried me and as needed covered for me while I scraped it all up, ran it through a blender (and a few weeks of therapy) and started putting my life together again. Years of doing it wrong combined with neglecting my health, too much stress and a severe care of undiagnosed apnea all combined into a small tablet of C4 that went off and spread all that unhappy smelly stuff on everything around me. I talk about this (but not often enough) because I’ve found that Silicon Valley is full of people like me, but the usual response is embarrassment and hiding it and denying it, because we as a society are conditioned to think we have to...

Read More

Yosemite Road Trip Spring 2013

A friend of mine asked me if I could help out teaching a class on beginning bird photography and introduction to Adobe Lightroom. That was an opportunity I was hoping to try for a while, so I jumped on it. Even better, it was being taught through Yosemite Audubon and that meant I could schedule a trip to the park. Work schedules being what they are, I couldn’t take much time off, but I made it a long weekend and headed out of the bay area on a friday afternoon. Much as I like staying in Mariposa, I decided to stay in Oakhurst, which is outside of the park’s south entrance. I picked the Yosemite Southgate motel, which is fairly new and had competitive rates. I loved the place — the rooms are big, the facility is pretty quiet, it had a decent refrigerator in it (one that would freeze blue ice for the cooler and keep things cold), and the staff was both friendly and efficient. Definitely recommended. Saturday’s class started very early at a private residence near Mariposa, on about 25 acres with a pond. Also on the property was an ancient valley oak — estimated 350 years or so — that was truly stunning to see. Nearby was some granite embedded in the ground with a number of grinding holes where the locals would have ground...

Read More

Road Trip 2013: Oregon and Washington

We’re back from a week’s vacation in Oregon. It’s the first time Laurie and I have been able to get up into Oregon together since 2006, so we were both really looking forward to it, and Oregon didn’t disappoint. We love the central and northern coast of Oregon, so that’s where we spent most of our time. I’m not going to write a detailed road trip piece because, well, this was vacation — but I did want to catch some highlights. Saturday we wrangled the cat and the bird into cages (easier said than done) and then off to the kennel for boarding (also easier said than done). Then we came home, packed the car, and got out of town. Because we knew we’d be starting somewhat late I kept the first day’s drive a bit short, and we ended up in Fortuna, just south of Eureka. If we were putting in a full day of driving I’d have pushed on to Brookings or  Golds Beach. Why Fortuna? Hotel rooms were about half the price of Eureka proper. Since all we wanted was a comfortable bed and a decent meal, why spend the money? My default stop when on the road on a driving trip is the Best Western Chain. While I’ve run into the occasional dog, they do a good job of policing their affiliates and they tend...

Read More

2015 Playoff Predictions

The Final Tally About ten days ago I did some napkin scribbling and ended up predicting the following finish to the season for the teams fighting for the western playoffs: Calgary: 97 points and third seed in the Pacific Winnipeg: 96 points and 2nd Wildcard seed Los Angeles: 94 points and missing the playoffs San Jose: 91 points and missing the playoffs Dallas: 89 points and missing the playoffs The actual results: Calgary: 97 points and third seed in the Pacific Winnipeg: 99 points and 2nd Wildcard seed Los Angeles: 95 points and out of the playoffs San Jose: 89 points and out of the playoffs Dallas: 92 points and out of the playoffs Winnipeg played better than predicted but not good enough to catch the Blackhawks in the really tough Central — and well done to the Jets. Dallas outplayed my expectations as well and ended up passing the Sharks, which I didn’t expect. The Sharks lost a game to Edmonton they really shouldn’t have lost and that kept them under 90 points, but it also let Colorado sneak past with 90, so in the Wildcard race San Jose not only didn’t close the gap, they ended up behind three other teams. That’s going out with a whimper…. But overall, I’m really happy with the predictions and results. it’s a short sequence so the possible variation was quite...

Read More

2014-2015 Sharks in Review

With a whimper and a sigh And so the Sharks end the 2014-2015 season as it played most of it with a game that was partly a solid effort, and partly one of “why am I here?”, leading to a 4-1 loss to the Kings. And now the offseason begins, full of more questions and worries than hope. I did not pick the Sharks for the playoffs this season, and yet, I find myself disappointed this team played down to my expectations. My head told me this, my heart hoped for that. I got this. To me this problems of this season can be boiled down to four key things: Defensive Depth: The Sharks let two veteran defensemen go as part of the “rebuild younger” plan of Doug Wilson: Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart. While they also moved Brent Burns back to defense and he responded with an overall better season than last year, the end result was a net drop of 4-+ points of offense from the blueline. Shot’s allowed per game was about 27, 3-4 higher than most of the playoff-bound team, and Niemi’s save percentage was about on par with an average NHL goalie, his Goals Allowed was inflated by this higher shot count. You can’t have a poor defense if your goaltending is average, and that’s a big aspect of what happened this year. Younger players — especially...

Read More