Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pig Drivers Never Take a Holiday

Pig Driver Behavior

Dear Mister Road Show:

I call them pig-drivers. These are the drivers who tail gate me when I am driving the speed limit in the right hand lane even on a four-lane road and they have plenty of room to pass. Pig-drivers can also be seen exiting freeways by cutting across multiple lanes to shoot off an exit at the last minute. In parking lots, pig-drivers often will grab two parking spaces by parking with the white line going down the middle of their vehicle, no matter how crowded the lot is.

Yesterday, I was hoping the pig drivers would take the day off, since it was drive the speed limit day. As I drove to work, heading north up the Almaden Expressway at the speed limit, the pig-drivers were there doing their normal pig-driver stuff. They were tailgaiting and others were zipping past me on the left just to cut in front of me then slam on their brakes right in front of me to make a right turn. On the way home it was the same thing. You only live once and the pig-drivers were as focused as ever on getting it over with as fast as possible.

In short, the pig-drivers did not take a holiday. They were still out there, driving like idiots, their cell phones still as firmly glued to the sides of their heads as ever. They are out there still.

Steve Sloan

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Recommended Listening: Gayl Murphy

Recommended listening: Interviewing Techniques
This podcast, from the Podcast Academy, is for all podcasters and applies equally well to broadcast journalists and even print journalists and journalism students. This audio podcast is by Gayl Murphy, the title is Killer Interviewing Tactics: Get The Most from Your Guests. This is from last year's Podcast and Portable Media Expo. According to the description of the show:

Murphy has the experience to back up what she says, having over 14,000 interviews to her credit. Most of these have been with celebrities from the entertainment world but the principles that make a good interview - and a good interviewer - are the same no matter who the subject may be.

Gayl Murphy is a veteran interviewer [bio] and author of the book, Interview Tactics! How To Survive The Media Without Getting Clobbered!

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The death of a good man

John Maky

John Maky Died Last Night
John was a just general sweet guy. A fellow train geek he was passionate about trains and radio electronics. He was a regular part of the Winterail team and a friend. I do not know his age, but he was around Sue and my age. Reportedly he died in his sleep, cause is yet to be determined. I just learned of his death this morning. This news is very sad. They had a get together last week that John organized. Having just returned from my vacation we did not go, it seemed too much at the time. Now I really feel bad. It would have been good to have seen John one more time. None of us are promised tomorrow.

Scoble and workplace free speech

Thank God I am not an at-will employee
Today Scoble posted about an executive whom he talked to who got fired after talking to him. According to Scoble, "Most big companies, in their employment agreements, have in there that you aren’t allowed to talk with the press unless given permission by the PR departments." Then I thought about a conversation I had the other day with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal. (He was doing a follow up interview on the status of Skype at San Jose State University.) I felt totally at-ease talking to him because here at San Jose State we have a union. I am not an at-will employee. Of course, there are other lesser ways to punish an employee rather than fire him/her. But, I think the right of free speech in the workplace is important and I am willing to pay the price to exercise it.

Would my blogging and podcasting have gotten me fired were we not a union shop?
I have no way of knowing for sure because that would have changed everything. I might never have even blogged. But then, I would likely have never even applied at SJSU, because when I did apply having a union and free speech was a primary consideration. But, if you asked me in my opinion, I think I would have been fired long ago. They have been furious at me more than once for things I have published, blogged and/or podcast. One persons free expression is another persons trouble making.

How un-Cluetrain of them!
Apple may make cool gear, but I hate their anti free speech policies. According to Scoble, "I’ve met some people I KNEW had an iPhone and they were so scared of retribution or consequences that they wouldn’t answer a single question." Sometimes I ask myself if freedom of speech is so important to my why do I keep buying Apple hardware? Apple's attitude makes me feel better about the new Treo I bought. Now, according to Scoble Apple-like policies may be spreading to Microsoft, "Have you noticed that no one has started talking about the next version of Windows? I have. That’s on purpose. They learned their lesson and realized that letting you see inside the meat factory is a little too messy for this new world of PR. Rather keep all that mess behind corporate walls and come out when something is actually finished."

Do we really have free speech in this country?
Do we really have free speech if a company is allowed to fire an employee for speaking to the press? We may not send folks to jail for exercising their rights of free speech, we just deprive them of their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Is that really free speech? In my opinion it is not. And again I say, Thank God I am not an at-will employee. And, thank God we have unions where I work. I wish more folks did.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Jellyfish Lullaby

Jelly Fish

Last weekend we went to the aquarium
I was very impressed. I created this short movie that contains some of my impressions. It is available above in Quicktime format or it can be viewed here on YouTube.

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Waiting for iPhone 3.0

IPhone at MacWorld SF, 2007

Why my next phone will NOT be an iPhone
Why I am about to buy a Treo!
My next phone will not be an iPhone, but the one after that might be. For me a phone is a tool, not geek bling. Version 1.0 of anything should be considered with great caution and only adopted in dire need. No matter how much a product is tested in the lab, the best way to learn about and improve a product is to put it in the hands of real users. This is true of everything from cars to computers. When purchasing a new car I always try to avoid any new models or new body styles. With computers, how many times have you heard about new models of laptops having problems like batteries catching fire? Version 2.0 is better, version 3.0 is even better of almost anything.

I also have some possible performance considerations with the new iPhone. Right now I have an aging cell phone (if you consider over two years aging) and several newer model iPods. When my batteries die on an iPod it does not affect my phone. My phone allows the use of multiple batteries. No matter how good the iPhone is, I want a model that I can easily put a replacement battery in. I can do that with my current phone. I cannot do that with most of my iPods. That is their Achillies heel. I don't want that problem with a phone!

I have a Treo at work and really like it. A lot of what I use a portable device for in the field is for taking notes. I can do two finger text input with my Treo. Text input is more important to me than is watching YouTube when I am away from my computer. I want to be able to take content from the field back to my computer as well as take content from my computer into the field. For me, the former is more important than the latter. Easy text input for IM, Mobblogging and Email is an important consideration for me. I am not convinced the iPhone will be a good platform for that.

Great web browsing is an important plus with the iPhone. But, I want to be sure I can subscribe to RSS feeds and podcasts without having to go back and dock to the mother ship. I also want to be able to have multiple batteries so I can take them with me on long trips and have one charging while I am using the other one. I also want to be able to know the thing is time tested and proved to be durable. In other words, I am waiting for iPhone 3.0 or better. Perhaps that is the phone I will buy in a couple of years to replace the time tested and proved Treo I am am about to purchase now. But, only if Apple addresses my issues.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Two great students at the Help Desk

Pranav and Aditi at the Help Desk

Help Desk Leads Are Irreplaceable
These two inspired, intelligent and dedicated young student employees are critical to, and dedicated to, the functioning of the Help Desk at SJSU. They are the student leads at the Help Desk. I have no idea what I would do without them. Aditi and Pranav are from India. They and the other Help Desk students from India have taught me so much about their country I have never been to. They make me want to go.

I am so proud of Pranav and Aditi and the other help desk staff, like they are my own family. The Help Desk has become so big and our mission has expanded greatly since we moved to Clark Hall. I am thankful that these students work at SJSU and appreciate them so much. Their parents have much to proud of. They must be great people to have such fine kids.  Knowing them is a real pleasure.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Help Desk Pizza Day

Help Desk staff eating pizza

Help Desk Friday
On some Fridays we have a pizza party at the help desk. Last week was my first week back after my vacation and we did training all that week. It was a busy week, despite the summer break. Also, while the traffic levels at the help desk have been nothing like we have seen during the semester we have had a surprisingly high level of student use of the labs. The staff we have here has been doing a great job!

We are on shorter hours over the summer and I have seen folks come by the entrance to the Academic Success Center in Clark Hall, where our help desk is located, both before we open and after we close wanting to use the lab. This is a popular place.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fun weekend with family and friends

Blue Tongue Madison

A fun weekend!
On Saturday Susie and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with son's Jeff and Ken, Jeff's wife Nicole and Jeff and Nicole's daughter Madison. We had a great time and even had dinner at Bubba Gumps. It was my first time at the aquarium and it exceeded my expectations. Then on Sunday we had a get together with a bunch of Sue and my friends in the bike club. These are the folks we are doing the trip with this fall. We had a great time both days. Family and good friends are the best!

In this photo we see Madison at dinner with her tongue turned blue from eating blue Jello.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Converting from Adobe PDF to Word

Luanne Fose, Ph.D. an Instructional Technology Consultant for The Center for Teaching & Learning, at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo has a blog post that is pretty cool. She shows step by step how to take a PDF file and convert it to editable Microsoft Word format. This is done using Adobe Acrobat Pro. This is one to remember. I would think this would only work in documents where the text is created and saved as text and NOT where a document is scanned as an image and then turned into a PDF as in the latter case the text would actually be a picture of the letters and not letters with associated font information.

A case for digital photography

Help Desk Logbook Cover

Digital Photography Has Created a New Visual Age, that is good!
In my opinion digital photography has done far more than give us a new way of creating pictures, it has moved up into an era of ubiquitous photography. Cameras are everywhere. Cameras are in our phones, on light poles and in other places and devices. You no longer have to even think to bring a camera. It is getting hard to find a cell phone that does not have a digital camera in it. Today, most folks just always have a camera.

For families, and for organizations, this means that instant images are available to capture all kinds of moments that previously would have gone unrecorded and to be able to globally share those images almost instantly.

This also means we get pictures of news events we never would have seen before. Plus, the very devices that take the photos can transmit them. Can you imagine the pictures we would have seen if this technology were more widely available on September 11, 2001? It was thanks to their cell phones that the the folks on Flight 93 learned where they were headed. Can you imagine if they had been able to take pictures of what was going on on that flight as well and had pic messaged them out before the plane crashed?

Digital Photography has many things going for and providing some clear advantages over analog "film" photography including:

It is virtually free and it is freely virtual
With film you pay for every picture you shoot. Your film is not reusable. Once exposed it cannot be reused. The consideration of cost can cause you to miss a magic moment as you ponder if the moment is worth the price of the film and processing to capture it. With digital photography you can shoot first and delete later. Then, if you find a photo you want to share you can share without having to consider the cost of printing and/or mailing the images. You can email or post the digital image to the web via a web server or a photo service like Flickr or ShutterFly.
Digital photographs are easy to manipulate
Using tools like Photoshop and InDesign you can easily manipulate images, mask them, add text to them and include them into documents. These digital images can be put into presentations or even into videos. You do not have to think about negatives and printing and all of the other mechanical issues involved with conventional imagery. This is very empowering to folks who lacked the skills and/or funds to do these things using analog means.
Film is dead, get over it!
Film photography is increasingly a niche market. As photography shops clear out their inventory, and/or have going out of business sales, film hardware and especially the cameras and supplies got cheap. But, once that process runs its course the supply will dry up. The price of new film stock will skyrocket as manufacturers drive up prices in order to make profits on lower volume orders. This will further force conventional "film" photography into being a boutique product for art photographers and retro grouches.
Digital is environmentally friendly
Conventional film photography relies on chemicals and creates waste streams that must be dealt with. Especially photo fixer is contaminated with silver that when dumped down the drain contaminates our water supplies with metals. Photographic film and paper has to be manufactured, processed through chemicals and, except for the images kept, it has to be disposed of. All of this creates an an environmental tax.

Sure, there are issues with digital photography
We have seen pictures taken of the London bombings, Tsunamis and of course Saddam's hanging be taken on cell phones and sent out globally. Cameras are ever present and yes, this does mean we have to rethink issues related to privacy and security. For example, college students can take a photo with their cell phones of an exam and send them to all their fraternity mates before the next period takes the test. The same technology that enables folks to take a picture of a tidal wave as it happens can also be used to take pictures in locker rooms or other inappropriate events and places.

But, its immediacy and flexibility are undeniable advantages. Even casual family photographers need to know how to organize, store and backup their image files. With a few precautions photographers can keep, share and save more pictures than they could ever dream of before we had digital cameras.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

A case for conventional photography

Nicole, Madison and Jeff

Do you trust digital photography?
I do not. Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with a relative who was a peer of my parents. We looked at her book of photographs, some of whom were approaching 90 years old. Despite the fact that these photographs were being stored in ways that are not recommended or considered archival, they were still in great shape and brought the past to life. One was a special four generation photograph of many long gone relatives. The only relative left alive was my relative who shared it with me. Though aging now, she was then an infant. It was a real glimpse of their time.

You could tell these photographs were long treasured family heirlooms. They were taken on conventional black and white film and printed on conventional black and white paper. This was the technology of their day. You could tell by the expressions on the people being photographed, getting their picture taken was still a relatively rare event. It was something to dress up and prepare for. Despite the way the photos were being stored (their storage methods were far from what today's experts would call archival) the photos endure.

What about digital photos?
In my opinion digital photos have three main problems:

They are easy and abundant
Folks tend to treat digital photos very casually. Cameras are everywhere, even in our phones. Folks may post photos to services like Flickr or ShutterFly, or Email them, but I know few people who are really taking the time to sort them, print them and store them in ways to assure their accessibility to future generations. The very easy, casual and abundant nature of them may be an incentive for folks to not value them and to treat photographs like they are commodities and not family (or organizational) treasures to be preserved. The abundance of digital photographs may serve as a smoke screen that hides the important ones and prevents them from being preserved.
They are tenuous and intangible by nature
A digital image is often hidden away on hard drives that are themselves prone to fail. All hard drives fail and when they do the information on them is lost. Even CD and DVD disks have a limited life span, they delaminate over time. Conventional black and white images are made up of metallic silver and this is very stable. Color images are made up of inks and dyes and this is less stable and to a varying degree is subject to simply fading away. The least stable is magnetic media. It is this magnetic media that is the realm of most digital imagery. Photos stored on photo services like Snapfish and Yahoo Photos are subject to whims of the market place. A bust economic bubble could result in business failures that in turn could lead to the loss of much of our digital heritage. Conventional silver black and white film prints endure.
They require due diligence to maintain
To preserve your family's (or organization's) digital heritage you need to be sure to maintain copies of your digital images on multiple systems and be sure to backup often and be sure your heirs (or current and/or future staff) know how to access them. You need to pay attention to file formats and be sure that you and your heirs (or current and/or future staff) know the format of your stored images and maintain them in a state where they can accessed for generations to come. To accomplish this with conventional silver based photographs you merely need to print them on conventional black and white paper and store them in an appropriate way.

The image with this post is a family treasure. I photographed it with a black and white film camera and developed it myself using archival methods. I then created a digital image by having my conventional film image scanned.

Why I shoot film
In the future, as the digital version of this picture and most of the other common current digital images disappear into a digital dark age, the film based black and white image will endure. This analog glimpse of our time may someday be as rare and as precious as the photos my relative shared with me of my now dead relatives and her as a baby.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Spirit of Washington, Part Deux

Spirit of Washington Train

Spirit of Washington Train, Part Two
On June 8, 2007 I shot video of the Spirit of Washington, a dinner train, that runs from Renton to Woodinville, Washington. It uses rare locomotives called F-units. The track it runs on is due to be removed for a highway project and it only has about a month left to run. They ran two Spirit trains on June 8, including a lunch charter train for employees of T-mobile. The Quicktime movie above is the train after it left Renton. This video focuses on the train in Woodinville, Washington. This follows part one, previously released.

This video is now available here on YouTube.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Safari for Windows, Yawn

Safari for Windows?
Apple's recent release of a new version of the Safari browser for windows must give us pause, to wonder why. We already have a very nice cross platform browser for Windows and Mac OS. It is called Firefox. Since it is already my default browser on both the Macs and PCs I use I can't come up with a good reason to switch. Not one, zero, nada...

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

A time for scooters

Buddy 125

We need reliable, economical and dependable local transportation
Most of the driving the average person needs is local and as gas prices continue to escalate in the face of scarcity solutions to local transportation problems are becoming harder to find. Public transportation is far from ubiquitous and convenient. Hybrids help but they are expensive and may be overkill. Not everybody can or will ride a bicycle. I am delighted to find that some new scooters have entered the market. The one I like is the Buddy 125 imported by Genuine. It is a four-stroke and so it is clean and it is an automatic, so it is easy. It is rated at 96 mpg and costs less than $3,000. This is great economical transportation and it is cute as a bug!

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I am back

McDermmit Nevada

A day on the road
I did not intend to do the drive all in a day, but I did. It is around 700 miles from San Jose to Boise. I made a couple of stops on the way out (including a stop at Scooters of Boise) but I was on the road by around 11am mountain time (ten pacific time.) I had not slept well the night before, anticipating the drive. But, once I got going I drove like an astronaut (except for the diapers part.) The first part of the drive is on non-freeway highways, like US 95. This road is two lane trough some pretty rugged (some would call it desolate) country. Once you get to Winnemucca Nevada it is freeway the whole way.

I was home before 11pm Thursday, including some stops to prevent highway tunnel vision, that is not bad. At first the cats did not want to have anything to do with me, but now I cannot keep Pixel out of my lap. The best part is seeing Susie again. It is good to be home.

About the journey, Robyn Davidson in her wonderful book "Tracks" said, "journeys never end they merely change form." So looking back on this journey I wonder, is it over? Are true journeys really ever over or do they so become a part of us that they change us and everything that comes after is a continuation of them.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

On getting ready to go home

I think the best journeys are the ones that take you inside yourself as well as exploring the world outside. This journey has certainly done that. Every place I went I left wishing I had stayed longer, had explored more. The places I went without Sue, I wish she had been there.

Goodbyes have been hard. I think they get harder the older we get because life keeps providing ample evidence that it is so fragile and the lines on my face scream out to me that we are mortal. The time spent with family and friends was so wonderful. I am kept awake wondering when or even if I will get to see all of these wonderful people again. Soon I will be packing up my car and heading on the highway home. Sometime tomorrow I will be home.

I have heard some great stories, like how my Grandpa Sloan when he first saw my tall Grandma (then 5'10" in time when everybody was shorter) with a 24" waist looked at her long skirt and wondered how many yards of gingham it took to make such a skirt for her. I also heard about the old home place in Pittsburg, Kansas and the big family dinners there and about how my uncle Sid and uncle Finis used to fight about everything and how all the adults ate in the dining room as the kids ate in the kitchen and how my Grandpa Sloan (who died before I was born) would make pancakes in the morning while also shaving with a razor and a strap. I heard my cousin's tearful accounts of how her loving husband of 57 years died. I felt sorrow at her broken heart over his passing and wish I could do something that could ease her pain.

On this trip I visited with people and saw new places and drank mostly very good wine and chased trains and had adventures and created new memories and shared the memories of others. The best part was spending time with people like Steve, his wonderful wife Luci, their great kids, my super cousins, my friends Leslie and Ed and of course my wife Susie. This journey will stay with me as long as my mind is sharp and I am alive and the memories I have made are ones I will share with many.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Family History Trip

Dolores and Payette River

A trip to Tamarack with my Cousin Dolores
Today I went with my cousin Dolores to Tamarack Lodge for lunch. It was a long drive up along the lovely Payette River and we talked a lot both ways. I learned a lot about her family and our family including: my parents, my grandparents, my uncles and aunts and other Sloan family. It was a great trip. Dolores's father, my uncle Sid, was 20 years older than my dad. So, she knew my grandparents who had died before I was born. She told me great stories about my family and I soaked it all in. I would have loved to have recorded it. It was a great day and I enjoyed every minute of it. After we came back to Dolores's house Deb came over and we visited more. We looked at old family pictures. It was wonderful.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Family Matters More

Cousin Deb and I

Connecting with Idaho Family
Today was a total shift from Yesterday. Soon as I left the tracks in Oregon I shifted my focus. Now I am in Boise. My number one priority today is connecting with my Idaho family. My cousin Deb and I went wine tasting at a couple of wineries outside Nampa Idaho. The best was Saint Chapelle Winery, right off highway 55. The other winery was tiny, a private label that sold fruit for some of the local wineries called Williamson Vineyard, located right next to Saint Chapelle. You want bargains, they got bargains, like good cab for less than ten bucks a bottle. This was fun!

After that we went and bought some pepperoni at the meat company in Meridian and then met Deb's mom Dolores and had dinner out. Dolores is the only person who I consider a peer to my parents who is still alive. I cannot tell you how much it has meant to me to be able to spend time with her and Deb and reconnect and to hear stories about my mom and dad.

No matter what your hobbies or your interests are or what your job is. Family matters more.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Blue Mountains Day Two

Meet at Durkee

Railfanning the Blue Mountains, Redux
I love the Blue Mountains. The only place I have seen more trains is in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. The train traffic was amazing and the scenery spectacular. What a terrific place to photograph trains this is. I really appreciate Leslie and Ed turning me on to this place, it rocks! Today Ed was able to join us and they showed me how to get to Durkee Loop. We had amazing luck with light and trains. Since this is double track here we got a meet on the loop that was sheer luck. One train (we saw three) that we saw on the loop had an Olympic unit on it. This was too much fun!

Leslie and Ed

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Happy in the Blues

Up train at Sago

Railfanning the Blue Mountains
I have wanted to chase trains here for years and years. Yesterday I did. Mid-day yesterday I arrived at Ed and Leslie's. They have a lovely home on a ridge just outside La Grande, Oregon. Ed is a Union Pacific locomotive engineer and he was out on the road. Leslie is also a railfan and so we spent the day chasing trains and exploring the Blue Mountains. The Blues are right around La Grande, and she gave me the cook's tour. Despite the overcast and occasional showers we had a great time and saw some very cool trains. When the sun broke through the clouds for a meet at Sago it was second coming light, unbelievable!

We went to dinner at a truck stop with a great view of the UP main line and I had a very good steak for $11. A very good day.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Walla Walla

Walla Walla in the Rain

Great wine tasting in Walla Walla
I went to Columbia Crest Winery on the way here. In Walla Walla I went to Reininger and Ash Hollow. They all had very good wines, but Reininger was the best. Reininger had been recommended by both Robert Scoble on his blog and the folks at Pete's in Bellvue. Walla Walla is a nice town and I would like to come back. The wine is great here and it is not far from other AVA's in Washington. You could spend a month here exploring wineries. I am having breakfast at The Coffee Connection Café in Walla Walla, which has free Internet. The food here is very good, better than the coffee. Walla Walla is supposed to be one of the greatest places to retire.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Spirit of Washington

Spirit of Washington

I am in Yakima, which looks amazingly like Barstow
Except, it does not have as many trains as Barstow. Yesterday I had a great day of train chasing. I shot the Spirit of Washington, a dinner train, that runs from Renton to Woodinville, Washington. It uses rare locomotives called F-units. The track it runs on is due to be removed for a highway project and it only has about a month left to run. They ran two Spirit trains yesterday, including a lunch charter train for employees of T-mobile. The Quicktime movie above is the train leaving Renton, followed by the also soon to be retired freight train.

This video is, or soon will be, available here on YouTube

Friday, June 08, 2007

Last day in Monroe

Steve Sr, Steve Jr., Luci

Getting ready to leave
Sue is back home in San Jose and I am getting ready to go on the next leg of my journey. Soon I will be leaving my son and Luci's house in Monroe. We have had a great visit. This is the most time we have spent together in a long time. Sue was crying when she left. It will be hard to leave.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Olympic Peninsula Expedition

Sue, Luci and Steve

We went to the Olympic Peninsula
Yesterday we went to the Olympic Peninsula. We took a ferry boat to Kingston and then drove out from there. It was my first time being in this area and it was very pretty. This is a definite rain forest and is lush with growth. We went to Brainbridge and had great ice cream. We went to Port Townsend and many other cool places. We missed our ferry back and so had to wait for a later one. That was okay. It was a lot of fun. As I said before, Steve and Luci are fantastic hosts and we're having a great time.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Seattle Sojurn

Sue, Steve and Luci

We went to Seattle
Yesterday we went Seattle via Bellevue, to my favorite wine store on planet earth, Pete's Wine Shop, and went wine shopping. If you are near Seattle and want a great selection of wine at fantastic prices, go to Pete's. We were helped by Allison A. McCormick. Allison has a passion for wine and knowledge to match. She was enthusiastic about helping us. She knew about every wine in the store we asked about (and it is a huge store) and made some wonderful suggestions and we bought a couple of bottles of great Washington wine. Then we went into Seattle. We spent most of the day at and around Pike's Market. We had lunch there. It was a lot of fun. Steve and Luci are fantastic hosts and we're having a great time.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Great day with Steve and Luci

Steve and Miso

Great time at Steve and Luci's
Yesterday we spent hanging out with Steve and Luci and their family. We went out to a lunch and out for a drive. It was cloudy and rainy most of the time and that was nice. The overcast sky really brought out the greens. Speaking of greens, Steve showed us his garden! We went to lunch at Red Robin's and Steve and Luci made a fantastic dinner of pork loins and salad from Steve's garden. We had a bottle of Oregon Pinot with dinner. It was a very relaxing day.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

The Simple Life

Susie and the goat

Left Oregon, in Washington
We are now in Washington. We spent our last day in Oregon and now we are at my oldest son Steve and and his wife Luci's home in Washington. They have a lovely home. Yesterday we did more wine tasting and sampling of local strawberries. They are smaller and sweeter than the California variety. We went train chasing at Vancouver, Washington where we saw a lot of trains and we arrived here at about ten last night. It is great being with Steve, Luci and their family.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

A day of wine tasting in Oregon

Hillside vines

Dundee Hills: Vines on the hillsides
In order to get the drainage they want and to get above the fog the grape vines are planted in the hills around towns like Dundee, Oregon. The wine from this area is wonderful. This is some of the oldest Pinot Noir in this country. We visited four wineries and I recommend two of them. Stoller Vineyards (great wine at a good price point), who's owner Bill Stoller was just on Grape Radio and Archery Summit, a winery that one wine publication called the Rolls-Royce of Oregon Wineries. Unfortunately since the movie Sideways the price of good Pinot has shot through the roof. Archery Summit's best was $120 a bottle to wine club members. We are not joining that club!

We had dinner in McMinnville at a tapas restaurant called La Rambla, it was the first time I have ever had tapas. The food was good, but we had to sit at the bar. The waitress/bartender was very nice but the wine she recommended was not very good.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Thunderhead and the Mountain

Thunderhead over Mount Shasta

Thunder over the Mountain
This is what I saw on my way north. It was not that long after this that I was driving through hail so hard and so furious I was afraid it would break my windshield. The hail sounded like pieces of gravel being peppered on the glass. It was both frightening and awesome.

Right now it is about 7:30 am on June second and Sue is asleep. I picked her up at the Portland airport. We are in McMinnville Oregon. We are going exploring of the Oregon wine country today.

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Google's Purchase of Feedburner

Google + Feedburner = Hooray
I was thrilled to learn of Google's purchase of Feedburner. I learned when my friend Diana sent me sent me a text message as I was driving across rural Oregon. She knew it would make me happy, it did. This is such a perfect fit. Google + Feedburner is such a natural. Google + Feedburner is almost as good as Google + Technorati. Google + Feedburner makes a lot more sense to me than E-bay + Skype ever did.

I see so much potential in this. Google + Feedburner has been one of my favorite combinations for creating Podcasts. For video Google + Feedburner gives you a Vlog plus a Video Podcast. This is the combination that Rayanne Hodson of Freevlog recommends. Google + Feedburner worked very well for my class last semester. All of my students created there own Blogs, Vlogs and Podcasts using this method. This is the workflow I use for my own Vlogs.

It is a great way to create RSS feeds and podcasts, and keep track of who is viewing them. I hope soon Google creates a quick and easy way to enable this to be your default feed for your Blogger blog (and dumps Atom.)

Google + Feedburner is a great way to produce RSS advertising. RSS advertising feeds are a fantastic way to create, engage and build an audience of passionate users. These passionate users, in turn, are your quality consumers who can help you build a better product or service by telling you what works and what doesn't. These are the folks you want seeing your ads and the cool thing is, they want to see your ads. Google + Feedburner will help make this happen.

For educators Google + Feedburner is a great way to see if your students are really consuming your RSS Feeds. Google + Feedburner is good for me. I am stoked!

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Friday, June 01, 2007

A day of train chasing in Oregon

Camera Phone Post: A day of Oregon Trains
This train was photographed today at a Lumber Mill near Roseburg, OR. This evening I am picking up Sue at the airport and we are going wine tasting tomorrow. Big shift in gears!

Oregon Sunrise

Cameraphone Post: First sun at Emigrant Lake
This is a lovely morning. I am in Oregon now. This lake is about four miles southeast of Ashland. I camped in Glenyan Campground, in a campsite right next to a creek. That was really nice, except for the cast of Deliverance in the campsite next to me. I am posting from my cameraphone, because it is quick. The down side is it takes crappy photos. I ran into a freak thunder and hail storm going through Yreka. The hail was hitting the windshield so hard I was afraid it would break it. Thankfully it didn't. Great light though when the sun came out. I am having a lot of fun! I gotta go break camp! More later...