Read this:

It’s a good piece by Tom Rosenstiel, talking about, in-part, what has been wrong with “journalism,” and what journalism needs to become.

He elaborates on these broad topics (#3 is really important, I think).

  1. Journalists must understand the new landscape is structural and not about the election
  2. Journalists must begin to do their verified reporting out in the open, with the public—news as “collaborative intelligence.”
  3. Journalists must invent new story forms that reveal the skeleton of their reporting, raise the bar of verification, and show consumers why they should trust them.
  4. We need journalists to do a better job labeling what is news reporting, what is an opinion piece, and what is news analysis.
  5. We need journalists to cover what is important, not bark at every car.
  6. We need journalists to keep their cool.
  7. Understand how information flows.

A lot of it addresses how reporting, journalism, and news exists (and is distributed) and how it is impacted by the new modern era of digital content, which I found insightful.

It’s a broader discussion, perhaps, but there is also a real element of entertainment, and how that now plays into how & why people consume “news” in the first place; this piece may be at an interesting intersection:





Moon over Madera

It’s actually kind of tough to take a good photo of the moon. The fuller the moon, the less exposure time you need. With a full moon, you’ll probably use the fastest exposure time your camera has (I do). Which is counter intuitive, because it’s night and totally dark out. But turns out that taking a picture of a full moon is like taking a picture of the sun, almost.

This was the moon over Madera California tonight. Nowhere near full, so 5 seconds  of exposure time seemed to work fine. I didn’t experiment with other settings, and used an ISO setting of 100 and a f/stop of 1.8 (50mm lens).

Around the Rock Race Report: DNF / DQ

 Alcatraz from Aquatic Park

I’ve never said this phrase or acronym about a race. DNF, did not finish. DQ, disqualified. My mind is still even trying to process it, to be honest. Generally, when you don’t have a mechanical error or a serious medical situation, you 100% control whether or not you finish anything. You just push through the pain and get it done.

Open water swimming in the ocean is a different story. There are important lessons to be had about mother nature. Poor judgement or simply bull headed brute force efforts, can be disastrous.

The annual Around the Rock swim race was held this weekend. And the flood tide was stronger than expected.

The thick red line is my route for the race, as plotted by my Garmin 920XT. The green line was the plan of record for the return leg once I rounded the north of the island. The purple arrows are the direction of the flood current.

The way out to Alcatraz was a breeze. Perfectly on target, and swimming with the tide. Once around the north side of the island though, which was spectacularly turbulent, and the first sign of trouble, we turned straight south. And that flood tide hit us like whole gale force winds. To be fair, I knew we’d be swimming against the flood on the way home, since we had swam out with it.

The current was unbelievable.

There was no perceivable progress from the water. In hind sight, and after looking at the charts, it was indeed southward progress, but just too little to notice over distance and time. From the water, I could tell I was drifting further East. And that was getting frustrating. When I would swim towards my southward targets (the red circle-X’s at the bottom), I’d drift further East into the bay. When I would correct my target west (towards the Golden Gate) to try and make-up ground, I’d stop making southward progress across the channel. Essentially swimming in place. Both very bad situations.

My watch read an hour 45 minutes and 6,600 yards. I asked a nearby kayaker if we were making progress, and what the currents were doing. He said slow progress, and that the flood current was still very strong. Mentally unsatisfied, I launched back into my assault homeward, knowing I needed to make a decision.

The first obvious option was to just swim harder and beat the flood. But I knew that path would not likely be successful, and it would lead to complete exhaustion. I had already been trying to do that, and was getting tired. Complete exhaustion wouldn’t be good given the environment. Another option was to slow down to conserve energy, but I would drift further East into the bay, guaranteeing a boat pickup, and a DNF or DQ. And if I went into conservation mode, but the flood magically subsided before a mandatory boat pickup, it would mean an even longer swim to get home.

The odds were down to my swimming ability against mother nature. And it was blatantly obvious who had the upper hand.

At that hour 45 mark, already my longest swim by time, my shoulders were feeling it. Doubt and reason crept in. After doing some quick fuzzy math, I estimated at least another 30 minutes to get home, or about a 2h 15m total swim time, if all at full effort. And even with a wetsuit, the longer I was in the water, the greater the risk of hypothermia. 2 hours was too long. With a risk of hypothermia, while marginal, my judgement itself could take its own dive south.

I was out of good options.

In complete and utter disbelief at my fate, I stopped swimming and raised my hand to flag support. I drifted East for a few seconds until I was near enough to the closest kayaker and said, “I’m done, call the boat.”  He said, “ok, grab onto my kayak.” Then I heard him radio the nearest boat for a swimmer pickup. You can barely notice it in the map, but in those few seconds, we drifted East 200 yards.

The boat was there quickly, and I was a little surprised to see 3 or 4 swimmers already on-board (there were 3 to 5 boats out there). From the boat, I looked East into the bay, and saw swimmers strewn about all battling the flood, with some of them already quite far into the bay and getting picked up. At that point, what happened became super real. Mother Nature’s flood out-powered us, beyond what our imaginations could have anticipated.

Luckily, there were no disasters, a 100% testament to the swim team’s program, the experience level of all our swimmers, and the expert kayakers and safety boats out there looking out for us. Distance swimming kayakers are guardian angels.

While I had my mind set that it was a DNF or even a DQ, and I just wanted to get to dry land, they were dropping us closer to a flood break (the blue X’s and arrow on my GPS map above). From there, we finished the swim. Regardless of how it’s pitched, that a repositioning is really just a safety measure, not a DQ or DNF, it technically is since we had boat assistance.

You win this year’s match, Alcatraz. See ya next year.

The “Devil Mountain”

Mount Diablo as seen from Pleasanton Ridge 
overlooking Tri-Valley

Interesting facts about Mount Diablo from TrailStompers (bold emphasis mine):

The “Devil Mountain”

According to the most widely accepted story, the reference to “diablo” or “devil” can be traced back to 1804 or 1805 when a Spanish military expedition visited the area in search of runaway mission Indians. At a willow thicket near present-day Buchanan Field, the soldiers encountered a Village of Chupcan people and surrounded it. But night came, and evidently all the Indians escaped unseen. Angry and confused, the Spanish called the site “Monte del Diablo,” or “Thicket of the Devil”. Later, English-speaking newcomers mistakenly assumed the word “monte” to mean “mountain” and applied the title to this prominent East Bay peak. A linguistic accident thus gave California its “Devil Mountain.”

The “Mount Diablo Meridian”

Just after the Gold Rush, federal land surveyors began the momentous task of surveying out the lands of the Wild West. To do this, reference points were chosen and lands were surveyed with respect to those “initial points” as they are called. Lines called “meridians” (north-south lines) and “base lines” (east-west lines) were extended out from the initial points. Because of the tremendous distances from which Mount Diablo was visible, in 1851 it was selected to be the initial point for the federal land surveys for northern California and Nevada.

Ignoring the excitement of the Gold Rush, Leander Ransom and his men erected a flagpole at the summit of Mount Diablo and began to extend the base and meridian lines that are used to this day in our official land surveys. As a matter of fact, Mount Diablo base and meridian lines are referred to in legal descriptions of real estate throughout two-thirds of California and parts of Nevada and Oregon!

The Auburn Pain Train

Swim start & end 
Rattlesnake Bar, Granite Bay

What’s remarkable about the Auburn Triathlon is how deceptively difficult it is. The longest version of the race is dubbed the “World’s Toughest Half,” composing a total of 70.3 miles of combined swimming, cycling, and running. That’s got to be marketing though, right?

The swim starts out in the North Fork American River, a northern river-like part of lake Folsom. The water will be great. Pre-race jitters will be fun and exciting. But, before you know it, the swim’s over. And you better have enjoyed that swim … because that’s about where the pleasantries stop. Welcome aboard the pain train to hell.

From there on out, it’s a grueling hour and a half of climbing on the bike (for the mid distance race, not the long version, which I didn’t do), with enough minor downhills and flat spots to let your heart calm down enough to lure you back into not giving up. An hour into your ride, every little muscle fiber in your legs will just be begging to cramp.

If you haven’t given up by the time you reach run transition (the last part of your race), you have a difficult decision to make: should you give up? It’s a real decision, don’t take it lightly. First of all, you need to assess yourself and your fitness. Nobody likes a dead triathlete in a race. That kind of spoils the party for everyone. Bike-to-run transition is an excellent spot to seek-out medical attention.

If you are in good enough shape to continue … awesome! You are lucky in a very unlucky way. Surprisingly though, the run lets up a little and you get to take in some spectacular views of the old-time gold rush mining canyons in the area. Absolutely spectacular. It’s an excuse to walk, and take it in, right? But … fat chance you will be doing much enjoying after all that climbing on the ride smashed your legs to bits.  If you screwed up your nutrition intake thus far, you might as well just walk, nobody wants to see a wrestling pig. And those smiles and pleasantries you share with your fellow runners will be fake. Everyone’s a hurt puppy, just moments away from lashing out in a fit of rage, controlled only by exhaustion.

But eventually, and time cut-off limits permitting, the finish line will come. And it will be sweet.

So, some words of advice on this race if you chose to ever do it, and you should: dig down deep in the face of adversity and find a reason to keep going. What kept me going on that day was was reflecting on the insanely hard efforts that our service men and women endure every day out there on the front lines protecting us, so that we can be out here doing things like ultra-silly hard triathlons, for fun. Makes it kind of hard to give up and stop.

What are the things you think about that keep you going when the going gets tough?


BlackBerry Priv … Finally!

 My new BlackBerry Priv!!!

Finally, the BlackBerry Priv was released this week. It’s the first BlackBerry device running android, with the full BlackBerry keyboard that we learned to love ages ago.

I’ve been waiting ages for this phone! Seriously, like since I left my BlackBerry Curve for the Nexus One.  On 5 Jan 2010.

I’ve only had it for a half a day … but so far, I’m very impressed.

Some highlights:

  • Scrolling with a touch sensitive key board is refreshing. I was getting frustrated by accidentally “hearting” tweets as I was just scrolling, or accidentally triggering links on web pages. I love the fact that I can scroll now without touching the screen itself. It also feels like I have more real estate, even though the screen is about the same size as my Note II.
  • Setup was so easy. In less than 15 minutes or so, I was fully transitioned over with all my core apps: banking, multiple gmail accounts, BBM, weather, slack, google maps & directions, google authenticator, WordPress, and all of the security policies required for work. It’s pure & perfect android. Everything just worked.
  • Gosh dang that keyboard. It’s good to be back. Having keys just brings a level of confidence for me that I just don’t think I’ll ever have with a virtual keyboard. The Priv also has a virtual keyboard (and it seems decent), but I haven’t used it, so TBD.
  • Micro USB. Came home and hooked the Priv into the charging cables I already had laying around. There is something awesome about standardized hardware.
  • I really can’t find anything wrong with it yet. Battery life, TBD. The power button is on the left side, and I’m used to it being on the right side. It has some lenses on it, so I figure it can probably take pictures or something?

We’ll see if the market acknowledges the device. I hope it does, because I think if BlackBerry is confirmed here with android, they’ll do even more awesome stuff. Here’s to hoping!

Bones Brigade

I remember, I was super thin, and I was falling apart in school, ’cause I really didn’t care anymore, and I remember he [dad] couldn’t do anything about it. It wasn’t acting out … you don’t do that in the house, you don’t do that … but the thing is, is I was withered in a way you could not control. And I was spinning. I remember the teachers and stuff … going to counseling, and they were like “we dont’ know what’s wrong. Something is wrong at home … eat.”

My dad is not some evil man – he was trying to do the best he could for what he had, with what he had, with me. But those are those formative years, teenager, when things start to hurt, in a different way. When I found skateboarding, it was the first thing I loved. I mean, I loved it. And it being pulled away from me, hardened something inside of me … where nothing mattered.

Everything I am today somehow, is probably fed by my need for acceptance. With my dad that’s not necessarily the acceptance sons are hoping for, you know … of it’s good you did this but do you get the point you are dominating something that really doesn’t matter? Apply yourself to something meaningful. But because of Tony [Hawk] and [Steve] Caballero and these guys, that gave me a sense of acceptance and belonging that was reciprocated and bounced back and churned in synergistic way.

And that’s what created the Bones Brigade.

–Rodney Mullen
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (Netflix)