Last weekend I spent a bit of time playing with the Nikon SB-600 external flash. I’ve had it for a few years now, but rarely bring it along when I shoot. I experimented with some of the different settings and with a range of lighting angles and had some great results. My subject, of course, was the Moose. She sat still, but looked very concerned throughout.
Yesterday I was searching for some public data, and stumbled upon some good carbon emissions data from the European Commission. I decided to toss it into Tableau to visualize CO2 emissions by country – current state and trend. It’s been a while since I’ve done any data visualization outside of work. Here’s what I came up with after a couple beers.
I’ve recently begun going back through photos I’ve taken over the past ten years and carefully editing some of my favorites. Many of them are shots that I previously reviewed as part of a batch, and at the time didn’t give any one particular photo a meaningful amount of attention.
In doing this, I’ve also begun building a portfolio at Shutterstock, one of the more popular stock photography websites. I view it as a bit of a challenge, as their technical requirements and standards are quite difficult to meet. Historically I’ve taken a more artistic approach to photo shooting and editing, and as I first submitted shots, most were rejected. Gradually I’m learning what I need to do to get them accepted, which has been rewarding.
It’s been some time since I’ve written on this blog, and view this as an opportunity to share some of the photos I’ve been editing.
The first is a picture of a seagull I took in Chicago in June of 2009:
I’ve also included the Lightroom Preset available for download: Seagull
This is one of my favorite recipes of all time. I discovered Sorachi Ace when someone brought a homebrewed gallon to a friend’s party and I gave it a try. For the first time in years, I felt as though I was trying a new style of beer. It wasn’t just good, it was completely unfamiliar. A hop profile I had never experienced. It’s a strain that was developed in Japan by Sapporo in the 70’s and 80’s, and is only now making it’s way to the US market in meaningful quantities.
I went home and immediately did some research, eager to brew something similar. The below recipe is what I came up with. And I’m very happy with it.
Here’s what I went with:
3 lbs Maris Otter Light 3 lbs Pilsner Light 1 lb Wheat 1 lb Rice 1 lb Flaked Barley 2 oz Sorachi Ace (30 min, 15 min, 5 min, flame out) 2 oz Sorachi Ace (Secondary dry) California Ale Yeast
The rice lightens it up a bit, the flaked barley adds a creamy head profile, the the California Ale Yeast is unobtrusive, allowing the hop profile to dominate the taste.
A few weeks after this was ready I tried the Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace single hop. It seems to be the most popular one on the market. It was alright, but I think the high 7.6% ABV and Belgian yeast they use masks the Sorachi Ace flavor. I’m still looking for something on the market that I like, but until then, I’ll keep brewing it.
Laura and I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in Zion after CES. It’s actually a great place to visit in the Winter. The park was practically empty, places to stay were cheap, and it was perfect hiking weather.
Angels Landing, with its steep narrow final stretch, was definitely a highlight. Quite a few people on the trail had turned back before reaching the end (and the signs continuously remind you that quite a few people have fallen off and died), so I was actually expecting it to be more narrow than it is. When I got to the end, I didn’t realize I was there because I was expecting to hit a point where I questioned whether I’d continue. Not to say it isn’t intense.
Here are a few shots, first from the West Rim Trail hike on the way to Angels Landing:
And here’s the final stretch:
It actually felt steeper on the way down:
We drove around and had some good views, mostly in the evening and the following morning:
Another highlight was the Watchman Trail, where we saw a bunch of mule deer:
I’ve listened to NPR on a regular basis for years, but hadn’t gotten into the habit of subscribing to shows using a podcast app until recently. I would typically listen to RadioLab, The TED Radio Hour, and Planet Money, all through the NPR app. And I’d sometimes catch This American Life on the radio. All this probably makes me an extremely typical casual NPR listener.
To me, good online radio has always been synonymous with NPR, and I had never seen a compelling reason to explore further. Not because I didn’t think there was other interesting content out there, but I figured that if it hadn’t found me, it probably wasn’t worth the effort.
That has changed. I’m now a podcast person, and it began with a new series called Startup.
I first learned about it a few months ago when a friend told me about how my business school classmate, Matt Lieber, was a cofounder of a venture backed startup. I asked what they do. He said they are a podcast, but also a podcast platform. I asked him to elaborate.
He explained that it was a bit confusing, and that they might be a technology platform, but they definitely have created a podcast about their startup. And he thought they were trying to make more podcasts, but he was also almost certain there was a tech play, likely with an app. I told him that this made no sense to me. He said he was still trying to figure it out as well, but they definitely had momentum because they raised a bunch of cash. So I was very much confused, but intrigued.
It took me a while to finally look into Matt’s startup. When I did, I understood the initial vision after listening to two minutes of the first episode of the Startup podcast.
-Alex Blumberg used to be involved with This American Life and Planet Money
-He contributed to the success of these shows, and understands first hand what it takes to build awesome audio programs
-While there are many great audio programs out there, he thinks it’s a shame there aren’t even more, as he believes the market could be much larger if there were more organizations innovating and catering to a diverse range of interests/topics
-His vision is to build an ad supported for-profit audio content company that thinks up and produces a bunch of awesome new audio programs
-He decided to document his journey building this company, and so he started Startup, a podcast about building a podcast company
Startup received a good amount of media attention, which ultimately helped facilitate an initial round of funding at a very favorable valuation. At some point along the way Alex realized he needed help from someone with business experience, and he found Matt.
After listening to the first episode, I was hooked and went through the next nine over a span of a few days. There are a few angles to its appeal. To start, it’s a good story. Alex is a talented storyteller, and he’s woven together his experiences taking this company from an idea into a funded business in a compelling way.
It also offers a rare glimpse into the process of raising a round of funding, and getting a startup off the ground. Regardless of the industry, many of the challenges Alex and Matt face – pitching investors, coming up with a name, negotiating equity with a cofounder, hiring employees – are relevant to most startups.
And finally, it’s really honest. Throughout the series, Alex walks through many of their mistakes, challenges, and fears. Botched investor pitches, a bad start to the equity negotiation with Matt, a really embarrassing advertising mistake, burned out employees. Many startups go to great lengths to hide or spin their mistakes and worries, and to inflate their success. Alex and Matt aren’t, and it’s refreshing.
The story also really evolves as their business grows. By episode eight, the company had hired a team to launch another podcast, and Alex introduces their second show, Reply All, which is also worth a listen.
Continuing with my above average quantity of dog-related posts, my friend Jenny recently sent me this article, about a dog in Seattle:
Commuters in Belltown report seeing a Black Labrador riding the bus alone in recent weeks. The 2-year old has been spotted roaming the aisles, hopping onto seats next to strangers, and even doing her part to clean the bus — by licking her surroundings.
“All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” said commuter Tiona Rainwater, as she rode the bus through downtown Monday. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?”
When the dog got off the bus – without an owner – at a dog park last week, it piqued the curiosity of local radio host Miles Montgomery of KISW-FM.
“It doesn’t really appear to have an owner. The dog gets off at the dog park. I just look out the window and I’m like, ‘did that just happen?'” Montgomery asked. “She was most concerned about seeing out the window, and I couldn’t figure out what that was. It was really just about seeing where her stop was.”