Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Inaugural Faye 50K

I ran a handful of marathons as a kid, completing my fifth and final race as a seventeen year old high school senior. That was thirty one years ago – and I haven’t run the distance since. I’ve always stayed active, but over the past two decades, my running has been focused on getting in shape for backpacking trips. Week long trips in the mountains are much more enjoyable when one is in shape. My first backpacking trip in 1995 was painful, as I was out of shape, and I vowed never to put myself in that situation again. I trained for six months each year, preparing for summer backpacking trips in the Sierra.

I was introduced to trail running in 2007, when I ran a 17K at Muir Beach with Sue and with Faye running the 50K. In the spring of 2013, I was sitting at my desk at work, reminiscing about the fun we had on the trails that day, and I e-mailed Faye, asking for a recommendation for my next trail run. Her reply was something along the lines of, “Oh, do I have a recommendation for you….you can pace me at the Leadville 100.” I can still visualize the smirk on her face as she was typing that e-mail to me. That fateful day revitalized my running program and got me excited about running again; running for the sake of running and not running as a means to an end. Nearly two years and two thousand miles later, trail running has become my mental and spiritual therapy.

A part of me loves formal races and another part of me enjoys “just running.” The atmosphere at races is amazing. I love the energy and buzz in the air, and I’m inspired by the competitors pushing themselves to their physical limits. On the other hand, I love running for the sake of running and I haven’t found the need to run in a “real” race. Races are expensive and Lord knows I don’t need another t-shirt (or race swag). Trail runners, particularly ultra-runners, have what they call ‘Fat Ass” runs (pardon the term). The mantra is, “No fees, no awards, no aid, no wimps.” These are informal, self-supported runs…just for fun. Yesterday, Faye and I had such a run. I’ll call it the inaugural Faye 50K, a 30.5 mile run starting at Lake Chabot Regional Park, meandering across beautiful trails to Redwood Regional Park, and looping back, with wonderful views from the hills overlooking Lake Chabot. This was my longest run since the 1983 Honolulu Marathon and the longest run of my life – and I crossed the magical line between marathoner and ultra-marathoner. I didn’t receive a t-shirt or shiny medal at the finish line, but I left there with water in my shoes, mud on my gaiters and a smile on my face. Thanks Faye for a great run!

Here are a few photos from our run.

It's been a wet December in the San Francisco Bay Area and the swollen creek gave Faye an opportunity to finally get a bath.

This is a fence near the border between Lake Chabot Regional Park and Redwood Regional Park.

Pre-run selfie. Faye hates selfies, but she should appreciate the opportunity to have her photo taken with trail running arm

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Wet, Rainy Photo-Run

During my Thursday run in the rain, I wished I had my camera. Although it's a pain carrying a camera on wet runs, the fog and rain create an opportunity for interesting landscape photography. The forecast called for rain again today, so I packed my Panasonic LX5 camera in a fanny pack, keeping it dry under my rain jacket. The LX5 is the perfect trail running camera. The slippery, slimy, sticky mud on the Pleasanton Ridge trails made for a challenging run, so I decided to take a leisurely 20 mile photo-run today.

Here are a few photos from my run.

It was "one step forward and half a step backward" going uphill on the wet, slippery clay trails.

I enjoy running on the single track through the oak trees.

The wet weather brings out the California Newts. The newts blend in with the dirt, so it's always tough avoiding these little guys.

I've run past this arrow dozens of times, but the fog today made for the perfect opportunity to photograph it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Foggy Vision, Clear Mind

Rain was in the forecast for Wednesday, so I adjusted my weekly Monday/Wednesday trail running schedule to Tuesday/Thursday for this past week.  God has an interesting sense of humor, as the rain on Wednesday ended up being a light drizzle and the rain showers arrived on Thursday instead.  This was the third time in the last month that I had the pleasure of running in a steady rain.

I love running in 100 degree heat, 35 degree cold, or pouring rain.  Well, to be honest, I like the challenge of running in the heat, but struggle on longer runs, and I hate the cold and rain.  I do, however, love the heat, cold, and rain because the trails are empty under these conditions, enabling a more serene and peaceful running experience.

As I approached the trailhead to the Pleasanton Ridge, I smiled as I saw the fog blanketing the ridgeline.  It was going to be fun.  I ascended the east-facing side of the ridge slowly, being gentle on my healing Achilles and careful not to slip on the slick clay.  Within a mile, I was in the fog, which got thicker as I approached the ridgeline.  It was a zen-like experience.  The fog clouded my vision, but the serenity cleared my mind.  I was treated to the soothing symphony of the rhythmic pattering of rain and the gentle rustling of leaves, as the wind passed through the trees.  I focused on nothing, but the relaxed breaths of air quietly entering and exiting my body; my mind interrupted only by the occasional California Newt wandering the trail.  I finished the run wet, cold, and entirely relaxed.

Saturday’s weather forecast calls for rain showers -- 70% chance by 7 AM and 90% by 8 AM.  It’s going to be another fun one…

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

When we first moved to Pleasanton, California, my wife and I watched the hula performances at the Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival, held annually in November at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. We actually have an Ia 'Oe E Ka La hula festival poster from 1995 hanging in our dining room. Little did I know, my future daughter, yet to be an itch in her daddy’s pants, would be competing in this hula competition decades later.

I photographed the halau performing at the last few Ia 'Oe E Ka La competitions. This year, I asked my daughter if it was okay if I didn’t photograph during the performance. I wanted to sit back, relax, and enjoy the performance. Sometimes as photographers, we need to set down the camera, enjoy the moment, and just be a parent. Ironically, photographing an event and being able to view the photos decades later helps bring back memories, but often the actual real-time experience is lost behind the viewfinder. Parents are not alone in this phenomenon. Kids (and adults) are often too engrossed in taking pictures and videos on their cell phones, uploading it to social media, and tweeting/texting their friends about the event, that they don’t actually experience the moment.

This year, I enjoyed the performances with the wide-angle perspective from my two eyes (and not the tunnel view via my viewfinder). It was beautiful!

Here are a few photos from the 2014 Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival.

After each performance, the parents all rush outside to take pictures of the girls. This year, I decided to stay out of the gaggle of photographers, deciding instead to capture the multitude of iPhones and DSLRs via this photo. Who needs "the same photo" as everyone else!

This is Kami after her wonderful performance.

Kami's friend, Caitlyn, joined us on Sunday to watch the performance.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Washington State University

Time sure flies!

It seems like yesterday, when the wife mentioned she was prego...and my pending bass boat instantaneously fell out of the budget. Nine months later, we were proud new parents of a healthy baby boy. There was a bit of a learning curve, but diapers quickly transitioned to mother's group, followed by Y-Indian Guides, Little League baseball, CYO and PYB basketball, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, high school basketball, high school track, and DECA. In a blink of an eye, Kevin grew up, graduated from Amador Valley High School, and headed off to Washington State University.

We made the fifteen hour drive up to Pullman, Washington last weekend to deliver Kevin to his new home for the next four years (three and a half?). I'm really excited for Kevin. Although WSU is in BFE, it's a beautiful campus and Pullman is a wonderful, college town. I think he's really going to love his college experience. There's something special about going to a Division 1 school because in addition to a great education, he will get to experience Pac-12 football, basketball, etc. The WSU Cougars have quickly become my second favorite college football team and I will be cheering for them all year, except for 11/1, when the Trojans visit Pullman.

Here are a few photos from our trip.

Kevin's dorm room (Rogers Hall).

We had a nice dinner at Rancho Viejo, our last meal with Kevin in Pullman.

Martin Stadium. WSU did a nice job building a new football complex adjacent to the stadium. It's a first class facility.

While Kevin was getting situated, we took a quick trip to the Steptoe Butte State Park.

There was a cell site on top of the hill at Steptoe Butte SP.

Kami at the WSU visitor center.

Here are a few photos of the Washington landscape....taken from the passenger seat on our drive back to California.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Desolation Wilderness Trail Run

"As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are."

–- Joan Benoit Samuelson

According to the U.S. Forest Service website, the Tahoe Basin was covered with ice sheets over a thousand feet deep during the last ice age, over 200,000 years ago. The glaciers receded 10,000 years ago, creating the wonderful place we now call the Desolation Wilderness.

With Yosemite National Park blanketed with smoke from the local forest fires, Faye, Li, and I headed over to the Desolation Wilderness for a mid-week excursion. We arrived Echo Lake shortly after 9 AM and parked at the Echo Chalet. We not so quickly sorted out our gear, loaded up our running packs, visited the latrine, and hit the trails at 10 AM. Faye and I ran the trails, while Li hiked.

Running along the trail overlooking Echo Lake was a different experience. The last two times I've been to the Desolation Wilderness was in the winter and we snowshoed across Echo Lake. The lower perspective from the lake's surface provides wonderful views of the granite mountains forming the northern border of the lake. Running the elevated trail offers one a different, but equally beautiful view of the lake and terrain beyond. We followed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), running along Lower Echo Lake and the smaller Upper Echo Lake. I find it amusing that there are two Echo...Echo...Lakes, but, I digress. After a few miles, the trail overlooks Tamarack Lake on the left, which is a distinctive flat spot surrounded by trees during the winter months. Continuing northwest along the PCT for a few more miles, we reached the large, but shallow Lake Aloha. I'm always curious about the names of backcountry lakes and Lake Aloha is one for which there is no apparent explanation. Perhaps the islands in the middle of the lake reminded one of the Hawaiian islands in the Pacific. Anyway, we stopped at Lake Aloha to take in the the beautiful views and to snap a few photos. We neared our predefined turnaround time, so we proceeded a bit beyond Lake Aloha to Heather Lake. I took a quick photo of the lake with my iPhone, capturing a square composition to be uploaded to Instagram back at the parking lot...and then we headed back.

It was a very relaxing and enjoyable trip; a bit of running, a bit of walking, and a bit of landscape photography. For me, that's the beauty of these "fun runs." We took our time and made sure to pause for a few special moments to enjoy the incredible views. The total round trip distance was 17 miles, with about two thousand feet of elevation gain. Overall, I thought the trail was graded nicely and was mostly runnable, although there were sections of really rocky terrain which we walked to minimize the risk of twisted ankles. The trail climbs from 7,400 feet at Echo Lake to 8,120 feet at Lake Aloha, so the "actual" pace was slower than the "perceived" pace. Often at elevation, I feel like I'm running eight minute miles, but my Garmin GPS watch lets me know it's only ten minute miles.

Here are a few photos from the trip.

I liked the mirror-like reflections.

I tried to use the grass in the water to provide some foreground interest.

Lake Aloha

In the winter, the islands in Lake Aloha appear as bumps on an expanse of white. It's such a different view in the summer.

There were a lot of day hikers on the trail and the younger ones were thrilled to see Barney.

Faye (AKA, Vanna) and Wayne at the Desolation Wilderness boundary.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


“Some seek the comfort of their therapist's office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.”

-- Dean Karnazes

One of the things I love about trail running is the peace and solitude. The stress and frustration from a bad day at work just melt away on the trail, seemingly exiting my body through the sweat from my pores and the carbon dioxide from my lungs.

My daughter performed in a hula competition during a recent weekend in Sacramento. I missed Saturday, while doing my long-run, and joined them on Sunday. My wife mentioned to the other parents that I was doing my long-run on Saturday and the “18 mile” distance came up in the conversation. They asked what I was training for and she explained, “Nothing…he just does it.”

I’ve been running off and on for the last 30 years (since I was an infant), but it wasn’t until last year that I really ramped up and started running year-round. I volunteered (sort of) to pace a friend in last year’s Leadville 100, trained hard to get into shape quickly, and just kept the running program going after the race was over. Now, with no special race in mind, I “just do it” because it’s fun and relaxing.

Interestingly enough, while on my 18 mile run, I bumped into another runner on the trail and we chatted a bit. He asked if I was training for a marathon or something and I mentioned I was just running for fun (don’t people run 18 miles for fun?). I explained that I enjoy self-supported, fun runs because organized races are expensive and I don’t need more t-shirts (just ask my wife) – and I get to visit cool locations that I’m interested in seeing, the scheduling is totally flexible (and can be rescheduled in the event of injury, etc.), and it’s free.

My friend Faye and I have a few fun runs scheduled this year. We’re running Desolation Wilderness next week, near Lake Tahoe. Our original plan was to run in Yosemite National Park, but we changed the venue due to a forest fire in the area. We also canceled a Yosemite run last year due to a forest fire, so the fire gods must be mad at us – or perhaps it’s because California’s in the middle of a multi-year drought and the summers have been extraordinarily hot. I’m also planning a Lake Del Valle to Sunol Regional Park run, traversing 20 miles along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. There may also be another run later in the fall (I can always be “convinced” to do something fun).

Peace out.

Here are a few more photos from the Pleasanton Ridge trails.

Sheep grazing and enjoying the peaceful day (at least until I ran upon them, causing them to scatter off the trail). I tried counting them, but I fell asleep...

Chris dashing through the oaks.

Chris running off into the distance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Anything but the Omelet

I recently traveled to Guam on business. While Guam is a wonderful place to vacation and relax, my business travel there has usually consisted of long work days, starting at 4 AM to support conference calls with North America, and ending late with customer dinners. Now that I’ve completed this trip a few times, I decided to compile a few tips for travelers visiting the island.

United Airlines pretty much has a lock on air travel between the US and Guam. The real choice is whether one connects through Honolulu or Tokyo. I prefer connecting through Tokyo because it offers one long flight from San Francisco to Tokyo (10 hours) and then one short flight from Tokyo to Guam (3 hours). Flying through Hawaii results in two medium-long flights, which isn’t as good for sleeping. I also enjoy the food and shopping at the Narita Airport.

The food on US air carriers is generally bad, at best. When flying United Airlines, I generally opt for ABTO (anything but the omelet). The texture and flavor of the “egg-like” food product is horrendous, but it complements the “cheese-like” food product enveloped in it surprisingly well (in a disgusting sort of way). On the flight to Tokyo, the chicken and rice was gourmet compared to the omelet-like food product. My ABTO theory/practice was proven incorrect on my flight home, however, as the pasta was actually worse (although by a narrow margin).

Tumon is the “Waikiki” of Guam, with a lot of shops, restaurants, hotels, and beaches to cater to the tourist. Historically, the Japanese and Koreans furnished the bulk of the tourism; however, more Chinese and Russian tourists appear to be flocking to the island lately. One tip for the business traveler (and tourist) is to buy a $13 mask and snorkel at K-Mart, and spend some time in the water. Floating in the warm Pacific Ocean, viewing the colorful tropical fish amongst the coral will soothe your soul. Sixty minutes in the water after work cleared our minds, melted our stress…and prepared our appetites for dinner. We repeated this day after day and the fish – the bright blue starfish; the brilliant yellow puffer fish; the school of angel fish; the colorful trigger fish; and the sand-colored flounder – always amazed us.

When in Guam, or any tropical island, take the time to chill out. Drive a little slower, enjoy dinner a little longer, and don’t sweat the small stuff. My flight from Guam to Tokyo had a projected three hour delay, jeopardizing my connection in Narita and the connections for many other travelers. While waiting at the gate, a group of locals opened their guitar and ukulele cases, and started playing music. The band entertained the crowd and the music helped pass the time (and gave the Asian tourists something to photograph). What would typically be bummer ended up being a nice experience, with live music, and drinks and snacks provided by United Airlines. Who knew hanging out at the airport could be so fun!

Fortunately, the flight left Guam after a two and a half hour delay, and the airline held my connecting flight in Narita. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to shop and eat at Narita….and I was so looking forward to the ramen.

To wrap things up, when traveling to Guam, remember -- ABTO and relax a little.

Here are a few pictures from my trip (Nikon FM2, 35mm f/2 AI-S, Fuji Pro400H film):

View of Tumon Bay from my hotel room.

Afternoon view from Two Lover's Point

Here are a few photos from my iPhone5:

Morning view from the hotel

Another photo taken from Two Lover's Point

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Photography Style and Other Miscellaneous Ramblings

I read an article on photographic style recently, and it got me thinking about my own personal style and shooting preferences.

Since I was a child, I have been interested in photography to some degree, using primarily Instamatic and similar point and shoot film cameras. A college roommate introduced me to the SLR, his Minolta X-700, and I eventually purchased my own SLR in 1992. My wife purchased a digital SLR, a Nikon D80, for me in 2008 and I used it sparingly, primarily for backpacking trips and special occasions. In 2010, I started a 365 “photo a day, for a year” project and my knowledge, experience, and skills increased exponentially (for the non-engineers, that means “a lot”). In my opinion, shooting daily is the best way to become a better photographer. It makes the camera settings and handling second nature, and more importantly, it trains your eye to “see” better photographs.

While I no longer shoot every day, I shoot regularly and include the camera in my daily life. I don’t consider myself a specialist in any one genre of photography. I just photograph life around me. I’m a landscape photographer when I’m hiking, snowshoeing, backpacking, trail running, and camping; a sports photographer when I’m watching my son’s basketball games and track meets, and my daughter’s softball games; a street photographer when I’m wandering around San Francisco; and a portrait photographer when my wife needs a family portrait for the Christmas cards.

In general, I prefer natural light over artificial light, prime lenses (fixed focal length) over zoom lenses, shooting outdoors instead of indoors, and lately, more film than digital. My photographic style is bounded by these preferences.

My landscape work is usually shot wide, with a 24mm (or wider) lens, although I have been shooting more and more at 35mm. My tendency (or “style”) is to fill the foreground with an interesting subject and shoot from a low to the ground perspective. This places the horizon at the upper third of the frame and accentuates the foreground subject. I don’t use the longer focal lengths often, but when I do, it’s to isolate an interesting feature or for foreground/background compression (i.e., make the foreground and background appear closer together in the frame).

My portraits are usually environmental/candid portraits -- un-posed shots of family and friends, using natural light. I tend to frame tightly, typically capturing the subject from the waist, on up, and filling the frame. This is probably my least favorite genre of photography, but I think it’s important to capture your loved ones in photos for future enjoyment. I love looking at old photos of the family, especially the kids. As the kids get older and as the older generation passes, the old photos become priceless.

For sports, I try to fill the frame with the action. Framing is always a challenge with fast-moving sports and I don’t hesitate to crop a photo in post-processing. I often complement the “action” shots with wider views to provide context and with candid portraits of the coaches and players. I almost always use my digital SLR. The action is fast and shooting digital (with autofocus) is more efficient and productive. I most often shoot with my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. The f/2.8 maximum aperture allows me to use faster shutter speeds to freeze the action, while minimizing ISO.

I’m new to street photography, but this is one area I’m interested in experiencing more. I tend to shoot my FM2, with a 35mm f/2 lens, and Kodak BW400CN B&W film, pushed two-stops. Pushing the film (shooting at ISO 1600) allows me to use a smaller aperture for more depth of field and faster shutter speeds to freeze the motion. Additionally, the small FM2 is less obtrusive and allows me to shoot without drawing a lot of attention to myself. I will also switch to a 50mm lens, when I want to fill the frame with the subject, with less background.

From an equipment perspective, I won’t say that “cameras don’t matter,” but I personally don’t worry too much about the gear. For most of my work, my current camera of choice is the Nikon FM2 film SLR, with either a 35mm or 50mm lens, shooting color or B&W negative film. Shooting a modern digital SLR would clearly give me “better” technical image quality and using a zoom lens would give me more flexibility and convenience, but, I prefer the more compact size and lighter weight of the FM2. Furthermore, the manual controls help slow me down, enabling me to better focus on exposure and composition before pressing the shutter release button. Too many photographers evaluate “image quality” by looking at razor sharp focus and the absence of digital noise. My recommendation is to focus on composition and quality of light instead, and not worry about the camera. Some of my favorite photos have been taken with a point and shoot, film camera, or even my iPhone. While the technical image quality would surely be better with the latest, greatest digital SLR, the simplicity of the other cameras often helps me see the compositions better.

Here are a few photos, illustrating my "style" of photography. These pictures were captured with a variety of cameras, including a Nikon D80 digital SLR, Minolta film SLR, Nikon FM2 film SLR, Panasonic LX5 digital point and shoot, Olympus film point and shoot, and iPhone5.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Kami and Ashley Pitch a Solid Game

It rained and poured all day Friday and well into the evening. The softball fields were surely going to be soggy and unplayable today. This would benefit the PGSL Storm because their team would be short-handed, missing four starting infielders -- pitcher, first baseman, third baseman, and catcher.

The alarm went off at 6 AM and I shut it off, secretly praying for the game to be canceled. I lay in bed, periodically checking the PGSL website and weather line. At 6:45 AM, the website was updated -- the softball fields were open and playable. I quickly consumed my warm cup of coffee, packed up my glove and camera, and headed to the Pleasanton Sports Park with Kami.

An 8:30 AM game time is early for the average high school girl, but the Storm came ready to play. Several players had to play in new positions to cover for the missing players and although there were a few errors, the team performed well. The pitchers stepped up and pitched a great game. Kami started the game on the mound, with the plan to pitch two innings and then play third base for the balance of the game. She walked a few batters early on, but settled into a rhythm as the game progressed. The coaches decided to keep her on the mound for four innings. Ashley came in on relief and pitched a wonderful three innings. Both pitchers took care of business, yielding no earned runs in seven innings. Offensively, the team generated runs on several clutch hits and aggressive base running, and they took advantage of a few timely defensive errors.

The Storm had a few young players cheering them on today. Members from the PGSL Mini Rec Mighty Minions softball team arrived at the Sports Park early to watch the Storm game. The Storm practiced with the Mighty Minions last week, with the older players mentoring the younger players. It was nice to see the Mighty Minions showing their support for the Storm today. After the Storm victory, a few Storm players went to watch the Mighty Minions play their game. The Storm were honorary coaches, acting as the base coaches while the Mighty Minions were on offense. It was fun watching the little Minions play today -- and I think the Storm girls had a good time, as well.

Here are a few photos from today's action:

Kami getting encouragement from Coach Q before heading back to the mound.

Marisa behind the plate: Marisa normally plays shortstop and center field, but played a few innings at catcher today. She's a great softball player and I'm sure she can play any of the nine positions in a pinch.

Veronica S. talking to Coach Rick, just before laying down a beautiful bunt for a base hit.

Another coaching moment, starring Coach Rick and Zoe.

Zoe coaching first base during the Mighty Minion game

A Mighty Minion player quickly exiting the batters box, on her way to a nice base hit.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Mighty Minions

The Storm, playing in the Pleasanton Girls Softball League (PGSL) Senior Division, conducted a joint team practice today with the Mighty Minions, a team from the PGSL Mini Rec Division. It was a great opportunity for the younger Minion players to interact and learn from the older Storm players. I think young players listen well to their coaches, but it's something special to watch and learn from older, high school aged players.

After practice today, I took a short drive down Memory Lane. I remember when Kami was that age, playing in the Mini Rec Division. Observing the two teams together really highlighted how quickly the girls develop as softball players and mature into young ladies. It happens so quickly!

Here are a few photos from today's practice.

Jamie getting thrown out at first base by the Mighty Minion defense.

Marisa paired with the Minion shortstop, during infield practice.

Coach Rick hitting infield practice.

Lexi behind the plate during batting practice.

Jamie mentoring the Minion third basemen.

Here's a throwback photo:

Kami at Third Base, April 2010

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April Storm

Another Storm blasted through Pleasanton yesterday, the PGSL softball Storm. Although the team was missing four players at game time, the remaining ten put on a dominant performance. The bats were on fire, generating an incredible amount of offense. Defensively, the pitchers threw strikes, enabling the opposition to put the ball into play, and allowing the stout Storm defense to make plays. There were many ESPN Sports Center quality plays, including Kami snagging a line drive at second base, robbing the batter of a sure base hit.

Here are a few photos from the game:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Kami

Fifteen years ago today, Kami squirted out into this world and at that moment, Kevin had a sister.

Happy Birthday Kami!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Back on the Trails

My running has been a tough going for the last few months due to injury. I had a decent 2013, but various soft tissue issues impacted my training at end of 2013 and entering into 2014. The injury duration was likely prolonged due to recurring misdiagnosis by Dr. Kodama and a poor treatment plan by Physical Therapist Kodama. I now believe I had Piriformis Syndrome. In layman's terms, a major "pain in the rear." It took months of trial and error, but in retrospect, I seemed to exhibit the classic symptoms -- sharp pain down the leg and significant discomfort while sitting. Thanks to Google, I finally uncovered an advanced piriformis stretch, which reduced the pain dramatically and effectively unlocked my tight hips.

I traveled to Hawaii for business and took a few extra days to spend with family. Running wise, I intended to take advantage of the nice weather and kick start my running program. Before my first run, I was doing my "advanced piriformis stretch" and my brother said, "oh, the pigeon pose." Perhaps I should have started yoga months ago!  We ran four times during my stay, which exceeded my expectations.  I did the pigeon pose every morning and evening, and before and after each run.  After a pain free week of light running, I decided to resume my trail running this week in California.  The weather today was pleasant, perfect for my seven mile route on the Pleasanton Ridge.  My breathing was a bit more labored and my legs a little low on power, but overall it wasn't as bad as I expected.  As I passed a couple hiking up the ridge, the gal said, "you're a stud," and the guy followed with, "we wish we were you."  I love the encouragement I get from hikers, runners, and mountain bikers on the trails!  Any thoughts of walking quickly disappeared and I pushed my way to the top and across the ridgeline to my turnaround point.  After a short pigeon pose stretch at the top, I descended the ridge pain free.  It was a good (re)start to my training program.

While in Hawaii, I went to the parents' house and spent a few moments sorting through a box of my childhood memories.  After accumulating a house full of clutter in California over the last twenty years, the sentimental value associated with the boxes in Hawaii decreased dramatically.  I do, however, cherish the old photos -- particularly my baseball and marathon pictures.  The photo above was from my final marathon, the 1983 Honolulu Marathon.  My first marathon was the 1980 Honolulu Marathon, but I won't share that photo....I'll just say I was a pretty skinny 14 year old...with an era-appropriate hairstyle...and era-appropriate, goofy glasses.  :-)

Below are a few photos from my trip.


Fresh Akule for $4.95 per pound at a market in Chinatown.  Whenever I'm in the islands, I always try to have local seafood.  I travel on business to Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa, and the fresh, tropical seafood is always incredible.

This is a view of Aloha Tower from an office building on Bishop Street.  I loved the view from the office window.  I had a Mahi Mahi sandwich for lunch that day, blackened with Cajun spices.  The only thing it was missing was a cold beer...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Marisa's Home Run

Marisa's Home Run by Wayne-K
Marisa's Home Run, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

The Storm defense started a little slowly today, with multiple errors early in the game. Perhaps it was the 8:30 AM start, but the defense eventually clamped down and the bats came alive, giving the Storm another win.

Overall, it was a great game. Kami started the game on the mound and pitched well. Marisa put on a hitting clinic, hitting one out of the park for a home run!

Here are a few photos from the game.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Storm in the Forecast

Kami by Wayne-K
Kami, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

California is currently in a drought condition, with below-average precipitation this year. However, the weatherman didn't predict the big storm hitting Pleasanton...the PGSL Storm, that is. The Storm played a great game, with outstanding pitching, defense, and hitting.

We were the home team, occupying the third base dugout. This made it difficult to photograph the right handed batters, with their backs facing the camera. I decided to take a lot more portraits today. The game was held at Upper Bernal Fields, which is smaller than the fields at the Pleasanton Sports Park. The close proximity to the players made closely cropped portraits possible.

Here are a few photos from the game:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yosemite National Park

Half Dome by Wayne-K
Half Dome, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”

- Anonymous

I took a day off from work yesterday to hike Yosemite National Park. Over the last 20 years, I've avoided Yosemite because of the large crowds, including tourists, hikers, climbers, photographers, and school kids. While Yosemite is full of breathtaking and iconic views, the outdoor experience is often tarnished by the mass of humanity. I generally prefer the less traveled areas of the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra is full of wonderful locations, relatively anonymous compared to Yosemite, but nearly as beautiful and much more serene. Yesterday, however, was incredible. The foot traffic was low and the spring temperatures were high. The off-season is a superb time to visit the National Park!

After four short hours of sleep, I wearily arose at three o'clock, showered, jump-started my brain with a cup of coffee, and hit the road to Gilroy to meet up with the rest of the hiking gang – Faye, Li, and Deac. Under Faye's watchful eye, the group (somewhat) quickly gathered the gear, packed the truck, and we proceeded down Highway 152, east toward Yosemite.

Upon our arrival in the valley, we started our hike near Mirror Lake, early enough to catch the mountains lit with the early morning light and reflecting in the appropriately named lake. The view was picture perfect, but unfortunately, I didn't have my tripod or graduated neutral density filter. The ND grad filter is a key landscape photography tool, enabling the photographer to balance the exposure between the brightly lit mountains in the background with the shaded lake/reflections in the foreground. Using Kodak BW400CN film, I decided to shoot the reflections tightly framed, excluding the brightly lit background from the frame. I then shot the entire scene with my iPhone5, using the HDR mode to deal with the exposure differences...not my ideal tool, but the best one I had available at the time.

We continued our hike along the Snow Creek Trail, climbing steadily for almost 3000 feet. The brisk pace slowed gradually as the miles and elevation increased. Our effort was rewarded when Faye guided us to the site of our lunch break – a large slab of granite overlooking Half Dome and Clouds Rest. Dropping our packs, we spent a moment absorbing the breathtaking views, before consuming our lunches and resting our bodies. An hour and a half passed in a moment, and it was time to descend the mountain and return to the valley. We spent some time taking photos before departing Yosemite and then proceeded home. After a quick stop for the traditional post-hike pizza and beer, and a long drive home, we concluded a wonderful day.

This afternoon at work, a colleague asked, “How did you manage to take a day off from work?” I searched for my soap box, hopped on top of it, and explained that life is short and we need to seek the opportunities that take our breath away. There aren't enough weekends in a year, so we need to augment them with vacation days to chase these moments. With the ever-present heavy workload, there's never a good time to take off from work...but there's always a good time to have your breath taken away.

Here are a few pictures from our trip.

Beautiful Yosemite landscape, lit by the morning light, and reflecting in Mirror Lake.

View of Clouds Rest, framed by an interesting foreground tree.

Mirror Lake

Half Dome, taken from the valley floor.

Misc Photos taken with my Nikon FM2, with Kodak BW400CN film.

Here are a few photos taken with my iPhone5.

Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 PGSL Season Kicks Off

Kodama by Wayne-K
Kodama, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

The 2014 Pleasanton Girls Softball League (PGSL) season is here! Kami is playing in the Senior Division this year, open to high school aged players. She is one of only two freshmen on the team, but after a handful of practices and scrimmages, the coaches said she’s a “natural.” She’s the lead-off batter, a solid pitcher on the mound, a reliable second baseman, and she tracks down fly balls in the outfield like a field-seasoned Golden Retriever (unlike Paisley).

Here are a few photos from one of the scrimmages. I will be taking pictures throughout the season as one of the photographers covering the team. Just as the girls needed to “knock off some rust” due to the long off-season, I too needed to get back into sports photography mode. The players move a tad bit quicker than the landscapes I’ve been shooting lately…

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Under the Table by Wayne-K
Under the Table, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

It's four AM and I awakened with the urge to pee. With anticipation, I opened the door to the warm, damp bathroom, where earlier I saw two large, American cockroaches, sunning themselves quietly in the darkness. As the door slowly creaked open, a flick of the light switch sent a lone cockroach scampering for shade. I tried to crush him with a bottle of bathroom cleaner, but the roach deftly avoided it and scurried quickly for the door. I hurriedly slammed the door, playing a deadly chess game with my prey. I watched his long antennae sweeping from under the door, giving away his presence, and I took a moment to pee, carefully aiming with one eye on the bowl, with the other eye on the roach. I opened the door and ran to grab the nearest insect crushing device, but the roach scampered across the white tile floor to the safety and security under the dresser, saving itself from gut-crushing shoe. I lay in bed, reflecting on the time, decades ago, when a large cockroach crawled up the inside of my pants leg one night at a Boy Scout meeting. I shook my leg feverishly, desperately trying to get the roach out of my pants.

My attention switched back to the roach under the dresser, as it noisily walked across the tile floor, breaking the darken silence and my eerie reflection. I lay awake, hoping he crawls back into the bathroom instead of up the bed covers. Thus is my first night in the Barrigada house, where my brother in-law is housing me for my weekend in Guam.

Dawn patiently arrived and I exited the bedroom to find my host sleeping on the couch. He graciously gave up his room and turned on the room’s air conditioning before my arrival so I wouldn't have to experience the warm, humid nights in Guam. It was clear, however, that he typically slept in the bed without air conditioning, as the sheets and pillows reeked of many sweaty nights.

I traveled to Guam on business and spent the subsequent weekend visiting my brother in-law. Here are a few pictures.

Guam is infamous for its large number of dogs, unconstrained with fences or chains. The Spaniards brought Catholicism to Guam and apparently the canines aren't spayed or neutered either.

On my last trip to Guam, Chris prepared a wonderful dish using banana hearts from the banana trees on the property. The delicious dish of banana hearts and pork is a regional dish from Pampanga, PI (I believe). Knowing how much I enjoyed it, he prepared it again…and it was as good as I remembered it.

Here’s a rare sighting of the Maytag repair man. According to legend, it’s rarer than Sasquatch, Big Foot, or the Loch Ness Monster. One little secret, Maytag reliability is poor, but their marketing is incredible. My father in-law used to service Maytag commercial machines and he let me in on this little secret years ago.

Here are a few more misc photos.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Eastern Sierra "Snow" Trip

Several months ago, we planned a snow backpacking trip for February, scheduled to coincide with Faye's break from school. It was going to be a long, arduous, cross-country (backcountry) ski trip in the Sierra, covering dozens of miles. Mother nature, however, had other plans. Unseasonably warm weather and a lack of precipitation didn't provide the requisite snow in and around Yosemite. We decided to do a snowshoe trip in the Eastern Sierra instead, planning to trek through the snow at higher elevations. Unfortunately, a storm system blew through north of us, bringing with it 60 MPH wind gusts at the higher elevations. Switching gears again, we decided to camp and do day hiking trips around the area.

We arrived at the Lone Pine Ranger Station and spoke with Tim, the ranger, who gave us a few ideas for day hikes in the area. We then drove up Highway 395 for a quick visit to the Manzanar internment camp.

"In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II."

Learn more about the Manzanar War Relocation Center at the National Park Service website.

We then camped in the Alabama Hills. Many films and television commercials were filmed in the Alabama Hills. I'm sure I will notice the distinctive landscape a lot more, now that I've been there.

"The rounded contours of the Alabamas form a sharp contrast between the glacially chiseled ridges of the Sierra Nevada. This leads the viewer to believe the Alabama's are almost antique in nature. Actually, both geologic features were the result of uplifting that occurred 100 million years ago. The hills have been subject to a type of erosion known as chemical weathering. When the hills were still covered with soil, percolating water rounded the granite blocks and sculpted the outstanding formations you see today."

Find more information about the Alabama Hills at the BLM website.

We also spent some time hiking. On one of the days, we did a quick hike to the Tuttle Creek Ashram.

"The Tuttle Creek Ashram is situated at an altitude of seventy-six hundred feet on a steep ridge between the North and South forks of Tuttle Creek, a stream that flows briskly through a glacially carved canyon in the granitic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Built in the shape of a balanced cross, the ashram is a two-thousand-square-foot structure of natural stone and concrete, with a cement floor, heavy-beam roof, and a large fireplace; the stonework of the ashram blends so well into the ridge that the building is hard to see even from a distance of one-half of a mile away. The history of this remarkable building can be traced back to 1928, when Franklin Merrell-Wolff and his wife Sherifa first visited the area west of Lone Pine, California."

Learn more about the Tuttle Creek Ashram at the Franklin Merrell-Wolff Fellowship website.

On the last day, we stopped by a natural hotsprings, near Bakersfield. This was clearly not the trip we originally envisioned, but I must say it was the best "snow" trip ever! When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. After all, a bad day in the Sierra is still a pretty darn good day.

Here are a few more photos from the trip.