Friday, March 30, 2007

Herding Cats: Friday Funnys

Herding Cats

Herding Cats Ad
The first time I saw this ad it made me think of my first experience teaching faculty. This is a great ad!

Josh Leo, vlogger

Josh Leo

Josh Leo's Vlogiversary Video
Josh Leo is a wonderfully gifted filmaker, story teller and vlogger. Here is his two year anniversary vlog post. Prepare to be inspired, I am!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Desert Sunset

Desert Sunset from the top of Tunnel Two
Less than a week ago I watched the sunset from this hill in the high desert. It is a place I have come to many times. It is a hill pierced by a railroad tunnel. Slow heavy trains growl under your feet here. From this hill you can see the desert mountains. It is a place where lizards and and the animals of the desert mingle.
It's a desert because
Because it's a desert

-Rickie Lee Jones, Flying Cowboys
I have been coming to this same desert, this same hill and have watched many sunsets here. I have come here to look into the desert, to take pictures and to smell the desert wind. I have come here with friends and loved ones who are now gone. I have come here with my babies. But mostly, I have come here alone. Mostly it is a place of solitude, a place for looking into the face of the desert.
But the world is turning faster
Than it did when I was young

- ibid
When I am gone, you can leave what is left of me here. Here in the open where the desert zephyr can pick me up and I will disappear and become the desert and I will be in many photographs.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Last CATS day

Joshua Archer

Joshua is one sharp guy
Joshua Archer, from the CSU Center for Distributed Education is presenting again. This is the last day of CATS and I am presenting in about 40 minutes. I have enjoyed all the presentations Joshua has given at this conference. Unfortunately the most exciting of his sessions is at the same time as mine. If I had a choice I would go to his rather than mine.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Train action - Union Pacific

UP train at Bealville

UP Train at Bealville
I did not get a suitable video today so here is my Video Blog entry, featuring another train I shot yesterday. This was shot from a hill I have been photographing from for probably 30 years. It has great light and I love the way the shadows stretch out in the afternoon behind the train. I especially love the green grass and how it blows in the wind. The clicking sound you hear is the lens cap flapping in the wind. Yes, I learned to secure it better. Listen especially for the birds in this video. They are loving the Spring too!

Today, I shot around Mojave in the morning and in the afternoon I drove over to Cajon Pass. Then, I dropped down to Brea. I am now at the Embassy Suites in Brea for the a work related conference.

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Camera Phone Post
This F4 Phantom was next to the tracks at the Boeing Plaza in Lancaster, CA.

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Mojave camera phone post
This train went by while I was checking out of the Motel 6.

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SoCal Train Fun

BNSF Train at Tunnel 2 Tehachapi

Train approaching Tunnel Two in Tehachapis
March 25 7:34am -- I am in the Tehachapi Mountains on my way to Fullerton going to a conference. I have been coming to the Tehachapi Mountains to photograph trains for many years. This video was shot in a location I have been trying to catch a train in for awhile. It requires just the right light, a train at just the right time and is best this time of year when the hills are green. Saturday evening, March 24, 2007 the timing was right on! I shot it on Kodachrome 25 film (yes I found another roll) and on video. I edited the video at my room in the Mojave Motel 6 as other trains rolled by. I asked for, and got, this motel room in their little used wing facing tracks. I even opened the window so you can hear the trains really well. It sounds like they are running right through the room. Too cool! This is my favorite motel!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Multimedia message

Camera phone post: Bealville
I am at Bealville watching trains. The hills are very green and it is cool. It is very nice here. Not many trains so far.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Strike Looms at SJSU

From the South Bay AFL-CIO to area labor activists:

Looming Crisis in Our State University System
Urgent Action Needed!
Click here to send a message to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.

Nearly two years after the contract affecting more than 24,000 California State University (CSU) faculty members expired, CSU faculty - represented by the California Faculty Association (CFA) - have overwhelmingly voted to strike. If an agreement is not reached soon, a series of two-day rolling strikes will hit the 23 CSU campuses as far north as Humboldt and as far south as San Diego. This will be the first-ever system wide strike against the CSU, and the largest university strike in the history of the United States.

The key issue holding up an agreement is faculty pay. CFA members make on average 18 percent less than their colleagues at other universities and colleges, making it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain the quality faculty members that working class students need and deserve. We are also extremely concerned about unrestrained workload increases, reductions in job security, and expanded use of temporary and non-benefited faculty.

In addition to these traditional labor issues and the anti-union attitudes displayed by the California State University administration, there are larger issues in the CSU that affect all working families and reflect the leadership's corporate mentality. These issues include:

  • Huge student fee increases;
  • Reduction in course availability;
  • Larger class sizes; and,
  • Less faculty time for non-classroom interaction with students such as advising and mentoring.

While the CSU administration is increasingly starving students and faculty members, they have granted huge executive pay increases and paid departing executives and administrators enormous sums for frivolous no-work projects.

New Sloans Coming

Big news about little packages
A few weeks ago I mentioned on this blog that my oldest son, Steve Jr. and his wife Luci might be expecting a baby. Well, that was only half the story.

The other half is that middle son Jeff and his wife Nicole also are expecting! That means we have two new grandchildren coming. They both are due in the September - October time line. So, Christmas is going to be very fun this year. Two new babies!

It seems so amazing looking back. It does not seem that long ago that these kids, now parents themselves, were little. I guess that is life.

Steve and Luci are not expecting a baby at this time but are trying again.

I am mad as hell!

Network Mad As Hell

I am mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore!
Historically individuals had few choices in expressing their frustrations and anger with injustice. Folks might have been able to get the attention of the media, or organize unions, but that left it to others to convey their feelings.

Or, they could go to their windows, but their voice would only carry so far. Now we have the Internet and we have blogging, podcasting, video blogging and all the other associated technologies. Our voices are now global.

Thirty years ago Peter Finch won best actor due to this speech in the movie Network.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hope: By Akshay Vyas, SJSU Student

Hope by Akshay Vyas

Akshay Vyas makes great films featuring Help Desk Staff
SJSU student and Help Desk staff member Akshay Vyas has made several short films. He has been working with other students, including student assistants from the University Help Desk, such as Rahul Jain, Nupur Sinha, Nirav Patel and Diwakar Mani. In my opinion, these are wonderful short films. They are great examples of what students can do when they apply their own talent and passion despite having limited resources.

Last night, Akshay came and spoke to my class. All the skills used making his short films apply directly to what we are doing in Journalism 163. Akshay is an Electrical Engineering graduate student. I hope he does well with his studies and that he also continues with film making.

The dedication, passion, skill and experience at film making Akshay and our other help desk staff are showing and gaining is available to other SJSU students who need help with their own films and video blogs. This help is available at the help desk located on the first floor of Clark Hall at San Jose State University.

Akshay and all the wonderful students at the university help desk, are an absolute pleasure to work with.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Poverty at SJSU

Poverty at SJSU

History of Poverty at SJSU
As we ponder the history of our campus for the 150 year celebration I think we should also consider our legacy of poverty on campus. Yesterday I saw a woman and a child rummaging through garbage cans for bottles and cans and I have seen folks that appear to be homeless eating out of garbage cans here. Of course this is an area problem, as well as being a campus issue. But, it has been going on as long as I have been going here. When poverty is on this campus it is a campus problem at SJSU. It is a problem we have done nothing about. It is a problem that has been historically ignored. We need to ask, why?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Four years of blogging

Information Kiosk at SJSU

My fourth anniversary
On this day in 2003 I started blogging. That is four years of telling stories with words, pictures, audio and video in a way that is global, personal, conversational and sometimes controversial.

Visual phone number

It is The Canyon

Me in the canyon

The Canyon
I have been coming to the canyon since I was a child. My father used to bring me here. Over the years I have come here with my own kids, grandkids, wives, friends, I have even brought dogs to the Feather River Canyon! It is "the canyon," a river canyon with a railroad. This was once the home of the Western Pacific, then called "The Feather River Route." Now the tracks belong to the Union Pacific and it is a busy railroad. But, to me, it is more than a place where cool trains run. It is a place with many memories and a place that I love.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Home again

Binney Junction

We are home
Sue and I are home. We had a nice day today in the canyon. We went to the Portola RR Museum and then drove to Quincy where we had a nice lunch at the Courthouse Cafe. We stopped several time down the canyon and went to the river. We shot a train at James. Then went to Marysville where th UP is putting in a connector track from the northbound former SP line from Roseville to the southbound former WP line to Sacramento at the place the two lines cross that is called Binney Junction. When this is done it will facilitate rerouting of trains around the burned trestle near Sacramento.

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Heading Home Today

Susan in Susanville

On the way home
Sue and I are heading home today. Today we are planning to have a liesurely drive down the Feather River Canyon as we head back to San Jose.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Feather River Canyon Escape

Chalet View

We are in the canyon
Sue and I are enjoying a leisurely escape up the Feather River Canyon. Today we went to Lake Almanor and Susanville. We came back via 395 and had a great dinner at the Beckwith Tavern near Portola. We have seen a lot of trains too. It has been amazingly warm and sunny with just a bit of left over snow it the dark shady spots. This is amazing for mid-March!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Multimedia message

Camera Phone Post: Rail grinding Train at James
We saw this train sitting in the siding as we were heading up the canyon. This has been a fun trip.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Multimedia message

Riding Tandem on a Single

Camera Phone Post: Morning Cyclist at SJSU
To most folks all bicycle riders are the same, are cyclists. In the morning I often see a couple of guys riding kids across the San Jose State University campus on bikes on their way to places unknown. The other cyclist I see actually has two kids on his bike, one on the top tube, the other standing on the chain stays. None of the riders wears a helmet. This morning I was able to grab a shot with my camera phone. Note the almost flat rear tire. Beware of potholes, bumps and the ides of March!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Last Waltz: The Reverence of Film

The Band

The Band's Last Performance
We mentioned this in my class this evening.

The Last Waltz was a concert by the rock group, "The Band", held Thanksgiving Day 1976, at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom. It was billed as a "farewell" concert after 16 years of touring. The Band was joined by artists including Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters and Neil Young.

The Band made this last performance years before digital video. This whole concert was filmed in 35mm movie format with professional motion picture equipment. The cameras were not designed for continuous running. There were scores of technical problems. Despite the problems, the event was filmed as it happened with no pausing or retakes. It was released as a feature film by Martin Scorsese in 1978.

This was an amazing achievement considering the limitations of the equipment and the expense of the medium. The specialness of this shows not only in how the medium rendered the event, but in the reverence shown by everybody in its filming. This was a special and rare recording and everybody knew it. That specialness would not exist in digital media where all kinds of events can be economically and casually recorded. It is just not the same medium. I really recommend renting the movie, The Last Waltz. If you do, pause to reflect how different digital and analog photographic media really are and how this affects the final product we are watching.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Looking back on Winterail 2007

Winterail 2007

Winterail 2007 Reflections
The Bill Darrough Show was very well received. Putting together that show has been on my mind for over ten years. My son Ken and I wanted it to be a fitting tribute to Bill. Twenty years ago, I spent well over a year printing the over 3000 negatives in the box and came to feel I knew him from the pictures he shot. Working with his negatives was like seeing through his eyes. Erik A. Young, a train enthusiast (railfan) of Jamestown CA, wrote about the Bill Darrough Show on Train Orders:

...the Bill Darrough story was pure grandeur. I can't even begin to imagine taking on such a task at such a young age and accomplish so much. His legacy will live on despite his unfortunate battle with cancer at such a young age. I think Vic hit the nail on the head, as did the show's narrator, with this young man possibly having had the chance of being in the same class as (great train photographers of the twentieth century) Link, Stein, Dunscomb among others. I feel privileged to have been able to see even just a small portion of Bill Darrough's work.

It really, REALLY meant a lot that son Jeff came to the show! It was great having two of my sons at the show.

I got some contacts from this year's show and hope to follow up on these to do a possible sequel show. One very intriguing lead is the possibility there is someone still alive who may have known Bill.

It was great that Ken Rattenne and I showed at the same Winterail as he has been a friend for years and was one of the Kens son Ken was named after.

One big change is the step-by-step migration to an all digital Winterail. This year we were able to put up the digital three favorites, complete with title slides with the photographers names and also to be able to put on the screen digital copies of the contest winners moments after the contest was judged. We are working on improving that work flow.

We had photos from that day's breakfast. Also, Ryan Martin shot this photo of the crowd and it was on the big screen the day of the show, shortly after it was shot. I think that was very cool.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Multimedia message

Camera Phone Post: Jeff and Ken at Winterail
Our show was very well received and we got a huge amount of positive response. Bill Darrough is definitely on the railfan map now, 65 years after he died. Jeff was able to make it to the show and we had a great time. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun!

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Winterail Eve 2007

Vic and the crew

We are at Winterail
Kenneth and I are at Winterail (map here) and the hall is all setup. We are done for day one and are at the hotel. I am quite tired and ready for bed! We are both on our laptops. I took a lot of pictures. We already ran the show on the big screen as a test. It looked great and got a lot of really positive comments. The changes we made Wednesday night really were worth it!

Evan with projector

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Friday Funnies: Old Time Help Desk

Old time help desk video

Friday Funnies: Courtesy of Steve Greene
This Norwegian video, here with English subtitles, is something most folks who have done desktop support can relate to.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Strike vote next week at SJSU

Labor action at CSU

Strike vote to be taken at SJSU
This is the text of an email sent by the California Faculty Association, the union that represents faculty in the California State University system to CFA members at SJSU this afternoon.

A historic vote of the CFA membership on whether to authorize strike action, including a two-day rolling strike, will take place on our campus during the week of March 12-15.

All CFA members will be able to vote in-person at polling places on the campus or by email.

The in-person polling days, places, and times on our campus are as follows:

10:00am to 6:00pm, at Table C next to the Student Union/Outdoor Amphitheater and across from the Art Building

An announcement of email balloting and explanation of procedures will be sent out (to faculty) on Monday morning, March 12.

Any faculty member who is not yet a member of CFA and wishes to vote may join in person at the polls or as part of the email balloting process. Any eligible faculty member on our campus who joins before the end of the voting period on Thursday may cast a ballot in this election.

If you have any questions, please call the CFA chapter office 924-6501 or by email at

We urge you to vote in this historic election--your future and that of the CSU depends on it.

Thank You

Monday, March 05, 2007

A new grandchild is announced

Sloan Baby Ultrasound!

A new grandchild coming!
Eldest son Steve and his wife Luci have announced her pregnancy and posted ultrasound pictures on their blog! How cool is that. We knew already, but I did not want to say anything until they did. We are very happy for them.

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Pampered Pixel

Pampered Pixel

No, our cats are not spoiled
On a weekend morning Pixel gets a little pampering while Sue reads.

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Winterail show line-up

Here is the line-up for shows at Winterail this coming Saturday!

12:15 p.m. Plywood & Paradise - shortline and regional railroads that haul lumber products by Bob Eisthen

12:50 p.m. The Mina branch of the SP and UP era's by John and Brian Maky

1:15 p.m. Reno Trench - Before, during and after by Bruce Blackadar

2:00 p.m. The First 10. Photography by Ray Lewis in Arizona, Tehachapi Mountains and Donner Pass.

2:35 p.m. SHORTS: SP memories by George Andrews, Blossom Valley Railroading by Ken Rattenne

3:00 p.m. The Bill Darrough Story. Photography of short lived Bill Darrough as told by Steve Sloan and Kenneth Sloan

3:30 p.m. SP Coast Daylight by Don Olsen. A premier new movie on the Southern Pacific Coast Line.

4:35 p.m. 3 favorites

8:00 p.m. Helena West- The Montana Rail Link by Ted Smith-Peterson

8:40 p.m. Where Steam Moved Mountains-Nevada Northern Railway by Gorden Osmundson

9:25 p.m. Steaming Along- Tourist and Museum railroads in America by Steve Barry

For those attending the Friday Night event in the theatre sponsored by the NRHS and R&R, your entrance may be on the other side (east end) of the theatre, weather permitting. Look for signs.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Winterail 2007 Prep (continued)

Camera Phone Post
Vic and Annie's dog took a shine to Susie. I guess I have been replaced.

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Winterail 2007 Prep

Camera Phone Post
John and Brian Macky's truck broke down on the way to Vic and Annie's house where we did the Winterail 2007 dress rehearsal. They had it towed in and all the guys had to check it out.

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Jeff is in Alaska


Jeff is in Alaska
It is the dead of winter up there, but it is also a great time to see the northern lights. I hope he has gotten to see them!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Funnies: Internet Help Desk

Internet Help Desk

Internet Help Desk
This video, by Dead Troll, is about six years old, but it is still very funny. I consider it an essential video for anybody who does phone support. I love showing it to the SJSU Help Desk staff. It is very funny!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My brothers and parents

My parents and brothers

Yesterday was my older brother's birthday
My oldest brother Lloyd sent this photo on my brother Jerry's birthday.

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