Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reflections of a tech geek on the convention

President Bill Clinton speaking at convention

Last day at CA Convention marked by great speeches
I came to this convention a relative neophyte to the processes and the personalities of the Democratic Party in California. I have been strongly motivated by what I have seen happening to our university system. Earlier this month I was in Sacramento lobbying state senate and assembly members on behalf of the university system I love. But, I was speaking out of passion for education rather than knowledge of politics. I still have a lot to learn, but I have started to get an understanding of why it is so important for us to be involved and how we can be involved. Of course the presidential election has us very focused on that right now. Today President Clinton and San Francisco District Attorney, Kamela Harris each gave great speeches in support of Hillary and Obama. I had a great seat and took many photos:

[More coverage on my twitter feed]

[More convention photos on Flickr]

End of the CA Demo Convention Day Two

John Garamendi at CA Demo Convention

Very long and fascinating day
I am updating my Flicker Feed with well over 250 new photos today. I have no time to edit or label them. I am too tired to write more as well, so here they are for now.

[More coverage on my twitter feed]

[More convention photos on Flickr]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday night at the convention

Nancy Pelosi at CA demo convention

Great evening at the democratic convention
I had a fantastic time at the convention and feel so honored to be able to attend it and photograph it for my union. I saw Nancy Pelosi, John Garamendi and many other top democrats.

Along with several state union leaders, I attended a reception Pelosi had before the evening's main event. Dave Hart was there, he is the President of the California State Employees Association. This union has two locals of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1000 which represents state civil service employees and Local 2579 which represents California State University Employees (that is us!).

On the convention floor, Pelosi spoke about the importance of democrats coming together and the importance of winning this election no matter who is nominated. After the Pelosi speech, at the Labor Caucus, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi spoke about the state budget as well the importance of labor. We simply cannot keep cutting our state budget, Garamendi said. We must find new revenue sources for our state.

I am tired and tomorrow is another long day. I will post more on my twitter feed. In this photo Nancy is speaking to the delegation while Garamendi looks on.

[More Convention Photos on Flickr]

Going to the democratic convention

Obama in 30 seconds

I am going to the California democratic state convention
If you want to follow my experiences, I will be posting on my twitter feed. I am really excited to be going. I am serving as an observer for the California State Employee's Association. Nancy Pelosi is hosting a reception I will be attending. Bill Clinton is expected to be speaking on Sunday. Even though I am supporting Obama, it will be very cool to see Clinton.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Food for Help Desk Party

Today we are having a help desk potluck. I have never cooked a vegetarian dish before. Most of the staff are from India and most do not eat meat. I only have a crockpot slow cooker to cook in so this is what I made:

Steve's Vegan Vegetarian Chili

Colorful, tasty, satisfying, guaranteed to please starving help desk staff. Serves 4 - 6, Can be doubled to feed a herd! This vegetarian chili is a great vegan meal by itself, or with salad and cornbread (or naan,) or make it vegetarian with parmesan or ricotta cheese, or sour cream.


  • 2 cans kidney bean, drained and rinsed + 4 cups water
  • 16 ounces Vegetable Broth (with 16 more in reserve)
  • 1 cup bulgar (or cracked wheat)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, or canned, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper or 1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
  • 2 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled, or 1/2 tsp dried, or a chunk of dried ginger candy cut into slices with sugar washed off.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp crushed jarred garlic)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 3 Tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each: paprika, gr. cumin, coriander, fennel
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/4 c. minced parsley
  • 1 Tblsp soy sauce (optional)

Chili Directions:

  1. Preheat saute pan or frying pan on medium
  2. Prep veggies, including garlic, if you're using it
  3. Saute veggies in oil 5 minutes
  4. Add remaining spices, saute another two minutes
  5. After sauteing the veggies, transfer everything to the cooker. Add minced parsley. Cover and simmer on low at least 2 hours. Add soy sauce to taste. Add broth held in reserve as needed to keep desired balance of liquid and solids. Bulgar absorbs broth as it cooks and more evaporates away. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaves when served.

Alex rides into town

Alex with family

Alex rides into town
Alex rode into San Jose late yesterday and joined the whine and dine ride. After the ride we had a great time hanging out and drinking wine. This morning we met again for breakfast. He is a fine man and an awsome cyclist. We had a great visit!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Finding hidden treasures

Me on a steam engine

Finding old memories
I am going through my collection of about 36,000 slides and organizing them. These are photos taken from the early 70's until now. These are photos of trains, family and old friends from years gone by that had been hiding in about a thousand little yellow boxes.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Easy living at Easter 2008

Jacob snoozing at Easter

Relaxing Easter Weekend
On Saturday we went to a park with Jeff, Nicole, Madison and Jacob. Jacob slept the whole time while his older sister searched for Easter eggs.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The storm before the calm

Students studying in the hallway.

Midterm week at SJSU
This is a week that is pretty intense for some students. Many faculty members time their midterms so they occur right before Spring break. All over campus students are cramming and preparing for exams. We are seeing students coming in working on projects. Next week the campus will be quiet. It will be Spring break. The faculty and students will be gone. They only ones left on campus, mostly, will be us staff.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blogging five years today

Dwight Bentel Hall, where first blog post was made

Five years of blogging
Five years ago today I made my first blog post. That led to a lot of things, including launching the first podcast in higher education. The best part is how much I have learned over that period, the people I met through this the great conversations this led to and especially the opportunity to teach new media at SJSU.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Remembering Joe Swan

Joe Swan

Who could say enough good things about Joe Swan?
Former SJSU photojournalism professor Joe Swan, 78, died Sunday. Joe taught in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications from 1963 to 1991. I remember having an 8 a.m. class with Joe when I was a student at SJSU about 28 years ago, in 1980. Joe was full of great stories about his days at Grit Magazine. I doubt I was the only one in the class who had no idea what Grit Magazine was or had never heard of Grit Magazine before that class but we all listened enthusiastically because Joe was a first class story teller.

Joe was a Texan. He spoke with a Texas accent. Joe was a perfect southern gentleman. Years later; I remember walking around campus with Joe. There was a female university police officer having some issues with two males who were athletic looking and much bigger than her. Sensing that the police officer might be out matched, (despite the fact she had a gun and they did not) Joe turned to me and said, "it looks like we might have to get involved here." At that time Joe was having some health problems. Neither of us was a formidable force. Neither of us were fighters. Those guys looked a lot bigger and tougher than us! Thankfully the officer was able to handle the situation handily. That's Joe, he was not a bystander if anybody, especially a lady was, or even appeared to be in distress.

I have Joe to thank for working at San Jose State University. Before I came to SJSU I was a photo lab tech at the University of California San Francisco. I had my BA in photojournalism. Joe told me about a photo lab tech job that had just opened up at SJSU in the then Department of Journalism and encouraged me to apply. That was 1988. That photo tech job evolved into one supporting computers.

Joe had an ear to the ground for jobs for his former photo students. When I was there as a student, Jack Fields was a visiting professor. Jack taught most of my main photojournalism classes but Joe was the full time professor. Joe taught some of the other photojournalism classes as well as courses like the morning magazine class. After Jack left Joe taught all of the photojournalism courses.

Joe watched over and cared for his students like they were his own kids. Many of us owe our careers to Joe. Sometimes he knew of job openings before the people who were doing the hiring would know they had a vacancy. Joe would hear through the grapevine someone was going to leave a job. Our students and graduates would have their applications in the hands of editors before the outgoing photographer had even given notice.

Besides my current position there are two other jobs I landed that I owe credit to Joe for, including my time as a photographer for the Manteca Bulletin.

Recently the Spartan Daily ran a story on Joe. It had a photo of him in the hospital and it said, "Within the last year, Swan, 78, has had both legs amputated and has been on dialysis, a process of filtration used when the kidneys stop working, because of complications from diabetes." The photo I have above, in this blog post, is how I will remember Joe.

He was one of the nicest people I have ever known. Joe a real role model for aspiring journalism students as well as for new faculty. We lost one of the best!

About this Photo: I do not know who took the photo. It is just an old mounted print on stained mount board that was on the wall of equipment checkout room. One of the subsequent PJ instructors had decided to discard it. So, I snatched the print out of the trash after a cleanup. The actual photographer is unknown.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Whine and Dine 2008

Whine and dine riders in front of Summit Bikes

Whine and Dine Underway!
Due to illness I was not able to ride, but I was there to wish the cyclists well for the first Whine and Dine of the 2008 season. I hear they had a good ride!

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Are we wasting the taxpayers money on E-mail?

Is this waste?
What does the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, the College of Business, College of Science, Computer Engineering and the School of Library and Information Sciences at San Jose State have in common? They are among a number of colleges, departments and other organizational units at San Jose State University that equip, buy software for, staff and maintain their own separate E-mail systems. Despite the fact the university provides E-mail accounts, has staff and E-mail servers and pays software license fees for a campus-wide E-mail and calendaring system that serves each and every campus employee, these units have separate E-mail systems.

Remember, San Jose State is one of 23 campuses in the California State University System.

Why do we need so many E-mail systems?
To put this into perspective, imagine that San Jose State University was one department store in a chain of 23 department stores. Imagine each of the 23 stores in the chain having their own E-mail systems with their individual domain names and having their own staffs having jobs maintaining those E-mail servers providing E-mail service for each individual store. Now imagine that within a single store the lawn and garden department had its own E-mail system with its own E-mail server(s) and E-mail domain name and staff having jobs maintaining their E-mail server(s) and the lingerie department having its own servers, system and staff, and the cosmetic department having its own servers, system and staff, and so on and so on. Imagine a reality where separate departments in every store had servers, staffs, and teams providing redundant services for departments in individual stores. A college is an organizational unit in a university that is much bigger than a department in a grocery store, but large corporations like IBM and Microsoft have multiple sites with large organizational units at these sites and they do not find it necessary to have redundant E-mail systems that are defined by organizational units. Imagine how wasteful that would be. They achieve economy of scale by having one E-mail system for the whole corporation.

How can we ask for money while we waste it?
On Monday and Tuesday of this week I spent two days in Sacramento talking to state senators and state assembly members about the importance of preserving funding for CSU. Students at our university are faced with spiraling student fees and reduced services. In my opinion it is an insult to all of them for us to be wasting money on redundant systems and services. In my opinion our staff should be used meeting needs that are currently unmet rather than being assigned to providing redundant services.

Is this disloyalty or integrity?
Personal Statement - I have been an employee of San Jose State University for over 20 years. I currently work as an information technology consultant at the university help desk. I became a citizen of California long before I was hired by San Jose State University. I was born in California and I have lived here all of my life. I raised my family here. Every dollar I have earned has been subject to taxation by the State of California. I am proud of being a Californian.

My writing this may be seen as being disloyal as an employee to the university by some of my peers, but as a state employee, I believe our first loyalty is to the taxpayers of California. We need to spend their (and our) tax-dollars wisely. Before I was an employee of San Jose State University I was (and remain) a taxpayer of California. In this time of fiscal austerity, in this time when hard sacrifices are being asked of students and the citizens of this state, in my opinion at this time especially we do them a tremendous disservice when we waste precious tax money on unnecessary redundancy.

Isn't E-mail E-mail?
Some may say the university needs all this redundancy is because of our culture. Our culture, some say, makes our E-mail needs different. In my opinion that is bunk! We are talking about E-mail here, not culture. This is a service. E-mail is E-mail.

In my opinion, we are wasting the tax payer's money. As a taxpayer, that makes me mad!

Friday, March 07, 2008

The gloves are off

Bonnie gets her gun

Bonnie gets her gun
Sue and I have really gotten into Jericho, a TV show about a post apocalyptic small town in rural northwest Kansas. This is really a fine show that is getting really poor ratings. In the most recent episode was this surprising and gripping gun battle between one of the sweetest characters of the series hearing impaired Bonnie Richmond, played by Shoshannah Stern, and the gun thugs of Ravenwood (think Blackwater) who were going after a ledger was in Bonnie's home that had evidence of embezzlement of funds from Ravenwood's parent company Jennings and Rall (think Halliburton.) There are only three episodes left, then it appears the show will be canceled. Why is it the best shows go down?

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Editorial: On same sex marriage

If marriage, as some argue, is for a man and a woman to enter into for having children; why is it older couples of different sex can marry but older same sex couples cannot? What about heterosexual couples where one of them is sterile? Should such couples not be allowed to marry?

I think the argument that only heterosexual couples should be allowed to enter into marriage since they are the only ones able to have children is ignorant. Plenty of people marry who cannot have children.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Coby Bryant

Coby was at our hotel in Sacramento.

I am in Sacramento

Cameraphone post: Preparing for Lobby Day
I am walking around the state capitol building this morning. I want to see how the shadows fall for a group photo I will be shooting tomorrow morning. Today we will be meeting tp prepare for tomorrow, our union's Lobby Day 2008.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Winterail is coming!

Evan preparing a show for Winterail

It is Winterail time again!
Yesterday Sue and I went to Vic and Annie Neves house where we were at the rehearsal party for Winterail 2008. We saw all the shows and visited with friends. There is a great lineup this year!

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A cat's life

Funny cat picture

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