From a recent afternoon photo walk with my Fujifilm X100F. The days are warming but the sun angle is still low in the sky. Her shadow in perfectly parallel to the wall itself – walking directly into the sunlight.
I got serious about losing weight three years ago. In addition to watching portion sizes when eating, the keys to my success in this journey have been:
Recently my friend Doug Kaye and I decided to venture beyond our usual San Francisco city street photography venues to get out beyond the bay a bit. After considering a couple of options, we headed to Sacramento for a day.
Doug lives in the North Bay and I’m on the Peninsula so we needed to figure out the best way for both of us to make the trip. After a bit of research, we settled on taking the train – the Capitol Corridor line which runs from San Jose to Sacramento – taking advantage of a special “Friends and Family” discount for buying two tickets.
We met at the Richmond BART station which is adjacent to the rail line making for a convenient transfer for me – I usually take BART to get into San Francisco and on this day I took BART under the Bay to Richmond and made the short walk from the BART station to the Amtrak station. Doug drove over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to Richmond.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Capitol Corridor train. It was about fifteen minutes late in arriving – but made up that delay and got us to Sacramento right on schedule. The train cars are double deckers and we headed upstairs to sit on the left side of the train. After leaving Richmond, the train line runs along the edge of the Bay as it heads northeast before crossing the Martinez Strait to head on to Davis and Sacramento.
Doug took advantage of the snack bar in one of the other cars to bring us back a fresh cup of coffee. We arrived in Sacramento on-time and took the long walk on the underground walkway from the train landing to the station building.
The Sacramento Valley Station is in the heart of downtown Sacramento and has one of those classic old high-ceiling waiting rooms.
It’s about a 15 minute walk from the station to our first stop at the California State Capitol. Right after going through security screening into the building, I caught a glimpse of Governor Gavin Newsom as he moved down the hallway waving to visitors.
The Assembly gallery in the Capitol was open the day we visited although the Senate gallery was closed and we weren’t able to visit that room.
On the main floor of the Capitol are several historic offices – including the old Treasurer’s Office which recreates the period when California’s state government didn’t trust banks and kept all of its assets in a big safe in that office! The old Governor’s office was also very interesting – it has many desks for more than just the governor himself!
For lunch, we headed to Biba Ristorante, a great Italian restaurant in a neighborhood east of the Capitol complex that came highly recommended. We enjoyed a great lunch (I had a delicious tomato-onion soup followed by Pollo alla Milanese)
After lunch we headed to Old Sacramento and the Delta King – an old stern wheeler which has been turned into a hotel. It’s in beautiful shape – looking freshly painted and very “ship shape”.
This museum, a California State Park, is remarkable – an amazing place for railroad buffs. The upper level has a large model railroad display which brought back memories for me of the American Flyer train set that was one of my treasured toys growing up. One of the displays is a series of examples of all of the various model railroad gauges – all the way down to the tiny Z scale trains.
The docents at the Railroad Museum were a delight. They enjoyed telling us more about their exhibits, answering our questions and sharing. We particularly enjoyed the walk through both the sleeping car (which rocks and has sound and light effects simulating being on a real train trip to Chicago – “all trains go to Chicago!”) and the dining car with its displays of railroad dining china settings.
After the museum, we walked back to the Sacramento Valley Station and caught our return Capitol Corridor train to Richmond.
While this was a long day, we had a great time – and we got in a lot of exercise – over 10,000 steps and over 3 miles of walking. A great day of exercise for my legs as I’m finally back to almost 100% following my broken femur accident last spring!
Notes: All photos taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max and edited on the iPhone using Photos.
Update: I first wrote about this back in 2012. The lessons remain powerful – even in retirement! Suggest you give these techniques a try if you have the freedom to do them! With the New Year, I’ve been looking back at some of my older posts – and this was one I re-discovered with a couple of important lessons!
Back when I was a senior executive in a big company, I had an amazing executive assistant who made a big difference in how my work flowed day to day. She could read me like a book – as they say – and could tell when my frustrations started to build. She guarded my calendar carefully (back in the days before meetings could somehow just pop up on your online calendar) – but most days I was almost zombie-like moving from meeting to meeting.
One particularly frustrating day – one of back to back seemingly endless meetings – she caught me at the end of the day. She’d noticed that one hour meetings on my calendar seemed to take all that time – and that I’d often have no time in between one meeting and the next. A day of this kind of back to back meeting schedule was particularly grating on me.
She had a very simple suggestion: saying to me “Let’s change your minimum meeting time block to 90 minutes instead of an hour.”
So simple. I agreed to give it a try – and a few weeks later noticed the difference it had made in my work day. Most of the time, my meetings ended after an hour or a bit more. Her insight was that, by blocking 90 minutes on my calendar, I’d actually have a bit of “recovery time” in between meetings. It was sorta magical – I had “think time” during the day – a time to reflect, recover and prepare.
Sometimes these simple things make a big difference – in your personal productivity and, perhaps more importantly, how you feel about your work – and, ultimately, your life.
Back when I was still working, I decided that I wanted to try to apply a similar idea to my work week. I’m fortunate – being no longer hostage to back to back meetings in a corporate setting – and I usually had quite a bit of flexibility in terms of balancing meetings, calls with clients and prospects, actually working, doing email, etc. But I always noticed the toll that interruptions and, importantly, the context switches that come with them actually took on my ability to focus and get things done.
So, I began to block each Friday as a day when I would not schedule meetings, conference calls, etc. I’d just try to protect each Friday as a day for me to get my work done. Obviously, I can’t guarantee being able to do so – clients sometimes want to schedule meetings on Fridays, important internal work requires Friday work sessions, etc. And, of course, there’s always email, Twitter, etc. But I was surprisingly successful in protecting many Fridays – so that I could focus on the work at hand. I’ve come to think of Fridays as my “crank day” – that’s about cranking on work, not being cranky! And avoiding those externally-imposed context switches which seem to add such a burden and create a hit to productivity. Flow – it’s all about creating a zone where you can focus.
It’s proven to be a very useful personal productivity technique for me. If you’re in a situation when you can apply it, give this simple idea a try!
Would love to hear if it makes a difference for you!
While heading to the Ferry Building this morning I came across this practice session at the temporary ice rink at Justin Herman Plaza along San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Fun to watch them drill! Shot with iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Wow that seemed quick! In a flash 2019 was over and we were on to the new 2020.
Let’s hope 2020 is indeed a new year for clarity of vision, new learnings, much joy and prosperity for all.
I was reminded last night of another Happy New Year photo that my friend Doug Kaye and I both made while walking the streets of Havana seven years ago this month. It highlights the contrast between decay and hope with the simple Happy New Year message painted in English on this decayed building on a Havana street.
I am an optimist and believe in society’s ability to find the will to face our challenges and the intelligence to find solutions to them.
And don’t miss Life in 2030 by Frank Chen of Andreessen Horowitz. He should take up science fiction writing!
I also recommend Om Malik’s recommendations for A Decade of Self-Control – although my strong recommendation for a daily journaling app is Day One. I’ve been using Day One since I had a surgery back in 2012 and wanted to capture my recovery. It’s become a regular daily habit for me since then – the literal scratchpad of my life! For another recommendation for Day One see Why a Digital Diary Will Change Your Life.
Over the long holiday weekend I read a few books – especially enjoyed Mike Isaac’s SuperPumped about Uber. Quite a story and a very enjoyable read!
In other news I continue to find it somewhat amusing that the most popular article here on my blog remains the one from many years ago about my rotator cuff surgery! Somehow that article ended up high enough in search engine rankings to generate many pages views every day!
When I’m looking for an hour of peace and quiet one of my favorite places to visit is Fitzgerald Marine Reserve along the shoreline of the Paciifc Ocean north of Half Moon Bay.
This morning I took a walk through my favorite part of the Reserve – a grove of old trees along a pathway that leads from Moss Beach to the ocean. I took a few photos along the way with my iPhone 11 Pro Max. I’m loving the three lens/camera system in this new phone!
The entrance to a section of the California Coastal Trail is off Cypress Avenue. Just a short walk leads to this:
A few steps to the left through the tree line leads to this view:
Walking up the trail it’s worth taking a look back at that same fallen tree!
Here’s another from further along on the path:
I then headed over to the coastline trail where the ocean was alive with the waves from the storm.
And my final view before heading back up Cypress Street to my car:
A lovely hour or so away from it all! I encountered one other human along the trail. Otherwise it was a delightful morning stroll in one of my favorite spots along the Pacific coastline!
I’ll never forget that morning in 2001. Getting up early as I always do, walking to my home office, and visiting Dave Winer’s Scripting News as I usually did – I began to learn what had happened that morning. A day to remember. Always.
This afternoon I took a walk around the pond at a local park nearby. While walking, I listened to a podcast with Garrett Graff, author of the new book “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11“. Michael Morrell interviewed Graff about his book and had him read several passages from it – a very moving experience.
I was struck, in particular, about Graff’s opening comments about the innocence of America that morning. About how we just went about our business – at first. Here’s his voice from the interview transcript:
“I think that one of the things that’s hard to capture but that is captured in an oral history format is both how innocent America was at 8:46 in the morning and how confusing the day was for those who were living it. …
You know, to me the most interesting moment of the day comes between 8:46 in the morning and 9:03, the first crash and the second crash. Because we now know that that first crash was the beginning of the 9/11 plot.
No one knew that on the morning of 9/11. And there’s this incredibly odd moment, those 17 minutes where America sort of looks at that crash and in some ways shrugs and says, “Oh, that’s sort of weird,” like, must be a problem in air traffic control, or maybe the pilot had a heart attack. …
…one of the voices that I tell in the book that I found sort of especially striking was a ferry captain in New York Harbor who saw that first plane crash, continued around the tip of Lower Manhattan, docked his ferry. And every single one of the commuters on board got off and went to work in Lower Manhattan. There wasn’t a single person on that boat who saw that crash and was, like, “You know what? This seems weird. I’m just going to turn around and go home for the day.”
… And that’s actually something hard to capture for the country now, because we have a country now, you saw the video over the summer of the motorcycle backfiring in Times Square and everyone runs for their lives. And, we now default to terrorism or a shooting incident in our society today until proven otherwise. And that was not what America was on 9/11.
And that you see sort of just how innocent America was that morning.
While driving to the post office this morning to drop off a photography book that I sold, I was listening to the latest edition of Len Edgerly’s Kindle Chronicles and his discussion with his longtime friend Bryan Person.
At one point, Len mentioned how he uses Austin Kleon’s latest book Keep Going as a trigger for morning journaling – and how one chapter in particular, highlighted the benefits of just taking a walk and getting away from “our devices!”
My father was a very disciplined and punctual man; it was a prerequisite for his creativity. There was a time for everything: for work, for talk, for solitude, for rest. No matter what time you get out of bed, go for a walk and then work, he’d say, because the demons hate it when you get out of bed, demons hate fresh air. So when I make up excuses not to work, I hear his voice in my head: Get up, get out, go to your work.
This notion, for me, is one of the things I enjoy about street photography. While it’s fun to take some pictures, chase the interesting light, find exciting “stages” and backgrounds and great people, a big component of my enjoyment is just getting out, walking, and enjoying the fresh air and the scene. My friend Doug Kaye and I have talked about on our walks – how great it is just to get out of the house, into the city, and getting some exercise – both physically and for our minds.
At the moment, I’m just back from a walk at our local neighborhood park. It’s a lovely warm (but not too warm) Saturday afternoon and there were several couples out walking as well, a group taking portraits with the pond/fountain in the background, a couple chatting seriously while sitting on one of the picnic tables, etc. I often take my AirPods along on these walks to listen to a podcast – but today I didn’t. I wanted to just be in the moment, alone with my thoughts, without any other audio stimulation. It was great! Twenty minutes yielded just over a mile of walking – and the fresh air certainly helped chase the demons away.
One of the great poets of our time, W. S. Merwin, passed away recently. A brilliant writer and conservationist, Merwin spent the final period of his life on a former pineapple plantation in Hawaii, working to restore the surrounding rainforest. … I’ve drawn inspiration from Merwin’s writing because it teaches us about ourselves, our world, and how we as humans connect to nature. Most of us don’t spend a lot of time on poetry but Merwin’s death reminded me of how a good poem can inspire and instruct. So if you’re in the mood, give one of them a try.
Obama’s pointer took me to a recently published collection of Merwin’s poetry: “The Essential W. S. Merwin“. Yesterday, on Father’s Day, I was flipping through this collection and happened to come across his poem “The Unwritten” which I really enjoyed. It’s about a pencil – and how the pencil holds words “that have never been written, never been spoken, never been taught”. He concludes with:
it could be that there’s only one word and it’s all we need it’s here in this pencil
every pencil in the world is like this
And, that word is not just in every pencil in the world – but in every human too!…
Here’s one of my favorite photos from my younger days – my Dad helping me along on that big two-wheeler bicycle! Dad would have been 98 years old this year – and we all miss him dearly. On this Father’s Day 2019 we have lots of great memories of our wonderful Dad!