Monday, October 24, 2005

Rowing Update - Boston Wrap-Up

Well, we're back in Hamilton, after a fabulous finish to our trip to Boston for the Head of the Charles regatta.

Right now, I'm so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, so this post will be short.

But I've got great news! Jaime and her varsity four from UVIC blew their way through the competition on Sunday and rowed a superb race. They ended up winning their event by 19 seconds and they did it in impressive fashion.

UVIC started out in the 11th position and by the time they came by us near the last turn of the race, they were on their way to passing eight other boats. They were going so fast when they went past us the other boats looked like they were hardly moving! It was a very impressive display of raw power. They rowed the entire course keeping a steady rate of 32 strokes per minute all the way.

The picture I've added here shows them on their way past one of the boats ahead of them. UVIC's in the top of the picture. That's Jaime second from the right. Although you can't really tell in a still photo, they only took about two strokes to whip past this boat. All in all, it was a great result and very, very satisfying for Jaime. She and the rest of her crew were really pleased with the result.

Now they're looking forward to the Canadian University Rowing Championships, which are coming up in Victoria on November 5. And fortunately for Heather (and tough for me) Heather is going to be in Victoria to watch Jaime row once more.

She's going to be there to see some of the clients she'll be following when she does a locum for a couple of Victoria midwives during January and February. And then, of course, she's moving out there permanently in July!

Anyway, time to wrap this up for today. The end of a very satisfying rowing season (for me and Kelly, anyway). And a very successful year in Boston. I have a feeling that both of the girls will be there again in the future.

Oh, one more thing. Have I mentioned that Kelly is being recruited to join a US College rowing team? Actually, she has four colleges actively talking to her. And next week, she heads out on her first recruiting visit. She's off to Pulman Washington to visit Washington State, and then to Seattle to check out the program at the University of Washington.

The next week, she's off to visit the Univerisity of Louisville and after Christmas, Sacremento State plans to bring her out to California.

What an exciting time for her...and us! I'll keep you informed as things progress.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Rowing Update - Head of the Charles

This regatta is really special and what a treat to be here. As you can see from this picture, Friday was chaotic, with all kinds of boats out on the course Friday afternoon.

We arrived here about 2 pm on Friday, after spending the night near Albany. Kelly was able to hit the water and row the course, which is a great advantage, since she's never been here before. Jaime had already arrived and her team had been out on the course earlier in the day.

But that was yesterday and right now, I'm actually sitting in our hotel room on Saturday night. The weather today wasn't quite as turned cold and a bit wet. But Kelly's race went well.

I've got a picture of her here, partway through the race, just as she passes under the Elliot St. Bridge, one of the most exciting places to watch the race. Kelly ended up in 17th place, in a field which included a lot of experienced rowers. While she would have loved to have ended up a bit higher, I'm really proud of her placing today.

And speaking of the Elliot St. Bridge, I thought I'd add this great picture of Jaime and her Mom with the bridge in the background. It was taken just shortly after Kelly went by.

Tomorrow, it's Jaime's turn. She'll be rowing with her varsity 4 from UVIC in the Lightweight Championship 4 event, and her crew is the odds-on favourite to win the event. She's very excited today and looking forward to tomorrow.

I'm still pinching myself to think that Heather and I have two such talented daughters here at this, the largest regatta in the world. What a weekend. And it's not over yet. I'll send an update when I get back to Hamilton. But if you want to find out how Jaime did, check out the on-line results. She's racing in the Lightweight Fours - Women.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rowing Update - Boston version

This weekend is The Head of the Charles regatta in Boston. And I'm happy to report that both Jaime and Kelly are participating. How about that?

The head of the Charles is one of the largest regattas in North America and it's a pretty cool event. Heather and I, along with Kelly and her boyfriend, Spencer, are heading out tonight on our way. We'll stop somewhere along the way tonight and head into Boston by noon tomorrow (I hope.)

Jaime is already there with her Varsity 4 teammates from UVIC. So we're looking forward to seeing her again and watching them both race.

I hope to have a good connection in Boston, so I'll plan to post some updates while I'm there this weekend. You can also follow along with the results on-line, if you like. I'm not sure what they'll have on the weekend, but check and see.

More later...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Stop me if you've heard the one about Web 2.0

One of the terms that keeps popping up on blogs, in podcasts and occasionally in more conventional media is Web 2.0. While I've kind of figured out what the term refers to, I admit that exactly what was being discussed remained a bit of a mystery to me.

There is a fairly extensive entry in Wikipedia, and I got this from a Technorati search. (What's Technorati?

But the other day I happened to pick up a copy of Discover Magazine, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a special issue. There are a lot of interesting articles in the mag, but one of the pieces that caught my eye was the Emerging Technology column, written by Steven Berlin. The piece is called "Web 2.0 Arrives."

It's a good piece and it helped me understand what's meant by the term. More importantly, I started to get a glimpse of what it means for companies to embrace the idea and how they might begin to gain footholds in this market. The part of the story I liked the best was Berlin's metaphor of the Web 2.0 as a rainforest.

The difference between this Web 2.0 model and the previous one is directly equivalent to the difference between a rain forest and a desert. One of the primary reasons we value tropical rain forests is because they waste so little of the energy supplied by the sun while running massive nutrient cycles. Most of the solar energy that saturates desert environments gets lost, assimilated by the few plants that can survive in such a hostile climate. Those plants pass on enough energy to sustain a limited number of insects, which in turn supply food for the occasional reptile or bird, all of which ultimately feed the bacteria. But most of the energy is lost.

A rain forest, on the other hand, is such an efficient system for using energy because there are so many organisms exploiting every tiny niche of the nutrient cycle. We value the diversity of the ecosystem not just as a quaint case of biological multiculturalism but because the system itself does a brilliant job of capturing the energy that flows through it. Efficiency is one of the reasons that clearing rain forests is shortsighted: The nutrient cycles in rain forest ecosystems are so tight that the soil is usually very poor for farming. All the available energy has been captured on the way down to the earth.

Think of information as the energy of the Web’s ecosystem. Those Web 1.0 pages with their crude hyperlinks are like the sun’s rays falling on a desert. A few stragglers are lucky enough to stumble across them, and thus some of that information might get reused if one then decides to e-mail the URL to a friend or to quote from it on another page. But most of the information goes to waste. In the Web 2.0 model, we have thousands of services scrutinizing each new piece of information online, grabbing interesting bits, remixing them in new ways, and passing them along to other services. Each new addition to the mix can be exploited in countless new ways, both by human bloggers and by the software programs that track changes in the overall state of the Web. Information in this new model is analyzed, repackaged, digested, and passed on down to the next link in the chain. It flows.
There are a lot of very smart people who think that we've only just begun a revolution in how the Web is going to shape the way we live. I'm starting to think they're right.

Trying to puzzle out American politics

Like most of you, I imagine, I watched a lot of coverage of Hurricane Katrina. I saw the problems with the way the federal government, along with State and local authorities handled the immediate aftermath. And I listened to the criticism of the various authorities involved.

There was a lot of media attention focused on the issue and a lot of commentary. But yesterday, when I picked up my copy of The Atlantic Monthly, I learned something new about this story -- and I'm shocked that I hadn't heard it before.

Imagine if, in advance of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of trucks had been waiting with water and ice and medicine and other supplies. Imagine if 4,000 National Guardsmen and an equal number of emergency aid workers from around the country had been moved into place, and five million meals had been ready to serve. Imagine if scores of mobile satellite-communications stations had been prepared to move in instantly, ensuring that rescuers could talk to one another. Imagine if all this had been managed by a federal-and-state task force that not only directed the government response but also helped coordinate the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other outside groups.

Actually, this requires no imagination: it is exactly what the Bush administration did a year ago when Florida braced for Hurricane Frances. Of course the circumstances then were very special: it was two months before the presidential election, and Florida's twenty-seven electoral votes were hanging in the balance. It is hardly surprising that Washington ensured the success of "the largest response to a natural disaster we've ever had in this country." The president himself passed out water bottles to Floridians driven from their homes.

The author is Richard Clarke, who had his own run-in with the Bush Whitehouse after he published his memoirs about security concerns pre and post 9/11.

But what really floored me is that I hadn't heard anyone else compare the response to Florida a year earlier with Katrina. Why is that? It doesn't seem like it should have been that tough to point out, given that the Florida hurricanes were a significant news event. I do remember them. But I didn't realize just what kind of a response had been laid out in advance, and how that same level of preparedness had not been cranked up in advance of Katrina.

Looking at the steep decline in President Bush's approval ratings in recent days, one can't help but wonder whether the US public is beginning to see through the transparency (at least what appears that way to some of us in Canada) of how "homeland security" gets parcelled out. If it's a state in peril, with an election win in the balance (and your brother is the governor), that appears a lot more important than the fact a Category 4 or 5 hurricane is threatening a million people.

But it also makes me wonder about the apparent short-term memory of the media. In retrospect, the comparisons between Florida one year ago and Katrina and Rita this year seem like a natural. But I don't recall seeing or reading any stories about that. Do you? Perhaps I missed them, or maybe there's more to this than Richard Clarke is willing to admit.

I decided I should try to find out, so I went searching for articles that might have made the same link. Turns out there were a few. Here's one that talks about FEMA's response to Frances and Katrina. It also contains links to a number of other items about the same issue.

So there were stories out there, but they certainly didn't get the kind of play that I expected they would. But then again, hindsight is always better, isn't it?

By the way, if you want to read the rest of the Atlantic article, you'll need to subscribe to the Atlantic, or pick up a copy at the bookstore (or, what the heck, send me a note and I'll send you a copy. As long as you promise to never, ever, tell!).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I know what I want for Christmas

Did you see the new Video IPod that Steve Jobs released yesterday? I'm is so cool.

And that surprises me. I didn't think I'd be impressed. I figured yeah, video...that'll be OK, but I don't think it's something I really need.

But you know what? I haven't tried it out, of course, but I saw some of the coverage from Jobs' special event...and it sure grabbed me. I bet it's something I could get into. It's the evolution of doubt about it. There's a revolution going on and we're right in the middle of it, my friends. Hop's going to be a great journey.

And special thanks to the visionaries at Apple for having the good sense to let their engineers run wild with the possibilities. I like this company.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, from all of us here in Hamilton. We're just four this year, as Jaime is off at UVIC (and spending Thanksgiving in Vancouver). But Cory, Heather, Kelly and me (I'm taking the picture) send along our best to all of you.

I like this holiday, largely because we don't have to go through the hassle of presents, and all that stuff like that entails. It's a family time, which we don't always have enough of during the rest of the year. And of course, you get to stuff yourself silly and not feel guilty about it.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A little visual for your holiday enjoyment

This is a really cool video. I don't know what it is, but I like it.

I've no idea where it came from or anything about it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Does absence makes the heart grow fonder?

It would appear that way. A couple of things of note have happened lately.

First, although I haven't posted in awhile, my website stats show that the visits to the site have actually increased in the last few days...go figure!

Second, I'm flattered that so many people have noticed my lack of posts. I appreciate the comments I've received. Although there are occasions when I wonder whether anyone actually reads my stuff, you do. And you know who you are. (Here's a shout out to you, Michael!)

So, to keep you guys satisfied, here's a bit of "Dave news."

Today, I started a short-term contract in Toronto, doing some corporate communications projects. While it means getting back into commuting, it's a good opportunity and I'm looking forward to it.

I met my new teammates today, and they're an impressive crew. They sent me home with a backpack bursting with reading material, as well as a fair number of projects to get my head around. Talk about hitting the ground running...ah well. Back in the saddle, so to speak.

So, in the days to come, I'll be looking for topics for the Daily Upload. And given what happened on the Go Train this morning, these whacky commuters I'll be joining every day will provide plenty of fodder.

I caught the 7:04 am train out of Hamilton this morning. (I'll probably be catching an earlier one next when I'm heading in every day.) And no sooner had I sat down than a woman plopped down in the seat across from me and looked straight at me. Obviously, she had something on her mind.

"That's not your seat," she said.

"Pardon?" I replied. I wasn't sure I'd heard her right.

"That's not your seat," she repeated. "There's going to be someone else coming here and that's their seat."

Then she just stared at me, as if she figured that her point couldn't be any clearer.

Well, I know that that the seats on the train aren't reserved. But there was no way I really wanted to sit across from her with her staring at me all the way into Toronto. So I just grabbed my bag and moved across the aisle. And sure enough, at the next stop, two people showed up and sat with her and they talked all the way into the city...and talked...and talked.

Interesting way to start the day, eh?

And there you have it...your Daily Upload. Talk to you soon.