June 16, 2013
November 24, 2012
Thanksgiving was Opening Day of the 2012-13 ski season at my local “hill”, Mt. Bachelor. Nicholas is home for the 4 day holiday so he & I got up early and hit the slopes. We didn’t quite make first tracks, but we we’re the last of the first wave to get the good stuff.
Conditions were surprisingly good, given that two-thirds of the snow had fallen the night before. I stuck to the groomers – as tempting as the powder might have been – my out-of-shape legs and the threat of snags and rocks kept me away (OK, I confess, I stole a couple of turns off the edge a few times.)
We wore ourselves out. Nick had a pair of face-plants. I never fell, but 49 year old legs setting the pace – even with my lazy edge-to-edge skiing style – for my 18 year old was enough to leave me limping by days end! (ahhhh love that hot tub!)
As a bonus, I strapped a small video camera to my pole, and later my boot, so you could follow along. I re-enabled my dormant Youtube account (which Google forced me into making it a Google+ account – and NO, I won’t be your friend on G+ – I have no intention of using it) to upload the video to share. Note that Youtube tried to auto-correct out the natural leaning that goes with skiing in order to “image stabilize” the movie. I find the result rather trippy. Enjoy!
September 23, 2012
Yes, I’m lame. Yes, this is a lame ass under construction sign. Yes, you haven’t seen this since Geocities shut down. Just be glad it isn’t an animated gif – not to mention the lack of blink tags and auto-playing midi sounds here.
Yes, I’m WAY behind on blogging here. I owe you all updates from:
- The 2012 Monte Shelton Rally (we literally drove the wheels off the 450sl!)
- My latest Lemons Adventure with the Clowntown Roadshow
- My one-day sprint to join the NW Oil Leak Tour
I promise I’ll get them done soon.
January 15, 2012
I usually ski every Saturday, but decided to skip yesterday. It has been a long time since we’ve seen significant snow around here, and Saturday was clear and windy. (VERY windy.) I stayed home and did some document archeology concerning something I’ll talk about soon. That wind brought us a gift though…
Today I awoke to a dusting of snow on the ground and the mountains west of us wrapped in dark clouds. Temps were very low, but the wind was gone. I tossed the ski gear on and dashed up to Mt. Bachelor to arrive in time for the lifts opening. Per usual, I parked at Sunrise (shorter walk to the lifts!) and was one of the first 20 people on the hill. The runs off Sunrise were groomed the night before, so I headed east to my favorite lift, the Rainbow Chair. Rainbow is normally unloved. It is an old, slow triple rather than a swift new detachable quad lift, so it sees very little traffic. I love it though because it covers a ton of vertical, including some near-timberline chutes high up on the east face of Mt. B. From the top of Sunrise I crossed over and took the run I-5. I-5 is a wonderful cruiser which had also been groomed the night before, so not really what I was looking for. Riding the old Rainbow chair up into the clouds I traversed east to the top of Flying Dutchman.
The snow… was sublime. Nice firm base, with anywhere from two- to ten- inches of light, fluffy powder depending upon wind-loading. A mere handful of people had been on this run, and it was possible to carve fresh turns on many lines. The snow was deep enough to allow you to aggressively ski the fall line without building too much speed. Perfect powder really. I made many linked turns through several chutes down into the trees where the run normalizes into a cruiser. It was so good I skied Flying Dutchman several times over. Once it became carved up I skied Rainbow’s lift line seeking untracked expanses. Feeling like I’d carved it all up after 4 trips, I started heading west, hoping to hit the long, steeps of the Northwest Express. While riding the Skyliner Express I heard from folks who had just been over there who disappointed me with news of wind-slab and slick conditions. I bailed off to the left, took the Cliffhanger chute down to the road that cuts across the mountain to the Summit and Sunrise lifts, and once again took the Rainbow lift line; another run down the Dutchman, and then down off the mountain to the Sun Bar for a rest to warm my now-frozen toes.
The base was now swarming with people, with the word now out that it was a Powder Day, so I took my Seasons Pass holder’s privilege of heading home – Satisfied that I’d skimmed the powdery cream off the mountain.
It is supposed to keep snowing all week.
December 26, 2011
We flew from central Oregon to Colorado to visit my parents for the holidays. We (reluctantly) flew United, as our preferred carrier (Alaska) had no available flights for the trip. United has never failed to fail me every time I’ve flown them. This time was no exception: Sue had all her prescription medicines stolen from our baggage. I have no idea if it was UAL or TSA at fault here, but I’m now in the complaint process with both. It is sure to be a Kafkaesque journey.
November 28, 2011
Don Montalvo (who knows me via Mac-Mgrs) shared a link with me on Twitter and asked my thoughts on the subject of economic impact of large scale datacenters in rural areas. I’ve written about the importance of, and the ideal sites for datacenters in rural America before, but I’ve never touched on this line of thinking that seems to be popping up more and more often, and is exemplified by this article:
“Datacenters are a boondoggle for rural America because they don’t produce more than a handful of jobs.”
In the article Don shared with me the target is Apple and its datacenter in Maiden, North Carolina. But I’ve seen the same sort of meme bandied about for Google, Amazon, Facebook, and every other player in the large-scale datacenter game. This whole line of thinking is fundamentally flawed in two major ways: It focuses on numbers without looking at value; and it is founded on an economic fallacy. It represents lazy journalism – slapping preconceived notions onto a situation without any real effort to find facts or report truth.
Rural America needs jobs. The mills and mines of yore are gone – and they are NEVER coming back. Small town America grew up around agriculture and resource industries. Farms have become industrialized and resources are gone. The timber is gone. The salmon is gone. The copper is gone. The gold is gone. The Mills and Mines are closed. The jobs associated with those industries are gone. Nothing is going to bring these jobs back. (The same can be said for manufacturing jobs in the rust belt.)
Datacenters do bring huge numbers of construction jobs. The cost of building a datacenter is often 10X more than a comparable-sized building. These are not simple warehouse-style buildings – they are specialty structures using high-value materials and extensive electrical and mechanical systems. They take far longer to build than comparable-sized structures. Datacenter projects often last for years, rather than the weeks or months required to build a an office building, store, or a warehouse. They employ hundreds of electricians, plumbers & pipe-fitters, sheet metal workers, ironworkers, concrete specialists, fiber-optic techs, and many other trades. Most of these are high-paying, Union jobs. When a Datacenter project lands in a small town the economic impacts are significant. All those construction workers have to live, eat, shop, drink, and recreate locally. They often bring families into town with them as the project has them there for at least a year, perhaps more. Very few, if any journalists ever even think about these facts, much less report them.
Once construction is complete, the number of people required to run the facility is much less, yes – BUT the assumption that all the jobs will go to “outsiders” is patently false. Most of the jobs in modern datacenters are not highly technical. The majority are usually related to facility maintenance; electricians, HVAC techs, etc. and physical security. There is rarely reason to ever have to hire these skills from outside. Yes, some percentage of the jobs require substantial high-tech experience, but the primary responsibility of datacenter technical staff in a large-scale facility is server repair, and any journalist who thinks these skills are only found in Silicon Valley or other major metros is a decade or two behind the times. In the project I’ve been involved with, only a handful of us were hired from elsewhere; the majority are local-hired. The bottom line still shows a net increase in jobs. These jobs are also far better than the old mill and mine jobs they replace. They are safe, high-wage jobs in a high-tech industry. Fifty jobs in Maiden, NC (and Quincy, WA, and Forest City, NC, and Prineville, OR, and Council Bluffs, IA, and…) are far better than zero new jobs.
Then there is just plain fallacy and flawed logic. “The jobs are gone, we have to get them back!” Every era of industrialization has seen transformations that have killed off entire categories of jobs and marketable skills. Every generation sees the death of careers: thread spinners, grain reapers, candle makers, telephone operators, punch card sorters. I’m certain that as technology moved forward a journalist wept ink over the loss of so many jobs as the need for that specialization dried up and then vanished. But as technology changes, so do the jobs. My grandfather, when he was a boy, dreamt of being an Oxcart Driver. Before he turned 20 that career was extinct. The actual fact of the matter is that jobs have been lost since the dawn of time. This is because human needs and technology are in a constant state of evolutionary change. Smart people don’t weep for lost jobs, they just move on to the next one. I work in datacenters, and I’ve often told people that “datacenters are the sawmill of the 21st century” in reference to them springing up in small-towns all over the USA. But I also know that datacenters could very well be gone in forty years – completely extinct. Maybe even twenty years, replaced by some other technology. Will the Henry Blodgetts of 2032 be crying over the lost Datacenter Sector jobs? Of course they will, because nobody recycles stale ideas better that so-called “Top-ranked Business Experts & Analysts” in the journalism trade.
June 18, 2011
I’ve been REAL busy over the past year, and this website has suffered for it… sorry dear reader!
Thankfully things are settling down to a reasonable routine at work. I still have a couple of large-scale projects to hammer out over the summer, but the datacenter we set out to build is largely operational now, and my life is getting back to normal. I hope to start blogging regularly again, which means more “Car Photos of the Day” and participation in vintage car events. The first of which is just next weekend, an MG Car Club rally in the Columbia Gorge, serving as a warmup for the big daddy: The Monte Shelton NW Classic Rally in July.
I was interviewed by “Bring a Trailer” this week as they plan on covering the event on their website as well. It was a fun interview and they snagged a few photos from this website to accompany it. You can read the interview here.
Stay tuned for more, coming soon!