Monthly Archive: July 2009

The President needs to shut up (or stick to the important stuff)

Twice now, while watching the Daily Show I’ve wanted to get up and write something about the idiotic, stupid, waste of time that is this whole affair with the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr.  Why did the President of the the whole freaking United States have to make any comment whatsoever on the actions of the police on a charge of disturbing the police in Cambridge, MA?  Now I see this on CNN:

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive – Beer choice at Obama meeting touches off new debate « – Blogs from

So the President invites them all to have beer, the white house has to releases press reports on what types of beer, and some Democrats are UPSET ABOUT THE TYPE OF BEER CHOSEN?  What the heck?

If the President make a comment about the possibility of racial profiling, that might be okay.  But the bottom line is that no one knew what actually happened at the time the POTUS made his statement that the police acted “stupidly.”  Heck, I didn’t know, and he seemed to know even less than I did.

What I want to hear from the President is how he intends to fund universal heatlh care long term (and no, I don’t think he’s trying to kill old people, sheesh).  I support it entirely, but I want to know how we’ll handle those costs in the future.  And I want to hear about how Treasury and the Fed will work to unwind themselves of all this debt and the increase in the monetary base over the next few years.  About whether the stimulus is enough or not (is it just me, or have people begun to forget about the stimulus and some of the major macroeconomic issues at play here?).

Obama, IMO, has proven that he is bad, plain and simple bad, at extemporaneous comments.  And that he makes comments more often than he should. Of all the things a President should  be doing, apologizing for a “poor choice of words” is not one of them.  He just shouldn’t have made that comment in the first place.  Obama needs to learn when to shut up and just say “no comment until things are clear.”

This is just so frustrating.

Oregon Coast Day 5: Depoe Bay

last wisps of sunThe next step in our trip up the Oregon Coast was from Yachats to Depoe Bay.  This was not a very long distance to cover at all.  We really wanted to stay in Depoe Bay, however, for two reasons.  The first is that we got to stay at the Whales Rendezvous B&B, which has this amazing view and where the owners seemed really friendly and helpful.  Also, Depoe Bay is a nice little sheltered bit of water – it’s almost like a really big cove more than anything else.  The water can crash, it can be smooth, and whales do actually come through there on a regular basis.  They even come right into the bay during certain times of year (not when we were there, sadly).  The sunset, we knew, would be amazing from the deck at the B&B.

We started the day off in Yachats, with a breakfast at the Green Salmon in Yachats.  This is an all-organic, all recycled, “green” diner-ish place that even powers its register and stereo via solar panels charging batteries.  Kind of cool.  But, bottom line, the food is good, too.  We had an egg & sausage sandwich, and a green tea cream cheese (yes, the cream cheese was green), tomato and lox bagel.  I think we had this really nice rose tea for a drink as well which was very nice.  A very good way to start the day.

bridge in NewportWe made several small stops along the way, including at Seal Rock and I think along the bridge in Waldport (the next photo, but it’s missing GPS info so I’m not sure – it might be the bridge in Newport).  Technically, the photo of the covered bridge by Yachats was done on this day, as well, as both it and a very nice but out of the way park are off the highway and weren’t right for the end of the trip the previous day.  We did some nice IR work in the park, I think.  trail, sunshine and trees It was quite a drive to and from the park, I will say, but it was quiet and very pretty.  The funny and surprising part was that after driving a ways down a small paved road, then onto a rough paved road, then onto a dirt road…we ended up at the trail head with a couple of minivans from two families that picnic there “all the time.”  Seems rather out of the way for such a frequent event but it is a nice place.

Newport was definitely the major stop along the way up.  Not only might the bridge photo above be from there, but there is also the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.  This is different than the Yaquina Head light, which I visitied and  photographed on my own the next day.  The Yaquina Bay one is much more like many that I’ve seen on the west coast – it’s a house with a light on top, rather than a tall, somewhat free-standing light with the keeper’s house separate.  This particular lighthouse was originally intended for Cape Foulweather but ended up here instead.  What was not clear was whether it ended up here because the Cape’s Foulweather was…too foul, or if the lighthouse was/is even used, considering it’s fairly far in from the actual coast.  Rather hard to photograph, but still interesting.  Worked quite well in IR, too.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse No 1 Yaquina Bay Lighthouse No 3

Depoe Bay was next, along with an excellent dinner at Tidal Raves – the owners of Whales Rendezvous made the reservation for us, after running out to meet us and help us park the car (yes, they are that nice and accommodating).  Other than some photos of the spouting horn, a carve-out in the rock that produces these gushers of water, the sunset was the key.  And it was worth it.

flowing waves at sunset

facebook is not everything

A couple of days ago, I was invited by one group on LinkedIn to join its group on Facebook.  For those that aren’t familiar with LinkedIn, it’s kind of like professional networking.  Whereas social networking sites like Facebook attempt primarily to bring friends and those in our social circles together, LinkedIn connects professionals.  So on Facebook I have many of my high school and college friends, but on LinkedIn I have people with whom I work, with whom I used to work, and with peers at other institutions.

Of course, there is considerable overlap.  Some of my friends on Facebook are excellent professional connections, and some of my connections on LinkedIn have become friends.

The idea of having a Facebook group dedicated to an existing LinkedIn group, however, kind of misses the point.  While there is a lot of overlap between my respective circles, I use the two sites very, very differently.  More importantly, while Facebook may be the networking site these days, LinkedIn provides a very different kind of connectivity.

I know person X, who works at company A.  Someone that knows me wants to work at company A.  I’m the connector.  I’ve actually been the middle-man for I believe 3 people looking for jobs – just letting people know that there is a connection, and via a general LinkedIn recommendation.  This was specifically cited after the person was hired.

I’m going to a conference, and am wanting to meet up with a counterpart at another university.  We have a mutual connection on LinkedIn, and maybe that gives us a starting point for a productive conversation.

Facebook does offer connections – “you and person X have 3 mutual friends” – but how do I reconcile a bunch of high school friends where we’re reminiscing about our youths in our status messages with a desire to create professional connections?

Someone suggested that this Facebook group is an indication that the LinkedIn group will transition over to the former.  I think this would be a mistake.  Even though I go to FB everyday whereas LinkedIn once a week or so, they serve very different purposes, and I think both necessary ones.

El Capitan & Reflection, Yosemite, CA

Just kind of a random thing – a web page called “the circumference” that seems to cover a number of topics is using a couple of my photos of Yosemite, including this one as the primary one, for their El Capitan page. My photos are on flickr via a Creative Commons license that requires that users give me credit and cannot alter the image, but can otherwise use them without explicit permission.

It’s just kind of nice to have a photo used for something. And actually it made me take a 2nd look at this one, which I rather like to boot 🙂

anyone else think Palin’s resignation speech was less than stellar?

Palin’s Resignation: The Edited Version |

First – I got this off someone else sharing it on facebook.  Sometimes this whole social networking thing is useful.

I wanted to comment on Palin’s resignation when it first happened, because it made so little sense and, on a more superficial level, if one listened to the speech itself one wondered what kind of speech writers (or even proof readers) she had. 

Vanity Fair had a little fun with “editing” her speech, but overall this stresses the importance of having good speech writers.  There are great speakers – those that can deliver a stirring, moving, and motivational message – and there are great writers – those that create the spirit of the message through the deft use of the right words built on a solid foundation of proper grammar.  sidenote:  it is amazing how good grammar has such an impact on most listeners and readers – something as simple as that can raise any letter, speech, or other message to another level, yes shouldn’t we all know good grammar?  I certainly violate those rules all the time.

Of course, there have been great speakers and speech writers – I would have to think that Lincoln was one, though I guess, having never heard him speak myself, I cannot say for certain.  I don’t know how much of Obama’s speeches are his original writing versus editing and crafting from speech writers.  But I do know that Ted Sorenson did a lot of writing for John F. Kennedy, and I also know that JFK could deliver one heck of a speech (the Peace Speech is some powerful stuff, and if you listen to how he delivered important yet somewhat dry messages such as those surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis, one certainly leaves, even today, with a sense of the situation’s gravitas).  It’s quite possible that JFK wrote an original that ended up as the majority of the speech, and that he was in fact a great writer as well.  But the bottom line is that few orators don’t utilize the skills of others to craft a truly magnificent message. 

And less than great orators with less than stellar speech writing skills with which to start can come off as awkward to even the most casual of listeners.

Yaquina Head Light and the coast

Yaquina Head Light and the coast

Originally uploaded by kaiyen

As I’m sitting in my windowless office today, very tired mentally and physically from what seems like an overwhelming flood of information that has come my way, this photo of Yaquina lighthouse helps calm my tense nerves.

We had driven by this picturesque lighthouse the previous day, on the way to Depoe Bay, with the intention to go back when the sun was setting. However, the view from our own deck at the Whales Rendezvous B&B was so amazing that we just stayed there.

So, being the crazy person that I am, I got up early the next morning and drove the 10 minutes back to Yaquina head for some almost-sunrise photography (sunrise was about 5AM, so 6:30 felt close enough…).

The wind was incredible. Quite literally – if someone else recounted the tale of how windy it was on that bluff, I would not find the store credible. I truly felt that I was going to be blown right off into the ocean.

At the same time, here was this beautiful lighthouse, on a remarkably lush bit of rock (the mystique of lighthouses tends to make people forget that they are built to keep boats away from rocky, dangerous, hard-to-reach and often quite ugly areas – this one was in a much nicer location). The sun was beautiful (though did nothing against the cold of the wind) and as I approached the stairs leading down to the beach for some different angles, I looked over my shoulder and found this.

Even with the memories of that ridiculous wind, this photo warms my spirits as I think of the clear skies, the early sun, and the picturesque lighthouse.

watching what you say onilne – google really changes things

“Back in the day,” I used to have a pretty strong online presence as either myself or, much more frequently, as my alter ego, kaiyen. If you google “kaiyen,” you still find me mentioned here and there. That’s interesting since I have not gone by that in posts or discussion forums for probably 8 years now.

However, if you google “Allan Chen,” the first links are, in order:

so 7 of the first 8 are me, yet none are my blog, and only one is a page I created myself.  All the rest are big “social networking” sites.  I’m not worried about any of them – I keep the “public” facebook profile pretty clean, for instance, and the rest are designed specifically to be simple and/or professional.

However, this speaks to a larger issue.  With, for instance, one can see where I have posted and therefore what I have said.  If I were to ask a question in, say, the wedding photography forum that could be traced back to a particular client, I could be liable in some way.  Also, if I didn’t keep specifically the Facebook profile clean (the profile picture in particular), then that would not look very good either.

The fact that a component of Google’s search algorithm is to prioritize links based on the number of other sites of a certain relevance that link to it has some pretty serious repercussions.  Something like Facebook or is going to get a lot higher ranking than my personal page (or my blog, apparently).

Mobile Computing Examined

EdTechatouille: Nature of Mobile Learning (ITC09)

Lots of good stuff here.  The comment about the tendency to simply recreate the familiar in an unfamiliar place is, to the historian in me, reminiscent of Tuchman’s Fog of War, which is really about how we fight current wars the way we should have fought the previous one.  So we don’t think ahead.  Or even to the current state of the art. 

We have been looking at distance education models and with anything involving asynchronous learning or even hybrid learning (much less mobile learning), it is critically important to realizes the need to think creatively, and to develop for the platform, not simply port one style/system/method to another system (using a software application analogy).

Oregon Coast Day 4: Yachats

Heceta Light and the setting sunOur fourth day on the Oregon Coast had us driving from Bandon to Yachats.  Overall, Yachats is a pretty good place to stop.  It’s past Florence and the dunes, and the coast makes a definite transition to a less rocky landscape, with softer beaches and finer sand.  It’s also a good distance from Bandon yet still leaves a lot of distance until a next major stop, such as Depoe Bay or even farther north.

The truth is that after getting beat up by the wind at Bandon, we took it easy on this drive.  First, if it’s possible, we spent too much time photographing around Bandon, trying to catch every beautiful moment from sunrise to sunset.  Second, I wanted to devote a good amount of time to Shore Acres State Park, which many tell me is the one place they’d go for even an entire week.

Everyone says that one needs to be ready for just about anything in terms of weather in Oregon.  We were ready for rain, we were ready for gloom.  We weren’t quite ready for tremendous wind, but weren’t complaining since it came along with clear skies and the sun.  Something else we weren’t expecting was such calm seas.  Now, we had waves, and in Depoe Bay we had some good blasts of water now and then.  But we never got the massive waves crashing into the sheer cliffs kind of experience that everyone told us about.  So Shore Acres, known for its big cliffs…was a bit of a let down.  busy bee I will say that the park there really is quite impressive, though, and it was one of the times we really had a chance to break out the macro lenses.

To top it off, the sun actually wore us down a bit.  So we didn’t get big waves and got worn down by the wind and the sun.  So we hit the road and went straight past Coos Bay (including past the Coos Bay Bridge, which I wanted to photograph but reached at the worst time of day, in terms of light).  We stopped off here and there, but overall just kept looking for nice vista points and a good place for a sunset photo.


China turns the tables…and still controls the future of the world

Op-Ed Columnist – Can I Clean Your Clock? –

I think this is just a really good op-ed piece.  First, it’s about the power that China wields when its government decides to go one way or the other.  Second, it’s actually kind of scary, in a good way, that China realizes the importance of being climate-aware and investing in green technology and research.  It’s also just plain scary since it maybe means one more thing that we’ll rely on the Chinese for (we already owe them trillions).