Friday, May 24, 2013


Although I almost never travel by train at home, except for a trip to see the Giants play, in Europe it is usually the easiest, least expensive, and most comfortable way to get around. We will be taking the train this summer across Northern Italy from Venice to Santa Margarita and I am looking forward to it. The above photos are from 2006 in Italy and France, all taken with my pocket camera, the Panasonic DMC-LX1, which sits battered and bruised and retired on my living room camera graveyard shelf.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's Art Show Season

My wife and I love going to the various Art and Wine shows in our area. For one thing, they signal the start of summer, and I look forward to summer just the way I did when I was a kid in school. That's probably because I'm still a kid in school! The Los Altos Rotary Art show is, in my opinion, the best in terms of art in the area. Very little, if any, schlock. Plus, photography is well-represented. The crowds are not overwhelming and there's opportunity to talk to fellow photographers. The only danger lies in sitting down to have a bite to eat. If you are sitting next to the stage where the band is playing, there is the outside chance of encountering what I encountered at the bottom. Aaaaarrggghhh.......

Monday, May 20, 2013

Movers On The Move

When I moved from coaching summer baseball from Alaska to Hawaii in the 90's (although still in the same league!) it meant I had the opportunity to travel to Asia for the first time. We started four of the five summers I spent in Hawaii on the road, beginning with four days in Inchon, South Korea, and then two weeks in Japan, usually opening up in Hiroshima before moving on to Tokyo, Yokahama, Sendai, Kyoto, Osaka or Fukuoka. Not all in the same summer, but spread out depending on who had invited us to play. We played Japanese Universities, who had actually finished their seasons, but reunited for our benefit. The games themselves have long since faded into the recesses of my mind, but the experiences culturally have remained with me, as have the people I coached and the great group of guys I coached with. From Japan we usually went up to Alaska for a week before coming home to Hawaii. The Hawaii Island Movers were actually sponsored by a moving company of the same name, run by an interesting guy named Don Takaki, who, in Karaoke bars where we found ourselves many evenings, thought of himself as a sort of Japanese Frank Sinatra. I never want to hear "My Way" again. I can't complain too much, though, as he brought me to Hawaii five times to coach for him. The second photograph shows two of our players laying a wreath at the Hiroshima atomic bomb memorial with the dome that remains from the blast in the background. I had the chance to visit both the Hiroshima Memorial as well as the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, where my father was on a ship during the attack. Both very moving experiences.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hawaii Island Movers 1991

With the news yesterday that Reid Ryan, son of Hall Of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, had been named President and CEO of the Houston Astros, it brought to mind the summer that we became acquainted as well as other friends, both living and dead, that I look back with such fondness on. Reid was playing that summer with the Anchorage Bucs, a team I had spent five summers with, and we met through a former player of mine who was also with the Bucs, Mark O'Brien. That's Reid and me at the great Rainbow Stadium concession stand. Below is the late Walter Souza, with whom I spent five laugh-filled summers. The middle picture is moi, Joey Estrella, and Tommy Gushiken, fellow coaches and wonderful friends to this day. Joey retires this year as head coach at U Hawaii-Hilo. Gush has been retired for a while now. Next are horses on the other side of Oahu from Honolulu. Last, coaches at the Rainbow Baseball Summer camp having a good chuckle.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Reflections, Rovinj, Croatia

You wouldn't know it from these pictures, but Rovinj, in northern Croatia and not that far from Venice, is an almost undiscovered tourist destination, especially for Americans. Not one person, when I was asked where we went in Croatia, had ever heard of the place. And until my wife included it on our itinerary, neither had I. A beautiful little city with lots of Italian influences in both the architecture and the food.

The Forbidden City

When we went to China in 2007, the year before the Bejing Olympics, part of our Viking River Cruises tour included a stop at the Forbidden City. My memories of that day center mostly around how freaking hot, humid, and smoggy it was. As we were herded through the Forbidden City complex of buildings, I wondered to myself, "Why is anyone with half a brain outside in this weather?" As soon as we stepped off the air-conditioned bus and got smacked in the face by the heat, I saw these two guys sound asleep as they waited to get picked up by their tour bus. Inside the walls, workers and soldiers were doing their thing. I was struck by the workout machines sitting outside instead of in a more comfortable environment where somebody might actually be motivated to use them. Maybe motivation's not in anyone's plan, however. I did thoroughly enjoy a game I was playing throughout the trip with my friend Alex. Who could find the best and most signage with bad English translations? Neither of us had to wait too long to see one.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The RX 100 in Action

I'm finding more and more opportunities to take the tiny Sony RX 100 places where I don't want to bring anything that won't fit into my pocket. Despite the relatively small size of my NEX cameras, their little brother  does a great job, within reason. It doesn't have the reach, for one thing. Both sports photography and wedding photography require telephoto lenses, so you just have to make do. For the top two photographs, I only needed to get one player to complete the collection of seniors this season. One portrait, one game shot. The in-game pictures are usually shot with my 18-200 on a NEX 7 body, but I'm perfectly happy with the wider angle look. It's more dramatic for one thing. I shot it at 1/500, slower than usual, but it worked. For the wedding of Tim and Sophia, I sat in the back row despite my wife's mild protestations. I just tried to stay out of the professionals' way and get a few candids for my friends Sue and Nigel. The groomsmen, coincidentally, are all former students of mine and it was great to see them. More than once I realized how glad I am I don't have to do wedding photography for a living. It's very hard work and takes a special skill set to do it well. In this case, working with the extreme contrast was difficult, so I had to let the background do what it wanted, which was to blow out for the most part. Oh well, a beautiful day, an even more beautiful bride, a lucky husband, an incredible venue, wonderful food, and an outstanding DJ (Alvin). 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rock and Roll

Some more music photos from venues in the San Francisco Bay Area. At top is George Harrison at the Oakland Coliseum Arena which now has some corporate name. He was in horrible voice on much of this tour in 1974, but it was great to see him and his wonderful band. Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull is next, also in Oakland. This was the first and last time I saw them live, but Anderson is a great entertainer and songwriter. One of my favorites, Little Feat, from Winterland in San Francisco, follows. The mainstay of the band was the late Lowell George, on guitar in the spotlight. The band has continued on to this day without him, but while they're still a smokin' outfit, it's not quite the same. With George onstage is Paul Barrere, Kenny Gradney and Sam Clayton. Next, again from Oakland, where all big acts played when they came to the Bay Area, is Elton John. I saw him in San Francisco on his first US tour with a three-piece band. By this time, he had gotten hugely popular. And last, the great Mink de Ville, featuring Willy DeVille on the left, opening for Elvis Costello and Rockpile at the San Jose Center For Performing Arts. Willy is very obscure compared to the other acts featured here, but still a tremendous talent.

Calvin Murray, Anchorage, 1990

This photograph was taken in late June, just after the Summer Solstice. When I think back to my summers in
Anchorage, I can remember sitting in the dugout after games and sipping a cold one with the other coaches and marveling at the unbelievable quality of light around 11 pm. I sometimes pulled my camera out of my bag and took pictures. Shown here is Calvin Murray, just after his freshman year at the University of Texas. Out of high school, Calvin was the number one draft pick of the Cleveland Indians but decided to go to Texas instead. We were fortunate to get him up to Alaska to play with the Bucs for two summers before he began his professional career with the San Francisco Giants. Not only a great player, Calvin is a wonderful individual and we have remained friends to this day. He currently works as an agent with the Scott Boros Corporation, and I get to see him about once a year when he rolls into Stanford to see some new hot shot player.

Friday, May 3, 2013


As a high school teacher, I am exposed to teenagers on a daily basis. They are, on the whole, wonderful creatures with a rich and colorful vocabulary. Not all bad mind you, just different from adult jargon. One word I hear often is "random," as in "Like that's so random" with the voice rising at the end. These photographs are like that...random. No theme, nothing connecting them. I just like them, that's all. The top photo is from my back yard when there was a beautiful sky and the neighbor's vent on their garage looking like a space alien peeking over the fence, at least that's what I see. The popcorn picture was taken in San Francisco. The guitarist is my former student Tom Luce who has about four albums out as the leader of Luce, a Bay Area-based band. The bottom photo represents my occasional foray out into my back yard to take pictures for no apparent reason.