Dog Gone It, This is True March Madness!

Is West Virginia feeling like a Bulldog deflated their basketball? Such madness!. Up-to-date results are posted right here.

And our leader board shows:

1st place: How about that Tad Deshler! With a super solid 96 points and his Bulldogs still in the hunt, Tad is at the top of the dog pile.

2nd place: And our former number one, Bear Down Cats, has slipped to second place. But with this Cat’s champion now out, his bracket may have gone to the dogs.

3rd place (tie): Rising in the dog pile from sixth to third is Lvannice with 80 points. That dog has to be dancing. Meanwhile Evan Botkin’s Bracket is a happy dog as well, staying firmly in third, though with Evan’s champion out, his bracket may be turning into a dog’s breakfast.

In the Robinson Noble staff and family division, the leaders are:

1st place: Hot diggity dog for David W! With 82 points good ole’ David is one hot dog. Can his champion, the Ducks, come out as top dog?

2nd place: Continuing in second place is Coin Flipper with 75 points. But is Flipper, with their champion out, destined for the bottom of the the dog pile?

3rd place (tie): Kysen must be one dancing dog, jumping all the way from 59th place overall to a tie at third with 74 points! And how about that Haley P moving up from 23rd. Two happy dogs here!

The weekend’s excitement has just begun. Tune in Monday to see whose at top dog!

Once again, we’d like to thank our sponsors:WS_Logo_Red

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Photo provided via Creative Commons license by Sheri Terris.

Goat Get Your Bracket?

Holy Goat! What a bracket-busting weekend. Number 1 and 2 seeds going down in barnyard flames. The results after Round 1 are posted here and the results after Round 2 are posted here.

The leader board after on Monday morning has:

1st place: No goats on Bear Down Cats’ team. Leading since day one, this cat is has posted 77 points! And with their champion, Arizona, still in the hunt, this cat surely is goatless!

2nd place: Rising from 18th place last Friday to a tie for 1st on Saturday and now undisputed 2nd place is Tad Deshler. Tad is no goat either, with a solid 75 points.

3rd place: In a totally ungoat-like performance, Evan Botkin’s Bracket zoomed up from 11th place on Saturday to 3rd on Monday with 72 points.

4th place: Navistar Crazies survived the weekend to be in 4th place with 69 points. But Navi might be in trouble, their champion, Duke, goated it up and is heading back to the farm.

In the Robinson Noble staff and family division, the leaders are:

1st place: No goats for David W., with 70 points! Good old David is dreaming of victory and hoping his champion, Oregon, has no goats on the team.

2nd place: Rising from from the barnyard in 23rd overall place on Friday, to 8th overall place on Monday, good enough for 2nd place in the RN division, is that master of probability Coin Flipper.

3rd place (tie): With his East bracket goated into oblivion, Son of a Zag, fell into a tie for 3rd place in the RN division with 65 points. Meanwhile, FMK, won a few barnyard fights to climb up to third.

The barnyard hoops aren’t done yet. Might there be more goats out there in your bracket? Stay tuned!!!

Once again, we’d like to thank our sponsors:WS_Logo_Red

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Photo provided via Creative Commons license by Rikki’s Refuge.

This Madness has Dogs Dancing

What a first day! This tournament has the dogs dancing with basketballs. You can download the full results here.

The leader board after one day is:

1st place: Bear Down Cats. This cat doesn’t care about dancing dogs and is leading the pack with 28 points.

2nd place (tie): There a log jam for 2nd place with five all tied with 27 points. These lucky dogs are: Navistar Crazies, Tyler Clary, Julie P., R Romans, and M Miller

In the Robinson Noble staff and family division, the leaders are:

1st place (tie): Hoping that this is the year of the Zags, Son of a Zag  is tied with Little Mike with the not so little score of 27 points

2nd place (tie): on the heels of the top dogs is David W. and TheSwagLord with 26 points

Stay tuned! We’ll see if these dogs are still dancing come Monday or if some other cool cats take the lead!

A special thanks to our sponsors:WS_Logo_Red

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Photo provided via Creative Commons license by Sheri Terris.

It’s Madness I Tell You!

7th Annual Robinson Noble NCAA Basketball Tournament Contest

$500 in Prizes

Well the Madness of March has started once again. Join in the fun by submitting a bracket to Robinson Noble’s 7th annual tournament contest. It’s free to play. Simply fill in a bracket and send it to Jeff at jwale [at] robinson-noble.com. If you didn’t receive a bracket in your email, you can download one here. Brackets are due no later than 8:00 AM, Thursday, March 16th. Late Entries will be accepted, however, you will not get credit for the games that have started when the entry was received. We’ll be updating the results right here on our blog.

We hope all our clients and friends can participate. However, if you are not allowed to receive prize money, please let us know your favorite charity and we will send your winnings to them instead!

A special thanks to our sponsors:WS_Logo_Red

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Photo provided via Creative Commons license by Your Best Digs.

RN Calendar 2017, the Story behind the Pictures

Well, it December once again, and that means the new Robinson Noble calendars will soon be in the mail. If you receive a calendar from us, you know that I take all the photos for the calendar. This gives our calendar a special niche, separating it from other calendars that are given out this time of year. While we could populate our calendar with images of drill rigs and backhoes, we prefer Pacific Northwest scenic images so that our clients might be more tempted to hang the calendar on their walls and remember us throughout the year. Besides, I prefer taking scenic subjects to backhoes.

As part of the annual calendar process, I present the upcoming twelve images in a blog post with “the story behind the images.” Below are the stories for the 2017 images.

1-160201_rainier_0480-cymk-copyJanuary

I’ve mentioned in previous years, there is an unwritten rule that January and December calendar images need to contain snow. As I am not a big fan of winter, I don’t take a lot of photos of snowy conditions. So this year, on February 1st, I made sure I went on a snowshoeing trip with the goal of getting one or two calendar-worthy shots. And this trip was well worth it, turning out to be a goldmine for potential calendar photos.

I went with a friend to Mount Rainier National Park without a specific destination other than to get out on our snowshoes and take some pictures. Halfway up to Paradise, we stopped where the road crosses the Nisqually River. We took a few pictures from the bridge looking down onto the river valley. Here the river forms a braided channel across the valley floor. With snow, this boulder strewn floodplain becomes a beckoning white flat land, perfect for snowshoeing. So we walked down into the valley. We couldn’t hike more than about a mile without attempting a river crossing, which we decided against, but the scenery was excellent and I took a multitude of shots of the braided river channels crossing this winter wonderland, including the shot we used for January.

February2-130217_seattle_bainbridge_001486-cymk-copy

Recently, I published a book about touring and photographing Seattle (available from me here or through most booksellers, including Amazon). In the book, I also covered the Winslow area of Bainbridge Island. When I was preparing the book, I didn’t have any decent photographs of Winslow, so one February day my wife, Tanya, and I took our dog on a ferry ride from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Our dog is a Newfoundland, weighing in at 145 pounds; she was a great hit with the other ferry passengers. When we reached Bainbridge, we walked down along the Winslow waterfront and then back through town. Though February, there was a hint that spring was coming soon, including this cherry tree by the harbor. I like the image for the delicate cherry blossoms just starting to appear extending a hope of warmer days to come. That trip turned out to be very lucrative. On our walk, I also took a photograph of a stack of colorful kayaks. Earlier this year, I sold a license of that image for several thousand dollars to an art dealer in San Francisco for use at a hotel in Florida.

March3-10010362-cymk-copy

Fishing boats are a favorite subject of mine. Luckily there are lots of good places in the Pacific Northwest with good working-boat harbors. One of the best is in Newport, Oregon. One thing nice about photographing fishing boats, you can take good photos in almost any kind of weather. That was the case here. The morning I took this shot, it was cold with low clouds and a light rain – not the type of weather to take nice scenic shots of the Oregon coast. But in Newport harbor, plenty of good photographic opportunities could be found.

April4-150419_copalis_9706-cymk-copy

April’s photo is also on the coast, but up in Washington. Every April I participate in the arts show at Ocean Shores. The day this photo was taken, I was in Ocean Shores with my son, Brooks (who took the “monkey on my back” photo in the calendar), to drop off prints for the art show. After dropping them off, we didn’t want to drive back home right away, so we drove up the coast looking for a beach to walk on. We went to the beach at Moclips, but I didn’t find much photographic inspiration there. Driving back south again, we stopped at Griffiths-Priday Ocean State Park just outside the town of Copalis Beach. I had never been to this state park before, and as it was near sunset, was looking for a good subject.

The beach here, like most the beaches north of Grays Harbor and south of Point Grenville, is broad and sandy. In fact, the beach at Griffiths-Priday Ocean State Park is even broader than most. While I like walking on such wide, sandy beaches, I find it difficult to get scenic shots on them. But the interesting thing at Griffiths-Priday Ocean State Park is that is where the Copalis River enters the Pacific Ocean. And the river doesn’t just run straight into the ocean, but instead, just about 1,500 feet from the beach, the river makes a 90-degree bend from flowing east to north, almost paralleling the shoreline for a mile or more through the state park until it finally turns westward and flows into the ocean. Closer to the shoreline, a smaller, though still sizable, unnamed stream follows the same pattern, running north paralleling the beach. Instead of turning directly west, however, this stream eventually bends almost 180 degrees back to the south before then turning 90 degrees west to the ocean. The state park parking lot is between the stream and the river.

From the parking lot, you cannot get quickly to the beach unless you want to wade across the stream, which I had no desire to do on a cold early April evening. A trail from the parking lot runs through old dunes, paralleling the stream, and slightly above the beach. The April photo was taken along that trail, where I positioned myself so the setting sun was above a smaller branch of the stream (that was following the same pattern of flowing north before turning south and west). The curve in the stream was exactly the type of feature I was looking for to make a “sandy-beach” shot more visually interesting.

May5-150518_palouse_0684-cymk-copy

May’s photo is of Palouse Falls. Last year I went there for several days with a fellow photographer specifically to take images of Palouse Falls at night with the Milky Way. We were there two nights. The first night, I got a good shot with the falls and the stars (which you can see here). To take the image, my friend lit up the falls with a giant flashlight (6 million candlepower) from the main viewpoint area, while I tripped the shutters on our cameras from a spot close to where this calendar photo was taken. I was very happy with the result. But you will not see it on our calendar anytime soon because I didn’t get one in horizontal format.

The second day I hoped for more clear skies to try again, this time focusing on horizontal compositions. But as the day grew, the skies became cloudy. No Milky Way shots that night. However, all was not lost, the clouds gave us nice sunset shots, like the one used on the calendar. Not a bad consolation prize.

June6-160630_olympic_4627-cymk-copy

Last June, I took a day trip to Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park. It was kind of misty at the beach; not the best photography conditions. So we decided to go into the Hoh rain forest and come back to the beach at sunset for hopefully less low clouds. The plan actually worked, the low clouds were mostly gone at sunset. Unfortunately the sunset itself wasn’t very good.

This photo was taken on our drive into the Hoh. Unless you live on the coast, you don’t see the Olympic Mountains from the west very often. As we drove past this spot where you could see both the mountains and the Hoh River, I knew I wanted to capture the mountains from this angle, so we turned the car around and pulled over. There is nothing special to this shot; it is one anyone could take. I shot from the roadside for a few minutes, and we continued on to the rain forest. This quick shot from the roadside was one of the better shots of the day.

July

Miniture trees below Mt Adams, Mount Adams Wilderness Area, Washington

This image of Mount Adams was taken on a hike Tanya and I took with our dog in 2010. It was a partly cloudy day, though the hike was mostly in the sun. You couldn’t see the mountain until near the end of the hike when the trail left the forest. The clouds seemed to be rolling over the top of the mountain. I liked the look and went searching for a nice foreground. We were near the tree line, and I found this area of miniature trees in a boulder field. I really liked the look of these trees and made a lot of photographs here. The tree in the foreground is only about 18 inches tall, but I’m sure it is many years old. After we got back to the car, we drove to Takalakh Lake to eat a picnic dinner and for me to take some photos of the lake and Mount Adams at sunset.

Photographically, the trip was very successful. One of the images from the lake was on the calendar in 2012. I’ve always liked this present image very much and hoped we would put it on the calendar someday; it finally made it for 2017.

August8-160805_lyle_5410-cymk-copy

The image for August was taken from Lyle, Washington – a small town in the Columbia River Gorge. Tanya and I were there for a family reunion. We were staying at an Airbnb with a view down the river. I have an app that shows where the moon (and sun) will rise and set, and using it, I knew a crescent moon would be setting straight down the gorge the night of the family reunion. So we left a bit early so I could take this shot, which I took from the deck of our room.

Technically, this was a very difficult photograph to make. I made the shot considerably after sunset, so it was quite dark. Even so, the contrast been the sky and river was large, and it was difficult to capture detail in both with one exposure. Because of the light conditions, a long exposure time was needed. However, long exposures caused the moon and star (actually probably a planet, most likely Venus) to be blurred (due to the earth’s rotation). To make matters worse, the wind was blowing hard, as it often does in the gorge. For this image, I ended combining a 2-second exposure of the sky and 10-second exposure of the land and river into a single image (10 seconds was long enough to cause motion blur on the moon and planet).

Because it is so dark, the image is also technically difficult to print. And, unfortunately, the image did not print well in the calendar, with the land and river being much too dark. I was concerned about that when we decided to use this image, but the proof from the printer came back looking good. However, something happened when the actual calendar print run was made, and I am not happy with the results. The image presented here in the blog is much more true to what I saw and what the image on the calendar should look like.

SeptemberAfter the Harvest

I love shooting in the Palouse. Spring brings wonderful greens, and late summer brings delightful golden yellows. Last year, on a trip to Spokane to see my Dad, we left Tacoma in early morning so we could spend the afternoon driving the backroads of the Palouse before heading up to Spokane for the evening. The weather was great for photography, mostly sunny, but with lots of interesting clouds.

I love to just drive on random back roads through the Palouse looking for interesting subjects. And if I have a lot of time, I will do just that. But in this case, we only had a few hours in the afternoon, so I went with Plan B – using a photographer’s map. There are two photographer’s maps of the Palouse – one is free from the Pullman Chamber of Commerce and the other costs $25 from a photographer named Teri Lou Dantzler. Both show locations of barns, lone trees, viewpoints, windmills, and more. Though different in format, both are nearly identical in content, and Teri Lou claims the Chamber of Commerce copied her map. I have both maps, and I think Teri Lou has a case.

Even when using the maps, you cannot tell if the light will be good for any particular shot; some subjects photograph better in morning light and some better in evening. Plus, some of the barns, other structures, and lone trees on the maps have fallen down. So, even with the maps, you still need to search for good subjects. However, when the maps directed us to this tree, I know I had a winner. I hope you agree.

October10-151016_silverfalls_6562-cymk-copy

As with the unwritten “snow” rule for December and January, it seems there is an unwritten “autumn color” rule for October. This is a harder rule to follow, because the colorful autumn foliage season is short and colorful autumn foliage is less common in the Pacific Northwest than other parts of the country.

In search of fall colors, Tanya and I took a trip in October 2015 to Silverton, Oregon, which is about 10 miles north of Silver Falls State Park. I’ve seen beautiful photographs of Silver Falls State Park for years and decided I had to go. I was not disappointed. Though the water falls in the park had small flows because of the time of year, the trees were beautiful, and I came home with many wonderful images. In addition to visiting the state park, I made a big looping drive through the central Oregon Cascades and found some other colorful spots, and one of these images may show up in a future Robinson Noble calendar.

The featured shot here is of Middle North Falls, a several mile hike into the park along the Trail of Ten Falls. Considered the “crown jewel” of Oregon State Parks, the park covers over 9,000 acres. Hopefully I can get back again soon in the spring time when the falls will have a higher flow.

11-131123_port_townsend_013485-cymk-copyNovember

November is always a tough month for me to do a lot of photography.  Normally, with work and chores at home, it is hard for me to find time to take pictures. But with a short month and family holiday obligations, November is especially hard. Also the weather is usually rainy and cold; the lowlands just look sadly wet, and the highlands don’t have much snow yet.

Several years ago, Tanya and I made a weekend trip to Port Townsend with friends. According to Tanya, this was not to be a “photography trip” but a “friend trip.” In other words, I could take my camera, but photography was not to control the agenda. During the weekend, the four of us were strolling in downtown Port Townsend after lunch, doing a little shopping. I snuck off and went up to the harbor with my camera where I captured this image of a wooden boat. I was especially taken by the reflection. After this and a few other quick shots, I returned to Water Street and found Tanya and our friends. They barely know I had been gone.

December12-140117_hurricane_ridge_014179-cymk-copy

As I’ve mentioned – snow is required for a December image. This photograph was taken at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park and was actually shot in January. The snow pack was very low that winter. We had gone up to Hurricane Ridge to go snowshoeing, and after an afternoon tromping around in the snow, we stayed for sunset. The road closes at dusk, so I stayed near the parking lot in case a ranger came and told us to leave. Sure enough, just as I was starting to pack up my gear, the ranger stopped and shooed us out. It was not the first time I’ve been asked to leave by a park ranger and probably not the last.

Any of these images are for sale as fine-art prints. If you enjoy my photography, please visit my blog at joebeckerphoto.wordpress.com or my website at seldomseenphoto.com. I can be contacted at either, or by leaving a comment here.

Election 2016

In 2008 and 2012, I wrote articles contrasting the two Presidential candidates’ positions on infrastructure and science, with an emphasis on water and environmental issues. Here I’d like to reprise that article with the current candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. As with my previous articles, my primary sources are the candidates’ websites and the Science Debate website.

trump-by-gage-skidmore-flickr-creative-commons2-0-webDonald Trump

On the Positions/Policies page of the Trump website, there are 15 issues listed. Perhaps the most science-related issue listed is energy. However, on his Energy page, Trump does not talk about science but rather gives a bullet-point list of his vision to create new jobs, declare “energy dominance,” develop untapped hydrocarbon reserves (including leasing on federal lands), become energy independent, encourage the use of natural gas and “other American energy resources” to reduce emissions and reduce the price of energy, and rescind “job-destroying Obama executive actions.” More than half the page is spent not on Trump’s proposals but on a “contrast with Hillary Clinton.” This contrast with Clinton is a bullet-list of Clinton’s and President Obama’s actions and quotes. While two of these cite independent publications as source material, several give no citation, and the rest cite Trump’s own press releases.

The Trump website does have an Infrastructure page. Again, it consists of bulleted lists, though on this page his list is considerably longer than the contrast-with-Clinton list. Some of the key points of Trump’s infrastructure vision include: pursuing an “America’s Infrastructure First” policy to support transportation, clean water, electrical grid, and other domestic infrastructure needs; providing flexibility to the states; using American steel; leveraging new revenue sources such as public-private partnerships; linking increasing in spending to permitting reforms (and cutting “wasteful spending on boondoggles”); employing incentive-based contracting; and incorporating new technologies.

Additionally, Trump wants to “make clean water a high priority” by developing a “long-term water infrastructure plan with city, state and federal leaders to upgrade aging water systems.” He proposes to “triple funding for state revolving loan fund programs to help states and local governments upgrade critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.”

As I did for the previous elections, I wanted to search the candidates’ websites for certain words. A Google search of Trump’s website (all Google searches accomplished earlier today) for the word “science.” The search returned 73 results. Looking at the first page of results, none deal with policy matters related to science. Most the results relate to statements made by political science professors. The only result remotely related to science is an endorsement by Congressman Lamar Smith, the House chairman of the Science, Space and Technology committee.

A search for the word “environment” returned 118 results. Only one result on the first page deals with a Trump policy related to the environment – a press release of a speech given in North Dakota concerning his “American First Energy Plan.” In the press release, Trump states he will “solve real environmental problems in our communities like the need for clean and safe drinking water.” He describes his 100-day action plan, which includes lifting moratoriums on energy production in federal areas, revoking policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on drilling, cancelling the Paris Climate Accord, and rescinding “all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. Rule.” He states he will accomplish his 100-day plan all while “taking proper regard for rational environmental concerns“ and conserving natural habitats, reserves, and resources. (Of the remaining results on the first page, one deals with Steve Forbes stating Trump will create a positive environment for business; the rest deal with Clinton’s position on the TPP).

hillary_clinton_official_secretary_of_state_portrait_crop-webHillary Clinton

The issues page of Hillary Clinton’s website lists 41 topics including one concerning infrastructure, one about climate change, and one about technology and innovation. The Infrastructure page briefly describes Clinton’s plan for a $275 billion, five-year plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. The page only gives a summary of her plan, but does link to a related, detailed fact sheet. The summary discusses repairing and expanding roads and bridges, lowering transportation costs by expanding public transit, connecting all Americans to the internet, building world-class airports, and building an energy infrastructure for the 21st century. The fact sheet provides additional detail on her improving aging drinking water and wastewater systems, including creating a national infrastructure bank to provide loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit for infrastructure projects including water systems.

The Technology and Innovation page again gives summary-level detail and also links to an expanded fact sheet on the subject. Clinton’s plans call for building the tech economy by investing in computer science and STEM education, increasing capital for small business and startups, attracting talent from around the world, and investing in science and technology research and development. She calls for investing in “world-class digital infrastructure” by connecting all American households to high-speed broadband by 2020, deploying 5G wireless and other next-generation systems, and starting a digital communities program to encourage greater access to high-speed internet. She also wants to defend net neutrality, reduce entry barriers to promote competition, improve the patent system, and more. The page says Clinton “believes we should look to technology and data to provide better services to the American people, and make government simpler, smarter, and more effective.”

Unlike the other issue pages, Clinton’s Climate page does not link to one separate, more detailed fact sheet, but rather to six separate fact sheets on various proposed policies related to climate. Clinton calls climate change “an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.” Upon taking office, she says she will set “bold, national goals that will be achieved within 10 years.” These include generating enough renewable energy to power every home in America, cutting energy waste in the country by one third, and reducing American oil consumption by one third. Her plans call on living up to American pledges made at the Paris climate conference and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% by 2025. Clinton specifically intends to “extend smart pollution and efficiency standards,” start a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge, invest in clean energy infrastructure, reform leasing of public lands and waters and expand related clean energy production tenfold, cut methane emissions, ensure responsible traditional energy production, and more.

A Google search of the Clinton website for the word “science” returned 170 results. Unlike in Trump’s search results, all the first page results relate directly to science. There are links to her technology and innovation initiative (discussed above), comprehensive plans for coal, several links to climate change fact and policy sheets, and links concerning her support for science education.

The Google search of the website for the word “environment” returned 241 results. Again, all the results on the first page deal directly with the environment. Several results link to her positions on environmental racism and environmental justice. Others link to pages concerning clean power, protecting wildlife, and climate change.

Science Debate 2016

ScienceDebate.org was started several Presidential elections ago to invite the candidates for President to address science issues. Again this year, the organization invited thousands of scientists and engineers to submit science-related questions of concern to the nation. ScienceDebate worked with leading science and engineering organizations (including the American Geosciences Union, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the University of Washington) to refine, by consensus, the questions into the 20 most important science policy questions facing the country. Both Clinton and Trump, as well as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, supplied answers. Topics covered innovation, research, climate change, energy, education, water, vaccinations, space, scientific integrity, and more.

The question concerning water was:

The long-term security of fresh water supplies is threatened by a dizzying array of aging infrastructure, aquifer depletion, pollution, and climate variability. Some American communities have lost access to water, affecting their viability and destroying home values. If you are elected, what steps will you take to ensure access to clean water for all Americans?

Clinton’s answer:

Chronic underinvestment in our nation’s drinking and wastewater systems has sickened and endangered Americans from Flint, Michigan, to Ohio and West Virginia. Outdated and inadequate wastewater systems discharge more than 900 billion gallons of untreated sewage a year, posing health risks to humans and wildlife life, disrupting ecosystems, and disproportionately impacting communities of color. In addition, many struggling communities around the United States have limited or no access to clean, safe water.

We will invest in infrastructure and work with states, municipalities, and the private sector to bring our water systems into the 21st century and provide all Americans access to clean, safe drinking water.

Climate change is also triggering changes in weather patterns, including the increased prevalence of long, hard droughts that pose a dire risk to the health and prosperity of American communities, particularly in the West. The federal government must become a better partner in supporting state and locally-led efforts to improve water security. To that end, we will create a coordinated, multi-agency Western Water Partnership to help fund water efficiency, consideration, and infrastructure modernization projects across the region, including significant new investments in water reuse and reclamation. 

We will also work to bring cutting edge efficiency, treatment and reuse solutions to our nation’s water challenges by establishing a new Water Innovation Lab. The Lab will bring urban water managers, farmers and tribes together with engineers, entrepreneurs, conservationists and other stakeholders to develop practical and usable technologies and strategies that can be deployed by local water utilities, agricultural and industrial water users, and environmental restoration projects across the country.

Trump’s answer:

This may be the most important issue we face as a nation for the next generation.  Therefore, we must make the investment in our fresh water infrastructure to ensure access to affordable fresh water solutions for everyone.  We must explore all options to include making desalinization more affordable and working to build the distribution infrastructure to bring this scarce resource to where it is needed for our citizens and those who produce the food of the world.  This must be a top priority for my administration.

The rest of the questions and answers on ScienceDebate are equally interesting and enlightening.

Trump photo provided by Gage Skidmore under a Creative Commons license.

Clinton photo is her official Secretary of State portrait and is in the public domain.

The Semisweet 12 …

kids basketball by thatlostdog-- via Flickr

. . . or is it bittersweet? Either way, half of the teams have wrestled their way into the Sweet 16 with the other half to come tonight and tomorrow. Here are the current standings: March 24th results.

Of note: Tad Deshler and My Dog Picked This are still holding on to the top two spots, with Skux Deluxe dropping into third. Mylee climbed from 8th at the start of the week to tie with peter tiersma in 4th place. Tune in again tomorrow!

A special thanks to our sponsors:WS_Logo_Red

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We’d like to thank thatlostdog– for providing his photo under a Creative Commons license.

Ouch! That Hurts!

foul to the face by Heiko Kutzschmar via FlickrAfter that wild weekend of basketball, I’m feeling like I’ve been fouled in the face! I’m sure many of the teams that didn’t make the Sweet Sixteen feel the same way (in particular, Michigan State, as well as the many who picked them as their champions – ouch, that hurts!).

I, your humble narrator, have lots of results to share with you. Because, unlike me who relaxed over the weekend, our basketball tournament head master extraordinaire, Kevin Biersner, slaved all weekend long to update results. So, not only can I offer you, loyal reader, the results with the Sweet Sixteen, I give results after Friday’s and Saturday’s fantastical finishes as well.

If you want to skip right to the up-to-the-minute results, click here: March 21st results. But, if you want to see how the tournament evolved over the weekend, check out these links as well:March 19th results and March 20th results.

Here is our current leader board:

1 – Tad Deshler had a great weekend, climbing to first place with 85 points. But can he keep it going – might be tough since his champion is no longer in the running.

2 – My Dog Picked This continued to be a super hot dog, logging in at 2nd place with 82 points (moving up from a tie at 5th place last week).

2 – also tied for 2nd is the one and only Skux Deluxe. Speaking of good weekend, that old Skux climbed all the way from 18th place last week! (You’ve got to love old Skux who was brave enough to pick my alma mater, Texas A&M, as their champion!)

4 – peter tiersma, is showing his prognostication skills by moving up from 8th place last week to 4th with 78 points,  and

5 – in 5th place, by some miracle of the gods, is BGC with 75 points – amazing!

The Robinson Noble leader board should look familiar because they are all over the overall leader board:

1 – My Dog Picked This (I told you that was one hot dog!)

2 –Skux Deluxe, and

3 – the one and only, BGC

Other interesting results from weekend include:

Maximilian flamed up the charts from 28th place last Thursday all the way to 1st place after Friday’s games, slipping to 5th place after Saturday’s games. But how the mighty have fallen, old Max is currently now in 24th place and fading fast.

Remember Go Dawgs, our leader last week? Well, our dawg fancier is hanging in there, just off the leader board, in 6th place (but in the money as the three RN employees in the top five are not eligible).

And for those of you paying close attention to the Wills family saga, Max Wills has regained his spot at the top of the family in 14th place overall, Hope Wills has fallen from the family lead last week to 2nd and 41st place overall. But watch out Hope, Emily Wills is close behind in 43rd place. And adorable Oliva Wills, well she is looking good for the “thanks for trying prize”, tied for 77th place.

Stay tuned, more results later this week!

A special thanks to our sponsors:WS_Logo_Red

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We’d like to thank Heiko Kutzschmar for providing the photo of his photo under a Creative Commons license.

Grab a Ball and Bracket and Take your Best Shot!

basketballs by Hakan Dahlstrom via Flickr

6th Annual Robinson Noble NCAA Basketball Tournament Contest

More than $500 in Prizes

Well the Madness of March has started once again. Join in the fun by submitting a bracket to Robinson Noble’s 6th annual tournament contest. It’s free to play. Simply fill in a bracket and send it to Kevin or Angie at kbiersner [at] robinson-noble.com or amckeag [at] robinson-noble.com. If you didn’t receive a bracket in your email, you can download one here. Brackets are due no later than 8:00 AM, Thursday, March 17th. Late Entries will be accepted, however, you will not get credit for the games that have started when the entry was received. We’ll be updating the results right here on our blog.

We hope all our clients and friends can participate. However, if you are not allowed to receive prize money, please let us know your favorite charity and we will send your winnings to them instead!

A special thanks to our sponsors:WS_Logo_Red

ACFWest sized down logoLibby Environmental logo-JPEGMeadGilmanNewlogo1-2048x921CG Logo with PlanningPlease note that Robinson Noble employees and family members may also participate, but will compete for a separate, Company-sponsored prize.

We’d like to thank Håkan Dahlström for providing the photo of the basketballs under a Creative Commons license.

RN Calendar 2016 – the Story behind the Photos

The new Robinson Noble calendars were mailed on December 14th, so you may have already received one. It has become my tradition with each new edition of the Robinson Noble calendar to present the story behind the images here in the blog. So here’s the images for 2016.

JanuaryStuart Range from Blewett

As I’ve mentioned in the past, there seems to be an unwritten rule that January and December calendar pictures in the northern hemisphere need to have snow visible in them. This presents a problem for me, as I am not a winter lover. But I do own a pair of snowshoes, and last January, I convinced my wife, Tanya, to have an outing in the snow. I bought a Sno-Park season pass (figuring I’d be trying for more snow photography later in the winter and spring) and we headed out.

Now, as you might remember, there wasn’t much snow in the Cascades last January. Further, our outing looked doomed from the start. It was cloudy in Tacoma and raining horribly at Snoqualmie Pass. Coming down out of the pass, the weather cleared a bit, but there was no snow. We drove up to Blewett Pass, and finally, right at the top, we found both snow and a little but of sunny weather. We hiked about a mile or so west of the pass and found this wonderful view of the Stuart Range wrapped in clouds. I would have like to go further, but it was already late in the day and our dog was matted with large snowballs (she probably had 20 pounds of snow matted into her fur, which I had to break out back at the car). But it was a successful trip – calendar photo with snow captured.

I love the image and am glad we went. However, buying the season pass was a mistake. There was so little snow last winter that we never did go find any other significant snow the rest of the season.

FebruaryHarbor Night

No snow, no place to go. That seemed like last February for me. I ended up barely getting the camera out last February. However, one night I had a late afternoon appointment in Gig Harbor followed by my regular Gig Harbor photo club (Sound Exposure Photo Club) meeting later that night. So I took the camera along to play with between the appointment and meeting.

This shot was taken Maritime Pier next to the Tides Tavern. I loved the look of the Eirinn Rose reflected in the calm water of the harbor as the sky darkened. It was quite dark by the time I found the scene, so it demanded a long exposure. Normally, when shooting at night, I will take a test shot with a high ISO setting, allowing for a faster shutter speed. Then take the “real” shot with a low ISO and a long shutter speed. In this case, the shutter speed for the “real” shot was several minutes long (compared to several seconds for the test image). In between the test and real images, two men came down the gangplank and got into the Eirinn Rose. No problem, I let them climb aboard, waited a minute or so while the boat settled, and took the shot. It looked great on the LCD screen on the back of the camera.

However, when I got home and zoomed it up on the computer, I found the Eirinn Rose was fuzzy while everything else was perfectly in focus. Apparently, the men inside the boat were causing the boat to rock ever so slightly, not visible to my naked eye, but visible to the camera. Luckily, the “test” shot was good, and with a little digital magic, I was able to minimize the digital noise that accompanies high ISO shots enough that it could be used for the calendar.

MarchEbey's Landing

Several years ago, Tanya and I were getting a bit of spring fever and wanted to get out and do a hike in March. Not much of the high country is open in March, but trails near Puget Sound are. We gathered up the dog and headed up to Whidbey Island to Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

The loop hike (5.6 miles long) at Ebey’s Landing is a wonderful hike in the spring, or actually anytime of the year. The trailhead we used starts at the Coupeville cemetery, runs out to the edge of the bluff, follows the top of the bluff, drops down to the beach (where this image was taken), follows the beach, and the climbs back up the bluff. The views of Puget Sound are spectacular, as is the view of the Olympic Mountains (looking the opposite way from which this image was taken).

AprilWashington State Capitol

I shot this image in 2011, but first started thinking about it three years earlier (as I explained on my photo blog). When I first thought of the image, it was too late in the spring and the cherry trees were already past their prime. Two years later, conditions were right and I had time on a Saturday morning to run down to Olympia. I wanted to take the image on a weekend to minimize the number of people milling about.

Still, conditions were that great. The sky was very bright and the foreground dark. I took a series of three shots with different exposures and combined them into a high dynamic range (HDR) image. HDR allows a photographer to reduce contrast and show detail in both light and dark areas. Back in 2011, it took a special computer program to produce HDR images. Today, many cameras will do it on the fly.

Three years in the making – I think it was worth the wait.

MayCannon Beach from Ecola

The Oregon coast is one of my favorite places for photography in the Pacific Northwest. I try to get down there every few years. This shot is from 2012, when Tanya and I took a spring camping trip to the coast. We camped south of Cannon Beach, but came up to Ecola State Park for a walk on the beach and to take evening and sunset shots from Ecola Point south toward Cannon Beach. The sunset was fine, nothing spectacular, and I liked this shot prior to sunset better than the ones I took later when the sun was setting.

The sunset was special in another way. Offshore from Ecola is the Tillamook Rock Light – a now deactivated lighthouse on top of a small rocky island. The day we were at Ecola, the sun set very close to the Tillamook Light, but that is a photo for another calendar.

JuneUniontown

June is a prime time to visit eastern Washington. Though I grew up in Spokane, I had never photographed much in the Palouse region of eastern Washington until several years ago. We made a trip over in June of 2012 specifically for photography, spending a couple of days photographing the Palouse and a couple of days photographing Spokane (for an assignment I had with American Bungalow Magazine). Several previous images from this trip have been featured in past Robinson Noble calendars.

This particular image is of the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown. I’m not the only photographer who likes this barn; it’s been photographed so often that it is becoming an icon of the Palouse region (a Google image search for “Palouse barn” will turn up many photographs of it). The barn is no longer used for agriculture, but is now a studio for numerous artists and is officially known as the Artisans at the Dahmen Barn. While Tanya visited the artists in the barn, I took time to walk around the property and photograph it from various angles. I particularly liked this view through the wagon wheel fence that surrounds the propery.

My father’s family settled near Uniontown (my great-grandfather and great-uncle were early settlers in the town of Colton, just three miles west of Uniontown), and I still have a lot of relatives in the region. I have an uncle and cousins with the last name of Dahmen and have wondered how they may be related to this barn.

JulyKayostia Beach

Last July I made a backpacking trip along the Olympic National Park coast with my brother and his grandson, from Shi Shi Beach to Rialto Beach – a distance of 37 miles. One reason we selected this hike was our assumption that without a lot of elevation gain, the hike would be relatively easy. How hard can it be walking on a beach? Well, I had my last physical therapy session today for my knees due to pain developed during that easy hike. But perhaps that says more about my age than the hike?

We were hiking for six days, which provided plenty of opportunity for photography. This scene was captured after sunset at Kayostia Beach, near the Norwegian Memorial. The sea stacks along the coast provided many photographic opportunities and were a favorite subject of mine on the trip.

AugustLavender

One to the highlights of the Olympic Peninsula in summer is the lavender fields near Sequim. I’ve made several trips up to the area to photograph the fields. This shot is from a trip in 2011. The best shots are usually made in July, immediately before the Sequim Lavender Festival because farmers start harvesting the fields after the festival to make lavender oil and other products. This shot was taken in August, and luckily for me, this particular field had not yet been cut.

SeptemberColumbia River at Vantage

Growing up in Spokane and still having relatives there, I’ve driven by Vantage, Washington hundreds of times over the years but had never done much photography there. One reason is that if driving from the Puget Sound area to Spokane, or visa versa, you past by Vantage in the middle of the day, which is one of the worst times of day for scenic photography. However, on one trip home from visiting my folks in 2010, Tanya and I stopped outside Vantage at a viewpoint overlooking the Columbia River. The sun was behind a cloud, removing the harsh, contrasting light of mid-day. I took the opportunity to snap this image of the river.

OctoberTumwater Canyon

Autumn color can sometimes be a bit hard to find in the Pacific Northwest. One of the best spots, however, is the mountain valleys near Leavenworth, Washington. One October weekend in 2014, Tanya and I decided to drive up to Leavenworth to see the colors. We picked up Tanya’s mother for the ride and headed out. The quickest route to Leavenworth from Tacoma is over Snoqualmie and Blewett Passes, so we came into Leavenworth from the east. It normally takes about 2.5 hours to drive to Leavenworth from Tacoma. However, the day we decided to go, Octoberfest was in full swing in Leavenworth. It took us about 2 hours and 25 minutes to drive to within a mile of town, then about 45 minutes to drive into the town and find a parking spot. Then even longer to find a restaurant with an open table for lunch. It didn’t leave that much time for photography. I left Tanya and her mother in town to check out the festival and headed up Icicle Creek to shoot. Later I picked up the girls and we went up Highway 2 into Tumwater Canyon for a few more shots. This particular image was my last shot of the day, taken in Tumwater Canyon in rapidly fading twilight (it is a 30-second exposure).

NovemberYakima River Canyon

In a late season quest to find more fall color, in November 2014, Tanya and I made a day trip to the Yakima River canyon between Ellensburg and Selah, Washington.We were a bit late, and many of the trees had already shed their leaves. But it was a beautiful (and cold, as I remember,) day, providing blue skies and blue water to contrast with the dry hills and what color was left along the river.

This is a very scenic canyon, and a favorite road of mine traverses it. If you are not in a hurry, try skipping the interstate drive between Ellensburg and Yakima and travel the river road, you might be rewarded with views like this one. You can read more about the road on my blog.

DecemberBarn Flats

I took this shot on a short snowshoe hike to Barns Flat near Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park in 2011. This is a very popular spot, and it was difficult finding a view without a lot of tracks in the snow. I solved the problem by placing the small trees in the foreground – people had walked around the trees rather than through them. It had been fairly warm for a few days prior to taking this image. This had the disadvantage of melting all the snow off the trees, but did leave interesting patterns in the snow, which I think helped the image.