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.

Flipping over Day One of the Tournament


basketball or waterpolo by Hamed Saber via FlickrI don’t know about you, but I’m flipping over this tournament, and all I can say after day one of the tournament is  – GO YALE!  (Not that I picked them for my bracket.)

Results after day one are attached here. The leader board has:

1 – Go Dawgs in first place with a commanding 35 points

2 – Tad Deshler in a close second place with 34 points

3 – a tie at 3rd place between Hanna Brighella and PB Libby at 33 points (but you have to feel sad for old PB since their champion is already out – OUCH!), and

5 – in 5th place, with 31 point, Blair Goodrow

In the Robinson Noble bracket, the leaders are:

1 – My Dog Picked This, with 31 points (that is one hot dog!)

2 – BGC in second with 29 points (knowing how he picks his bracket, all I’ve got to say is “are you kidding?”), and

3 – Hope Wills in third with 27 points (take that Max with your measly 25 points!)

Stay tuned, more results on Monday!

A special thanks to our sponsors:WS_Logo_Red

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We’d like to thank Hamed Saber for providing the photo of his wonderful photo titled Basketball or Waterpolo 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.


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.


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.




RN Wins National Client Satisfaction Award 2 Years Running

Robinson Noble Tops in Client Satisfaction – Two Years in a Row

PremierAward_LogoREDUX_2012Robinson Noble was recently named as a winner of the 6th Annual Premier Award for Client Satisfaction by PSMJ Resources, Inc.Robinson Noble was also recognized as a winner of the award last year.

This annual award recognizes top architecture/engineering/construction industry firms that provide their clients with quality communications, performance and cost effectiveness. Robinson Noble, Inc. is one of 19 firms recognized nationwide. The award is based on client surveys which ask about helpfulness, responsiveness, quality, accuracy, schedule, budget, and scope and fees. Robinson Noble was rated as excellent or exceptional by 65% of their clients. Based on survey results, PSMJ also calculates each firm’s net promoter score. Wikipedia considers any positive net promoter score as good and scores above 50 to be excellent. Robinson Noble received a net promoter score of 69.

“One consistent theme amongst the A/E industry’s most successful firms is a commitment to client satisfaction,” says Frank A. Stasiowski, FAIA, founder and CEO of PSMJ Resources. “But, more than just a commitment, the winners of our Premier Award for Client Satisfaction have the proof to show that they really deliver on expectations. Their passion truly differentiates them from their peers and we applaud them for setting the standard for others to reach.”

Thank you to all our clients who filled out a survey and rated us among the best in the nation. And please let us know if there is more we can do to improve.

Thanks to Holt Services!

150927_alaska_5078This post is a bit late, but Robinson Noble would like to thank Holt Services for an excellent fishing trip!

Last month, Holt Services hosted a fishing trip to Ketchikan, Alaska for a number of clients, including Kari Thomas  (shown above with a salmon she landed) and Joe Becker from Robinson Noble. In total, the group of 18 on the trip caught 145 salmon – mostly silvers (coho). And each attendee brought home a freezer shelf full (45 pounds) of salmon fillets.

Thank you Randy Holt, and all the gang at Holt Services. We had a great time. Robinson Noble looks forward to another great year of working together on solving our joint client’s environmental, water-resources, and geotechincal problems in 2016.


Happy 4th!

horsetails with copyrightIt is hard to believe half of 2015 is over, and we are already at the 4th of July weekend. It has been a good year for Robinson Noble as we have transitioned into our new office in downtown Tacoma. Hopefully you were able to come visit during our open house in May; if not, drop by anytime to say hello.

I can’t say I have much Robinson Noble news to report. We did hire two new staff members in the past month or so. We welcome John Anderson to our Woodinville office and Natasha Garland-Clark to our Tacoma office. I will blog more about our new compatriots after I dig out my camera and get some photos of them to share.

In my personal news, I haven’t had much chance this spring or early summer to do much photography because I am revising my ebook into a print version. It will be published by Schiffer Publishing and is due to be released next spring. Not to worry, though, I still have plenty of photos to put into next year’s edition of the Robinson Noble calendar!

Speaking of photos, the accompanying photograph is the closest thing I have that looks like fireworks. Somehow in all my years of photography, I have not captured any good fireworks shots (I’m not even sure I’ve tried), so this image will have to do. While it looks like fireworks, in reality it is a black and white shot of one of my wife’s chief gardening nemeses – horsetails. (These things grow like weeds in our garden – but then, maybe it is because they are weeds.) Even weeds can have some beauty I guess.

Anyway, all of us here at Robinson Noble wish you a happy and safe 4th of July. Take some time to relax with your family and not think about work – there will be enough time for that next week.

Open House – Come on Down

RN open house merged photo 300Robinson Noble is having an open house at our new Tacoma office on May 15 from 3 to 6 pm. I’d like to send  you a person invitation, so please come on down for a visit and a tour  the new place. We will be serving food from the local Neighbor Bistro, beer from local breweries (not sure which ones yet, Jim and I will be doing sample tastings later today just to make sure we pick the correct brews – work can be so hard sometimes), Washington wines, and various soft drinks.

We are located at 2105 South C Street, just south of S 21st and two blocks up the hill from Pacific. The Holiday Inn is across C Street and UW Tacoma across 21st. It’s easy to find, the first downtown Tacoma off ramp from Interstate 705 exits onto 21st just a few blocks east of our office. Parking can be a bit tight in downtown Tacoma, so we’ve arranged with the Holiday Inn to open their gravel parking lot just to the south of the hotel on C Street.

Come on by and say hello!

Burt Clothier – Judge

Burt Clothier - judgeHas anyone ever said to you “You be the judge?”  Well, Robinson Noble’s Burt Clothier once again took up that challenge. For the second year in a row, Burt was a judge for the AWWA South Sound Subsections annual water taste contest. This is the 7th year the South Sound Subsection has hosted the competition. The competition, held last month, was open to all South Sound water utilities with no state or federal regulatory violations within the past year. This year, 13 utilities took up the challenge. Judging was based on three categories: scent, flavor, and aftertaste.

After Burt’s sensitive palate was treated to more water than anyone should drink in one sitting, he and the other two judges picked the top three winners: 3rd place – City of Tumwater; 2nd place – Mason PUD; and with the best tasting (and smelling) water, in 1st place – Valley Water District. With its win in the Sound Sound, Valley Water will be taking their good tasting elixir to the AWWA “Best of the Northwest” competition to be held next week at the 2015 AWWA PNWS conference in Bellevue.

Robinson Noble wishes Valley Water the best of luck in the upcoming contest.

Photo kindly provided by the South Sound Subsection of AWWA.

And the Nets come down for Duke

net coming down by Eric Wong from Flicr with CC licenceAnother round of madness is over and Duke reigns as champion. And in our tournament? The champion, the master prognosticator, and all around good guy is Brian K! You can download the complete results here: 2015 Master Results Final Results

Brian K hung on to first place even though he did not have a team in the final game. The only one of all our participants to pick Duke as their champion, Howard Stansbury, shot all the way from 28th place to take 2nd! That old Howard has quite the jump shot, doesn’t he! Greg Guillen holds on to 3rd, Larry Byrd takes 4th by tiebreaker, and KathyK loses the tiebreaker to land 5th.

In the Robinson Noble bracket, Mike Krautkramer lands 1st (3rd overall, nice job Mike), Mr3 was 2nd, and John H holds on to 3rd.

A big THANK YOU to all who participated! See you again next year!

Photo by Eric Wong, provided by Creative Commons license.

And one final thank you to our sponsors:

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