Corky on October 30th, 2012

Autonomy, mastery, and purpose

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

Bidding adieu to his last “real job” as Al Gore’s speechwriter, Dan Pink went freelance to spark a right-brain revolution in the career marketplace.

“If you want people to perform better, you reward them, right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show. Incentivize them. … But that’s not happening here. You’ve got an incentive designed to sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity, and it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity.”(Dan Pink)

According to Daniel Pink (and backed by solid research), the current model of incentives and carrot/stick as motivational strategies are actually counter-productive when it comes to creative endeavors. Watch the video to understand why the Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose model works much better…

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Corky on October 25th, 2012

Southern Utah is just chock a block full of gorgeous red rock and one of my favorite places to get up close and personal with it has to be Kodachrome Basin. It’s a short, scenic and easy drive from Bryce Canyon, only about 20 miles.

Framed view from Panorama Trail

Kodachrome Basin contains many multi-colored rock formations of red, yellow, pink, white and brown, as well as massive sandstone chimney spires geologists believe to be solidified sediment that filled ancient springs or geysers left standing after the softer surrounding sandstone eroded away. In a setting of clear blue skies and Great Basin Desert vegetation, the National Geographic Society, with the consent of the Kodak Film Corp., named the area Kodachrome Basin, in honor to the now legendary slide film.

I arrived in early afternoon, and after taking the customary cruise around the camp ground and speaking with the ranger, decided to set up camp and spend a few days. The camping fee was a very reasonable $15 for a tent site, and included hot showers in the roomy and immaculate bathroom. There is quite a bit of road in the park along the valley floor as well as miles of hiking and horse trails. After setting up camp, I grabbed my camera gear and headed for the Angels Palace Trail (photos below).

After the campfire finally died out, I was treated to the spectacular sight of billions of stars overhead. Light pollution is extremely low here and a real treat for any stargazer. I also got up predawn to see the near-full moon light up the valley floor and surrounding cliffs.Chilly,(mid March), but so worth it. Absolutely unforgettable.

The following morning I headed out to complete the loop of the Panorama Trail. It’s about 3 miles and highlights include the Ballerina Slipper, and Chimney Rock. From Panorama Point, you have spectacular 360 degree views of the Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument and can actually see the rim of Bryce Canyon quite clearly, even though it’s twenty miles away!

Color Infrared, Kodachrome Basin

I also took some shots with a camera that has been altered to”see” infrared…It’s fun to play with the possibilities when converting IR files, there’s lots of leeway in the process. The gallery below shows some of the variations…


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Corky on October 23rd, 2012

Last Spring I stumbled across an article about Full Moon Nature Walks in Bryce Canyon National Park and decided that was reason enough for me to take off on another excursion. Can you say EPIC ROAD TRIP!!!

Corky and Paco at Bryce Point

I arrived a couple of days before the full moon, so had plenty of time to explore and photograph. Below is an iconic view from Bryce Point at sunrise. Just be prepared for wind and cold at sunrise in the spring. I was there in early March and sunrise greeted me with 17 degree temps and winds strong enough to shake my very sturdy old school tripod… Even with these extreme conditions, I expected to see at least a couple of other photographers, but I had the place all to myself.   There’s a lot to be said for going early in the season and braving the elements…

Bryce Point sunrise

The full moon hike was a lot of fun, even though there wasn’t enough snowpack to require snow shoes. I really enjoyed the talk by the “Dark Ranger”, who talked about such diverse topics as winter survival and light pollution, actually quite relevant and inter-related when it comes to the survival of nocturnal wildlife in an increasingly urbanized environment…

And while it was nice to see the full moon rising on cue over the distant plateau, it wasn’t really a very good photo op. You would need a very large zoom to get a decent shot, and forget it if  all you have is a point and shoot or a camera phone. The stars of the night were… well, the stars. The Dark Ranger was very knowledgeable about the night sky, pointing out several planets and constellations, which were clearly visible, even with the full moon shining brightly.

If you are heading to Bryce Canyon I highly recommend planning your trip around the full moon and going on this walk. It’s free and space is limited, so sign up in advance (especially in the summer months) to make sure you get a spot. You will not be disappointed…


 

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Corky on March 6th, 2012

Corky checking out the last RR tie laid, completing the Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1869

Celebrating the completion of the Transcontinental Railway

I had a blast today driving up to Promontory, Utah to check out a piece of history that has fascinated me since I was a kid. I remember in school seeing the photo of all the people gathered for the driving of the “Golden Spike”, so even though it was cold and windy, it was well worth the trip to actually stand near the spot where this happened.

It was a monumental task, all done by hand, using mostly Chinese and Irish labor. Almost all of the track work was done using shovels, picks, axes, black powder, two-wheeled dump carts, wheelbarrows, ropes, mules, and horses, while supply trains carried all the necessary material for the construction, which consisted of ties, rails, spikes, bolts, telegraph poles, wire, etc.

In addition to track laying (which typically employed approximately 25% of the labor force), the operation also required the efforts of hundreds of tunnelers, explosive experts, bridge builders, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, masons, surveyors, teamsters, telegraphers, and even cooks, to name just a few of the trades involved in construction of the railroad. But when it was all said and done, travel from coast to coast was reduced from six months or more to just one week. And in so doing opened up the Great Plains and the West to development.

However, all this came at a high cost. The Native Americans saw the addition of the railroad as a violation of their treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American Bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called “Iron Horse” threatened their existence. Security measures were further strengthened, and progress on the railroad continued. But it was the beginning of the end for the American Bison and the Native American way of life.

Hell at 4900'

Life was hard and precarious in Promontory, where passengers had to change trains to continue either East of West

East meets West

This is how it looks today…

 

 

For more information, see the Wikipedia article or visit the National Park Service site 

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Corky on January 6th, 2012

Corky summits Piestewa Peak

Having spent a few days in Phoenix and starting to feel a bit dazed and confused by all the strip malls and endless miles of housing tracts that all begin to look disturbingly similar, I decided to head out for a hike up Piestewa Peak.

This area was recently renamed, and used to be known as Squaw Peak. The new name was given in memory of Lori Piestewa, a Tuba City soldier who gave her life in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The name is pronounced: py-ess-tuh-wah.

Located just west of Paradise Valley in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, its a popular hike to say the least. I’ve heard that on weekends and holidays it can be difficult to find a place to park, so plan accordingly. I arrived fairly early in the day during the Christmas holiday and had no trouble with parking, but when I left in the afternoon, cars were cruising the lot looking for a space, so be forewarned.

The view on the way up

Almost there

Made it!

On the trail, expect a lot of people of all shapes and sizes, in various states of fitness. I was amazed by a number of folks actually running up the trail. No, I wasn’t one of those.  It”s a little over a mile to the top with an elevation gain of 1,190 ft,  and is rated as moderate. The lower portion is relatively easy, but it gets steeper as you approach the summit.

 

 

The views of Phoenix are spectacular, and begin just a short way into the hike, with plenty of spots to stop and enjoy. Take plenty of water and some snacks. The top has plenty of room to hang out and have lunch, and lots of friendly people willing to chat (once I caught my breath from tackling that last steep stretch near the top. Note to self: Get in better shape!)

 

 

Round trip for this hike took me about 3 hours, including a nice rest at the summit. No, I am not a fast hiker, especially going uphill. I stop for lots of rests and photos. Slow and steady wins the day. This is a hike I can’t even imagine doing in summer, as temperatures in Phoenix during the summer rarely dip below 100 degrees, and often hover around 115degrees.

 

 

 

When it’s all said and done, this is a great way to escape the metropolis of Phoenix for a bit, get some exercise and enjoy the beauty of the natural environment. While in the area, you might want to consider a visit to Cosanti in Paradise Valley, the iconic residence and sculpture studio of famed architect and visionary Paolo Soleri.

 

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