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Thursday, March 23, 2006


Those irrepressible bloggers!

Salam Pax

Salam Pax, left, the “Baghdad Blogger,” answers a question from an audience member Thursday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. At right, Mitch Berman, Director of the Center for Literary Arts at SJSU, moderates the discussion.

I shot this right before spring break, and it never got posted. Salam Pax is an architect from Baghdad who blogged throughout the US invasion and occupation, which makes him a perfect symbol of the new journalism, in which everyday citizens blah blah blah new technology cell phone cameras wireless broadband old guard is falling yada yada yada.

Sorry. That’s not a response to Mr. Pax, who was a very entertaining and thoughtful man. It’s just the inevitable spit-up in response to all the noise I hear about the changing face of news. New tech is great, but I seem to remember that the camcorder was supposed to usher in a new era of citizen journalism after someone taped the Rodney King beating in L.A. some 10 years ago. To be sure, there’s a lot more videotaping being done now that you don’t need to lug around a suitcase-sized tape deck, but has it really changed the news all that much? Not that I can tell. With a few exceptions, I think all we got from those citizen journalists was TV shows like “Maximum Exposure” that specialize in spectacular car crashes, fires and the like.

Could people of blog (or the “blogerati,” if you’re going to take William Safire as an authority on such matters) change the news media? Sure, they already have. Can they add any value there? We’ll see. Should everyone just relax and quit acting like there’s some huge revolution about to happen overnight in newsrooms across the land? Yes.


The thanks I get

Neal in party mode

The birthday boy in party mode.

Good old Neal turned a little older this week. I offered to host the festivities. It would appear that a good time was had by some.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006



Another thing I never would have known without working for the Daily: There’s a boxing team at SJSU. And they’re not kidding around.

Jeremiah Smith

Jeremiah Smith, left, a senior majoring in aviation, spars with another member of the San Jose State University Boxing Club Tuesday at the Washington Union Youth Center in San Jose.

Patrick Myers

Patrick Myers, left, captain of the San Jose State University Boxing Club, trains with coach T.J. Trujillo Tuesday at the Washington United Youth Center in San Jose.

bloody trash

A bloody paper towel sits in a ringside garbage can Tuesday at the Washington United Youth Center in San Jose after being used to clean up a nose injury.

Patrick Myers

His shirt stained with an opponent’s blood from an earlier bout, Patrick Myers of the SJSU Boxing Club exercises on the mat Tuesday at the Washington United Youth Center in San Jose.

See more photos and read the story at the Spartan Daily.



The Daily’s going to run a profile of star basketball player Lamisha Augustine, and I volunteered to shoot the portrait that will run alongside a sports action shot.

Doing a portrait means bringing the lights — (exactly what I should have done when I shot a desk portrait a while back). Fortunately for me, the stalwart Neal helped me put that all together. In the end, despite some faulty equipment and a profound lack of a hoop or real basketball court, I think we did OK. The pose was also Neal’s idea, and I’m indebted to the person who found the spray-on stickum to help the ball stay put while I did my thing.

Lamisha Augustine

Spartan senior forward Lamisha Augustine will graduate in May after playing with the women’s basketball team since 2001. Augustine was the 11th player in SJSU history to break 1,000 points.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I know what you’re thinking:

“Robots are nice and all, but shouldn’t you be out shooting water polo?” Sure enough.

Krissy Hansell

San Jose State University goalkeeper Krissy Hansell makes a save during a game against Princeton University Saturday at the Aquatic Center. The Spartans defeated the Tigers 9-8 in overtime.

Brianna Lindsey

Spartan defender Brianna Lindsey winds up for a shot against the Princeton University Tigers Saturday at the Aquatic Center.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Healthy competition

FIRST Robotics Competition

Robots take the field Friday at the FIRST Robotics Competition Silicon Valley Regional meet at the San Jose State University Event Center. High school teams from California built robots designed to shoot balls into a goal, first autonomously and then under student control.

FIRST Robotics Competition

Zjippy, the robot from Menlo-Atherton High School, rears up on two wheels and prepares to launch balls at the goal.

Mention robots and competition in the same breath, and people’s minds immmediately jump to Battlebots or some similar deathmatch involving circular saws and such. The FIRST Robotics Competion is an entirely different animal, fueled not by bloodlust (spark-lust?) but by a desire to motivate and inspire young people. It’s run by Segway inventor Dean Kamen’s foundation, and the whole thing reminds me of the “New Games” movement of the ’70s (not that anyone, including Wikipedia, seems to remember much about New Games). The FIRST Robotics site explains it much better. I’ll just say these three things: The kids were scary smart, the spirit of the whole thing was great, and Woz was there.

FIRST Robotics Competition

Kevin Irish, a junior at Woodside High School, works on the traction system of his team’s robot in the pit area of the FIRST Robotics Competition Silicon Valley Regional meet held Friday and Saturday at the SJSU Event Center.

FIRST Robotics Competition

Emcee Mark Leon, a NASA employee and San Jose State University graduate, introduces the teams before a new round at the FIRST Robotics Competition Silicon Valley Regional meet Friday at the SJSU Event Center.

Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sits on the panel of judges for the FIRST Robotics Silicon Valley Regional meet held at the SJSU Event Center Friday and Saturday.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Non-violent robot showdown

Apes of Wrath

Jason Burke, left, and Chris Burke, representing the Apes of Wrath robotics team from Pioneer High School in San Jose, work the controls for their team’s robot at the Silicon Valley Regional meet of the FIRST Robotics Competition, held Friday at the SJSU Event Center.

I don’t even know what to say about the high-school robotics teams … I’ll return to this topic after I shoot the second day of the competition.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Photos that say, “You had to be there”

John P. Sullins

John P. Sullins, a professor of philosophy at Sonoma State University, speaks to members of the SJSU philosophy club at the King Library Wednesday. Sullins, an SJSU alumnus, discussed the development of sociable robots for personal use.

Most of what happens at a university is not interesting to the eye. Maybe I’m just more of a writer than a photographer at heart, but when it comes to covering lectures, seminars, guest speakers, workshops, symposia, colloquia and what have you, a camera just feels like the wrong tool for the job.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Wee engineers


Seventh-graders Davis Vu, left, and Anthony Phan make some last-minute repairs to their mousetrap car, which is propelled by the force stored in a mousetrap spring, during MESA Day Saturday in the engineering building. Students put their cars through speed and climbing tests before giving a speech on their design process.


Volunteer Daniel Katz of Hitachi, left, sets up a student’s mousetrap car on an incline to test its climbing ability during MESA Day Saturday in the engineering building.

They used to grow fruit around here, and now they grow little geniuses. This was a competition put on by the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program.

This last shot didn’t run for some reason, which is too bad. I like it better than the other two.


MESA volunteer Rick DiPrieto of IBM performs a weight test on a middle-school student’s bridge during MESA Day Saturday in the Student Union.


Weird snowy winter

snow on Diablo Range

Snow blankets the Diablo Range east of campus Saturday in this view from the top of the Fourth Street Garage.

It was at least 10 degrees warmer in New York City today than in San Jose. No snow there, either.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006


Quick lecture shot

Victor Pineda

Activist and filmmaker Victor Pineda adresses a group in the Guadalupe Room of the Student Union Wednesday. Pineda, an advocate for people with disabilities, discussed the history and future of his cause.

This guy was really cool, and his talk was entertaining as well as informative. But since I was supposed to be covering a demonstration, filling in for the photo editor, and doing some research at the same time, I didn’t get to hang around very long.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006


The world language of art openings

fussball buffet

San Jose State University senior Ernesto Bueno shows off with the ball Tuesday at the opening reception for “World Language of Soccer,” a photo exhibit in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library.

Time for another gallery opening in the second-floor exhibit space, but unlike last time, there was an actual opening with an actual reception. It was a good deal more lively that way.

Unfortunately, exams and whatnot prevent me from going on any further, but I just had to get that awful block of text off the top of the page.

Monday, March 6, 2006


Friggin features

water goes up, water comes down

Two students enjoy this week’s one sunny day by sitting near some simulated rain. I got their names, class years and majors, but what do you care? If you saw them on campus, would you say, “Hey, Dick and Jane! Math majors, right? Seniors rule!” Of course not.

Not sure which is worse: having to shoot crap like this, or having it cut from the paper after I get all the work done, including a legitimate caption. I could have been studying, for crying out loud. Or at least not bothering innocent people to fill imaginary white space.

Sunday, March 5, 2006


Set-spike-block, meet point-shoot-suck

men's volleyball

San Jose State’s Barry Ivers, right, spikes into a block by Fresno State during the Northern California Collegiate Volleyball League Mini-Tournament held March 5 and 6 at Santa Clara University.

This was not my day to shine. Lighting was bad, vantage points were few, and I didn’t have really have the right lens for the job. Besides, I might just be too slow on the shutter for this sport. If I must do sports, they should probably be slow ones, like bocce or curling.

men's volleyball

SJSU’s Paul Dhillon, left, winds up to spike the ball after Carter Youngblood sets it during the NCCVL Mini-Tournament.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Neither here nor there

Okay, fine, I’ll play

Fellow photographer fling, whose blog I mistakenly omitted from my sidebar, is perpetuating this … this thing that I don’t want to say because it sounds even stupider than blog … But I appreciate the spirit behind the thing, and I’m flattered to have been tagged. I think. What does that mean, exactly?

The Four Things Meme
Four shows I enjoy:
• Lost
• The Office (yeah, the American one)
• dog-and-pony
• medicine
Four movies I can watch over and over:
Office Space
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Four jobs I’ve held:
• Proofreader
• Magazine buyer
• Bike messenger
• Taxi driver
Four cool toys:
• blocks
• magnets
• chalk
• Colorforms
Four of my favorite dishes:
• Dungeness crab, and don’t mess with it too much
• Fresh artichoke, and don’t mess with it too much
• Filet mignon, and don’t mess with it too much
• Lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle paté, brandy, and a fried egg on top and SPAM
Four web sites I visit daily:
The Straight Dope
Boing Boing
MAKE: blog
Four places I’ve lived:
• Berkeley
• Oakland
• San Francisco
• San Jose (look out, Sausalito!)
Four places I’ve vacationed:
• Vermont
• Arizona
• Kentucky
• New York
Four places I’d rather be:
Instead of San Jose? Are you insane? There’s not one place I’d rather be!
Four bloggers I’m tagging:

Friday, March 3, 2006


Precision who what?

Okay, today’s picture is nothing to write home about, photographically speaking. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I wish I had sought out some really awesome angle, or something to make it more visually interesting.

On the other hand, it was cold out in that hangar, and they wanted to get back to their meeting. The last thing I wanted was uncomfortable subjects, so I tried to work fast. I finished before some of the guys realized I had started — they thought I was just shooting some test shots.

They could be more perfectly arranged, but I left that up to them for the most part. I’m a newspaper photographer, not Sears Portait Studio. Seriously, I wanted their relaxation and good spirits more than any particular arrangement of faces. To some degree, I think it worked. What I like most about the shot is the smiles. They’re all genuine. The stupid photo patter doesn’t hurt, but putting the team at ease was the key to getting some good expressions.

Next time, though, I have to remember to rotate the flash a little. Speedlights, you will be the death of me. Photographically speaking.

SJSU Precision Flight Team

Members of the SJSU Precision Flight Team pose for a photograph in a San Jose Jet Center hangar during their Friday night meeting. Pictured from left are Sean Cooksy, Warren Kitchen, team captain Travis Plutt, coach Kelly Harrison, Jerry Wong, Andrew Wigley, Vess Velikov and Mike Meschi.

Oh, yeah … my university has a precision flight team. Who knew?

Thursday, March 2, 2006


Reflections on light rail

The light-rail station closest to campus is closed for a while — big news for the brave few who don’t drive to school. After I got the photo assignment for this story, I promptly forgot all about it, and ended up having to shoot it in a big hurry. I really wanted to get a more direct illustration, like a frustrated person standing at the closed station while the train whizzes by. Unfortunately, the platform is all fenced off, and the trains go about as fast as a grandmother parking a Cadillac, so that would be a tough shot to get.

Anyway, it’s not my best work, but I was out of ideas.

VTA light rail

Betsy Canfield, a San Jose State University sophomore majoring in human resources, waits to board the VTA light rail at the Santa Clara station Wednesday. The Paseo de San Antonio station closer to campus, which Canfield normally uses, is closed for renovation.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Site news

Foist of March

I can’t believe how March always sneaks up on me. Seems like there should be a couple more days of February, but since it is usually the worst month of all, I am happy to see it go.

Unpleasant though it might often be, this February was a banner friggin month here at danesch.com. The number of posts for the month set a new record, and traffic was through the roof. (I want to encourage everyone to leave a comment by clicking on a photo, and let me know who the hell you all are.)

One bit of bad news: The eminently cool Alma Bowl sign, which I photographed last April, came down last week along with the Alma Bowl itself. In my dreams, the sign has been spirited away to be refurbished and put back in place next to whatever monstrosity gets built there. As if.

When you’re done drying your tears, why not make yourself feel better with a quality print, suitable for framing?