Journal, Stanford

Saturday at Stanford

On Saturday, April 28, 2001, I went to Stanford University, my old alma mater, to check my postal mail and shoot some pictures. Along the way, I ran into members of the Palm Economy, old friends, and even my doctor! (Photos taken with a Canon D30 with 50mm f/1.4, 17-35mm f/2.8L and 70-200mm f/2.8L lenses)

It was designed to be a quick surgical strike. In and out as quickly as possible. I wasn’t planning on staying at Stanford for longer than it took to park, walk to the Post Office, get my mail, and walk back to the car. In the end, it turned out to be a little longer than I expected. I started out by parking next to Memorial Auditorium, near Hoover Tower, so I had a walk across campus to get to my mailbox. Yes, after nearly four years of being out of college, I still have my mailbox at the Stanford Post Office. It is, after all, a standard US Post Office, meaning you can just walk in and get a PO Box. As I get older, it’s getting a little freaky so many young people whenever I go to campus to check my mail. Was I ever that young? “Yes, you were, and you didn’t think about being 26 years old way back way, old man!” I keep telling myself.

A couple of days ago, I was introduced to this kick-ass movie, Duality, that two guys made in their spare time over the course of a year. They filmed the Star Wars-inspired short film entirely on bluescreen, with computer animation and special effects filling the scenes. It was absolutely incredible what they were able to accomplish on DV cameras and a few Macintosh computers. Seeing that movie made me think about the next step in my journalist evolution: digital movies.

I’ve always loved movies, and I can definitely see myself making and starring in my own little movies in the future. I remember as a kid using my parent’s VHS camcorder and recreating scenes from Indiana Jones, The Terminator, and all of the other favorite movies from my youth. With today’s video camera technology and computing horsepower, I’m beginning to buy into people’s vision that digital video is going to be a big thing. A friend of mine, Chris Alan, once told me in the early 90′s, “What will happen when everybody has their own cable station?” Chris’ comments were echoed in the explosion of the Internet and the birth of thousands of personal web sites. Seeing what the crew of two were able to do with Duality, I’m beginning to think that, yes, lots of people will be broadcasting from their own digital broadcast stations in the future. I’m not sure when I’ll jump into the fray, but I know that it won’t be long!

There were a number of events happening at Stanford, from this kids’ Art Festival in White Plaza to a Stanford Graduate School of Business Alumni Reunion. They had a whole children’s inflateable playpen set up in front of the GSB. As I was walking back to the car, I noticed a completely new building, the Knight Building, right next to one of the GSB buildings. I remember construction going on in that area, but never recall seeing a building there until now!

Spring Football Kickoff

Today happened to be the Spring Football Kickoff, where Stanford introduces to alumni, students, and children the new 2001-2002 Cardinal Football team. Tyrone Willingham, the coach of the Cardinal, hosted a session for children in the playing field next to Maples Pavilion. After his speech, he began a question and answer session with the young children, who asked him questions ranging from, “Why is it called Football?” to, “Do they hit hard in football?” The questions that our little ones come up with are so cute and innocent. It’s the childlike wonder and curiosity that we seem to lose or misplace as we grow older and venture into adulthood.

Coach Willingham dutifully answered the questions from his new friends until it was time to play some football. The Stanford Band announced the arrival of the football team, who must have been preparing for the game/scrimmage within the bowels of the Stanford Athletic Department. Football players look pretty small on TV, but in real life, they can get quite big! I wonder what their parents fed them when they were children! In fact, I noticed throughout the day that the people working in the athletic department tended to be pretty big too. Coincidence? Probably not, as many former athletes tend to stay within the sporting sector long after their playing days are over.

Accompanying the Stanford Band were the Stanford Dollies, who cheer for Stanford at many of their sporting events. Part of me is a little ashamed of admitting it, but during my four years at Stanford, I never attended a single Stanford sporting event. Heck, I didn’t even know what a Dolly was until nearly three years after I graduated from the university! Fortunately, I have a friend, Lisa, who is a Dolly and who has straightened me out! Since my graduation, I’ve attended a few games, most notably a Homecoming game in 1998 and a women’s basketball game a few years back. I’ve become much more of a Stanford sport fan today than I ever was. I don’t quite know why I wasn’t so enamoured by sports back then; maybe it was the academics or the Teahouse. Dunno!

At the event, there were a number of people were various cameras and video cameras. I saw a fellow with a Nikon D1 and one of his friends sporting what looked like an Olympus E-10. In addition, many of the parents were using numerous consumer-grade digital cameras. We’re clearly turning the tide, at least in the Palo Alto area, where digital’s numbers are growing faster and faster. In a few years, digitals will outnumber film-based cameras, I expect.

At the actual game, which pitted the Stanford offense versus the Stanford defense, there was the “official” Stanford photographer, who was using a Nikon outfitted with a huge telephoto lens. I’m not sure which one it was, but it was easily in the 300-400mm range, if not larger. I was surprised to see that he was handholding all of his shots too. I figured that he would at least have a monopod with him. He must be too “professional” to use something like that! Just kidding, but it was an impressive piece of glass he had on. Made the 70-200mm lens that I was using look like a pea shooter!

WideRay

At the entrance to the stadium, a group of three people were huddled around this kiosk display. I stopped by to talk to them as I was leaving the stadium to go back home. They were employees of WideRay, a startup company based in San Francisco that has developed technology to deliver broadband distribution of interactive content to handheld computers and other mobile devices. The product that they were demonstrating Saturday afternoon was a cool infrared terminal for Palm organizers. Users, once they download a small client application, are able to receive beamed information directly to their handhelds from this terminal WideRay was demonstrating the instant beaming of information related to the Stanford Cardinal football team.

WideRay was started by a couple of ex-Stanford students, two of whom were students from the Class of 1997, which happened to be my graduating year. Along with the folks at Amikai, FileFish, and no doubt a host of others, I think that the Class of 1997 is well represented in the Silicon Valley. As a member of the Palm Economy, I wish WideRay the very best!

Ultimate Thoughts

A kicker to the afternoon happened when I saw Dr. Test, my elbow doctor, walking up from the stadium, while I was talking to Saul, Christian, and Andrew from WideRay! I was surprised to see him at the event, since I’m going to be seeing Dr. Test for x-rays and a checkup on my elbow in the next few days. It’s been 12 weeks, or three months, since my Ultimate Dislocation and my elbow is still healing. I do seem to have regain nearly all my extension in my elbow, but flexion is still tight. There’s also the little issue of that avulsion fracture that’s floating around in my elbow joint, but we’ll see what happens there after I evaluate the x-rays of the area next week. Hopefully, I won’t have to scope out the fracture, as that would involve yet another lengthy rehabitiliation process. Still, if the tightness and weakness, not to mention the occasional popping sound, persist, I might just have to go under the knife.

Whatever happens, though, it won’t make me forget the lazy Saturday morning and afternoon I spent on my old stomping grounds, Stanford University!

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