Book Recollection: It’s My Fault

Extreme Ownership

To make it an incredible three months in row (cheers, streamers, jubilation, cars overturning, cow tipping…), I’m going into bonus time to bring you another book recollection.  The title of this book is: IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT.  Now, to be honest, who would want to read a book with that title?  Truth is, that is not the name of the book – it is really named Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win.  It is authored by Jocko Willink and Lief Babin.  Two SEAL leaders that served in Task Unit Bruiser in the Iraqi war.  You may recognize that unit if you read or watched the American Sniper show.  Chris Kyle served in that unit during the same time.  Many of the accounts given in the book about the battle for Ramadi will actually ring true with the events that happened in Chris’s work – unfortunately, down to the heroes that lost their lives serving our country only to have their accomplishments diminished by politicians living in the safety earned by our military.  The two authors have since gone on to form a business consulting firm (Echelon Front LLC) that translates the lessons learned from the battlefield to everyday business scenarios.  The book itself is structured with an account from an Iraq mission or SEAL training followed by a translation into business principles and then an account of how they applied those concepts in a real world company.

I thought the first parts (the military account) was quite interesting and felt it gave a lot of missing detail from the American Sniper accounts (link here).   On the business side it could have been shortened to just a few pages because the message was always the same (say it with me) It is your fault.  If you are questioning your leaders then it is your fault because you didn’t dig deeper or ask enough questions to understand the mission appropriately.  If your leadership objectives failed, then it is (say it with me) your fault because you didn’t plan or communicate effectively for your subordinates.  I can accept this to a point but it seems like a convenient out for everyone else.  I like the concepts of decentralized leadership, critical simplicity and prioritize to focus.  I am also highly supportive of the concept that once a mission (or business objective) is agreed upon it is imperative that the team get behind it and execute.  Continually rehashing the same arguments, passive aggressive behavior and outright sabotage has felled many a good initiatives.

In summary, I thought the  military accounts were very good, giving insights into just how the SEALs go about taking over an entrenched enemy territory – translated, thank god there are heroes willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe with a true love for our country – if only I could say the same about our current political leaders.  I’ll let you be the judge on how well the military principles really  apply to the business world.  I think it would have been more effective to just have a mirrored page at the end of each chapter.

Hit the jump to see my takeaways:

Continue reading Book Recollection: It’s My Fault

Fragile Wings

Why don’t we just put a put a bow on this non-bird month.  Just sitting here taking a quick break to recover from my morning run.  As you know if you read this blog, just sitting around doing nothing isn’t one of my favorite things to do – seems wasteful when there’s so many pictures in the queue!  How about we sit here and recover from my morning run while cranking out a post – ahhh, much better.

Today we feature a creature that has a similar characteristic with birds.. albeit a much more fragile version.
Butterfly Set

That’s right, today we are featuring butterflies.  This generally means one thing to me – outings where I didn’t find any birds, dragonflies or frogs.  That is usually my progression out in the field.  After that you get spiders, insects and last resort a worm.  This particular butterfly is called an Orange Sulphur and was shot in Champaign IL.

Butterfly Set

Hit the jump to see a couple more butterfly specimens!

Continue reading Fragile Wings

Phoadtography – Yellowstone Trip 2013

Big day for the Peoria Journal Star’s website.  Apparently everyone I know was looking at their daily news feed based on the number of text messages and emails I got about one of their articles.  Apparently a local liberal arts college (Knox) decided to put all of their collective knowledge together and come up with a list of “creep” designating activities (and I bet they wonder what differentiates them from real colleges).  As expected, clowns are uber high on their list, but there was another reason everyone felt obligated to inform me … they included BIRDING.  Yes, folks, apparently this fine institute (cough) did an in depth study and determined that BIRDERS creep other people out.  Really!?! white guys over 45 (their classification, not mine) with binoculars standing in a meadow or woods creeps people out.  Now if said birder was socializing with everyone in the area.. that might be a bit creepy (hehehe), but birding … come one.  Apparently some survey takers should get out of the house a bit more.  Just imagine how debilitating it must be for someone scared of a birder to have an encounter with a clown – my guess, on the floor shaking in convulsions.

Today, isn’t about making fun of a liberal arts college (although it is fun).  Nope, today’s post is on a topic that has been few and far between – phoadtography!  I’m sure you are shocked.  Let’s start with this shot.

Phoadtography - Yellowstone May 2013

Admittedly, not a shot actually from the road, but was a fun little detour on our way out to Yellowstone back in May 2013.  As you know, Linda is all about the flowing water and Sioux Falls South Dakota had a nice set of rapids running through it.  I on the other hand tend to prefer statues (when no wildlife to hunt).  The Bison above is nice… but I like this next shot better.

Phoadtography - Yellowstone May 2013

How cute!  (although not sure what the North American Roller Hockey Championships has to do with a Bison.. hehehe.

Hit the jump to see more shots from our trip.

Continue reading Phoadtography – Yellowstone Trip 2013

Mile High Dragons

Howdy everyone!  Seems like it has been ages since my last post, but that is likely due to the extra high output over the last couple of months leading up to the last post.  One of the reasons for the delay was taking some time to work up another non-birding post – kind of a theme this month and figured I would keep it going at least one more post.  Not sure how much longer I can hold out on the birds though, developing a horrible twitch from the withdrawal hehehe.

Dragonfly at Denver Botanical Gardens May 2015

The good news is my brother and I were able to bird last Saturday up at Chain O’ Lakes State Park.  We took a 6 hour hike starting at 9am and then caught an hour or so after catching a bite to eat.  Unfortunately, it was pretty damn cold out with the temps dropping down to 23 the night before with a healthy dose of snow and sleet to accompany us on the drive up.  On the positive side, we had a dry day with plenty of sunshine that brought out a lot of birds for us to shoot.  I’ll catch you up on the day’s tin loading at another time but it is highly likely there was at least a +1 for each of us that day – Yeah!

Dragonfly at Denver Botanical Gardens May 2015

Hit the jump to read the rest of the post!

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Denver Lillies

Today I successfully completed another attempt at a three loop run through Springdale Cemetery.  If you recall, I actually pulled this off for the first time two weeks ago.  Form no-runners, this might not seem like much of an accomplishment, but that course will inflict some serious hurt on your body – there are three major steep hills in the standard loop direction but we take the second loop in reverse which results in two ridiculously long hills that leave you begging for mercy.  It was a big moment to finally face my demons and get it done the first time (let’s just say I’ve tried countless times to get through it, but each time succumbed to the exhaustion).  Today was a commitment to myself to complete two 20 miles runs before attempting another life list item.  With that out of the way, I can focus on making sure all the moving parts are in tip top shape.  Now, the downside of all of this is I’m dead tired at the moment and staying off my stiff legs.  This of course translates to … extra time to get a post out, yeah.

The bonus statue from the Denver Botanical Gardens shoot in the last post reminded me there were a few more landscape shots I had not processed yet.  Yes folks, another non-bird related post – hopefully this will quench the hate mail that has been burning up my inbox as of late hehehe.

Denver Botanical Gardens June 2013

These shots were taken at a small pond in the middle of the gardens.  Unfortunately, we were there in mid-day so we were dealing with some harsh light.  I have two monitors in my den one set a little darker and the other set a little lighter than Linda’s Mac.  I should probably sync this up since we print off of the Mac screen settings.  The two settings allow me to quickly see if I want to lighten or darken a shot without having to make physical changes.

Denver Botanical Gardens June 2013

The vibrant water lilies on the dark toned water caught my eye while I was taking shots of sculptures scattered about the area.  The tripod would have been handy for this shot, but that was left in the car on this outing.  That would have allowed me to smooth out the water with a longer shutter speed.  Oh well, you go with the conditions you have available.  The ripples do give a sense of motion to the scene.

Denver Botanical Gardens June 2013

In another area of the pond I spotted some white flowers and thought it would be a good complement to the pink flowers.  Now that these are worked up I’ll probably try putting these to paper (after tweaking them on the Mac so they match our printer service color shading).

Denver Botanical Gardens June 2013

It has been a while since I’ve featured a flower shoot on this blog – that is really in Linda’s wheelhouse.   Hey, that reminds me – I have Biltmore flower garden shots still to process!

Have a good one everyone – I’m going to go foam roll my legs.

Allerton Treasures Revisted

How about we keep up with the non-birding theme for today’s post.  I’ll even switch it up a bit and break with the Chain O’ Lakes State Park shoots and go with another of my favorite locations – Allerton Park.  This park located in Monticello, Illinois is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors.  It doesn’t matter if you are a birder, flower enthusiast, hiker or even an admirer of the eclectic art scene, Allerton will assuredly entertain you.   The spotlight today is on the art elements contained in the park.

Allerton Park 2015

Allerton has actually been featured several times on this blog including quite a haul on a birding outing last year (link here).  This post is a companion piece to the previous art segment back in December 2012 (link here).   Robert Allerton was an odd sort filling his 1500 acres with all kinds of interesting art pieces.   With the exception of the special setting for the pinnacle piece,  the Sun Singer, most of the pieces are scattered about the park in the flower gardens or out along the various walking trails.  To this day, I probably haven’t found all the pieces he put on display – that is one of the reasons this place is so appealing to me – there is always something outright new or new conditions to capture in the tin.  I believe this particular piece is called Adam (a reproduction of Auguste Rodin’s Adam sculpture from Paris).  Like the Centaur in the previous post, I tend to prefer these in their black and white treatment.

Allerton Park 2015

Hit the link to see a few more shots from Allerton.

Continue reading Allerton Treasures Revisted

Another Bird List Add

Good news everyone – back today with a brand new addition to my birding list.  This particular bird was extremely elusive and took everything I had to get it in the tin.  Unlike most of the bird species, this particular one was quite adept at navigating the Chain O’ Lakes underbrush.  It was as if it knew that the Beast would be handicapped in this setting making it nearly impossible to get a bead on it.  Only option was to go in after it – braving life and limb to add another notch in the camera strap.  Even deep in enemy terrain, it was tough to locate.  Missing was a familiar chirp or soothing song that would allow me to home in on the location.  Even the rustle from its stealthy movement left very little for the ears to focus on.  A rustle of leaves to the right… a rustle of leaves to the left… wait, there it is.  Evolution had adapted it well to the forest floor, but the human eye has a higher power when it comes to distinguishing slight disturbances in the force – this one was a yellow streak that showed up between the leaves.  Now I had it, but only a split second to get the focus on target, the manual settings dialed in and the shutter snapped.

Hit the jump to see my latest addition

Continue reading Another Bird List Add