29 January, 2012

Vault Summit: Coaching

This past weekend I drove out to Reno, Nevada for my second ever National Pole Vault Summit. I took pictures, as always, and I found it interesting to observe how the different coaches and athletes interacted. Different coaches have different styles — some get in your face and block out everything else, others keep more distance and give the athlete a bit more independence.

One thing I especially like about pole vault (and about technique events in general) is that everyone is a coach — sometimes you'll get valuable tips from a training partner, or someone else's coach, or sometimes from people you don't even know.

Above, Katy Viuf talks with her coach during the competition. She would go on to clear 4.32m for 3rd place.
American record-holder Brad Walker (left; 6.04m) talks with former American record-holder Jeff Hartwig (right; 6.03m) before the start of the elite competition. Hartwig coached Walker during the competition, which Walker won easily with a vault of 5.80m.
Lawrence "LoJo" Johnson (left), an Olympic silver-medalist, world champion, and former American record-holder at 5.98m, was inducted into the National Pole Vault hall of fame this year. After receiving the induction trophy, Johnson mentioned that he plans to start competing again, and hopes to make another Olympic team.
Mary Saxer, NH
Vera Neuenswander, 4.17m, tie for 4th
Nick Frawley, 5.22m, tie for 6th
Becky Holliday, 4.42m, 1st
Jordan Scott, 5.37m, 3rd

26 January, 2012

On Fire Hydrants…

After a two-car collision by the Google campus last night, one of the vehicles spun into a fire hydrant, unleashing a 40-foot-tall spout of water into the air. The Mountain View Fire Department was able to close a valve in the road to shut off the water. Both drivers walked away from the incident.

23 January, 2012

Wide Load

Last Tuesday night, I spotted a bunch of flashing lights on my way home. The truck driver towing a 60-foot office trailer hadn't taken a turn wide enough and ended up damaging 60 feet of guardrail and significantly damaging three or four of the axles supporting the office. When I arrived, the trucking company was in the process of repairing or replacing the axles under the trailer.

Above, a tow truck (center, facing the camera) uses a cable to lift the rear end of the disabled trailer and shift it away from the guardrail.
A CHP car directs traffic away from the closed offramp. The offramp was subsequently reopened once the tow trucks had left (and as the trucking company continued to work).
A worker watches under the trailer as the tow truck operator (right) uses his truck to maneuver the rear of the trailer.

19 January, 2012

Music at Google

Howdy, folks!
I'm Omari, and this is (the online version of) my show.

I've loved music for as long as I can remember. And having grown up hearing classical, jazz, and swing in cartoons; MJ and Luther Vandross in Dad's car; The Cardigans and Biggie on the radio; and Lyle Lovett on the way to track meets; I've come to embrace a pretty eclectic variety of music. It would be an understatement to say that music is important to me. But rather, my relationship with music is a fundamental characteristic of who I am.

I started practicing photojournalism seven years ago, and have since come to specialize in concert photography. I began as a photographer for the MIT student newspaper, The Tech, and had spent two years as a photo editor by the time I left. During my last two years at MIT, the Concerts Office hired me to document all of the musical performance groups, and I've kept shooting concerts ever since.

Music at Google
We are extremely fortunate to have live musical performances at this place we call work. And as might be expected, I've taken my cameras to more than a couple (around 30 at last count). Even so, as a documentarist, I've sometimes found myself frustrated by the brevity of Google's institutional memory. This exhibition grew from a desire to help Google remember an aspect of our culture which I care deeply about, and that will certainly stay with me.

As consummate musician Leonard Bernstein once wrote, “Life without music is unthinkable. Music without life is academic. That is why my contact with music is a total embrace.”

Music at

Carlos Santana faces the audience after playing the final notes of a concert in Charlie's.
Bass guitarist Tony Hall lets a note ring during a solo as he and Ivan Neville play with the rest of Dumpstaphunk.
Colbie Caillat glances at the camera as she and her band play a concert at the San Bruno YouTube office.
Thao Nguyen of Thao & Mirah plays the slide guitar for "Squareneck," a song from their self-titled album.
Danny Armstrong pauses a moment before playing an extended trombone solo during the performance by Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.

“Music is meant to be shared with others, 
 whether you know them or not.”

The Nightwatchman (Tom Morello) leads the audience in singing his song "World Wide Rebel Songs," which he wrote in honor of a selfless group of Korean guitar-makers.
Jelena Jovanovic and Leon Barrett dance during the gypsy jazz performance of Le Jazz Hot, a quartet modeled after Django Reinhardt's band from the 30's and 40's.
Googler Jason Shafton gets the crowd on their feet during the CAKE performance at Googleween, Google's annual Halloween celebration.
An audience member who brought a cajón jams with Jake Shimabukuro after a concert.

“Our format forces musicians to provide a different
 experience than in traditional concerts.” —Cliff Redeker

Country singer Keith Urban (far right) fields live questions from the audience during a concert. The live questions were interspersed with those from the onstage interviewer.
After an unintentional challenge by the photographer, singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson plays the piano behind her back after a performance.
OK Go frontman Damian Kulash playfully echoes the live transcriptions of his own speech after noticing one of the transcription monitors.
Amanda Palmer (right) glances at cellist Zoë Keating as the two perform "I Google You," a song originally written by Palmer's husband, author Neil Gaiman.

“I really like it when I go to a concert and feel like I
 learned something about the performer.” —Tina Wright

Thao Nguyen of Thao & Mirah outstretches her arms toward a toddler as she and Mirah talk and sign autographs after their show.
Jimmy Buffett reacts as his daughter, Savannah Jane Buffett, recounts what life was like with a traveling dad.
Bassist Joshua Nyback takes a shot as he and guitarist Justin Young shoot some hoops after performing with Colbie Caillat at the YouTube office.
Matt Nathanson has a moment of realization after an audience-member explained the pun on his "Astronauts drink at the space bar" t-shirt.

15 January, 2012

Fire in the Night, followup

By early Saturday afternoon, the power lines were fixed and the Steven's Creek Trail was again open. After poking around a bit, it occurred to me that the explosion must have resulted from an insulation/insulator failure somewhere — despite my initial inferences about the cause, there are no power transformers in the area, only power transmission lines.
Walking through the area where the fire had been, what struck me most wasn't its area as much as its volume. At six feet tall, I was able to walk fully upright in the area that had once been completely filled with vegetation. It's unclear how much of this was the work of the fire, and how much due to the cleanup efforts of the firefighters.

The floor of the area was six inches thick with the charred, pulverized remains of the trees and bushes that had caught fire. Moreover, the fencing in the area was completely warped — likely owing to the heat of the fire. In places, the charred bark of the trees had either fallen or been burned off, and the color contrast reminded me of severe burns to people.
What was more difficult to capture in a photo were the smell, the sound, and the feel of the area. Most things remaining were charred, and you could smell it. The surviving trees and bushes in the area still had charred bark where the fire had been. The ground consisted mostly of black ashes, and with each step you sank an inch or two. The sound of it wasn't quite as loud as a crunch; it was more like a muffled crackle. Nearly every human sense elicited the thought of fire.

13 January, 2012

Fire in the Night, v2

Emergency personnel respond to a fire sparked by an explosion last night near some high-voltage power lines in Mountain View. Firefighters extinguished the fire after it burned a reported 1 acre of land near the La Avenida exit of the Steven's Creek Trail. As of this morning, the Pacific Gas and Electric company was still dealing with downed power lines from the incident.

12 January, 2012

So Long, New York

After a week of scurrying around the northeast, I'm back home. I spent the last two days in New York and New Jersey, and JFK airport was the springboard for my journey back home. Here are two photos from the last leg of my trip.
The sky was overcast as we rose above the city. NYC was a bit brighter and a lot larger than most of the other cities we flew past on the way home.
Later on during the flight, light from the the mostly-full moon reflected off the clouds as we passed over the midwest.

09 January, 2012

PAW: Evening Thoughts

A quick photo during my trip to MIT.

03 January, 2012

PAW: Jump!

02 January, 2012

En Vacances

During the week prior to Christmas Day, L and I took a short road trip to Los Angeles. We managed to see friends and family down in LA, as well as in the Bay Area after our return. Here are some pictures.
(Clockwise from right) Jared, L, and Christine listen as Amanda plays the yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer) in her garage.
Patrick gives his mom an unexpected kiss after an impromptu dance practice in the kitchen.
Patrick's dad, Blas Sr., looks up into an avocado tree that he had grown from a seed.
A person sits facing the Pacific Ocean sunset.
Patrick writes a message in the sand.
Patrick helps his cousin Alisa learn a song on the guitar.
An impromptu portrait of L
"Come On!"
A child tries to compel his chaperone to keep walking.
"Attack of the Aunties"
An auntie goes for the slam dunk alley-oop after a baby bobbles a morsel of food.
Gary's wife and daughter reach for his cheeks during a meal.