King Tides and other interesting facts

On the west coast today’s tides, along with the last two days’, are popularly known as “king tides.”  King tides are the highest tides of the year.  Yesterday’s higher high tide in San Francisco Bay, 6.9 feet above MLLW* was just above today’s high tide of 6.8 feet above MLLW.  Tomorrow’s higher high tide will be slightly lower, and the higher high tide height will continue to decrease until February 7th when it is predicted to reach 5.2 feet. Then the high tides will again increase in height, reaching 6.8 feet again on February 18th, another “king tide” day.

Visual of yesterday's king tide, courtesy of the 2015 Northern California Tidelog.  www.Tidelog.com.

Visual of yesterday’s king tide, courtesy of the 2015 Northern California Tidelog. http://www.Tidelog.com.

Please note that after yesterday’s king tide, the next tide was a “minus” tide. That is, the low water level was below MLLW. Taking the different between the high and low tides’heights, we have 8.1 feet. That is a lot of water leaving San Francisco Bay in just a few hours!  With this much water moving out, the mean maximum ebb tide at the Golden Gate can approach 5 mph and is easily observed with the naked eye from land.  (Details at end of this post.)

Bay water lapping at the steps down to the Dolphin Club beach.

Bay water lapping at the steps down to the Dolphin Club beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King tides are the focus of the California King Tides Project, which is intended to help citizens visualize how a rising sea level will impact their lives.

The California King Tides Project is organized by a partnership among several state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations. This season’s organizers are:

KingTideLogos

Some readers are aware that, for the past 24 years, I’ve been swimming in San Francisco Bay regularly.  I especially enjoy swimming in the winter, when temperatures at their lowest, in mid-January, are normally around 49-50 F.  While this may sound like a strange recreational pursuit, I’m joined every winter at the Dolphin Club by a growing body of “Polar Bear” aspirants, which now numbers in the hundreds.  (One achieves a Polar Bear by swimming 40 miles between and including December 21 and March 21 of the following year.  No wetsuits, honor system. I have 23 straight PB’s, far fewer than a clubmate’s 38 in a row.)

As best I can remember, for the prior 23 winters, the low temperature in the winter has varied between 47 F and 51 F. This winter is on track to break that pattern, since the water is now 55-56 F and hasn’t been below 54 F.  (These unusually high low temperatures are consistent with last summer’s temperatures, which for most of August-mid October, were in the range of 65-68 F instead of the normal 60 F or so.)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a number of stations (>2000 measuring points) along the country’s coasts that measure tide heights, water temperatures, and other variables.  The station nearest to and most relevant to the Dolphin Club is Station 9414290, which is about 2 miles west of the club and just inside

the Golden Gate.  For those readers interested in the subject or wanting more facts on tides, temperatures, etc., the Station’s website has it all.

Crissy Field tidal station...NOAA Station 9414290

Crissy Field tidal station…NOAA Station 9414290

Most interestingly, Station 9414290, also known as the Crissy Field Station, is one of the country’s major scientific landmarks, as it is the oldest continually operating tidal gauge in the Western Hemisphere.  The first bit of data was recorded on June 30, 1854, and this station has been providing data ever since. For more on the station, see http://farallones.noaa.gov/about/pier.html.

*(MLLW is Mean Lower Low Water, The average of the lower low water height of each tidal day observed over the National Tidal Datum Epoch (1983-2001).

Currents in SF Bay @ Max ebb.  These speeds, approach in 5 mph at the Golden Gate, are estimates but real on a day like today.  Courtesy of www.Tidelog.com.

Currents in SF Bay @ Max ebb. These speeds, approach in 5 mph at the Golden Gate, are estimates but real on a day like today. Courtesy of http://www.Tidelog.com.

Posted in Outdoors, San Francisco | 1 Comment

Crowdfunding

A few days ago, at a meeting of the board of a development stage angel investment, the subject of crowdfunding came up. Although none present had first-hand experience with crowdfunding, it sounded like it might be a good way to go about raising additional funding.

So, since that meeting, to advance my professional knowledge base, I’ve invested a few hours into researching crowdfunding*.  The subject meshes well with my interest in startup financing and could be helpful to a couple of other projects with which I’m involved.

There is a lot of crowdfunding information available on the web – sources include bloggers, Wikipedia, vendors, lawyers, and the SEC.  Many authors “have a dog in the fight.”

As the end goal of my research was to develop a prospect list of vendors (crowdfunding sites) that could help locate equity investors for for-profit projects in the US, I assumed this would be a simple, easy research project.  Well, it wasn’t as simple as I’d assumed, because the term “crowdfunding” covers a lot, plus it’s a fairly new, rapidly growing activity.  Plus, there are different types of crowdfunding with vendors in many different countries operating under different rules.

I learned fairly quickly that much of the chatter about crowdfunding is related to rewards-based crowd-funding.  According the The Ultimate Crowdfunding Guide (“The Guide”) “Rewards-based crowd-funding is where contributions are exchanged for current or future of goods or services.  Individuals or companies who launch campaigns may compensate contributors with something like a t-shirt, a copy of whatever they’re building or even just a thank you.”

The well-known crowdfunding sites, Kickstarter and Indiegogo, are confined to rewards-based fundraising.

Unfortunately, rewards based crowd-funding doesn’t work for the for-profit projects I have in mind.  These projects need money in the form of equity funding and rewards aren’t a practical approach.

However, according to The Guide, “Equity crowdfunding cannot take place in the US at scale right now.  That isn’t to say it can’t take place at all.  It can and does.  There are complex rules in current law that allow a company to sell stock to “accredited investors,” which is basically a fancy term for millionaires… The second problem for equity crowd-funding in the US relates to solicitation.  In short, it is illegal to advertise the sale of stock.”

Uh-oh.

So, we have complex rules that, since the Jobs Act of 2012, the SEC is in the process of revising. Better talk with a good attorney!

However, notwithstanding the formidable legal issues surrounding fundraising in accordance with SEC rules, brave entrepreneurs have stepped into the ring and launched equity crowdfunding sites.  US based equity crowdfunding platforms include:

Angel.co – a prominent site for equity crowd funding of technology based companies.   Bits/bytes centric: mobile, Saas, Internet, etc.  Their syndicate functionality is big plus: https://angel.co/syndicates/suggested.

Circleup.com – The best site for consumer goods companies.

Equitynet.com – lead generation site with accredited investors.  By subscription.

Fundable.com – offers both reward-based and equity funding.

Seedinvest.com - says “Over $343mm in collective investor interest on SeedInvest”  (Whatever that means.)

As best I can tell, each of the above is no more or less than a lead generating site. That is, each enables a startup to publicize itself – to the site’s registered “investors’ and, in some cases, to the general public.  What is unclear is the legality of each sites’ approach as well as how the downstream mechanics work to achieve money in the bank.

There are hurdles and a legal thicket.  But let’s say we can (or think we can) get over them and raise money. Are there more issues to consider?  Certainly!  A main consideration, one the successful fundraiser will need to live with, is investor management and reporting.   For more on this along with other downsides of crowdfunding, see this article on the “9 Dirty Secrets of Crowdfunding.”

Having spent a few hours looking into crowdfunding, it’s apparent that it’s complicated, more complicated than the vendors advertise.  So I’ll continue to dig.

 

P.S. Here are a couple of articles by lawyers that I surfaced (but haven’t yet read):
In the Vanderbilt Law Review: Making Crowdfunding Credible
In the Tennessee Law Review: Proceed at Your Peril: Crowdfunding and the Securities Act of 1933

*The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of “crowdfunding” is “the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people especially from the online community.”

 

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Berea High School (Ohio) ’62 Scholarship

I have fond memories of growing up in Berea, Ohio and my 3 years at Berea High School, where I had 360 or so classmates, many of whom are friends.  A couple of
years ago, in conjunction with my Class of 1962’s 50th reunion, I undertook an effort to create, with the help of classmates, a scholarship for seniors at Berea High.

The scholarship was created with the assistance of The Education Foundation (TEF), a local non-profit that supports Berea schools and teachers.  I’m pleased to say three ’62 scholarships have been awarded and it looks like the scholarship will soon be fully endowed.

A near term “to-do”  is to work with TEF to develop a checklist of best practices, a roadmap, so other classes can more easily create scholarships in the class’s name.

Berea High School

Berea High School

Below is a recent email sent to the 45 or so donors with more details.  (BTW, if you’d like to make a tax deductible gift to the fund, go to BereaHigh62.org where you may do so easily.)

 

 

Dear Berea High ’62 Classmate,

Thank you for your support of the Berea High School ‘62’s Scholarship fund at The Education Foundation (TEF). Your gift, along with those of over 40 ’62 classmates, has enabled the award of three $500 scholarships to BHS graduating seniors, each of whom is attending college in Ohio. Also, thanks to donations since our 50th Reunion from several classmates, our scholarship fund at TEF has grown to $8,814.20.

The first three ’62 Scholarship recipients are:
Danielle Wolfe, BHS Class of 2012, who attends Heidelberg University
Samantha Carson, BHS Class of 2013, who attends Ashland University
Sarah Strinker, BHS Class of 2014, who attends Ohio University.

More on the recipients can be found at http://BereaHigh62.org.

This past spring TEF awarded 22 scholarships including ours. Recipients of scholarships issued by TEF are chosen by a committee of local adults familiar with the Senior class members; for each scholarship, the committee works from guidelines provided by the scholarship’s sponsor. In the case of ’62, our guidelines are that the student be academically able, have demonstrated service to the local community, and be in need of financial support to continue his or her studies beyond high school. Also, our class asked that the selection committee strive to select a deserving student who might otherwise be overlooked by local scholarship grantors.

The Education Foundation
Since it’s inception in 1996, TEF has awarded over $400,000 in grants and scholarships to Berea School District recipients – it’s a significant resource to area students and teachers.

’62 classmates volunteer at TEF: Consolina Templeman is serving on TEF’s Board of Trustees, while ‘62’s Don Auble is Trustee Emeritus.

TEF is a 501(c)(3) so all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Summary
In connection with our BHS ’66 50th Reunion, class members created a scholarship fund which so far has provided $1500 to three BHS Seniors for their college expenses. From the results to date, we’re encouraged to strive for an endowed scholarship fund, which will be met when our fund reaches approximately $14,000.

I’d like to convey my personal thanks to each of you for your support of TEF and the ’62 Scholarship. Also, TEF and I offer incremental thanks to those of you who met in 2012 by phone to discuss the creation of a scholarship fund.

Since each of our social circles is unique, please consider reaching out to additional classmates who might be open to supporting the ’62 Scholarship fund at TEF.

Warm regards & Season’s Greetings,

Krist Jake
(415)385-0100
http://kristjake.com

Housekeeping:
Donations to TEF can be made by credit card or PayPal at http://BereaHigh62.org, or by check or securities to its office at 390 Fair Street, Berea, OH 44017. If making a gift other than by Paypal, please identify yourself as a member of ’62. For questions on TEF, contact Kim Dettmer, Executive/Development Director, at (216)898-8270 or kdettmer@berea.k12.oh.us. For questions on the ’62 scholarship, feel free to contact me anytime.

We were proud to be the "Berea Braves"

We were proud to be the “Berea Braves”

 

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Martin Litton (1917-2014)

On December 1 I tweeted a link to a San Jose Mercury News article on Martin Litton, who had just passed away.  The article begins “Tireless, fearless and often rambunctious, Martin Litton devoted more than 60 years of his life to protecting the natural beauty of the West, from stopping dams in the Grand Canyon to preserving California’s ancient redwoods and sequoia forests…”

A few days later there was  a New York Times obituary.  This morning an email from the Adventure Travel Association provided a link to its article on Mr. Litton, which in turn provided a link to an excellent article at O.A.R.S., the largest river-based adventure travel company in North America.

A trail blazing entrepreneur, in 1971 Litton founded Grand Canyon Dories and guided in the Canyon for many years; in 2001 he founded Sequoia ForestKeeper and remained active with it until his death.  On its tribute page on Litton, Sequoia ForestKeeper states:

“Martin Litton spent his 97 years walking on this earth with a single mission: to lessen man’s impact upon the natural world. Whether protecting Giant Sequoias or giant rivers, he was at the forefront, educating the public and legislators about why reducing forests to rubble and damming rivers until they are a trickle were bad ideas. Martin’s legacy will live on with the ancient sequoias and will be told in the geologic timetable that is found on the walls of the Grand Canyon…”

Bottom line, Martin Litton lived his life fully & well.  He was an adventure travel pioneer and an entrepreneur in business and advocacy.  My sense is he wasn’t particularly well known outside the environmental circles he operated in, so this post is to make visible my respect and provide his life with a little more visibility.

I’m sorry I never met Martin Litton.  However, years ago, before email, I picked up the phone and called him about his dory operation in the Grand Canyon. We had a  cordial 10-15 minute phone conversation – but he was having too much fun showing customers the river & canyon to consider selling his truly unique business.  It was of course a large part of his identity.

Martin Litton, R.I.P.

Posted in Entrepreneurs & Entrepreneurism, Non-profits, Outdoors, People of note | Leave a comment

Domains #6 – new gTLD update

Since I wrote last February on new domain extensions (gTLDs – general Top Level Domains), approximately 450 additional gTLDs have been launched. There are an additional 1000+ new gTLDs in various stages of approval and preparation for launch. With almost 10 months of history since my comments in February, combined with my continuing interest in this market, it seems like a good time to circle back a bit to the subject of gTLDs.

First, let’s look at stats for the new gTLDs that launched January 25, 2014, along with the “Big 3” of .com, .net, and .org:

gTLD # @   2/11/14 # @   12/8/14 Change in # % change
COM 112,299,985 115,260,124 2,960,139 2.6%
NET 15,177,201 15,050,572 -126,629 -0.8%
ORG 10,396,495 10,482,829 86,334 0.8%
GURU 25,393 76,884 51,491 202.8%
BIKE 6,031 13,503 7,472 123.9%
CLOTHING 5,450 14,258 8,808 161.6%
SINGLES 3,959 7,955 3,996 100.9%
VENTURES 3,047 7,218 4,171 136.9%
HOLDINGS 2,032 6,141 4,109 202.2%
PLUMBING 1,961 5,057 3,096 157.9%

The new gTLDs were 2.5 weeks old on February 11, 2011. Comparing current stats with those from then, we can easily observe:
1) the January 25 cohort of new gTLDs (.guru on down in the above table) have grown similarly, except for .guru which has outpaced the others in the cohort.
2) these new gTLDs have a long, long way to go before they substantially impact the overall domain registration count, which is dominated by .com.

Retail pricing of the January 25 new gTLD cohort is approximately $24-$42/name (at GoDaddy, a competitive vendor). Assuming wholesale prices are approximately the same, it seems clear that the new gTLD business (as a registry, the “manufacturer”) is not yet an unvarnished bonanza.

Nonetheless, there are some notable early “success” stories, namely the .club registry along with new gTLD applicants who have gone to the “shootout” at ICANN and walked away with $millions.  These subjects will be discussed in a future post.

 

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Book Review: Semisweet, An Orphan’s Journey Through the School the Hersheys Built.

Semisweet is a memoir of a portion of a most improbable journey.  It was written by John A. O’Brien, one of my teammates on Princeton University’s most recent undefeated football team, v. 1964. In October of this year over a weekend on campus, nearly all of the team celebrated the 50th anniversary of that season; friendships were renewed and refreshed including mine with “Johnny.” It was at that reunion that another teammate volunteered to me that Semisweet was “a really good book” and I certainly agree.

Although I had always counted Johnny as a friend, he was one of dozens on that team. So until reading the book, I wasn’t aware of his challenging and most unusual pre-Princeton life or his subsequent total engagement with the residential institution that was his home for 15 of his first 18 years.

In 1947, when he was 3 years old, John A. O’Brien was delivered to The Milton Hershey School along with his mentally challenged 5 year old brother, allegedly because their parents had just been killed in an auto accident.

Wealthy then, the MHS has become the richest K-12 school in the world with an endowment of $12 billion, largely from its ownership in and control of The Hershey Company (think “chocolate”) and related entities. Today MHS’s endowment exceeds, for example, Stanford’s and those of all but a few other universities.

MHS was created in 1909 by Milton Hershey, founder of The Hershey Company, as a school for the poor. After Mr. Hershey’s death MHS’s governance became inbred and late last century led it to stray from the founder’s mission. As the MHS began to change from being a refuge for extremely needy children to more of a middle class prep school, its community of graduates became concerned. A decade of discussion, lawyers’ bills, and national publicity ensued, with Johnny as one of the alumni group’s principal actors.

In a turn that would challenge the believability of any story, Johnny was selected to be MHS’s 8th president in 2003, tasked with restoring the mission, morale, and character-enhancing culture of the school. In addition to being an accomplished grad of MHS and a leader in its alumni community, Johnny’s credentials included a career in which he trained thousands of employees in scores of corporations in leadership and team building. We can only guess that, when he returned as President to “Johnny Comes Marching Home” playing in the school auditorium, some of the Board of Managers’ fingers must have been crossed.

So this book is a first hand look at growing up as an orphan, with a less fortunate brother, in a truly unique institution. Johnny’s life from Princeton onward is lightly covered but sufficiently enough to establish his credentials to lead the school back to the founder’s path.

The discussions of the Board of Managers and governance issues will be familiar in concept to many who have served on a board. But here the details are affected by the very large dollars involved and the unusual, flip-flopping behavior by the State of Pennsylvania,

The writing is always authentic and in many places quotable.

It is midway through the book, just as Johnny is to graduate from Milton Hershey School  in 1961, that he learns the “auto accident” story was a ruse put upon the O’Brien brothers by the school and caring relatives. Using a handgun, his father had killed his mother. This led to a conviction for first-degree murder and a sentence of state prison for life. Relatives weren’t in a position to take the 2 boys in so they searched for and found an acceptable environment for the boys in the form of the MHS.

A few years after graduating with his Princeton ’65 class, when reviewing the documents relating to his father’s actions and conviction, Johnny became concerned. Thus, another strand surfaces in Johnny’s life, his effort to have his father’s extensive jail sentence terminated because of poor lawyering in 1947.   Although Johnny’s efforts led to his father being freed, they never enjoyed a warm & cuddly relationship.

His brother, having spent his entire adult life in mental institutions, died in 1997.  With their widely divergent life paths plain to see, Johnny’s concern for his bro and comments on mental health care offer another layer to this book.

The last chapter of Semisweet is titled “Lessons Learned.” Very, very few have had a life with such extreme twists, turns, complex relationships, and successes so the Lessons cited are both practical and highly credible.

In summary: Highly recommended.

For further reading on Johnny O., see the February, 2004, Princeton Alumni Weekly article titled “Going Home.”

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SF Ocean Film Festival – Birds & Rowing

At a recent college class reunion I was asked to screen a program of film selections from the San Francisco Int’l Ocean Film Festival, which my wife and I founded in 2003.  The program that evolved, a sampler on ocean-related subjects, was well received and is encouraging me to give additional visibility to ocean films which I’ve seen and like.

After the screening a classmate’s wife expressed an interest in birds and rowing, so I promised her a list of some of the films the Festival has screened with such subject matter. In creating a list for her, it occurred to me that the films, at least in my opinion, deserve a wider audience, so I’m publishing it below fyi.

Please note: the descriptions provided are generally courtesy of SFIOFF.  Where initials are present, the descriptions are by the talented and committed SFIOFF volunteers MaryJane Schramm and Sid Hollister.  

Bird films:

Arctic Cliffhangers, (Canada), Julia Szucs, 60 mins, In this dazzlingly photographed and adeptly scored film, biologists cling to vertiginous, wind-whipped cliffs on remote islands in the Canadian Arctic to study breeding seabirds. Over 300,000 murres, fulmars, and kittiwakes encrust every ledge on these 800-foot precipices. The scientists are conducting long-term studies to see how changes in ice conditions affect the birds, which may foretell more widespread changes. —MJS

Project Puffin: Restoring Puffins to the Coast of Maine (USA) Daniel Breton, 20 mins.  
Atlantic puffins can live to 30, have a call like a creaky hinge, and sport an outrageously large and colorful bill. They are also considered good eating by people and gulls—hence their near demise on Maine’s coastal islands. It took eight years to lure them back to their former nesting sites in a project that has since been a model for other efforts around the world. — SH

Returning Home: Bringing the Common Murre back to Devil’s Slide Rock(USA) Kevin White, 24 mins.  
In 1986, an oil spill devastated the colony of Common Murres at Devil’s Slide Rock near San Francisco. With a biologist’s version of “smoke and mirror” technology and the help of local schools and government agencies, these birds are once again breeding on their ancestral home. — MJS

Tracking Alaska’s Godwits, (USA), Eric Liner, 20 mins, For seven months she gorged, doubling her weight. Then the Bar-tailed Gotwit, E7, set off on a non-stop, 7145 mile flight from Alaska’s Yukon River Delta to New Zealand’s North Island. Her ocean journey astonished the world. Scientists now track other Godwits on that route, and on their return, to help protect a bird that in Maori legend accompanies the departed to the next world. –SH

Rowing & kayaking films:

Another World (Le Troisième Monde)
 (Prize winner, FIFMEE 2005, Toulon, France)
 52 min, France, 2005. Steve Moreau.  
Holed up with even a best friend can get on your nerves, often sooner than later. Rowing across the Atlantic with someone who doesn’t speak your language, two hours at the oars and two hours off, day and night, for months, is impossible.  This indomitable Frenchman and Englishman prove otherwise. —SH

Birthplace of the WindsQuoting filmmaker Jon Bowermaster: “A three-week long journey – from California, through British Columbia and Alaska – delivered us to one of the loneliest and least known spots on Earth (halfway between Russia and Alaska), where the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea collide at what the Aleuts called ‘the birthplace of the winds.’ Our goal was to kayak among five volcanic islands rising straight out of the seas, and climb their snowcapped peaks.”

Dubside(Canada) Bryan Smith, 11 mins  
Into a bag and onto a bus—that’s how car-free Dubside gets his folding kayak to his paddling put-ins. Deftly handling that kayak is no mean feat, but it’s nothing compared to how Dubside folds and unfolds himself when he’s roping and rolling. — SH

The Men Who Would be Viking.  
60 min, (US) 2003.  
New England explorers attempt to retrace Leif Eriksson’s voyage in their own Viking ship.  Screened at Festival #1, filmmaker Doug Cabot traveled from the East coast and was in attendance.

Row Hard No Excuses
 10 min, (US) 2004
.  Documentary-in-progress about two middle-aged Americans who participate in the Atlantic Rowing Challenge.

Rowing the Atlantic* (USA), J.B. Benna, 25 mins, Ocean adventurer Roz Savage undertakes a 3,000-mile trans-Atlantic row—solo—that becomes a trial by sea and the challenge of a lifetime. Towering waves, heaving swells, and a pestilence of blisters are capped only by a cascade of equipment failure, including all satellite communications. Meanwhile, a camera records those harrowing and inspiring moments. —MJS 

Scottish Tidal Races
(UK) Justine Curgenven, 15 mins
Fools rush in, they say, and when you see what these sea kayakers paddle into, you have to wonder. Among Great Britain’s best at their sport, they meet their match on Scotland’s west coast where tides rush out of deep firths, or inlets, to create inviting waves and treacherous boils and whirlpools. — SH

*kayaking

I fondly recall the films listed and recommend all.

P.S. Since the first annual Festival in 2004, the San Francisco Int’l Ocean Film Festival (SFIOFF) has screened approximately 500 ocean-themed films. A database of films and their details such as subject matter is a work in process and the above isn’t warranted to be a comprehensive accounting of all the bird and rowing films screened at SFIOFF.

Posted in Non-profits, Outdoors | Tagged | Leave a comment