My name is Jim Bearden, and I hope you find something here you like. This is a chance to share with all of you some of the things I like to do. As you can see from the headings, that includes music (singing, playing– mostly on guitar — and writing songs), photography, writing software, and doing outdoor things — hiking, backpacking, and canoeing in the warmer months, cross-country skiing when there’s snow. After about 25 years of developing software for various Silicon Valley companies (mostly in the medical instruments business), I retired a few years ago and moved to a house in the Sierra Nevada, right next to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where I’ve spent a lot of time doing volunteer work since then. I also like to spend time in some of the other places in our neighborhood, like Yosemite National Park, where the picture of me (above) was taken — I’m standing at Glacier Point, which we had skied out to from Badger Pass, and that’s Yosemite Valley in the (distant) background. Nice neighborhood.
Why “Sky Pilot”? You may be curious about why I’ve used the name “Sky Pilot” for several of my activities. From my essay (and song) about John Denver, you might think it came from a personal interest in flying; or, since I’m interested in music, from David Bowie’s song of the same name. It wasn’t either one of those: where it actually came from was the outdoor activities, like hiking, mentioned above. One of the things we like to do on these trips is to identify wildflowers, so when I was trying to think of a name to call my operations, it seemed natural to name it after one of the wildflowers we had seen. The flower I chose, the Sky Pilot (Polemonium eximium), is one that most people haven’t seen: you only see them at altitudes above 10,000 to 12,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada. Our guide book calls it the “king of the mountain.” I took the pictures of sky pilots which you see on several pages on this site, on a couple of trips up Mount Dana (at about 12,000 feet altitude), in Yosemite National Park. It is a beautiful flower, all the more remarkable for the harsh environment in which it survives. I hope some of my creations can live up to the example it sets.