Hi there! I'm Jim Zim... and this is my home on the web. My full name is James Allen Zimmerlin, but I like my friends to call me Jim Zim. My initials have a ring to them, too... they're JAZ.
I live in Grover Beach, California, a neat little town located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. My house is just a 14-block bike ride away from the Pacific Ocean! I live with my wife, Kellyn, and with Morgan, the one dog we decided to keep after 15 years of breeding American Cocker Spaniels.
I'm mostly a homebody. I spend most of my free time at home... working in our yard, enjoying movies or television shows on one of our high definition televisions, or fiddling around with my computer. You don't find me out at bars, or attending sporting events, or hiking and camping. You will frequently find me in restaurants, though! Kellyn makes me a great breakfast every morning, but we eat far more of our other meals in restaurants than we do at home.
I've been through a lot of phases in my lifetime. There was the phase where I was "the baby" in a family of four kids... the phase where I discovered that I liked girls... the phase where I discovered that I really didn't like college classes... the phase where I learned about all the freedom that comes with being a single young man on his own in his early 20's... the "honeymoon phase" of the first few years of married life with no kids... and then a long stretch of about twenty years where we raised our two kids. There was also the phase where I was a disk jockey... the phase where I was a salesman... and the phase where I started earning big bucks working in a "real job" at a nuclear power plant. And, of course, there were those 15 years where my hobby was breeding American Cocker Spaniels.
Now, in my mid-fifties, I'm in a very comfortable phase where I've been married for over 30 years... where I don't have to worry about money... and where I spend a good deal of my energy planning the next vacation! In fact, to truly understand me... you have to know that these days, my life is all about "the next vacation"!
One of my favorite places in the world is onboard a cruise ship. Kellyn and I have been on 25 cruises so far. Cruising is such a big part of my life these days that I could write an entire web page just about it. In fact, I have! Take a look at this page, with some great pictures from my favorite cruises.
The last few years have been so good! Kellyn and I have been enjoying some GREAT Caribbean cruises. You just can't beat swimming in 80 degree water at a beach in the Caribbean!
Most of our cruises have been with Carnival cruise lines, but this year we're branching out a little bit... with cruises on Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. After experiencing a variety of cruise lines in 2014, it will be interesting to see which way we decide to go after that.
Another favorite vacation of mine is visiting my sister's farm in Washington state. It's a lifestyle very different than living in a city like I do. Getting there is half the fun... it's only a 1000 mile drive each way from here, but I love that drive if I have the time to do it. If time is tight, I just take a quick flight up there instead.
Let me tell you about "Jim Zim - The Early Years"...
I was born in Chicago, Illinois, but my family moved to the town of Orinda in the San Francisco Bay Area when I was two years old... and I've lived in California ever since. I grew up in a very "normal" family with three siblings, two Cocker Spaniels, and parents that were straight out of an episode of Ozzie & Harriet. I really appreciate the way my folks raised me... it was full of love and low on confrontation. You hear a lot about disfunctional families... well, I was one of the lucky ones whose family was functional.
Here's a picture of my family in those days...
And a classic picture of me from grade school...
In 1975 I moved to San Luis Obispo to attend college. I started as a computer science major, but discovered pretty quickly that volunteering at the campus radio station (read my anecdotes here) was a lot more interesting. This was the beginning of my career as a disc jockey... one of three careers I've had.
At the peak of my radio career I was the Program Director of a soft rock radio station. If you'd like to hear what I sounded like in those days, listen to this "aircheck"... which is a five-minute clip of me on the air, with the commercials and music edited out.
My radio career came to a crashing stop when the station was sold and the new owners fired me! But getting out of radio turned out to actually be a good thing for me, because once I got in to sales I started making a lot more money. There's an old joke about being a disk jockey that pretty well sums it up: what's the difference between a disk jockey and a large pepperoni pizza? A large pepperoni pizza can feed a family of four!
My first sales job was selling consumer electronics equipment for a big chain of audio/video superstores. Later, I graduated to selling computers, and eventually to Honda automobiles. But being a salesman is very stressful. There's the aspect of working strictly on commission rather than having a guaranteed paycheck like you would in a "real job"... and then there's the aspect of dealing with customers all day long. Stressful! Not to mention dealing with sales managers!
So, after many years in sales, I jumped at the chance when I finally got offered a "real job" with Pacific Gas & Electric company in 1992. No more career changes for me now... this time I'm in it all the way until I retire! The pay and benefits are excellent... but the best part is that they give me a whole lot of paid vacation time. That's great, since I like to take all those cruises!
During most of my PG&E career I've worked at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, although I did also spend a couple of years as a meter reader... an experience I'm hoping to never have to repeat! My PG&E career story is one of those classic stories that begins with working in the mailroom. If you want to read the rest of the story, you have to take a look at my Diablo Canyon page.
It is kind of an interesting story, and it's illustrated with a lot of great pictures I've taken
over the years, so do be sure to visit that page.
Kellyn and I met in San Luis Obispo in 1980 and we got married in 1981. OK, yeah, I realize now that the mustache in the wedding photo was horrible. It took me about ten years to grow out of the mustache phase, but I've been clean-shaved for over twenty years now! And speaking of the wedding photo... Kellyn made that dress. We laugh now when we think about our ultra low-budget wedding! I think the total amount we spent for everything included in our wedding was about $500.
While were on the subject of the early days of Jim & Kellyn, I have to tell you a funny story about the first time that I told Kellyn that I love her...
It had only been a couple of weeks since I first met her. I was working as a disk jockey and I got invited to a party thrown by one of the major record companies. To appreciate this story, you have to understand that I was a clean-cut kid who grew up in a idyllic environment. Boy Scout... student body president in the 6th grade... that kind of thing. While it's true that I grew up in the 60's and 70's... I was as far from the "let's smoke pot and protest the Vietnam war" thing as a guy could be. In fact, I had absolutely zero experience with marijuana... until the infamous record company party for all the local disk jockeys!
So, when Kellyn and I went to that record company party... and they offered me a brownie... it simply never occurred to me that the brownie had anything funny in it! Really, I had no clue!
I had really never been a very big fan of brownies up until that point... but WOW, that was a great tasting brownie! Better than the ones mom used to make, that's for sure. So, I had a second one. And I think I might have even had a third... I don't exactly remember, because at that point I started to feel kind of odd. I didn't exactly know what was happening to me, because I had never been STONED before! All I knew is that I was feeling kind of sick, and I needed to get out of there. And I was in no condition to drive us home, so Kellyn was going to have to drive. Which was fine, except for one little problem! We had driven there in my Volkswagen Beetle, and Kellyn didn't know how to drive a stick shift car. Well, she was about to learn!
So, there we were driving home... Kellyn getting her first lesson on driving a stick shift from her new boyfriend who was now stoned out of his mind (for the first time in his life). You can pretty much imagine how that went. Through some miracle, my VW's transmission survived. I do remember an awful lot of gear-grinding noises! But we did somehow make it back to my apartment.
Kellyn was very sweet and nurturing and got me safely tucked in to bed so I could sleep off the
effects of the brownies. I felt like I had an angel taking care of me. I was SO appreciative of the good
care she had taken of me! So appreciative of this little angel, that I just HAD to tell her. So, as she
stood beside the bed making sure I was alright... I looked up, right in to her eyes... and said to Kellyn:
"I love you, Terry!"
Here's a story that will probably surprise you about us. It might even surprise you that I would share this story. No, I guess after that last story... you wouldn't be surprised by anything I'd write!
As you know, Kellyn and I have been married for over 30 years now. But for a while there, it didn't look like we were going to make it to the big 30th anniversary. Every marriage has its rough spots, and ours hit rock bottom in 2010.
We actually filed for divorce in June of 2010. In California, there's a six month waiting period before a divorce becomes final... and we are a perfect example of why they build that six month wait in to the process! In October of 2010, after a 4-month separation, we came to realize that our 30-year relationship could and should be saved and cherished. The divorce process really shook things up for us, and ended up having the amazing effect of strengthening our marriage. It was a painful way to realize what we had and what we wanted, but the end result was a good one. We truly do love each other, and we're in it 'til death do us part.
Kellyn and I renewed our wedding vows on November 5, 2010, during a second honeymoon on our favorite cruise ship... and (this probably won't surprise you) I've got a funny story about that, too:
The renewal-of-vows ceremony on a cruise ship is not free. So, there's a payment involved. When we received the receipt for our payment, we realized that English was probably not the native language of the person that wrote it... because the receipt stated that it was for our "renewal of vowels"!
Kellyn and I have two kids together: Sheri and Jeff.
Sheri got married to her high school sweetheart in April of 2005. They moved to Arizona, but after a few years ended up coming back to California. They had to move in with us for a couple of years, but finally got back in to a place of their own in 2011. They had a baby in 2012, so I am now officially Grandpa Zim.
Jeff is a real chip off the ol' block... very technology oriented, and with a goofy sense of humor! He began working at the local NBC-TV affiliate when he was still in high school. He quickly impressed them with his technical skills, and became one of their newscast Directors. It was amazing to see him running things from the control room when he was still just a high school kid! Jeff moved to San Diego in July of 2007 to attend San Diego State University. He graduated in 2009 and worked for a while as a newscast producer at one of the big TV stations there in San Diego.
Somewhere along the way, Jeff became interested in writing
computer software... and started fiddling around with creating a home-brew version of the electronic news
production software that is used by many television stations. With computer skills that were almost completely
self-taught, he tinkered and improved his homemade TV rundown software over a period of several years... and once it
started actually generating a steady income for him, he quit his TV station job and started working on
Rundown Creator full time. Check out this
video demo of how it works, and marvel at the fact that this cloud-based newsroom software was created entirely by
one guy... who taught himself how to write computer code.
The years go by pretty fast... it doesn't seem like that long ago since I was a girl-crazy high school kid... but now I'm a grandfather and I qualify for the senior discount on Carnival Cruises. Where does the time go?!?
Speaking of my high school days... something really big happened to me back then. No, I'm not referring to that night in the early 1970's when I experienced both my first visit to a pizza parlor and my first kiss... all on the same night! I'm talking about my introduction to computers.
It was somewhere around 1972 and some big company donated an outdated computer to my high school. The computer took up the better part of a small room, and basically didn't do anything other than very elementary word processing tasks. This was in the days way before hard drives and floppy disks... when data was stored on paper cards or paper tape with holes punched in them. What a thrill it was to be able to save a business letter on to paper tape and to reprint that letter again later! I vividly remember that computer at the high school... with the jumper wires to configure, and the dozens of replacement circuit boards to use when something blew up! Lots of fun for a teenager in a world where the personal computer hadn't even been invented yet! Ever since then, I've been a very computer-oriented guy.
These days, my life is made so much richer thanks to computers and the Internet. I've met so many interesting people, and had so many great experiences as a result of our connected world. Things have sure come a long way since that first computer I used in high school in 1972 with the data stored on paper tape with punched holes!
Speaking of computers... I really have to salute our local cable company, Charter Communications, and the very fast Internet connection we get with our cable modem. I get sustained download speeds of 30 mbps and upload speeds of 4 mbps... and in a few months, they're promising to raise that to 60 mbps dowloads! Test your connection and see how your Internet speed compares to that.
I also appreciate great technology when it comes to photography. I've actually owned ten different digital cameras over the years... and these days I'm using a Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera as well as a waterproof Olympus. Check out my photo gallery, where you'll see some of the best pictures I've taken with the various digital cameras I've had over the years. A few years ago, I took all the best Cocker Spaniel photos I had ever taken and put them together in to what I call "my coffee table book".
One of the most amazing things I've started to really appreciate about my Digital Rebel is the high definition video it can capture. It shoots video in full 1080p resolution... with quality as good as what I'm used to seeing from my blu-ray disc player. Take a look at my YouTube page for some videos I've shot in full HD. I used the Digital Rebel to create my Cocker Spaniel grooming videos.
I am totally sold on Canon technology. Besides the awesome digital SLR camera, I also use
a Canon flatbed scanner for scanning prints, slides, and negatives... and I have a Canon Pro-100 printer that has
made some incredible 13x19" prints which I have on display in my house. There's also a
hallway in one of the buildings at the nuclear power plant where I work in which I've posted framed prints of many of
the photos I've taken at the plant. We jokingly call that hallway "the Jim Zim Gallery".
A big part of my life used to be my hobby of breeding American Cocker Spaniels. I decided in 2010 that it was just consuming too much of my time and energy and that it was making it really difficult to get away on vacation... so Kellyn and I are now retired from Cocker breeding. But we sure did have a lot of fun during the 15 years that we devoted to that little hobby!
Even though we don't breed puppies any more and we only have one (super spoiled) dog around the house these days...
I still maintain
ZimFamilyCockers.com and our very popular online Cocker forum. The web site provides some great information
for people who are in to Cocker Spaniels, and the forum helps these people find each other and converse among
themselves. The forum is kind of like "Facebook for Cocker Lovers, only". It boggles my mind that in a
typical month, ZimFamilyCockers.com gets 30,000 unique visitors and nearly a million page views. In a month!
So, you can see why I didn't just shut it down when we retired from Cocker breeding.
Something that my family likes to tease me about is the fact that I've had the same hair style for at least 40 years!
Compare a picture of me from 1969 with a picture of me in 2010, and you'll see that not a whole lot has changed...
However, there was a short period of my life where I did actually have a completely different hair style. The picture on the right, taken of me in the Spring of 2001, shows you what I looked like while I went through chemotherapy treatments. Do you think I looked more like Kojak, Star Trek's Jean Luc Picard, or a neo-nazi skinhead?
Why chemotherapy? In November of 2000 my doctor discovered a lump in my neck which turned out to be a cancerous tumor. Lymphoma, to be exact. You can read the full story here, and see some funny photos taken while I was sporting the bald head. Thankfully, after my cancer treatments were completed, my hair came back and I look basically the same as before. And don't worry... the hair came back, but the cancer never did!
Seeing that bald-headed picture from my brush with cancer reminds me of a funny story from those days...
This particular funny incident happened right in the middle of that period where I was going through chemotherapy and had a completely bald head. It was a scary period of my life... worrying about how serious my cancer was, and enduring all the yucky side effects of chemo. Lots of stress! But one morning I woke up after a really good night of sleep and I literally had (temporarily) forgotten all of my troubles. As I got up out of bed and walked in to the bathroom, I didn't have a care in the world... it was as if my brain had been flushed clean overnight. I had no thoughts of cancer treatments or any of the things (like the loss of my hair) that had happened to me in the previous few months. Until I got in to the bathroom! Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glance of the bathroom mirror and saw some bald guy! It scared the hell out of me! I think I may have actually let out a little yell! I looked in the mirror and literally didn't recognize myself. It was like looking at a stranger, for just a split second before I remembered I was going through chemotherapy and had lost my hair. Sometimes I still laugh about it when I first walk in to the bathroom in the morning!
My Viral Cruise Video
A few years ago, when we were cruising the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Spirit, I shot a video of people going down the ship's newest attraction... the Green Thunder waterslide. The Green Thunder slide had just been added to the ship... and at that time, no other cruise ship had anything like it. Instead of the traditional twister-slide design of most cruise ship waterslides, this one starts off with a straight-down vertical drop. You get in to a chamber, they close the door around you, and then the floor drops out from under you and you fall straight down. Scariest two seconds of your life! Then it turns in to a normal curvy waterslide and before you know it, you've splashed down in to the end of the ride. It's the craziest, scariest, and most-fun waterslide at sea!
So, when I got home from that cruise on the Carnival Spirit... I edited together my little Green Thunder waterslide video, uploaded it to YouTube, and didn't give it another thought. To me, it was just another in a series of many cruise ship related videos I've posted to YouTube over the years. I literally forgot all about it and went on with my life for the next couple of months. Completely unknown to me at that time... the video went viral on YouTube! And I didn't even realize it.
One day, a couple of months later, I was just goofing off at my computer and I decided to take a look at the statistics on my YouTube channel to see how many people had been watching my videos. Up until that point, 1,000 or 2,000 views would have been really good for one of my videos. Imagine my surprise -- no, that's not a strong enough word -- imagine my total SHOCK when I discovered that my Green Thunder waterslide video had over 2,000,000 views at that point! That's two million... and that's a LOT of views for a YouTube video.
The first thing I did was to call my son, Jeff, to share the news. I knew that he's Internet savvy... and that he, of all people, would appreciate how amazing it is for a YouTube video to get two million views. His reaction, upon hearing the news, was that I absolutely must monetize it.
Monetization on YouTube is the process of allowing them to run ads along with your videos. It can be either those ads, similar to a TV commercial, that run before your video plays... or it can be those little text or banner ads that are superimposed over the video as it runs. By allowing YouTube to run ads with your video... you earn a portion of the advertising revenue if someone watches a TV-style ad all the way through without skipping it, or if someone clicks on one of those text or banner ads. That's what monetization is.
So, Jeff's immediate advice was that I had to monetize it... and I had actually realized that same thing for myself before I had even called him. Hearing him say it, too, gave me even more motivation. I didn't really have a clue what kind of advertising revenue we might be talking about... and I knew that I had really blown it by not monetizing it BEFORE the first two million views... but all I could do was to monetize it at that point and hope that two million views was just the beginning. And that's exactly what it was.
Before I go any further with this story... let's take a look at my Green Thunder waterslide video... the one that went viral on YouTube.
As it turns out, the first two million views were indeed just the tip of the iceberg. It boggles my mind to be able to say that my little video has now been viewed over 29 MILLION times on YouTube! Is that crazy, or what? Just to put that in to perspective... if you go to YouTube and do a search for "Carnival Cruise" and then sort them by the number of views, you'll find that my video is -- by a wide margin -- the most viewed YouTube video about a Carnival cruise that there is. In fact, don't just limit it to Carnival. Do a search for "cruise ship" and sort by number of views and you'll find that my little Green Thunder video is the #1 YouTube cruise ship video of them all!
Now, let's discuss this a little, shall we?
First off, you're probably wondering... have I made a ton of money off of it? The terms of my the monetization contract with YouTube forbid me from discussing the specifics of that aspect. Let's just say that I'm very happy with the advertising revenue. And yes, the IRS is, too.
Second, you might be wondering WHY the heck that video has had so many views. I honestly don't know! You wouldn't really think that a video like that would be anywhere near that popular. It would make sense if something hilarious happened in the video... like at the end of the ride, the water slide dumps the people out in to the ocean. Hey... wait a minute... that's a great idea for a second version of the video! Take a look...
I'm certainly wondering if lightning can strike twice. In other words, can I come up with a second viral video? I keep trying! You just never know what's going to catch on. I personally think the second version of the water slide video is funnier than the first... so maybe it will get 30 million views!
I keep shooting videos during my vacations and posting the interesting ones to YouTube. As of this writing, I've got over 140 videos on my YouTube channel. But none of the others have come close to matching the popularity of the Green Thunder video. At least, not yet!
One more thing about the Green Thunder vertical-drop waterslide...
At the time I shot my viral video, it was the only slide of its kind on a cruise ship. But it's been so successful that Carnival added a Green Thunder slide to another one of their ships in 2014, and Norwegian Cruise Lines put vertical-drop waterslides of two of their ships. I'm looking forward to trying the Norwegian cruise line version later this year.
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