Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween -- October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween to all. Not many kids at the door tonight. Maybe it was the cloak...
We had a small earthquake last night. No damage in Pacifica.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Signs of the Times #2 -- October 29, 2007

I had never taken a photograph in a restroom before, but I was fascinated to find this one and others like it in all the Disneyland restrooms I visited this year. I thought I knew how to wash my hands... Taken in July, 2007.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cantor Center/Vallemar Station -- October 27, 2007

My daughter wanted to visit the Cantor Center at Stanford to study a statue for a paper she is writing. I had never been to the Rodin garden. I enjoyed seeing the statues outdoors. I was overwhelmed by the Gates of Hell and we all had a nice discussion about what some of the figures represented.
Today I took this photograph of his signature on "Adam".
Later in the day, we took our in-laws to mass at Good Shepherd. We were eucharistic ministers tonight. Then we went to dinner at Vallemar Station, which we had not visited for a few years. It is the most recognizable surving station of the the Ocean Shore Railroad, which went out of business in 1921. We enjoyed the food.
The World Series game was less enjoyable. The Rockies are now down 3 games to 1. It was 35 degrees during the seventh inning stretch.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Waterless Knox #5 - October 25, 2007

An ad for the Waterless Knox -- what a great name -- from the 14-January-1905 New York Sun.
The Tonneau was available for $1,900. I wonder how much they charged for the floor mats.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pumpkin Picking -- October 20, 2007

We went to Half Moon Bay today to get a pumpkin. Traffic was heavy going down One, but far heavier on 92. We went to the 4-Cs patch this year instead of Lemos'. I took the photo today. A little bit of the traffic is visible in the background. We found a great pumpkin for $8.00 and got to see a litter of two-week-old Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. They were unspeakably cute. The weather was clear and sunny, which was good for business. I didn't want to try to get back into the traffic heading towards Half Moon Bay, so we went up 92. Traffic was backed up across the reservoir.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Is This? #1 Answer - October 19, 2007

I didn't get any responses, so here is the answer. This is a section of the Transamerica Pyramid, viewed from several stories up a building across the street.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Original Joe's Restaurant Fire -- October 15, 2007

A fire on 12-October-2007 shut down Original Joe's Restaurant on Taylor Street in San Francisco. Grease in the flues caught fire when they lit the broiler before opening for lunch. My uncle says my grandfather had the flues cleaned once a week in his restaurant. Some restaurants do it only rarely. Original Joe's may be closed for a couple of months.

They do a great hamburger on French bread. And, of course, Joe's Special. I get a nickel for every one they sell ;0)

The original Joe's-style restaurant was New Joe's on Broadway, which opened in or about 1934. Original Joe's, which opened in 1937, was the second. The original New Joe's closed in 1970. The new New Joe's on Geary near Powell closed a few years ago. Westlake Joe's may be the most successful version in the area. I understand they have Joe's in other cities as well.

A Joe's-style restaurant has a counter and a charcoal broiler. The open kitchen is always fun to watch, especially when the pans flare up. The waiters wear tuxes. There should be a bar.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

KLSI 89.3 FM #2 - October 13, 2007

I wrote about KLSI Moss Beach -- Q-FM -- back in August. Since then, I have heard from two people in Texas who listen to one of its sister stations, KAQQ. The primary station in the group is WAZQ Key West. Along with the two people in Texas, I have heard two brief announcer-read commercials, one for Ashley Furniture in Key West and one for Domino's Pizza. The announcer pronounced Domino in a funny way (Dah - mee -no?). Maybe it wasn't for the chain. Two infrequently-heard commercials can't be enough to pay the bills.

Announcements are now done by the deep male voice and a female voice ("We're not just radio -- We're Q-FM"). Weather reports are definitely for Key West. I think I have noticed that they are including more recent music in the mix. At the end of the string of stations they announce, they now say "KLSI Moss Beach/San Francisco". I doubt the station can be heard in San Francisco. I'll have to try it tomorrow.

Here is the Q-FM website, which is not very informative:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Happy Columbus Day -- October 12, 2007

Happy Columbus Day to those of you who still remember it. I don't think it is fair to blame Columbus for all the genocide that occurred in the Americas.

I wonder if some of attacks on him are based on prejudice against Italians or Catholics.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Signs of the Times #1 -- October 9, 2007

I took this at the yard entrance of the cable car barn at Washington and Mason in San Francisco during March, 2002.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion - Third Article - October 7, 2007

This blog is named after a series of articles written by Doctor P. H. Van der Weyde and published in Manufacturer and Builder Magazine in 1889 and 1890. The more I learn about Doctor P. H. Van der Weyde -- I'll share more about him in future posts -- the more I like him. Here is the third of four parts, in which he discusses the Beach Pneumatic Subway. Read more about it on my cable car site.

First article.

Second article.

The text is taken from the Library of Congress' American Memory site (

The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion.



The next practical application of the pneumatic principle was made by A. E. Beach, of the Scientific American, who, in 1867 exhibited at the same place (the American Institute Fair) a round wooden tube, 300 feet long, suspended by iron straps from the ceiling rafters, so that it occupied no floor space, and as he rightly considered the atmospheric pressure upon a piston in a comparatively small tube insufficient to propel considerable weight, he returned to the original conception of Valiance in 1825, and placed the whole car in the tube. It is evident that then he could obtain the enormous propelling power produced by the atmospheric pressure of about half an atmosphere upon the surface of a circle of some 6 feet in diameter, or 30 square feet, which, at the rate of only 8 pounds per square inch, is over 24,000 pounds. It is evident that such power is capable of propelling quite a big train of cars. The car, moving on rails, was propelled by a ventilator wheel in the shape of a propeller, which produced either a blast or suction, by revolving it in alternate directions. A platform at one end, accessible by stairs, supported the propeller, which sent the car, containing more than a score of passengers, outward and backward with the greatest ease.

One year later, in 1868, he built a round tube, or tunnel, 400 feet long under Broadway, New York city. It was 9 feet 3 inches in diameter; the experimental car in use was 25 feet long, and had a seating capacity for 25 to 30 passengers.

Mr. Beach also devised a plan to substitute, in place of the lamp-post post office letter boxes, a simple slot for the reception of letters and small parcels which allowed them to fall through the hollow post into a subterranean tube, through which they would be carried to the central post office by means of an exhaust pump operating continually there. Trials on a small scale proved eminently successful; but the probability that the tube might be choked up by a superabundance of letters, which occasionally might be deposited during the busy hours of the day, caused the abandonment of this plan.

This leads us back from the pneumatic railways to the main subject under discussion -- the pneumatic dispatch systeam, about which we wish to correct an omission, so as to do justice to the first inventor. This was a Danish engineer, named Medhurst, who, in 1810, conceived the idea of carrying mails in a pipe, by creating a vacuum in front of a traveling piston, inside of which letters were to be placed. Years after, in 1832, he conceived the project of driving cars by the same means. The piston being united to the front car by a rod passing through a longitudinal opening in the top of the tube, this opening was closed by a water valve, which opened to let the rod pass, and closed behind, ready for the return trip. The use of a water valve made it necessary for the railway to be perfectly level, and for this reason the plan was soon laid aside, until, in 1835, Pinkas made it a success by substituting an elastic valve for the water valve, as mentioned on page 242, November number.

A few years after, Mr. Beach constructed his pneumatic passenger railway in New York city, Albert Brisbane obtained an appropriation from Congress of $12,000 for constructing an underground pneumatic dispatch between the Capitol and the United States printing office, operated by rolling balls, for which he claims to have obtained a patent about 18 years ago, which makes the date 1871. As Mr. Needham claims to have obtained a patent for the rolling balls some ten years previously, the granting of a second patent for the same thing was an error on the part of the patent office -- in case the statements are entirely correct, which a search in the patent office records only can decide; but such a search must not be expected to be made, except when a sufficient monetary interest is at stake, especially since the patent office reports of that time are not provided with a yearly alphabetical index, as is the case at present.

Mr. Brisbane also states, that after spending $6,000 more than the appropriation amounted to, the enterprise failed, because a portion of the tubes had to be laid in quicksand, which caused them to settle. However, N. J. Van Der Weyde, CE., a son of the writer, who some years ago was employed in Washington as superintendent in the construction of a new sewage system, states that there is no quicksand, but only two kinds of soil, one very hard and the other more soft -- not so soft, however, as to cause any impediment in the construction of the brick sewers. This raises the suspicion that the vibration caused by the continuous rolling of the heavy balls is the true cause of the settlement, and if so, it is another serious objection to the rolling-ball system, brought out by practice.

Next in order comes the introduction of the pneumatic dispatch principle at the different stations of the telegraph and post offices in London, and also in the Western Union Telegraph building in New York, intended to connect the different floors, the office for receiving and delivering messages being in the basement, while the operating room is on the the seventh floor, just under the battery room on the eighth floor. There were introduced there in 1872 twenty brass tubes of 2 1/4 to 3 inches in diameter, in which well-fitting leather cylinders of some 10 inches long are propelled exclusively by suction produced by an exhaust Root blower. Such leather cylinders are very appropriate to receive the rolled up messages, while rolling balls of 2 inches interior diameter would be inadequate and very inconvenient; so that the idea of rolling balls was not even thought of, especially since a great portion of the tubing was vertical.

About the year 1880, long tubes were laid under the streets of this city, connecting the telegraph office with the leading newspaper offices down town, while other tubes were laid to Wall street, and still others to the branch telegraph office up town, at Fifth avenue and Twenty-third street. It was at once discovered that the Root blower was utterly unable to work tubes of a mile and more in length, in addition to which the great noise that would be made by six such blowers would be highly objectionable in the building. Therefore, it was concluded to work the long tubes by the positive and silent blast of large pistons, which were introduced to operate them, one side being worked by blowing for transmission, and the other side by suction for the receiving of dispatches. The pistons for the four air pumps have 32 inches diameter, and are directly connected with the steam pistons of 20 inches diameter, while the stroke is 3 feet. They move perfectly noiseless, within the moderate velocity of 30 to 40 strokes per minute. The total capacity of the four engines and air pumps is 500 H.P.

In order to be satisfied respecting the superiority of the positive blast produced by pistons moving silently and propelling sliding message carriers in comparison with the noisy rotary blowers, and still more noisy balls rolling with thundering effect through iron tubes, worse than the noise of a bowling alley, one has only to visit the lower basement in the Western Union building and watch the operation.

In our next will be given some critical remarks on the last exhibition of pneumatic transmission by rolling balls, now in operation at Marion, N. J., a few miles west of New York city.

To be continued

Friday, October 5, 2007

Native Sons' Monument Detail #1 -- October 5, 2007

The monument to the Native Sons of the Golden West, a fraternal organization, has been located in a few places since is was erected in 1897. At first, it was near Mason and Market. Later it stood in Golden Gate Park. Now it is at Montgomery and Market.
I took this detail view of a California Grizzly head surrounded by snakes on 26-September-2007. It was made by Douglas Tilden, a San Francisco sculptor.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lewis Strang at Wheel of Fiat Car -- October 3, 2007

I may have mentioned that I enjoy the look of pre-WWII racing cars. This photo from the 29-October-1909 San Francisco Call shows driver Lewis Strang and his mechanic in a Fiat car. They were considered favorites for the upcoming Vanderbilt Cup race at the Long Island Motor Parkway. Harry Grant won the race on 30-October-1909 in an ALCO. ALCO was an American locomotive builder. He averaged more than 63 miles an hour. Strang's radiator broke in the first lap.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Giants 2007, RIP -- October 1, 2007

The 2007 season is over, or will be when the tie-breaker between San Diego and Colorado finishes. It is now tied in the 12th. I always get depressed when the regular season ends, but the Giants' midget-sized performance will make things worse. Thank Heaven they won their last game, against the Dodgers.
The Giants finished last. They managed brief spurts of playing well, but could never put together a consistent string of wins. It was good to see Benjie Molina and Tim Lincecum play well. I felt bad for Ray Durham during a couple of long bad streaks.
The Giants hosted the All Star Game. Barry Bonds won the career home run title. Barry Bonds is gone. Omar Vizquel and Pedro Feliz may be gone.
Pitchers and catchers will report in mid-February.
I took the photo of the Willie Mays statue on 21-September-2007.