Friday, February 27, 2009

Signs of the Times #27 -- February 27, 2009

I keep meaning to mention. I was walking on Mission across from the California Historical Society on 04-February-2009 and I noticed that the windows were covered with brown paper. That's normal when they are between exhibits. Then I noticed that the bookstore was stripped. On the way back, I stopped and saw this sign on the door.

Yesterday, the store was operating and the new exhibit was open.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #20 - February 25, 2009

I took the photo on 19-February-2009.
Today is Ash Wednesday. There was a full house at Saint Patrick's.
The Hearst Corporation wants to make big cuts at the Chronicle. They are threatening to sell it or close it.
The Giants played their first Cactus League game against the Indians. It's nice having them back in Arizona.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Book: Watchmen -- February 23, 2009

I missed Watchmen when it first came out, but I kept hearing about. Now that they're getting ready to release the movie, I thought I should catch up. I liked the conceit of people being inspired by comic books to become "costumed adventurers". Most of the costumed adventurers did not have super powers.

The characters seemed familar. After I read the book, I looked around on the web and found that the author was inspired by Charlton characters of the 1960s. I usually avoided Charlton comics, but I bought the issue of Captain Atom where Steve Ditko relaunched that character and the Blue Beetle. I also remember the Question Mark.

I liked the graffiti, and the quotes.

It's not for young kids.

There was a lot of rain yesterday. We watched the Academy Awards. They tried something different for the acting categories, having a previous winner introduce each nominee.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, President Washington #2 -- February 22, 2009

He was our Cincinnatus. Giving up command of the army after the revolution and then giving up the presidency after two terms were very important services to our country.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Radio Site #3 -- February 21, 2009

Hotel Whitcomb on Market near Civic Center was built in 1910. It served as a temporary City Hall until the current one opened in 1915. I was sad to see some years ago that it no longer says "City Hall" over the entrance.
The Whitcomb housed at least two radio stations over the years. KFRC started there in 1924. It moved its studio and transmitter the City of Paris store in 1925. KYA's studios were there from 1930 to 1934 and its transmitter was there from 1930 to 1937.
I think I remember Jazzbeaux broadcasting from there in the 1970s, but I can't find a record of it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Giants Wall of Fame #5 -- February 19, 2009

In September, 2008 the Giants unveiled their Wall of Fame along the King Street side of the ballpark, whatever it is called this week. This set of plaques in honors four Giants whom I remember well. Bobby Bonds was a great hitter and fielder who cut his career short because of substance abuse. John (the Count) Montefusco was a good pitcher who brightened some sad seasons in the 1970s. He threw the Giants' last no hitter to-date. Tito Fuentes was a slick second baseman who is now a Spanish language broadcaster for the Giants. He has a big personality. Willie McCovey may have been the greatest power hitter I have ever seen in person. I was very happy when he returned to the Giants in 1977. We were at one of his last games in 1980. He was on first and the stadium suddenly went silent when he apparently tried to steal second. It turned out to be a broken hit-and-run. I took the photo on 29-September-2008.
Pitchers and catchers reported Saturday.
The legislature passed a budget today. Finally.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Signs of the Times #27 -- February 17, 2009

I took this photo on 12-February-2009. I started going to Stacey's while I was in grammar school.

Heavy rain at times today.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Presidents' Day -- February 16, 2009

Presidents' Day commemorates all Presidents, some good, some not so good.
Theodore Roosevelt has always been a favorite, even though he was a Republican. He was a good writer. He had great confidence, as shown in the accompaning 1904 Puck cartoon, "Terrible Teddy Waits for the Unknown." He waits for the Democrats to nominate their candidate, who turned out to be Alton Parker. It was no contest.

"Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses... Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country. (Forum, February 1895.) Mem. Ed. XV, 10; Nat. Ed. XIII, 9

Both the caricature and the quote come from the Theodore Roosevelt Association's wonderful website:

In the morning we looked at a webcast of the Tour de California bike race, which had southbound One closed through town from 8-10:30am.

Still a lot of rain.

Louie Bellson died.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Big Storm #3 -- February 15, 2009

We had high winds and heavy rain all night. They've been repaving nearby streets and this morning we found that all the saw horses had been knocked over. There were lots of tree parts on the grounds but I didn't see any complete trees.
I noticed mirror images of all the cars on this street today and took the photo.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Saint Valentine's Day -- February 14, 2009

We went to Stanford Shopping Center and had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. It was cold but sunny. It started to rain on the way back. There were dramatic clouds when we went to mass.

I took the photo in Union Square on 15-February-2008. They are doing another exhibit of heart sculptures this year.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cherry Blossoms -- February 13, 2009

I neglected to mention that all the cherry trees in Pacifica and Yerba Buena Gardens blossomed on 30-January. The heavy weather over the last couple of days has knocked off most of the blossoms. I took the photo on 31-January-2009.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln #2 -- February 12, 2009

Today is Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. My favorite president. There are lots of new books. I haven't gotten to see any of the new television programs about him.

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -- Second Inaugural Address

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Train Station #7 -- February 11, 2009

Main Street Station in Disneyland opened with the park in 1955. This view which I took in August, 2008 shows the platform side.

Blossom Dearie died.

It rained today.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #13 -- February 9, 2009

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde was born in Nymegen, Holland in 1813. He went on to live a remarkable life of achievement in the sciences and the arts. He died in America in 1895.

While serving as editor of Manufacturer and Builder Magazine, he wrote many articles, including the ones which gave this blog its name. In 1893 and 1894, he published a 23-part (!) memoir in the same periodical. Here is the thirteenth part. He begins to discuss his career as an inventor.

George B Scott invented an improved stock ticker.

The image comes from The Telephone, an article that Doctor Van Der Weyde published in the May, 1869 issue. It depicts the receiver of his telephone.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part Nine

Part Ten

Part Eleven

Part Twelve

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 2, February 1894

(Continued from page 21.)

7th. Career as an Inventor. -- Space did not permit me to add at the end of page 21, that I not only continue to take a keen interest in the progress of the natural sciences, but also intend to furnish some contributions to that progress, such as I have done in times past, either by pointing out new directions in which success may be expected, or by making practical improvements and exhibiting or publishing the same.

Thus, for instance, I was the first who advised Mr. Prescott of the Western Union Telegraph Company to apply the dynamo, in place of galvanic batteries, for the production of the currents required for their extensive system, which was then already outgrowing the capacity of all the batteries for which room could be found in their new building at the corner of Dey street and Broadway, so that additional batteries had been placed in other buildings.

I did not then realize the fact that it is much easier to introduce an improvement, if you give to those by whose instrumentality it has to be done, a chance to make some money out of it. Nobody could make money out of my advice except, ultimately, the company, and so nothing was done until a certain Mr. Field from California, who had been shrewd enough to push through the Patent Office the application of the dynamo, which he had not invented, to telegraphy, which also he had not invented -- in fact, the combination of Pacinottis and Grammes joint invention -- to the invention of Henry and Morse, and who asked $100,000 for his patent, which the Western Union Company paid, and of which Mr. Field obtained a part.

I had the satisfaction of seeing that my expectations were verified to such an extent that the Western Union Company do not use any more batteries at all, but transmit all their messages by means of dynamos, of which they have a great number, large and small, in their cellars. It is the same with the so-called ticker which transmits the condition of the stock market, and of which the office adjoins the Stock Exchange. Here powerful dynamos are located in the basement, while the operators work it on the top story by means of the most ingenious and complicated con
trivances and improvements, of which science is indebted to the genius of Mr. Scott.

In regard to the telephone, I did not confine myself to mere advice, but as soon as I found a description of the instrument as invented by the German schoolmaster, Reiss, in a newly-published German book, and in the Polytechnic Journal, I made telephones and exhibited them before the Polytechnic Section of the American Institute, which then was located in rooms in the Cooper Union building.

I improved the instrument by adding adjusting screws (which Reiss instrument did not have), so that I could regulate the pressure between the point and the vibrating plate. I regret that I did not patent this improvement, which is applied at the present time to all transmitters, and is of equal importance as the retracting spring to the sounder. The latter was a feature of the Page patent, which the Western Union Company bought from his widow, and was one of the claims which that
company set up in the prosecution of certain electric manufacturers who used it in some of their contrivances.

I also prepared a patent application explaining the substitution of the human voice for the sounder in the transmission of telegraphic messages. However, at the suggestion of some of my friends, that the manipulation of the telegraph key was so
handy, and was much easier than singing or tooting in the telephone, I abandoned the idea. This was fully a year before Prof. Bell applied for his telephone patent, as is proved by reports in the papers of that period, such as the Tribune and others.

As the telephone transmitted the pitch and duration of sounds perfectly, I used it only for musical melodies. I did not conceive how it could be possible that so simple an instrument could transmit articulate speech, which would involve the transformation of various sonorous vibrations in the air into articulate electric vibrations, to go through a wire, and that then these electric vibrations could be re-transformed into articulate aerial vibrations. I must confess that I do not yet fully understand all the details of this phenomenon, but know that it is an established fact.

One cause of my doubt, was that I had been carefully examining a talking machine then on exhibition, and was impressed with the complexity of its construction, and therefore expressed my opinion in the February number of the MANUFACTURER AND BUILDER for 1870, that we must not expect to be able to transmit all the various
letters of the alphabet as used in articulate speech, but only vibrations, differing in velocity and in duration (rhythm).

In the descriptions of Reiss' telephones and experiments, which then had happened to come to my knowledge, no mention whatever was made that spoken words had been transmitted and understood, wherefore my patent application was confined to the production of long and short sounds of various pitch -- in fact, to the imitation
of the dots and dashes of the sounder. However, my first and principal claim was very broad, and worded as follows: "1st. I claim the substitution of the human voice in place of the key, and the telephone receiver in place of the sounder, for the
transmission of telegraphic messages."

If this claim had been entered and granted (for which there was no reason to doubt, as it was both new and useful), it would have anticipated Bell, who applied long afterward; while in addition to this, my old telephones (of which an illustrated description will be given in the next issue of this journal) were far superior to any of the contrivances which Bell illustrated and described in his first application for a patent. They were soon entirely abandoned as useless.

In order to moderate some prevailing exagerated and sanguine expectations, I also expressed my conviction, that, considering the resistance and inductive impediments of a submarine conductor, there was no hope that we ever would be able to sing "Yankee Doodle" through the Atlantic cable so that our English cousins could hear and understand it.

(To be continued.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wicked -- February 7, 2009

We went to see Wicked at the Orpheum today. We took BART from Daly City. We had seen it years ago, but I didn't remember it well. My wife and daughter felt it was a very different production. We had an understudy for Glinda, but I thought she was good. Carol Kane played the headmistress.
On the way home, we stopped at Rockin' Robs to have dinner. The Chinese New Year parade is on television tonight.
I don't like the new layout of the Chronicle. It looks like USA Today. The Chronicle always had a distinctive appearance. I could always recognize a clipping.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Herb Hamrol, RIP -- February 6, 2009

Herb Hamrol died at 106. He was one of the last known survivors of the 18-April-1906 Earthquake and Fire. He worked at the Andronico's on Irving till last week. I had not seen him since the 2006 commemoration.

It started to rain yesterday and continued today.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Firehouse #16 -- February 5, 2009

This is Station One of the Presidio Fire Department, near the Main Post. The Department now serves the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Station Two is in Fort Cronkhite. The Department was founded in 1917 after a series of serious fires, including the one on 27-August-1915 which killed General John J Pershing's wife and three of their four children. Pershing was in Fort Bliss, Texas at the time, making plans to send for his family. The Presidio Fire Department helped to save the Marina District after the Loma Prieta Earthquake on 17-October-1989.

Lux Interior of the Cramps died. I first heard them on KUSF.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Not Fade Away -- February 3, 2009

It was 50 years ago today, so I dug out the lp. I always liked him because he wore glasses.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Charles Lewiston Sitting in an Airplane -- February 1, 2009

"Charles Lewiston sitting in an airplane." The photo was taken in 1909. I haven't been able to learn anything about Charles Lewiston. It looks as if the airplane is still under construction. Either it is a glider or the engine has not been installed. I don't see a rudder. The elevator in front appears to be disproportionately large. The wings appear to be virtually flat. I wonder if it ever flew.

The photo comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site ( DN-0054844, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.