Sunday, May 31, 2009

Radio Site #4 -- May 31, 2009

I remember the articles in the Chronicle when KNBR celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1971. I liked the photos of the early studios.

KNBR started in 1921 as KPO. The original studios were in the Hale Brothers store at Fifth and Market. In 1929, the station moved to the Hale Brothers annex, seen behind the corner store. NBC acquired KPO in the 1930s and changed the call letters to KNBC. Later, they wanted to use KNBC for a Los Angeles station, and changed the San Francisco station to KNBR.

Radio history from John Schneider's wonderful site Voices Out of the Fog:

This is my 100th post of the year and my 400th overall.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Walking Tour #3 -- May 30, 2009

Today we did the walking tour we donated for the Good Shepherd School auction/dinner dance. My wife and a another teacher each had one family. All very nice people, with three kids between them. That was a nice change.

When we started at the Ferry Building, it was cold, so we went to Rincon Annex and spent some time looking at the murals and the fountain in the atrium. We went on and around and even got to see a funeral with the Green Street Mortuary Band in Chinatown. The kids got tired. We hit the Fortune Cookie Factory in Ross Alley, then had lunch at the Irish Bank. I took the photo on a much sunnier day, 11-May-2009.

We went to 5 o'clock mass for the vigil of Pentacost.

Today was Benny Goodman's 100th birthday. Lots of music on the radio.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #23 - May 29, 2009

I took this photo on 08-May-2009.
It was very cold and windy today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pulp #1 -- May 27, 2009

I like pulp magazines. It's hard to top a cover like this. G-8 was a World War One aviator/spy. As far as I know, he didn't have a name other than G-8.

The image is from a wonderful site called Cover Browser:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day #2 -- May 25, 2009

On Memorial Day it is fitting and proper to remember the men and women who gave their lives, who continue to give their lives, to give us the country we deserve.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." -- John F. Kennedy

Sunday, May 24, 2009

James J Jeffries on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- May 24, 2009

Former heavyweight champion James J Jeffries, at the time he was preparing for his comeback fight against champion Jack Johnson. Jeffries was the original Great White Hope. He sits in "His automobile, a Stoddard-Dayton, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

We watched the Indy 500 today. There were a lot of yellow flags and there was one fire in the pits. There was some mention of the 100th birthday of the Speedway.

From the 05-December-1909 Salt Lake City Herald-Republican.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

DVD: Harry Langdon -- May 23, 2009

I watched Kino's DVD with two Harry Langdon features which I had never seen before. The picture quality was very sharp, except where the only surviving material suffered from nitrate decomposition. I have always liked the grey scales in late silents.

I remember reading Walter Kerr's comments about both movies. We're lucky to be able to see the movies on DVD nowadays. He might have had some different throughts.

Three's a Crowd was not a standard comedy. There were some absurdist elements and some things that were just strange. I was sorry that the montage with the doll was so deteriorated. I watched it a second time with the commentary. The commentator is a strong Langdon defender. He didn't refer much to events in the movie. He mostly talked about Landon's financial issues and how Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd also made movies that were not great financial successes in the same year. Contrary to comments I have read, I only saw one set of shots that didn't match, when the father went to shake Langdon's hand at the end.

The Chaser was more conventional, but it had its moments. It reminded me of "Saturday Afternoon." I liked the tracking shots from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room and back. The car running away down the hill looked very much like a 1920s Sennett effect.

The DVD made me appreciate these movies. Now I want to go back and see his other silent features.

Today we had a quiet day. I got my poppy at Safeway. I told the lady she was brave to be standing out in the cold and wind.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Book: Pharmakon -- May 21, 2009

This book, by Dirk Wittenborn, came from my book club because I didn't tell them not to send it soon enough. I considered sending it back, but then decided to give it a try. I don't read enough recent literature.

The central character, Doctor William Friedrich, is a psychologist who developed a scale for judging happiness. After his World War Two service in the AAF, the scale helped to get him a position at Yale, where he learned about a natural drug used by shamans in the south seas to help people who were depressed. Friedrich and the colleague who told him about the drug try to develop it. Things don't work out well.

I could say the same about the book. Wittenborn is a good writer, who can turn a phrase. The first sentence is a classic. The first section of the book is gripping. After that, entropy sets in and the book stops dead at the end in a way that many people will find unsatisfying. The book follows Friedrich's children, but they are not as interesting as the doctor and his wife.

The point of view shifted several times from first person to third person. I can see why the author did it, but it was confusing at times.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why a Duck #2 -- May 19, 2009

This morning I saw two ducks sitting at the top of the fountain in Yerba Buena Gardens. I saw one duck who looked like the fellow on the left in May last year. I took the photo this morning.

It was cold today.

I voted on my way home from work. The people said they were busy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tough Game -- May 17, 2009

Yesterday we went to our first Giants game this season, against the Mets. It was very warm and we were uncomfortable until the shadows moved across us. I liked how stadium people went up the aisles before the end of the game collecting recyclable items. I didn't like how the usher in section 307 didn't appear until the ninth inning. Consequently, people were trooping in and out and up and down the stairs throughout the game. In the past, ushers have ask them to wait, at least while someone was at bat. Also, a group of young women occupied the seats in front of us, to be near friends who had tickets nearby, and proceeded to drink themselves into oblivion. The most thoroughly sodden one acquired a big pink inflatable bat and used it to make a nuisance of herself. This definitely interfered with our enjoyment of the game.

The performance of the Giants also interfered with our enjoyment. We had hoped to see Randy Johnson get his 229th win. Instead he gave up three runs in the first before getting anyone out. Then he settle down and the Giants tied the score. In the fifth, things went to pot again and the Giants gave up four more. They managed to get the score up to 7-6, but then gave up three more runs in the ninth. So far they have lost the first three of four games in this series. Let's see what happens today.

The photo shows the Fox Blimp sailing away from the stadium.

We had parked at Fifth and Mission and walked to the park. We took Muni Metro back and made 5:15 mass at Saint Patrick's. After we went to Pacifica and had supper at L&L Hawaiian Barbeque.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nut House -- May 15, 2009

I always liked to point out Morrow's Nut House on Geary between Grant and Stockton to visitors from out-of-town. Sadly, it has closed. I took this photo on 06-April-2009. Wednesday, a crew was painting ove the sign.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blackhawk #2 -- May 13, 2009

We visited the Blackhawk Auto Museum in April. When our daughter saw this 1906 Cadillac, she said "It's a Mr Toad car." I saw her point and told her about brass era cars. This was the only one on display.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Going Green -- May 11, 2009

When they fixed the roof leak on New Orleans streetcar 952, the Muni painshop discovered it had run out of yellow paint, so they used green. I don't like the shade.

I took the photo on 08-May-2009 along the Embarcadero near Don Chee Way.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers' Day #2 -- May 10, 2009

I'm grateful for my mother and my wife and my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. All excellent mothers.

Yesterday we went to a nice graduation party. Today we went to see our mothers.

When we arrived at the Boulevard on John Daly for dinner, the Giants had tied their game with the Dodgers and were in extra innings. When we finished eating and got back in the car, the postgame show was on. We learned that the Giants had gone ahead in the 12th and let the Dodgers tie it again the bottom of the inning. The Giants managed to score two more in the 13th and hold on to win 7-5.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #16 -- May 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 sixteenth part. He continues to talk about his interest in music.

"Wilhelmus van Nassauwe" refers to the "Het Wilhelmus", the national anthem of the Netherlands and the story of William of Orange. Piet Hein captured the Spanish treasure fleet in 1628 and became a folk hero.

The image comes from the Library of Congress' American Memory Project. It is the cover of sheet music for his "Anti Bloomer Scottisch for the Piano Forte, respectfully dedicated to the ladies who dislike the Bloomer Costume and are opposed to its adoption." What a title.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part Nine

Part Ten

Part Eleven

Part Twelve

Part Thirteen

Part Fourteen

Part Fifteen

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 5, May1894

(Continued from page 88.)

9th. Career as a Musician.-- When my only sister, who was eight years my senior, had reached the age of twenty, and for a few years had frequented society, attracting admirers by her beauty, she saw the advantage possessed by young ladies who had received some musical training and could perform on the piano. She became then very anxious to learn music, and we formed a kind of conspiracy to attempt to overcome our father’s prejudices in this regard, and had soon secured the cooperation of our mother, when, with her consent, I bought a second-hand piano for 25 guldens ($10 United States coin), which I took from my little savings bank, of which my mother was the keeper, as well as three other savings banks -- those of my sister, father and herself. These banks were chiefly provided with rare coins that came to hand in my father’s business, and which he occasionally gave as a recompense.

This piano had an extent of four octaves from C, with two ledger lines below the bass staff to C, and two ledger lines above the treble staff. The alleged reason was that the human voice did not reach lower or higher, and that there was no reason to go beyond this instrument made by nature.

When the piano was in the house, and I played for my father the patriotic tunes of his boyhood, Wilhelmus van Nassauwe, and of Piet Hein, who captured the Spanish silver fleet, he became reconciled, as the latter name had been given him out of patriotism, and he gave it again to me.

Never perhaps did a greater change take place in the opinion of an old man than was the case with my father, who said: If it is settled that the boy must learn music, he will have the best teachers. As he found that my mathematical teacher had progressed with me through the harmonic proportions, he concluded that it was time to bring this knowledge to a practical application, and went himself to visit Prof. George Wilhelm Roehner, who had earned a great name in Germany as a teacher in the theory of music, and engaged him to instruct me in that branch. This instruction consisted in practice of thorough bass, contrepoint, canon, and the fugues, writing harmony to given melodies, and vice versa, evolving good melodies by transition of the constituent parts of a series of harmonical combinations, etc.

Such training is necessary for an organist in Holland, as the congregations sing all in unison and the organist plays from the single notes they sing, and selects the harmonies in accordance with the sentiment expressed by the words.

The next musical event for me was that a new organist was appointed in the cathedral to play the great organ before mentioned; and when my father heard that the new organist, named De Vries was a pupil of Hummel, who was a pupil of Mozart, he said, in a joking way, that he was going to make Mozart, musically, my grandfather. I never had a teacher in any branch whom I loved so dearly as De Vries, who was so kind and always so much encouraged me. He was a great and most finished improvisator, and to his criticism on my attempts in this line I am largely indebted for my success and the ease with which I still invent novel musical combinations. I have read complaints of old composers that they frequently fail to conceive new musical ideas, but I must say that, notwithstanding I have passed fourscore years and more, I invent a new melody as easily as ever, and think that my last compositions are the best.

(To be Continued.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dom Dimaggio, RIP -- May 8, 2009

Dom Dimaggio died. I liked the Little Professor because he wore glasses. I found a picture of Vince, Joe, and Dom posing in Seals uniforms on a visit. They all played for the Seals at different times.

Manny Ramirez got suspended for 50 games. I'm glad the Giants didn't sign him. Tonight they beat the Dodgers.

It was warm today.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Train Station #10 -- May 7, 2009

We conclude our ride around the Disneyland Railroad. This is the sign at Tomorrowland Station. Tomorrowland Station is very simple, but it works. Next stop, Main Street.

If you want to learn more about the Disneyland Railroad, look for Steve DeGaetano's book Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad. I have reviewed the book soon on my Park Trains page.

I took the photo in July, 2005.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo -- May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. I borrowed the poster from the wonderful blog If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats (

When I was in grammar school, I was the narrator of a show and got to wear a charro outfit. That was probably the coolest I have ever looked.

I was sad to hear that Dom DeLuise had died.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Firehouse #19 -- May 3, 2009

This house on Hickey was a firehouse until budget cuts some time ago. I took the photo last Saturday.

Yesterday when we got to church we went in the side door. Someone was kneeling there, poking under a table with an umbrella and a cane. He said there was a mouse. I got people to move away from the door and he was able to get the little grey fellow to go out and run for the hillside.

Manny Pacquiao beat Ricky Hatton in two rounds.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ader's Avion No. 3 -- May 1, 2009

Clément Ader was a French engineer who played a large role in the development of the telephone. He was interested in aviation and built Éole, a steam-powered machine which apparently left the ground under its own power in 1890. He was able to get funding from the military to build a larger machine called Avion No. 3 (Éole was No. 1, No. 2 was abandoned). Ader claimed that he flew No. 3, but there is no evidence. Here we see No. 3 on display at the Paris Aero Salon. It is preserved today at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris. Be sure to click on the image to see the bat-like winds and the propellers, which are modelled on feathers.

The image comes from a wonderful resource, all issues of Flight magazine from 1909 to 2005:

I wore my red shirt today.

It rained. I got out for a short walk at lunch time.