Thursday, December 31, 2009

Municipal Railway Approved -- December 31, 2009

2009 has been an exciting year. Many people are unhappy with President Obama's performance, but I think they had excessive expectations. I think he is trying hard against some determined and unscrupulous opponents.

The state's budget mess caused the governor to take away all mass-transit funding. This caused SamTrans to cancel the bus I have commuted on daily since 1995.

The Giants did better than they had for a while.

This cartoon, from the 31-December-1909 San Francisco Call, celebrates the success in the previous day's election of a $2,020,000 bond measure intended to create the Municipal Railway. The measure won 31,185-11,694. Thank you to the far-sighted people who voted yes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book: Carville-by-the-Sea -- December 29, 2009

I received Woody LaBounty's new book, Carville-by-the-Sea, San Francisco's Streetcar Suburb as a Christmas gift. I enjoyed learning more about San Francisco's Carville neighborhood. He gives a well-documented history of the growth of Carville from a single shack to a neighborhood with water, electric power, a school, and a firehouse.

He frames the story with his dream of buying a house in San Francisco.
I also appreciated the way the author included Gelett Burgess and his writings about Carville.
Order the book using the supporting website:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #30 - December 27, 2009

I took this photo on 26-December-2009. I kept trying to get a photo of her curled up in a gift box or sitting under the tree, but she outwitted me. That's a sad admission.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes Marathon -- December 26, 2009

We had a quiet day today, recuperating from the trip and from hosting Christmas. Turner Classic Movies was showing a Sherlock Holmes marathon. We missed the Arthur Wonter movie. I have seen only Silver Blaze. Today was all Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Universals.
I read Woody Labounty's Carville-by-the Sea. Good book.

There was an enormous burst of rain in the afternoon, starting right before we left for mass. There weren't many people at mass.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas #3 -- December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace on Earth and goodwill to men (women, and children).

The image is from the 25-December-1908 San Francisco Call. San Francisco voters were deciding whether to purchase the independent Geary Street, Park and Ocean cable line as the basis for the proposed Municipal Railway.

Yesterday we went to the 5pm children's mass. My wife and daughter organized a group of children who acted out the gospel. They did a good job. Mary kept her veil on throughout the mass. I handed out song sheets before, organized the taking of the collection, and picked up song sheets after with the help of my wife and daughter.

Today we had the family over for Christmas dinner. My wife did a wonderful job, especially considering that we were travelling just a few days ago. Everyone had a good time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

For All You Last Minute Shoppers -- December 24, 2009

Visit Hamburgers, "Safest Place to Trade," in Los Angeles on Broadway, Eighth and Hill Streets. "Hamburger Glove orders are about the best 'eleventh hour' gifts to buy." "Have You Seen The Curtiss Flying Machine?" It is on display on the fourth floor, accompanied by an expert mechanician who can answer all questions.

From the Los Angeles Herald, 24-December-1909.

Not many people at work today.

Odds and ends about the wedding in Surprise, Arizona: 1) Surprise has very limited public transit. I saw something on the internet about an express bus to Phoenix, but I never saw a bus or a bus stop. I saw lots of golf carts on the side streets. 2) I have to write the chairman of BNSF. I kept driving across train tracks (on West Bell Road), but never saw a moving train. I did hear a train blow for the crossing (on West Bell Road) Sunday afternoon and a few times on Monday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wedding in Arizona #2 -- December 23, 2009

Yesterday I wrote about our trip to Arizona and the wedding.

Sunday morning we were up relatively early. We decided that Saturday afternoon mass counted for going to church. We had breakfast at the hotel.

The favors at the reception were engraved wine glasses. My mother-in-law had also brought back the centerpiece from our table. We had thought we might be able to get the glasses home in our luggage, but the centerpiece, a wine bottle surrounded by artificial branches and leaves would never make it. We went to a nearby FedEx Store (on West Bell Road) and found that they would be closed till Noon. We drove on to a UPS Store (on West Bell Road) and had the centerpiece and glasses shipped for a mere $92, with AAA discount.

Most of the party proceeded to the Fry's Supermarket (on West Bell Road) on an expedition to acquire materials for lunch. I sat in the car and played with the radio. The FM band in the Phoenix area is not rich with choices.

We went back to the hotel and had soup for lunch. I was feeling tired, so I went to the room to lie down and read for a while. I brought along a good translation of Xenophon's Anabasis. The rest of the party printed boarding passes and confirmed our reservations with Super Shuttle.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to go to the Bayrischer Hof, a restaurant across the road. It was not a fancy place, but the food was excellent. I had bratwurst with broccoli, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut. For dessert we all had home made apple strudel.

We went back to the hotel and started packing.

Monday morning we got up and had breakfast. The sky was cloudy. I put gas in the car and returned it to Enterprise. At 75 year old gentleman gave me a ride back. He said he didn't want to completely retire. It's working for him.

We helped the in-laws get their stuff together and checked out by 11. The Super Shuttle van was supposed to come by noon, but was a bit late. The driver took a detour to avoid heavy traffic on West Bell Road. I'll miss West Bell Road.

The airport was busy. When we got to the Southwest gate, where we found that the preceding flight to Milwaukee was late leaving. There was bad weather in the Midwest and east.

Our plane came in a bit late. Our flight was due out at 3. They told us it would leave at 3:40. Then they told us it would leave at 3:15. We boarded and found seats. The plane was not full. There were clouds below us all the way to San Francisco, where we heard it was windy and raining. Takeoffs and landings were restricted because of the weather. After we were in the air for a long time, I noticed that the sun was shining through the starboard windows, meaning we were going south. The captain announced that we would be circling for a while. I think we saw Half Moon Bay through a break in the clouds. The low sun made pretty patterns on the clouds. I wish I could have taken some photos.

Our plane was due to land at 4. We landed about 5. We helped our in-laws get to the Super Shuttle loading area then called Sky Park. Our car was ready when we got there.

When we got home, the cat was happy to see us. Again it seemed later than it actually was. We slept well in our own beds.

I'm happy I took the day off on Tuesday. I went to the post office to get the mail, wrote Christmas cards (finally) and wrapped gifts. Later I helped to clean the kitchen.

Today I got to work and found only 240 unread emails waiting for me. Then I got a call from home saying that the cat had disappeared. I suggested that indoor cats don't usually go far if they get out the door, and that she might still be in the house. Later they found her occluding herself in a new spot.

Today was also my first day commuting on BART on a regular basis since 1995. I wound up on a four-car train going into the city.

I took the photo Monday morning from our patio at the Windmill Inn in Surprise (on West Bell Road).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wedding in Arizona #1 -- December 22, 2009

We just got back from Arizona, where we went to attend a wedding. Weddings are always nice, but this was a particularly good one. We flew down to Phoenix Sky Harbor on Southwest Friday morning. We left the car at Sky Park in San Bruno. There was a very long line for the TSA inspection. The 737 was full, but my wife had gotten boarding passes as soon as she could the day before, so we had our pick of seats. The air was turbulent for much of the trip. The stewardesses had handed out about 1/3 of the drinks before they had to strap themselves in. They were able to finish service before the flight was over.

We were picked up by ExecuCar and went out to Surprise. Interesting name. Our hotel, the Windmill Inn, and virtually everything else in Surprise was on West Bell Road. We met my in-laws there. It was a nice place, by pond with a flock of ducks. We went to a nearby Enterprise office (on West Bell Road) to pick up a car. We upgraded to a Toyota Avalon. Nice car -- when I started it, I couldn't tell the engine was running.

We headed off to the rehearsal at Saint Claire of Assisi church (on West Bell Road). The best man and his wife, coming from the Los Angeles area, were stuck behind a 6-fatality accident on I-10, so our nephew stood in for him. My wife read the first reading, my daughter read an intention, and my brother-in-law and I took up the gifts. I also volunteered to walk my mother-in-law up the aisle before and back down the aisle after.

After that, we headed for Tiburon Restaurant and Aquarium (not on West Bell Road), next to the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park. The patio outside our room looked out on the flamingo pond. My brother-in-law and I discussed why an animal would evolve the habit of standing on one leg. We couldn't figure it out. A window looked out on an indoor pool with an albino alligator. There was an excellent singer/guitar player whose name I neglected to write down. He had a heart full of music, mostly blues-related. We danced a little bit. The chocolate-corn tamale for desert was unique. It was a nice rehearsal dinner.

Saturday morning, the ladies headed for hair and makeup appointments and I went for a walk. It was windy and cool. I found the ducks across the road. After everyone got dressed, we headed for the Corte Bella Country Club (not on West Bell Road) in Sun City West for non-traditional pre-wedding photographs. It was windy up there, so some of the pictures should be very dramatic. There was some confusion about the location, so not everyone made it in time. The room and the view were wonderful.

We went on to the church (on West Bell Road). There weren't any ushers, so I helped with opening the doors and directing people. The priest presiding was Father Brian Paulson, SJ, president of Saint Ignatius, Chicago. I mentioned that I had attended Saint Ignatius in San Francisco. He said he has many friends there.

The mass and wedding ceremony went well, with a lovely song before everyone processed in. Father Paulson gave a good homily. I fought the habit of taking the collection before bringing up the gifts. After mass they took more photos in the church. Saint Claire is a nearly-new church building, having been occupied on Christmas Eve last year. It is very large and has a nice ceiling with a series of blue arches that look like the heavens. There is a remarkable crucifix hanging over the altar. I had to explain why there was a skull and crossbones at the bottom.

We went back to the country club for the reception. After, the DJ said it was a very good crowd to work with, and he particularly liked the kids. Our nieces our nephew and our daughter all had a good time. The groom's grandmother and aunt did all the flowers and centerpieces. They are talented. We danced. The food and wine were very good.

We went back to the hotel exhausted. I thought it was 10pm, but it turned out to be only 7:30.

I took the photo late Sunday morning at the hotel. We were sitting on our patio and ducks started running towards us from the lake.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Grauman's Chinese #5 -- December 19, 2009

Marion Davies left her hand and footprints and a nice compliment to Sid Grauman in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese on 13-May-1929. DSCN4139.

Her movies were hard to find for a long time, and people got her mixed up with the character Susan Alexander in Citizen Kane. Actually, Davies was a talented actress. I have enjoyed all the movies in which I have seen her.

I took this on 18-July-2009.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Giants Wall of Fame #14 -- December 18, 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 plaque honors one of my favorite recent Giants.

JT Snow was probably the best first baseman whom I have seen play in person. Sadly, his hitting declined during his career with the Giants, especially after they moved to Pac Bell Park. Despite that, he remained a strong and positive influence on the other players. I'm glad the Giants brought him back for one day in 2008 so he could retire as a Giant.

I took the photo on 29-September-2008 (3074).

Hotel workers picketed at the W Hotel across the street from the office all day today.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Goodbye, DX -- December 17, 2009

Today I took my last round-trip on the DX express bus from Pacifica to San Francisco and back. The line is being cut because of the state's budget woes. I took the photo yesterday on the way home, as the bus passed through Schoolhouse Cut.

I got my shoes shined by Monroe at Second and Townsend. He's turning 71 the day after Christmas. A fire alarm went off in the building and Company 8 came over from Bluxome.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trolleybus Flower Stand -- December 15, 2009

I took this photo on 25-May-2007. Trolley-Bus Flowers has been on Market Street for many years, but I remember it at another location. It used to be painted in Muni's green and creme color scheme. Now it is in front of the Federal Reserve.
We went to Advent Reconciliation at Saint Peter's tonight.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hark the Herald #2 -- December 13, 2009

I like railroad heralds, and the Northwestern Pacific's is one of the best. I took this at the Hyde Street Pier in October, 2001. It is on the side of ferryboat Eureka.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Tree Is Up -- December 12, 2009

For technical reasons, we had to get our first artificial Christmas tree this year. I miss going to Santa's Tree Farm in Half Moon Bay, but the tree looks nice.

They lit the pink candle in the Advent wreath at mass. It was very cold and windy outside after mass. We went out to pizza.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #23 -- December 11, 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 twenty-third part. He continues to talk about his experiences with the calliope.

The steam-powered calliope was the high-tech musical instrument of its day.

The image comes from the first installment, in the February, 1893 issue.

This was the last installment I was able to find, but I don't believe it was the end of his memoir. If anyone knows where I can find more issues of Manufacturer and Builder Magazine, I'd be happy to hear.

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

Part Sixteen

Part Seventeen

Part Eighteen

Part Nineteen

Part Twenty

Part Twenty-One

Part Twenty-Two

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 12, December 1894

(Continued from page 556.)

9. Career as a Musician.-- After the calliope was placed in position on the upper deck, and the key-board on the deck under it, with the wire connections between each key and the corresponding whistle was completed, tried, and found satisfactory, the public was informed of the great attraction of traveling with music on board the boat, and which could be heard and entertain the public for miles around. A programme of the music was published at the landings, the first of which was at Yonkers. We saw at a distance the expectant crowd on the landings and surrounding localities, congregated to hear our patriotic hymns. But, alas! in place of this, the public was treated with the most discordant sounds, produced as soon as the engine was inverted so as to stop the boat to make the landing.

Those really infernal sounds were produced by the steam blowing together all the forty steam whistles of a three-octave key-board, with all the sharps and fiats. The result was that a great number of people on the piers, who were ready to come on board, changed their minds, to the great distress of the captain and all who were interested.

It soon appeared to me that the strain upon the timbers of the boat caused the upper deck to be raised one inch, or more, as soon as the engine backed out. As the key-board was on the main deck, this upheaval of the upper deck was equivalent to a depression of all the keys. I told the captain that this could be easily corrected as soon as we were in Albany, by detaching the key-board from the main deck and suspending it from the upper deck by means of three solid iron rods, when it would move with the upper deck. After our arrival at Albany, I went at once to a blacksmith and made him take the measure for the three iron rods referred to. The ends were flattened, perforated by screw holes, and the next morning the boat departed at the usual hour. I noticed then how the key-board went up and down with the upper deck, and even moved toward me at every backing out at landings, caused by the temporary bending of the lightly-built upper deck.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shoes For Outings -- December 9, 2009

An ad for Kaufmann's Shoes ("Good Shoes") from the 31-May-1903 San Francisco Call. I like the use of a ferryboat in an ad that emphasizes "Shoes for Outings."

It was less cold today, but still pretty darn cold.

On the bus home today we heard two recorded announcements, one specifically about the DX going away and one about all the lines that are changing or being eliminated.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Seabiscuit Pursues a Giant Reindeer -- December 7, 2009

I took the photo at Tanforan on 21-November-2009.
I had to work from home today. The cat is doing better. She started eating this morning. I took her to the vet for a follow-up blood sugar test.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Train Station #17 -- December 5, 2009

The street side of the White Pass and Yukon Route station in Skagway, Alaska.

I took this photo on 11-July-2008.

The cat is not eating so we took her to the vet. No ideas so far.

Muni made enourmous service cuts, eliminating the 7 Haight, the 26 Valencia, and many other lines.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Firehouse #26 -- December 3, 2009

Company 8, on Bluxome near Fourth, decorated for Christmas, 2008. I took the photo on 15-December-2008.

It was very cold this morning. I went to Macy's at lunchtime to do some Christmas shopping.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Silas Christofferson and Roald Amundsen -- December 1, 2009

"Silas Christofferson, in his two-wheel hydroplane, giving aviation instruction on San Francisco bay to Roald Amundsen, discoverer of the South Pole. Silas the Soarer has designed and built two flying-boats for Roald the Rover's scientific purposes in the Northwest Passage." A hydroplane is a flying boat. "Two wheels" refers to dual controls.

Silas Christofferson was a pioneering aviator and airplane designer from Oregon, who was killed in a crash in 1915. Roald Amundsen was a polar explorer who disappeared in 1928 while searching for survivors of Umberto Nobile's airship Italia. Amundsen had made the first voyage through the Northwest Passage in the ship Gjøa, which was on display at the ocean end of Golden Gate Park from 1909 to 1972. She is now in Oslo, Norway. Note Amundsen's life vest.

This image is from the June, 1914 issue of Sunset Magazine. It illustrated a story in the "Interesting Westerners" section entitled "The Birdman Who Mastered the Tehachapi," describing the first flight over the mountain range, done by young Christofferson.

President Obama spoke at West Point today about the war in Afghanistan. He
rebutted Republican allegations that he had been dawdling about a decision, and he stated that we were distracted by the war in Iraq. He wants to send 30,000 more troops, but with a time-limit and a plan.