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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

KCBS Centennial -- November 29, 2009

This morning on KCBS In Depth, the guest was Gordon Greb, a San Jose State professor who wrote a book about Doc Herrold. He interviewed Herrold's widow and several of his students, and believes he met Herrold once in the 1930's. The banner, from, advertises the station's alleged 100th anniversary. I think Professor Greb made a pretty good case for it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

White Touring Car Defeats Barney Oldfield And His Bullet -- November 28, 2009

An advertisement for the San Francisco branch of the White Sewing Machine Company describes their steam-powered touring car defeating famous racing car driver Barney Oldfield in his Rocket.

The image is from the 07-November-1903 San Francisco Call.

Today we went to Half Moon Bay to do some shopping. It got windy in the afternoon. The Advent Wreath was up in church.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Palace and Grand Hotels -- November 27, 2009

This ad for the Palace and Grand Hotels appeared in the San Francisco Call of 27-February-1905. The Grand stood across New Montgomery from the pre-Earthquake and Fire Palace and was connected by an enclosed bridge.

Today the family came downtown with me when I went to work. They shopped, met me for lunch at Chevys, and then went to see A Christmas Carol. There was a burst of heavy rain while they were at the movie. By the time they were done, I was able to leave. We walked up to Macy's so I could see the animals in the windows. Then we decided to head home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving #3 -- November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I'm grateful for health and life, my family, and my coworkers.
The photograph shows red-headed actress Peggy Shannon, who had performed in the Ziegfeld Follies and Earl Carroll's Vanities before going to Hollywood. It comes from comes from

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #29 - November 25, 2009

I took the photo on 22-November-2009.

We got to watch cars being unloaded for the International Auto Show.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grauman's Chinese #4 -- November 23, 2009

Harold Lloyd left his hand and footprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese on 21-November-1927. I don't know what the occasion could have been -- this was between the release dates of The Kid Brother and Speedy. DSCN4138.

I took this on 18-July-2009.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pulp #7 -- November 21, 2009

The Spider was a pulp character who debuted in 1933. Millionaire Richard Wentworth became a masked crimefighter like The Batman, but unlike The Batman, The Spider did not hesitate to kill his opponents. The Spider hates criminals and considers himself a criminal because he murders criminals, so he -- it gets complicated. In his The Spider Returns website (, Rafael DeSoto says "If I was pitching The Spider franchise in Hollywood I might say: He's a superhero. Trapped in a horror film. Directed by John Woo." The Spider stories had some wonderful titles including The Corpse Cargo, Death's Crimson Juggernaut, The Pain Emperor, Reign of the Death Fiddler, Green Globes of Death, The Cholera King, and Satan's Sightless Legion.

The image is from a wonderful site called Cover Browser:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lincecum Cy Young Award #2 -- November 19, 2009

Tim Lincecum won the National League Cy Young award for the second straight year. Good job, Timmy. I'm happy he admits that he made a mistake driving with marijuana in the car.

I took the photo on 01-July-2007. It shows Lincecum on the mound, with second baseman Ray Durham and first baseman Ryan Klesko.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Giants Wall of Fame #13 -- November 17, 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 two Giants whom I remember well.

Robb Nenn was a brilliant closer who helped the Giants reach the playoffs regularly.

Kirk Reuter, Woody, was a smart left-handed pitcher who was loved by fans and teammates.

I took the photo on 29-September-2008 (3075).

It started raining while I was on my way home today.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hark the Herald #1 -- November 15, 2009

I like railroad heralds, and the Northwestern Pacific's is one of the best. I took this at the Ardenwood railroad fair in September, 2009. It is on the side of caboose 5591.

It was clear and cold today. I saw a blimp over downtown.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Alley #2 -- November 14, 2009

Looking up Gold Street towards Balance. I orignally said this was Osgood Place. Then I looked at a big version. I took the photo on 30-October-2009.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th #2 -- November 13, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th. The photograph of actress Adrienne Ames comes from
I went to the Wells Fargo History Museum yesterday to see the new exhibit, "Women Making Financial History." I liked the reproduction of the Women's Room, where ladies could bank in privacy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans' Day #3 -- November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans out there. Thank you for your service to your country.

This is the 91st anniversary of Armistice Day. There are three surviving veterans, one from the UK, one from Canada, and one from the US.
My daughter and I had the day off, so we took a drive to Half Moon Bay to get lunch. We ate at Subway then visited Bay Books and the Hallmark store.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Berlin Wall -- November 10, 2009

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember that no more than two years before, someone had offerred "The end of communism" as an intention at Mass. I thought, sure, after a nuclear war. Then Solidarity became part of the government in Poland, then the wall fell, and eventually communism pretty well died in eastern Europe.

The East German poster is from the German Historical Museum in Berlin (

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #22 -- November 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 twenty-second 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 shows a record album, "On Board the Armenia", recorded by a group called Calliope Fair. I wonder if the album name was inspired by the North River steamer on which the doctor performed.

When he refers to the "The Echo Waltz," I wonder if he means "The Mountain Echo Waltz" by T. Bricher, which was published in 1847.

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

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 10, October 1894

(Continued from page 232.)

9. Career as a Musician.-- My performances on the calliope made it very popular, resulting in one of the North River steamers -- the Armenia -- being provided with such an instrument. It was placed on the upper deck, while the key-board and performer were placed below on the main deck, which was a good arrangement, as he then was under shelter, and was not so near to the strong, loud steam whistles, which could be heard for miles around along the river shore and hills of the romantic Hudson. It made the boat very popular, and a regular daily performer was engaged, who, unfortunately, did not understand the correct style of performance, above referred to. As I had neither the desire nor the time to sail daily up and down the river, I let him have his position, and only occasionally took a trip, when I always received a welcome, especially from the crew of the boat, who soon became tired of the limited repertoire of the regular performer, while the captain of the boat asked me to bring a few friends with me, when he would give us dinners and lodging for the trip up and down the river, all free of charge, for the pleasure of hearing me play.

I need not say that I made a free use of this privilege for the benefit of my friends, especially some newly-arrived artists who had never seen the noble Hudson river, and appreciated very much the privilege I could occasionally give them without cost to myself, and also for the benefit of our health.

I noticed with pleasure the joy I created among the crew of the boat when they noticed my coming on board in the morning.

I might add that I discovered some very fine echos (sic – JT) from the rocks at several places along the river, and made liberal use of them. Among the musical novelties of the day was a waltz called “The Echo Waltz,” in which I did not imitate the echo, as was intended by the composer, but let the echo itself do its duty naturally, to the great delight of the people on board. Of course, those on shore heard nothing of the echo.

(To be Continued.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Walking Tour #4 -- November 7, 2009

Today we did a walking tour for people who bid on me for the community support campaign. They were a nice couple from the city. As usual, we met in front of Peet's Coffee in the Ferry Building and went on from there. They liked the murals in Rincon Annex and Jackson Square. We had lunch at the Irish Bank.

I was worried when it rained yesterday, but today was clear and a bit cold. Good weather for walking.

We were eucharistic ministers at mass.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cliff House Centennial -- November 6, 2009

Last night there was a celebration for the centennial of the current (Third or Fourth, depending how one counts) Cliff House. I took the photo in December, 2008.

It rained today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Train Station #16 -- November 5, 2009

The signboard on the San Carlos Caltrain station, which was built in 1888 by the Southern Pacifc. I took the photo on 27-December-2008.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Firehouse #25 -- November 3, 2009

Engine Company One on Pacific Avenue was built in 1908. The city sold it in 1958. It is difficult to photograph because of the big tree and the way it faces north.

Norton Buffalo died. I love the Christmas Jug Band.

The Bay Bridge reopened this morning.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Aviator Thomas A. Baldwin Jr. Sitting in an Airplane in Grant Park - November 1, 2009

Aviator Thomas A. Baldwin Jr sits in his airplane during the 1911 International Aviation Meet in Chicago's Grant Park. Baldwin was a popular name among early aviators, but I can't find anything about Thomas A. Baldwin Jr.

The photo comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site ( DN-0057541, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Last night we had pizza at Goodfellas, a new place in the Park Mall. It was cold with all the people going in and out, but the pizza was good. If we had gotten a table over by the fireplace, it would have been warmer. We'll do it again.

On a large television, they were showing Night of the Living Dead with closed captioning on. I liked "Aaaaargh."

When we got back, we did not get many trick-or-treaters.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween #3 -- October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween to all. The photograph of actress Bessie Love comes from

Friday night, Good Shepherd School held its Fall Fun Fest, with games in the gym and two bounce houses in the yard. It was fun, and the sunset was beautiful.

The Bay Bridge is still closed.

This is also my 500th post on this blog.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bridge Closed Again -- October 29, 2009

Tuesday during the evening rush hour, a cable and a big piece of metal fell onto the upper deck of the cantilever section of the Bay Bridge. Thank heaven no one got killed. It turned out that the patch that had been applied to the crack discovered during the Labor Day shutdown had failed. Caltrans said it had failed because of the high wind. That is scary. They closed the bridge and refused to say when it might reopen.
Yesterday I took a walk up Rincon Hill on Bryant to see the freeway entrance. The officers were stopping cars and only letting the ones going to Treasure Island proceed. I stopped at the deli to get a banana and a Diet Coke. The clerk said it was very quiet with the bridge closed.
Today I took a walk out Brannan Street, then up the steps to Bryant. Still quiet. The homeless guy at Folsom and Hawthorne said that yesterday business was dead, like a ghost town, and it wasn't much better today. He was hoping the bridge would reopen tomorrow.
Apparently the patch has been put back with more done to strengthen it and keep it in place, but Caltrans says the bridge won't reopen for tomorrow's rush hour. BART has seen a big jump in ridership.
It was very cold both mornings.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pile Drivers B&S I W -- October 27, 2009

I spotted this terrazzo in a doorway on Bryant between Second and Third Street. Is "B & S I W" "Bridge & Structural Iron Workers"?

Lawrence Halprin died. His designs didn't always work, but he created some nice public spaces.

It was very windy today.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Disney Family Museum -- October 25, 2009

Today we visited the new Disney Family Museum in the Presidio. The print-at-home ticket came with almost a full page of tips and dos and don'ts. We had tickets for 1-1:15 pm admission. Driving through the Presidio from the 25th Avenue gate was tricky because of traffic diversions for the Doyle Drive replacement project.
We walked around a bit and looked at the area behind the museum. The family visited the gift shop. When the time came, we went in and found ourselves in a room full of awards that Walt Disney had received over the years. From there, we joined a line waiting to have our tickets scanned to enter the galleries.
The first gallery talked about the first Disneys coming to Canada, then the US, and the birth of Walt and his siblings. From there, we went to a gallery where it talked about Walt's early work experience and his volunteer service in WWI. The display included a Model T ambulance, like the one he drove. The next gallery talked about Walt's early exposure to animation, and included some of the Laugh-o-Gram productions on screens. There was a Universal camera, like the one Walt used. From there, we entered an elevator. Santa Fe heralds were on the doors. Inside, it looked like a train car, with windows on the sides. As we rose to the second floor, Walt talked about his trip from Kansas City to Hollywood.
The first gallery upstairs talked about Walt's early experiences in Hollywood, with the Alice in Cartoonland films. There was a nice Pathe camera, and a Bell and Howell. The next gallery talked about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and the beginning of Mickey Mouse. The favorite item there was an opportunity to watch part of "Steamboat Willy" and try to supply the sound effects.
From there we went to a gallery which talked about Silly Symphonies and the growth of Mickey Mouse and other characters. After that was a section on the multiplane and other technical innovations. A large gallery talked about the pre-war features. After that was a section on the strike, which featured beautifully drawn and lettered picket signs, and the war and the South American tour.
The next gallery talked about the post-war features, animated and live action. At the back of the museum was a long ramp with a display on the True Life Adventures, and huge windows with a beautiful view of the Golden Gate. After that was a gallery on the Carolwood Pacific, Disneyland, and television. The family was very excited by the large model of Disneyland, which featured old and new attractions. The display ended with a gallery on Walt's death.
There were many home movies, family photos, and other mementos of the family throughout the museum. I enjoyed those.
The museum was worth a visit.
Update 26-October-2009. In the earlier galleries, people used old-fashioned phone receivers to hear audio at certain stations. The clips for hanging the receivers were set up wrong, so that the big end of the receiver was held, rather than the small end.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grauman's Chinese #3 -- October 24, 2009

Some accounts say that Norma Talmadge started the tradition of leaving hand and footprints in the forecourt of Sid Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood when she accidentally stepped in wet cement. Her current set of footprints are dated 18-May-1927, while those of Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, a partner in the theater, are dated April, 1927. DSCN4151.

Norma Talmadge was a popular actress who is not well remembered today. She was mean to her brother-in-law, Buster Keaton.

I took this on 18-July-2009.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pulp #6 -- October 23, 2009

Lester Dent's character Doc Savage premiered in March, 1933. During the 1970s, I came across Bantam's reprints of the stories and read many of them. I liked Doc and his crew of associates, Ham, Monk, Renny, Long Tom, and Johnny.
Here is the cover of the first issue. The image is from a wonderful site called Cover Browser:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Save Our Bus #5- -- October 21, 2009

Our DX bus and many other lines will die on December 19. One driver was telling us that all they know is that there are going to be lots of layoffs, and that MV Transportation, a contractor, is going to take over surviving Pacifica services. Another driver said they were training MV drivers on the 14, which winds through the hills of Pacifica, but they weren't doing it in the dark, when the deer are out on the roads. She said that all their buses are based in San Francisco or Redwood City, so there will be days when runs won't show up.

I took the photo of 920, a 40-foot Gillig Phantom, at the Linda Mar Park and Ride lot on 01-October-2009. These buses have very comfortable seats, but are getting old.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Giants Wall of Fame #12 -- October 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 two Giants whom I remember well.

Robby Thompson (no relation) was a wonderful second baseman who, along with Will Clark, jumped from AA to the majors. He formed a strong double play combination with Jose Uribe. He played his whole career with the Giants

Rod Beck, Shooter, was a brilliant closer who saved many games for the Giants. He died in 2007.

These were the last two plaques of the original set. I took the photo on 29-September-2008 (3076).

There was a huge burst of rain in the afternoon. Gutters overflowed. The rain stopped before I left the office, but the bus was late. When it came it was very crowded. riders said that the first bus had broken down. The driver said she couldn't go down Sixth Street because the 280 Extension was closed. Her supervisor told her not to pick anyone up along Mission and Tenth, but we persuaded her and told her where the stops were located. There was a huge puddle in the onramp on Tenth Street.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Western Railway Museum -- October 17, 2009

Today we visited the Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction (, which was having its annual pumpkin patch fund raiser. There were lots of happy families. I took the photo of Key System bridge unit 187, which we rode out to the pumpkin patch. The other bridge unit was also running. It was not too warm and the traffic was moderate.

I got to drive the S-curve on the Bay Bridge for the first time. I can see where it would cause problems for people who drive too fast and don't pay attention.

Today it is twenty years since the Loma Prieta earthquake. If I hadn't stayed late to try to solve a bug in a program I was writing, I would have been standing on the BART platform when the lights went out and plunged it into Stygian darkness.