Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oakland Cable Car Tragedy -- March 31, 2009

I don't usually use this blog to plug my cable car website, but this month I rolled out a set of newspaper stories that I found very interesting. On 04-December-1894, this Oakland Cable Railway car was on Broadway headed towards the Creek Route ferry landing. As it crossed the Southern Pacific tracks on Seventh Street, a local train headed towards the Oakland Pier hit the cable car. There were only two passengers aboard. A 22-year-old school teacher was killed. Her fiancee was seriously injured. The stories tell a lot about how the cable car line was operated and how people looked at Southern Pacific.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Giants Wall of Fame #6 -- March 29, 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.

Randy Moffitt (Billie Jean King's brother) and Gary Lavelle were contemporary relievers in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I remember them both as being very dependable.

Jim Barr was a tough starter for two periods in the 1970s and 1980s.

Darrell Evans was a good infielder for some bad teams in the 1970s and 1980s. Bill James said he was the most underrated player in history. I believe him.

I took the photo on 29-September-2008 (3082).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Umpire -- March 28, 2009

Tuesday I was a little early for the bus going home so I walked up to Market. A guy who plays the saxophone said I looked like an umpire. Thursday a receptionist told me I looked like an umpire. Next week I'll wear khaki pants.

Today relatives came from out of town. We met at the Cliff House for lunch. It was bright and sunny out to about 45th Avenue. Then there was fog. It was comfortable sitting outside waiting for a table.

Good Shepherd had a Lenten reconcilliation service at 3:30. There were a lot of people, so it barely finished before 5 o'cl0ck mass. We were eucharistic ministers. At the end, Father Vince announced that he had received an obedience letter from the Franciscans, so he's off to Los Angeles in August. After mass there was a ministry fair. My wife worked the table for the school.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Half Mast -- March 27, 2009

Today was the funeral for the four police officers who were murdered by a parole violator last Saturday. I don't understand the people who are supporting the murderer, even denying that he could have been a rapist. Police from all over the East Bay filled in so the whole Oakland Police Department could attend the funeral at the Coliseum Arena. Officers came from as far as Boston. Poor Oakland.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #21 - March 26, 2009

I took this photo on 08-March-2009.

Last night we watched the first two hours of King Lear with Ian McKellen. He was strong. Sylvester McCoy, Dr Who, was the Fool.

At 10 we switched to Life on Mars, which ends next week. Sad.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gene Valla, RIP -- March 23, 2009

Gene Valla, a longtime Yankees farmhand and son of San Francisco Seal Eugene Valla, has passed away. He was an infielder. His father was an outfielder. Gene was a World War II vet who owned the Blue Gum Restaurant and Motel in Willows. He was a good friend of one of my grandfather's partners.

I took the photo of the Seals statue behind Pac Bell Park in March, 2002.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring #2 -- March 21, 2009

We visited Ardenwood Farm in Fremont today. A sign by the road invited people to meet the babies. There were lots of people with kids and lots of lambs. The goats did not have kids. These were two of the cutest lambs, although I was also partial to a black one with long legs and big ears. All the railroad cars had tarps on their roofs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring -- March 20, 2009

Today is the first day of Spring. Be sure to spring at someone you love.
I took the photo of a ewe and the new black sheep of the family in March, 2006 at Ardenwood Farm.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Saint Joseph's Day -- March 19, 2009

Happy Saint Joseph's Day to my fellow Joes. Here is Joe DiMaggio in his San Francisco Seals uniform.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day #2 -- March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to everyone. We had a nice corned beef for dinner. I took the photo of the back of Saint Patrick's Church on 13-March-2009.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Train Station #8 -- March 15, 2009

Disneyland Railroad locomotive Number 2, the EP Ripley, built by Disney in 1955 for the opening of the park, pulls a train into New Orleans Square Station. The gingerbread-decorated building across the tracks was the original Frontierland Station. The structure has been moved three times. Guests now board from a plainer station to the left in the image. Thanks to Steve DeGaetano's book Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad for the history of the station. I hope to review the book soon on my Park Trains page.
I took the photo in July, 2005.
It rained today.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Academic Junior High Decathlon -- March 14, 2009

Congratulations to the team from Good Shepherd School, Pacifica for participating in the Academic Junior High Decathlon at Saint Pius School today. They scored first place in the Super Quiz, and individuals won third place in Religion and first places in Math and Science. They worked hard for this. It's a good school.

Friday, March 13, 2009

SamTrans #4 -- March 13, 2009

Yesterday when I was on my way home, I saw this Spare the Air wrapper on coach 609, a 40 foot Gillig Phantom, at the Park and Ride.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book - Little Black Book of Lent -- March 11, 2009

My wife bought me a book after mass one day. It is published by the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan, and it is called The Little Black Book of Lent.

There is a pair of facing pages for each day from the Sunday before Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. The right-hand page has a quote from the day's Gospel and a commentary. The left-hand page has some additional things to think about. The book encourages people to spend six minutes each day reading and thinking. I've been reading it on the bus home. I'm enjoying it.

The book has a plain black cover so people won't have to feel self conscious about reading it anywhere. There is going to be a white book for the Easter season.

Catherine Havens is the editor, and much of the commentary comes from the writings of the late Bishop Ken Untener.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #14 -- March 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 fourteenth part. He talks about his career as a teacher.

I don't know for sure, but New Brunswick Dutch Reformed College may be the New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

The American Institute held an annual fair in New York City "for the encouragement of agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and the arts." When the Army stopped using Castle Clinton, a fort which defended New York Harbor, it became Castle Garden, a site for entertainments.

Horace Waters manufactured keyboard instruments.

The Cooper Institute may be the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a college specializing in adult education. Peter Cooper was an inventor and philanthropist.

Joseph Henry was a scientist and the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

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

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

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 3, March1894

(Continued from page 41.)

8th. Career as a Teacher. -- Of all the careers which I have followed, either simultaneously or successively, that of a teacher has been the most lucrative to me, and, what is more important, the most useful. This teaching was done by different means.

(a). By giving lessons as a private instructor.

(b). By lectures, either public or private.

(c). By writing articles on different branches of theoretical or practical science, and publishing them in scientific or technical periodicals.

(d). By giving a good example as a practical man, who did not confine himself to book learning.

(e). By editing and publishing in Holland a scientific magazine of my own.

(f). By editing, without salary, a daily paper in the interest of the working classes.

(a). As private instructor. The circumstances which made this business very lucrative, were that the government of the Netherlands concluded to raise the standard of all colleges and universities, by establishing a board of experts, the duty of which was to examine all candidates who sought admission to any institution for higher education, and which board was especially charged to see that all candidates had a fair knowledge of geometry and algebra; of geometry as far as the first six books of Euclid, and in algebra the ability to solve equations of the second degree.

This, of course, was very favorable to all teachers in those branches, and I had as many private pupils as I could attend to, and this all among the rich aristocracy, as, of course, poor people did not send their sons to universities, while the free instruction in the public schools did not include geometry, but sometimes only the first steps in algebra as a continuation of arithmetic.

For this very reason the general government made appropriations for the benefit of cities where there were no free schools for higher mathematical instruction, and ordered the local government in the city of my residence to appoint a teacher in descriptive geometry in the school of design. I was appointed as such, and occupied this position until 1849, when I removed to New York city, where I at once found all the private pupils that I could attend to. I gave private lessons in anything which I understood myself such as French, German, and even Dutch to some of the students of the New Brunswick Dutch Reformed College, who wanted to understand the language in which the fundamental documents of that sect had been written.

As by the efforts of my pious orthodox aunt I had received special private instruction in the meaning of those very documents, the Dutch Reformed students were much pleased with my explanations, and I believe that if my tendency had been in that direction, I might have obtained some position in that college, which some of my theological friends suggested, and offered to make efforts to that end, but my conscience induced me to decline respectfully teaching orthodoxy, and confine my religious labors to playing the organ, which I did to the very great satisfaction of all concerned; and by this means an opportunity was offered to obtain pupils in organ and piano playing, which occupation became so prosperous that very soon it overshadowed my other subjects of instruction. There were two reasons for this, first, that I had been thoroughly trained as a pianist, in which, at that time (1849), most piano teachers were lamentably deficient. In the fall of that year the American Institute had its yearly exhibition in Castle Garden, and making a visit there, I tried some of the pianos, when, to my surprise, several ladies and gentlemen gave me their addresses, with the request to call for the purpose of making arrangements to give piano lessons to their children. I became then first acquainted with the late Horace Waters, who engaged me to play every day for a few hours on his pianos; he said that I was just the man to show off a piano, as he usually sold the very piano which I had tried. He wanted me to play on no other piano than his, but this request I refused.

After the fair, he requested me to call at the piano store he had established in Broadway, where I taught pupils living outside the city, while soon parties clubbed together to have me come to teach eight or ten pupils. One day each week I spent in this way in Paterson, and another day in Kingston, which I reached by the night boat, and returned in the same way to New York, where I gave lessons in piano, organ, harmony and composition for four days, and played the organ on Sunday; so my time was well occupied. In addition to this, some teachers who had heard me improvise on the organ in church, took lessons in harmony and composition. This was during the first two or three years of my residence in New York (1849-1851), when I had rented rooms in the New York University.

So much for what relates to teaching music. Details relating to music in general, and not to its teaching, will be treated of under the head of Career as a Musician.

(b). Teaching by lectures, either public or private. My usefulness as a teacher was without doubt at its maximum while I was lecturing and teaching natural philosophy and chemistry in the Cooper Institute in New York for five years (1859-1864). I gave a lecture every night except Saturday and Sunday, and as I lived in the Institute building, I could be found any time by my students in case they had any question to ask, as well as by other callers wishing scientific information. As I considered myself as belonging to the Institute, which gave me salary and lodgings, I never charged anything for such services. This was very much approved of by Peter Cooper, who said that I acted in the spirit for which the Institute was established -- namely, to be useful to all.

I had my lodging-room immediately adjoining the laboratory and apparatus, and found this exceedingly time saving as well to myself as to others, who very frequently called to exhibit to me certain inventions they had made, and which, when practically applied, did not work as well as expected, and often did not work at all. It was useful to myself, and especially to the visitor, who often had to be convinced of his error by practical experiment, for which purpose all the apparatus was at hand, and could be used without cost to the Institute.

My old friend, Prof. Joseph Henry, secreiary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, followed the same manner of life as I did. He lived in the Smithsonian building, of which a portion was arranged for himself and family, with a separate entrance, and almost as often as I visited him, he was busy with some new subject of physical investigation.

A farmer once came to me with a bulky contrivance, which, according to his reasoning, should make water run up hill. He wanted me to try if I could not make it work. I put it in operation, and explained his false reasoning, and why it could not do what he intended. He supposed that a thicker pipe containing more water, should exert more pressure than a thinner pipe. I made him understand his error, and he left crestfallen. After a month he returned, and in answer to my question what he had now, he said: "Of course I must make water run up hill." It was an error similar to the previous one, which I again explained to him, and told him, in conclusion, that he ought to exercise his ingenuity in another direction. He promised to do so.

It was remarked to me that I should not lose my time with cranks. I answered that to convince a crank of his error, was almost as praiseworthy an act as to improve a sinner, and that, anyhow, my time belonged to the Cooper Union.

In regard to experimenting, I frequently impressed upon my class the advantages Providence has given to these who want to investigate nature, and the gratefulness we must feel for the gift, always adding the confession that, personally, it was with a feeling of deep gratefulness that I tried experiments, and that with profound reverence I watched the result. I felt as if I were preparing to ask a question of the divine power which governs all matter ; and it was with still greater reverence that I watched the result, and observed this carefully and respectfully. It always made the impression upon me that the divine creator of all things knew my desire and gave me the answer to my question by the facts which I observed.

(To be continued.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hobos to Street People -- March 7, 2009

We went downtown to see the new show at the California Historical Society, "Hobos to Street People: Artists’ Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present." It has photos, lithographs, and paintings from the 1930s and recent times, often in close contrast. There were many photos by Dorothea Lange and Ronal Partridge, and many comparable photos from recent times. CHS's official photographer even put up some photos from the neighborhood. There were several items from the Catholic Workers' movement.
It gave me much to think about. I was struck by the contrast between the New Deal efforts to give people dignity by giving them work and the Reagan-Clinton-Bush efforts to cut off assistance and drive the poor away into hiding. I was also struck by the amount of affordable housing that has been destroyed, and the lack of replacements.
The volunteers seemed very excited to be working on this exhibit. The fire hydrant that flooded the place has a new coat of paint.
We went to Patrick & Company to get some supplies, then to See's for Irish potatos. We went up the street to Virgin Records, which is having a going-out-of-business sale. There were a lot of people. We picked up some cds and dvds and a Ramones t-shirt.
It didn't rain today.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Firehouse #17 -- March 5, 2009

North Coast County Fire Authority Station 71 in the northern end of Pacifica. I took the photo on 12-April-2008. There are only two active firehouses left in Pacifica.

I was sad to learn that ABC will not renew the American version of Life on Mars. We have been enjoying it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rain and Shine -- March 3, 2009

Sunday night we had heavy wind and rain. Monday I left work and my hat almost blew off. This morning it rained a bit while I went to work. It rained a lot when I left. I took the photo in the afternoon. After a short period of darkness and driving rain, we had sunlight with lighter rain, then darkness again.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Aviator J. A. D. McCurdy Sitting Behind the Wheel of a Biplane -- March 1, 2009

J A D (John Alexander Douglas) McCurdy was the first man to fly in Canada, in his Silver Dart on 23-February-1909. The plane was built as part of the program of the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), a group organized by Alexander Graham Bell. I remember reading in an old National Geographic about a reproduction of the Silver Dart that flew in 1959.

The 1910 photo comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site (http://memory.loc.gov/). DN-0056126, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.