Friday, July 31, 2009

Mutoscope #3 -- July 31, 2009

I photographed this freshly-painted Mutoscope at Disneyland's Penny Arcade in July, 2009. I did not get to watch a reel.
Today we took a drive to Half Moon Bay.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cain - Wow -- July 29, 2009

We went to the game today. Matt Cain pitched nine innings against the Pirates and did not give up a run. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh pitchers did not give up any runs, either. Brian Wilson took over in the tenth and held them. Then Randy Winn drove in Eugenio Velez to win. We got to see the new first baseman from the Indians, Ryan Garko. He made some good plays. As we were driving home, we heard that the Giants had made a trade with the Pirates for Freddy Sanchez.

We had parked at Fifth and Mission and walked to the park.

I took the photo today, showing the Giants mobbing each other after the game.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lincoln in Sacramento -- July 28, 2009

Today we drove to Sacramento. The California State Museum hosted the Library of Congress' exhibit "With Malice Towards None." It had many Lincoln-related items, some from the Union Pacific collection. My heart felt funny when I saw the draft of the Gettysburg Address. There were many documents I have read about, like the unsent letter to General Meade after Gettysburg. They had the contents of Lincoln's pockets when he was shot, and the family doctor's notes, spattered with Lincoln's blood. I had only two issues with the show. One was probably due to the space: it was hard to follow the exhibits in sequence. There were little arrows all over the floor. The other was that, to protect the documents, the lights were very low. An older lady told me it was killing her eyes to try to read anything. I was having a similar problem.

I enjoyed seeing the Bible used for Lincoln's first inauguration and for President Obama's.

After lunch at the mall, we went to the Railroad Museum to see "The Rail Splitter and the Railroads: Lincoln, the Union and the Golden State." The title tells all about it. It started with his interest in internal improvements, especially railroads, went on to his railroad-related legal cases, especially the bridge case, and the trains he rode on, including the funeral train.

The image shows Lincoln and his three competitors in the 1860 election, John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party, John C. Breckinridge, Southern Democrat, and Stephen A Douglas, Democrat.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hollywood -- July 27, 2009

On our trip to Southern California, we drove down I-5 and stopped at the Hollywood and Highland mall in Los Angeles. The elephants and a large gate are supposed to represent the Babylon scene in DW Griffith's Intolerance. I would bet most people don't know that.

We went up the street to Grauman's Chinese and took photos of the footprints. The Michael Jackson star on the sidewalk was covered with junk and people. We looked at the Hollywood Roosevelt and went across the street to the Hyperion and the Disney store and soda fountain.

We met with family and had lunch at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. Wonderful.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Caleb at the Depot -- July 26, 2009

Just back from a visit to Disneyland. The temperature never got above 90F but it was muggy so we saw at least one person keel over from the heat, and cast members repeatedly told people to drink water. I'll post more on my Park Trains page at the end of this month or next month.

Caleb the Belgian horse lays over with horse car 1 at the Main Street Depot. The double decker bus is in the background.

This morning we watched the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice, and Joe Gordon went in. Rickey made a good speech. Nick Peters won the award for writers.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shoot the Chutes -- July 23, 2009

The Chutes was a popular San Francisco amusement park. In 1905 it was located at Tenth and Fulton, across the street from Golden Gate Park. I suppose the Johnstown Flood was a diorama. The Circle Swing would have been a form of the magic swing ride.

(Update 02-February-2011, thanks to John Freeman): The later Playland-at-the-Beach was originally called Chutes-at-the-Beach, but was not related to the older Chutes parks. The park at the beach had a Shoot the Chutes ride until 1950. My mother remembers riding it.

The ad appeared in the 23-February-1905 San Francisco Call.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pulp #3 -- July 21, 2009

This issue of Black Mask carried The Glass Key. Hammett said it was his favorite novel. I first read it when I was in grammar school. I didn't get it then.

The image is from a wonderful site called Cover Browser:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon Landing Anniversary -- July 20, 2009

40 years ago Commander Neil Armstrong and Pilot Buzz Aldrin rode the lunar lander to the surface of the moon. Armstrong was the first person to step on the surface. We gathered at our house to watch and my mom made a cake that looked like the moon.

I'm sorry Walter Cronkite didn't make it till the anniversary.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Giants Wall of Fame #9 -- July 19, 2009

In September, 2008 the Giants unveiled their Wall of Fame along the King Street side of the ballpark, whatever it is called this week. This set of plaques in honors four Giants whom I remember well.

Bob Brenly was a tough catcher. Mike Krukow was a smart pitcher who has become a popular broadcaster. Chris Speier was a slick shortstop. Atlee Hammaker was a hard-luck pitcher.

I took the photo on 29-September-2008 (3079).

Friday, July 17, 2009

Northwestern Pacific #1 - July 17, 2009

The Northwestern Pacific -- and its predecessors -- has always been one of my favorite railroads. It is slowly coming back to life. Someone spotted a train in Santa Rosa this month. This ad, from the 20-July-1909 San Francisco Call, reflects the importance of Russian River tourist traffic. The company published a booklet called Vacation every year.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Save Our Bus #2 -- July 15, 2009

This morning the take one box on the bus had pink fliers about the service reductions and eliminations.

SamTrans Sets Community Meetings: Proposed Service Reductions/Fare Increase

Faced with a budget deficit of $28.4 million, SamTrans will hold four community meetings to receive public comments about proposed fixed-route and paratransit service reductions and fare increases.

These changes are proposed pursuant to direction from the SamTrans Board of Directors to analyze and consider cuts of up to 15 percent. These are only proposals. Community meetings to accept public comment on the proposals will be held on July 27, 28, 29 and Aug. 6, and the Board will conduct a public hearing Aug. 12.

The following routes are under consideration for elimination, modification or reduction:

Express Service

Route CX – Pacifica to Colma BART

Route DX – Pacifica to San Francisco

Route FX – Foster City, Mariners Island, 3rd Ave & Hwy. 101 to Downtown San Francisco

Route KX – Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Redwood City, San Carlos, Belmont, to SFO and San Francisco

Route MX –San Mateo, Burlingame, Millbrae, San Bruno to SF Civic Center and SF Transbay Terminal

Route NX – Redwood Shores, San Mateo 101/92 Park & Ride to Downtown San Francisco

Route PX – Redwood City, San Carlos, Belmont, San Mateo to San Francisco

Route RX – Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Redwood City, San Carlos, Belmont, San Mateo to San Francisco


Route 14 – Pacifica to Colma BART

Route 17 – Pacifica to San Francisco

San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame

Route 141 - Downtown San Bruno, San Bruno BART, San Bruno Senior Center

Route 342 - Millbrae Intermodal Station, Downtown Millbrae, Mills Estate, Millbrae Highlands

Belmont, San Carlos

Route 262 - Carlmont Village, Downtown Belmont, Sterling Downs, Hillsdale Shopping Center

Redwood City

Route 270 - Redwood City Caltrain Station, Kaiser Hospital, Seaport Village, Harbor Village, Marsh Road (Menlo Park)

Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto

Route 280 - Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto Caltrain Station, East Palo Alto, Ravenswood Shopping Center

Route 281 - Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto Caltrain Station, East Palo Alto, Onetta Harris Community Center

Multi-City Service

Route 390 - Daly City BART, Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto

Route 391 - San Francisco (limited), Daly City, Colma BART, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City

Route 292 - Hillsdale Shopping Center, San Mateo, Burlingame, San Francisco International Airport, United Airlines Maintenance Base, South San Francisco, Brisbane, San Francisco

Route 295 - Downtown San Mateo, Hillsdale Shopping Center, Sequoia Hospital, Redwood City, Menlo Park

Route 297 - Redwood City, Palo Alto

Route 397 - San Francisco, South San Francisco, San Francisco International Airport, Burlingame, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Palo Alto

Other possible changes include:

  • Increasing the adult fare by up to 25 cents and all other fare media by a corresponding amount

  • Increasing paratransit fares by up to 75 cents

  • Reducing paratransit service to correspond to bus service changes

  • Eliminating the 15 percent discount on SamTrans passes with the purchase of the Muni sticker

  • Other changes to the language of the Codified Tariff to be consistent with partner agencies

The changes are under consideration because the Transit District is facing a $28.4 million shortfall for the current fiscal year.

Several factors contributed to the shortfall: since Fiscal Year 2008 more than $11 million in state funds, which make up approximately 22 percent of the operating budget, have been eliminated. The District also has been impacted by the recession and job losses: sales tax revenues, which provide 44 percent of the District’s revenue, are down 5 percent so far for FY2009. Interest income also has declined, and ridership is beginning to drop.

SamTrans has already implemented a number of cost-cutting measures to reduce the deficit. A new fuel hedging program, which will set a cap on the price the District pays for diesel fuel, is expected to save approximately $1 million. Midyear, staff scrutinized the operating budget line by line, successfully cutting or deferring $750,000 in expenses. Currently, the agency is undergoing an extensive reorganization; layoffs are anticipated this fall. A fare increase, which will generate approximately $1.5 million annually, went into effect last February.

The meetings will take place at 6 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

  • July 27 - Municipal Building

    33 Arroyo Drive, South San Francisco

  • July 28 - SamTrans headquarters

    1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos

  • July 29 - City Council Chambers

    701 Laurel St. , Menlo Park

  • Aug. 6 - Cunha Intermediate School

    600 Church St., Half Moon Bay

For more information about SamTrans or Caltrain schedules, call Customer Service at 1-800-660-4287 (TTY 650-508-6448).

Comments will be accepted up until the Aug. 12 public hearing. To comment, attend one of the community meetings or public hearing, send e-mail to, send regular mail to District Secretary, SamTrans, P.O. Box 3006, San Carlos, CA 94070-1306, or call 1.800.660.4287 (TDD for hearing impaired only 650.508.6448).

Hearing impaired and non-English speaking public hearing or meeting attendees may arrange for sign language or foreign language translation by calling 650-508-6242 at least three business days prior to the hearing or meeting.

07/15/09 - crd

Media Contact: Christine Dunn, 650-508-6238

The National League lost the All Star Game again. Lincecum started and did ok.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #18 -- July 13, 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 eighteenth part. He continues to talk about his interest in music.

Elias P. Needham was an American inventor who created programmable musical devices which led to the player piano. The image shows a Needham Musical Cabinet.

I like Doctor Van Der Weyde's experiments like putting the paper in backwards. I would like to hear the "Hungarian Rhapsody" that way.

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

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 7, July 1894

(Continued from page 133.)

9th. Career as an Musician.-- As explained before, in case there is a set of chimes in a church tower which automatically performs hourly, being driven by the mechanism of the clock, the tune they perform must be changed twice a year, and it is the duty of the organist to make this change.

The knowledge and the practice I had obtained in this kind of work was unexpectedly of great advantage to me after my arrival in the United States, especially in a financial way. The cause of this was that an invention had been made by the late E. P. Needham, which he applied as a substitute for a key-board to some of the melodeons he manufactured. In this way they could be played in an automatic manner by turning a crank, either by hand or with the feet, acting upon the pedals, which at the same time worked the bellows. When, at his invitation by letter, I came to see and hear his new device, I found that it was especially meritorious on account of its simplicity, and that it promised very great progress in the future. These expectations were, in the course of time, fully realized, as the invention has developed into the improved orchestrion, which can now be worked by strips of perforated paper in place of heavy, bulky barrels, which made the orchestrion, in fact, a colossal barrel organ.

Mr. Needham’s invention consisted of an elongated, narrow box, with holes in the top. Every hole was provided interiorly with a reed, which could be put in vibration by a current of air entering the hole. The extension of tones was two octaves of the diatomic scale; or fifteen tones, which, by my advice, he soon increased to twenty-five tones on two octaves of the chromatic scale, which increased enormously the capacity for rendering all kinds of music. A sheet of paper perforated with holes, was made to pass over the holes in the top of the box, which the paper closed up, as the bellows worked, by suction; when the sheet of paper was made to slide forward, and one or more of the holes in the paper came over the holes in the box, the air entered and sounded the corresponding reed, and in this way made it possible to cause a simple perforated sheet of paper to produce melody and harmony, when the holes in the paper were made in the right places.

The first music I heard performed on this instrument was "Old Hundred." This was somewhat defective in its harmonies, whereupon Mr. Needham gave me a sheet of paper, with the request to mark with a lead pencil the places where the holes ought to be made, in order to obtain a more perfect harmony. This was done, and, on hearing it, he requested me to attempt a popular song, such as "The Last Rose of Summer." After hearing this, he concluded to reproduce in this way the principal hymns of Moody and Sankey, who were then very popular, and attracted large audiences in the building now known as Madison Square Garden.

One hundred of these Moody and Sankey tunes were finished in one month, when a successful attempt was made to mark out overtures, operatic selections, sets of quadrilles, etc., some of the papers being more than fifty feet long, and making a very respectable bundle.

The highest artistic effort was to mark out an extract of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, in which not only the slow movement, but also the majestic finale, turned out to be especially successful – of course, considering the simple means by which it was produced.

Several new experiments were made, such as composing a waltz in imagination and marking it on the paper, and after the holes had been cut, hearing it for the first time, Mr. Needham liked it so much that he called it "The Needham Musical Cabinet Waltz."

Mr. Needham then furnished me with such an instrument with which to make musical experiments at my house, which I did to the great amusement of my musical friends as well as of myself. For instance, when running the paper backward a piece of music could be tested how it would sound when played in that way; then the effect was simply ridiculous. The paper also could be placed upside down, when the bass notes were heard in the treble, and the inverted melody was in the bass. This was more ridiculous still, especially when the tunes were simple, well-known melodies.

Experience proved that when the music was simple, it made an enormous difference, and sounded very complex and difficult to understand. There were a few pieces in which it made little difference which way the paper was moved, backward or forward, or upside down, it was all the same -- it sounded always very complicated, learned and classical, as some of my friends called it. One of such pieces in which it made no difference if the paper was run in the opposite direction as originally intended, was a Hungarian rhapsody by Lizt. This piece, whether it was played upside down or backward, made the same very complicated effect upon ordinary ears. Such experiments are only possible with the system of perforated paper, and would, of course, be utterly impossible with a barrel organ.

One remarkable composition gave very great satisfaction; it was a fugue by one of the old classical composers (Scarlatti, I believe). In order to do justice to the spirit which prevailed in it, it had to be played in a very rapid tempo, and this was almost impossible for a player except with extraordinary long, patient practice. When the paper was once prepared, it was, of course, just as easy to play it fast as to play it slowly, and the experiment gave me great satisfaction, as with a very rapid motion the effect was surprisingly fine and spirited, which was just what I had reason to expect.

Mr. Needham then soon printed a catalogue, and sold many of these rollers at prices differing in proportion to their length.

(To be Continued.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Train Station #12 -- July 11, 2009

The San Francisco Caltrain Station at Fourth and King replaced the old Southern Pacific depot at Third and Townsend. I took this photo of the Fourth Street entrance on 18-November-2008.

Last night Jonathan Sanchez, returning as a starter after being demoted last month, pitched a no hitter, and nearly had a perfect game. This was the Giants' first no hitter since Montefusco in 1976. The television broadcast kept showing his poor father.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Firehouse #21 -- July 9, 2009

The Underwriters Fire Patrol Headquarters building on Natoma Street near New Montgomery was built in 1907. The San Francisco Underwriters Fire Patrol was founded in 1875. The Patrol worked to prevent fires, and to minimize property damage and help with salvage. It was the first motorized fire company in San Francisco, in 1911.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lay Over -- July 7, 2009

I got off the bus at the park and ride lot this afternoon and noticed that a section was coned off. The parking lines had been blacked out and it had been divided into three lanes where buses will lay over. The usual area where they lay over, parallel to Linda Mar Boulevard, also got restriped and painted with the words.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bloody Thursday -- July 5, 2009

Today is the 75th anniversary of Bloody Thursday, 05-July-1934, when police at Mission and Steuart fired into a crowd of strikers, killing two of them. Their public funeral a few days later led to a general strike and an eventual victory for the waterfront workers. This is a memorial erected by the ILWU.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day #3 -- July 4, 2009

A WPA poster for an Independence Day celebration in DuPage County, Illinois.
From the wonderful American Memory Project (

Friday, July 3, 2009

Blériot IX -- July 3, 2009

One of Louis Blériot's monoplanes, a predecessor of the XI, which flew across the English Channel on 25-July-1909, on display at the first Paris Aero Salon. The dark part of the fuselage is a radiator.

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

There weren't many people at work today.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Save Our Bus #1 -- July 1, 2009

My daughter pointed out that an article in today's Pacifica Tribune says that SamTrans wants to eliminate most bus service to and in Pacifica, including the 14, the CX, and the DX. I ride the DX to and from work every day. I'm working on a letter to the editor and a letter to SamTrans management. They seem determined to put as many autos as possible on Highway One.

Karl Malden died. Good actor.