Monday, August 31, 2009

Picture on the Wall -- August 31, 2009

This picture appeared on the brick wall behind my building last week. It's good.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cartoon Art Museum -- August 30, 2009

Yesterday we visited the Cartoon Art Museum ( The Disney fans in the family wanted to see an exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of Sleeping Beauty. The exhibit talked about how Walt Disney wanted the style Eyvind Earle's to carry through to the finished product.

"Monsters of Webcomics" had examples of several artists' work, and a set of questions that had been posed to each artist.

The third exhibit was "The Brinkley Girls," about Nell Brinkley's work. It included several pages from Examiner Sunday pages that featured stories or verses illustrated by Brinkley. As we looked at a page from "Golden Eyes and her Hero, Bill, Over There," I said to my wife "You can say a lot of bad things about William Randolph Hearst, but he liked comics and illustrations." My wife said "And scantily clad blondes." In fact, my wife said the character looked like Marion Davies. I thought that relationship had started later, but actually they were already together when the stories were published.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Signs of the Times #30 -- August 27, 2009

I took this today on Sixth Street at the Flower Mart.

It was warm at lunch time and even warmer when I left the office.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Kennedy, RIP -- August 26, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy died yesterday. He led an awful personal life, at least until his second marriage. His cheating at Harvard and his part in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne were things to be ashamed of, but he tried to atone for them, and became a defender of the disadvantaged. I hope that this will give Congress a push to pass meaningful health care reform.

"For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Culture Bus, RIP -- August 22, 2009

I neglected to mention that last Saturday, 15-August-2009, was the last day of service of the Culture Bus. I wrote about it back in October, soon after it opened:
We visited a relative in the hospital today.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pulp #4 -- August 21, 2009

This issue of Air Trails features what I assume to be a Bell Airacuda, a plane meant to be a bomber destroyer. I read about it in a magazine when I was in grammar school and was impressed by what seemed like very advanced features for the 1930s, but it was ultimately a failure. Note the pusher propellers on the nacelles, each of which was manned and armed with a cannon.

The image is from a wonderful site called Cover Browser:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Giants Wall of Fame #10 -- August 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.

Kevin Mitchell was an outfielder who sure could hit. He was MVP in 1989,. the year the Giants went to the World Series against the Athletics. Scott Garrelts was a right-handed starting pitcher who served with the Giants for ten seasons, including the World Series year. Rick Reuschel, Big Daddy, was a large guy who threw a wonderful sinker and could hit very well. He liked to get people out with a minimum number of pitches. Jeff Brantley was a relief pitcher who made the 1990 All Star game. He is now a broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds.

I took the photo on 29-September-2008 (3078).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SPUR -- August 18, 2009

Earlier this year, SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) opened its Urban Center on Mission Street. Today at lunchtime I was able to visit and see their current exhibit, "Agents of Change: Civic Idealism and the Making of San Francisco." It talked about how San Francisco grew in the Nineteenth Century with its rigid street grid and political corruption. It goes on to cover the Burnham plan, the earthquake and fire, and the graft prosecutions. It says nice things about James Phelan and how Sunny Jim Rolph implemented many of his ideas. Another display talks about urban planning from the earlier Greater San Francisco plans and modifications to the bay, up to SPUR itself. It didn't go into detail about the urban redevelopment controversies, but it mentioned them. In the front window was a nice model of downtown San Francisco. The suggested donation of five dollars seemed high.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #19 -- August 17, 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 nineteenth 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.

An orchestrion is a mechanical device that plays music on more than one instrument. The image is a postcard view of a Waltzen Orchestrion.

I can't identify Mr Gally (Galli?) as an orchestrion-maker.

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

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 8, August 1894

(Continued from page 153.)

9th. Career as a Musician.-- It is a pleasant recollection to me that I have contributed my mite to the development of the orchestrion, by demonstrating practically the capacities of the systems of perforated papers as a substitute for the barrels, by boldly taking such a step as to make, by such means, the execution of one of Beethoven’s masterpieces possible, and this even on such small instruments as those made by Mr. Needham.

A serious drawback, however, soon presented itself. It was that the holes had to be of quite large size, in order to admit wind enough for sounding the reeds. These large holes took much of the strength of the paper away, and the tearing up and rapid deterioration of them, when frequently used, was the inevitable result.

The correction of this defect was an example of the desirability that more than one mind should occupy itself with inventing improvements. The most important improvement was the balanced valves, of which one half moves against the air pressure and the other half with the air pressure, because the axis upon which it turns is made at the middle of the valve, so that only a small spring is needed to keep it closed, and very little power is required to open it.

The next invention was the pneumatic motion which opens quite a large valve by the pressure of the air passing through a very small hole in the paper. This reduced at once the size of the paper, from the length of 50 feet and width of 2 feet, to 20 inches in length and 3 inches in width, and made it possible to use a small round punch, making a series of holes, of which the effect was equivalent to the large hole.

Such organs are now successfully made in Germany, of which a fair specimen can be seen in the Atlantic Garden, New York, where they have a repetoire (sic – JT) of some 200 different compositions represented by 200 little sheets of paper, each of which, when placed in the organ, will cause the performance of, say Wagner’s Tannhaeuser overture, in all its details.

We are happy to state that such organs are now made in more than one city of the United States.

Foremost among those who, in the United States, have made themselves meritorious in the improvements in the methods of producing music automatically, stands Mr. Gally, who had previously distinguished himself in the manufacture of improved printing presses.

As he holds an eminent position in this branch, having been foremost in its improvement, we will in our next devote to his improvements in this line a separate article.

(To be Continued.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mission San Juan Bautista -- August 15, 2009

Today we took a nice drive down to Gilroy and San Juan Bautista. It was over 90 degrees. We caught the recessional of the Feast of the Assumption mass. The garden was nice but we didn't see the cats right away. On our way back from the rest rooms, we stopped to watch a chicken and three or four chicks scratching among some plants. Then we saw a cat running along the edge of the field. My daughter said it looked hen-pecked. When we went to leave through the gift shop, a smaller grey and white cat was waiting to go out to the quadrangle. The lady in the shop said the cats and the chickens get along. It was good to get out of the house.

We were going to go to Santa Cruz, but the big fire near Bonny Doon discouraged us. The air was thick with smoke down at San Juan Bautista.

I took the photo of the mission today.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Grauman's Chinese #1 -- August 13, 2009

Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks were the first people to leave hand and footprints in the forecourt of Sid Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, on 30-April-1927. No one was paying attention to Miss Pickford. DSCN4137.
I took this on 18-July-2009.
BART's ATU workers say they will go on strike Sunday night.
Les Paul died.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Crêperie -- August 11, 2009

I was walking down Howard Street at lunch time and I noticed this, the Crêperie Saint Germain.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Heald -- August 10, 2009

I used to teach at Heald Business College in San Francisco ( They provide a good education in a short time to those who are willing to work at it. The ad is from the 13-April-1909 San Francisco Call. Edward Payson Heald had founded the school in 1863.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bricks #1 -- August 9, 2009

I like bricks. They took all the planters out of the alley behind my building so they could put in gates. I went to lunch on Friday and found it was one of the rare times when the sun shines on the wall.

I was sad to see John Hughes die. I didn't like many of his movies, but I enjoyed some of them.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Save Our Bus #3 -- August 7, 2009

Yesterday I attended the Proposed Service and Fare Changes meeting in Half Moon Bay. Before the meeting, I asked a gentleman from SamTrans how turnout had been at the first three meetings. He said there had been about 60 at each. I later heard someone say it was 30-60 each. There were 130 people at last night's meeting. I'd say about half were from Pacifica and the rest were from Half Moon Bay, pleading for the life of the 17 bus. One person spoke about the FX, 292, and KX cuts.

The mayor of Half Moon Bay, a Pacifica councilmember, and members of the San Mateo County and Pacifica school boards were there, along with a member of the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce.

A group of people from a senior community in Half Moon Bay chartered a bus to come and make their case for the 17. Many senior citizens came from Pacifica to make a pitch for the 14.

Below is an email I sent to SamTrans to expand upon my comments.

I should add that it would be shameful to eliminate the 17. Many schoolchildren depend on it, along with most of the workers from the Nurserymen's Exchange. The manager said they sold 500 bus passes to their workers. Dwight Wilson of the Coastside Transportation Committee said that they applied for grants and ridership increased from 57,000 per year to 97,000.


Last night I attended the Proposed Service and Fare Changes meeting in Half Moon Bay. I am sorry there was not a session in Pacifica or there would have been a better turnout of DX/CX/14 proponents. Thank you for the opportunity to speak and give my opinions. I would like to expand upon them here.

I appreciate that the current economy and budget situation have put SamTrans in a difficult position, but please consider how important bus service is to those of us who live on the Coastside. For one thing, we do not have the alternatives that people on the bay side enjoy: CalTrain, BART, redundant bus routes, and multiple north-south streets and freeways. In Pacifica, everything has to pass over Highway One. If the DX is eliminated, many of the 298 daily riders (from page 6 of the presentation) will choose to drive in the city or at least to a BART station. This will add to the strain on Highway One, which is going to get even worse when the Devil's Slide tunnel opens. If the CX is eliminated, many of the 317 people (page 7) will drive to BART stations. I hope I understood correctly that none of your proposals suggested eliminating both buses. Eliminating both would be a disaster.

If the CX and DX are combined, so some or all DX runs will drop off and pick up at Colma BART, I hope you will increase the number of DX runs, or the buses will be seriously overcrowded. Please remember that when the 1F, the old name of the DX, had every other run stop at Colma BART that most Pacificans crowded on the buses that went directly to and from the City. When the northbound runs arrived at Colma BART, a few people would get off and enough people would get on to fill all the seats in the bus. On southbound runs, most people got off at the BART station. Perhaps there is some way to discourage this behavior, like not picking up at BART on northbound runs and not dropping off on southbound runs.

Please also consider the danger to school kids and senior citizens in the San Pedro Valley if you eliminate the 14. How else are they supposed to get to school and go shopping?

Someone at the meeting suggested more aggressive selling of advertising. I like the idea. I see commercial advertisements on the outside of buses, but rarely inside. The DX I rode home today had one commercial ad, for the circus, and one questionable one, for the county fair. All the rest of the ads were public service-related. I assume you don't get any revenue for those. There was plenty of room for more ads. I know the economy is weak, but stores like Safeway derive a lot of benefit from people who ride buses.


Joe Thompson

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Train Station #13 -- August 5, 2009

Northspur Station is at the mid point of the California Western Railroad. Half day trips from Fort Bragg stop there for lunch. I took the photo in July, 2006.
Tomorrow night at 6pm there will be a meeting to discuss the fate of public transit on the Coastside. SamTrans wants to eliminate the CX to Colma BART, the DX to San Francisco, the 14 which is the only public transit up the San Pedro Valley, and the 17, which is the only public transit south of Half Moon Bay along the coast. The meeting will be at Cunha Intermediate School, 600 Church St., Half Moon Bay.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Firehouse #22 -- August 3, 2009

Engine 2 at 460 Bush Street was built in 1908 and used by the Fire Department until 1970.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Samuel F Cody -- August 1, 2009

Samuel Franklin Cody (born Cowdery) was an American emigree who built and flew British Army Aeroplane Number 1 in 1908. This shows him with his wife, Maud Maria Cody. She does not look comfortable.

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

I was sorry to see that Cory Aquino died. I remember talking to a college friend about the Philippines and when I mentioned Marcos, he looked around the library and said it wasn't safe to talk in public. That made an impression on me.