Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Giant Flowers Disappear -- September 29, 2009

So I was walking through Yerba Buena Gardens one day and I saw these giant flowers. Sponsored by Prius, they offered a place for people to sit and plug in their laptops. Solar cells on the backs of the petals provided the power. I took the photo on 19-September. Yesterday as I left for home, I saw workers carting them away.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mission San Juan Bautista #2 -- September 27, 2009

Thomas Marsh made this statue of Saint John the Baptist as a member of the local Ohlone tribe. It has stood in front of Mission San Juan Bautista since 2000. On the base are the symbols of the four evangelists, translated into Native American style.

I took the photo on 15-August-2009.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pulp #5 -- September 26, 2009

When I was a kid, Gene Nelson on KSFO played old radio shows at night. He often played episodes of The Shadow. At some point, I found a copy of Jim Harmon's The Great Radio Heroes in the library and read that the Shadow was a very different character in the pulp magazines. That character sounded more interesting. The whole "clouds men's minds" didn't make a lot of sense, but wearing dark clothes and hiding in the shadows sounded cool. Later still, I got to read reprints and found that they were pretty cool.
Here is the cover from the July, 1932 edition. The image is from a wonderful site called Cover Browser: http://www.coverbrowser.com/
Today we went to the Stanford Shopping Center. After mass we had dinner at Guerrero's.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #20 -- September 24, 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 twentieth part. He continues to talk about his interest in music.

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

I assume the great exposition in Philadelphia was the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

The Roosevelt Brothers, Hillborne and Frank, were famous builders of large organs.

The image comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site (http://memory.loc.gov/). LC-USZ62-76492, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society. It appeared in Harper's Weekly, 12-May-1866.

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

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 9, September 1894

(Continued from page 183.)

9th. Career as a Musician.--

The calliope is the loudest musical instrument in existence, because it consists of a series of steam whistles worked by high-pressure steam, and therefore is called after that goddess who, among the nine muses of the ancient Greek mythology, was distinguished for her silvery voice.

P. T. Barnum, who was always forward in exhibiting such objects as would attract public attention, was the first to add such an instrument to his passing show. It was made on the principle of a barrel organ, and worked by the turning of a crank, while a steam boiler and furnace was substituted for the bellows, and furnished the steam to whistles of different graduated lengths. This instrument required two men to operate it, one to attend to the boiler furnace, and another to turn the crank so as to grind out the tune.

An important improvement in this construction was to substitute for the barrel a regular organ key-board, so that an organist could play any tune he desired. The practical result, however, fell very short of expectations -- the tunes played by hand on the key-board did not sound at all as well as those which were ground out by turning the crank. The reason of this was soon very clear to me. Those who make it a business to prepare the cylinder, with the projections at the proper places, are careful to give every projection the correct length, so that the tones are not sustained after the next tone is sounded, which usually causes a discord. Now, it is a prevailing defect among ordinary piano players (who have not received proper instruction from a practically accomplished teacher) to be careless in the matter of lifting up each finger at the exact moment that the following key is to be struck by the next finger, so that often two adjoining keys are down at the same time, which makes a discord when done with any organ key-board, while the discord is more pronounced in proportion to the greater loudness of the instrument. As on the piano the tones are not sustained in the full force of the first blow, this bad habit is not so unpleasant on that instrument, but becomes so when a badly trained pianist tries his hand on an organ, which sustains every tone with its full force as long as the keys are kept down, and the bad effects are worse in the direct ratio of the loudness of the instrument, which, in the case under discussion, is the loudest of all, and must therefore also be the most intolerable.

There are several organists in New York and Brooklyn whom I could name, who do not treat their organ in the right way, by not lifting every finger exactly at the correct time; this makes the organ sound badly, and great injustice is thus done to both the organ and its maker.

Organ makers should be more careful when they engage persons to show off an organ they have on exhibition. The worst case of this kind that I saw and heard was in Philadelphia at the great exhibition which some years ago was organized under the auspices of the Franklin Institute. There was on exhibition a magnificent organ made by Roosevelt, of New York, who had engaged a player who kept it going to the great disgust of the surrounding exhibitors of other objects. Why such a performer happened to be engaged, I did not understand, but I had the satisfaction of receiving the thanks of the surrounding exhibitors who complained of the annoyance caused them by the regular player, who prevented any one else from playing at all, as he claimed to be the only one who had that privilege, and was engaged for the work.

The most striking and crucial test for such a player is to let him play passages with the flute stop; for instance, the famous flute concert composed for the organ by Rink. If the player has not the right touch, and plays slovenly, so as not to lift the finger from the key at the exact moment the next key is struck, the flute effect is utterly destroyed, as, of course, on a flute two tones cannot be produced at the same time.

When, now, a player with such slovenly habits. plays the calliope, the effect is excruciating. I heard an old, sensitive gentleman give his opinion of the calliope when he heard it for the first time under the hands of such a performer as is referred to. He said: “That instrument must be an invention of the devil; I believe it is intended to torment the damned in hell -- that is all that it is good for. I never want to hear it again.”

(To be Continued.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Giants Wall of Fame #11 -- September 23, 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.

Will Clark was a brilliant first baseman and a power hitter. He played for the 1984 Olympic team. In 1987 he jumped from AA to the majors and helped the Giants reach the playoffs. In 1989 he helped the Giants reach the World Series. I miss Will the Thrill. Kirt Manwaring was a good catcher for several years. John Burkett was a strong right-handed starting pitcher. Matt Williams was a great power-hitting third baseman. In 1994, he might have set the season home run record, but was thwarted by the strike.

I took the photo on 29-September-2008 (3077).

We looked out the window this afternoon and saw the sidewalks in front Moscone Center covered with thousands of suit and tie-wearing cardiologists. They all got evacuated from their conference. I don't know why.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grauman's Chinese #2 -- September 21, 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, but some people were looking at Doug, perhaps thinking about Hedley LaMarr's last words in Blazing Saddles. DSCN4144.

I took this on 18-July-2009.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Moon Festival -- September 19, 2009

It was not as warm today. We parked at Fifth and Mission and walked up to Old Navy. We stopped at Macy's, then walked over to Grant Avenue. We stopped at the Starbucks at Bush, which was very busy, and got something to drink. Grant was blocked across California for the Moon Festival. My wife went to the bookstore at Old Saint Mary's to get some music for religion class. We walked through the festival a bit, then steered down Sacramento and Clay to the Embarcadero Center. We had not been for a long time and were saddened by the number of stores and restaurants that were vacant. We had lunch at Boudin's, then walked up Mission to the Metreon, where we had frozen yogurt.

We went to Five O'Clock mass at Good Shepherd.

I took the photo today at Grant and California.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Park(ing) Day -- September 19, 2009

It was very warm today. It was also Park(ing) Day (http://www.parkingday.org/).

I took a walk at lunch time. On Howard as I approached the night club I heard very loud music. Then I met a guy who was handing out sliders. I resisted the temptation. A couple of parking spaces and part of the sidewalk were taken up with artificial grass and lawn chairs. There was a DJ at the other end.

I stopped at the East Bay Terminal to shoot some video. I recently realized that it won't be there much longer.

Later I saw the group above out in front of the SPUR Building. The music was not as loud, but they appeared to be having a good time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pacific Coast Steamship Company -- September 17, 2009

The Pacific Coast Steamship Company ran vessels along the west coast. The fast steamer Santa Rosa sailed from San Francisco to San Pedro until 3am on 7-July-1911, when she ran aground near Point Arguello. Most of the 200 passengers were rescued. One report said eight passengers and four crew members died.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Train Station #14 -- September 15, 2009

This reproduction of the Central Pacific's arcade depot in Old Sacramento is near the original starting point of the line. I took the photo in July, 2009.

Larry Gelbart died. My parents took me to the Orpheum to see Jackie Gleason and Cleavon Little in "Sly Fox."

Jim Carroll died of a heart attack at 59. Another person who died.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fiesta Gigantes -- September 13, 2009

Last night we went to see the Giants play the Dodgers. There had been thunder and lightning in the morning. It was drizzling a little bit when we left the house. We drove downtown and found autos lined up around the block to get into Fifth and Mission. We went around and parked in the garage on Third near Folsom. We walked over the hill on Folsom to the Embarcadero and over to Red's Java Hut. I'm glad the rumors about its closing had proved to be false. I had a cheese dog.

We walked on the to ballpark. The Giants were have a fiesta in the plaza by the bridge, but we decided to go in and watch batting practice. The Fiesta Gigantes was intended to honor their Latin plays of the past and present. Unfortunately, they lost for the first time at home while wearing their Gigantes jerseys. The pitching fell apart and they scored only one run.

It was cold and windy outside the park, and the flags were whipping inside, but we did not get particularly cold. I thought back to Candlestick and my thermal long johns and wool socks.

We rode an N train back to Montgomery.

The Giants are doing better today, so far.

Update: The Giants won 7-2. In the Richmond District, it started raining about 4pm and continued on and off until we came home.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Save Our Bus #4 -- September 11, 2009

SamTrans has released its list of service cuts and eliminations. My bus, the DX, is being eliminated. The local 14 bus is being reduced before 7am and after 4pm. The changes will take effect December 20. And a Merry Christmas to you, Mister Scrooge.

The mood of the 09/11 commemorations was different this year, with Bush out of office, although some people were screaming that the National Day of Service and Remembrance, proposed by families of 09/11 victims and passed on a bipartisan vote, was a plot by President Obama to politicize 09/11 and desecrate 09/11. How about that?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Apple Gathering -- September 9, 2009

The big blue and pink advertisement appeared on Friday. Yesterday when I left work, I noticed the satellite truck just visible on the right. This morning there were several more parked in front of Moscone North. Later in the morning, I saw the crowd above. People were drawn by the rumor that Steve Jobs would make a public appearance. The gathering announced iTunes 9. Not a big deal.
I liked President Obama's speech about health care reform. I hope it will help to get it done. I'm concerned about the craziness that people expressed worrying about his speech to school children. Apparently many people are opposed to children staying in school, working hard, and covering their mouths when they cough.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Bridge is Back -- September 8, 2009

Yesterday CalTrans announced that the bridge would not reopen until 5am Wednesday, but this morning they said they hoped to have it open by 7am today. Nice working repairing the eye beam.
I took the photo at First and Harrison on Friday. It shows the closed onramp. There is a lurking Highway Patrol car barely visible behind the right-hand 80 sign.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day #2 -- September 7, 2009

Andrew Furuseth, born in Norway, was an early member of the union that became the Sailors' Union of the Pacific. He was head of the union from 1891 to 1935, and during that time he pushed for laws to improve conditions for sailors, including the banning of corporal punishment. The monument was erected on the Embarcadero in 1941, but was moved to the front of the SUP headquarters on Rincon Hill to make way for the Embarcadero Freeway. On the front of the monument is a famous quote from Furuseth: "You can put me in jail. But you cannot give me narrower quarters than as a seaman I have always had. You cannot give me coarser food than I have always eaten. You cannot make me lonelier than I have always been."
I took the photo on 04-September-2009.
The Bay Bridge work has been complicated by the discovery of a crack in the cantilever section. News stories kept referring to an "I-beam," but they meant an "eye bar."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ardenwood Farm Railroad Fair -- September 5, 2009

We went to the Ninth annual Labor Day Railfair at Ardenwood Farm. The weather was on the cool side. For the first time ever, there were two guest steam locomotives. For the second straight year, they had Sandstone Crag Loop Line #4, Deanna, an 0-4-2T built by Baldwin in 1891 for the Kaiwiki Sugar Co. in Ookala, HI. It is now privately owned in Coto de Caza, CA. The other locomotive was Anne Marie, an 1890 Porter 0-4-0T.

There were some difficulties in figuring out operating procedutes. We got aboard #4, pulling the regular train and the picnic car, for its first run. When we arrived at Deer Park, most of the passengers got off, so we moved up near the front of the train, where we could see into the cab. After offloading, the train backed through the station, so the other train could pull in. We waited while it came from Ardenwood, then let off passengers, then left. We pulled back in. The crew had a vigorous discussion about better ways to do it. They decided that two trains were running more slowly than one, and that they would have to have one train pull around.

We rode back and I took this video. We had lunch then walked around and looked at the model train exhibits and the farm animals. Sheep, goats, rabbits, pigs, and chickens.

Back at Deer Park, we watched the train pulled by #4 pull in, offload, then pull through the station. As the other train, pushed by the Porter, arrived, #4 pulled around on the passing track and headed back to Ardenwood. We got on 1882 Southern Pacific combination car 1010 behind the Porter, and it pulled through the station and we waited until the other train went to Ardenwood and came back. We pulled around and headed back. Two volunteers on the car told lots of stories about local history.

There were no horse-drawn train rides this year. The new horse is still in training, and Jiggs can't do it all by himself.

There were nice model train layouts and the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association had a collection of internal combustion engines running by the barn.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ardenwood Farm Railroad Fair Coming Soon - September 4, 2009

If you are looking for something to do this Labor Day weekend, I can recommend the Ninth Annual Washington Township Railroad Fair at Ardenwood Historic Farm Regional Park in Fremont. Every year, the Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources brings in a steam locomotive to join their regular horse-drawn rail operation. There are rides on steam- and horse-drawn trains and handcars. There is a large garden railroad display, and all the regular animals and farm equipment and the beautiful Patterson house. This year's guest locomotive is Sandstone Crag Loop Line #4, "Deanna," an 0-4-2T built by Baldwin in 1891 for the Kaiwiki Sugar Co. in Ookala, Hawaii.

It's well worth a visit, and it's just across the Dumbarton Bridge, which should not be too badly affected by the Bay Bridge closure.
I took this photo of Sandstone Crag Loop Line #4 on Labor Day weekend, 2008.
Today I took a walk to look at the closed freeway entrances leading to the Bay Bridge. This is the first time the bridge has been closed on a workday since 1989.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Firehouse #23 -- September 3, 2009

The San Juan Bautista Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1868. This is the current firehouse on Second Street, across from the Mission.

I took the photo on 15-August-2009.

Pacifica did a full volume test of its tsunami warning sirens yesterday. People complained that they were not loud enough.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Aviator Charles F. Willard Sitting Behind the Wheel of an Airplane - September 1, 2009

Charles F Willard was a pioneering aviator who learned to fly from Glenn Curtiss and later designed airplanes for Glenn Martin. He managed to live until 1977.

The photo comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site (http://memory.loc.gov/). DN-0056125, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Germans invading Poland and starting World War II, if you don't count what the Japanese were doing in China.