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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Alley #1 -- October 15, 2009

Looking up Taber Place from Third Street on 07-October-2009. I think George Gordon named it North Street when he laid out South Park in 1852.

Today was the Great California Shakeout ( I was surprised to learn that most people at the office had never noticed the emergency siren that goes off every Tuesday at noon.

Oracle World wrapped up today. I didn't get to go to as many sessions as I had hoped.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oracle World in the Rain -- October 13, 2009

The roof of the orange tent was flapping up and down this morning. I left the house, watching for a big puddle that forms in the walkway. The puddle was not there, but I found a hole in my right shoe. Traffic was ok on the way in. When I got off the bus, the wind blew my umbrella inside-out. I gave up trying to use it. The power was out in parts of Pacifica today.

I took the photo today.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day #3 -- October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day to those of you who still remember it.

Oracle Open World opened today. I made the wrong choice at lunch time. I went to a nice session on datawarehousing in Oracle 11g.

It may rain tonight.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Father Damien -- October 11, 2009

We watched the repeat on EWTN of the canonization of Father Damien, the Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and three others. Good choices.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oracle World Setting Up -- October 10, 2009

Thursday during the day they started to set up tents in front of each side of Moscone Center. When I got to work yesterday, they had closed the block between Third and Fourth on Howard. Traffic was heavy during the day, but I didn't hear as much honking as last year. I took the photo Friday morning.

When I left work, I called home and my wife said a dump truck had run away in Pacifica and the road was closed around Manor. After the first stop, we saw yellow police tape closing Manor on the beach side at Palmetto. My first was that the fish and chips place had gotten smashed again, but we saw the dump truck and a couple of smashed cars on the other side of Manor, just past the 76 station. The truck had run away down Manor and smashed several cars along the way.

Today we went to get flu shots.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #21 -- October 7, 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-first 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 American Institute Fair was held every year in New York City from the 1830s to at least the 1890s.

The image shows the structure built for the fair in 1851, modelled on London's Crystal Palace.

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

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


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

(Continued from page 208.)

9th. Career as a Physician and Musician.-- At the last fair of the American Institute which took place in 1851 in the building erected in imitation of the London Crystal Palace, was a calliope on exhibition, on which several musicians tried their hands, but none of them to the satisfaction of the hearers to such a degree as appeared to be the case with my performance. The natural result of this was that I was soon regularly engaged to give every day two public performances on that instrument, one in the early afternoon and another in the evening, when there was also a full orchestra present.

That period was one of the busiest of my life; from 9 to 12 M., I was attending to my patients at the New York City Dispensary; from there I went to the Crystal Palace, where at 1 P. M. I found my audience waiting, and applauding my appearance. The music I gave them was excruciating to me, wherefore I always stuffed my ears with cotton, chiefly because such an instrument cannot possibly remain in perfect tune, as the pipes must necessarily become unequally heated, because those pipes, which happened to be used most, become the hottest, and are most affected. Therefore, in tuning an organ, the pipes should not be touched by the hands, as the slight amount of heat thus communicated is enough to affect their pitch. This shows how terribly a steam organ must always be out of tune; and this was the principal reason for stuffing my ears with cotton. The majority of people, however, I have found not to be so particular in this respect, and they are satisfied with anything which approximates a tune.

After playing some popular melodies and ending with the national airs, I took a hasty lunch, went to my home in Twenty-fifth street, and visited my patients in the afternoon.

In the evening at 8 o’clock I was again at my calliope rendezvous, where I suggested a joke to the orchestra, which consisted in aiding me to give a strong accent to one note in a then very popular song – "Pop Goes the Weasel" -- in which the required strong accent came on the word "pop."

I requested the whole orchestra for their aid in accentuating the "pop," and they responded joyfully to my suggestion. While I was playing the tune on the calliope, they made ready for the accented note, and, like good musicians, exactly at the right time, the trumpets, the trombone, the big and small drums, and all the other instruments, gave that note so forcibly that it made many persons jump. It always resulted in vociferous applause.

After a few evenings I attempted a joke on the audience; I stopped at the "pop," as if it were the last note of the song; but this gave rise to great dissatisfaction, and when I tried to slip away from the platform, I was collared by two young men who brought me back to my seat and compelled me to play the last notes, as they said they could not stand it not to hear the correct end of the piece -- that it would rob them of their sleep, etc.

I had sometimes to hasten from my professional calls to rush to the exhibition, play a few tunes, and go back to my patients, and was always back in time.

(To be Continued.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Train Station #15 -- October 5, 2009

Northspur is a rustic station at about the mid-point of the California Western Railroad. Half-day trains from Fort Bragg turn back there.

It was very cold this morning when I was waiting for the bus at the beach.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Firehouse #24 -- October 3, 2009

The old firehouse at Third Street and Mission Rock has been used to store toys for the firefighters' toy program. The fire department would like to build a new station on the same parcel and the police would like to build a new headquarters.

I took the photo on 24-August-2009.

We gave blood today then went to Hillsdale and found that Macy's Holiday Lane Christmas store is already open. Too soon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Aviator George Mestach Sitting in a Plane in Grant Park -- October 2, 2009

Belgian aviator George Mestach sits in his Morane-Borel monoplane during the 1911 or 1912 International Aviation Meet in Chicago's Grant Park. I think he has an inner tube wrapped around himself to serve as a flotation device in case he comes down in the lake. I like his expression. He died in 1920.

The photo comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site ( DN-0057562, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Goodbye Aurilia -- October 1, 2009

Today at work they treated us to the Giants' last home game. It was very warm and sunny. The Giants won 7-3. Lincecum pitched seven shutout innings. Randy Johnson pitched the ninth, in what may be his last appearance for the Giants. It was Rich Aurilia's last home game, and perhaps his last game as a Giant. Each time he came to the plate, he got nice applause. Boche let him go out to first base at the start of the ninth, then took him out. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. He has had a good career, especially for the Giants.

I took the photo today of Rich Aurilia's last at-bat.

The Giants are giving both Boche and Brian Sabean new contracts. I think they have earned them.