Category Archives: Did you know?

Exploring the past with Google Earth & Google Street View

Did you know?

I think it was the movie Logan’s Run where the camera pans the city and we see that McDonald’s has bought everything—McDonald’s Auto Dealership, McDonald’s Groceries, McDonald’s Drug Store, McDonald’s Gas Station, and, of course, a McDonald’s burger palace….

If I were to lay odds on something like that happening within the next fifty years, I would go 2 to 1 on Google, and 3 to 1 on Apple (Apple’s problems with the iPhone 6 might cause me to redo those odds….).

I didn’t jump on the Google bandwagon until 2008 when I started blogging. Previously, I was MapQuest instead of Google Maps, Yahoo! search instead of Google search….

Zoey the Cool CatTwo really cool Google programs that I discovered a couple of years ago when I started blogging at WordPress are Google Street View and Google Earth. Using both of those programs, from the comfort of my home with Zoey the Cool Cat resting comfortably on the printer, I was able to visit all the places I had ever lived. I didn’t remember all the addresses, but with Street View, I didn’t have to. I just had to remember what streets led where.

Here are the places where I lived for the first 18 years of life on Earth:

802 West Alice Avenue; Kingsville, Texas; 1955-1956
This was my maternal grandparents’ house and where we were living when I was born. Both of these grandparents were teachers, and I had my grandmother for English in ninth grade. One of the reasons I chose not to go to Texas A&I University in Kingsville was because, by that time, my grandmother was teaching required freshman English at A&I, and my granddad was teaching required physical education. After my experience in ninth grade, I was pretty determined never to have a relative as a teacher again….
802 West Alice Avenue, Kingsville Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

728 Santa Barbara Drive; Kingsville, Texas; 1956-1959
This was the first home I remember, although all I remember is that the birds used to fly into the windows (barely visible) under the roof eaves at the front right. I felt so sorry every time I found a dead bird. They did get a proper funeral from this little boy.
728 Santa Barbara Drive, Kingsville Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

302 Inwood Drive; Palestine Texas; 1960-1961
My dad got a promotion with Missouri Pacific Railroad, but it required us to move from Kingsville to Palestine. I remember that I used to love running up and down the front steps to the street.
This was the house we were living in when my dad killed himself because of my mom’s indiscretions. I spent 43 years looking for this house and finally found the address in 2012 on my dad’s death certificate, available online at ancestry.com. No one could (would) tell me the address because I had been lied to all my life about my dad’s death. I suppose they thought that if I found the address, I would find out the truth about my dad’s death.
302 Inwood Drive Palestine Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

185 S 100 W; Brigham City, Utah; 1961-1963
This was where we moved after my dad’s death. (This is the current address; I don’t know if it was the address when we lived there.) Mom’s family were Mormons living in northern Utah and southern Idaho.
This house was directly behind Food Town grocery store, which became Food King and is now named Smith’s Food King. Food Town/Food King is where my juvenile crime career started.
Mom turned to alcohol to deal with my dad’s death, which meant that we three children got neither love nor discipline, much less food. I stole lots of food from Food Town/Food King. Back in 1979, when I went to a family reunion in Utah, I went by and made restitution to the best of my recollection.
185 S 100 W Brigham City Utah

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626 S 600 W; Brigham City, Utah; 1963
After mom remarried, we moved into the house where my stepdad and his family had lived for several years. We stayed only a few months before moving to a new home that was big enough for two adults and seven children.
I don’t remember much about this home other than it used to have a big, beautiful tree out front where I used to sit and read—Charlotte’s Web, The Boxcar Children, The Secret Garden.
626 S 600 W, Brigham City Utah

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

301 Englewood Drive; Brigham City, Utah; 1963-1965
This is where we moved after mom remarried. My stepdad also was an alcoholic, so life wasn’t any better as far as love, discipline, and food went. My oldest stepsister and I were physically and verbally abused—endlessly—and I can’t say that I was unhappy to leave the family when my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965.
301 Englewood Drive, Brigham City Utah

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

420 West Alice Avenue; Kingsville, Texas; 1965-1973
Back to Kingsville, and just four blocks from where my family was living when I was born.
My wise old grandmotherThis was my wise old grandmother’s house. Granddad worked for Missouri Pacific Railroad several hundred miles away in Taylor, Texas. He came home every other weekend, so it was up to my wise old grandmother to give me love, discipline, and food, and turn me from my juvenile ways. I think she succeeded.
The house still has the storm shutters (hurricane country) which my granddad and I installed in 1968 after Hurricane Beulah blew Kingsville apart in September 1967.
I also planted the two oak trees in the front yard at the same time because Beulah destroyed our mesquite, ash, and hackberry trees. I chose oak because oak and palm trees were the only trees to survive Beulah, and I disliked palm trees (still do).
420 West Alice Avenue, Kingsville Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

All of the pictures are from Google Street View. You have to admit that they are decent pictures for historical purposes!

Google Earth is a free program and a lot of fun.

Google Street View is simply part of Google Maps, so when you go to Google Maps, after entering an address, simply click on the picture that shows up under the address; the picture has “Street View” in the lower left corner to help.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Plastic bags banned (mostly) in California effective 7-1-15

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation today that makes California the first state in the nation to ban plastic grocery bags. Interestingly, the news about the legislation says that it will prohibit “large stores” from using the sacks beginning in July 2015. I could find no definition of “large stores,” but the news article states, “The law applies to stores that sell groceries and pharmacies— think Safeway, Target, Walmart, Rite Aid— but not stores that don’t sell those items, like Macy’s.” Hmmm. I think Macy’s qualifies as a “large store.” I’m confused, but government often confuses me, so no big deal there.

Over 120 local California cities and counties currently ban plastic bags. I know the bags are dangerous to our wildlife, but so are the plastic rings that occupy the top of your six packs of canned beer and sodas…. and string…. and rubber bands…. and fishing line…. I don’t see anyone rushing to ban those. Oh, what a tangled web we weave….

Last night, Zoey the Cool Cat had an incident that frightened her, as well as Jim and me. I found a sack stuffed in a cupboard so I put it on the bed for Zoey the Cool Cat to enjoy:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Does she not look happy and satisfied, probably having pleasant dreams of finally catching the mourning doves outside our office window.

I mention the plastic bags because wildlife often get tangled up in them and die. Last night, Zoey the Cool Cat got tangled up in that sack. See the two handles? She got her head through one and couldn’t get out. She took off through the house, trying to get rid of the thing around her neck, frightened and howling. She finally got stuck in a corner where I was able to reach her and get the sack off her neck. It took about 30 minutes of me holding her and talking to her before she calmed down, though. Poor kitty….

I can only imagine what the wildlife outside goes through when they get their necks, feet, and wings caught up in plastic bags, plastic ring tops, fishing line, and string.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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It would be just my luck that absolutely nothing would happen

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I found out a few days ago that the historic Hotel del Coronado was sold in May.

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California

The selling price? A mere $512 million. The last time it had sold was about ten years ago for something like $384 million, making it the most expensive real estate in the United States of America based on sales price at that time. The new sales price keeps it there. Nothing else comes close. There are some properties that are insured for more than that, but when it comes to sales price, the Hotel del Coronado is in a league of its own.

Hotel del Coronado

Known locally as the Hotel Del, it is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre, the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States, and is both a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark.

The Hotel Del opened in 1888 and was the largest resort hotel in the world at that time. Throughout the years it has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities, as well as being featured in many books and movies. Arguably its most famous appearance was in “Some Like It Hot,” starring Marilyn Monroe. The dragon tree shown in the following picture is quite noticeable in the film:

Yucca which appeared in the movie Some Like It Hot

The Hotel Del also is one of America’s most haunted places, almost always showing up in various Top 10 Most Haunted lists. On November 24, 1892, Kate Morgan checked into Room 304, telling staff that she was waiting for her brother, a doctor, who was going to treat her stomach cancer. He never arrived, and three days later Kate was found dead on the steps leading to the beach. Her death was declared a suicide, the ruling being that she had shot herself.

Since that time, guests who have checked into the room (renumbered twice, first to 3318 and currently 3327) have reported flickering lights and floating objects.

Sadly, the hotel is too expensive for my budget. I would love to stay in that room, but it would be just my luck that absolutely nothing would happen.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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It’s a weather phenomenon, not a people one

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Texas A&M UniversityWhen I came to San Diego in April 1993, I heard talk about the “marine layer.” Since my dad was in the Air Force, and I graduated from Texas A&M University with its 2,500-member-strong Corps of Cadets, I thought “Marine” instead of “marine.”

The marine layer is a weather phenomenon, not a people one. It’s a thick layer of clouds that rolls in off the Pacific Ocean as the sun goes down, often staying until noon the next day, depending on when Mr. Sun wants to heat up the air to get rid of it.

Here are two pictures of the marine layer rolling in over SeaWorld:

A morning marine layer rolling in over SeaWorld San Diego

A morning marine layer rolling in over SeaWorld San Diego

When the marine layer gets really low, as it is in those two pictures, you’ll find that the air is damp and you can’t see more than several feet in front of you. In my home state of Texas, we called it fog.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Where I would stay if I came to San Diego

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I often get asked where the best place to stay is, and it all depends on what one wants to do. One doesn’t want to stay at a fine hotel that is sixty miles from the relatives that you’re supposed to be visiting…. well, maybe you do. That’s between you and your relatives……….LOL

Let’s say that I had to move away from San Diego back in 1993 and am planning on coming for Christmas vacation. I would stay at the Sheraton Harbor Island. Looks like this:

Sheraton Harbor Island as viewed from San Diego Bay

Sheraton Harbor Island as viewed from the airport

The Sheraton Harbor Island is across the street from San Diego International Airport. There are no bad rooms at the Sheraton Harbor Island, and most rooms, if not all of them, have a view of downtown San Diego, which looks something like this when the sun is setting:

Downtown San Diego as viewed from the Sheraton Harbor Island

Regardless of where you want to go, the Sheraton Harbor Island is centrally located to get you there quickly—San Diego Zoo, beaches, SeaWorld, Shelter Island, Cabrillo National Monument, Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town State Historical Park….

Remember that if you’re flying into San Diego, sit on the left side of the plane. The view of downtown San Diego as you’re landing is spectacularly awesome.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Not your average yacht

Out & About

If one hangs around down at the San Diego waterfront often enough, one is bound to see some interesting things and events. One thing that is always exciting to the masses is when one of the megayachts comes cruising through the harbor to dock at the megayacht dock near Seaport Village.

The Attessa IV often makes an appearance in the waters of San Diego. Looks like this:

Attessa IV in San Diego Bay, January 27, 2012

Attessa IV in San Diego Bay, January 27, 2012

It is one of the world’s great mega-yachts, measuring in at about 330 feet long. That’s thirty feet longer than a football field.

Attessa IV originally was built as the Evergreen in 1999, owned by Chang Yung-fa, chairman of the Evergreen Group of Taiwan. Dennis Washington, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, bought the yacht in 2007. He had it completely renovated into what Attessa IV.

If moseying around the waters doesn’t get you there fast enough on this megayacht, Attessa IV has its own helicopter and helipad:

Attessa IV's helicopter

The helicopter is quite sleek in appearance. Notice the rear rotor. That type of cover is used by the military for noise abatement on their helicopters, so this is a modern, quiet helicopter.

Read more about the Attessa IV, and see pictures of the interior, at Boat International. Read more about Dennis Washington at Wikipedia.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The Rose Canyon Fault in San Diego

Out & About

My wise old grandmother helped me start my very first company way back in 1966. It was a typing business. While my friends were out mowing lawns, pulling weeds, and washing cars, I was typing papers for students at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas.

Eventually I diversified my services so that, in addition to typing, I was proofing papers for spelling errors and poor grammar, and eventually even researching, writing, and typing term papers for those college students.

The first term paper I ever wrote was for a sophomore at Texas A&I. I was only 13, but I (he) got a B+ on that paper! I don’t know if that says something good about me or something bad about the standards of his English class at college.

Nonetheless, the paper was on earthquakes, and ever since then I have always been fascinated by earthquake.

I was at home in College Station, Texas, watching the 1989 World Series when the earthquake hit San Francisco.

Five years later, I was living in San Diego when the Northridge earthquake hit in Los Angeles, with the epicenter just a few hundred feet from where my oldest uncle and his family lived. Their kitchen was separated from the house by a few feet, and the house got red-flagged by the City as uninhabitable.

Although there are a lot of faults that run through the San Diego area, major earthquakes here are few and far between. Hmmmm. Maybe it’s time………

The last earthquake I felt here was the Easter 2010 earthquake in Brawley, Baja California, Mexico. That’s only sixty miles due east of me. It was magnitude 7.2, and virtually destroyed Mexicali and Calexico. The shaking here lasted for about 25 seconds, but no damage. Just a really frightened Zoey the Cool Cat.

Earthquake experts eventually expect a fairly good-sized earthquake to occur here in San Diego on the Rose Canyon Fault:

Southern California showing Rose Canyon Fault

According to those experts, the Rose Canyon Fault has the potential to unleash a 7.5 earthquake. Since the fault goes right underneath downtown San Diego, when it happens, I’m sure it will be “the big one” as far as San Diegans are concerned.

Most of the fault zones in San Diego are not visible on the surface, making them of little interest to someone like me. However, if you go to the Tecolote Recreation Center, you can see very good evidence of the Rose Canyon Fault, as well as a pretty cool sign explaining what you are looking at.

Location of rose canyon fault

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Rose Canyon Fault Zone

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Here is the “50 million year old Eocene sandstone of the Scripps Formation”:

Eocene sandstone of the Scripps Formation

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The houses are built right on top of that sandstone formation. As a home inspector, I suspect their foundation pillars probably go pretty deep.

Here is the “half-million year old Pleistocene conglomerate” :

Half-million year old Pleistocene conglomerate in Rose Canyon

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Pine trees seem to love the Pleistocene conglomerate.

Between the two formations is “a major strand of the Rose Canyon Fault” but you would never know it because it looks like this:

Rose Canyon Fault

Would you let your children play baseball there if you knew it was smack dab on top of what is considered San Diego’s most active and dangerous fault zone?

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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
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