Category Archives: Did you know?

My six favorite San Diego vista points

Out & About

The following are my six favorite places from which to view San Diego:

San Diego Sky Tours

San Diego Sky Tours takes you on a 20-minute flight over downtown San Diego, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers), Sports Arena (home of the Los Angeles Clippers when they were the San Diego Clippers), SeaWorld, Coronado Bridge, Hotel Del Coronado, beaches, San Diego River, and more! Take a ride in a biplane, a tour aircraft, or a helicopter. Nothing quite like it. Rates start at $124.

Remember, too, that if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the airplane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are coming in for the landing is not to be missed!

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Soledad

A very popular tourist vista because it’s just minutes north of downtown San Diego, and downtown La Jolla, one of the area’s best tourist venues, is on the north side.

Mount Soledad rises about 823 feet above the coastline. There is a huge cross and Veterans Memorial at the top. On a clear day you can see Tijuana, Los Angeles, and probably Tokyo!

View from Mount Soledad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Helix

The most popular vista point in East San Diego County. Mount Helix rises 1,365 feet above sea level. It’s about 14 miles inland but you can see the ocean on a clear day. There is am amphitheater and large cross at the top. Along with Easter Sunrise Service, there are usually theater presentations during the summer. Right now the only thing I see on the Mount Helix calendar are weddings and Power Yoga.

Mount Helix is my favorite place to see the sun rise.

Sunrise from the top of Mount Helix in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel

In downtown San Diego on the harbor front. Comprising two towers, the older one, at 497 feet tall, has a vista point bar at the top. Unfortunately, it is way too small and crowded all the time. Be sure to visit Seaport Village at the foot of the towers.

Downtown San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

California Tower

The California Tower is 198 feet tall and located in Balboa Park.  While it is not as tall as the other vistas, the views are spectacular.

After having been closed for eighty years, it opened again on January 1, 2015. If you go, and I highly recommend that you do, make reservations and buy tickets online. They sell out far in advance, and it’s not even Tourist Season yet!

You won’t go to the tippy top because it’s not safe yet, but you won’t be disappointed. Afterwards, enjoy the rest of Balboa Park, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Gian Panda Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


A trip to Coronado has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit while in San Diego. You will travel over the very beautiful Coronado Bridge on your way to see the Hotel del Coronado, one of the most famous hotels in the world; Frank Oz’s house where he wrote much of “The Wizard of Oz”; Coronado Beach, one of the best beaches  in the United States according to those who rank such things; and downtown San Diego from across the harbor. If your budget includes splurging at a restaurant, splurge at Peohe’s.

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

Downtown San Diego from Marriott Coronado Island Resort

Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Little Free Libraries in San Diego County

Out & About

Little Free Libraries are a community movement that offers free books housed in small containers to members of the local community. They are also referred to as community book exchanges, book trading posts, pop-up libraries, and Noox (Neighbourhood bOOk eXchange).

The Little Free Library phenomenon, according to Wikipedia, started in 2009 in Hudson, Wisconsin.

“Todd Bol mounted a wooden container designed to look like a school house on a post on his lawn as a tribute to his mother, who was a book lover and school teacher.”

Recently I found a Little Free Library at Chollas Lake, but it also has nice chairs to sit in!

Little Free Library

Little Free Library

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Quoting Wikipedia again:

Little Free Library owners can create their own library box, usually about the size of a doll house, or purchase one from the [Little Free Library website]. Libraries may be registered for a fee and assigned a number at the organization’s website. Libraries can be found through their GPS coordinates. Owners receive a sign that reads “Little Free Library”. They often have the phrase, “Take a Book. Leave a Book.”

As of February 2013, all 50 states and 40 countries worldwide have been involved in the literary program.[6

The original goal was the creation of 2,150 Little Libraries, which would surpass the number of libraries founded by Andrew Carnegie. As of January 2014, there are over 15,000 Little Libraries worldwide, including all 50 states and 40 countries.

Here is a list of Little Free Libraries that I know of as of January 25, 2015:

2727 Southampton Road, Carlsbad
2357 Summerwind Place, Carlsbad
4190 Sunnyhill Drive, Carlsbad
2605 Unicornio Street, Carlsbad
911 Rutgers Avenue, Chula Vista
601 Crescent Drive, Chula Vista
200 Stratford Court, Del Mar
1902 Quidort Court, El Cajon
1332 Whitsett Drive, El Cajon
1650 Sunburst Drive, El Cajon
107 Woodshadow Lane, Encinitas
744 Quiet Hills Farm Road, Escondido
2356 Heather Point, Escondido
660 East Grand Avenue, Escondido
1263 Canter Road, Escondido
611 El Norte Hills Place, Escondido
1683 Calle Candela, La Jolla
Little Free Library4622 Grandview Terrace, La Mesa
10733 Itzamna Road, La Mesa
4424 Nabal Drive, La Mesa
4351 Parks Avenue, La Mesa
4630 Palm Avenue, La Mesa (picture ►)
10615 Snyder Road, La Mesa
317 Hoover Street, Oceanside
16285 Oak Creek Trail, Poway
13130 Woodmont Street, Poway
12133 Sage View Road, Poway
13423 Cricket Hill, Poway
3412 Quince St, San Diego
2611 Grandview St, San Diego
3343 Harbor View Drive, San Diego
2263 Pentuckett Avenue, San Diego
4963 Canterbury Drive, San Diego
1079 Cypress Avenue, San Diego
3314 Karok Avenue, San Diego
2153 Pine Street, San Diego
2731 Amulet Street, San Diego
12655 Pacato Circle South, San Diego
4523 Cather Avenue, San Diego
815 Avalon Court, San Diego
10444 Cheviot Court, San Diego
4567 East Talmadge Drive, San Diego
5854 Malvern Court, San Diego
3530 Cooper Street, San Diego
2341 Whitman Street, San Diego
4649 Biona Drive, San Diego
9505 East Harland Circle, Santee

If you have a Little Free Library, you can register it to make it official.

Little Free Library

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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My margarita pie recipe for National Pie Day on 1/23/15

Did you know?

This coming Friday, January 23, is National Pie Day!

My civic duty requires that I share my recipe for margarita pie:


4 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
½ cup thawed lemonade concentrate, undiluted
¼ cup tequila
2 tablespoons triple sec
1 6-ounce graham cracker crumb crust

Freeze a glass or metal bowl for 30 minutes.
Immediately add first 4 ingredients to bowl; stir well.
Return to freezer for 30 minutes.
Spoon partially frozen mixture into crust and cover.
Freeze for 4 hours.

Yields: 8 servings

Nutrition facts

Margarita pie caution

Margarita pie

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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If you fly into San Diego….

Did you know?

AirplaneI have only flown once since 9/11.

It’s not that I fear flying.

It’s because I really really really really really don’t like waiting, especially if I have to stand and wait.

Zoey the Cool Cat bookI always have a book or magazine with me so that I can read if I’m forced to wait anywhere.

In the case of flying, though, I’m not forced to fly and wait in those security screening lines, so I don’t fly.

If I can’t get there by bus, train, car, bike, or foot, I figure I really don’t need to go.

However, if you are flying into San Diego, especially during the holidays, be sure to sit on the left side of the plane so you’ll have the most spectacular views of downtown San Diego.

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Also remember to contact me because I often have free or discounted tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and SeaWorld if you’re interested in visiting those.

I also have some good resources after being here for 21 years so I can probably find you discounts on other attractions, too.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?

IBOexchange update

Did you know?

If you missed my first post (and all the great comments) about IBOexchange, go here: IBOexchange.

After 17 days of using IBOexchange, I wanted to provide an update. I am having fun with it, but fun doesn’t always make money. However, in this case, income flow has started.

First, most of the IBOexchange members are in “network marketing,” “online marketing,” and “MLM” (multi-level marketing). That’s okay, though, because I’m not interested in changing careers, only in making contacts. If the network/online/MLM folks are so rich, then they should be able to buy Photographic Art at some point. All I have to do is keep making contacts because the more contacts you make, the greater the possibility of someone buying your product or service.

Two of my sites are registered with IBOexchange: my blog here and my Facebook business page. I have my WordPress blog registered because I have WordAds here, and every visitor here makes an “ad impression” for which I get paid.

Thanksgiving squirrelI have been blogging since June 2008, and I have been able to determine that blogging/liking/commenting truly does adhere to the 80/20 rule in that if I like/comment on a blog, 80 percent of those people will be by within 30 days to like/comment on my blog. Not only that, but 80 percent of those people will leave an equal number of likes and comments. If I leave 10 likes/comments, 80 percent will be by my blog within 30 days and leave 10 likes/comments.

Continuation can often result in relationships.

I’m currently following 3,033 blogs, so if I could like/comment them all today, within 30 days I’d have 2,426 likes/comments. Now picture me camping out in just 10 blogs per day for 30 days and leaving 10 likes/comments per day. Within 30 days after I finish, I’ll have 2,400 likes/comments….

….which turn into ad impressions, which makes me money!

Have I noticed an uptick in daily visits? Yes, I have, to the tune of an extra 100 hits per day, and that’s with me doing very little this past week because I’ve been sick.

Now let’s look at my Facebook business page. Facebook has this notification system whereby you can invite all of your friends to like your business page. It worked extremely well until I reached 500 likes. Once I reached that level, though, it was extremely difficult to get new likes. Of course, I got daily messages from Facebook offering to promote my page to get more likes for just $25 per day. No….

Thanksgiving squirrelFacebook likes in and of themselves won’t pay the bills. Contacts will, and Facebook knows that, but what small business has $25 per day to pay them to promote the business without any guarantee whatsoever. No….

When I started IBOexchange on November 5, my Facebook business page had 558 likes. As of a few minutes ago, 17 days later, it has 777 likes. That’s an average of almost 13 likes per day. That’s significant, even better than what Facebook was providing initially.

More importantly, though, Facebook provides me with a list of the people who have liked my business page. That’s key, because those are prospective customers. Now all I have to do is continue to reach out to them. It’s marketing at its most basic level.

Thanksgiving squirrelI also try to let everyone know that I made it to their Facebook page/web site/YouTube/whatever by leaving a simple comment: “Found my way here via IBOexchange.” That does two things: It lets them know that I’m serious about relationships, and it tells them that IBOexchange works if they don’t already know that.”

I also have a Photographic Art blog, a blog that hasn’t been very active. Beginning this weekend, I will endeavor to correct that deficiency and make it my Photographic Art blog, as it should be.

A good general rule of thumb might be the 80/20 rule: 80% of my posts here will be photos, music, philately, Zoey the Cool Cat, my wise old grandmother, etc., while 20% will be about my Photographic Art venture.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!Over at my Photographic Art blog, 80% of my posts will be about my Photographic Art venture, and 20% will be about everything else in life.

So if you want the best of both, be sure to follow both. Here’s my Photographic Art blog: Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos. That is where I will be posting specials, new Photographic Art, and happiness when someone buys something. I probably will also move my “How I Did It” series from here over to there.

If you think you might be interested in IBOexchange for your business, click on the image below:


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Minimum standards and planned obsolescence

Did you know?

After I left Texas A&M University in May 1977, three hours short of graduation, I moved to Houston where one of my new friends worked at Texas Instruments. He worked their graveyard backup shift. In other words, he went to work at 10:00 p.m. every day, pushed a couple of buttons and rotated some knobs, and sat there for eight hours while the computers backed up all the data from the day. He found it a pretty boring but well-paying job.

One day, knowing my fanatical interest in all things Star Trek, he asked me if I wanted to go to work with him and play Star Trek on one of the TI mainframe computers. How could I refuse?

We played for eight hours straight, but it was the most uncomfortable eight hours I’ve ever put myself through. He worked in the room where the mainframe computers were, and that room was freezing! That was when I learned that computers put out a lot of heat, especially huge mainframe computers, and that the rooms were purposefully kept cold to help the computers do their work.

Heat is the #1 cause of computer and component failure…. 37 years ago and still today!

For the last 18 months I have been having significant problems with my graphics computer, the one with a 1TB hard drive, 8GB of memory, and quad core Intel processors. It’s actually a rather small computer, and it sits between my desk and the printer.

I thought the problem was with malware, viruses, and spyware. This past week, through Microsoft’s Assure program, I let one of their technicians take remote control of the computer. I sat and watched…. and learned!

He found all sorts of garbage programs that I had not found by using several anti-malware, anti-virus, and anti-spyware programs:

► MalwareBytes Anti-Malware
► Sophos Virus Removal Tool
► SpyHunter
► HitmanPro

I was amazed.

As he was finishing deleting the last of the garbage programs that HitmanPro had found, my computer spontaneously rebooted itself. Spontaneous rebooting was not my #1 problem, but it seemed that spontaneous rebooting always occurred when I was deep in the midst of creating Photographic Art in Photoshop, which was at least once a day….

In other words, making heavy use of the computer processors and the GPU….

Often it would not reboot and I would have to do graphics on my dedicated music computer.

According to the Microsoft guru, the computer was probably overheating and shutting itself down. That’s when he grabbed one more piece of software: SpeedFan.

SpeedFan is a cute little program that tells you all sorts of technical data about your computer and its components, including how fast the fans are turning and how hot everything is. It uses SMART to do that.

SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system for computers and components that detects and reports on various indicators of drive reliability, helping to anticipate hardware failure. Anticipating hardware failure allows you to replace components prior to a disaster happening, thus saving lots of time, money, and data. Manufacturers use recorded SMART data to discover where faults lie and prevent them from recurring in future drive designs.

SpeedFan provided a temperature readout of my computer and its components:

SpeedFan readout

Notice that the temperatures of various components range from 68°F to 147°F. The little graphics next to the components indicate if the temperature is on the cool side (blue down arrow), on the hot side (red up arrow), just right (green check), or burning up (fire). I had two components that were burning up.

My computer is sufficiently old (2009) that it doesn’t tell me what the components are, so my only choices were to (1) buy a new computer, (2) take the computer to a computer tech and let the tech figure out which components were overheating, (3) add some sort of cooling system to the computer, or (4) buy a new house with a dedicated computer room.

After researching the costs of various options, I decided on option #3. Option #1 would cost about $800 for a similar computer; #2 would cost a minimum of $250 and could get into the thousands of dollars; #3 could cost as little as $4.99 for a USB case fan or as much as $140 for a specialized computer cooling fan; and option #4 could cost several million dollars….

After three visits to Fry’s Electronics, I finally found a case fan that fits inside the computer and is powered by a USB port. Cost a whopping $11.95, tax included. It took all of ten minutes to install it.

Here’s the SpeedFan readout after using the computer all day for every processor-intensive task I could think of:

SpeedFan readout

No hot arrows, no fires.

One other thing I learned yesterday and today relates to my occupation as a home inspector. Structures are built according to various codes, but those codes are only a minimum standard. Like virtually everything in life, no one wants to do more than the minimum. Minimums often mean “the cheapest way.” Would you like to fly to the moon in a spacecraft built by the lowest bidder? Challenger…. Columbia….

I learned that computers are the same way. Manufacturers put just enough into the computer to ensure that it works for a year or so…. planned obsolescence. You can make your computer last a lot longer than the manufacturer’s plan if you’ll monitor its parts and take care of them.

Here’s an easy way to determine if your computer is overheating: touch it. Your body temperature is 98.6°F, so if your computer is warm (or hot!) to the touch, it’s hotter than 98.6°F.

Now all you have to do is determine if how hot it is, is okay.

You can do that easily with SpeedFan.

Go here.

SpeedFan will download and install itself once you give it permission to. After that, just click on the desktop icon and let SpeedFan do its thing and give you a report.

P.S. Don’t worry about me being three hours short of graduating from Texas A&M University. I completed those hours during the Fall Semester of 1978 and graduated in December 1978.

P.P.S. Since installing the fan and doing every processor-intensive task I could think of, my computer has chosen not to spontaneously reboot itself.

P.P.P.S. Makes you wonder about this all-powerful God creature and why s/he has planned obsolescence for the human body. Built to minimum standards?…………..

P.P.P.P.S. Now go back and read my post from yesterday. It’s here: If it’s on the Internet, it must be true. Now leave a comment and tell me whether this review of SpeedFan is an honest review or a paid review……….LOL

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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If it’s on the Internet, it must be true

Did you know?

When my wise old grandmother adopted me at the age of 11, one of the things that she instilled in me was the belief that humans are basically good.

She did that one day when I came home from grade school with a torn shirt and all bruised and bloody from my first encounter with the school bully.

Her 80/10/10 rule explained people:

“Ten percent of the people you meet will love you because that’s the kind of people they are. Ten percent of the people you meet will hate you because that’s the kind of people they are. Eighty percent of the people you meet will love or hate you depending on your actions and words, so be nice.”

“Basically good,” to me, also means “honest.”

Working on IBOexchange (see my post) led me to several micro job web sites. Micro jobs are easy online tasks that anyone can do from home and which pay, usually anywhere from 5¢ to $20. Five cent jobs are things such as liking someone on Facebook or YouTube. Twenty dollar jobs are usually more time-consuming, such as perusing a web site and writing a testimonial.

MoneyI have known since youth that money is the root of many problems, and watching Judge Judy confirmed that.

Of course, the $20 jobs piqued my curiosity so I checked out a few of them and just cannot convince myself to write a fake testimonial. Maybe if the pay was $200 instead of $20.

I now wonder if I can ever trust an online testimonial again. More importantly, I wonder if I will succumb to needing money so badly, or simply needing something to do, that I’m writing fake testimonials. I guess only time will tell.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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