Category Archives: Did you know?

Where I would stay if I came to San Diego

Did you know?

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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Yahooooooooo! WordAds approval came through today!

Did you know?

Yahoooooooooo!

My Russel Ray Photos blog got approved for WordAds today!

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting someone’s blog and the latest blog post there was about how much money that blogger was getting from having advertisements on the blog. The money was much more than I would have thought possible. I looked into monetizing my blog since I have 5,459 followers and almost 260,000 views. Over at WordPress.com, I discovered information about, and a link to, WordAds. It’s the official advertising partner for WordPress. However, you have to apply and, if they like your blog, they will approve you. I applied a couple of weeks ago and got approved today, so that’s why you’re seeing ads on my blog today.

Any income from WordAds will go towards supporting my Photographic Art venture which means, of course, a salary for the awesome Julian. Here he is on his first day back at work after being in Texas for three weeks:

Julian back at work

I’ll keep everyone informed about what kind of income this brings in and then you can make a decision about WordAds for your own blog! Meanwhile………

Yahoooooooooo!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Featuring the Rock Ants Lonely Hearts Club Band

Did you know?

Remember when I went out to those fabulous gardens called Bird Song? Here’s the post: Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance

Remember the rock ants? Looked like this:

Bird Song rock ants

Bird Song rock ants

Remember the other garden sculptures? Like this lizard and scorpion:

Bird Song lizard

Bird Song scorpion

All made with rocks!

Well, when I was at the San Diego County Fair, which ended this past Sunday,

(the online attendance counter has been removed, but I took a screen shot of it before they removed it! 1,457,130 people attended, making it the second highest attended Fair ever!)

I was traipsing through the many gardens when I caught sight of this:

Rock Ants

I hurried over to see if Rock Ants were what I thought they might be. Indeed they were! They have rock scorpions, rock lizards, rock peacocks, rock ants, rock cats, and more!

Here is the Rock Ants Lonely Hearts Club Band playing, I’m sure, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles since we were at The Fab Fair honoring The Fab Four’s 50th anniversary of their first visit to the United States:

 The Rock Ant Band

Here’s a rock cat:

Rock Cat

If you want some interesting and unique ornaments for your garden—or anywhere else!—consider rock art by Rock Ants! Tell them Russel Ray sent you their way. Maybe they’ll give me a free Rock Band if enough people buy from them via me! Hint, hint.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Halls of History—Billions and billions served

Halls of History

When I started college at Texas A&M University in September 1973, I lived in Moore Hall, a dormitory just feet from a McDonald’s restaurant at Northgate. It became my go-to dining experience if I missed eating in Sbisa Hall, and for late evening, midnight, and after-midnight snacks.

Texas A&M UniversityWhen I moved off campus for my sophomore year, it was more of an effort to get to McDonald’s at Northgate, several miles away. Fortunately, there was another McDonald’s a half mile from me on Harvey Road. Since it was on the way to campus, it became my daily dining experience for the final three years of my undergraduate experience.

I lived in Houston from May 1977 to April 1983 and never did find a McDonald’s to call my own.

When I moved back to College Station in April 1983, McDonald’s on Harvey Road again became my go-to eatery…. for ten years!

When I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993, I immediately looked for a McDonald’s. Amazingly, there was one in Hillcrest right behind the Center for Social Services, which is where I “came out,” and where my life was centered for the next eleven months.

Recently, I discovered that the McDonald’s at 1414 University Avenue in Hillcrest was built in 1977 but is an original McDonald’s location from the 1960s. Here it is:

McDonald's in Hillcrest, San Diego, California

My discovery came about because two of the three original locations remaining in San Diego County were in the news.

One is at 1146 East Valley Parkway in Escondido, about 30 miles northeast of Hillcrest, and the building was recent demolished and rebuilt, now looking like this:

McDonald's in Escondido, California

That restaurant was not yet open when I went by on June 6. It should be open now.

The third oldest location, at 137 Canyon Drive in Oceanside, about 30 miles due north of Hillcrest,  is the one that was making the biggest headlines here. It looked like this on June 6:

McDonald's in Oceanside, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Along with it being an original location dating from the 1960s, it also has one of the few remaining signs stating how many billions of burgers had been sold:

Mcdonald's in Oceanside, California

If you look at your local McDonald’s, it probably says something like “BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SOLD.” The sign at the Hillcrest location says “BILLIONS SOLD.”

McDonald’s pre-corporation history started when Richard and “Mac” McDonald opened a barbecue restaurant at 1398 North E Street in San Bernardino, California, on May 15, 1940. The San Bernardino location is now an unofficial McDonald’s museum owned by the Juan Pollo restaurant chain (not related to El Pollo Loco).

McDonald’s as a corporation was founded on April 15, 1955, when Ray Kroc opened the ninth McDonald’s restaurant after, according to one source, having purchased McDonald’s equity and assets from Richard and Maurice. The real story of Kroc’s purchase might never be known because there is a lot of disagreement about how it came about.

Ray Kroc’s aggressive business practices were the subject of the song “Boom, Like That,” released in 2004 by Mark Knopfler, formerly the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for Dire Straits.

Ray Kroc, who had joined McDonald’s as a franchise agent in 1955, lived much of his life, and died, right here in San Diego. He owned the San Diego Padres professional baseball team from 1974 until his death in 1984.

Just a mile down the road from me is The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, which has one of San Diego County’s year-round ice skating rinks. Regretfully, the Salvation Army is quite homophobic so I have not been by to visit the facility and, thus, have no pictures of it. And you won’t find a link from my blog to their web site; you’ll have to find it on your own if you’re interested.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Yahoooooooooooooo! It’s World Turtle Day!

Did you know?

Another World Turtle Day is here!

Started in 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue, celebrations occur worldwide with people dressing up as turtles or wearing “turtle green” clothes, arts & crafts projects, research activities, turtle lesson plans in classrooms….

Did you know that if you find a turtle crossing a road and decide to help it so it doesn’t get hit by a car, you should point it in the same direction it was traveling, so take it to the side of the road that it was traveling to and point it away from the road. If you take it to the side of the road from which it came, even if you point it away from the road, it will turn around and start to cross the road again.

And for your World Turtle Day enjoyment:

Turtle Crossing

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Turtles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Turtles

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Turtles

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Turtles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Turtle in the wild

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Turtles at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Alligator snapping turtle at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Alligator snapping turtle at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sea turtle at SeaWorld San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sea turtle at SeaWorld San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray PhotosGalapagos tortoises at San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Monarch—Caterpillar to butterfly (WARNING: graphic content)

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love it when it brings new knowledge into my little head, like the Internet and new genome techniques. I hate it when it tries to control my life, like cell phones and cable television.

Yesterday at dawn, I went to Balboa Park to get some “golden hour” pictures for my San Diego Historical Landmark El Prado series.

At the two entrances to the Botanical Building are two large bushes. They always look rather scraggly, like this from yesterday:

Scraggly bush at the entrance to the Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

They look like overgrown weeds, so adults tend to pass right by them. Children (my friends say that I’m a 10-year-old child trapped in a
59-year-old body) notice very quickly that these bushes are unique. Throughout the year one can find these little critters all over the two bushes:

Monarch caterpillar

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Do you recognize that little one? Sure, it’s a caterpillar, but more importantly it’s the late stage (called an instar) of a monarch caterpillar. That little one is so big that it probably started pupating the moment I got my picture and left.

Here is a picture of one that is just beginning to pupate:

Pupating Monarch butterfly

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you see a caterpillar hanging upside down and curling up like that, take a look 24 hours later and you’ll probably see a chrysalis, also called a pupa. Looks like this:

Chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Keep an eye on that chrysalis for the next two weeks and you might be lucky to see a monarch butterfly emerge.

Monarch out of bounds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

(If you’re interested in creating the “out of bounds” effect like above, see my post here: http://russelrayphotos2.com/2013/10/22/how-to-create-the-out-of-bounds-effect-in-photoshop/ .)

Most people know that the Monarch caterpillar feeds only on milkweeds but that plant in the red circle in the first picture does not look like any milkweed I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s not a milkweed. According to the little sign at the bottom of each bush is this:

Calotropis gigantea

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sure enough, that’s not a milkweed.

Ah, but not so fast, grasshopper!

See what it says in the bottom left corner? Asclepiadaceae. That’s the subfamily. That’s where modern genetics and genetic coding (genome) comes into play. Except in the rarest of cases, we didn’t use to have subfamilies. This plant would have been noted as being in the Apocynaceae family, also known as dogbanes. Ah-ha! Guess what other plants are in the dogbane family? That’s right, boys and girls! Milkweed! Milkweed and this crown plant also are in the same Asclepiadaceae subfamily. That means they are very closely related, according to the folks decoding those genomes. That explains why the monarch butterfly loves this plant!

Although it is a scraggly bush, along with the monarch caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies, the flowers are very beautiful, albeit small and well camouflaged with the leaves. Flowers look like this:

Calotropis gigantea flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Botanical Building, according to sources, is the most photographed building in San Diego, and when you’re casually traipsing through Balboa Park, you can’t possibly miss it. Looks like this:

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, in the second picture, you might have had problems (like I did!) determining which end of the caterpillar is the front end and which end is the back end. After looking at a goodly number of the caterpillars, I determined that the back end has shorter antennae. Of course, the back end also is the end that poops. Here is a caterpillar checking out its poop:

Monarch caterpillar and its poop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you don’t like using words like crap, poop, and the S word, frass is a term we use in the home inspection industry. Frass is an informal and loose definition usually used when referring to the poop of insects. Since it is a loose and informal definition, I give you permission to use it when referring to human poop, now also known as human frass.

As I was trying to find out which end was the front end, I came across an interesting 39-second video on YouTube that pretty much confirmed my thinking:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Must be nice to be able to eat and poop at the same time! And on that note:

THE END

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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WordPress problems resolved!

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 is fast, fast, fast, fast, fast.

As many of you know, I have been having WordPress problems since January 2, 2014. Many things:

  1. LIKE buttons were not loading on any blog whose URL ended with wordpress.com. Other blogs were fine. Just those ending with wordpress.com were problematic.
  2. Most of the time, not always though, I could not comment on blogs either. This problem affected all blogs, not just those whose URL ended with wordpress.com.
  3. My blog would not load correctly the first time. I would have to refresh or reload it in order to get it to work.
  4. My site stats would not load at all. Never.
  5. The gold star notification at the upper right would not work unless I clicked on the star twice.

SkyTower at SeaWorld San DiegoToday I had some extra time while preparing to go Dine With Shamu at SeaWorld. I could not access the WordPress Help Forums from anywhere on my blog like I could prior to January 2, 2014, so I went to Google, typed in wordpress help forums, and got to them that way.

I spent several hours reading through several hundred threads in the Help Forums before I finally found a clue about what might be happening. The clue was in a very long thread and was about the hundredth comment from someone outside of WordPress, someone like me who was having problems.

The clue was that the commenter was of the firm belief that WordPress was not compatible with Internet Explorer 10. I knew that I had upgraded from IE9 to IE10 but I didn’t know when. I pulled up my computer records and what do you know? I upgraded from IE9 to IE10 the night of January 1, 2014. Ah-ha!

I tried to downgrade from IE10 to IE9 but that apparently isn’t possible. All of the computers that I use daily are running IE10. I pulled out an old laptop computer that I don’t use anymore but which I knew had IE9 on it. Sure enough, I had no WordPress problems on the old computer using IE9.

I saw that IE11 was available, so since I couldn’t downgrade to IE9, I considered upgrading to IE11. I created a restore point on my Windows 7 computer so that if IE11 really caused problems, I could easily go back to IE10. Well, not only did IE11 load easily and quickly, but I have no more WordPress problems. LIKE buttons are loading, my stats page is showing up again, etc.

So there you have it! The problem wasn’t with my computer per sé but with a computer program that I needed in order to even get to my WordPress blog. The interesting thing is that apparently when Internet Explorer is your main browser, Firefox, Chrome, etc., don’t override everything in Internet Explorer. That explains why I was having the same problems in Firefox and Chrome.

I’m so happy! I can go blog camping again now, something that I really missed doing these past three months.

Lastly, not only is my Internet browsing so much faster than it was with IE10, but my whole computer seems to be much faster. Can’t explain it, but it is what it is.

And following a close-up of Shamu from this evening’s Dine With Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego. Jim and I were sitting about three feet from four Shamus, separated only by a piece of glass four feet tall.

Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego on March 29, 2014

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Happy National Puppy Day!

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

National Puppy DayDid you know today was National Puppy Day? It is usually held on March 23, but that would have been Sunday, and many animal shelters are closed on Sundays. So National Puppy Day is today but will be celebrated throughout the weekend by everyone who loves dogs and wants to see each and every one in a forever home providing unconditional love.

My top 15 ways to celebrate National Puppy Day:

  1. Adopt a puppy from your local shelter or pure breed rescue organization.
  2. Donate money, food and toys to your local shelter.
  3. Have a puppy party and invite all your friends and their puppies!
  4. Host a community event to raise money for your local animal shelter.
  5. Volunteer at your local shelter and offer to walk a puppy or play with a puppy, clean cages or anything else they need help with.
  6. Have a tee shirt made with your puppy’s photo on it.
  7. Two women and two dogs at the beachTake your puppy to the beach.
  8. Hire a pet photographer to capture your puppy’s fleeting moments.
  9. Microchip & I.D. Tag your puppy so the shelter can locate you if he gets lost.
  10. Teach your children and their friends to be kind to your puppy by never pulling on his ears or tail.
  11. Pledge to walk your puppy every day for proper health and behavior management.
  12. Take your puppy to an elderly community and spread some love.
  13. If you like your puppy to snuggle in bed with you, buy him some puppy steps to make it easy for him to join you.
  14. Pledge to never chain your puppy to a tree or doghouse. Always include your puppy in your family by letting it live inside the home with you.
  15. And last but not least, pledge to never yell at or hit your puppy, to be patient and kind, and give your puppy lots of love and praise every day.

Here are a few of my best dog pictures, all available for purchase at Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America. Use code FTNSD at checkout to get a 20% discount, good through April 14, 2014.

A Man and His DogA Man and His Dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Where’s He Going?Where's He Going?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Waiting PatientlyWaiting Patiently For His Return

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And a couple of other pictures, currently documentary pictures, which will eventually be available as Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Where To?Where To?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Finally! There’s the Beach!Imperial Beach Surf Dog Competition

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
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►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray