Category Archives: Manmade

Railroads: New meets old

Railroads & Trains logo

When I was growing up under the tutelage of my wise old grandmother in Kingsville, Texas, I used to sneak out and go down to the railroad yards. I had to be careful sneaking out, obviously, but I also had to be careful at the railroad yards since that’s where my granddad worked as a Road Foreman of Engines for Missouri Pacific. Missouri Pacific LinesMy dad and his three brothers also worked for Missouri Pacific at various times, so they could have friends there who might recognize me. It was dangerous, and I’m not even talking about possibly getting smushed by a train!

Railroad classification yards have always fascinated me. When I moved to Houston in 1977, I quickly found Englewood Yard and Settegast Yard. Both are huge classification yards, both now operated by Union Pacific, but formerly used by Southern Pacific (Englewood) and Missouri Pacific (Settegast). Unfortunately, we don’t have much of a railroad yard here in San Diego, , and the one we do have is not accessible to rail fans without, say, a 1200mm camera lens.

Up in Los Angeles, however, they have several classification yards. I think the huge Hobart Yard is the biggest, but there also are several huge intermodal yards, which is where trains, big rigs, and ships come together. Truckers who don’t want to drive cross-country can move their truckloads by train. Containers from ships travel the same way. Huge cranes lift the trucks and containers on and off the rail cars.

Intermodal rail traffic (trucks and containers riding on trains) is heaviest in the nation going into and out of Los Angeles, most of it handled by the Union Pacific Railroad. When I was up in San Bernardino at Railroad Days on April 13, I got to watch some intermodal cranes in action at the BNSF San Bernardino Intermodal Yard from the top of a bridge that spanned the rail yard. Here’s how it works in a 1:50 video:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Of course, I took lots of pictures and videos of trains. Following is a video of a BNSF freight train rumbling past ATSF 3751, the 1927 steam engine that I went up to see. I had the pleasure of riding in the consist being pulled by ATSF 3751 from San Bernardino back to Union Station in Los Angeles that day, and for just $40!

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

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San Diego Historical Landmarks–#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next up on our west to east meandering on El Prado is a guy on a horse. Looks like this:

El Cid

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That, my friends, is El Cid, neé Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1043-1099), a Castilian nobleman born in Vivar del Cid and military leader in medieval Spain. He was raised in the court of the Spanish Emperor Ferdinand the Great. El Cid became famous for his military prowess and helped enlarge Castilian territory at the expense of the Muslims. El Cid remains an idealized figure in Spain, and has been immortalized in plays, film, folk tales, and songs, most notably “El Cid,” a 1961 film starring Charlton Heston.

So why do we have a larger-than-life statue of El Cid in San Diego’s Balboa Park? El Cid died almost 450 years before San Diego was founded by Juan Cabrillo.

Well, it turns out that there actually are three El Cid Campeador statues like this one, the other two being in San Francisco and Buenos Aires. The first El Cid Campeador statue was a 1927 bronze sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973), one of New York City’s most prominent sculptors. In 1932, she became the first woman artist elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

That first El Cid Campeador was installed in Seville, Spain, in 1927. The El Cid Campeador statue in Balboa Park was donated by Mrs. Huntington in 1930 through the Hispanic Society of America.

El Cid Campeador

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Hispanic Society of America was founded by Anna’s husband, Archer Huntington, in 1904 in New York City.

Okay, so we know famous people, Archer Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington, are connected to the El Cid Campeador statue here, but why?

Believe it or not, I couldn’t find the information on the Internet, so I turned to my library of, gasp, actual books. The book that finally gave me the answer was San Diego Trivia 2 by Evelyn Kooperman (San Dieguito Publishers, San Marcos CA, 1993, p. 534).

The siting of El Cid has him riding towards the San Diego Museum of Art, which will be our next stop on this San Diego Historical Landmarks tour. The San Diego Museum of Art was designed by William Templeton Johnson (1877-1957), a noted San Diego architect who designed many notable places in the San Diego area, including the La Jolla Public Library, La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Trust & Savings Bank, Junipero Serra Museum in Presidio Park, and the Francis Parker School where I occasionally teach chess!

Through the magic of cross-referencing, I discovered that Johnson was friends with Mr. and Mrs. Huntington. When that friendship started, though, is what I want to know. Did it begin in America, or did they meet in Seville in 1929?

Interestingly, El Cid Campeador was not the first statue donated to Balboa Park by Anna Huntington. Diana was donated in 1927 and Youth Taming the Wild in 1935. I do not recall ever seeing those two statues so my mission, and I choose to accept it, is to find them!

Huntington’s 1927 donation leads me to believe that the Huntingtons and Johnson met well before the 1929 Exposition in Spain. Alas, my work here is incomplete and my curiosity is piqued. Perhaps some research in the new San Diego Central Library or with the San Diego Historical Society, located in Balboa Park, will shed some light on this.

Stay tuned!

El Cid Campeador at sunset

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Music on Mondays (4-14-14) – Taking it easy

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since I will be a vendor at the Cat House on the Kings fundraiser the weekend of May 3, I pretty much decided that I won’t be going to Los Angeles for National Train Day (May 10) this year. I’ll miss it because ATSF 3751, a steam engine built in 1927, is always there since it is housed just a mile south of Union Station.

ATSF 3751 at Los Angeles at National Train Day in May 2012

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fortunately, ATSF 3751 always shows up a month earlier at San Bernardino Railroad Days. That’s where I went yesterday, taking the
San Diego Trolley from La Mesa to the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego,
then Amtrak from San Diego to the historic Union Station in Los Angeles,
then Metrolink from Los Angeles to the historic Santa Fe Depot in San Bernardino.

Santa Fe Depot, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Santa Fe Depot in San Bernardino, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I left the driving to them, which allowed me to take it easy. Ah that peaceful, easy feeling as the train left here yesterday morning. Sadly, none of the trains went by the Hotel California.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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San Diego Historical Landmarks: #1–El Prado Area Designation, part 7

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Continuing from west to east on El Prado, we’re about halfway finished with our El Prado Area Designation tour. Next up is the Mingei International Museum.

Mingei International Museum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mingei International Museum in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mingei International Museum was founded in 1978 by Martha Longenecker, a professor of art at San Diego State University. She had studied pottery-making in Japan and became acquainted with the founders and leaders of the Mingei Association of Japan, inspiring her to carry the vision of mingei to the America. According to Wikipedia, “The philosophical pillar of mingei is ‘hand-crafted art of ordinary people.’” Therein lies the goal of the Mingei International Museum, to collect, conserve, and exhibit arts of daily use, from unknown craftsmen of ancient times to present-day craftsmen.

Before you ever walk through the doors of the museum, the children want to stop and play on this:

Mingei International Museum in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That is a big alligator. It belongs to the Museum, and the Museum’s web site tells you not to leave Balboa Park “until you’ve climbed it, touched it, walked under it, and posed for a photo.”

The inaugural exhibition of Mingei International Museum was Dolls and Folk Toys of the World. Throughout the ensuring years, Mingei has shared hundreds of exhibitions featuring a wide range of cultures, themes, and media.

Two of my favorite exhibitions were the Bold Expressions exhibit in 2011, and the Maneki Neko exhibit in 2011-2012.

Bold Expressions was an exhibit of African American Quilts from the Collection of Corrine Riley, showcasing quilts from the American South made between 1910 and the 1970s:

Quilt from the American South

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Maneki Neko exhibit didn’t appeal to me initially when I saw it on the 2010 list of upcoming exhibitions. However, after I read about maneki neko, I realized that I had one! Yes! Maneki neko means “beckoning cat,” but I always thought they were waving cats.

Beckoning cats

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Beckoning cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Read more about maneki neko at Wikipedia.

Zoey the Cool Cat encouraged me to go see her Japanese cousins, so I did, of course.

The other cool thing about the Museum’s exhibit of maneki neko is that the collection was donated to the Museum by Billie Moffitt of Long Beach, California. True tennis fans recognize the name as none other than the great and incomparable Billie Jean King, winner of 39 Grand Slam tennis titles. Moffitt was her maiden name.

Current exhibitions:

  • Function and Fantasy (through May 26, 2014)—Steven and William Ladd are brothers working with beads, fabric, and boxes to express their shared memories of family life in Missouri.
  • Log Cabin Quilts (through July 3, 2014)—Features Log Cabin quilts from a collection of 350 quilts given to the Museum in 2012 by local collectors Pat and Tom Nickols. A Log Cabin quilt is formed in squares known as blocks, each with a central small square surrounded by bars or logs.
  • Huyler’s Pure Delicious Chocolate, 1874-1925 (through August 17, 2014)—Explores the 50-year advertising and marketing history of one of the nation’s earliest, largest, and most prominent chocolate manufacturers.

Mingei International Museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays and “most national holidays,” which, I guess, means to check their web site for closings.

Cost is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors age 62 and over, $5 for youth age 6-17, $5 for students with ID and military with ID. Members and children under age 6 get in free!

Also, on the third Tuesday of each month, free admission is given to all San Diego County residents, students at local colleges and universities (ID required), active duty military with ID, and, quoting from the web site, “part-time residents/vacation home owners (except time share owners).” Now how in the world do they determine that you’re a time share owner?

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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Friday Flower Fiesta (4-4-14)—Photographic Art postage stamps

Friday Flower fiesta

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A selection of photographs of flowers that I found showing off this past week. Fortunately, they were not bullying anyone, so I let them go to Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America and show off there, too.

1¢ Kangaroo Paw stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

2¢ Amaryllis postage stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

3¢ Aeonium stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

4¢ Bottlebrush stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

5¢ Calla stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

6¢ Clivia stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

7¢ Poinsettia stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yes, poinsettias are blooming in San Diego in early April. They bloom year-round here and grow into large, scraggly bushes, getting up to 15 feet tall.

Poinsettia 15' tall

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photographic Art stamp offer

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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.

Use code FTNSD to get a 20% discount through April 14, 2014.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

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,
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Since they are dead, they won’t mind

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Back in the 1960s when my wise old grandmother was helping me find my place in the world, she would often say, “Don’t re-invent the wheel.”

The first time she said that, she also had to explain it to me. After that first time, though, I was always looking for the wheel that someone else had invented. I never felt guilty about using someone else’s wheel when appropriate, legal, and ethical because, as my wise old grandmother told me, “There have been a few billion people on Earth before you. It’s highly likely that they invented something that you can use, and since they are dead, they won’t mind.”

Recently I found several wheels for Photoshop that someone else had invented and is selling for what I consider reasonable costs. Those wheels are called Actions, and the ones that I have fallen in love with are by PanosFX.com.

You might remember me mentioning them fairly recently when I tested their photo corner Action (see Ready? Set? Action!). I did wind up buying all of the Photoshop Actions that PanosFX.com offers.

Here are some of my favorites, demonstrated quite ably by Zoey the Cool Cat, of course.

FanZoey the Cool Cat fan

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

WristwatchZoey the Cool Cat wristwatch

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

WeaveZoey the Cool Cat weave

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BookZoey the Cool Cat book

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Light bulbZoey the Cool Cat light bulb

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Film stripZoey the Cool Cat film strip

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wanted posterZoey the Cool Cat wanted poster

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spiral-bound bookZoey the Cool Cat spiral bound book

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Magnifying glassZoey the Cool Cat under the magnifying glass

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And lastly for this post, a Zoey the Cool Cat cube which you can print, cut, and glue to get a real cube to set on your coffee table or bookshelf!

Zoey the Cool Cat cube

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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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!

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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

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,
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Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

A lesson in customer service

SeaWorld

Back at the beginning of March, SeaWorld sent me a gift, which was a free $39 Dine With Shamu meal. It could be redeemed only online. Unfortunately, online redemption has been giving me an error for the past two weeks when I have tried to redeem my gift.

Since the gift expires at the end of my birthday month, which is in just a few days, I printed out the error message and my birthday gift email and went to Guest Relations at SeaWorld.

First person couldn’t resolve the issue and called his supervisor over.

Supervisor couldn’t resolve the issue and called his supervisor over.

Supervisor II couldn’t resolve the issue but commented, “I think I now know why Dine With Shamu hasn’t been selling out.”

Supervisor II didn’t resolve the issue while I was there, but what he did do was practice customer service of the highest order. He simply made reservations for Saturday (that’s today!) at 6:00 p.m. for Jim and me, and then comped both tickets! So Jim and I are Dining With Shamu. Free! An $78 value!

Jim and I dined with Shamu two years ago, and it was awesome, not to mention that the food was far superior to what I was expecting for a theme park event. Following is a picture of Shamu from when we dined with him in May 2012, up close and personal:

Dining with Shamu at SeaWorld

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

P.S. I’m not impressed with the new picture editing functions that WordPress instituted a couple of days ago, and I’m still having problems when I visit the blogs of other people, those problems being most noticeable when I try to comment or LIKE blogs whose URL ends with wordpress.com. About half the time I cannot comment, and LIKE buttons never load, so I can never LIKE!

The WordPress crowd in their Forums ignore me. Thus, I’m pretty sure that when my WordPress.com upgrade expires, I won’t be renewing. I’ll be taking my money to my own server.

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.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

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

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

The Del Mar Castle near San Diego, California

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

One of the reasons why I think I can make my Photographic Art venture work is because I really like real estate, having spent more than 47 years in the real estate industry in various professions, including as a Realtor in Texas and as a home inspector now.

My husband, Jim, also happens to be in real estate; he’s a Realtor here in San Diego with HomeSmart Realty West.

Because of that real estate interest, I have a natural market. After all, people pretty much like the houses they live in, so if I can take pictures of their homes, create Photographic Art, and then let them know where they can buy that Photographic Art, it should be fairly easy.

Obviously, the extraordinarily wealthy not only have unique homes but also probably have more disposable income to buy my Photographic Art. Thus I have been creating a list and checking it twice of where to go to find the homes of the 1%.

One of our rich enclaves is the city of Del Mar, so recently I went up there to explore some of the hillside neighborhoods. That’s when I found the Del Mar Castle (click on the picture for a huger version):

Del Mar Castle in Del Mar, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The other thing that I can do to make my work unique is include some history on the back of the pictures. I’m endeavoring to find out more history about the Del Mar Castle, but as of right now I can tell you this:

  • Built in 1926 by renowned architect Richard Requa (see Wikipedia entry)
  • 7,304 square feet with 5 bedrooms, 6 full bathrooms, and 6 fireplaces
  • Had the first telephone in the City of Del Mar: Del Mar 1
  • Tony Robbins (Awaken the Giant Within; see Wikipedia entry) bought the castle for $1.5 million in 1987 and sold it in 1998 in a private sale, which means we don’t know how much he sold it for.
  • The house is high up on a hill, and the turret has a 360° view of the Pacific Ocean to the west, San Diego and Tijuana to the south, and the San Dieguito Lagoon and Del Mar Race Track and Fairgrounds to the east.

The view above looks west to the Pacific Ocean. From Interstate 5 on the east side, this is the view of the castle:

Del Mar Castle

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I get ready to make Photographic Art out of these pictures of the Castle, I’ll be replacing the gray overcast sky with a sunny blue sky with just a few clouds to add variety. Then I’ll upload them to my store front at Fine Art America and send a postcard to the owners (public records available to Realtors make that so easy!) to let them know where they can find some pictures of their home.

The original panorama above is a whopping 11,895 pixels wide x 3345 pixels tall, which means that Fine Art America can create high quality prints that are about 138 inches wide. That’s about 11½ feet! I can see the extraordinarily rich with an 11½-foot Photographic Art picture of their home hanging in the great room! Oh, yeah!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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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
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

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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