Do not throw things away! There is no away!

My wise old grandmother

My wise old grandmother was the champion of re-purposing. She regularly tell us not to throw something away before she had a chance to examine it. Her motto: “Do not throw things away! There is no away!”

Tin cans became holders for pins, needles, bobby pins, paper clips, buttons, spools of thread. Glass jars, too.

Anything that needed refrigeration came in Mason jars. Once those jars were empty, granddad would drill two holes in the lid, attach it to the underside of a shelf in the garage using two screws, and then screw the jar onto the lid. His jars contained nails, screws of every shape and size, washers and nuts to fit all those screws, bolts, wire….

Re-purposing didn’t end with the small stuff. One weekend granddad replaced the bathroom toilet and bathtub with modern ones. Both the toilet and the old claw-foot bathtub got re-purposed as outdoor container gardens.

Recently I was walking around an older San Diego neighborhood when I came across a re-purposed claw-foot bathtub, just like my wise old grandmother would have done it:

Re-purposed claw-foot bathtub

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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My 62nd Fourth of July….

Out & About

The move is going well, but that means my time at WordPress and visiting blogging buddies is suffering.

Have no fear, though, because once the move is over, I will be able to do more.

Meanwhile….

This is my 62nd Fourth of July, although I do not remember the first ten. Of the past 52, this is the first one of which I am not real proud of being from the United States. President Twitler is destroying the United States from within, and most people, and most countries, realize it. So for this Fourth of July, I’ll just say “Happy Holiday” and leave it at that.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Out & About

Escrow has closed and the move has started. We shall be completely in our new home on August 1, 2017. Meanwhile….

I’m still cataloging pictures on my fine fine fine new super computer, and probably will be for many more months, perhaps even years. That’s how many pictures I have. In an effort to get caught up on cataloging my newer pictures, here is a collection of pictures from the Ramona Grasslands.

Baby and, presumably, mama ground squirrel
Mama and baby squirrel, Ramona Grasslands

Hippity-hopping Peter Cottontail
Hippity-hopping Peter Cottontail, Ramona Grasslands

Mourning Dove
I know many people consider mourning doves
to be up there with pigeons as pest birds but I like both.
Mourning dove, Ramona Grasslands

Unknown flower buds
Unknown flower buds, Ramona Grasslands

Magnificent home overlooking the grasslands
Magnificent home overlooking the Ramona Grasslands

Patch of unknown purple flowers
Patch of unknown purple flowers, Ramona Grasslands

Unknown bird
Unknown bird, Ramona Grasslands

Unknown flower
Unknown flower, Ramona Grasslands

Immature (probably Anna’s) hummingbird
Immature hummingbird, Ramona Grasslands

Public art
Public art, Ramona Grasslands

More unknown, but beautiful, flowers
Unknown purple flowers, Ramona Grasslands

Airplane taking off from nearby Ramona airport
Airplane taking off from Ramona airport near Ramona Grasslands

Relaxing tree and pond
Relaxing pond and tree, Ramona Grasslands

Patch of thistle
Such a beautiful flower, but like roses,
oh can those thorns cause pain!
Patch of thistle, Ramona Grasslands

Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA
Rramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Ground squirrel sentry
Ground squire sentry, Ramona Grasslands

Brahma
One of the best ways to maintain the health of an ecosystem
is to let Mother & Father Nature use it as they see fit.
The Brahma was the mascot of my high school,
Henrietta M. King High in Kingsville, Texas,
so I was pleasantly surprised to find a herd of Brahma
grazing and resting on the Ramona Grasslands Preserve.
Brahma, Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Abandoned cattle chute
Abandoned cattle chute, Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Unknown raptor
Unknown raptor, Ramona Grasslands

A different unknown raptor
Unknown raptor, Ramona Grasslands

Bird unable to read
No parking, Ramona Grasslands

Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA
Rramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA
Rramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

The Ramona Grasslands Preserve consists of 3,521 acres in the Santa Maria Valley and includes a significant portion of the remaining undeveloped are of the Santa Maria Creek watershed. The watershed supports a mosaic of habitat types, including native and non-native grasslands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodlands, Santa Maria Creek, its adjacent riparian area, and a diversity of unique vernal pools, vernal swales, and alkali playas.

Many rare animals make their homes in the grasslands, including Stephens’ kangaroo rat (oh how I want to get a picture of one of them!), fairy shrimp, purple stipa, blue-eyed grass, and woolly blue curls. There is a huge concentration of raptors in the area, no doubt because of all the small critters available for a raptor family reunion picnic.

There is a four-mile loop trail which is where all my pictures were taken, and I can highly recommend taking a leisurely stroll on the loop. Invariably, you’ll meet other walkers, bikers, and joggers.

Part of the mission for the Preserve is to provide passive recreation opportunities within the Preserve that further the development of the Coast to Crest Trail.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Maybe I can buy a wheel spoke instead of a brick

Out & About

When I arrived in San Diego in April 1993, I passed a huge military installation, the Naval Training Center (NTC), on my way to the beaches each day. The NTC was founded in 1923 and eventually grew from an initial 200 acres to 550 acres. The 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission put NTC on the to-be-closed list, and that is exactly what happened, although it took until 1997 to get everyone out of there.

NTC now is the site of Liberty Station, a very cool mixed-use community—homes, businesses, a high school, many arts organizations, restaurants, a 9-hole golf course, grocery stores, parks, the historic North Chapel….

Many of the old buildings have been retrofitted for earthquakes and re-purposed. When I was visiting a couple of the waterfront parks a few days ago, I discovered Building 191, perhaps the only building that still exists but which has not been re-purposed yet. Looks like this:

Building 191, Naval Training Center San Diego

Building 191, Naval Training Center San Diego

Building 191, Naval Training Center San Diego

Building 191, Naval Training Center San Diego

Building 191, measuring 20’x80′, was built in 1942 as a maintenance building according to some sources or as a recreation building according to other sources. I’m going to go with a recreation building; it just seems way too big to be a maintenance building.

The area where Building 191 sits was planned to be a 46-acre park. However, the flight path for San Diego International Airport is directly over Building 191, so the Runway Protection Zone use and restrictions prevent it from being converted to any use which would result in large numbers of people using it. Thus the City of San Diego was going to use it for storage and not as a building that would have public access; so maybe it was a maintenance building after all………

Building 191 also was found to have asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and lead-based paint present. Before transferring Building 191 to the City, the Navy abated the building so that it did not contain friable, accessible, or damaged ACM. Those of us in real estate with ACM experience know that “abatement” could have several meanings other than removal, usually encapsulation. Encapsulation could include painting; it would be quite ironic if the Navy’s abatement included encapsulation painting with lead-based paint even though there currently are no requirements for the
abatement of lead-based paint. In any event, any rehabilitation to Building 191 would have to have an asbestos survey completed to determine locations and condition of any remaining ACM.

In researching Building 191, I found a document March 1, 2017, about the San Diego County Bike Coalition (SDCBC) desiring to acquire Building 191 and creating a new bicycling center for Liberty Station. SDCBC, a non-profit, is interested in the building because it straddles a major spur on the San Diego bike path system and could connect Harbor Drive with the Bayshore Parkway, providing a save means for cyclists to get to downtown and points farther south.

According to an SDCBC spokesperson, Building 191 is an old maintenance shed that the City wants to demolish because it doesn’t have the funds to do all that is required to re-purpose it. SDCBC’s vision includes adding porticos and decks around the outside to help make the building usable without moving interior hallways. Building 191 could be a meeting place for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and other cycling organizations, both for profit and not for profit. Even a cycling museum about the history of cycling is in the vision.

Historic bicycle

Well, when they start fundraising, I think I’ll contribute. Most fundraising enterprises in which I have participated allowed me to buy a brick. Maybe I can buy a wheel spoke instead of a brick this time….

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

How I Did It—There’s no such thing as a throwaway picture

How I Did It

My wise old grandmother took a lot of pictures and never threw any away. If a picture overall was bad, she’d look for the good parts, cut them out, and put them in her scrapbooks.

I learned from her, and even in the digital world, I don’t delete photos. Instead, I take bad photos to Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, Photo-Paint, Dynamic Auto-Painter, and many others to see what I can do with them.

Following is one that most photographers would call a throwaway. It had so many things wrong with it. Here it makes a nice sunset silhouette with those surfers in the lower right trying to get away from that nuclear explosion in the upper left. I have included the original for comparison purposes.

OriginalOriginal bad sunset picture

Altered
Altered sunset picture

At first glance, I thought I’d simply put a different sun in there because I really wanted to save the silhouette and the surfers. However, replacing parts of pictures isn’t a walk in the park, so I always try the Photoshop slider controls first.

The first thing I always do to pictures in Photoshop is take the Highlights slider all the way down to -100. That always allows for more beautiful clouds, and in this case, it took out much of the overexposed sun.

Then I took the Shadows slider all the way down to -100. That got rid of 95% of the red lens flare. That red lens flare was bouncing around the whole inside of the camera which is what gave the whole picture that reddish tint.

Next, I took the Blacks slider down to -60. That got rid of the rest of the lens flare.

Lastly, I took the Clarity slider all the way to +100. That allowed for the water directly behind the surfers, in the little cover, to come out of the shadows.

A lot easier than I thought it was going to be, and it created a nice picture.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

My wise old grandmother always said, “It’s good to be familiar with things.”

Did you know?

Many decades ago I was a champion typist in the State of Texas, on both manual and electric typewriters. I had taught myself to type using a Gregg Typing book that I checked out from the Kingsville Public Library….

Gregg Typing manual

….and an 1896 Underwood typewriter that my granddad brought home from the Missouri Pacific Railroad shops that were closing.

Underwood typewriter

By the end of May 1966, I was typing 70 words per minute (WPM) on that Underwood. My goal had been 60 WPM because my wise old grandmother told me that 60 was what the best business typists were able to do.

I enjoyed typing so much that my wise old grandmother helped me set up my very first business for the Summer 1966, a typing business catering to students at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University—Kingsville). While my friends were out in the hot South Texas sun washing cars, pulling weeds, and mowing lawns, I was inside typing papers and make a lot more money than they were.

My little typing business made so much money from 1966 to 1973 when I graduated high school that I started collecting music, starting with The Beatles and The Who. By the time I went off to college, I had over one hundred albums and a couple hundred 45’s (smile and nod your head if you know what a 45 is).

When I got to tenth grade—high school in Kingsville; ninth grade still was in junior high—I signed up immediately for typing class in summer school because it was a required course and I wanted to get it out of the way since I already knew how to type.

I got to class and was immediately taken aside by the teacher, Miss Short, because of my last name. Turns out that the reputation of my dad and his three brothers preceded me, and she warned me against following in my family’s footsteps in her class. She wasn’t going to put up with me.

Our class had 30 students and 30 manual typewriters. However, the school had just received a brand new IBM Selectric, and Miss Short warned us against even touching that typewriter. Typing class during the summer was 3 hours long on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a 15-minute break halfway through. I sat there for the first 90 minutes bored as hell—

aaaa ssss dddd ffff
jjjj kkkk llll ;;;;

Bored, bored, bored.

During the break, I went over to the IBM Selectric, turned it on, put some paper in the roller, and started typing the lyrics to my favorite Beatles songs. Miss Short, who was out in the hall, heard the electric typewriter noise and thought that someone was simply holding down the keys and screwing with her priceless typewriter. When she saw what I had done, she admonished me and told me to stay after class. I figured I was getting kicked out of class.

Just the opposite. She admonished me again for touching the typewriter but then asked me if I wanted to do personal typing for her instead of sitting in typing class. Uh, okay….. Sure. Got an A+ in typing, my first A+ in high school.

For Christmas 1971, my wise old grandmother bought me a Smith Corona Coronet Electric typewriter.

Smith Corona Coronet electric typewriter

I was the happiest 17-year-old on Earth, or at least in Kingsville, Texas. I used that typewriter through Christmas 1974 but still had it and the Underwood through April 1993.

In 1976, on an IBM Selectric II, I typed 306 WPM over a 5-minute typing test with 6 errors. It was a very unofficial test, timed by a group of friends in the Student Programs Office of the Texas A&M Memorial Student Center. I never told anyone until now that I cheated; I had my own IBM Selectric II which I had bought myself for Christmas 1974, so I was extraordinarily familiar with it. My wise old grandmother always said, “It’s good to be familiar with things….”

I got my start in computers in June 1978 when I bought an Apple computer. I replaced the computer in May 1983, switching to IBM computers and keyboards. I have never looked back at my decision there, and I’m still an IBM/PC/Windows devotee.

For the longest time I had an IBM keyboard because of the tactile feel and audible click of the keys. It was the most comfortable keyboard to type on. Then mass-produced keyboards for home computers hit the mainstream and IBM eventually followed suit with the crappy computer keyboards. I eventually succumbed to carpal tunnel syndrome, now called repetitive stress injury. Pianists, organists, and fast typists particularly are subject to it.

In April 2003, I resorted to voice recognition using Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS). Although I liked it, I enjoy listening to music when I work, and the music interfered with DNS. Thus, I went back to keyboard typing, but my typing speed continued to decrease and the number of errors increased. I was lost and depressed. Getting old sucks. JMHO.

Fast forward to May 2017. I had my business partner, one Joey Thaidigsman, a sophomore computer science major at the University of California at Berkeley (and with a 3.96 GPA!), build me a fine fine fine new super computer (named The Beast) to handle all my video and photo editing needs, leaving my old computer relegated to being 100% a music computer.

Once The Beast was up and running, I added a Sound Blaster X Katana sound bar to my music system and hooked it up to both computers so that I could also listen to music on The Beast. Once that was done, I decided I wanted a new keyboard. I was going to buy the best keyboard I could find.

That’s when I discovered gaming keyboards. IBM might have quit making their fine fine fine keyboards but that didn’t mean that the IBM feel and clickyness was gone forever. These gaming keyboards are also called mechanical keyboards because they have mechanical key switches rather than the rubber dome keys of mass-produced cheap keyboards.

I went to Fry’s Electronics and bought the most expensive mechanical keyboard they carried, a Razer Blackwidow Chroma. It didn’t work. After four hours with Razer tech support, it still didn’t work. They told me to return the keyboard as defective. However, they wanted me to return it directly to them and spent another 15 minutes getting me a Return Merchandise Authorization number. Unfortunately, the number woould be emailed to me within 24-48 hours. Huh? Email it to me NOW!

I disconnected, repacked the Razer, and took it back to Fry’s. Since Razer had lost me as a customer at that point, I chose the most expensive Corsair they carried. Took it home and couldn’t get the cool keyboard colors to work. Logged on to their web site, downloaded the most recent firmware, and the keyboard colors went crazy. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. After five minutes, I was dizzy and nauseated, and had accomplished absolutely nothing. I repacked the Corsair and took it back.

At this point I decided to look at non-gaming mechanical keyboards, of which the selection is about 10% of those available for gaming. I even got into trouble at Fry’s for opening every keyboard box in the mechanical non-gaming section and trying them out. After all my testing in the store, I came home with an Azio MK-Retro keyboard, a “typewriter inspired mechanical keyboard.” Looks just like that 1896 Underwood typewriter:

MK-Retro typewriter-inspired mechanical keyboard by Azio

The keys are not backlit like the gaming keyboards, and they are round, which might cause problems for people who grew up with the square-key computer keyboards. It has no extras, like macro programming, or gaming key programing, or USB ports, headphone jacks, etc. It’s just a quality mechanical keyboard.

The whole purpose of this typing dissertation, though, is to tell you something that has amazed me. My typing speed has increased and my typing errors are down. I think it has something to do with the tacticle feel and the audible clicks of the keys, letting you know exactly when you have pushed a key and created a corresponding graphic on the screen. It’s really cool.

So if you’re a touch typist, especially an elderly experienced touch typist like me, but you have noticed over the years that your speed has decreased and your errors have increased, I can highly recommend a mechanical keyboard. Especially if typing is a significant part of your livelihood as it is mine.

For price comparison, the cheap plastic/rubber keyboards were as low as $6.99 and as high as $39.99 at Fry’s. The non-gaming mechanical keyboards started at $49.99 and went as high as $129.99. The gaming mechanical keyboards started around $99.99 and went as high as $229.99.

Here’s my workplace now. Ignore the cat food. It’s not mine. Seriously, I don’t eat cat food….

Russel Ray's work place

The little queen, though…. well, my desk is her favorite place to eat, and if there’s no food when she jumps up on the desk, she’ll plop her butt in front of the computer monitor and sit there looking all abused and neglected, demanding to know why I don’t love her anymore….

Zoey the Cool Cat

My next purchase: A new desk. Jim and I just closed escrow on a new home, so we’ll be moving during the next 30 days, and this old desk will go straight to the trash with a new desk being delivered to the new digs.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Picture of the Moment—Finest and most bestest ever!

Picture of the Moment

My wise old grandmother had lots of hummingbird feeders throughout the trees in her yard, and ever since I got my hands on an SLR camera in 1966, I have been trying to get a halfway decent picture of a hummingbird in flight.

Yesterday I took my new Tamron 150-600mm lens to Balboa Park for a walk around the many gardens. I knew where the hummingbirds hung out so I was hoping to get a chance to try out the lens on those fast flyers.

I switched my camera settings to AI Servo focusing for to better track fast-moving objects, set it to use the 19-point autofocus system, and set it to take up to five pictures per second, and went to work.

Following is one of the pictures I came home with.  I rank it right up there at #1, bestest and mostest fine fine fine Russel Ray hummingbird photo ever.

Hummingbird in flight

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat