Monthly Archives: October 2013

Halloween

Halloween—You are not forgotten, Timothy

A Piece Missing

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Happy Halloween

Comic Con International 2012 in San Diego California

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Halloween HouseHalloween is one of those days that is both fun and dangerous at the same time. People of all ages get to dress up as just about anything they want. It’s the fact that faces are hidden that can be dangerous because there are bad people out at all times of the year. Halloween, though, allows them to better hide who they are so they can do bad things, either to animals (keep your black cat safe tonight), people, or property.

On Halloween 1974, I was a sophomore at Texas A&M University, about 100 miles northwest of Houston. On that Halloween night, the fun of Halloween died for many Houstonians, Texans, and Americans. In years to come, children no longer had free reign to dress up in costumes and traipse through their neighborhoods gathering as much candy as they could.

Halloween pumpkinsOctober 31, 1974, brought out the most despicable type of person in Ronald Clark O’Bryan, an optician from Deer Park, a Houston suburb. O’Bryan had taken his two children, Timothy and Elizabeth, to a friend’s house for trick-or-treating. O’Bryan slipped several Pixy Stix candies laced with potassium cyanide into the bags of his two children, as well as several other children.

O’Bryan had clipped off one end of the giant plastic Pixy Stix candy straws, sprinkled the cyanide into them, and stapled them shut. Just before bedtime, still at the friend’s house in Pasadena, O’Bryan offered young Timothy one last piece of candy, the tainted one. Within a few hours, his son was dead.

HalloweenBy the time of his trial, O’Bryan was known as The Candyman. He was tried and convicted of murdering his child for insurance money, having taken out life insurance policies for $10,000 on each child in January 1974, and then additional policies of $20,000 on each child a few weeks before Halloween. O’Bryan was executed by lethal injection in 1984.

The only good thing to this tragic story is that parents are more aware of their children’s safety, not only on Halloween but throughout the year. Treasures gathered on Halloween are usually carefully examined before children, or anyone else, are allowed to enjoy them.

HalloweenCandy tampering apparently peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Usually such tampering involved putting sharp objects (razor blades, pins, needles) in candy and fruit, often candied apples. According to some poisoned candy researchers (what a profession!!), some sharp objects were accidentally inserted into the candy or fruit. Huh? I’m not buying it. How do you accidentally put a sharp object in candy or fruit? Nope. Not buying it.

Candy tampering appears to have died down somewhat in recent years, but it only takes one incident to cause harm. Don’t let that one incident be your child. Accompany your children on their trick-or-treating and note which candy came from which house.

Added with edit: A news story just breaking is about a child who found a rusty razor blade in a package of M&M’s. Police initially say it’s probably a quality control issue because the package appears not to have been tampered with. Doesn’t matter whether or not it’s quality control. It happens! This one probably from a disgruntled or deranged Mars employee! Here’s the report: Razor in Halloween candy.

In remembrance of Timothy. You are not forgotten.

Halloween

Keep your black cat safe!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer,
Realtor Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Mylar—Not in this century or the next

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother was a nature lover before tree huggers hit the scene. She was also a conservationist before it was fashionable to be a conservationist. I remember her constant nagging about being kind to wildlife, enjoying the outdoors, conserving our natural resources….. On and on and on.

I didn’t pay much attention when I was living under her roof, but when I set out on my own, it was amazing just how much her teachings influenced what I did and even with whom I hung.

That’s why I’m a big fan of places like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. Have they made mistakes in the past? Sure. We all have. But without Zoos and Aquariums, 99% of the people would never get to see, and appreciate, a giraffe, an elephant, a whale, a dolphin, a tiger or lion…. There would also be many species that now would be extinct without the breeding services that zoos and aquariums offer. The California Condor comes immediately to mind, as does the Northern White Rhinoceros.

Whenever I’m out and about, I always try to visit Zoos and Aquariums to show my support, and I have an annual pass to the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego. Along with their breeding and release programs, zoos and aquariums provide rescue services. The number of seals and sea lions rescued each year by SeaWorld is amazing. One could argue that if the mom is going to abandon her pup, there must be a good reason. Maybe there is, but I’ll go with SeaWorld on that one—rescue, rehabilitate, and release.

Without the programs of the Zoo and SeaWorld, I never would have had the privilege of seeing a Bald Eagle, a Golden Eagle, a Milky Eagle Owl, or an Orca Whale.

Bald eagle at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Golden eagle Ambassador at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Milky Eagle Owl

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Dining with Shamu at SeaWorld

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In all my travels, I have never seen those four species outside of a Zoo or Aquarium. Of course, I know they exist in the wild, and I had an appreciation for them without seeing them because of how my wise old grandmother raised me. I don’t have to see something to know it, to understand it, to understand why it’s disappearing. Many people do, though. Every time I go to the Zoo or SeaWorld, I hear at least one person, often many many more, say in awe, “I had no idea they were so beautiful” or “I had no idea they were endangered because of us.” Those people, I hope, go home with a greater understanding of this world we live on and how we need to share it with the plants and animals around us.

As an example, recently I was up in Orange County traipsing around when I found the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

20612 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, California

Location map

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The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is responsible for animals (mostly pinnipeds) stranded on beaches along the Orange County coast, extending north to Seal Beach and south to San Onofre. The majority of the pinnipeds rescued are severely malnourished, suffer from dehydration, and may have respiratory infections. They also treat animals that are affected by drift net entanglement, fishing lines and hooks, human inflicted injuries, shark bites, parasites, and various diseases.

The most common pinnipeds to Southern California are Northern Elephant Seals, Pacific Harbor Seals, and California Sea Lions. Occasionally, they treat Northern Fur Seals, and they are the only temporary holding facility for small whales and dolphins between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

California sea lion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

California sea lion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Invariably when I visit the Zoo, SeaWorld, or, in this case, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, I learn something new. For example, here is what I learned during my short visit to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center:

Mylar Bouquet Wall of Shame

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mylar Bouquet Wall of Shame

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have always loved Mylar balloons, but no more.

They are off my LIKE  list and onto my NOT-IN-THIS-CENTURY-OR-THE-NEXT list.

I hope you will join me in my quest to celebrate special occasions with something other than Mylar balloons. A good meal, flowers, and toys come to mind. Maybe even just some quality time spent with those you love and are celebrating with.

Sunflower and clouds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Irvine Spectrum Center—It’s fabulous!

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sometimes I have problems convincing newfound friends that I am, indeed, gay. It might have something to do with me liking fast cars, motorcycles, and sports instead of your stereotypical musicals, theatre, hairdressing, flowers, interior design……… 🙂

One area where the gay stereotype does not fail me is in my love for shopping. Even if there is no money left in my monthly budget, window shopping for next month’s budget is just fine……..er, dandy…….er, fabulous!

Between San Diego and Los Angeles there are several great shopping malls. One of my favorite is the Irvine Spectrum Center. Coincidentally, it is located in Irvine, California.

Irvine location map

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It is an outdoor mall, a style with which I was unfamiliar until I came to San Diego, and has your standard mall fare—Barnes & Noble, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, California Pizza Kitchen, Johnny Rockets, Red Robin, Ruby’s, and The Improv. The outside screenshots of the fictional Mall of Miami from “Austin and Ally” takes place at the Irvine Spectrum Center. If you get tired of shopping (?!), you can always relax on the merry-go-round or the Ferris wheel, permanent entertainment in the middle of the mall.

Merry-go-round at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris wheels lend themselves naturally to having fun with them in Photoshop, and just for your viewing pleasure, I have had my fun and will share it with you here. Each picture was created with just one or two mouse clicks using default presets; nothing complicated but a lot of fun.

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer,
Realtor Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Happy National Cat Day!

Cats

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Happy National Cat Day!

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

African lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

African lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

African lion paw at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

African lion paw at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

African lions at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved byThis post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Queen Anne Cottage (You’ll know it when you see it)

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I was but a boy, I wanted to be a history teacher. Then I learned how to spell anesthesiologist and wanted to be an anesthesiologist. Then I found out that becoming an anesthesiologist would require college, medical school, and an internship. By the time I was 30, I might be an anesthesiologist. For a boy of 11, 30 was way too old. I was back to wanting to be a history teacher. Never made it, but I still love history.

So when I went to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, I fell in love with the Queen Anne Cottage. Many people will know it when they see it because of its use in many television shows and the movies.

Queen Anne Cottage

Queen Anne Cottage

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Queen Anne Cottage

Queen Anne Cottage

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Queen Anne Cottage and Coach Barn is a California Historical Landmark and is also on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance as an example of Queen Anne Style architecture.

It was built in 1885-1886 for Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin and his fourth wife, Lillie Bennett, daughter of Albert Bennett, the Cottage’s architect. When Baldwin died in 1909, his daughter Anita closed the Cottage and disposed of its furnishings. Many architectural elements, such as stained glass windows, black walnut doors, and marble fireplace mantels were stored in the coach barn.

Coach Barn at Queen Anne Cottage at the Los Angeles County Arboretum

Coach Barn

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The cottage and coach barn were restored from 1951 to 1953. Isn’t that a beautiful barn?

The Cottage has been used for many television shows and films. Arguably the most famous use was for the opening of “Fantasy Island” where Tattoo can be seen ringing the bell in the cottage’s tower and Mr. Roarke is seen exiting from the cottage. The cottage is also prominent in “Murder, She Wrote” and “Roots: The Next Generation.”

Outside of the Queen Anne Cottage, the Arboretum has played host to several “Tarzan” movies, two “Jurassic Park” movies, “Objective, Burma!”, and “The New Original Wonder Woman, ” and I’m only listing the movies I know!

Music videos have also been filmed here, including Katy Perry’s music video for “Roar.”

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The arboretum is reported to be haunted, particularly the Queen Anne Cottage. Sightings have been reported of Lucky Baldwin’s ghost, one of his wives’ ghost,  and strange anomalies walking the gardens at night.

Following is a selection of pictures from the Arboretum & Botanical Garden. For more pictures, see my previous posts:

Gone to the birds
Friday Flower Fiesta (6-14-12)
They’re everywhere!
I’m an abject failure
Friday Flower Fiesta (6-28-12)

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Queen Anne Cottage dog houseLos Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Location of Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer,
Realtor Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Denny Laine

Music on Mondays — Happy birthday to Denny Laine!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tomorrow is the 68th birthday for Denny Laine. Happy birthday, Denny!

Denny LaineLaine is a guitarist and singer, and was a founding member of The Moody Blues. I didn’t become familiar with him until 1971 when he showed up as a member of Wings on their first album, Wild Life, released December 7, 1971. For those who don’t know or don’t remember, Wings was Paul McCartney’s band after The Beatles broke up in 1970. He was one of the three core members of Wings throughout its history, the other two being Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda.

Wings (and Paul McCartney) rocked throughout the 1970s with albums such as “Red Rose Speedway,” “Band on the Run,” “Venus and Mars,” “Wings at the Speed of Sound,” “London Town,” and “Back to the Egg.” Hit singles that made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart include “My Love,” “Band on the Run,” “Listen To What The Man Said,” “Silly Love Songs,” “With A Little Luck,” and “Coming Up.” A couple of near misses include “Live and Let Die,” peaking at #2; “Junior’s Farm,” peaking at #3; and “Let ‘Em In,” also peaking at #3.

The Summit in Houston, Texas, ca. 1994I saw Wings in concert at The Summit in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday, May 4, 1976, as part of their “Wings Over America” tour. Texas A&M was in Dead Week, so I could get away with going to a concert 90 miles away on a week day.

I knew the words to all the songs and happily sang along with the rest of the crowd…. Well, almost all of the songs. There was one song that I was not familiar with. It was played as one of the encores and was titled “Go Now.” I thought it was a new, unreleased song, but after reading the reviews the next day in the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post, I found out that “Go Now” was The Moody Blues’ first hit from February 1965. The reviews also increased my musical knowledge base by informing me that Denny Laine was a founding member of The Moody Blues. Laine quit The Moody Blues in August 1966 although I could not find out why.

Wings Over AmericaI became familiar with The Moody Blues, as did most of the world, in August 1972 when “Nights in White Satin” hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Interestingly, the album “Nights in White Satin” was released in 1968, and a single, “Tuesday Afternoon,” made it to #24 on the charts. If I remember correctly, the four years between the release of an album and a single making it to the Top 10 is the longest ever.

I liked “Go Now” but could not find it in any of the record stores, not even in any of the cut-out bins (smile if you remember cut-out bins). There was no such thing as iTunes, Napster, or amazon.com at the time, so I had to do without that song until December 1976—seven months later!—when it was released on the “Wings Over America” live album.

For Denny Laine’s 68th birthday, I give you some Denny Laine.

“Go Now” by The Moody Blues
Denny Laine on guitar and lead vocals

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Mull of Kintyre” from November 1977 is the first single in Great Britain to sell over two million copies,
and that includes all of The Beatles’ hits. It still is the #1 selling non-charity single in Great Britain. Written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine, it has Laine on backing vocals, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. Denny Laine shows up in the video at the 1:30 mark.

 

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Denny Laine’s greatest collaboration with McCartney came on 1978’s “London Town” album where he had co-songwriting credits on five of the fourteen songs. He sang lead vocal on two of them, both of them about children: “Children Children” and “Deliver Your Children.” Here’s “Children Children”:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Happy birthday, Denny!

Happy birthday to Denny Laine

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Help us do our job

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Please, sit, and help us do our job.

Please, sit, and help us do our job

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture taken at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, California.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos