Monthly Archives: December 2013

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Best Holiday Lighting award for 2013

video logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This year’s Best Holiday Lighting award, something I just made up, goes to the San Diego Zoo with their Jungle Bells, and the Balboa Park Railroad, which is directly across from the Zoo entrance.

Couple them together and there was no other competition.

Even separately, there was no other competition.

Jungle Bells continues through January 4, so you still have time to get to the Zoo, even if you’re flying from somewhere on the other side of the world!

I chopped about 15 minutes of video down into a mere 2:50 and added some music. Enjoy!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Bag Lady

Cats

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The holiday season, being filled with food and gifts, is a great time to stock up on bags and boxes to keep the little ones happy for the rest of the year…..

….or for the afternoon.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays—Country music direct from Texas A&M University

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Many decades ago I had a word processing business in College Station, Texas.

My three most famous customers—not famous at the time, of course—were Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and Chuck Knoblach.

Knoblach was a professional baseball player from 1991-2002 for the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, and Kansas City Royals. He was the 1991 Rookie of the Year, a Gold Glove Award winner in 1997, a four-time all star, and a member of four World Series champions.

Lovett and Keen are musicians. I heard them many times at The Front Porch in College Station. I believe The Front Porch I knew is long gone, but the memories and music remain.

Lovett and Keen were friends (but not roommates as commonly believed) and wrote one song together back then, titled “The Front Porch Song.” Both went on to record the song. Keen’s version is easier to find on YouTube, so here it is:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

One of the newer country artists to come out of College Station, Texas, is Granger Smith. As we often say at Texas A&M University about the privilege and responsibility of being Aggies, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” Here’s Smith doing my favorite song of his, “We Bleed Maroon,” about the Spirit of Aggieland:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I can’t end this blog post, though, without including Granger Smith’s “We Do It In A Field,” the sexual innuendo reminding me so much of The Beatles’ “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Names and phone numbers

If I don’t come back….

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Look at the following picture. What is it? Why is it? Where is it? I will provide the answers below the picture.

Names and phone numbers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Those are the names of people who are out surfing, the premise being that at the end of the day, if a card is still there on the table with someone’s name on it, that someone is missing.

Some people, like Jacob Robison, simply leave their names. Others leave phone numbers or other who-to-contact information. Others even leave their car keys and house keys—a level of trust too rare in this world, but if one is missing (and presumed drowned and/or dead), I guess one really doesn’t need one’s house and car keys.

I talked with a couple who were sitting there, and apparently there are volunteers who sit at the table throughout the day to kind of keep an eye on the keys. I think that’s wise.

So the answers:

What is it? Contact information of people who are out surfing.

Why is it? If a card is still on the table at the end of the day, that person is presumed missing, at which point lifeguards and other authorities are contacted. If a contact phone number is provided, of course, calls to those numbers first can indicate that the person simply forgot to pick up his card.

Where is it? This one is at the pier in San Clemente, California. In fact, look at the picture below and you can see a large blue umbrella with a man in a red shirt at a picnic table, just to the left of the two center palm trees. That’s the table and the volunteer. You can see the surfers in the water.

San Clemente Pier

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Female jogger in tennis shoes

Maybe she’s running a half marathon?

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sometimes when I am out and about I’ll take a picture knowing that for most photographers it would be a throwaway. For me, it’s just a challenge for Photoshop.

Recently I was at the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego taking train pictures and videos. It was dusk but I refused to go home because I was waiting on the northbound BNSF freight train that leaves San Diego once the last Amtrak southbound from Los Angeles arrives. That’s usually around 8:00 p.m. During the summer, it’s no problem because daylight lasts until 9:30 p.m. During the winter, different story.

I got my BNSF freight train video but it needs some editing work in Corel VideoStudio Pro X6. Either that or a return trip to the Depot during the summer now that I know exactly what time that northbound freight goes through.

As I was waiting on the freight train, though, I was snapping pictures here, there, and everywhere, of anything and everything. Following is a woman out on her evening jog. I loved her pink shoes.

Female jogger in tennis shoes

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

After taking a picture of her, I saw a plane fly through. That interested me, so I attempted to get a picture with a plane in it. It took a little while because you never know when a plane is going to arrive. I succeeded, though:

Plane landing on buildings

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now all I would need is a car, and I would have “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”! (Smile if you know what I’m referring to.)

The original pictures are very dark, so first I brightened them in Photoshop.

After looking at both pictures and seeing how similar they were, I wondered if I could merge them to get the person and plane both in the same picture.

I thought merging would be easier than lifting the plane out of its picture and placing it in the other picture.

Well, look what happened when I had Photoshop merge the two pictures:

Half runner

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I wasn’t really surprised to see the plane disappear since it wasn’t in both pictures, but I definitely was surprised to see what else disappeared. Maybe she’s now running the half marathon?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Liberty Station in San Diego, California

Gun Platform No. 1 in San Diego’s Liberty Station

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I came to San Diego in April 1993, I thought that all the good real estate had been taken by the military. Point Loma was a National Cemetery and various military installations that had been there since the early 1900s. Coronado Island? A Naval Air Station. The harbor front? 32nd Street Naval Station. Much of the Southern California coast? Camp Pendleton. The military was everywhere.

Then came the budget cuts of the mid- to late-1990s. Military bases throughout the nation were combined, closed, or realigned. The Air Force’s famous Top Gun squadron that had been based here for many years moved to Arizona. Naval Air Station Miramar became Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. And so on.

One of the military bases here that was closed was the former Naval Training Center (NTC) San Diego, located in a prime waterfront location in Point Loma. When it was announced in 1993 that the NTC would be closing, the City of San Diego created a 27-member commission to determine what to do with the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Corky McMillin Company was selected as the master developer and began work when the base closed in 1997.

Now known as Liberty Station, the site comprises 361 acres and includes several distinct districts, including a retail and commercial district, a promenade focused on nonprofit activities, an educational district, a residential district, a hotel district, an office district, and a park/open space area along the boat channel. Many of the individual structures are designated as historic by the city of San Diego. As such, they have been saved from the wrecking ball and were adapted for stores, offices, schools, and other purposes.

Phase Two of the renovation was completed in November 2012 and brought the total number of saved and adapted buildings to fifteen. The nonprofit NTC Foundation oversees the development of the historic and nonprofit area. According to sources, Liberty Station is the largest historical preservation project in San Diego. It also happens to be the city’s largest arts and culture project in terms of size and scope.

There is no way to discuss in words and pictures in one blog post all that Liberty Station has to offer so I’ll be breaking it down into several posts in the future. Today, I’d like to show you Gun Platform No. 1.

Liberty Station in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to that plaque on the ground at the lower right in the above picture:

Gun Platform No, 1, 1945
San Diego Naval Training Center

The two larger mounts [near and far mounts with black tips] are 5-inch, 51-calibre [sic] which were found on older battleships. This gun was designed to engage surface craft, especially with torpedo boats, that were too fast to be tracked and destroyed by a battleship’s large main guns. The large wheels on either side controlled the guns horizontal and vertical direction. The weapon fired a 50-pound, 5-inch diameter shell, and was propelled by a powder charge inside a separate silk bag. It had a range of 8 miles and a speed of more than 3,100 feet per second.

The single weapon with the elaborate mounting [center gun in picture] is a 5-inch, 38-calibre [sic] dual purpose gun. This lighter gun offered handiness in engaging aircraft targets with the same range and hitting power of a surface mount. It was widely used on destroyers, carriers, and later cruiser and battleship designs. The weapon could throw its 55-pound shell nine miles when fired vertically with a velocity of 2,600 feet per second.

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior.

The plaque:

Gun Platform No. 1, Liberty Station, San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For a related post on Liberty Station, see North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego.

Liberty Station map

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And don't come back!

And don’t come back!

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m really having a lot of fun with all of my uncatalogued pictures.

And don't come back!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Propeller at United States Coast Guard, Sector San Diego

One result of bike riding

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are many advantages of bike riding instead of driving the car or taking the train. One important advantage is exercise. By riding, using up calories and fat, I can eat just about anything I want during the day. Of course, I can also refuse to eat those things I don’t want, like sushi, eggplant, and okra gumbo….

A disadvantage of bike riding is that one cannot go very far in the course of a day.

The way to work around the disadvantage is to buy a bike rack for the car, load the bike on the bike rack, drive to places unknown, park, unload the bike from the bike rack, and set off on a biking expedition.

Recently I did that and discovered the United States Coast Guard, Sector San Diego:

United States Coast Guard, San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That is directly across from San Diego International Airport on North Harbor Drive:

Location of United States Coast Guard, Sector San Diego

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Look at the right side of the picture and you see a huge propeller. In order to get a picture—and you know I did!—I had to stop pedaling, apply the brakes, come to a complete stop, get off my bike, lower the kickstand, and walk over to the propeller, all while the Coast Guard security personnel were eyeing me suspiciously. Once I brought my camera up into picture-taking position, they went back to their work.

Propeller looks like this:

Propeller at United States Coast Guard, Sector San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The plaque to the right tells me that this is a tribute to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard on the occasion of the Coast Guard’s bicentennial in 1990.

United States Coast Guard, San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Unfortunately, there was nothing in English to tell me anything about the propeller. There were some indigenous letters and numbers on the propeller….

United States Coast Guard, San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Not much there for the layperson, although I do understand diameter (it’s big!), pitch, weight (it weighs seven times more than I do!), manganese bronze (one of many alloys that are called bronze), and Columbian Bronze Corporation.

Columbian Bronze Corporation piqued my interest, but it is not in Wikipedia. Google, however, led me to quite a few entries. One entry is from Google Books: America’s Maritime Progress by George Weiss and J.W. Leonard, published in 1920 by The New York Marine News Company. The second page of the Google Books entry indicates that the book was presented to the New York Public Library by George Weiss on July 12, 1920. Thank you, Mr. Weiss! Page 458 has an entry about the Columbian Bronze Corporation.

There also is a 1941 catalog of Columbian Propellers and Accessories available at Amazon.

Unfortunately, I could not find any current information about Columbian Bronze Corporation, just past catalogs, stories, propellers, and other marine parts, so it appears to me that they now are out of business.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Can birds read?

Can birds read?

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Can birds read?

Can birds read?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It does seem to only have one leg….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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California Least Tern

Which is the weed?

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother,
a Master Gardener
before there was such a designation,
always told me that a weed
is any plant
that is growing
where you don’t want it to grow.

Okay then.

Picture 1, weed or not?Weedy rose

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 2, weeds or not?Not weeds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The first, a yellow rose, grows in my cactus garden. I cannot get rid of it. I have tried cutting it down, chopping it down, drowning it, withholding water, digging it out. It keeps coming back. It is a weed because it grows where I don’t want it to grow.

The second picture shows weeds that are not weeds because they grow where people want them to grow. Who are these people?

Oh, I’m so confused….

Weeds…. Not weeds…. Weeds…. Not weeds….

The weeds that are not weeds surround a runway at the San Diego International Airport.
Hmmm.
Great picture for those looking out the window while their plane is landing

 “Wow, honey, look at all the weeds.
Why doesn’t someone mow them down or something?”

Well, the weeds that are not weeds are a nesting site for a rare colony of California Least Terns.

California Least Tern

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In 1973, there were only about 300 nesting pairs of California Least Terns in all of California. Today, thanks to projects like this one run by the San Diego Zoo and the County Regional Airport Authority, there are over 6,000 nesting pairs in California, still not enough to ensure their survival because there are only thirty colony nesting sites in the State.

Birds lay their eggs directly on the sand/gravel surface. The warmth of the sun and sand apparently helps the birds develop within the egg. Areas like this near the airport are critical because the birds don’t have to compete with beach-goers, the planes chase away most predatory raptors, and the airport fence keeps out dogs, foxes, and other four-legged hunters.

Look at the second picture and you can see a little fence in the bottom foreground. That fence is a whopping ten inches high and defines the actual nesting site within the airport fence. During nesting season you can see eggs laying on the surface, and parents closely guarding them.

Their wintering location remains unknown, which I thought was interesting, but biologists suspect that they winter along the Pacific Coast in South America.

I intend on going back to this site during breeding season (April to mid-June) to see if I can get some pictures of parents and eggs, maybe even some little chicks.

For more about the California Least Tern, see the Wikipedia page.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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