Monthly Archives: April 2014

San Diego Historical Landmarks–#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9

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
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8

El Prado Area Designation

View Google Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now that we have a horse (see part 8), we can move along faster!

If we stand in front of El Cid (again see part 8), we can observe several things. First, let’s look behind El Cid, where we will see the magnificent Spreckels Organ Pavilion:

Spreckels Organ in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Let’s take a walk over to the Pavilion and see what’s going on.

Spreckels Organ in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Spreckels Organ is the world’s largest outdoor musical instrument, built in 1914 for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Its construction was financed by John D. Spreckels (1853-1926), one of San Diego’s greatest philanthropists and benefactors.

The main building houses the organ and dressing rooms. It is flanked on both sides by curved, Grecian style colonnades illuminated by 1,400 embedded lights. It was futuristic for its time, and at night the facility resembles a fantasy land of wonderment and awe. There is seating for 2,400 patrons.

The organ weighs almost 100,000 pounds and is protected by a 20,000 pound roll-down steel door which seals the instrument from the outside elements when not in use. Wind power for its 4,518 pipes is provided by a 20 HP blower located in the basement. It’s powerful voices, coupled with its location in Balboa Park, mean that it can be heard up to three miles away.

I might also add that Carol Williams is San Diego’s current Civic Organist, the first woman in the United States to serve as a city’s Civic Organist.

Looks like they have rolled up the organ door, and a crowd is gathering. There is going to be a concert today!

Spreckels Organ in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spreckels Organ concert in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spreckels Organ concert in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spreckels Organ concert in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The concert I went to see that day was Robert Plimpton, former San Diego Civic Organist, and Jason Ginter, Timpanist/Percussionist for the San Diego Symphony, performing as part of the Summer International Organ Festival, held annually here in San Diego. This was the 24th edition in 2011.

Following are two videos that I recorded that day. I had just started using the video function on my Canon 550D and wasn’t that familiar with it, so the videos are only parts of the two performances.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I was living in College Station, Texas, from 1983 to 1993, and attending the First Presbyterian Church in Bryan, the first Sunday of the month featured various musical artists from throughout the world. One of the artists who made a regular appearance was Dr. Joyce Jones, The Joyce Oliver Bowden Professor of Music and Organist-in-Residence at Baylor University’s School of Music in Waco, Texas, just 90 miles away. I knew her well.

So who do you think was performing at the very first performance I ever went to at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in 1994? Yep. Dr. Joyce Jones. I saw her at Spreckels again a decade later. She is now almost 81 years of age, and retired from Baylor University in 2011.

Possibly the most inspiring piece I ever saw her play was “Flight of the Bumblebee” on the organ’s foot pedals. I have never seen feet move that fast in all my life, and yet she was sitting down going nowhere! Here she is playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” at the First United Methodist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas.

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Out & about in Clairemont Mesa East

Out & About

When I came to San Diego in April 1993 I was amazed at the neighborhood pride that was exhibited here, and continues to be exhibited. Although San Diego has over 1.3 million people, many identify more with their neighborhood than with the City of San Diego per sé. At the time of this post, there are 120 neighborhoods. Many of them have pretty cool signs welcoming you to the neighborhood, like Hillcrest:

 Hillcrest sign

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It often is quite fun to take a walk or bike ride around the neighborhoods to see what merits taking a picture of.

Recently I was in Clairemont Mesa East for a CPR & First Aid Class:

Clairemont map

View map on Google Maps

Clairemont Mesa East is mostly commercial businesses and light industrial. I took an early morning stroll, a lunch stroll, and an afternoon stroll and found quite a few things to take pictures of. I present a few of them here.

In this first picture, I have no idea what the third flag (the one on the left) is. The middle is the United States and the right is California. Notice that the third flag is separated from the U.S. and California?

Three flags

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This is the building where my CPR & First Aid class was held:

Building

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This unique mirrored building….

Office Building

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….gave me an opportunity to take a selfie:

Selfie

That does count as a selfie, right?

There was lots of industry. Industry always provides some nice pictures.

Industry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Industry

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Industry

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Industry

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Industry

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Industry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There was a huge crane which could be seen from throughout the neighborhood, as you’ll see.

Industry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Industry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Industry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Industry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Industry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A nice office building:

Office Building

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A branch campus of National University:

National University

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And places for students, employees, and visitors to relax:

Relax

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Relax

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (4-28-14)–Let’s protest!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My most formative years were spent growing up in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Those years, of course, were the height of the Vietnam War, and singers and songwriters were at the forefront with their protest songs.

My favorite protest song came in 1975, written and performed by Bob Dylan, arguably the great composer of protest songs. The song is “Hurricane” and is about the imprisonment of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, alleged acts of racism, and racial profiling against Carter, all of which Dylan describes as leading to a false trial and conviction. Official biographies indicate that Rubin Carter was, indeed, wrongly convicted, and spent twenty years in prison as a result. Carter died last week at the age of 76; read more about him at Wikipedia. All of the YouTube videos featuring the original long version of “Hurricane” have been muted, probably alleging copyright infringements. Sad.

Since I couldn’t bring you my favorite Bob Dylan protest song, you’ll have to settle for seven of my other favorites:

“Eve of Destruction,” Barry McGuire, 1965

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“Universal Soldier,” Donovan, 1965

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“Who Will Answer?”, Ed Ames, 1967

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“Revolution,” The Beatles, 1968

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“Lucky Man,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1970

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“Imagine,” John Lennon, 1971

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“The Killing of Georgie,” Rod Stewart, 1976

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Blog Love (4-27-14)

I livew in my own little world

I forgot about my new Blog Love series last week, so today’s Blog Love will cover the past two weeks. If you missed my initial post about Blog Love, you can read it here. If you get mentioned in my Blog Love series, it’s a sure bet that I’m following YOU!

SunflowerDuring these past two weeks, I visited 1,208 blogs, an average of 86 per day. Sadly, 559 of those were no longer active (defined as no more than two blog posts for all of 2014), were now marked private, or were so religious or so political that I couldn’t read more than a paragraph in the most recent post without needing a margarita. Those 559 blogs, then, have been summarily deleted from my Excel spreadsheet.

Unknown flower in La Mesa, California, on January 23, 2012Out of the remaining 649 blogs, I left 2,373 LIKEs and 384 comments. The blogs where I left at least ten LIKEs and/or comments are listed below. Those bloggers who post pictures with very little text to read get the most LIKEs and comments, so it’s not unusual to find pet blogs and photography blogs high on the Blog Love list each week.

Friday Flower FiestaClick on the link to go visit them, and be sure to tell them that Russel Ray sent you their way!

  1. gallivanta – 57
  2. narhvalur – 29
  3. Unknown flowerrumpydog – 14
    chess – 14
    wolke205 – 14
  4. petrel41 – 11
    sparkonit – 11
    juliacastorp – 11
  5. coreen – 10

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

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Strawberry fields are not forever

Out & About

I taught chess yesterday, but it wasn’t at an after-school enrichment program. Instead, a overly wealthy couple hired me to teach chess to their four children, the oldest a girl of 8, and the youngest a 2-boy-1-girl set of triplets of age 6½. The couple live in Rancho Santa Fe which regularly ranks as one of the richest zip codes in the entire United States. The house I went to had 11,300 square feet, eight bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, and eight garages in two sets of four.

But that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is about strawberry fields, so I’ll provide you with some music for your reading pleasure:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I first came to San Diego in April 1993, I quickly learned where all the 1% neighborhoods were, and I succeeded in visiting them, determined to see things for myself. Who needs pictures in a magazine when you can simply drive over there?

On my way to Rancho Santa Fe back in 1993, I had to pass through hundreds of acres of strawberry fields. I even stopped to pick my own strawberries, and man were they scrumptious.

Well, on the way to Rancho Santa Fe yesterday, I passed through those hundreds of acres again. Sadly, here is what they looked like yesterday:

Former strawberry fields

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I haven’t tried to find what kind of subdivision is being built, but I’m pretty sure the homes will be on the larger side and cost several million dollars each.

I suppose it just became too much for the owners of the strawberry fields:

“Let’s see. Do I want to sell ten million strawberries at 5¢ each, net, or do I just want to sell 500 acres at $10,000 per acre, be done with it, and retire? Hmmm. This is a tough one……….NOT!”

I did get one extraordinarily beautiful picture, though:

Former strawberry fields

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Which I promptly turned into Photographic Art:

Former strawberry fields

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m guessing you do want to see the house, though, right? Well, here’s the driveway:

Driveway

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The house is way back there around the bend to the left. Here’s half of the house:

House and pool

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

What does one do in a house with 11,300 square feet? Play hide and seek?

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Friday Flower Fiesta (4-25-14)

Friday Flower Fiesta

More Photographic Art of flowers that I have uploaded to my Flowers Gallery at Fine Art America in preparation for being an approved vendor at the fundraiser May 3 for Cat House on the Kings.

Twins

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Thunbergia

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Orchid Cactus

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Dressed In Red

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Giant Hibiscus

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Grand Opening Soon

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King Protea

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Mother Of Thousands

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Peach Iris

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Regal Iris

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Sunflower

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Wild Iris

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Day Lily

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Calla

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Rose

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No alpha parking

Picture of the Moment

Is this sign implying that alpha males (and females!) don’t have IQ’s?

No Alpha Parking

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Penny for your thoughts

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1340 HemisFairI remember the first time I went to a Zoo. It was the San Antonio Zoo, and it was the weekend that my wise old grandmother also took me to HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio.

I had known since my birthday in March that I was going to get to go to HemisFair and to the Zoo. It was a combination birthday present and school’s out celebration.

I loved HemisFair! That’s where I found out via a handwriting analysis that I was a little, hyperactive monster.

I was disappointed with the Zoo because I didn’t get to see the big cats. All of them were in their hideways for the day and would not come out just to see me.

When I moved to San Diego in April 1993, one of the first things I did was get an annual pass to the Zoo. A pass meant that I could go anytime I wanted, ensuring that I would probably see all of the big cats at least once a year.

Most of the big cats are easy to see in their romper rooms. However, one of the larger romper rooms holds the Malayan Tigers (Panthera tigris jacksoni). The mere size of their romper room means that they aren’t always visible from the three viewing areas. When they are out, though, pictures can be quite spectacular.

Following are three pictures of one of the Malayan Tigers that I took on my trip to the San Diego Zoo last Saturday. I’m not sure I like the intense look on its face and in its eyes, but I would give it a penny for its thoughts.

Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Malayan tiger is an endangered species due to habitat fragmentation from development and agriculture, as well as poaching. An estimated 493 to 1,480 tigers were in the wild as of 2003, and only 54 located in 25 zoos as of 2004. Regretfully, the genetic diversity of the 54 zoo tigers are descended from only 11 mommies and daddies (called founders), creating a lack of the genetic diversity needed to ensure successful breeding programs.

Malayan tigers live about 15-20 years, so with breeding tigers in the wild numbering, at best, about 250 individuals, and unsuccessful zoo breeding programs, there will come a time in the not-too-distant future when these beautiful big cats will be extinct.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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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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Music on Mondays (4-21-14)–For the birds

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you have followed me for any length of time, you probably know that I have a huge collection of digital music files ranging the gamut from classical to pop to heavy metal, symphonic metal, rock ‘n’ roll, novelty, country, blues, jazz….  I don’t have any hip hop or rap because too often their lyrics are just plain gross, crass, or otherwise not appropriate for my virgin ears. Readers who might be wondering what my favorite music or groups are can see a list here: My top rock/pop/metal groups of all time.

I’m strange in that I listen to my music in chronological order. By listening to an average of 15 “CDs” each day, it takes me about ten months to listen to all my music. I just finished 2014 last Friday, and I’ve already been through the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and half of the ’60s this past weekend.Zoey the Cool Cat and five mourning doves

I noticed as I was going through that early music that quite a bit of it has titles involving birds.

Birds….

Hmmmm.

Zoey the Cool Cat and I like birds, so I thought birds would be a good topic for today’s Music on Mondays post.

1948
“A Little Bird Told Me”
Evelyn Knight & The Stardusters

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1959
“Poisoning Pigeons In The Park”
Tom Lehrer

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1960
“Wings Of A Dove”
Ferlin Husky

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1962
“Let’s Turkey Trot”
Jan & Dean

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1963
“Surfin’ Bird”
The Trashmen

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1964
“Feed The Birds”
Julie Andrews

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1964
“Sparrow”
Simon & Garfunkel

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1964
“Little Red Rooster”
The Rolling Stones

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That takes us through 1964. Since this was so much fun, I think I’ll do it again somewhere down the line. Off the top of my head this morning I can think of “Blackbird” by The Beatles (1968), “Silverbird” by Mark Lindsay (1970), “Hummingbird” by Seals & Crofts (1972), “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974), “Bird Noises” by Midnight Oil (1980), “Free As A Bird” by Supertramp (1987), and “Free As A Bird” by John Lennon/The Beatles (1977/1995).

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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