Monthly Archives: October 2015

Happy National Cat Day from Zoey the Cool Cat!

Did you know?

Today is National Cat Day.

Here to help us celebrate is the one and only Zoey the Cool Cat.

img_1101 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1145 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1589 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1592 zoey the cool cat preparing for the weekend img_1619 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1803 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1808 zoey relaxed stamp img_1900 zoey carrier stamp img_1910 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1914 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1941 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1954 zoey the cool cat stamp img_4015 zoey the cool cat sleeping floor stamp img_5257 stamp img_5507 zoey the cool cat stamp img_5621 zoey the cool cat stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Are you happy?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The graffiti is getting better….

Out & About

When I came to San Diego in April 1993, I discovered the San Diego River. Although it is nothing like the mighty Mississippi, it’s hard to miss since it runs right through Mission Valley, possibly the most important area outside of downtown. After all, it’s where the San Diego Chargers claim to play professional football….

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There was talk of turning the river into a San Diego version of the San Antonio River Walk. That talk came from the powers that be, but the masses were having nothing of it. They loved their natural river and wanted it to stay that way.

Sadly, though, there was no way to really enjoy the river. Boating and swimming aren’t allowed in it, and since it likes to flood, there are no river bank walkways.

Mission Valley flood

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The San Diego River Conservancy, founded in 2001, is attempting to create riverside paths so that we can better enjoy the river in all its beauty.

Snowy egret

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

One of the goals of the San Diego River Conservancy is to create the San Diego River Park system from the mountains to the ocean, a 52-mile stretch from its source to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean.

Recently I was at the mouth of the river and saw some of the work that the Conservancy has been doing:

San Diego River pathway

San Diego River pathway

San Diego River pathway

San Diego River pathway

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

All of Mission Valley suffers from a graffiti problem as you can see in the following picture:

San Diego River pathway

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

But much of the graffiti on the River Path is getting better, so to speak.

San Diego River pathway

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Jamul Indian Village “Hollywood Casino” is coming along

Out & About

Powers more knowledgeable than I am say that San Diego County has a lot of gaming places, more popularly known as “casinos.” Those same powers say that San Diego County has the largest concentration of tribal governments in the United States. Those tribal governments love to building casinos on their lands and invite the masses to come lose their money gambling….

I have never been a gambler (or “gamer” as they are called now) so I don’t patronize the casinos other than to go by now and then and check out the magnificence of the buildings and the beautiful landscaping.

A couple of the casinos also have associated outlet malls where I occasionally do some shopping.

Native Americans were shuttled off to reservations many decades ago, and those reservations usually were far out in the boondocks. Those boondocks now are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the cities, and a mere ten miles down the road from me another huge casino is rising from the ground.

Jamul Casino

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That is so massive that in order to get the whole thing in the picture, I had to go almost three miles away! I could get pictures closer but I couldn’t get the whole building in closer pictures because of the hills and valleys.

It’s the new Jamul Casino, a contentious project at best. The rural folks believe that it will bring crime and traffic to the rural community. However, although the money from the casino will go to the Jamul Indian Village, they have made commitments to traffic control, new roads, more police officers, more fire fighters, etc.

The developer, financier, and manager of the casino is Penn National Gaming, and the casino is projected to cost $360 million and open in mid-2016. It’s unofficial name at this point is “Hollywood Casino Jamul.”

The 3-story, 200,oo-square-feet casino will feature over 1,700 slot machines, 50 live gam(bl)ing tables, several restaurants, bars and lounges, and an underground parking structure with 1,800 spaces. An estimated 2,500 construction and permanent jobs will be created.

The community uproar resulted in the Jamul Indian Village changing the initial design of the facility, significantly reducing its height and footprint, including water and wastewater reclamation facilities, going with earth tone exterior colors and downcast lighting to integrate with and complement the surrounding area.

Jamul Indian Village Casino

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you like gam(bl)ing, I suspect that this is going to be one of the better casinos in the area and will be popular simply because it is closer to the masses than all the other casinos.

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Having a dandy good time

Picture of the Moment

When I moved to Houston after my time at Texas A&M University, I discovered wine tasting, wine & cheese parties, and Wine-of-the-Month clubs. It only took about a year to discover that I really was not a wine connoisseur.

With me, it’s white zinfandel, white zinfandel, and white zinfandel.

San Diego County has a few billion vineyards with wine tasting facilities. I have continued to resist trying wines again because I’m quite happy with my white zinfandel.

Recently, though, I was in Solana Beach in the Cedros Avenue Design District when I came across the Winery Queen. Looks like this:

Winery Queen

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Winery Queen belongs to Carruth Cellars, An Urban Solana Beach Winery.  I did not go in since, as I said, I’m quite happy with my white zinfandel. I did like their Winery Queen, though. She looks like she’s have a dandy good time.

Cedros Avenue Design District in Solana Beach, California

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Mall walking

Out & About

During my first year at Texas A&M University I lived on campus. Sadly, the two dorms I lived in, Moore Hall and Puryear Hall, were destroyed several years ago in the name of progress, i.e., bigger, more beautiful, more progressive dorms.

During my second year, I moved off campus into an apartment that was, at the time, way out in the boondocks. Fortunately, my bicycle found a back roads shortcut to campus.

I lived out in the boondocks for my remaining years of college. After graduation I spent five years in Houston before moving back to College Station where I bought a duplex in the same boondocks. However, that area was no longer the boondocks. With several new apartment complexes, sorority row with 12 sorority houses, and the new Post Oak Mall, it was pretty much the center of non-campus activity.

Post Oak Mall stores didn’t open until 10:00 a.m. but the mall itself was open at 7:00 a.m. for the Post Oak Mall Walkers, of which I was one, probably the youngest one.

I still like to walk malls, but I do it more now to get pictures rather than simply exercise.

Recently I walked one of San Diego’s largest and more beautiful malls. It was 8:00 a.m., and here are a few of the pictures I got:

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The mall in question was Westfield UTC in La Jolla. Those of us who have been here more than a few years still call it University Towne Center. It’s a great place to shop, a great place to eat, and, if you enjoy putting on ice skates and falling on your butt many times, a great place to go ice skating….

University Towne Center La Jolla

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Is it live, or is it Memorex?

Picture of the Moment

One of my favorite restaurants is Islands because they are not showing sports on all the televisions throughout the restaurant. Instead, they show videos of extreme events like mountain climbing, wind surfing, rock climbing, snow and water skiing, and sea creatures.

I recently visited an ocean-side restaurant where they were showing videos of aquariums on their only television, a huge monster gigantic TV that took up the whole wall. I felt like I was in the aquarium with the creatures, like this one:

Jellyfish

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SNIPPETS (10-20-15)—Give up beer and lose weight!

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

Since May 15, 2015, I have lost 40 pounds. I’m not looking to find them either, so if you’re with Lost & Found, just keep ’em.

I didn’t set out to lose 40 pounds, it just happened. I could blame it on Costco, though. They quit carrying their Kirkland brand craft beers so I quit buying beer. I thought all the other beers either were just flat-out nasty (American beers) or too expensive (foreign beers).

I needed something that could quench my thirst, though. Soft drinks never have.

On May 16, Jim and I went to Mimi’s which offers strawberry lemonade with real bits of strawberry floating around in it. It’s the best lemonade in town. Free refills, too!

Lemonade quenches my thirst so I checked at Walmart and found Country Time pink lemonade. Love, love, love pink lemonade!

The Country Time container costs $2.50 (was $1.98 back in May) and makes 10 quarts. That’s 2½ gallons. A case of Kirkland craft beer cost $20.00. So not only am I losing weight, I’m saving a lot of money.

However, at this rate, I will be at zero pounds sometime in August 2017.

stick man

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #2

I have decided to give up the toaster in favor of the toaster oven. The toaster only let me toast bread slices. The toaster oven not only lets me toast bread slices, but I can toast odd-sized pieces of bread, like dinner rolls with a slice of jalapeño cheese on them; or make mini pizzas with pepperoni, jalapeño slices, and shredded cheese; or toast garlic sticks. All sorts of options with the toaster oven without using all that electricity for the big range oven….

Oster toaster oven

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #3

My home office faces the east and since I’m up every morning before the sun, I get a beautiful sunrise each morning. Here are three of them:

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #4

I finished watching all episodes for the first five seasons of “Game of Thrones.” What a mesmerizing series. Maybe a little too much nudity….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #5

I also finished watching all of the movies released in 2014 that interested me. 2015 movies aren’t completely available online yet so I decided to work my way through those released in 2013.Broken City

The Last StandA couple that I really enjoyed were “Broken City” starring Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg, and “The Last Stand” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, his first movie post-California governor.

Two that were so-so: “Mama” (a horror/thriller movie) starring no one I knew, and “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” also starring no one I knew.

One I watched, “John Dies At The End,” is 99 minutes of my life that I will never get back….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #6

I have been practicing using a couple of the more esoteric tools in Photoshop, tools that I never found any use for or tools that just took too long to use. The Pen Tool comes to mind. Once one realizes that “Pen Tool” is one of the world’s greatest misnomers and understands how it actually works, it can be quite useful.

In the following picture, the sea lavender blossoms were lost in a sad, busy background in the original picture. Using the Pen Tool, I removed the blossoms and placed them in front of a wooden fence and then framed the resulting picture.

Sea lavender

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #7

I have been a member of the Facebook group “Flowers Exchange” for about ten months. We’re allowed to post up to three images each day. I only post one. The sea lavender picture above is my most popular post yet, with 45 likes.

I also like it but I didn’t think it was my best ever. Facebook needs a WHY? button. When you click on it, you get asked why you liked the post….

I would love to know why that picture resonated with so many people. If it resonates with you, comment why.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #8

I haven’t been blogging as much since our move in May because I have been trying to get a full-time job working for someone else instead of being self-employed with my home inspection company.

I can tell you that age discrimination is alive and well in the job market. No one wants a 60-year-old guy regardless of his qualifications, at least not in the areas where I have my expertise and experience.

One company that I was talking with finally emailed me with what probably is the truth for all the other companies:

We’re looking for someone who can make a career here at *****.

And there you have it. We old folks are going to die tomorrow if you hire us today.

Didn’t Betty White tell us that 90 was the new 60, which would mean that 60 is the new 30….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #9

I had an interview with a start up company that is a subcontractor to Amazon Prime. I don’t think Amazon is going away anytime soon, so the job and the new company piqued my interest. I got offered the job at the interview, and I accepted. Since it’s a new company, time lines are, shall we say, flexible, but it looks like I’ll be starting work on Monday. Yahoooooooooo!

Since I will have a definite work schedule, I expect my blogging to return to normal, meaning at least one blog post per day. I look forward to continuing my many blog series.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #10

The days are getting shorter, which means Christmas is just around the corner.

Zoey the Cool Cat and Christmas tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Two years without cable, and I’m not missing it

I livew in my own little world

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that by 2025, and I won’t be disappointed if it’s earlier, cable television will be officially deceased.

I did away with cable in September 2013. Initially I thought I would miss it, but each time I thought that, I remembered that the only thing I ever watched was sports and reruns of past TV shows.

It wasn’t really difficult to give up live-action sports because nothing I could do or say during the game would alter the outcome of the game, or my life.

And I actually found more time to do more things by watching the 3-minute highlight film rather than the 3-hour game….

When 2015 rolled around, I decided to watch the movies released in 2014 that interested me, starting in January 2014. They are on the Internet, and while some of the less successful ones were hard to find, they are there, just not on the first page of a Google search.

I finished watching the 2014 movies and went to 2015. The 2015 movies are not yet available, a presumption that I made based on not finding a single movie from January 2015 that was available.

So I decided to see what TV series were popular during my first decade on Earth. I came across “The Twilight Zone,” which I remember watching in reruns in the ’60s, and decided to watch it, episode by episode. Seems that everything ever televised is on the Internet, something I can’t say about cable….

All the ones I remember watching those many decades ago had unexpected endings, and many of them had moral or human lessons to be learned, or were thought-provoking concerning the future. Such was the case with Episode 1 from Season 1 which I watched earlier tonight. Its moral was that humans are social animals and enjoy being with other humans. I wouldn’t limit it to humans, though. Many of us humans also like to be with our dogs, our cats, our birds, our guinea pigs, our rabbits, our snakes, our lizards….

The social part of humanity hit home with me because when I came to San Diego on April 27, 1993, at the age of 38, I wasn’t sure who I was or what I wanted to do. I only knew that I probably wasn’t going to work anytime soon, perhaps never again in my lifetime.

Ten months later, while sitting on the sand at Blacks Beach, I realized just how much I wanted to be with other people. I was the only one on the beach that February morning, and it was lonely, even with my chess set, cards, UNO, and books to read.

Right after college I had learned the difference between being alone and being lonely, for one can have many family and friends and still be lonely. I was lonely, lonely, lonely that day on the beach.

I put myself back in the work force and have never looked back. I do need people in my life. I’d die of loneliness if I was the only survivor on a deserted island….

Here are some pictures of Blacks Beach where I spent my first ten months in San Diego, beginning with the steps (I use that word very loosely) down the 300-foot cliffs to the beach below:

Stairs to Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The fifth largest dome in the world, at night

Picture of the Moment

I don’t do a lot of photography after the sun goes down because it’s dark. I’m scared of the dark….

I did have the opportunity to be downtown recently after dark and got a nice picture of the huge dome of the San Diego Central Library, opened in September 2013.

San Diego Central Library stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to PR materials from the Library, the dome is 143 feet in diameter, making it larger than the United States Capitol (135 feet) and the Pantheon in Rome (142 feet).

Apparently it is the fifth largest in the world behind the Duomo in Florence (149 feet), St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (195 feet), the Astrodome (642 feet), and the Superdome (680 feet).

Not included in the list of domes are inflated domes such as the Carrier Dome and the Metrodome.

For what it’s worth, the Metrodome and the Astrodome are no longer in use.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it

Picture of the Moment

I get so tired of all these doomsday and end-of-world predictions.

I do feel rather good knowing that I have survived so many of them.

Everyone else has survived them, too, though, so what’s the purpose?

I told Zoey the Cool Cat that another doomsday prediction has the end of the world on….

….wait for it….

….TODAY!

That is, October 7.

Of course, in some parts of the world, it is now October 8.

If it doesn’t get here in the next 6 hours and 10 minutes, I’m giving up….

Anyways….

Zoey the Cool Cat wasn’t having any of it so here’s what she did:

Zoey the Cool Cat prepared for the end of the world

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