Monthly Archives: December 2016

Snippets (12-28-16)—You’re a little different….


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something
Snippets: mini blog posts


When two of my hard drives crashed concurrently in early October, my main concern was retrieving over a million photographs and videos. Fortunately, I got them all back, albeit at a cost of a couple of grand.

Now I’m in the process of cataloging all of them, deleting duplicates, and then, instead of backing up to an external hard drive, which is what I was doing when both drives crashed, I’m going to do backups to the cloud where there are multiple redundancies to prevent crashes and losses.

I have not chosen a cloud storage service so I’m open to suggestions.


I am enjoying going through all the uncatalogued pictures and finding some gems, such as the following two. Feel free to provide your own caption.

A seal praying that Trump doesn’t destroy the worldSeal praying that Trump doesn't destroy the world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When one of the gang realizes you’re a little different
and still comes over to say hello.Seals & pelicanPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


Joey Thaidigsman, freshman computer science major at the University of California at BerkeleyJoey Thaidigsman, the IT Director of Russel Ray (which comprises Photographic Art, Russel Ray Photos, and House Key News) is a freshman Computer Science major at the University of California at Berkeley. I’m proud to tell you that he earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average for his first semester. He wants to go into artificial intelligence. Hmmm. Maybe he IS artificial intelligence. I’ll keep an eye on him….


Since Trump is intent on blowing up the world, Jim and I figured we would go out in style, so Christmas Eve afternoon we traded in our 2015 Honda Civic EX-L, which we bought on February 6, 2016, for a 2017 Honda Civic EX. We switched from a white exterior with beige leather interior to a “modern steel metallic” exterior (very dark gray, basically) with a black interior. The white/beige showed too much dust and dirt all the time, so we’re going to try the darker colors for a couple of years.

I think it’s the second most fun car Jim and I have owned, behind the 1998 Pontiac Trans Am. The other cars were a 1989 Saleen Ford Mustang GT, 1991 Honda Civic, 1998 Toyota Avalon, 2000 Honda Accord, 2002 Nissan Maxima, 2003 Toyota Camry, 2005 Nissan Altima, and a 2015 Toyota Corolla (which we still have).

It has two USB ports for the stereo system, great cruise control, dual-zone heating and cooling (convenient since, in 22½ years, Jim and I have never agreed on comfort temperature), and a moon roof for those starry starry nights.

2017 Honda Civic EX

2017 Honda Civic EX

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


Hope everyone is having a great holiday season! Best wishes for health, happiness, peace, and prosperity in 2017 and beyond!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Lighthouse of 1854, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego CA

San Diego Historical Landmarks: #17—Lighthouse of 1854

San Diego Historical Landmarks

The Lighthouse of 1854, San Diego Historical Landmark #17, also is known as the Cabrillo Lighthouse and is located on the grounds of Cabrillo National Monument.

Lighthouse of 1854, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego CA

Just 19 days after California was admitted as the 31st state of the United States, Congress authorized $90,000 to build six lighthouses along the California coast. By the time they got around to building the Cabrillo lighthouse, there was no money left so congress had to authorize another $59,434. Construction began in April 1854, was completed in October 1855, and was lighted for the first time at sunset on November 15, 1855. Officially it was light number 355 in the Twelfth United States Lighthouse District.

The lighthouse was decommissioned on March 23, 1891, being replaced by a new lighthouse at a lower elevation. During its time in use, it was at the highest elevation of any lighthouse in the United States. However, what originally was considered good turned out to be bad, bad, bad. Being at the top of a 400-ft cliff meant that fog and low clouds blocked the light from ships.

The light was re-lit in 1984 for the first time in 93 years for the site’s 130th birthday.

The lighthouse tower normally is closed off to the public. However, there are two days a year when it is open: August 25, which is the National Park Service’s birthday, and November 15, which is the Lighthouse’s birthday. I can highly recommend trekking to the top of the tower; it’s pretty cool.

Cabrillo Lighthouse stairway, Cabrillo National Monument, Point Loma, San Diego

Lighthouse of 1854, Cabrillo National Monument, Point Loma, San Diego CA

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the San Diego Historical Landmarks series, go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (12-19-2016)—When people run in circles

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Up until the age of 18 I had always wanted to be a history teacher. Then I  found out how much money teachers made and decided that I wanted more. I still love history, though, so each day at midnight or shortly thereafter, I head to Wikipedia to see what happened on this day in history. I continue to learn some interesting things, and I post my favorites over on my Facebook page.

For example, today is Jake Gyllenhaal’s 36th birthday. I first became aware of him in 2005 when he starred with Heath Ledger, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain, a movie which I could identify with since I had been a closeted gay male growing up in the wild, wild west of South Texas.

While at Wikipedia, I clicked on the link to Jake Gyllenhaal to see what he’d been up to and discovered that he starred as Donnie Darko in the 2001 movie Donnie Darko. I have not seen Donnie Darko for some strange reason because it sounds like my type of movie. I was familiar with it, though, because of the soundtrack. One of the songs from the soundtrack, “Mad World,” was made famous by Adam Lambert on the 2009 season of “American Idol.” I had already been familiar with “Mad World” because it was written and sung originally by Tears for Fears on their 1983 album, “The Hurting,” and I had a complete collection of Tears for Fears’ music. Adam Lambert, however, said that he didn’t know about Tears for Fears’ version, instead having heard the Gary Jules version from Donnie Darko. Thus I had to go have a listen to the Gary Jules version.

I like all three versions. Each has a unique something that makes it work. So here they are. Have a listen. Later today, I’m watching Donnie Darko.

Tears for Fears, 1983

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Gary Jules, 2001

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Adam Lambert, 2009

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Friday Flower Fiesta (12-16-2016)—Winter flowers in San Diego

Friday Flower Fiesta

Although Winter doesn’t begin for another few days, many of my northern friends are posting pictures of this really boring all-white landscaping. It’s enough to drive me to drinking margaritas. I thought today would be a perfect time to show them what real winter landscaping looks like.

Friday Flower Fiesta 12-19-14 Russel Ray Photos Friday Flower Fiesta 12-19-14 Russel Ray Photos
Red pelargonium, Friday Flower Fiesta, October 12, 2012 Friday Flower Fiesta Friday Flower Fiesta


Bird of Paradise flower

Mother of thousands flower head from the side

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Let’s swing, baby, let’s swing!

Halls of History

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since Hillary Clinton is currently winning the popular vote by 2,833,224, people are calling for the abolishment of the Electoral College in favor of a direct popular vote. Many are saying that if we went to a direct popular vote there would be no swing states. I think that not only would we still have swing states, but we’d have swing cities, too. So I set out to prove that to myself. Quite interesting.

The main purpose of the Electoral College was, and still is in my opinion, to prevent the most populous states and cities from electing the president every four years. If one chose to ignore the least populous states, then could band together and do you in, something they could not do if it was a direct popular vote. Clinton did not go to Wisconsin at all, and didn’t set foot in Michigan until four days before the election. Two reliably blue states suddenly weren’t so reliably blue anymore; in fact, they turned a light shade of red.

What might have happened in 2016 if we had a direct popular vote? Let’s make some educated guesses.

The total population of the United States is 321,418,820 according to the Census Bureau 2015 estimate.

So far, 136,499,945 votes have been cast for presidential candidates in the 2016 election. So 42.46% of the population voted.

Of those votes, 65,788,567 have been for Clinton and 62,955,343 for Trump.

Let’s see what we would have to do to get to 65,788,567 if we had a direct popular vote.

Here are the Top 25 states by those 2015 population estimates:

California – 39,144,818
Texas – 27,469,114
Florida – 20,271,272
New York – 19,795,791
Illinois – 12,859,995
Pennsylvania – 12,802,503
Ohio – 11,613,423
North Carolina – 10,042,802
Georgia – 10,214,860
Michigan – 9,922,576
New Jersey – 8,958,013
Virginia – 8,382,993
Arizona – 6,828,065
Massachusetts – 6,794,422
Indiana – 6,619,680
Tennessee – 6,600,299
Missouri – 6,083,672
Maryland – 6,006,401
Wisconsin – 5,771,337
Minnesota – 5,489,594
Colorado – 5,456,574
South Carolina – 4,896,146
Alabama – 4,858,979
Louisiana – 4,649,676
Kentucky – 4,425,092

The Top 10 states have 174,137,154 people, 54.18% of the population
The Top 20 states have 241,671,630 people, 75.19% of the population.
The Top 25 states have 265,958,097 people, 82.75% of the population.

That should tell us enough right there that there are going to be swing states with a direct popular vote.

I am going to take some liberties with numbers here because this is not a dissertation. I’m not going to go county by county in each state or city by city. To tedious, and I’m not getting paid for this research. So I’m going to use the numbers I cited above about population, votes, and percentage of the population that votes.

How can we get to 65,788,567 the easiest way?

Presuming that 42.46% of the population votes everywhere, here are the total number of votes in the Top 10, 20, and 25 states:

Top 10 states – 73,938,635
Top 20 states – 102,613,774
Top 25 states – 112,925,808

Quite a few votes there.

So far Clinton has taken 48.1967% of the votes. Trump has 46.1211% and other candidates have the remainder.

Here is what happens if Clinton takes 48.1967% of the Top 10, 20, and 25 states:

Top 10 – 35,635,982
Top 20 – 49,456,452
Top 25 – 54,426,512

With just 25 states, Clinton is 82.72% of the way to her 2016 popular vote total. Bring in those swing states!

Let’s look at cities. I’m going to use the Combined Statistical Area because my whole point here is that candidates want to spend their money wisely, which is why Clinton didn’t go to Wisconsin. It was safely Democratic. Not so wise, in retrospect. Here are the Top 20 Combined Statistical Areas:

New York-Newark – 23,723,696
Los Angeles-Long Beach – 18,679,763
Chicago-Naperville – 9,923,358
Washington-Baltimore-Arlington – 9,625,360
San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland – 8,713,914
Boston-Worcester-Providence – 8,152,573
Dallas-Fort Worth – 7,504,362
Philadelphia-Reading-Camden – 7,183,479
Houston-The Woodlands – 6,855,069
Miami-Fort Lauderdal-Port St Lucie – 6,654,565
Atlanta-Athens-Clarke-Sandy Springs – 6,365,108
Seattle-Tacoma – 4,602,591
Minneapolis-St. Paul – 3,866,768
Cleveland-Akron-Canton – 3,493,596
Denver-Aurora – 3,418,876
Orlando-Deltona-Dayton Beach – 3,129,308
Portland-Vancouver-Salem – 3,110,906
St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington – 2,916,447
Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton – 2,648,605

Total population of the Top 20 CSA’s: 145,888,257

Using our 42.46 voting number again, there are 61,944,153 votes there, and Clinton would have received 29,855,038 of them. Almost half way there with just 20 areas. And look where those 20 areas are: 6 in the Midwest, 5 on the East Coast, 5 in the South, and 4 on the West Coast. Heck, we might have SWA’s, Swing Geographic Areas!

One could just campaign east of the Mississippi River and hit 16 of those CSA’s!

But I would submit that Republicans would never have a chance if we had a direct popular vote because cities are reliably Democratic. Don’t believe me? Go check the cities in the reddest of the red states, like Utah, Alabama, and Georgia. Every other state is just like that. It’s the suburbs and rural areas that decide the elections. Ooops. Back to swing areas, aren’t we? Rural areas are reliably Republican. Go look at Utah, Alabama, and Georgia again. So really we’re to the suburbs as the swing areas.

Now if money and time are important when out on the campaign trail, does anyone really believe that candidates are going to go anywhere other than to the big metropolitan areas with their many suburbs? We would have lots of swing cities.

I’m a reliably blue guy in a reliably red city in a reliably blue state, except that my city this election turned blue. Not only that, but Orange County, a suburb of Los Angeles, has been reliably red since 1932. Ooopsy. It turned blue this election.

The more people have to live in close proximity to people who are different, the more those people are tolerant of differences, even accepting of them. So I should be all for a direct popular vote. I’m not. I will put aside my self interest for the good of the nation. Without the Electoral College, a super majority of those red states would always feel neglected. No candidate would visit them and even if they banded together, they would never have a say. The cities would be too powerful. I do believe that eventually there would be another war between the states.

So instead of going to a direct popular vote, I think we should return to the practices of my generation where each family had four children minimum and up to nineteen, the highest I personally know of—I come from a Mormon (mom) and Catholic (dad) family. The more people we have, the more progressive we become!

Alternately, we could do like Maine and Nebraska do. Each state gets a minimum of three electoral votes, two for its two senators and one for its congressional district. In the case of Maine and Nebraska, the two senatorial electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote in the states, and the congressional district electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote in each congressional district. That allows both urban and rural areas to have a say in each state. If we did that here in California, the state would be about evenly split because of our large rural areas.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Free Zoo passes and your own personal docent

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego is a destination for Christmas for those who want to get away from the snow. However, we do have snow in San Diego county, but you have to travel about 60 miles from the airport to play in it.Ice in the snow (!)

If you are traveling to San Diego by plane, sit on the left side. Best views of downtown as you’re landing.

If you are coming by train from Los Angeles, sit on the right side. Best views of the beaches, piers, and ocean.

Giant panda at the San Diego ZooOnce you get to San Diego, if you are looking for things to do, I can highly recommend the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. The Zoo is just a couple of miles from the airport and the train station while the Wild Animal Park is about 45 miles northeast.

I have an annual Keeper’s Club membership to the Zoological Society so I get four free passes each year. The four passes on my desk right now expire June 30, 2017. I normally give them away on Christmas Day when Jim and I go to the Zoo or Wild Animal Park, a Christmas tradition for us.

If you are coming to San Diego and would like a free pass, let me know. And if you want your own personal docent for the day, for Zoo, Wild Animal Park, or general tourist stuff, I have been known to do that, too. Give me 12 hours notice and I’m yours.

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) from the sky

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About San Diego—Rumbi and Rangui the Glarfs

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Earlier this year I delivered packages for Amazon and people for Uber. Those two jobs were the worst I ever had, and those two companies are the worst I have ever been affiliated with. I’ll just leave it there….

One of my goals for driving, though, was to explore the nooks and crannies of San Diego County that I ordinarily wouldn’t explore.

On one of my deliveries I found two Glarfs (Glarves? Scarf, scarves; Glarf, Glarves?????). Their names are Rumbi and Rangui, and they’re kind of cute:

Rumbi & Rangui the Glarfs

Rumbi & Rangui the Glarfs

Rumbi the Glarf

Rangui the Glarf

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rangui the Glarf is the one in yellow, and Rumbi the Glarf is in blue. Rangui and Rumbi were born in 1959. Daddy was Jerry Lee Gauss of Bonita, California, which is where these two Glarfs still live. Daddy was only 15 years old when he had these two little ones. Sadly, Jerry died at the age of 19 in a traffic accident. “Glarf” was Jerry’s word for dwarf dinosaur.

Rangui and Rumbi guarded the Gauss home on Valley Road in Bonita in the 1960s. Rangui and Rumbi ran away from home in 1970. No one knew where they were. They were located in 1993, and they were given a permanent home in 1999 on Bonita Road, south side at about 4140.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat