Monthly Archives: May 2019

Facts, research, science…. meh

Opinion

Texas A&M UniversityI worked for the Department of Chemistry, College of Science, and University Press at Texas A&M University from April 1, 1984, to May 15, 1987, and the Department of Chemistry, College of Science, and University Press at Stanford University from May 16, 1987 to September 30, 1987.

One of my tasks was to check facts, citations, sources, and references. I questioned everything and verified everything before any press release was released, before any newsletter was sent, and before any book was published.

Once I was satisfied about the integrity of a book, I assigned it an ISBN. In today’s world, ISBN’s can be bought for as low as $4.95. That helps self-publishers, but the whole definition of self-publisher means that no one has verified anything. That’s okay for something like a picture book, but it’s not okay for books relying on facts, research, and science.

Considering the prevalence of digital photos and photo editing software, as well as video editing software, and how those fake photos and videos spread on social media, it might not be good for picture books, either. I fear that the world is going to end as humans revert back to their evolutionary predecessors….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Out & About—Abandoned!

Out & About San Diego

When I explored the East San Diego County boondocks for the first time, I was searching for history, not really thinking about why that certain history became part of history. I was following Highway 94 using a highway history tour book as a guide.

Highway 94 used to be a major east-west thoroughfare in San Diego County…. Until the mid-1960s when Interstate 8 was built. That caused vehicle traffic to abandon Highway 94. People who relied on that vehicle traffic had to move, leaving their former homes and businesses behind.

Chimney from a long-ago abandoned home

I never really thought about the connection between vehicle traffic, businesses, and even who cities until I drove part of historic Route 66 from Santa Monica, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada. Suddenly I understood. The price of progress. People enjoyed getting from here to there much faster on Interstate highways.

Former service station

Whole cities had been founded along railroad tracks, then along the first roadways, all to serve the people who traveled on the railroads and roadways. When the Interstate highway system came along, people no longer had a need to stop for a meal or sleep for the night. Driving from here to there could be accomplished easily in hours instead of days, weeks, or even months.

Abandoned home

Those who understood what was happening, or going to happen, quickly moved their homes and businesses near the Interstates, simply abandoning their former homes and businesses.

Abandoned home

Of the places I have visited, Jacumba and Barstow, both in California, seem to be the hardest hit. I can kind of understand Jacumba because it is out in the middle of nowhere. Barstow, however, is home to a huge railroad classification yard used by both BNSF and Union Pacific. Interstate 15 also runs smack dab through the middle of Barstow, so I’m not fully understanding what happened there unless people simply pass it by in their haste to get to Los Angeles or Las Vegas; Barstow is the midpoint.

Jacumba used to be Jacumba Hot Springs. It was a playground for the rich and famous from the Los Angeles movie, film, and recording industries, those who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles for the weekend. Here are two pictures of what once has a thriving Jacumba Hot Springs bath house:

Abandoned business in Jacumba, California

I wanted to explore the interior so badly, but Jacumba is a small town and there are No Trespassing signs posted, so I didn’t want someone to see me go inside and call law enforcement.

Sadly, I see the same thing happening now with our shopping malls. Few people want to get dressed, go outside, and drive to a mall to shop when they can simply join Amazon Prime Now and have virtually anything delivered today or tomorrow.

It’s getting worse because the brick-and-mortar stores are losing foot traffic, and with the loss of that foot traffic comes a loss of inventory, so even when one does go to the mall, it’s rare that they have the item that one is looking for. People go back home and get those items from Amazon Prime Now. Eventually those same people learn that it just isn’t worth the time to go to the mall.

Some malls and shopping districts have lost so many shoppers and the resulting revenue that they have implemented parking fees. Huh? All that does is encourage people even more to shop at home on the computer with a cat on their laps, a dog by their sides, and a margarita sitting on their desks.

I don’t have an answer, which is why I’m not a politician with all the answers. I did read recently that some abandoned malls have been renovated into office complexes. I liked that. I’m wondering if the likes of Amazon could, perhaps, turn some malls and buildings, or parts thereof, into warehouses for the products they carry. Then other parts of the malls or buildings could be personnel support centers for those bigger businesses.

Abandoned building in Jacumba, California

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—Walk Against Hate

Out & About San Diego

I spent five days in Utah and Wyoming a couple of weeks ago for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Although people came from all over the world, the diversity of those people was very disappointing to me.

Out of the thousands and thousands and thousands of people whom I saw, I counted five black people, four Asian people, and thousands and thousands and thousands of old white men.

I suspect that, considering the role that blacks and Asians played in building out the railroads in this country a hundred years ago, none of them or their descendents wanted to take time off and spend money to help the progeny of white slave drivers celebrate.

Yesterday, here in San Diego, the Anti-Defamation League sponsored a Walk Against Hate. I saw more diversity in three hours than I did in five days in Utah and Wyoming last week! There were over 3,000 people registered to walk, as well as over 160 teams. Many of the teams were from elementary, middle, and high schools.

Anti-Defamation League's Walk Against Hate in San Diego on 5/19/19

Anti-Defamation League's Walk Against Hate in San Diego on 5/19/19

I haven’t been thrilled about what’s going on in the world right now due to the extreme amount of hatred that the current president has encouraged, but to see moms, dads, and children out celebrating diversity by walking against hate did give me some encouragement, and in some cases, caused a few raindrops to fall from my eyes.

Anti-Defamation League's Walk Against Hate in San Diego on 5/19/19

Anti-Defamation League's Walk Against Hate in San Diego on 5/19/19

No Hate

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

SNIPPETS (5/17/2019)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

I finished my second video of the two Union Pacific steam locomotives, this one titled “They’ll be coming round the mountain when they come. They’ll be high up on the mountain when they come.” The scenery is just as beautiful as the train!

SNIPPET 2

The lead locomotive, Big Boy #4014, recently restored after sitting in static display at Rail Giants Museum in Pomona, California, from 1959 to 2014, derailed yesterday. The public didn’t know the extent of any damage for about thirty minutes. Fortunately, the train was entering the yard in Rawlins, Wyoming, so it was going rather slow. It took them a little over three hours to get Big Boy up on the rails again. We rail fans were tense for a time there.

SNIPPET 3

All the cacti that had bloomed in my gardens two days ago bloomed again yesterday. However, someone was late to the party but finally made it, but it was worth the wait. It’s a Trichocereus grandiflorus Thai hybrid.

SNIPPET 4

My neighbors have a huge loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica) in their back yard which I can see from my kitchen window. It is in full fruit right now, and the ground squirrels are all over it, seeming to forget that they are ground squirrels, not tree squirrels. Here’s one who has found an all-you-can-eat buffet about thirty feet up in the tree:

Ground squirrel eating loquats in the tree

SNIPPET 5

It rained all day yesterday, so I drank some macho juice and went outside to take macro pictures of raindrops on flowers. The first picture below is raindrops on the flowers of Asclepias physocarpa, a type of milkweed called the “Balloon Plant” because it’s seed pods look like balloons, albeit hairy balloons. The second picture is of the seed pods, of which this plant had three last year when it was just a wee plant; it’s now about ten feet tall.

Asclepias physocarpa

Asclepias physocarpa seed pod

SNIPPET 6

My road trip to Promontory Summit and Ogden, Utah, comprised five days and covered 2,282.9 miles (yes, I’m a little detailed). My two favorite scenic parts of the drive were the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona and Interstate 80 from Echo, Utah, to Evanston, Wyoming.

I bought a dash cam last July on that eight-day road trip, so eventually I’ll be able to share these two drives on YouTube. They were that great.

SNIPPET 6

Based on state license plates over the 2,282.9-mile drive, here is my considered opinion of drivers, best to worst:

  1. Wyoming drivers were the best but perhaps only because there were so few of them, right in line with Wyoming being the least populous state with a mere 544,270 people spread out over 97,000 square miles.
  2. Arizona—Interstate 15 went through the northwest corner of Arizona for only about 35 miles so I might not have a large enough sample to truly say anything definitive about Arizona drivers.
  3. Nevada—The speed limit was 70 or 75 mph, and Interstate 15 goes right smack dab through the heart of Las Vegas. I do believe most Nevada drivers also were gambling while driving.
  4. Utah—The speed limit on Interstate 15 in Utah is 70 to 80 miles per hour, mostly 80, only dropping to 70 in construction zones. Sadly, speed limit laws apply equally to the smart and the stupid, but I think the number of stupid people is far greater than smart people. The fact that so many stupid people are driving 80 miles per hour, and often up to 90 miles per hour, in heavy traffic, was a constant source of worry.
  5. California drivers were the worst. I think each person believes all roadways within 10 miles belong to him or her; female drivers were far worse than male drivers.

SNIPPET 7

Speaking of speed limits, it was interesting how each state handles them. California was 65 mph in or near cities and 70 mph in boondocks areas. Arizona was 70 mph and 75 mph, as was Nevada. Utah was 70 mph in construction zones, 75 mph through cities, and 80 mph in the boondocks, which was basically all of southern Utah. Wyoming was 80 mph. My thinking would be that California needs to get with the program!

SNIPPET 8

Gas prices were another issue of mine. When I left the confines of California, gas was $4.799 a gallon for the cheapest grade, usually something like ARCO 87 octane. In Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, gas was $3.049 to $3.159. Interestingly, almost all the brands were the exact same price, so instead of doing ARCO, I went with Shell, Union 76, and ExxonMobil.

As I determined back in the late ’70s when I got my first car, the major brands brought better gas mileage. What was weird, though, was that the major brand cheap gas was 85 octane. Theoretically, 85 octane should give you lower gas mileage than 87 octane.

Gas mileage using California ARCO 87 octane gas ranged from 30.9 mpg to 33.8 mpg. Using Shell, Union 76, and ExxonMobil 85 octane gas provided 35.2 to 40.7 mpg.

A new item this morning indicates that certain entities might be manipulating California gas prices, which I would believe since California gas prices usually aren’t $1.80 higher than surrounding states.

I filled up with Shell gas at a truck stop just south of Las Vegas where I paid $3.089. A few miles later I passed the first truck stop in California where the gas was $4.999. I saved $1.91 a gallon, calculating to $22.92 for my
12-gallon tank. That would buy a lot of margaritas!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—Historic trains in Ogden Utah

Out & About The World

Granddad, as well as my dad, worked for Missouri Pacific Railroad, granddad as a Road Foreman of Engines. Dad also was a Road Foreman of Engines but had just been promoted to Vice-President of Missouri Pacific Railroad when he killed himself. They found his body on January 18, 1961, in a railroad box car in a small, isolated railroad siding northeast of Palestine, Texas. They estimated that he had been dead for three days.

After dad’s death, mom moved us from Palestine to northern Utah, first Hyrum, then Wellsville, then Logan, and finally Brigham City. Brigham City is where I became a rail fan. Among other things, I used to skip school and hop the Union Pacific trains, riding in a box car down to Ogden and back. A cool 38-mile round trip. I’m the reason why you don’t see open doors on empty box cars anymore….

In May 1969, when I was 14 years old, I was living in Kingsville, Texas, with my paternal grandparents. They had adopted me 3½ years earlier. May 1969 was the 100th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. I wanted so badly to go back to Utah and help Union Pacific celebrate, but said grandparents would not take me. I was sad. Granted, it was 1,500 miles away, but nevertheless…. Still sad.

My stamp collecting helped me determine that historic events were celebrated every 50 years. I did the calculations and determined that I would be 64 in 2019 when the 150th anniversary rolled around. I had a chance to still be alive, so I put it on my calendar.

Fast forward to May 10, 2019. Guess where I was. Yep. Northern Utah participating in many celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Two historic steam locomotives were due to be in Ogden, Utah, to help with the celebrations My #1 goal was to get a video of the two locomotives leaving Ogden to go back to the steam shops in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Here’s the video I got:

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Picture of the Moment—Zoey the Cool Cat talks….

Picture of the Moment

I left at 4:18 on the morning on Wednesday, May 8, to go to northern Utah for the sesquicentennial celebration of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

I lived in northern Utah—Hyrum, Wellsville, Logan, and Brigham City—from mid-1961 (unsure of the actual date) to December 18, 1965.

Union Pacific #844 and #4014 meet in Ogden, UtahI visited the historic railroad depot in downtown Ogden, Utah, to see two historic steam locomotives re-enact the meeting 150 years ago at….

Promontory Summit, Utah, the place where the eastern railroad, Union Pacific, met with the western railroad, Central Pacific;

Buffalo on Antelope Island, Great Salt LakeAntelope Island, a huge island in the Great Salt Lake, where there is a very large herd of buffalo;

Red Butte Gardens on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City;

Lagoon Amusement Park, one of the few places that I have positive memories of my years ages 6-10 in northern Utah;

visited my oldest aunt and uncle in Provo, Utah. Mom was the oldest child, and this uncle was the second oldest. Aunt & uncle were the two who drove me from Brigham City, Utah, to Kingsville, Texas, in December 1965 when I was to be adopted by my wise old (paternal) grandmother.

and I chased the two steam locomotives from Ogden to Morgan to Echo to Evanston, Wyoming, on May 12.

I will have lots of pictures and videos to share in the coming days, weeks, and months.

I got home at 7:50 on the morning of Monday, May 13.

I’m not sure whether I got a “Welcome home!” or a different message from the little queen, Zoey the Cool Cat.

What do y’all think?