Category Archives: Manmade

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

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Out & About—All auto clinics are not created equal

Out & About San Diego

Ocean Beach is a quaint little neighborhood of San Diego. They believe in themselves, so much so that they want to remain stuck in the twentieth century, and the earlier the better.

The homes along Sunset Cliffs are beautiful ocean-view homes, and many of the businesses at ground level on one side are at the top of the sandstone beach bluffs on the other side. Occasionally, when Mother & Father Nature are fighting, the waves will crash against the bluffs and cause large sections to fall to the beach. Such was the case a few months ago, so I went out to see if I could get some pictures. Nope. The only way the bluffs there were accessible is by boat, and I didn’t have a boat. So I wandered around taking pictures of businesses.

That’s when I found Cliffside Auto Clinic. You might think, “Auto repair shop. Meh.”, but look what’s sitting in front of Cliffiside Auto Clinic:

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

One might think, “Gosh, it takes them six decades to repair a car. The owners are probably dead by now!”

Nope.

Cliffside Auto Clinic specializes in restoring cars. How cool!

The “Horseless Carriage” really got my attention because it was in such bad shape:

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

I think the owner, whom I talked to that morning, said the Horseless Carriage was a 1909 Ford Model T but I’m not 100% sure.

There were other historic car-related items, too:

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

I also found two early Fidget Spinner prototypes:

Cliffside Auto Clinic in Ocean Beach, San Diego

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

Out & About—The San Diego Jetty

Out & About San Diego

Once a month I go out to the San Diego Jetty to see how the feral cat colony there is doing. We old timers call them the Jetty Cats.

San Diego jetty

San Diego jetty

Feral cats on the San Diego jetty

The Jetty is a great place to see beautiful sunsets because there always is something to put in the picture to add interest to the sunset. It’s also a great place to go for a walk, as so many people do.

Following are some pictures from my trip to the Jetty in August, featuring everything except the Jetty Cats, although a few can be seen in these pictures. The Jetty Cats will be featured in Saturday’s post since tomorrow is Friday Flower Fiesta day.

Sentinel SeagullSentinel Seagull

Dogs at Dog Beach in Ocean Beach,
across the San Diego River from the
San Diego Jetty and the Jetty Cats.Dogs on Dog Beach in Ocean Beach across from the San Diego Jetty

Throw it already!A woman and her dog

The San Diego Jetty is an active fishing area.
Sadly, that means the some fisherpeople leave
fishing line behind which the birds often get
entangled in, quite often losing a leg. This juvenile
already has to go through the rest of its life with just one leg.One-legged bird at the San Diego Jetty

It’s probably too late for this bird’s leg.
You can see the scar where the fishing line
was wrapped around the bird’s leg.
Bird with an injured leg at San Diego Jetty

There are quite a few cormorants and pelicans.
The cormorants are relative new visitors to the Jetty.
Cormorant at the San Diego Jetty

Pelican and sunset at the San Diego Jetty

The Jetty might be the only place where the birds are bigger than the cats,
and the cats have no interest in trying to catch those birds.Cats and a seagull at the San Diego Jetty

Bird mug shots.
I love it when wildlife cooperates with me.
Seagull mug shot at the San Diego Jetty

Seagull mug shot at the San Diego Jetty

ImpostorCats and skunk at the San Diego Jetty

Yes, there is a family of skunks that lives right alongside the Jetty Cats.
Neither the cats nor the skunks seem to care but it does make it
interesting when people like me show up to leave a little water and food.Skunk at the San Diego Jetty
Skunk at the San Diego Jetty
Skunk at the San Diego Jetty

Bushy tails.Skunks at the San Diego Jetty
Skunk at the San Diego Jetty

Tour boat coming back in at sunset.Tour boat at the San Diego Jetty

Wrong side of the fenceWrong side of the fence

Into the sunsetOff into the sunset

Coming up tomorrow: Friday Flower Fiesta. The Jetty Cats will have their own feature on Saturday!

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

Out & About—The Great Stone Church, the Wrightwood Earthquake & dubious construction methods

Out & About

During my early years as a teenager 55 years ago, I wanted to be an anesthesiologist, but only because I could spell that word.

When I was in my mid-teens, I wanted to be a history teacher, but then I found out how much money teachers in Texas made. Not enough….

History, though, very much has been a part of me all my life, so when my husband told me a few months ago that he wanted to go to Mission San Juan Capistrano, well, I’m all there….

So yesterday we drove up to the Oceanside Transit Center (51 miles) and took Metrolink to San Juan Capistrano, about a 40-minute train ride. We spent six hours wandering around the city and the mission, both of which are extraordinarily fascinating.

I’ll have more about both the city and the mission in future blog posts, but today I wanted to share some pictures of the ruins of the Great Stone Church:

Ruins of the Great Stone Church at Mission San Juan Capistrano, California

Ruins of the Great Stone Church at Mission San Juan Capistrano, California

Ruins of the Great Stone Church at Mission San Juan Capistrano, California

Ruins of the Great Stone Church at Mission San Juan Capistrano, California

Ruins of the Great Stone Church at Mission San Juan Capistrano, California

In the second picture, that long walkway was what one might call the Great Hall inside the church. A model of the church, built in the shape of a cross, provides a better perspective; the Great Hall is the base of the cross:

Great Stone Church model at Mission San Juan Capistrano

The Great Stone Church took nine years to build, 1797-1806. It was used as a house of worship for six years, 1806-1812. Mother & Father Nature destroyed it in mere minutes with one of their earthquakes on December 8, 1812. Forty people died, all Native Americans attending mass and in the process of being converted to Christianity. I wonder why the almighty god would want to kill forty of his converts………….

Earthquakes also have fascinated me throughout my life so I went to find out more about this one. Records are poor (which is just one of the many reasons why I don’t take anything literally that is in the Bible; records from 200 years ago are poor but somehow records from 2,000 years ago are complete?). The earthquake involved here is called the Wrightwood Earthquake or, sometimes, the San Juan Capistrano Earthquake in recognition of the death toll.

While the exact location and size of the earthquake are unknown, evidence from sediments along the San Andreas Fault, as well as analysis of tree rings of pines growing near the fault, has led to the earthquake being identified as one along the Mojave segment of the San Andreas Fault, possibly resulting in as much as 106 miles of surface rupture, and a theorized epicenter near Wrightwood. The magnitude has been estimated at Mw 7.5.

The Great Stone Church was built completely of stone; ergo, its name. The earthquake caused the mortar to fail and the church collapsed. No surprise to me. Look at the stone—no rhyme or reason as to size and placement:

Ruins of the Great Stone Church at Mission San Juan Capistrano, California

Here a stone, there a stone, make it big, make it small…. Each stone will conduct stresses differently, so while one stone might be great at absorbing stresses, another stone might be great at concentrating those stresses. And of the stone and mortar, the mortar will be the weakest part of the construction. Of course, I have the advantage of an extra 225 years of construction knowledge and experience….

The Southern California Earthquake Data Center states:

That even a magnitude 7.5 on the San Andreas fault could have such dire consequences on a structure as far away [about 80 miles] from the fault as the mission church seems unusual, but it was reported that the construction of the church was of dubious quality.

So now I’m wondering why this almighty god would let his people build a church using construction methods of dubious quality…………….

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

We moved to the boondocks!

I live in my own little world

So our live-in-the-sky experiment came to an end yesterday. It lasted 2 years and 3 months. For the first few months it was kind of neat to live high up but then the 45 stairs to get to the front door became burdensome. Sunrises from the home office were spectacular.

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Sadly, though, there was no wildlife 50 feet up in the sky—no lizards, no snakes, no spiders, no bugs, no birds. Well, alright, one mourning dove did come to visit us in the 27 months we lived there.

Our new homeOur new home is in the boondocks, which is kind of funny since the city of La Mesa had 60,00o people crammed into 9.1 square miles. Out here in the boondocks, we live in El Cajon (ka-hone), a city of 104,000 crammed into 14.48 square miles. So the population density actually is greater in El Cajon, 7,163 people per square mile, versus La Mesa’s 6,592.

Maybe it’s the outskirts, where we lived and live, that is the difference. A-ha! (not the group). Google Maps indicates that we don’t even live in El Cajon. That’s simply the post office that delivers our mail. Google Maps indicates that we live in Winter Gardens, which is a census-designated place in San Diego County. In other words, an unincorporated area. In other words, THE BOONDOCKS!

The Boondocks

We’re at the end of a street, not a true cul-de-sac, but we only have one neighbor. The other three sides are hills. At night it is quiet quiet quiet. We kind of like it since the street we lived on in La Mesa was noisy noisy noisy, even with dual-pane windows. We also have a nice oversized 2-car garage. We haven’t had a nice garage since March 2007.

I don’t know who loves it best out here, me or Zoey the Cool Cat (ZCC). The old place was 684 square feet (we downsized too much) and the new place is 1,440 square feet. Our largest home was 3,984 square feet on 1.83 acres of land, too big for just two people. This new place feels just right for the queen and her staff of two.

ZCC has 14 low-sill windows where she can watch all the wildlife, and after 11 days here (hmmm, same number of days that Scaramucci was employed by Twitler………), she knows where the sunny spots are, the sunny windows, and, of course, the wildlife. There’s a difference between dawn, day, and dusk wildlife, so she has to go to different windows. There are a few billion rabbits, another billion ground squirrels, only a million fence lizards, and then birds of all types, with ravens and raptors prevailing. Sometimes the ground squirrels come to see ZCC.

Following are some pictures of the wildlife and, of course, the queen adjusting to her new palace. It’s all about the queen….

Common garden wolf spider found its way inside.
It was returned to the outside where it could become food for….Common garden wolf spider

….California quail, the state bird.

I built a cat box for ZCC whereby she can go through a cat door
in the window and sit outside while still being protected.
This ground squirrel came up to see ZCC in her cat box,
which is the blurred white in the lower right.
They are just a couple of feet from each other.
Ground squirrelZCC helping me put together our new desks,
although she’s more interested in the tennis match
on our new 49″ 4K TV than she is actually helping me.Zoey the Cool Cat

ZCC exploring the new digs.
Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

ZCC helping me populate the bookshelves.
Zoey the Cool Cat

Like any cat, ZCC likes to help unpack things.
Zoey the Cool Cat

Once all the work is done, of course, one has to sleep,
and ZCC has lots of options for that vital task.
Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

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A post-modern triumph or a regrettable hodgepodge?

Opinion

My husband earns money each day by working at Warwick’s at the San Diego International Airport. Warwick’s is a bookstore. Occasionally he brings home free books for me to read. Recently he brought home a pre-published proof of the new Dean Koontz book, “The Silent Corner.”

Koontz and his wife live in “Southern California.” In other words, he doesn’t want us to know exactly where, but I suspect it might be closer to San Diego than Los Angeles since the book takes place in San Diego County—Alpine, San Diego, and La Jolla, so far (I’m on page 74).

On page 33, Koontz calls our new San Diego Central Library (opened in September 2013) “a post-modern triumph or a regrettable hodgepodge.” That’s the first time I have ever heard of the new library being called anything except “beautiful” and synonyms for “beautiful.” Thus, I have to presume that Koontz considers it a regrettable hodgepodge.

Here are some pictures of the regrettable hodgepodge:

San Diego Central Library stamp

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on February 2, 2013

Price Reading Room at the San Diego Central Library

Lobby of the new San Diego Central Library

The Central Library building is 9 floors, but the sixth and seventh floors are accessible only to students, teachers, and others affiliated with E3 Civic High School, which according to sources is the only high school in the nation (probably the world) housed within a library. Imagine going to high school in a magnificent library. I want to live my life again….

The library cost $184.9 million, comprises 366,673 square feet, houses 2.6 million items, has a circulation of 7.2 million, and 6.6 million visitors each year. There is free WiFi at the Central Library and all 35 branch libraries; in fact, the San Diego Public Library was one of the first in the nation to provide free WiFi at all locations. It also houses the second largest collection of baseball memorabilia in the United States. The dome on top is claimed to be the fourth largest in America and the sixth largest in the world.

Here’s a picture of the old library which served from 1954 to 2013:

Old San Diego Central Library on August 13, 2012

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Cruise historic Highway 80

Out & About

More sights from my driving tour of Old Highway 80 through East San Diego County.

Cruise Highway 80

The Alpine Town Hall (two pictures below) was built in 1899 and served through 1999. Alpine began in the 1870s as a local center for ranching. The building currently is owned by the Alpine Woman’s Club which pretty much has to missions: to preserve the town hall and to provide scholarships to Alpine graduating seniors heading to college.

Alpine town hall in Alpine CA

Alpine town hall in Alpine CA

The Descanso Junction Restaurant is quite popular. I was there around 8:00 a.m., and it was packed. Descanso Junction’s original name was Bohemia Grove, and the original name of the restaurant was El Nido. That’s my car at the left parked next to the truck.

Descanso Junction Restaurant

The Descanso Town Hall was built in 1898. It still is a popular venue for local events and is one of the few community halls still operating in the mountains.

Descanso Town Hall

The Perkins Store has been in operation since 1875. The store in the picture below was built in 1939 after the original store burned.

Perkins Store

The old Guatay Service Station dates from the 1920s but is now just a shell of its former self. The round metal shed was the service bay.

Ruins of the Guatay Service Station

Behind the service station ruins sits a cool stone house, also built in the 1920s and still being used as a private residence.

Stone house

The immensely popular Frosty Burger in Pine Valley occupies another 1920s-era service station. I can highly recommend Frosty Burger. It can get cold in the high desert mountains, and Frosty Burger has only outdoor seating, so take a jacket or plan on eating in your warm car.

Frosty Burger in Pine Valley

The Pine Valley Inn was the main business in Pine Valley for many years. The main dining hall (right in the picture below) is still used as a restaurant, and the rental cabins, although remodeled and updated, still are in use. One of the rental cabins can be seen at the left.

Pine Valley Inn

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat