Dog waiting at the water fountain

Poor fellow needs a little help

Picture of the Moment

Poor fellow knows where the water is at the Grape Street Dog Park but he needs a little help to get it.

Dog waiting at the water fountain

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Bad St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church. Bad, bad church.

Opinion

St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church, San Diego CAI have personal issues with religion, mostly Mormons and Catholics since I grew up in those two religions. I’m now going to add Greek Orthodox to the list.

St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in San Diego CA recently applied for permits to demolish two homes on Indiana Street, one of which, and possibly both, has been designated historic.

The church owns both homes, but nonetheless…. So, how can they demolish something that officially has been designated historic? Well, it’s another issue that I have with religions.

Religions, the bane of humanity in my opinion, not only are exempt from paying property taxes but are exempt from many other rules and regulations that the general public has to abide by. In this case, because of religious exemptions, the church does not have to justify its decision, quite often a torturous and onerous process (as it should be), and does not have to order impact reports on how it intends to use the land.

The demolition permits cost $2,331, and the City approved them, even though their own documents noted that the homes are historic. Even with religious exemptions, though, the City has the power to disapprove the demolition permits. In this case, I think the City failed.

Upon learning of the demolition permits, the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) immediately went to work to try to save the two houses. They have found a taker for at least one of the two homes but St. Spyridon refuses to delay demolition so that SOHO can get all the paperwork done to relocate the two houses.

The two houses were custom-built in the 1920s. In other words, they aren’t your typical tract homes in this neighborhood.

3688 Indiana Street, San Diego CA
2,886 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 3½ bathrooms
2016 assessed value: $404,500
2016 property taxes: $32.44 (It’s that religious exemption thing)
Last sale: 1987 to St. Spyridon
3688 Indiana Street, San Diego CA

3694 Indiana Street, San Diego CA
1,241 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
2016 assessed value: $226,664
2016 property taxes: $29.50 (That religious exemption thing again)
Last sale: 1988 to St. Pyridon
3694 Indiana Street, San Diego CA

The North Park Planning Committee’s project review subcommittee has found that there is very little the community can do to keep the houses from being demolished. Although they have contacted St. Spyridon, the church appears not interested in discussing the situation with anyone. “This is so frustrating when we know that at least one of these houses has been designated historic and this loophole lets them tear it down,” said Dionne Carlson. “We’d like to encourage them to think about how it affects the community, and take a little more time to support their community. They have every right to do this, we just hope they will look at other ideas,” she added.

Joaquin Castro, whose business it is to move houses, said that moving the house would save the church the $10,000 cost of demolition and disposing of the building materials.

Already signs are going up on telephone and light poles throughout the neighborhood encouraging a boycott of St. Spyridon’s annual Greek Festival.

Boycott St. Spyridon's annual Greek Festival

I’m hoping the public can put enough pressure on St. Spyridon to do the right thing, and the right thing does not involve demolishing these historic homes.

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Zoey the Cool Cat
with her cute little pink nose
Zoey the Cool Cat's pink nose

Pregnant women can pass DNA on to their children!

A Piece Missing

All of the following are from my pile of articles labeled “WEIRD.”

  1. Volvo busWhile most vehicle safety-control engineers work on slowing vehicles down when a risk is detected, apparently Volvo is taking a different approach for its buses when it comes to pedestrians. The safety control consists of bullying pedestrians (Twitler’s new America!) by progressively honking the horn louder and louder to scare the pedestrians out of the way.
  2. PolygamySecondWife.com is for Muslim Polygamy Matchmaking because, according to a quote on the site (reputedly from the Quran): “then marry women of your choice, two or three, or four” probably taken out of context similar to how Christians take things out of context in the Bible. If you’re not Muslim, though, you can visit Polygamy.com where, the founder says, you can make “bigger happier families.” Both sites, founded by Azad Chaiwalla, have the majority of their Clients in the United States and the United Kingdom, although bigamy is illegal in both countries.
  3. In March 2016, a 55-year-old man in Memphis TN was killed walking on a sidewalk when a car trailer came loose and crashed into him. Apparently he was distracted by watching pornography on his phone while walking.
  4. A 56-year-old woman was found dead in a clothing donation drop-off box in Mount Carmel PA. The police report said she was trying to steal items from the box. It went on to say that she had driven there in her Hummer.
  5. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that measles had been eliminated in the United States. By 2014, it had been resurrected with 677 cases reported. Researchers from Emory University and Johns Hopkins University were able to determine that the main reason was the intentional decision by some Americans to refuse widely available vaccinations for their children.
  6. According to psychologists, the rich rich (the top 1% of the top 1%) are struggling with feelings of isolation (so few rich rich); stress caused by political brouhaha over “inequality”; and insecurity, wondering if their friends are friends of theirs or friends of their money.
  7. Researchers at the University of Florida and Oklahoma State University found that 80% of survey respondents wanted all food labeled with the DNA content. Of course, all flora and fauna have DNA…. One comment on the research included this warning: “WARNING: Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children.”
  8. Apparently it now is okay to steal food in Italy. The country’s top appeals court rules that a homeless man stealing food from a grocyer story was not guilty of crminal behavior because, according to a traditional Italian legal principle that no one is required to do the impossible, it would be impossible for the food thief to allow himself to starve.
    Black-footed ferret
  9. In July 2016 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced plans to prevent black-footed ferrets from dying out in northeaster Montana. Their plan: Deliver by drones peanut butter M&Ms, coated with a vaccine. Apparently, before drones, delivering candy by hand was too expensive for so few ferrets. I think I see a job for me and my new drone in the near future.
  10. Best name for a book about birds. It should be noted that the author of the book, Olaf Danielson, likes to go birdwatching….. in the nude!Boobies Peckers & Tits The following is hidden text to put space between this picture and the following picture, something that WordPress doesn’t seem to be able to do xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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Out & About—Sutherland Dam & Reservoir

Out & About

Although meetup.com was launced in 2002, I didn’t discover it until 2007 when the Great Recession caused me to go on staycations and start exploring the nooks and crannies of San Diego County.

Right now I am a member of 27 Meetup groups. The most active ones are my favorite, like the Pacific Photographic Society and The San Diego Photography Collective.

If you think you know everything about your local neighborhoods, join a meetup.com group and you’ll find that there’s always someone who knows more than you.

Yesterday I headed 57 miles into the boondocks with some members of The San Diego Photography Collective meetup.com group to visit the Sutherland Dam and Reservoir. Coolest dam ever. Looks like this (click on panorama pictures to get a bigger picture in a new window/tab):

Sutherland Dam & Reservoir, Ramona CA

Sutherland Dam & Reservoir, Ramona CA

Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

If you take the easy way to Sutherland Dam & Reservoir using State Highways 78 or 67 to Sutherland Dam Road, you’ll go through Ramona, a well-known equestrian community. There you can see horseys out to pasture:

Horses out to pasture in Ramona CA

Although Sutherland Dam & Reservoir is owned by the City of San Diego, the Ramona Municipal Water District also has access to the water.

The dam and reservoir are named after John P. Sutherland, a Ramona pioneer, real estate developer, and rancher. According to local author Darrell Beck in his book, On Memory’s Back Trail, “A civil engineer named Post who was surveying the dam site and who was drenched in a rainstorm, stopped at Sutherland’s office to record some papers. Sutherland built a fire and gave Post some dry clothes while Post was waiting. As a result, the grateful surveyor said he would never forget this as Sutherland refused to take any pay for helping him. Thus, when the map was filed for record, Post had the title read, ‘Survey of Sutherland Dam Site,’ as a tribute to Sutherland’s kind deed.”

Construction began in 1927 but the dam wasn’t finished until 1954.

In actuality, the dam only took three years to build. Construction had been halted in 1928 due to lack of funds and a disagreement over water rights. Escondido wanted to claim water rights because the natural course of the water would be flowing west and out to the ocean, not south to Ramona and San Diego, the two cities which currently have water rights.

Money probably was the bigger issue, though, and in 1952 voters approved a $6.5 million bond for construction costs to finish the dam: $3 million for the dam, $1.75 for the tunnel, $250,000 for engineering and miscellaneous costs, and $1.5 million for right-of-way costs. I have no idea where the tunnel is; more research is in order.

The dam was about one-fourth complete when work stopped in 1928. When construction started again in 1952, work picked up where it left off. Concrete had been poured for 9 of the 17 arches and most of the wooden framing was still in place. According to a 1954 newspaper article, “The previously built buttresses were still covered with the old wooden frames. When the workers began removing these, thousands of bats flew out to the amazement of everyone.”

When the second phase of construction began in 1952, pipelines were added to the plans to direct the water flow through Ramona to San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside and on to Lake Murray.

More than 3oo dignitaries and spectators attended the dedication ceremony and luncheon hosted by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce on June 5, 1954.

The curved arches are called semi-ecological arches. I could find nothing anywhere about semi-ecological (or ecological) arches, and yet here we have 17 of them between 18 buttresses. Sutherland Dam was the last of the multiple-arched dams built in the county.

Back side of a semi-ecological arch at Sutherland Dam
Back of a semi-ecological arch at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

I did, however, find information about arch dams. According to Wikipedia, arch dams are designed so that the force of the water against them, the hydrostatic pressure, presses against the arch, compressing and strengthening the structure as it pushes into its foundation and abutments. Arch dams are great for narrow gorges and canyons with steep walls. They typically are thinner than other dam types, thus requiring much less construction material, making them economical and practical in remote areas. So maybe less construction material means a lesser impact on the ecology.

Ecology……

Ecological……

Semi-ecological………

I think we’re there!

Arch dams have a long history, with the first known arch dam being built by the Romans in France in the first century B.C. The latest was built in 2013 in China.

The Sutherland Dam is 161 feet high and 1,240 feet wide, including the spillway. Concrete at the base is ten feet thick, tapering to just forty inches at the top. A walkway across the top of the dam follows the contour of the semi-ecological arches, but it’s not accessible to the public. Ha!

Spillway, Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Spillway, Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

The spillway keeps the water level below 145 feet (2,058 feet above sea level), a level that has only been reached twice, once in the late 1970s and again in the 1990s (haven’t found out the exact years…. yet). During the worst of the recent drought years, Sutherland Reservoir was so low that even after all the rain we have had during the past five months, the reservoir still is only at 7.3 percent of its 29,508 acre-feet capacity.

According to a former reservoir keeper at the dam, there are a few cracks in it but they are considered safe. I’m not sure I would rely on a former reservoir keeper because when I was there on April 15, 2017, there were more than “a few cracks.” And there were leaks everywhere. Big leaks, too. YUGE leaks, as Twitler might say.

Water leaking through the Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Water leaking through the Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Sutherland Dam is said to be one of the most earthquake-proof dams in Southern California. Judging from all the leaks I saw, if we have a major earthquake anywhere close to this dam, I think it’s going down.

Since the back of the dam is completely shaded, there is a significant growth of ferns, lichen, and poison ivy.

Ferns at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

The Sutherland Dam & Reservoir is on the Santa Ysabel Creek in the Palomar Mountains in the Cleveland National Forest, and is part of the San Dieguito River Park which stretches from its headwaters at Santa Ysabel all the way to the Pacific Ocean, a distance of about 25 miles.

Recreational activities in the area including boating, fishing, and hunting. Turkey season is in full swing right now, and I met a couple of bow hunters out looking for turkeys. Turkey numbers are said to be very high, and authorities are begging for turkey hunters to help out.

Although the area was significantly impacted by the 2007 Witch Creek fire, Mother & Father Nature have returned with a vengeance.

Burned vegetation

Turkey vulture

Flowers at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Flowers at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Yucca flower spike

There are quite a few ruins throughout the area but I have not yet found any information about them.

Ruins at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Fireplace, Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

The fireplace and chimney standing all alone, with no evidence of a house foundation or walls, really has my interested piqued.

There also are rumors that a garnet mine is out there somewhere, as well as an Iipay Indian village. Some thinking is that both are under water now.

Since you already saw horseys out to pasture on your way in, I can highly recommend taking the back way out. Keep following Sutherland Dam Road, which will follow Santa Ysabel Creek. It’s a crappy road but worth going slowly and looking at the scenery. In the following picture you can see a fire trail climbing the mountain somewhat horizontally, and oaks growing in either a creek bed fed by rains or possibly even a natural spring that feeds into Santa Ysabel Creek. This is Cleveland National Forest, a typical Southern California riparian habitat but not what you’re used to seeing when someone says forest.

Fire trail and oaks along a creek bed

You’ll get down to the intersection with Black Canyon Road where you can see the historic Black Canyon Road Bridge built in 1913. It was one of 18 three-hinged arch bridges built by Thomas & Post between 1909 and 1917. It uses the Thomas method of precast, reinforced concrete sections, which allows movement in two opposite directions using two hinges at the base and one at midspan, a design that compensated for thermal and seismic expansion and contraction.

Black Canyon Road bridge built in 1913

If you go right on Black Canyon Road, you’ll eventually reach part of the Mesa Grande Indian Reservation. You’ll have to turn right on Mesa Grande Road and go down to State Highway 79 to get anywhere.

Turning left on Black Canyon Road will take you back to Ramona and State Highway 78.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Bum & Greyfriars Bobby

Out & About

Quite often I will drive to downtown San Diego early in the morning, park the car, and just wander around. Although I might look lost, I’m not. I’m just searching for those little things that are not in a tour guide and can’t be found in a Google search unless one knows what to search for.

On one such wandering last December, I found Bum and Greyfriars Bobby.

Bum
Bum

Greyfriars Bobby
Greyfriars Bobby

According to a plaque, Bum was San Diego’s official town dog. He arrived as a stowaway (although we don’t know whether on a stagecoach or a train), loved everyone, and “bummed” food from the local eateries. Bum lost a foreleg and part of his tail in a scuffle with another dog on the Santa Fe train tracks. Nonetheless, he looked after children, led parades, accompanied the fire brigade, and even greeted President Benjamin Harrison on his official visit to San Diego in 1891. Eventually the City Council awarded Bum a lifetime dog license. When Bum died on November 10, 1898, at the age of 12, children throughout the city collected pennies to provide for him a proper funeral.

Greyfriars Bobby is a Skye terrier from Scotland. The little guy faithfully accompanied John Gray, an Edinburgh policeman, on his daily rounds. When Gray died suddenly, Bobby is said to have slept loyally by his grave for more than 14 years. Bobby died at the age of 16 on January 11, 1872.

You might ask what Greyfriars Bobby is doing in San Diego. Well, I have the answer. Edinburgh, Scotland, is a sister city to San Diego, and in August 1997, on the twentieth anniversary of that sisterhood, the citizens of Edinburgh present San Diego with a replica of the Greyfriars Bobby statue from their city. Shortly thereafter, San Diego gave a replica of Bum to the citizens of Edinburgh. Bum is proudly bumming around at the foot of Edinburgh Castle.

A special bonus if you have a smart phone: hold your smart phone up to each statue’s bar code and the dogs will tell their stories via an actor’s voice.

Bum and Bobby rest in Pocket Park at Fourth Avenue and Island Avenue.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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First Yuneec Typhoon H drone pictures and video

I live in my own little world

Back in December 1976 I flew with three friends on a 4-seat Mooney aircraft from College Station TX to Tyler and then over to Memphis TN. That was my first airplane flight. I’m not sure I ever removed my face from the window.

Then, my first (real) job out of college in 1977 allowed me to do a lot of flying. I lived and worked in Houston but had the opportunity to fly to Dallas, New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York…… It was so much fun. By the time I moved to San Diego in 1993, I had been to 38 of the 50 states.

I sat out of the work force for 11 months after arriving in San Diego, considering myself retired. Retirement’s not all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you’re used to being around lots of people all the time. So I went back into the work force and got a job that involved a significant amount of traveling–San Diego, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Philadelphia, Tampa, Miami, New Orleans………. The list goes on and on and on.

Every time I flew, regardless of where I was flying to or from, my face was always glued to the window. I loved being up above everything looking down on it–mountains, buildings, highways, forests, lakes…… Anything and everything.

I cut back significant on flying after 9/11, especially after the Detroit Shoe Bomber. I just don’t like long lines, don’t like undressing at an airport, and don’t like people touching my junk unless I ask them to.

I missed being above, looking down.Yuneec Typhoon H

So on March 18, 2017, I bought a drone. The biggest, baddest drone I could find. With lots of bells, whistles, vibrations, and alarms. A Typhoon H Pro with RealSense Technology. It cost $1,899 at Fry’s Electronics but on that day Fry’s paid the $147.17 sales tax for me.

This thing is so big and expensive that it took me three weeks before I was brave enough to try to fly it. Been through several crashes but since I’m only flying six feet above ground, the crashes didn’t do any significant damage. Just three plastic rotors which cost about $7 each.

Then I joined the San Diego Drone Club. A little six-year-old boy set me straight: “Just do it” I think he said. So I set out to find a place where I could practice without being a hazard to people or animals. Collier Park across the street was pretty good but I never know how busy it’s going to get on any morning. I might be able to fly for two hours or two minutes. It’s also less than an acre, so if the children or dogs show up early, I’m outta there.

Today I discovered Eucalyptus County Park. It’s almost 6½ acres, and is rather isolated out in Spring Valley, about three miles from me. I arrived at 6:10 this morning and left 1½ hours later. During that time I saw only one other person. So I got a lot of practice in, especially with landing, and learning how to make the drone move in the direction I want it to move. I also got eight still pictures and two videos.

Here are my favorite two pictures from this morning at Eucalyptus Park:

Grove of palm trees from up abovePalm trees from above

Bancroft Drive with Mount San Miguel at upper leftBancroft Drive in Spring Valley CA

And here’s my best video out of four total, two today, taken using the drone’s spinaround mode:

This drone is pretty awesome because of its Intel RealSense Technology. It will communicate with up to 18 satellites to give you GPS, and once it has a lock on GPS, it can pretty much fly itself.

The ST16 Controller has more apps on it than a smart phone and allows you to set so many functions that you will need a margarita by the time you finsh:

Typhoon H ST16 Controller

The Typhoon H also comes with a remote-control called a Wizard:

Typhoon H Wizard

The Wizard is what you will use if you get tired of holding the Controller or it starts getting heavy hanging on the lanyard around your neck. With the Wizard, you can set the Controller down, or give it to a friend to hold, and go walking around. If you put the drone in “Follow me” mode, it will follow you at whatever height you set it for. You can also use “Point to fly” mode and just point the Wizard somewhere and the Typhoon H will fly to that spot. There’s also a “Home” mode which helps the drone get back home if it gets lost. It has an Obstacle Avoidance mode so that it can automatically go around trees and such, and you can create a virtual fence so that, regardless of what you do, you can’t go beyond that fence. Useful for if you lose GPS out in the boondocks and your drone starts to “fly away.” Pictures and videos can be taken using just the Wizard. It truly is a wizard at doing what it does.

Typhoon H batteryThe battery provides about 25 minutes of flying time, takes 1½ hours to recharge, and costs $139.99 (less if you go to eBay). You get two with the drone. I bought two more, so I’ll be taking four batteries with me into the mountains. I’ll be able to recharge one battery using the in-car charger while driving, so it should be rare that I’ll run out of battery juice or flight time.

My only complaint with the Typhoon H at this point is that the videos in mp4 format are huge and crappy. The video in this blog post was 621 MB straight out of the drone and so crappy that I would be embarrassed to show it to anyone. So I took it to Wondershare Filmora, my video editing program, and simply saved it with a different name. Now it looks awesome and is only 81 MB. Can’t explain that one. Apparently the Chinese have a different mp4 format.

I have more on my mind with the Typhoon H than just playing with it, though. I want to get pictures of abandoned railroad tracks for my railroad research in areas that are somewhat inaccessible out in the East San Diego County mountains. My hiking days are behind me, especially if the hike involves going down into a rocky canyon and up the other side. The canyons are steep but are rarely more than a mile across, and if they are, there are roads to get me closer. With this drone, if I can get within a mile, I can get it the rest of the way.

Eventually I’ll get an FAA 107 commercial drone license so I can do real estate photography and figure out other ways to use this drone to make money.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat