Tag Archives: san diego central library

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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Out & About—The San Diego & Arizona Railway

Out & About The World

On January 1, 2017, I decided to write a book that combined my love of writing, history, trains, and photography. With a tentative title of “On Time: A Timeline of Railroads in San Diego County,” I’m finding that it keeps me busy and I don’t seem to get bored.

New San Diego Central Library on February 2, 2013Right now it’s just a lot of reading and research. I started in the San Diego Central Library (left) because I found that they have microfilm of the new San Diego newspapers—Herald, Union, Tribune, Union-Tribune—all the way back to 1851, which was 18 years before the completion of the Union Pacific/Central Pacific transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah.

Those 18 years in the San Diego newspapers indicate that San Diego was hoping to be what San Francisco became. It never happened because, basically, no one could agree on a good route through the Santa Rosa Mountains and the Colorado Desert from Yuma AZ to San Diego.

Not that people weren’t trying. San Diego & Arizona RailwayEven after the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, people kept trying to build a southern competitor. It looked like it might happen when John D. Spreckels, the owner of the San Diego Union, said that he would build it. And he did. The San Diego & Arizona Railway (SD&A). Also known as “The Impossible Railroad.”

The SD&A’s history is so convoluted (which is why I’m writing this book) that the only thing I can determine for sure at this point is that the SD&A was chartered on December 14, 1906; groundbreaking ceremonies were held on September 7, 1907; and construction was completed on November 15, 1919. Final construction cost was $18 million, three times the original estimate of $6 million.

There are 129 miles. The 11-mile segment through Carrizo Gorge included 17 tunnels stretching 13,385 feet, and 2½ miles of bridges and trestles.

The SD&A was never profitable, mainly because tunnels kept collapsing and trestles were washed away from winter rains. Although there is, to this day, hope for re-opening the line, there are two main problems: First, the cost to repair the damaged tunnels and trestles is estimated at $5.5 million. Second, there are 44 miles of track in Mexico. Yep. Mexico. A hundred years ago there was no border wall and people easily moved back and forth between the two countries.

In today’s world with Twitler as the United States president, I think there is no way anyone anywhere is going to approve a train leaving San Diego, entering Mexico at Tijuana and re-entering the United States at Tecate, 44 miles away. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. That’s based on my early youth when I was hopping trains between Brigham City and Ogden UT, and Kingsville and Bishop TX.

So, while we’re waiting for Twitler to be impeached, we have to content ourselves with tourist rides on a 5-mile section of the old line courtesy of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.

Early in January 2017, I took a driving tour of the SD&A tracks all the way out to Plaster City, a distance of about 90 miles. A month later, a friend who owns a helicopter service took me on a 3-hour flight out to the Santa Rosa Mountains to check out the SD&A railroad from the air. Following are some pictures from both my adventures.

This first picture is near Jacumba Hot Springs and shows the SD&A tracks going under a bridge built in 1932 for old U.S. Highway 80.

SD&A tracks under Old Highway 80

The border wall with Mexico is about one hundred feet away, with a maintenance gate:

Border wall with gate

I walked over to the gate and had about a million Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents descend on me. After talking with me for a few minutes and looking at pictures on my camera, one officer said into his walkie talkie: “Stand down. Local tourist.” Another officer informed me that with a new car with “paper plates” (temporary plates), I’d probably be stopped several times. I was. Six times in 90 miles.

Note that San Diego County already has built its border wall with Mexico, and we had no help from anyone else, not even Mexico. Thus, we’re not going to help other counties build their walls.

This next picture is of a switch engine marked as Carrizo Gorge Railway 1465:

Carrizo Gorge Railway operated the SD&A tracks between Tecate and Plaster City from 1997 to 2012. This locomotive is tied up in court between Carrizo Gorge Railway and the engine’s owners, the East County Dirt Works. It sits at the old depot in downtown Jacumba where a lot of other rolling stock also sits, deteriorating in the hot desert sun.

Tierra Madre Railway

My goal on my driving tour was to make it to Plaster City CA, which is nothing but a gypsum plant for USG. However, USG operates that last remaining commercial narrow gauge railroad in the United States. Standard gauge tracks like you see every day are 4’8½” between the rails. Narrow gauge tracks can be anything narrower than that; the USG narrow gauge tracks are a mere 3′, making the rolling stock somewhat small compared to the big boys. As we flew over Plaster City in the helicopter, I got a picture of USG 112, a narrow gauge locomotive:

USG 112 at Plaster City CA

And the narrow gauge tracks leading from the gypsum quarry to Plaster City in the upper right:

Plaster City narrow gauge tracks

The flight over the Carrizo Gorge where all the tunnels and trestles are was pretty cool. The main sight in Carrizo Gorge is the Goat Canyon Trestle:

At about 180′ high and 630′ long, the Goat Canyon Trestle is the largest wooden trestle in the world. The trestle was built in 1932 when the tunnel, directly in the center behind the trestle, collapsed. At the left is an abandoned hopper car.

It’s pretty neat to see all the trestles from the air, indicating just how desolate and isolated this area is, and how difficult it is to maintain the tracks.

All along the route are abandoned railroad cars. In some cases it’s obvious why they are abandoned:

The Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum in Campo CA uses the old Campo Depot as its headquarters and has a lot of rolling stock that it is restoring. They offer rides on historic trains over about 5 miles of track, although the rains we have had this winter have, again, washed out some tracks, so those train rides are on hold. Here’s Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum from the air:

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

Map of the San Diego & Arizona Railroad:

Map of the San Diego & Arizona Railroad

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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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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Photographic Art of downtown San Diego

Out & About

San Diego has a height limit of 500 feet on skyscrapers in the downtown area. Supposedly it’s because the airport is also downtown and we saw back in 2001 what happens when planes run into tall buildings.

Following are some new Photographic Art creations based on pictures of downtown San Diego.

The new Skybridge completed in 2011, along with the Coronado Bridge at left and the Hilton Bayfront Hotel at right:San Diego Skybridge

The Omni overlooking Petco Park with the new San Diego Central Library dome in the background:Downtown San Diego

The Omni is an interesting dual-use building. The top eleven floors are multi-million dollar condominiums, and the bottom floors are hotel rooms. Since the Omni overlooks Petco Park where the San Diego Padres purport to play professional baseball, many players bought a condo at the Omni so that when they have a late night baseball game, they don’t have far to go to get home.

Two Manchester Grand Hyatt towers at left, Harbor Club at right, and the two Marriott Marina towers:Downtown San Diego

The Harbor Club has two residential towers, both standing at 424′, although only one is visible in the picture. When Bruce Willis and Demi Moore were married, they owned one of the penthouses.

The Hilton Bayfront Hotel:Downtown San Diego

The two Manchester Grand Hyatt towers:Downtown San Diego

The right tower was completed in 1992 and stands 446′ tall. The left tower was completed in 2003 and stands 497′ tall. It is the tallest building on a waterfront on the West Coast.

The three towers at the left are condo towers—Bayside at The Embarcadero (395′ tall), and The Grande North at Santa Fe Place and The Grande South at Santa Fe Place, both towers peaking at 420 feet. The tower at the right is a Wyndham Hotel:Downtown San Diego

The water park in the lower center and right was just completed a few months ago. Previously all that was ugly parking lots.

The newer (taller) of the two Manchester Grand Hyatt towers:Downtown San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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SNIPPETS (8-16-14)—Dear WordPress….

 

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

Dear WordPress:

The new editor really [censored], and I say that in all sincerity. The old editor took all of one second to load. Now, depending on the length of the post being edited, the new editor can take as long as 47 seconds to load. Possibly longer, but I only had patience (and 37 minutes!) to test it out on one short post (took 13 seconds to load) and nine longer posts.

So, yes, I was missing the old editor and switched to classic editor. The problem, though, is that one cannot get to the classic editor without first waiting for Beep Beep Boop to load. By that time, one has lost precious seconds and minutes of life that will never be regained………..

Surely y’all can do better.

SNIPPET #2

I’m a pretty easygoing guy, born and raised in the South of South Texas. Lived in that culture for 38 years excepting for 4 years in an even more conservative religious cult(ure) in northern Utah.

LiberalI have lived in San Diego for 21½ years, and while San Diego is a rather conservative area of California, it’s probably twice as liberal as Austin, Texas, the most liberal city in Texas.

So as an adult with logic, reasoning, and thinking skills fully developed, I’ve seen both sides of the conservative/liberal coin. I prefer the liberal side because liberals tend to be more progressive, and my wise old grandmother taught me to care for everyone, something that conservatives don’t like to do.

Thus I wear my liberal/progressive badge with pride.

SNIPPET #3

When I came home from my first day of high school and told my wise old grandmother that I was joining the debate team, she said, “Just remember that when people start calling you names, you’ve won the debate.”

She was right.

Recently on Facebook I got into a discussion about the worst president in the history of the United States. In my mind right now, and I’m willing to bet that history will bear me out, President George W. Bush ranks as the worst. I think President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are war criminals. They invaded two foreign countries with no cause or a false cause; spent $4 trillion on that war, of which Cheney’s companies benefitted to the tune of more than $39 billion in profits; a war which caused thousands of deaths, both American and others, and affected the lives of hundreds of thousands or more in the families of those loved ones who were killed or injured.

Two debating opponents thought Obama was the worst ever. However, they couldn’t come up with any facts to support them. All they could do is say things like, “Obama’s an idiot, just like you.” Or “Obama’s the worst President and you’re the worst home inspector.” And similar things.

Now remember from SNIPPET #2 that I’m a pretty easygoing fellow. Thus, I give people and companies three strikes before calling them, OUT! These two guys got three strikes in three minutes, so I unfriended them and blocked them from posting on my Timeline.

Debate’s okay. Name-calling and bullying is not, and some adults can be every bit as bad as children. I can only imagine what their children are like………..

SNIPPET #4

Now back to something more positive since my wise old grandmother taught me to be positive, to surround myself with positive people, and to get rid of negative thoughts and negative people.

My wise old grandmother also taught me to add laughter to each and every day, and for 49 years I’ve tried to do that. Here’s some laughter for today, at the expense of our little furry feline friends who just want to help.

SNIPPET #5

Julian made Photographic Art—and a stamp!—based on a picture of a capybara:

Capybara

I really like what he created. A capybara, for those who don’t know, is the world’s largest rodent.

Rodent, for those who don’t know, also includes cute little creatures like rats and mice.

So I know you’re thinking to yourself, “That looks kind of big. Just how large is the world’s largest rodent?”

And I’m just the one to answer your question!

A capybara can grow to—are you ready for this?—4.4 feet long, 2 feet tall, and a record 201 pounds. Hmmm. 201 pounds. It can weigh more than me!

SNIPPET #6

Guess what the following is?

Wall of books

If you guessed, “Some sort of path,” well, I’m going to give that to you. Congratulations!

More interestingly, though, it’s a path in the new auditorium of the new San Diego Central Library, and the left side is a wall of books. Looks like this in close-up:

Wall of books

Every time I go there I look at several books to see if I recognize any of the titles or authors. So far, no luck. I’m thinking these probably are not the classics….

SNIPPET #7

Another Photographic Art creation by Julian:

Giraffe Photographic Art

He has a good eye for picking out good pictures to use to create Photographic Art, a good eye for actually creating Photographic Art, and a superb memory. I only have to tell or show him something once and he’s all over it. Wish I had a memory like that. My memory comprises a few billion Excel spreadsheets, Google, and Wikipedia….

SNIPPET #8

How to tell the world that you’re a patriot:

Patriot

SNIPPET #9

Speaking of boats, my wise old grandmother taught me to try to repurpose something instead of throwing it away. As she might have said 50 years ago: “Don’t throw anything away! There is no away!” This is my repurpose picture from recently:

Full boat

SNIPPET #10

Lastly, we’ll stick with a water/boat theme.

Sometimes the dog house is okay.

If I had a dog house like this:

The Dog House

….I might voluntarily banish myself there for weeks at a time….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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SNIPPETS (6-18-14)

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

My friends who have known me throughout my business career sometimes call me the “Five-Year Man” because it’s rare for me to do anything for more than five years even though the five-year spans sometimes overlap.

13 reasons why you're not successfulOne of the business careers that I had for five years was as a marketing consultant, and I still really like marketing, helping people and companies find an audience for their products and services.

A few days ago I found a cool graphic that very directly explains why people are not as successful as they could be. The graphic had been around the world before I found it, but I tracked it down to Jim Kukral, a marketing expert whom I really identify with. Check him out at JimKukral.com, and see his graphic, “13 Reasons You’re Not As Successful As You Should Be.” I used a mini version of his graphic for beautification purposes here. It’s unreadable, so see the graphic at his web site which can be enlarged to be very readable.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #2

Jim and I got married on October 30, 2008.

A few days later, 7,001,084 voters (52.24%) of 13,402,566 valid votes cast, representing 35,000,000 Californians, decided via Proposition 8 that gay people should not be able to get married in California.

In May 2009, the California Supreme Court ruled that gay marriages which had occurred legally (such as mine!) would remain legal. In June 2013, the United States Supreme Court basically ruled (in a legal way) that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, and gay marriages resumed.

It’s only a matter of time before gay people throughout the United States will be able to marry the person they love, as indicated by this MSNBC graphic from a few days ago:

Gay marriage is coming!

I find it interesting (NOT!) that the sky has not fallen, the ground has not opened up and swallowed mankind, and the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west.

Sunrise on Mt. Helix in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #3

A few days ago, when I went to the Bird Song gardens (Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance), I had to pass through the area burned a month ago in what is called the Cocos Fire.

After 21 years in San Diego, I still find it odd that we name fires, but I grew up in Texas where named hurricanes often visited us. But why no named blizzards, floods, or tornadoes?

Here is a picture showing how close the fire came:

Close Call

Throughout the area, you can see scorched earth with untouched homes sitting in its midst. In the October 2003 fires, these homes probably would have burned. But after both the October 2003 and October 2007 fires, San Diego County has a rural defense law that requires defensible space around rural homes. That defensible space has been credited with saving many homes in the May 2014 fires. Of course, our firefighters get some credit, too.

Thank you EFF fire fighters

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #4

When I arrived in San Diego in April 1993, the local paper announced that there was not a single natural river remaining in the Los Angeles County north of us. All of them had been converted into concrete channels, similar to this one:

Southern California river

We now know that, during what little rainfall we get here, concrete channels exacerbate the flooding by allowing rainwater to move at a much faster rate, so when it does overflow those channels, it does a lot of damage.

San Diego was in the process of converting all of its rivers to concrete channels when peer-reviewed research reached the public confirming what many of us already knew. San Diego quit converting its rivers to concrete channels, and many of those throughout Southern California now look like that in the picture above, being allowed to revert to their natural form.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #5

While I was taking pictures of the concrete river, I saw two mallard ducks enjoying the stagnant water, which seems to indicate that stagnant water isn’t all that bad. Bottoms up!

Bottoms up

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #6

The San Diego County fair, purported to be the fifth largest in North America, is well under way, opening on Saturday, June 7. Last day is Sunday, July 5. Trust me. Go now. Don’t wait until the last weekend.

The Fair is closed on Mondays, as well as the first two Tuesdays of its run. Doesn’t make sense to me, which I guess is why I don’t run the Fair.

A couple of days ago, knowing that the Fair was closed, I went to get some pictures, also knowing that there would be parking places and that I wouldn’t get run over by traffic. Following are my two favorite pictures. Those who know me will not be surprised that there are trains in both of them.

Amtrak at the San Diego County Fair

Coaster at the San Diego County Fair

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #7

I’m proud to say that Jim Frimmer, Janelle DeStefano, and Joanne Regenhardt got a standing ovation from the 82 attendees at their performance this past Sunday at the new Central Library in downtown San Diego. I’m the official page turner………perhaps they were standing for me?

Jim Frimmer, Janelle DeStefano, and Joanne Regenhardt

Next performance at the Central Library is Sunday, June 29, followed by a final performance on Sunday, July 13. Both performances begin at 2:30 p.m. and are free!

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #8

Time magazine’s issue of June 18, 1956, reported on three cities which had banned “rock-and-roll and other forms of frenzied music.” Those three cities were Santa Cruz, California; Asbury Park, New Jersey; and San Antonio, Texas. Santa Cruz and Asbury Park are now rock and roll havens. Such auspicious beginnings.

A few rock and roll music personalities who lived in Santa Cruz:

Cornelius Bumpus—saxophonist for the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan

Derek Sherinian—keyboardist for Alice Cooper, KISS, and Dream Theater

Scott Weiland—vocalist for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver

Here is “Thank You Love” from The Doobie Brothers’ “One Step Closer” album issued in 1980. Cornelius Bumpus is the composer.

The University of California at Santa Cruz has a lot of rock and roll musicians as alumni, and the City of Santa Cruz itself now is a center of rock and roll bands calling California home, most of them in the genres of death metal, deathcore, and punk.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #9

My wise old grandmother taught me to add laughter to each day. Courtesy of our fine, furry, four-legged friends (cats), here’s enough laughter to last today, tomorrow, and perhaps the rest of the month:

Laughter for today

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #10

One of the great things about aquariums and zoos is that you get to see wildlife that you would never see in the wild. Here is a picture of a northern white rhinoceros living at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park:

Northern white rhinoceros at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Not only will you not see the northern white rhinoceros in the wild, but it’s highly unlikely that you will see it at a zoo, either. According to the San Diego Zoo, the northern white rhinoceros is “functionally extinct,” meaning that it is extinct in the wild and no breeding populations exist anywhere else.

In fact, there are only seven of these magnificent creatures left in the world, two here at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, and five at other zoos. When these seven individuals die, there will be no more. Probably in YOUR lifetime! Poaching and habitat destruction. How sad. 😦

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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New San Diego Central Library on September 2, 2012

Inside the new San Diego Central Library, part 1

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The inside of the new San Diego Central Library is just as magnificent as the exterior. Along with static displays such as artwork, I found three video displays while wandering around eight of the library’s nine floors (the top floor with its café, open air deck, and rare books room was closed for a private event).

Here are three short videos of the video displays:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Exterior views of the new San Diego Central Library:

Let’s hear it for the 1%!

Well worth the wait

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Location of new San Diego Central Library

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos