Tag Archives: twitler

Why I don’t donate money anymore—Part 2

Opinion

I have spent a great deal of my life—time and money—trying to help others. It’s something that I learned from my wise old grandmother.

When my best friend showed up first day of sixth grade with a beautiful Hawaiian print shirt while I was still wearing “old” clothese from last school year, I asked my wise old grandmother if I could get some new clothes. She said,

No. There’s nothing wrong with the clothes you have.

And she was right.

I always had clothes that were clean and pressed, and if I tore a hole in the knee of my pants from playing basketball, that hole immediately got patched that night.

When the benefits check (Social Security Survivor Benefits/Railroad Survivor Benefits/Air Force Survivor Benefits) arrived the next month, we went downtown to get me a new pair of pants, and the patched ones were donated to Goodwill.

One day when I complained about not having something, she responded with a line that has been with me my whole life:

Quit complaining. There are people in this world who are worse off than you.

And there are. Not only in the world, though, but in my state, my county, my city, even my neighborhood.

St Gertrude Catholic Church in Kingsville TexasThat was in 1968, and ever since that date I have been involved in helping people, first through St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church. Then, in 1972, my junior year in high school, I joined Key Club and Student Government. That helped me expand the areas in which I could help.

Alpha Phi OmegaAfter high school, I joined Alpha Phi Omega at
Texas A&M University. When I told friends that I had joined Alpha Phi Omega, they thought it was just another fraternity, asking where the fraternity house was and when our next party was scheduled. I had to tell them that Alpha Phi Omega was a national service fraternity, not a social fraternity. They didn’t understand.

My pledge class namesake, Joseph J. Scanlon, came to my activation ceremony from Kansas City, Missouri, where he was the National Executive Director of Alpha Phi Omega. I had the opportunity to talk with him at length during the course of the weekend. He told me there was an easy way to explain the difference between a social and service fraternity: “A social fraternity spends 80% of its time partying and 20% doing service. A service fraternity spends 80% of its time doing service and 20% of its time celebrating its service (i.e., partying).”

After college, I continued as a Sectional Chairman and Regional Alumni Representative for Alpha Phi Omega. Eventually I also got involved with Kiwanis, Knight of Columbus, Lions Clubs, and Rotary. Through those organizations, I made contacts with American Cancer Society, Red Cross, American Heart Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and
Big Brothers Big Sisters.

If I had not given all of those organizations so much of my time and money, I might be a billionaire!

When I came to San Diego in April 1993, I continued to volunteer time and donate money to politicians and groups helping closeted GLBTQ people, those living with HIV/AIDS, and abused women & children who were living at safe centers hidden away from their abusers.

In the past decade I got involved with international micro loans at Kiva. However, when Kiva started supporting anti-GLBTQ organizations, I quit supporting them and looked for organizations closer to home that I could support. That was when I found donorschoose.org. I started supporting teachers, especially mathematics, science, and music teachers.

Now that I’m in my retirement years with old-age health issues, I’m donating to myself instead of to other people. As my wise old grandmother said, “If you don’t help yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone else.”

With the current crime family in the White House, and his enablers in the Congress and Senate, trying desperately to take away my health insurance or, as some of them suggest, simply killing me because I’m gay, I’m looking out for #1, and that’s me.

My other issue with the current crime family is that it and its supporters and enablers are destroying the very fabric of our lives that is needed for the elderly, the sick, the homeless, the hungry. I firmly believe that their goal is to completely destroy government so that their rich friends can create for-profit companies to provide the necessary services. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her company that specializes in collecting student loans come immediately to mind.

Recently there has been a plethora of memes on Facebook showing pictures of children selling lemonade, hot chocolate, and cookies to pay off student lunch debts. I mean, is there anything more dystopian than little children entering the labor market to make money so that other children can eat? WTF is this world coming to?

School lunch debt

School lunch debt

WTF is with “student lunch debts” to begin with? Provide money to our schools, to both teachers and students. There should be no “student lunch debt”! Children need to eat. Feed them!

As much as I despise seeing children go hungry, I am not in a financial position to help them while the current criminal family is in control. I have no thoughts & prayers to offer, but I do have time to write letters to representatives—school boards, city councils, mayors, county commissioners, state and federal.

As my wise old grandmother told me, though: “When you write a letter to complain, don’t just complain. That doesn’t help. Offer a solution. It doesn’t have to be an original solution. It can be one from someone else that you agree with.” I shouldn’t have to write these letters.

Where is the compassion, the empathy, the care that once existed in this nation? It seems that too many people don’t care about anything unless they are personally affected by it. For example:

In 1978, I went to the family reunion on my mom’s side, the Mormon side. (For those who lived through the late ’70s, you might remember shortages—gas, aluminum, sugar, coffee, Kleenex & toilet paper. Probably some others that I’m forgetting.) I was 23. My youngest first cousin was 22. He already had 6 children. My oldest cousin had 14 children. I asked my oldest sister (stepsister, actually) how they could justify having so many children with so many shortages. She looked at me ever so sweetly and replied, “Well, we believe that the Lord will always provide for us.” That was the last time I saw or spoke to her.

I believe rich people are the same way except for one important difference: “We believe that our money will always provide for us.” And it probably will. Their children go to private schools, never have to worry about eating (unless they have been bad and are sent to their room without eating), have all the latest and greatest toys, including iPads, iPods, iTunes….

In the Summer of 1993, the San Diego Reader did an expose on high school graduation gifts, mostly talking with rich people. One 18-year-old got a brand new sailboat. Another graduated—barely, with a C average—and was rewarded with a brand new 1993 BMW 760, a $100,000 car at the time. Just for graduating! I guess his parents wanted to get rid of him so they gave him a fast and comfortable car that could take him away quickly. Bye, bye, son! Be sure to write!

So I am not participating in this idea of me privately taking care of the people around me. Quite often I hurt because I’m spent my whole life helping people, but I believe the government should be doing that, and I’m not going to support the government’s message because then it can say, “See! People are supporting people. We don’t need no stinking government!”

If I disagree with how the government is spending the money that I give them through payroll taxes and income tax, then I’ll write my representatives and, if necessary, vote against them in the next election.

If the current crime family wins and succeeds in destroying our government, I might have enough money so that I don’t have to depend on someone else. If the people win and succeed in getting rid of the current crime family and its enablers and supporters, thereby restoring my confidence in having health care, food, electricity, and water (all of which I believe SHOULD NOT be provided by for-profit corporations), then and only then might I resume donating my money to organizations that I support—NPR, orchestras, and libraries come immediately to mind.

Florida man pays electric bills

SNIPPETS (11/22/2019)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

How come WordPress does not yet have an icon for changing text size? I still have to go into the HTML code and change the text size manually. Every other program I use has an easy way to change text size….

SNIPPET 2

When I was a sophomore at Texas A&M University in 1974, I was enthralled by the Nixon impeachment. The only other impeached president was Andrew Johnson in 1868. It had been over 100 years.

Although Nixon resigned rather than being impeached, I found the workings of the United States government under its Constitution to be fascinating. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that, within a mere 45 years, two more presidents, Clinton and the current president would be impeached.

Granted, the current president, whose name I have not uttered since November 9, 2016—I call him Twitler because he likes to destroy people using Twitter; Hitler on Twitter—has not yet been impeached, but considering all I have read and heard about the impeachment hearings, I believe he will be impeached before Christmas Day. It might even be faster because the people in charge of impeaching him—the House of Representatives—have to get home for Christmas. Actually, when I think about that, impeachment might happen before Thanksgiving!

Of course, impeachment simply means that the Grand Jury—the House of Representatives in this case—believes there is enough evidence to impeach (indict) him. The trial occurs in the Senate, and at this point I cannot see Twitler being convicted.

SNIPPET 3

I legally changed my name in 2004, dropping my last name and taking my middle name as my last name. I’m about convinced to change my name again, this time to Doctor Doctor so that I’ll know that Robert Palmer really is singing about me.

Previously, the only group to ever sing about me was the Bee Gees with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”:

Did you hear it? Right at the 1:43 mark: “I can still feel the breeze that russels through the trees.”

SNIPPET 4

Over on Facebook there’s a meme trending that has a woman screaming at a white cat. I find the cat’s response each time to be quite funny, so I decided to make a contribution:

White cat meme

SNIPPET 5

Since I’m now making a concerted effort to do things with my photography using three business names—Russel Ray Photos, Photographic Art, and Double R Creations—I’m being more active on Instagram and with my Russel Ray Photos page on Facebook. You can follow me on those two platforms.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/russel_ray_photos/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/russelrayphotos/

I’m very political, but not on Instagram or that Facebook page. I do have a personal Facebook page where I am very political. ALL. DAY. LONG.

SNIPPET 6

I should have another calendar at my Etsy shop by the end of 11/22/2019, this one on birds. This picture of a peacock and a white-faced whistling duck will be my cover photo:

2020 Birds calendar, front cover

I put that picture on Facebook and those commenting were only too ready to provide captions. Two of my favorites:

    • Misplaced flirting
    • “Can’t whistle? Not interested.”

I have so many great bird pictures that I’m pretty sure I’m going to do at least two bird calendars. Possibly even three.

SNIPPET 7

The rainy season arrived on 11/19/2019. So far there has been 5.25 inches of rain in three days. When I went to the garage yesterday morning in the wind & rain, a rabbit took off in front of me. It was slipping and sliding as it tried desperately to get away from me as quickly as possible. Poor thing. I looked at where it had been and found a big pile of poop. Upon closer examination, turns out it’s not poop. Just the ugliest mushrooms ever have I seen.

Ugly mushrooms

SNIPPET 8

I like to go into the gardens right after it’s rained and take macro pictures of raindrops on plants. Key phrase in that sentence is AFTER IT’S RAINED.

The rain just won’t stop, and I’m not willing to trod around in the water and mud with my expensive Canon 760d and expensive macro lens. So here’s one of my favorite macro raindrops on cactus photos. Taken on 3/23/2018 at 7:55 a.m., so it must have rained the previous day and/or night.

Raindrops on cactus macro picture

As I was focusing on that picture, I initially had wanted every to be in focus, but then I saw that first rain drop twinkling at me (just barely visible at WordPress resolutions), so I decided to focus on it and let everything else be a little less sharp.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a calendar featuring macro pictures.

SNIPPET 9

Another bird from my 2020 Birds calendar. Who knew that some birds were flashers?

Great blue heron flashing

SNIPPET 10

The resolution of the following picture isn’t good enough for my calendar at 12″x8″, but at a smaller size it’s fine.

Condor

Once again, Facebook users came through with captions:

    • And the great bird said, “Come unto me. Kneel, all ye who gaze upon my face.”
    • “Common, ladies. Look at this plumage! This wing span! Let’s do this!”

SNIPPET 11

After I graduated from high school in May 1973, I quit celebrating holidays. I never liked them, finding them too artificial. With that said, though, Thanksgiving (when we celebrate the beginning of one of the great genocides in human history) is next week. I do believe I shall have some turkey wine for Thanksgiving this year.

Turkey wine and feeling fine

SNIPPET 12

My retirement years are allowing me to catch up on movies and television shows that I have missed since 1973. For both my train friends and my history friends, I can highly recommend the TV series, “Hell On Wheels.” It’s about the building of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. People and events are historical facts with only the unknown added or minute details changed. A very intriguing series. Available on Netflix.

Hell On Wheels

Why would they want to fix it?

Opinion

In 1970, my first year in high school (grade 10, though; 7-9 was junior high), I joined Key Club, a national high school service organization. One thing that immediately struck me was that people didn’t seem to care about the hungry, the sick, women and child abuse, animal abuse. (Has anything changed?) When we went to a nursing home (now called assisted living facility), I was playing dominoes with one of my friends and two elderly women. We had a great conversation while we were playing, and something one of the women said has stayed with me all these years:

People don’t care about anything unless it affects either them personally or someone they know.

It’s a generality painted with a huge brush, but I think it’s true. In today’s world, Twitler, his supporters and enablers, the excessively rich, and the big corporations are the epitome of not caring about anything other than what will make them richer in the short term.The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson

I am reading The Andromeda Evolution, by Daniel H. Wilson and a sequel to Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain (I have an uncorrected, pre-published, advance reader’s edition, but it went on sale on November 12, 2019). I came across a very telling few paragraphs on pages 14 &15 (remember that this is a novel, so names and such are not real):

It is a well-established Achilles’ heel of human civilization that individuals are more motivated by immediate private reward than by long-term, collective future benefits. This effect is particularly evident when considering payoffs that will take longer than a generation to arrive—a phenomenon called inter-generational discounting.

The concept was formally introduced by the young French economist Floria Pavard during a poorly attended speech at the International Conference of Social Economics on October 23, 1982:

The average span of a human generation is twenty-five years. Any reward occurring beyond this generational horizon creates an imbalance that undermines long-term cooperation. In short, we as a species are motivated to betray our own descendants. In my view, the only possible solution is the institution of harsh and immediate punishments for those who would be unfaithful to the future.

It has been subsequently theorized that our species’ seeming inability to focus on long-term existential threats will inexorably lead to the destruction of our environment, overpopulation, and resource exhaustion. It is therefore not an uncommon belief among economists that this inborn deficit represents a sort of built-in timer for the self-destruction of human civilization.

Sadly, all the evidence of world history supports this theory.

Although this is fiction, as my wise old grandmother always told me, fiction often is based on reality.

The above brings to mind the current United States president, a person I call Twitler because he acts like Hitler on Twitter. Witness Twitler when he said in December 2018 that he didn’t care about a predicted explosion of the United States’ debt because, I won’t be here.

He doesn’t care about the sick, the dying, the homeless, immigrants seeking a better life, the environment, our water, our skies, the forests, the rivers, the lakes…. He cares only about himself in the short term, and that’s detrimental to everyone except those of a similar ilk: big corporations and other excessively rich people.

The system is broken, but the only ones who can fix it are those who currently benefit from it, which begs the question, Why would they want to fix it?

“The Hunger Games” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” come to life

Cats

On August 9, 1974, when Nixon resigned the presidency of the United States, I watched the peaceful transition of power from Nixon to Ford. Of course, they were of the same political parties, so peaceful was expected, notwithstanding the Watergate mess and Ford’s pardon of Nixon.

After each presidential election where the new president was of a different political party than the preceding president, I watched a peaceful transition of power, even when it was pretty obvious that the two people pretty much disliked each other. Something about the rule of law….

Whenever a presidential administration moves to far in either direction, left or right, the midterm election usually offers a correction – Clinton in 1994 with gays in the military, Bush in 2002 with weapons of mass destruction, and Obama in 2010 with health insurance.

I’m predicting an explosive correction on November 6, 2018, led by

  • women watching the Kavanaugh confirmation;
  • the young who have experienced mass death and destruction at their schools, movie theaters, and concerts;
  • minorities of all types, including LGBTQ like me;
  • and middle class (is there still a middle class?) people who have lost their health insurance due to actions of the current president (I call him Twitler because, to me, he is an incarnation of Hitler using Twitter as his main means of dividing the populace), lost their livelihood or a significant portion of it due to Twitler’s trade wars.
  • Sure, there will be Republicans (hereafter, “Regressives”) who win, but they will be in areas that have a supermajority of Regressive supporters. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that even in those areas, the spread will be much lower than usual, and you might even see some moderate Democrats or Independents elected in those areas where the lack of health insurance and income has hit particularly hard.

In today’s world, watching Twitler and his core supporters leads me to believe that there will be no peaceful transition of power this time. They don’t seem to care about anything Twitler does, as long as the blame is placed squarely on Democrats, women, non-Christians, immigrants, blacks, gays, and anyone else who is not straight, white, and Christian. They are violent, as seen in Charlottesville a year ago. They are violent as seen in mass shootings where the shooter always seems to be a “church-going Christian.”

The period between 2018 and 2020 will decide on whether or not there is a peaceful transition of power when Twitler is removed from office in 2020, possibly earlier through impeachment. I really think that Twitler and his ilk will not give up power through peaceful election results. I think there is going to be a Civil War, or at least a very bloody period to rival any war in our past history.

With the Twitler wannabe in Ontario, Canada; Putin and his social media army; and ultra right-wing regressives throughout the world finding a core group of people who hate everyone else, I think we are seeing “The Hunger Games” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” come to life.

With that depressing dissertation, I leave you with cats to help with the depression that I have caused. Starting and ending with, of course, Zoey the Cool Cat; all the other pictures are of cats at Friends of Cats where I volunteer for 1½ hours each day, Sunday through Thursday.

Zoey the Cool Cat welcoming me home
after I had been gone for three hours.
“Welcome home! Now rub my tummy!”
Zoey the Cool Cat

This little one crawled up on my lap, put his head on my chest,
rested his paws on my chest, and stayed that way for 20 minutes.
Friends of Cats

I love pictures of animals with their mouths wide open
because then I can anthropomorphize them.
Friends of Cats

What can be better than being welcomed by a black cat on a white pedestal?
Friends of Cats

One of the office cats, this one ready to answer the phone.
Friends of Cats

Cat yoga.
Friends of Cats

This little one is blind, yet still finds a box.
Friends of Cats

This little gal is in hospice care. She has scratched her neck so badly
that it is raw and bloody. She loves to be petted but it’s difficult to do
because of her condition. Poor little girl.
Friends of Cats

More cat yoga.
When you’re good enough, you can reach out and touch,
uh, Russel’s shoe!
Friends of Cats

Coco welcomes me to her house each day.
Friends of Cats

Anyone know what breed this cat is?
Friends of Cats

I often get up with sunrise intent on going outside and work in my gardens.
Sometimes, Zoey the Cool Cat has blocked my exit, forcing me to call
emergency personnel to rescue me. The only good thing is that I get to
go back to bed while waiting on first responders to arrive. And don’t tell me that I can get out through the windows. They are locked!
Zoey the Cool Cat

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

 

Picture of the Moment—Trash by any other name is still trash

Picture of the Moment

Yesterday,  when I drove Highway 94 to Tecate to get pictures of the Big Border Wall Baby, I passed a CalTrans maintenance dump where they accumulate rocks, crumbled concrete and asphalt, and items discarded at the side of the road by uncaring individuals. The dump had a unique sign:

It's trash day

As my wise old grandmother might say: “Trash by any other name is still trash.”

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

“Off with their heads!” he’d say.

Did you know?

Hello, there, classic WordPress editor! You are sooooooooooo much faster than that new clunker, and I have you and the new clunker working in two tabs on my fine fine fine new super computer, so I can make that statement definitively. It’s good to be back.

Speaking of being back, for the last couple of years I have only been working on one computer. Previously, I had a work computer and a music computer. The music computer died so I had to move all my music to the work computer, and I can tell you that listening to music all day really strains a computer.

Well, this fine fine fine new super computer is now my work computer, and the old computer is now my new music computer. Now that I have two computers side by side again, I can multitask better again, and that means visiting more of my blogging friends each and every day!

Not having anything interfering with my music enjoyment is really nice. I hated all the boops and beeps from all other programs and web sites messing with my music listening pleasure.

I can definitively state, with absolute certainty, no doubt about, it, that I

really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really

hate web sites, especially news sites, that automatically start playing videos when I visit. If I want to watch and listen to a video, I will watch and listen to it on my own.

One of the advertising sites explained why they do that. I don’t know if their explanation is true, but it certainly makes sense.

Many organizations make their money from advertising, and advertising means unique hits and views. YouTube counts a view as at least 30 seconds watching a video. In the case of those organizations that start videos playing immediately upon you loading their page, it turns out that many of them get credit for you watching a video if the video goes for at least 3 seconds. That makes it almost impossible to NOT watch a video as far as their advertising dollars go.

Once I learned that, whenever I visit a site, I’m standing (sitting, actually) at attention with my hand on the mouse and I’m prepared to stop that video as soon as it starts so that it doesn’t get to 3 seconds.

One doesn’t even have to click on the pause or stop button. You can click anywhere on the video, and if it’s playing, it will pause. If it’s paused, it will start. So I immediately pause it and then decide if I want to give them 3 seconds of my time to support the organization.Alternative Facts

I have decided that if the video has Twitler or any of his ilk speaking, I refuse to watch it. I don’t want any organization thinking that a video of Twitler or any of his ilk is good because it causes their visits and views to go up, making them more money. I can’t stand their faces or voices, especially when they start dealing in alternative facts.

For example, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross offered two highlights of his trip to Saudi Arabia in an interview with CNBC.

He was given two bushels of dates by Saudi Arabian security guards. He was touched. That gesture really warmed his heart.

Second, he was overjoyed that he saw no protesters, indicating that the Twitler administration was well liked in Saudi Arabia. Of course, he pretty much admitted that he did not know that protesting in the Saudi Arabia kingdom is illegal and can result in a summary death sentence. Their death sentence usually involves beheading the person in a public square with thousands of people watching.

Unbelievable.

Perhaps if Twitler and his ilk like Saudi Arabia so much, they should move there. I’m betting they won’t, especially once they accept the fact (not an alternative fact) that the Saudi Arabia king pretty much has absolute power. He’s not going to put up with competition. “Off with their heads!” he’d say.

Rant over.

Margarita time.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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!

This post approved byThis post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Trains—San Diego Trolley extension work interrupts Amtrak & Coaster

Railroads & Trains logo

Yesterday was my day to go to the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego and see what was going on. Well, nothing. Literally, nothing. There is no Amtrak or Coaster train action between the Santa Fe Depot and Oceanside, a distance of about 39 miles.

Track-a-train was showing all Amtrak Pacific Surfliners arriving and leaving from the Oceanside Transit Center. I set out to find out why, and it didn’t take me long to find that the line currently is shut down, at least through March 14, to re-align tracks and do some at-grade work for the extension of the San Diego Trolley from Old Town to University City.

Finally.

However, the extension is being built with a lot of Federal Transit Administration funds.

Uh-oh.

California voted for Clinton. Twitler knows that, and Twitler is a very vengeful person. I will keep an eye on these federal transit funds because I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Twitler will do something to exact his revenge on California by withholding federal funds.

I got quite a few interesting pictures showing the work going on. I thought it was interesting that the Mid-Coast Transit Constructors simply pulled the southbound Amtrak tracks about ten feet to the west. Presuming, then, that the Trolley is going to go down the middle of the Amtrak tracks. Now that I know about this, I can go out weekly and document process. Just south of where I was the tracks will be aerial due to a river (known as a creek in other states) and the tracks through University City and the University of California-San Diego will be aerial tracks.

Picture 1 – Abrupt break in the southbound tracks.Break in the Amtrak tracks for re-alignment

Picture 2 – Amtrak’s not going to like the excessive bends in this curveExcessive bends in re-aligned Amtrak tracks

Picture 3 – Mounds of rock showing where the track used to be.Mounds of rock indicate where the tracks used to be

Picture 4 – Southbound track re-alignment not yet complete.Re-aligned track work not completed

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat