Tuesday, October 21, 2014

1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow Sedan -- October 21, 2014

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.  Pierce-Arrow built five 1933 V-12 Silver Arrow sedans with revolutionary streamlined styling.  Three still exist.  Pierce-Arrow went out of business in 1938. 


The San Francisco Giants beat the Kansas City Royals 7-1 in the first game of the World Series.   Madison Bumgarner's streak of scoreless innings in the World Series got broken, but he got the win. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mad #2 -- October 20, 2014


The December 1952-January 1953 issue of Mad, probably published in October, was the second issue of a great American tradition. EC, famous up to that time for horror comics, had moved in a new direction. Published by Bill Gaines and edited by Harvey Kurtzman, Mad introduced sharp satire (Humor in a Jugular Vein) to comic books. Mad became a magazine in 1955. Legend said it was because of the growing controversy about comic books, but it was done to satisfy Kurtzman's ambition. I read Mad for many years and it certainly influenced my sense of humor. I know some movies better through having read the Mad parodies rather than seeing the movies themselves.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Baseball Stories -- October 19, 2014


This is a repost of an entry from October, 2010 and October, 2012. 

 The cover of the Summer, 1947 Baseball Stories.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jerry Siegel 100 -- October 18, 2014


Writer Jerry Siegel, who was born 100 years ago yesterday on 17-October-1914.  With his Cleveland friend artist Joe Shuster, Siegel created the character of Superman and sold it to the company that eventually became DC (Detective Comics).  Superman first appeared on 18-April-1939 on the cover of Action Comics Number One.  I have always liked the guy in the left foreground. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Loma Prieta Earthquake, 25 -- October 17, 2014

[H.G. Wilshire, U.S. Geological Survey]

Twenty-five years ago today, I was at work in an office building at Fourth and Howard.  I usually left for home at 5pm, but I was debugging a series of programs that I was writing, trying to figure out why the output counter on one program did not agree with the input counter on another.  I was anxious to get home  to see the third game of the World Series between the Giants and the Oakland Athletics.  At 5:04pm, the building began to shake.  Several people ran to look out the windows.  I told them to get away from the windows and find some cover. 

The emergency team would not let us leave the floor.  My sister, who worked in the same office, and I were able to get out after a while.  I needed to catch BART to Daly City, but I figured it was down and I wanted to make sure my sister got home safely.  I later learned that my manager was on the crowded platform at the BART station when it went completely dark.  Eventually the emergency lights came on. 

My sister and I walked to the East Bay Terminal.  We saw a lot of broken glass.  We got on a 38 Geary.  It wasn't dark yet, so we saw damaged stores and terrible traffic.  We got off at Geary and Park Presidio.  I walked with her down to California Street, hoping to catch a 28-Nineteenth Avenue to the Daly City BART station.  I saw that traffic on Park Presidio was virtually stopped, so I decided that the bus was not coming soon. 

I walked out California Street.  It was starting to get dark and lots of people had candles on their stairways.  All lights were out.  The weather was warm and the air had a nice smell.  I walked up to my parents' house.  I knocked and then opened the door with my key.  I said "It's me."  "Who?" said my mother.  I explained.  Their house was not damaged, except for  some glasses leaning against the door of the china hutch.  I tried to call home and couldn't get through.  I asked if I could borrow their car.  I asked my mother to keep trying the phone.  She got through later. 

I drove carefully to the beach because the traffic lights were out.  I drove along the Great Highway, Skyline and Highway One.  The lights were out all the way.  When I got home to Pacifica, the lights had just come on.  My wife and daughter were ok and the house was not damaged.

They had been watching the game and saw the famous interruption before the power went out. 

I don't remember much of that night.  I called my parents to let them know I had made it home. 

The next morning I called my manager and he said we were supposed to stay home.  This was before we had remote access.  We drove to Daly City BART to get my car, then on to my parents' house.  We returned their car and checked to see if they were ok.  My wife was able to rescue most of the glasses leaning against the inside of the china hutch door. 

On Thursday, they let some of us volunteer to clean up the office.  We had to wear hard hats.  The building had big X-shaped beams in the windows.  Huge bolts had popped out of them and were lying on the floor.  I hadn't noticed on Tuesday, but many of the file cabinet drawers were open, especially the ones that contained heavy listings of programs.  I don't remember how long we stayed or what we did. 

On Monday we were able to go back to work, but in cubicles on the other side of the floor.  Many people were nervous about the bolts which had popped out.  I found the answer to my counter problem right away.  All of our batch processes, running in a data center on Fifth Street, had run without problems.  I later learned that the only system that had gone down was an Atalla device that fell over. 

After a few days, Wells Fargo said we were moving out.  Many people speculated that Wells wanted to break the lease and this was a good excuse.  The building continued to be used for years until it was torn down for Moscone West. 

We moved to the top floor of the data center on Fifth Street.  We worked in a big bullpen.  This required adjustments because we were accustomed to working in cubicles.  We didn't have voicemail.  In February, they moved half the team, including me, to a building in Oakland.  We learned that the previous group had moved out because of asbestos  contamination.  The other half of the team moved to a building at Third and Howard. 

Two years later, I transferred to another group in the building at Third and Howard.  I stayed there till 2012. 

The photo, from the US Geological Survey, shows the collapsed Cypress Structure in Oakland.  One of my coworkers lost his partner there. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mel Ott -- October 16, 2014

Inspired by the book Few and Chosen: Defining Giants Greatness Across the Eras by Giants great Bobby Thomson and Phil Pepe, I thought I would devote my nickname meme to Giants players for several months.

Mel Ott, "Master Melvin" was a slugging right fielder for the New York Giants.  He played for the Giants from 1926 to 1947.  He was the first National Leaguer to hit 500 home runs.  Many people said he took advantage of the short porch in right field in the Polo Grounds.  He managed the team from 1942 to 1948.  Sadly, he was the subject of Leo Durocher's famous statement which is remembered as "Nice guys finish last."  What Leo the Lip, then managing the Dodgers, said was “The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place.” 


To quote Russ Hodges:  "The Giants win the pennant.  The Giants win the pennant.  The Giants win the pennant."   The Giants won the National League Division Series, beating the Cardinals 6-3 on a walk-off home run.  They will face the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Busy Cotton Season -- October 15, 2014

In this scene from The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans (1903) we see a Mississippi riverboat with a full load of cotton. 

The Port of New Orleans—Scenes along the Levee. The visitor to New Orleans will have missed the most interesting as well as important feature of this city should he fail to make a personal inspection of the magnificent harbor known as the Port of New Orleans. For a distance of fifteen miles along the city front there extends an almost unbroken line of wharves and docks, sufficient to accommodate a vast fleet. Owing to the great depth of the Mississippi River, ships are able to lie close alongside the bank and load cargoes through all hatches at once. There is an equal stretch of fifteen miles along the west bank of the river within the port limits, although as yet only a moderate portion of this space available for shipping is used.  Along the harbor front there are five great grain elevators, extensive railroad terminals, including the famed Stuyvesant Docks, belonging to the Illinois Central Railroad. There are several fruit docks, with covered sheds, for the handling of tropical fruit. Another conspicuous feature is the fine new coffee dock, with its immense iron shed to protect freight from the weather. Along the city's wharves will be seen some of the largest freight ships afloat.  The best way to see the river front is to walk along the levee. It is called the levee because it consists of a great bank of earth thrown up to protect the city from the invasion of the Mississippi, which at flood rises far above the level of the streets. For many years, however, the river along most of the front has withdrawn itself a good way from the original channel, so that many solid blocks of buildings now stand where the Mississippi flowed when Bienville first looked upon it. The constant additions made to the levee in consequence cause a gradual slope up to the river front. The slope begins at a considerable distance back, and the ascent up hill is so gradual as to be imperceptible.  Many interesting sights attract along the river front.  Near the foot of Canal Street is the
Steamboat Landing,
where boats of all sorts and sizes, from the stately river packets which trade up the river to Vicksburg, Memphis, Cairo and St. Louis, to the little sternwheelers which run up Red River and into Bayou Atchafalaya and along the lower Mississippi coast, are to be seen the year round.
Here the packets lie, busily receiving and discharging freight. The immense loads of cotton and sugar which they take on, make them especially interesting to the stranger. It is very picturesque to see the throngs of darkies handling these cargoes, and singing old plantation melodies or camp-meeting hymns as they work away. When the vessels are loaded to the guards and are ready to leave a great shout goes up from the throng of laborers and roustabouts. Then they turn their attention to the next big cargo.


The Giants beat the Cardinals 6-4.  The Giants lead the series 3-1.  Barry Bonds threw out the first pitch.  Vogelsong did not start well, but Yusmiero Petit picked up the game and carried it along.