Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pier 1 -- October 23, 2014

Pier 1, just north of the Ferry Building, is the headquarters of the Port of San Francisco. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sherlock Holmes Found -- October 22, 2014

Moving Picture World, 21-October-1916

The first actor to become famous for playing Sherlock Holmes was American William Gillette. Arthur Conan Doyle had killed Sherlock Holmes in 1893, but, needing money, was happy to let Gillette write a four act play, Sherlock Holmes, or The Strange Case of Miss Faulkner. In fact, Gillette had to write the play twice, because the first manuscript burned in the fire at Lucky Baldwin's Hotel and Theater at Powell and Market in San Francisco on 23-November-1898. Gillette played Holmes more than 1300 times, and his play was the basis for later films with John Barrymore and Basil Rathbone. The play also introduced a love interest for Holmes, Alice Faulkner. Gillette played Holmes in a 1916 feature film, which had been believed to be lost.

I was happy earlier this month when the  San Francisco Silent Film Festival announced that a print has turned up at the Cinémathèque Française.  The  Cinémathèque and the Festival are working together on a restoration.

Learn more about William Gillette on my other blog:


The Royals beat the Giants 7-2.  Jake Peavy started well, but the wheels fell off in the sixth. 

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.