Palm Trees in southern Florida

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Earth Day



I like sunsets so I put one here.

It's Earth Day again. I remember the first one in 1970. 

I was in high school at South Torrance High in Torrance, California.  It was the 11th  grade.  Smog was real in those days.  From where I lived you could no longer see the big Union Bank building a mile away.  Brown air.  
Even I could see that it was getting worse.


Anyway, back to the first Earth Day. We all sat on the lawn while people wearing gas masks talked about the air quality, talked about life tomorrow, talked about nothing I remember, sitting here 50 years later. I do remember that the weather was nice....

My family moved up to the SF Bay area that Summer.  I did my final year (graduated in '71) at a high school in Marin county. It was some time before I made it back to SoCal.

Fast forward 10 years. I'm in the Coast Guard doing a water temperature patrol down that way in a 
(HU-16E) airplane.  We're coming back from San Diego, heading for San Fran along the coast. I sat in the radio man's seat to fix a sandwich from the box lunch.  I look up and see this brown wall in the distance.  It's well out to sea, it's the Los Angeles smog. After I fix the sandwich I look up and we are in the brown...

Jump forward another 20 years after that and I'm driving down in the LA area. 
Son of a gun, there are mountains all around Los Angeles!  It really looks good!

This is from the Santa Monica pier a year or so ago.
It's the only picture of mine that I can find
that shows mountains in the distance
in the SoCal area.

I had been in that area from the summer of 1966 until the summer of 1970 and I was not aware that there were mountains!

It took awhile, but the California smog rules did what they were supposed to do. I was (and still am) impressed!



With the world closed down I guess a lot of people all over are getting to see what their world looks like when the pollution has had some time to settle out.



Thursday, February 13, 2020

'NASA is Hiring' Brings Up the Old Dream.

I read a lot science fiction when I was younger. Going into space was always in the back of my mind, as I grew up in the 60s.

When I went into the Coast Guard, I went into aviation with space in the back of my mind.

Later, when they were looking for Mission Specialists I looked and I realized that I didn't meet the requirements and I really didn't want to go back to school.  
Turns out my actual life was enough.

I thought the dream was gone.

NASA, through the trees and across the water

Still, when I read this morning that NASA was hiring again, I had to take a look at what they needed, just in case.  


The other day I was reading about the rocket SpaceX is building in Texas - this is exciting stuff!  Get a job there even sweeping the floors and you'd still be part of it.  They are making history there!

I guess the dream is never really gone.  I still read science fiction.


This is central Florida


Friday, January 31, 2020

The RV Refrigerator

One day out of the blue we started getting a strong ammonia smell inside the RV.  It was the smell of our RV absorption refrigerator giving up the ghost. There was a small amount of yellow residue on the bottom of the burner too.

Off to the internet for a little troubleshooting, some Youtube "how to" viewing and some shopping. We ordered a new cooling unit (~$500 delivered) from RvCool.com

In the meantime, we needed to keep food cold! The answer was to put ice into the two drawers that sit on the bottom of the fridge. This turned the fridge into an ice box - the drawers controlled the melt water and the ice kept things cool.

The videos made a DIY cooling unit swap look do-able, so a decision was made!


We ordered the new cooling unit, which took awhile for them to make & get shipped to us on the west coast.


The cooling unit in the box

We picked it up, loaded it across the back seat of the Camry and took it to the RV, which was in Santa Cruz, where we were staying.


This is the view from the top of the cliff that
was a 5 minute walk from the RV park we stayed at.

Watched two different videos on YouTube, as the cooling unit came with no instructions. We laid the box on the bed to get the unit out. The fridge was pulled and laid between the couch & the dinette (table down). 


The fridge ready to be worked on in the RV.

I took lots of pictures, swapped it over, put it back together and slipped it in its hole. That did take all day so we used it as an ice box that night and finished first thing in the morning. Taped up the old one & took it to the FedEx office.  They scanned the (included) label, gave a receipt with the tracking number and off it went.

About the actual job. Nothing was real heavy, more awkward. Two of us did fine. Fitting the cooling unit back in the refrigerator took a little finessing but it was well within my capabilities. We saved well over a thousand dollars when you think about just having the refrigerator replaced.

It's nice having a working refrigerator!


Saturday, January 25, 2020

San Francisco & the Cable Cars

We stayed in the SF Bay Area for a week. That was time to do a little tourist stuff, visit friends and pay respects to family members who have passed on.


The Golden Gate Bridge from the SF Side

One day we went into the City. 



Golden Gate Bridge from the Larkspur Ferry



San Francisco
We took the ferry in from Larkspur, we rode the cable cars, we rode the street cars & we walked. We did tourist stuff!

Once we arrived in the city, we caught a cable car on Market Street. I had not been on a cable car since the mid-1970s. When we got on I thought about my great-grandfather.



That's a cable car on the left, there is a cable under the
tracks that pulls the cars along.

It seems my great-grandfather was riding on the outside of a cable car in 1902 and fell off. He hit his head and died within days of the accident.  I thought about this when I got on the cable car!  I didn't ride standing on the outside either....

When I last rode a cable car back in the 70s, I was unaware of my family history with the machines so it was just fun.



San Fran after the 1906 earthquake - my grandfather was there for that. He said the
ferry boats leaving the city would only take gold or silver, no paper money.
With that in mind when I was born, he made a frame to hold five silver
dollars so I'd never be too broke to take a ferry from the city.

We had a good day! Fisherman's Wharf, the seals at Pier 39, the cable car museum, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl not to mention riding the cable cars. Then we took the ferry back to Marin County.



Clam chowder in a  San Francisco
sourdough bowl. It was good!
The cable car museum houses the cables that move the cable cars. It's free and well worth the time


Sea lions enjoying the day



Fees! I'll mention this because it's useful.
 We paid $7 each for our first cable car ride, but while on it the operator told us about the MuniMobile app. That was a deal! For $12 (ea) you can buy a pass that allows you to ride any SF public transit for the whole day! The passes stayed on the phone, all I had to do was show them, that saved us $$ as we took several cable car & bus rides that day.


It costs to go into the city via bridge, but leaving is free. The Bay Bridge takes cash or the local electronic transponder. The Golden Gate Bridge doesn't take cash, it's all electronic! If you're not hooked up they will send a bill to the address linked to the license plate. You can go online and take care of it before you cross, or after if you don't want to wait for the bill in the mail.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Gravestone Or Not?

My blogging has gotten way behind my reality.  I'll get to "here & now" but it won't happen today.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The past few years I have gotten interested in my genealogy.  Finding my great-great-grandparents' resting places left a mark on me.  We found the Besse family in Santa Cruz, Calif & the Milroys in Bellefontaine (pronounced "bell fountain"), Ohio.


Samuel H and Martha (Boynton) Besse,
Santa Cruz California

It sounds odd, but it wasn't until I actually saw the grave markers that I felt that I actually had people back then. It was no longer abstract.



Robert and Catherine (Boyd) Milroy,
Bellefontaine Ohio

I've never been really concerned about what to do with my remains after I run out of time on this earth.  The last few relatives I'd dealt with had their ashes scattered and that seemed good enough.

Then I thought about how I felt after finding the marker for my great-great-grandparents who passed in 1883... that marker took them from being an abstract thought to actual people in my past.  If my ashes were scattered in the Pacific ocean no one would be able to have the revelation I did 133 years later.

Things to think about...