Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Old Women

Something About Old, Old Women

There is something about old women that is starting to fascinate me.  Perhaps, because I am now old myself, I am trying to figure out how to do old age well.  In reflection, some of the greatest influences on my life have been old women (and some old men). In my neighborhood, I see all kinds of old women.  Some are down trodden, with cracked out teeth, and anorexic bodies.  Some are dignified and graceful offering a stark contract to the squander around them. And then there are the stoop sitting old women observing the world around them.  These old women are more than just busy bodies in our neighborhood.  Their presence lets the neighborhood know, I’m here, I see, I’m interested.

I love Kio Stark’s description of the stoop sitting old women.  I have likewise been blessed by their presence.

down the block

Published October 8, 2008 familiar stranger, old women 1 Comment

There’s a round woman who sits all day on her stoop. She’s the age of a young grandmother, maybe. She’s round and she smiles and watches the people cross her view. When I pass by I always say hello to her. She looks at me for a long moment, and then the corner of her eyes crinkle and she squeaks a kiss at me. It feels like a blessing. Kio Stark’s Blog, Municipal Archive, 10/08/08 (http://municipalarchive.wordpress.com/)

Old Woman, Susan Boyle

I can so identify with Susan Boyle in that I have been a caregiver most of my life.  It is something you do out of love and necessity, but it is not necessarily who you are.  I sense that Susan Boyle had longed to fly for a very long time, but selfless love held her on the ground. When her earthly anchor was cut, she was free to lift off. Boy, didn’t she soar.  When she sang her beautiful song, I Had a Dream, I could not help but fly with her.  What a living expression of the scripture in Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.”

Below are two posts I put of Facebook about old women for those who are not on Facebook:

What do you think of Susan Boyle?

What do you think of Susan Boyle? I personally love her and can't wait until she records something, so I can hear more. Ms. Boyle reminds me of my old maid aunt, Anna Lee, I loved her too. Kaiser has a commercial out where they sing, "When I grow up I want to be an old woman, an old, old, old, old, old, old woman." Susan Boyle epitomizes this song to me. Ms. Boyles success touches me, because like a pearl hidden in a shell under the sea in the belly of a clam, she has now been discovered by the talent divers. Her shell may not be glorious, but oh what a beautiful pearl lies within. You can see Susan Boyle on YouTube.

Old Woman Commercial

For those who haven't seen the Kaiser Permantente commercial, here it is. I really like to old cheerleader. What a kick.  You can view this commercial on YouTube under When I Grow Up I Want to Be an Old Woman.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Green BART

It’s Earth Day!  It seems that half of all news I have read recently has been on Green...Green Jobs, Green Cars, Green Fuel, Green Earth, Green, Green, Green.  Green is actually my favorite color.  I was pleased to learn today that Bart, just a few blocks away, is also getting greener. 

BART is celebrating Earth Day by giving its Richmond maintenance shop a massive green make over.  Starting today, crews will install 912 photovoltaic solar energy panels on the Richmond maintenance shop roof—enough panels to generate the power to lift a 25-ton BART car.  The system is estimated to avoid more than 4.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years. "Not only will BART host a clean renewable solar energy system, it’s replacing the shop’s old, outdated lamps with high-efficiency florescent lighting," BART Board President Thomas Blalock said.  "Both conservation efforts will save energy and taxpayers money along with reducing our carbon footprint."

"The lighting upgrade will reduce energy use at the shop by one third and result in cost savings of $107,000 a year," BART Board member Bob Franklin said. Franklin chairs the Board’s first Sustainability/Green Committee. Richmond's maintenance shop works 24/7, meaning there are a lot of lights and machinery to operate using traditional energy. But with the installation of over 900 solar panels on the shop's roof, two-thirds of that electricity will now come from the sun.

"The Richmond yard is perfectly suited for this upgrade because of the direction, the location, the sun and the size," said Bob Franklin, a BART board member who chairs agency's green committee. "It has a flat roof, there's nothing in the way of the sun, no trees or other buildings that obstruct the solar panels." 

Richmond Bart Maintenance Shop

Richmond Bart Yard (photo by Ian Jancoski)

Sign Inside of Bart Station 

(Photo by jonny5 [at] zeropergallon.com)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No. 844 Steam Train To Roll Through Richmond

Big steam train to roll through Bay Area cities

Living just two blocks from the Richmond Bart & Amtrak Station, I often hear the trains rolling in, particularly at night.  Trains tracts actually make the boarders of my neighborhood, The Iron Triangle.  There a three train tracks that surround my neighborhood, and everything within them is called the Iron Triangle.  I am excited that No. 844, the last steam engine train, will be coming through here soon.

Steam Locomotive No. 844 is the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad. It was delivered in 1944. A high-speed passenger engine, it pulled such widely known trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger trains.

Hailed as Union Pacific's "Living Legend," the engine is widely known among railroad enthusiasts for its excursion runs, especially over Union Pacific's fabled crossing of Sherman Hill between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming.

The engine has run hundreds of thousands of miles as Union Pacific's ambassador of goodwill. It has made appearances at Expo '74 in Spokane, the 1981 opening of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Los Angeles Union Station in 1989.

Rail aficionados will tell you there's something special about a steam locomotive — big wheels, rods pushing back and forth, and belching smoke. Compared with a modern diesel locomotive, steamers are so old-fashioned and dirty "... and alive.

Big, modern Union Pacific stables two large steam engines as rolling goodwill ambassadors and public relations centerpieces. One of them, No. 844, will roll in and out of the Bay Area next week, scheduled to lay over in Oakland on April 21 for public viewing.

The big Cheyenne, Wyo.-based steamer and its train are on their Western Heritage Tour, which began Saturday in Cheyenne before heading west through Utah and Nevada before crossing Donner Pass into California.

An aerial of the Richmond, CA station.  Here, Amtrak riders can reside in a transit-oriented development or transfer to BART (heavy rail) for access into Oakland and San Francisco.

The big engine and its train are scheduled to depart Roseville about 8 a.m. Monday, rolling west on the "Capitol Corridor" route through Fairfield, Martinez, Crockett, Pinole, Richmond and Emeryville, scheduled to arrive in Oakland about 11 a.m.

Ten crew people are devoted to No. 844, when it travels and at its home base. It requires many more than those people to run this operation, though. That's one of the reasons steam engines were replaced by diesels, because the steam was so labor intensive. At every stop on this trip, they have to take on water, and maintain various parts of the engine. (Patsy’s Ponderings by Patsy Terrell Blog, 06.02.06)

Rail fans and others can follow No. 844's progress across the country and in the Bay Area using global positioning, on UP's Web site. And the train's GPS system will provide Twitter transmissions, as well — something as foreign to steam engineers of the 1940s as the computerized diesels that move U.S, freight trains today.

The No. 844 was UP's last new steam engine, built in 1944. It hauled mostly passenger trains until 1957, and spent the last few years of its regular service life pulling freight trains in Nebraska. Far more efficient diesels replaced virtually all U.S. steam engines by the late 1950s, and though several other large steam engines have been restored to service over the years to pull excursions, No. 844 is believed to be the only large steam locomotive in the U.S. that was never retired. It entered special UP service in 1962. (By Sam Richards, Contra Costa Times ,04/13/2009)

Reno, Nevada’s Train Station

No.844 will be passing through the city I was born in Reno, Nevada.  I have taken the ride on a passenger train from Reno to Oakland several times.  It is a beautiful ride through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Reno is like Richmond, its railway station is right downtown.

Built in 1926 for Southern Pacific and Virginia & Truckee Railroads. Now used by Amtrak. Union Pacific tracks run in a 20-foot deep trench on the other side of the station. 

An Interesting History

Amtrak's Reno station is the fourth train station to stand on that site. The first one, built in 1869, burned down in the Reno fire of 1879. The second one opened a decade later–and it burned down as well.

The third one survived until the station was bought by the Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad in 1925, which replaced that station with the one built in the Mediterranean Revival style popular among SP's holdings. It features a long, stucco-clad building with five tall, rounded arches that form door and window openings. The design is nearly symmetrical and is mirrored on both sides of the station – facing the platform as well as the street. A red tile roof covers the center of the station and its Palladian windows. The station is known for its high, coffered ceiling and the back-to-back wooden benches that are still used by Amtrak passengers.

Along a 2.2-mile stretch in downtown Reno, a $282-million, nine-year project began in November 2005 to lower the Union Pacific mainline and eliminate 11 street crossings in the heart of the city. In January 2006, Amtrak moved back into the both the renovated historic station and a newly constructed section of the historic building. This new space includes a ticket office, a second waiting room in addition to the one in the historic building, offices and a long escalator that leads down to the lowered platform and tracks.

In 2007, the Reno Gazette-Journal newspaper reported a large fountain that once stood in downtown Reno to "quench the thirst of all of God's creatures" went on display in the lower lobby of the rail station. The Women's Christian Temperance Union had the 14-foot-tall fountain built and dedicated it on Oct. 17, 1908, thinking if men had a place to get water for themselves and their horses and dogs, it would keep them out of saloons. Throughout the country, temperance leagues built these grandiose water fountains that doubled as monuments.

The Golden State Model Railroad Museum


Richmond is so centered on trains that it has its own Model Railroad Museum in Point Richmond across the street from the entrance to Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline Park. See map in my Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline & Some Personal Memories Post.  As I child I was fascinated by model railroads.  In Monterey, California, I once ate in a restaurant that had model trains running all around the top of the room.  The food wasn’t bad, but the trains were better.

Located just east of Richmond's rich historical district in the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline Park, the Golden State Model Railroad Museum boasts one of the largest model railroads in the country at just over 10,000 square feet. I have never be there when it was open.  They have short hours, so check out their web site, http://www.gsmrm.org/ for more information.

The museum features historically correct layouts of Bay Area and Sierra Nevada stations and landmarks

The Tudor style building in the middle of this shot is the Key Route Inn a hotel on the key system that burnt down in the 30s. The Key system was the combination of bus, train and ferry that went from the east bay to the city. This was at the corner of Grand and Telegraph streets in Oakland.

At the Golden State Model Railroad Museum in Richmond. A huge warehouse of different scenes and California towns and rail yards are mocked up.  (Theorem’s photostream, Paul Cloutier, Flickr, July 13, 2008)

10,000 Sq. ft. of model railroad (Devin’s travelogue, Devin Hayes)

Friday, April 17, 2009

103rd Anniversary of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Tomorrow will mark the 103 Anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake.  I was wondering what happened on the East Bay during that time. Below are some of the things I discovered.

What has happened?

A century ago, San Francisco was California's biggest city, and at five a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, the city was starting to wake up. Then, at 5:12, the earth shifted. History professor and former California State Librarian Kevin Starr says there were two jolts, the second one lasting forty seconds.

There was no panic, no noise. "You have a period of silent shock and awe," Starr says. "And people came out on the street, looked to each other, looked around and said; 'What has happened? What has happened?'"

What had happened was that an earthquake -- today estimated at magnitude 7.9 - violently shook the city. Gas lines broke, 60 fires broke out, and the water system failed. (By Jan Sluizer San Francisco 14 April 2006)

Point Richmond Church Helps 1906 Quack Victims

This church just up the hill from historic downtown Point Richmond was completed in 1906, in time to shelter refugees from the San Francisco earthquake. The wood frame building is covered by a veneer of Richmond Common Brick produced nearby at the Richmond Pressed Brick Company, now the site of Brickyard Cove condominiums. It presents a solid and imposing form on the hillside.

Relief Operations Outside of San Francisco

While conditions in San Francisco were so difficult as to demand the most unremitting care and attention, yet the division commander was not unmindful of the destitution that had occurred in adjacent towns and cities and also as to the congested state of adjacent towns from the overflow of destitute refugees from San Francisco. At the earliest possible moment attention was given to these sufferers, which is treated under the heads of Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, San Jose, Santa Rosa, and Sausalito districts, and relief of the Chinese. The number of destitutes outside of San Francisco was variously estimated at from 75,000 to 90,000, which, with those in the city, made an aggregate certainly exceeding 400,000.

Relief in Berkeley

Benjamin Ide Wheeler

Berkeley was practically uninjured by earthquake, but it became a refuge for a thousand or more destitutes from San Francisco. Through the efficient and timely efforts of the president of the University of California, Benjamin Ide Wheeler, and of Mrs. Wheeler, the relief was ably and satisfactorily handled by a local committee. While the possibility of military supervision was once under consideration, yet at that time neither officers nor men were available. It transpired that the local efforts, so ably directed, were equal to all demands. Berkeley was supplied with relief stores in like manner as Oakland had been, but happily the administrative burden of prompt and suitable distribution

did not devolve upon the army.

Relief in Oakland and Alameda

 Frank K. Mott

Oakland fortunately escaped any serious injuries from earthquake, and was spared the calamity of fire. It was, however, filled with refugees from San Francisco, the number in the early days being estimated from 50,000 to 75,000. The situation was promptly taken in hand by an energetic relief committee, of which the Rev. E. E. Baker was chairman. Fifty thousand dollars was allotted Oakland from the funds sent to San Francisco, but I um uninformed as to whether or not additional sums were sent to Governor Pardee and Mayor Mott for specific use in that city. Large quantities of relief supplies were shipped direct to Oakland, and whenever these were deficient in quantity or quality they were promptly supplemented by supplies billed to San Francisco, the diversions being made through Capt. Jesse M. Baker, the efficient quartermaster at Oakland pier, so as to avoid transshipment.

Realizing that the extent and continuance of the relief problem were overtaxing local resources and forces, Governor Pardee and Mayor Mott, in a conference with me, expressed the opinion that the time for military supervision in that city had arrived. There was absolutely not an officer or man who could be spared for that work. Fortunately, Gen. Charles A. Woodruff, retired, an officer of marked ability and intelligence, volunteered his services as civil aid, and served in that capacity in connection with the relief operations of Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley from May 1 to May 8. He placed himself in communication with Mr. J. P. Edoff, the representative of Mayor Mott, and the Rev. E. E. Baker, chairman of the Oakland relief committee. General Woodruff found many different relief organizations in Oakland, all working independently and without controlling central authority. Noble as were these efforts in spirit and theory, yet their disassociated action had the consequential results of extravagance and waste, not to mention the encouragement of repeaters and impostors. General Woodruff, by tactful methods and personal appeals, succeeded in gradually concentrating the greater part of these organizations.

New York Times Headline, April 20, 1906



Oakland Overrun with Refugees --    Multitudes Unable to Leave.



Police Seize Groceries and Bakeries -- Mayor Appeals for Food and Tents -- All Possible Efforts Made to Open Railways and Give Relief to Sufferers.

The 1906 disaster marked the birth of earthquake science in America

Andrew Lawson

The 1906 disaster marked the birth of earthquake science in America. Even as the fires raged for three days, California's governor rounded up 20 of the state's leading scientists. They were challenged to investigate how and why the earth's crust had ruptured with such terrifying violence.

Ross Stein, a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey says that four years later they produced the Lawson Report, which laid the foundation for much of what is known today about earthquakes.

"Before the 1906 earthquake most scientists thought that an earthquake involved shaking of the ground but not any permanent displacements of the ground," Stein says. "What the Lawson report did was to show us that sudden movement along a fault, a zone of weakness in the earth, produces the earthquake shaking. In addition to producing the shaking, which is what we all feel, it produces permanent displacement of the land."

Richmond Houses an Earthquake Laboratory

The Laboratory and NISEE Library Facilities are located at the Richmond Field Station, 1301 S. 46th Street, Richmond, California 94804-4698


The Laboratory and NISEE Library Facilities is the place to find out how buildings and bridges respond to earthquakes.

They have an equipment site of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). Their specialty is modeling large-scale structural systems and experimental evaluation of their response to earthquakes. They continue the long Berkeley tradition of pioneering new experimental and numerical modeling and evaluation methods. At nees@berkeley, you can certainly do conventional tests using our configurable reaction wall facility and a versatile array of actuators. However, they are very proud to have developed new hybrid simulation methods that combine physical and analytical sub-structures into a hybrid model of the entire structure using our state-of-the-art digital controllers and networks, the OpenFresco interface framework, and the latest finite element models built using the OpenSees analysis framework.

http://nees.berkeley.ed/ is a place of discovery. Here, you can see how earthquakes can affect structures. They have many videos of experimental testing on hand and several laboratory demonstrations ready to run for middle- and high-school students. They also run research experience sessions during the summer. They also run research experience sessions during the summer.

Richmond Emergency Action Community Teams (R.E.A.C.T.)

The Program:  REACT/CERT was implemented, and is maintained under the leadership of the City of Richmond Fire Department Office of Emergency Services. CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) is the federally and nationally most recognized name for REACT.  REACT/CERT students are trained by the Richmond Fire Department and certified volunteer community trainers.  REACT/CERT students receive 20 hours of free life saving training, plus attend disaster drills yearly. Upon completion of the training and drill, students graduate with a certificate, vest, and a hard hat imprinted with the CERT logo. 

The next drill is scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2009 from 9:00 am - 2:00 p.m..  

The Benefits of REACT/CERT

  • ·        A major earthquake, or one of numerous other potential disasters, may occur in the city at any time, causing widespread damage and destruction to homes, highways, and businesses. Past disasters, such as the Loma Prieta earthquake, Northridge earthquake, and the Oakland Hills fire, have proven that in a disaster situation, people want to help. With the proper training they will assist, save lives and property in a safe manner, and be the "first responders on the scene.”
  • ·        A disaster will likely disrupt normal activities.  Police, Fire, 9-1-1, and ambulances will be quickly overwhelmed, and may not be able to respond for up to 72 hours. Citizens need to be able to take care of themselves until the professional emergency responders arrive.
  •     ·    It is the responsible thing to do. The city alone cannot possibly respond to all. It is important to remember the following: Victims have a 99.3% chance of survival if rescued in the first 30 min. Victims have an 81% chance of survival if rescued in the 1st day. Victims have a 34 % chance of survival if rescued in the 2nd day. Citizens will there wanting to help and it would be best if they were trained to respond and help each other.


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