Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back on Christmas

We had a GREAT Christmas! We had Jeff and Nicole over on Christmas Eve with their kids; as well as Kenneth and Sue's mom Frances over for dinner. On Christmas Day we had Kenneth and Sue's mom Frances over for dinner. It was great fun!

(Click on photo above to enlarge it. More photos here on Flickr!)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home Improvement Sloan Style

Dave Kelly, our contractor dude, and us spent most of the day looking at toilets, plumbing fixtures and other similar home improvement things for our bathroom remodel project. Today we went out again and looked at more tile, sheet vinyl and other stuff.

Dave is a great guy and is very entertaining. He also is very laid back and patient with us non handyman types. This is how we are spending our vacation...

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last run to Santa Cruz for the Union Pacific

On Monday, December 28, 2009 the Union Pacific (UP) ran what is likely the last UP Santa Cruz Local. I knew the train normally ran on Mondays. I was off work so I went and chased the train. There was not a lot of advance publicity about the last trip. Still, I was surprised to see I was the only person documenting the train leaving Watsonville.

In January 2010 the Sierra Railroad is going to start leasing and operating the line. I posted information about the train running to the Coast and Heads Up lists, I don't know if that is why several other railfans showed up later in the day, especially for the return trip. Maybe they were planning to come anyway.

Steam powered narrow gauge trains once pounded the Santa Cruz mountains over the hill between San Jose and Santa Cruz. The South Pacific Coast Railroad was probably the most successful narrow gauge railroad in California history. Built by Comstock Lode millionaire James Fair (known variously as either “Slippery Jim” or “Sunny Jim”) and his front man, Alfred “Hog” Davis, it ran from Alameda to Santa Cruz, a distance of 80 miles. This old narrow-gauge line, the South Pacific Coast, was bought by the Southern Pacific (SP) and converted to standard-gauge. SP ran trains with names like the Suntan Special to Santa Cruz. The line over the Santa Cruz mountains was abandoned in 1940 as cars replaced steam powered passenger trains.

The passenger business gone, freight continued to roll into and out of Santa Cruz. The Southern Pacific operated trains into Santa Cruz on another rail line north from Watsonville that extended through Santa Cruz and continued north to the Cemex cement plant in Davenport. The Southern Pacific was taken over by the UP in 1996 following years of financial problems.

UP continued freight trains to Santa Cruz. The Cemex plant in Davenport was by far the largest business on the line getting it's own five day a week train of cement hoppers. The closure of that plant in March 2009 left the Union Pacific with only a handful of carloads a week coming off the long line extending from Watsonville to Davenport. There clearly was not enough business for this line to survive profitably even with service cut down to one train a week. Frankly, it is hard to see how Sierra can make a go of it. So, going into 2010 this little railroad line will be a priority for me.

December 28, 2009 was a rainy overcast day. That seemed fitting really, the run marked the end of class one railroads going to Santa Cruz on a sad rainy day. No loaded revenue cars came back on the train; only empties. No money was made on this trip. Yup, that's the problem in a nutshell.

Want More?
Please click on the photo above to enlarge it.

Or, if you would like to see more photos on Flickr, click here.

Or, if you want to see a special Web page I created on this topic, click here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Today is my mom's birthday

Today I have been thinking a lot about my mom. This is her birthday. She died on October 18, 1984. She was a good mom. Sadly, both of my parents died young; before I was thirty. So many memories, so long ago. She would be 90 today.

(If you want to see a larger version of this photo, just click on it.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter in San Jose

Winter came to San Jose yesterday. The days are getting longer once again.

About the photo: This photo is shot on film, with a Nikon 105mm 2.5 lens (Ken Compton's old lens) on a N90S on Fuji 400 film exposed at 200. Click on photo to see a larger version.

Monday, December 21, 2009

End of Fall at San Jose State

Fall is finished at SJSU. This photo was taken between Clark Hall and Dwight Bentel Hall on November 29, 2009. Two guys were tossing a football in the late afternoon that day. Just click on the photo to see a larger version of the image.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jeff got his bachelor's degree

We are very proud of son Jeff who graduated from San Jose State University yesterday with his degree in accounting, Jeff is a fine young man and an excellent father and husband. It is not easy juggling family, work and college; but Jeff did it! And, he graduated with honors. What an achievement!

I will miss him being an SJSU student. That was a real treat having him go to school where I work.

Click on the above photo to see it larger!

[Click here to see more photos on Flickr.]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ram's Last Day

Today is a day of many celebrations at the help desk. It is both happy and sad as today is Ram Kumar Rama Roo's last day. Ram has been at the help desk for three years and is our senior student lead. He will be missed!

We had a help desk celebration to celebrate that, several staff birthdays and the end of the semester. (Click on the above photo if you would like to see it larger.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fall light, leaves and shadows at SJSU

Behind Dwight Bentel Hall at SJSU, Fall 2009. This photo was shot on film (Fuji 400 on a Nikon F3).

[Click on photo to enlarge]

Monday, December 07, 2009

Philz Music Moment

Philz Coffee
is one of my favorite hangouts near SJSU. This evening as I walked by there after yoga I couldn't help but notice they now have music. I grabbed a snap with my iPhone. The place has been crowded with students preparing for finals.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Another M&ET train video again

This is a better version of the first video. It's on Youtube!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another M&ET train video

I edited another train video. This one was done using my old work flow and it came out much better. If you click on the link above you can see it on YouTube.

I think this one is better. (It was done in iMovie HD):

The second in a series of videos on the M&ET. This one was shot near Stanislaus Foods at the Riverside Yard. On November 21, 2008 Modesto and Empire Traction 70 Tonners were hard at work between Modesto and Empire, California. These little General Electric locomotives are over 50-years old. Their days are numbered because their replacements were coming as these videos were shot.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

M&ET 70 Tonners at Work

M&ET 70 Tonners Video

[See Video Here on YouTube]

I made some error when I set up my project and captured this video. I have not yet figured it out, but I will.

On November 21, 2008 Modesto and Empire Traction 70 Tonners are hard at work between Modesto and Empire, California. These little General Electric locomotives are over 50-years old. Their days are numbered because their replacements were coming as these videos were shot.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I had a cat in my lap

I wrote this this morning as I was sitting in the living room unable to move because my cat Pixel was curled up in my lap. I have no idea how something so little (and so dumb) could have so much power over me. When he gets in my lap he looks up at me with huge golden cat eyes and I am totally at his mercy. Oh well, at least he was warm; warm and sound asleep.

I had woke up at 5 a.m. with insomnia and Pixel is great company. Did you know Pixel has his own Web page in Catbook and a page in Catster? Catster and Catbook are like Facebook and MySpace for cats; yes, there is a Dogster, as well as a Fishster. I sometimes wonder if the people who post Web pages for their fish have totally lost it or if they are making fun of those of us who are silly crazy over our pets.

I guess I should have moved my cat and gone and done something more productive, like make coffee. But, it was only 6:00 a.m. and I guess there's no rush. Soon it was 6:20 a.m. Pixel and I had been at this over an hour. Sometimes I get so caught up in this and that (and sleeping cats) and I am late for work.

We can't have that!

Usually, I just sit until my legs start to cramp from sitting so long with a cat in my lap. Then, I get up and Pixel will saunter over and eat some kibble.

It's tough being a cat.

Did I tell you Pixel snorts? Yes, he snorts like a little pig. Around 6:30 a.m. he snorted. He lifted his head and then he looked up at me like I was bothering him by typing on my laptop as he was trying to sleep. Poor Pixel.

Then, my leg started to cramp. Finally, having no choice; I got up. Pixel got up too, stretched, walked over and ate some kibble. I went to work and he began his day.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Remembering a dear friend

Kathy Arena in 1991Kathy died of cancer October 29, 2009. Kathy died at her daughter Darcey's home. According to Bess Obercoe, a mutual friend, one of the things Kathy lamented shortly before she died was, "why do people have to die over holidays?" She did not want to spoil her family's Halloween celebration.

Kathy died surrounded by family; also in the home was Darcey's husband Mike, Kathy's other daughter Kayla, and Mike and Darcey's children.

I met Kathy in 1991, at Bess's 40th birthday party, not long after my first wife passed away. Kathy and I became good friends shortly after that. It was a friendship that lasted many years. I was transitioning into being single after having been married most of my adult life. Bess and Kathy were the first people to teach me what it was like to be single and to have single friends of both genders.

Kathy taught me how to have fun again. Kathy's daughter Kayla is two years younger than Kenneth. With a two-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy, plus my older boys, we all would go on family style adventures in amusement parks or go to the beach. Sometimes at night, after finding sitters, she and I would go to dinner, maybe movies or out for drinks; sometimes with other singles.

Kathy worked at a travel agency when I met her. I sometimes accompanied Kathy to events for travel agents. Kathy planned an airplane trip to Disneyland for my sons and I. She worked out all the details for us. It was my sons' first flight.

Kathy was widowed. We could talk about our experiences of having a spouse die in a way you can not talk to a friend who has never been married or who may be bitterly divorced with a living ex-spouse. We had both lost our parents as well. We had a lot in common. I think the friendship was good for both of us.

Kathy and her Italian-American family adopted my family and I. We had great experiences at their big parties. The friendship continued after I met Sue. Sue and I still went to some of their family parties. Sue fit right in, she's Italian-American herself. Kathy came to our wedding. When Darcey married Mike, Sue and I were there; we photographed their big beautiful wedding.

Darcey went into real estate. She is very successful at it. Darcey sold Sue and I the home we live in now. One of her associates even sold Sue's mom her home. When we needed a new roof for our home, the roofing company Kathy was then working for did the job. Kathy came by our house and put a big sign in front of it saying, "Roof by Los Gatos Roofing."

Meeting Kathy at Bess's party changed the course of my life and the lives of the members of my family, in so many ways. She, and members of her family, remained connected to my family for many years. As Kathy declined she became very private, she did not want to be seen, that's not the way she wanted to be remembered.

I remember Kathy's green eyes, the way she smiled, the way she laughed, the way she engaged life and most of all; the way she could tell a story. She could take a story and make it her own. After she told you a story you felt like you had been there and had experienced it. Thinking back on her passing has brought back so many memories. I am very thankful that we knew Kathy and that she was a part of the lives the members of my family and I.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A great weekend with old friends and trains

UP Manifest at Spring Garden

The weekend of October 24, 25, 2009 I went to the Feather River Canyon with Ken and Zach Compton. The Fall Colors were spectacular and the train action was great.

At Portola I ran into my high school buddy Paul Burmeister and his wife Judy whom I had not seen for many, many years.

It was a great weekend!

[More Photos on Flickr]

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tender Mercies

Today I learned an old friend who has cancer does not have long left. Barring a miracle; this will be the second friend I have lost this year. To me, each friend I lose is a reminder of our need to let friends know how much we love them and how important they are to us. We can either tell them so directly or just be sure we make time for our friends and through our actions let them know we care.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Accidental tourist trip to London

Tower Bridge London

On Saturday July 25, 2009 our flight from Dublin to London was late we ended up getting an unexpected layover. An afternoon in London!

We flew Aer Lingus from Dublin to London and the flight left Dublin about an hour late. This caused us to miss our connection.

We had hardly slept the night before due to music from a pub next to our hotel (we would have been much better off just joining the party!)

Aer Lingus got us overnight accommodations and meal tickets at the Park Inn near the airport. We could have just slept in the hotel; but didn't. Our luggage stayed at the airport. We took the Hoppa Bus from Heathrow to the hotel, freshened up and took a bus to the Underground station and went off on an unexpected adventure!

[Click here to see more photos on Flikr]

[Click here to see a smaller set on Facebook]

Friday, October 09, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Grandkids birthday party was grand

Jacob and Madison

Last Saturday we celebrated the birthdays of grandkids Jacob and Madison. It was a good party with parents, grandparents and great grandparents as well as friends and other family in attendance.

[More photos here]

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I am in LA

I met with Russell. I have my first photo assignments and am about to go shoot them. The fires were up to the freeway. I saw this along the 14 on the way down here.

In Mojave

I am in Mojave on my way to a SoCal union meeting. It was a good trip down the valley and I got a room near the tracks, score! I will get to listen to trains all night. The Motel clerk was suprised when I asked for room 222.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Status of Ireland photos so far

Sue and I at the cliffs of Moher

I have finished another small set of photos from Ireland. This set is from our time going to Galway and the Aaron Islands and it is now here on Facebook.

These join the other sets:

So, Westport is next. Sue and I have watched the movie Michael Collins and would recommend it! I also read the book 50 Dead Men Walking, Stephen (our tour guide) mentioned and am reading Easter 1916.

Until later,
Erin Go Bragh!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

San Francisco SFMoMA adventure

Susie with Beatles Photo

On Saturday August 15, 2009 we went to San Francisco. At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) we saw exhibits featuring Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon and Robert Frank. Photos were only allowed in the Avedon photo exhibit.

Then we toured the other modern art exhibits.

After that we went to North Beach where we walked around, went to O'Reillys Irish Pub and Restaurant and finally went for a canoly at Mara's.

[Click here to see more photos]

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dingle Days in Ireland

Sue and I at Sleah Head

I have finished another small set of photos. This set, from our time in and around Dingle, is now here on Facebook.

These join this small set that covers our 2 days going to and staying in Kinsale.

Here is the Facebook photo set of the photos in Dublin.

If you want to see many, many more photos, the big collection of all the photos is here in Flickr.

Galway is next. As I run each and every photo in the big collection through Photoshop it takes 6-8 hours to put these sets together. One of the photos I am most happy with was the one of the stained glass mural at the Blaskin Islands Centre. This is actually four photos joined together.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Jeff is 31 today

Jeff comments on train

Jeff is thirty-one today
Thirty one years ago today Jeff was born near Sacramento. He is a man and an excellent husband and father and we are very proud of him. Thirty-one will be a big year for him as this is the year he is graduating from SJSU with his accounting degree. This video of him was made when he was a little older than his eldest child, daughter Madison, is now.

This Video is in Quick Time 7 format, download free viewer.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Getting back in the groove of normal life

Patty on Rynolds

It is Wednesday and that means it is time for another bike ride this evening. I am looking forward to it and it is always fun to spend time with friends. I am still thinking about the vacation we recently took. It so far exceeded all my expectations. I am glad we got to do that. I wish I had been able to travel more when I was young. I am sorry my kids were not exposed to that and I hope they don't wait to long to travel more.

Besides going through the thousands of pictures from the trip, I have been riding my bike and doing yoga and spending time with Sue. Life is good. This is great riding weather.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Kinsale Ireland Adventures

Irish girl in Kinsale

On July 14 we left Dublin and went to Kinsale, Ireland. These photos are from that part of our vacation:

  • Click here to see photo set on Flickr <------ Tuesday July 14, 2009 was a day on the bus. Our Rick Steve's tour went from Dublin to Kinsale, Ireland. We went to Powerscourt Gardens where it rained buckets. Then, we went to the Rock of Cashel Castle where we had a great lunch. Finally we went that evening to Kinsale where we heard Liam O sing some great Irish Folk songs.
  • Click here to see photo set on Flickr <------ We started Wednesday July 15 with a walking tour of Kinsale led by Don Herlihy. He talked all about the town and the historic battle of Kinsale. Then we went to Charles fort for another excellent tour. Sue and I took the afternoon easy, opting to bus back to town. We went for a tour of the wine museum (lame) at Desmond castle. We then walked around Kinsale more before and after having dinner at Fishy Fishy.

These are all from the Europe 2009 photo collection I am building on Flickr.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Return to Dublin

Dublin Christchurch Cathedral

I have organized and am posting the photos from our first two days in downtown Dublin, after returning to Dublin for our Ireland tour. I hope you enjoy these:

  • July 12, 2009: Return to Dublin <--- Click here to view! July 12, 2009 we started the day in Dublin Ireland for the second time. I got up before Sue and went for a short walk around. Then we went to breakfast. After breakfast we walked around more and ended up at the Guinness storehouse where we did the tour. We met this cute young couple from Missouri there. Then we went back to our hotel where we met the tour group for the first time. Stephen our tour leader took us for a walking tour over to O'Connell Street where we saw the old Post Office where the Easter Uprising of 1916 started the war that led to the liberation of Ireland and the creation of the Irish Republic. Then we went to the Arlington Hotel where we saw some Riverdance style dancing.

  • July 13, 2009, Dublin Day 2 <--- Click here to view! In the morning we met Cliona, our morning tour guide, who took us for a walking tour of historic Dublin. We went to Dublin Castle and to the first Parliament Building of the Irish Republic. We ended up at Trinity College where we saw the Book of Kells. Then Sue and I were on our own. We went to Grafton Street and had lunch at Duke's Pub. We then went to St. Patrick's cathedral. On the way back we passed St. Kevin's Cathedral. Dinner that night was at Luigi Malones in Temple Bar.

These are all from the Europe 2009 photo collection I am building on Flickr.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More photos from Paris

Sue in Prsay with Vincent

Our Last Days in Paris
I have organized and am posting the photos from our last two days in Paris, before returning to Dublin for our Ireland tour. I hope you enjoy these:

  • July 10, 2009; Big Paris walk <--- Click here to view! This was a big walking day. After walking through Rue Cler in the early morning, Sue and I met for breakfast back at our hotel. After that we walked to the Arc de Triump. Then, we walked the length of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, stopping in many shops. We went to Laviana, one of the best wine stores in Paris. We finished the evening with a boat ride on the Siene.

  • July 11, 2009; Day at the Orsay <--- Click here to view! On this Saturday, after breakfast, we walked over to the RER train station and caught a train to the Orsay Museum. We spent most of the day in the Orsay. We even had lunch there. Then we went back to our room, gathered up our bags and caught a Taxi. We took taxi to our bus connection to go to Paris-Beauvais to catch a late Ryanair flight back to Dublin. It was warm and the airport was chock-a-block. Folks were sitting outside waiting for their flights.

These are all from the Europe 2009 photo collection I am building on Flickr.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First vacation photos on Flickr

Night scene in Paris

The first three days of the trip in pictures
I have been spending a lot of time editing and preparing the thousands of photos from our trip to Europe. Here are some photos I have selected, ran through Photoshop, prepared for sharing and have posted to Flickr:

  • July 7, 2009; Fly to Europe <--- Click here to view!
    This morning Kenneth took us to the airport and we flew to Chicago where we changed planes and started our trans-Atlantic leg.

  • July 8, 2009; To Dublin <--- Click here to view!
    This morning we arrived first at London Heathrow then changed to Aer Lingus to go to Dublin. Arrived there and had the first of many Guinnesses.

  • July 9, 2009; Dublin to Paris <--- Click here to view!
    We left Dublin and took a 29 Euro Ryanair flight to Beauvais airport in France, then a bus to Paris. Then, we got on the RER train to go to where we stayed to check in.

    We had lunch on Rue Cler, then went to the Eiffel Tower. After that, we caught a very late 69 bus which we took to the Notre Dame. Finally, we shot night shots there, in the Latin Quarter and back by the Eiffel Tower.

These are all from the Europe 2009 photo collection I am building on Flickr.

Monday, July 27, 2009

London Quite Unexpectedly

Sunset at Big Ben

We did not expect our adventure to continue after we left Dublin, Ireland for home but that is just what happened. We had not gotten much sleep the night before leaving because there was loud music playing outside our room at the Dublin hotel. We were up late and had to get up at 6:00 a.m. to make our early flight because Dublin airport is such a zoo.

Our Aer Lingus flight was greatly delayed leaving Dublin and we missed our American Airlines London connection to Chicago. Aer Lingus in London was not able to get us a flight out of London until the next day so they put us up in a hotel in London near Heathrow Airport with all expenses paid!

Sue and I were dead tired and it would have been easy to have just gone to the room and taken a long nap, but I had never been to London and adventure called! So, after we got our room we got directions to the London Underground from a concierge and some helpful Brits and we took the a bus and the underground to downtown.

Time was limited, but we managed to get in the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, The Parliment Building and Westminster Abbey! We ended up grabbing dinner at a take away (we did not use our hotel dinner voucher) and ate it at the base of Big Ben!

As often happens the underground and buses were also a grand part of the adventure. We got to do some fun people watching, talk to some Londoners and hear some snippets of conversations that provided a good window into everyday life in London.

So, we flew home the next day and had an added day of unexpected adventure for very little cost! Sometimes it is a good thing when things go "wrong."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Late Post from Northern Ireland

Peacewall in Belfast

Due to lousy Internet access this post has been delayed:

Written Friday July 24, 2009 1:24 p.m. - We are on the road heading toward Dublin. Behind us is Belfast and Northern Ireland. Belfast is a lovely and still very divided city. We drove past the wall separating the hard core Catholic Republican and Protestant Loyalist neighborhoods. We stopped and went up to the wall. It was like being at a battle ground or at ground zero, a real living symbol of the death of thousands who have killed each other in Northern Ireland. On the wall someone had written, "all you need is love."

All you need is love

We then went into the city center of Belfast. We got off the bus for a couple of hours.

The Downtown area of Belfast is lovely and peaceful, like a whole different city. We went to Saint George's Market and talked to some nice vendors. Sue bought jewelery and we bought food for tomorrow's return flights to home. Then we went for a nice walk in Belfast. We even went to a model shop that had model trains. That was very cool, European Model Trains!

Then, we got back on the bus and started for Dublin.

Late news flash: Saturday July 25... Our plane out of Dublin was late. We missed our London connection so we are overnighting here. Another big adventure...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

After leaving Derry

Free Derry Gate

Due to lousy Internet access this post has been delayed:

Wednesday July 22, 2009, 5:36 p.m. Derry, Northern Ireland - Today we visited Derry. Sue and I went through the free Derry nationalist neighborhood called the bog and the loyalist pro-British enclave on the west bank. It is a confusing mixture of religion, history and symbolism that is a part of my Irish history. Yet, to me it seems kinda pointless. I am Scot-Irish which means my people would be the loyalist Oranges, the Scots brought over by the Brits to take over the land taken from the Irish clans after they were defeated in the battle of Kinsale in 1601.

These were the same folks who later moved in huge numbers to the colonies, many settling in the Appalachians. Despite my Protestant roots I married a Catholic. Protestants and Catholics can, obviously get along.

We had an interesting experience and a bit disturbing experience at times.

NOTE iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor.

Also, I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail once or twice a day. I cannot open most e-mail attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Headed to Northern Ireland

Sue in Cong Wood

July 22, 2009, Wednesday, 8:46 a.m., on the bus - We are headed to Northern Ireland, or as the Irish call it, "Norn Iron."

Yesterday morning in Galway we had some time and went jewelry shopping. This is the home of Claddagh rings. Sue and I got rings.

Last night we were in Westport and we did another pub crawl. We had dinner, and Guinness, at a cyber pub that was okay. A real nice young woman from Poland was working there who had just been in Ireland two weeks. She was sweet even though the owner seemed to be a bit of a jerk. I have been told some Irish view hiring an Eastern European to like buying a new toaster. Others are very nice to them. Most don't think they will stick around. But, I think Ireland will be much more diverse in a generation or two as more and more immigration occurs and those folks have babies and get homes.

I bought a map and Sue has really gotten into marking it up and tracing our route. That's very cool.

After dinner we went to J.J. O'Malley's pub it was full with an elementary school band playing. After they played a song an adult sang for them then said to them, "some day you will be at a pub on a Saturday night drinking beer and enjoying music..." Children are pretty common in Irish pubs. The drinking age is 18 but younger kids come in and drink.

It was very crowded so we went across the street to Matt Malloys pub. A singer came in and started singing a mixture of traditional and popular music. A group of kids age 14 to 18 came in and got drinks, one of the kids asked for a song and the singer, annoyed by the young drinkers said, "if you are still allowed to be up for my second set I may sing it then." Pubs in Ireland are not segregated by age. People of all ages will go to the pubs, teenagers mix with seniors very regularly in the same pubs, parents are common bringing their kids and downing pints while their sons and daughters are in the pub with them.

We enjoyed the music and more Guinness but decided to go back to J.J. O'Malley's pub. The elementary school band was now gone. The place was still pretty full and we made our way to the back room where this group was jamming on the banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, accordion and a bodhran drum. The place was packed like sardines and everyone was clapping and stomping to the music. It was great fun and we stayed until after closing time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We go to sea

July 20, 2009, Near Galway, Ireland Monday 9:42 a.m. - Written on the bus while heading for the boat to Inishmore the big island of the Aran Islands, off the Irish coast.

Yesterday we arrived in Galway. We went to Monroe's, a big pub in The Claddagh district of Galway for dinner. Later we went to a concert called Trad on the Prom that featured excellent fiddeling by Mairin Fahy and her brother Gerald on the pipes, her sister Yvonne Fahy on lotsa instruments as well as some kick ass Riverdance style dancing. It was great fun.

Later - we are bobbing like a cork in the North Atlantic as the boat plods its way to the Island. Susie is doing well despite the motion.

Even Later (4:13 p.m.) - We had a good day on Aran Island. The highlight of the day was going to the ancient fort Dun Aengus. This fort has stone walls and is backed up to high cliffs that plunge into the sea. Aran Island is a pretty hard scrabble place that is mostly limestone rocks with pockets of dirt. I can imagine this was once a hard place to live.
After our visit to the fort we got a bowl of chowder and more Guinness. We are now waiting for our ferry to leave for the island of Ireland.

NOTE iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor.
Also, I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail once or twice a day. I cannot open most e-mail attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Going to Galway

July 19, 2009, 3:54 p.m. On the road to Galway Ireland - We are bouncing along the west coast of Ireland through the Burren along spectacular scenery in Clare County. After our rest day yesterday we left early this morning to catch the early ferry over the River Shannon.

Then, we went to the spectacular cliffs of Moehr. Amazing, Sue and I had packed a picnic yesterday and the weather was perfect for a picnic, including wine, at the cliffs.

Then, the bus headed north again to the Burren, the only place where native, arctic and Mediterranean plants all grow together. To me they all looked like weeds.

Yesterday we relaxed in Dingle, went shopping and in the evening had dinner and beers and sang with everyone else after the band showed up at Murphy's pub. Another day another Irish pub!

NOTE iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor.

Also, I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail once or twice a day. I cannot open most e-mail attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Anniversary plus one

July 18 2009, Saturday, 11:08 a.m., Dingle Ireland - It is raining this morning in Dingle. This is the wettest day so far. Yesterday we had a great anniversary. We had a nice dinner at a fish restaurant called the Out of the Blue, which some say is Ireland's best seafood restaurant (in terms of food quality). They toasted us at the dinner.

Yesterday We had wine and champagne but no beer.

Then we went to a concert of traditional Irish music in town. My favorite is a piper named Eoin Duignan who plays the Low Whistle and Uilleann pipes. It was a good day.

Ireland is lovely. It has rained at least some every day. The streets are amazingly narrow. When the tour busses pass each other I don't see how they do it. The tour buses at least respect each other. The big trucks do not slow down for anything, including the buses.

Today is what they call a holiday from the holiday. I hope to just relax and get over this cold.

PLEASE NOTE --- iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor. It is hard to edit or spell check. Also, I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail once or twice daily and cannot open most attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Big 15 in Ireland

July 17, 2009, Friday 4:06 p.m. Ireland Time - Today is Sue and my 15th anniversary. It is neat we are getting to celebrate it in Ireland. We are going out to a nice dinner tonight and celebrating.

Today we had a great tour of the Dingle peninsula. This the western-most point in Europe. They say here the next parish over is Boston.

It was a pretty drive and the weather held for the better part of the day. The coast drive is kind of like highway 1 only narrower, much narrower. Most roads do not have shoulders and are frequented by tour buses.

We went to a nice scenic overlook. Then we went to the Blasket Island museum. This island was populated until the 1950's by rugged people who only spoke Irish.

The only negative is I got a lousy cold. That has slowed me down some.

iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor. I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail and cannot open most attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dingle bound

July 16, 2009, 12:54 on the bus - Earlier today both Sue and I literally kissed the blarney stone at Blarney Castle. So now we officially have the gift of gab.

Our bus is now headed to the west coast of Ireland. Stephen the tour guide has been telling us about Irish history, today we learned about the Irish revolution, the civil war and the IRA.

This is an amazing trip, so many memories. Stephen is from Derry, in Northern Ireland. He is very passionate about Ireland and Irish history. We are pulling into Killarney.

There are 5,000 Irish residents, 7,500 Eastern European workers and 35,000 tourists in Kilarney.

4:07 p.m. We walked over to the fancy house along the lake. The local Jarvies (horse carriage operators) are picketing after being locked out of the park for refusing to follow a new law requiring their horses to wear nappies (diapers.)

Due to the great nappy labor dispute, which has been appealed to the highest court in Ireland, we had to take a back way into the park and our visit was cut short.

Now we are off to Dingle. Tonight will be another big music night. The music has been fantastic. We have been learning Irish songs and singing in the pubs. I found I prefer Murphy's Beer to Guinness. There is a lot of things called Murphy's in this country... But, it is all good.

The area we are going folks speak Irish as a first language. I have learned it is preferred by some to call it Irish than Gaelic!

Posts will be out of order

I am in the land of clunky Internet Ireland. My posts will be spotty and out of order.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


July 15, 2009, Kinsale, Ireland. 2:33 p.m. - At one time this was the western edge of the known world. After America was discovered this was a huge launching off point for trans-oceanic voyages. There is tons of history here. The Spanish and Irish fought the British here in 1601. The Brits won and it was the end of the Celtic clans in Ireland.
So what is Kinsale like?
Well; kinda like Capitola, Cambria and a little Inverness. Sue and I just took a nap and we're going to a nice seafood dinner tonight. Friday is our 15th anniversary. It is a relaxing day in a very pretty town.
iPod touch blog post! Please forgive any typos. This is written on my iPod touch and it is kinda clunky.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Left Dublin

Leaving Dublin on the Tour Bus - We are on the bus leaving Dublin. I wish we had one more day here. There are still places I would like to go. We bad a very nice time in Dublin. I think the highlight for me was going to a tiny pub totally away from the tourist area where local musicians gather to jam playing traditional Irish music and instruments. That was amazing. Irish music is so much like Appalachian Blue Grass music. The Irish use pipe instruments like the ulieen and low whistle and not banjos, other than that the resemblance to Blue Grass is striking.

There are 5.5 million people on the Irish island. It was over 8 million in 1840. Software is the number one industry. 1 million Americans come to Ireland every year. Tourism is the second biggest industry.

Stephen, our tour guide, is good and is very funny. All the people in our group seem nice. We have plenty of opportunity to get off on our own too.

There are a lot of young people in Ireland and they party a lot. We ran into a lot of very wasted young men. Young Irish men are not shy and love to have a good time from what we saw.
Ireland is so Green. It is like Washington, or Vermont. We just went to Powerscourt gardens. Very nice but it was raining buckets. We are off to the rock Kinsale.

Note: this is an iPod touch blog post! Please forgive any typos. This is written on my iPod touch and it is kinda clunky

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Leaving Paris

We are headed out of Paris on a dank bus. It is 7:22 pm on July 11, 2009 as this is being written. We spent most of the day at the Orsay museum looking at art works including Whistler's Mother and others including Van Goug, Degas, Monet and Manet.

We had lunch there and the price was comparable to what we would ha e paid outside. That was a pleasant suprise. I had a glass of Bordeaux with lunch.

After leaving the museum I got hit up by a beggar on the train in what I think was a scam to get me to pull out my wallet. That can happen in any city with tourists.

After riding back to our stop on the walk back to the hotel we got cheese and baked goods for dinner on Rue Cler.

We took a taxi to our bus stop. The taxi driver was tame compared to the New York City drivers. Still driving past the Arc D Triumph was fun. He took a tunnel that bypassed the fun part, the rotary around the arch. I will miss Paris. It was a great city and we just scratched the surface.
Now were off to Ireland and our next adventure. Tomorrow we are planning to hit the Guinness factory. Cheers!

Please forgive any typos. This is written on my iPod touch and it is kinda clunky.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Paris Morning

It is 6:30 in the morning in Paris and I am contemplating going out and taking pictures. I can hear the city waking up around me. Our room is on the top floor so I also hear pigeons cooing.

We had quite a day yesterday and walked a lot, from our room near Rue Cler to the Arc d Trumph, the length of the Champs Eleyse, the Grand and Petit Palaces, the Madelaine, Lavina (great wine store), the Louve, dinner in Saint Germain, ending with a twilight boat ride on the Seine. I have shot over 600 pictures and even done some night photography.

I have no idea how far we walled but our legs and feet hurt. We have had great espresso but also visited Starbucks, have had French wine as well as German beer

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Big day in Paris

We went to the Eiffel Tower and spent a lot of time there. Then we rode the 69 bus and shot a lot of evening photos around the Notre Dame Cathedral. Got some amazing photos there then went to the Latin Quarter. It was rocking.

We then took the RER back to Eiffel Tower where I got some night shots with the tower and boats on the river.

It was a wonderful day!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dublin 3 a.m.

We are in Dublin, absolutely zonked from the flight. This morning bright and early we go to Paris. But, we managed to grab a bite and hoist a couple of Guinness's before taking a walk and going to bed last night at about 8 p.m.
It is now 3 a.m. Ireland time and I am wide awake. Guess that is to be understood since it is 7:15 p.m. yesterday in San Jose. So far Ireland in July is like California in March. It reminds me of Vermont.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Will be away for awhile

Steve Sloan

From Steve:
I am headed out of the area. I will not have my iPhone when I am gone because AT&T wants to charge me an extra $200 a month for an international data plan.
So, no phone or text messaging! Also, I am leaving the laptop behind, so there will be minimal blogging!

I will have my iPod Touch and so will have e-mail and
I will be posting mostly on my personal Twitter Feed, which gets forwarded to Facebook.

Please follow that here:

A friend is staying in our house so the cats will have company.

Monday, July 06, 2009

List of Literary Pubs of Dublin for trip


There has been a pub on this site since the 12th century, so the atmospheric Brazen Head can justly claim to be Dublin's oldest pub. Bridge Street


Maybe Bill Clinton can't be counted a great literary figure, but he did come for a drink at Cassidy's during one Dublin visit. 42 Lower Camden Street


Featured in James Joyce's novel Ulysses and focus for activities on June 16, Bloomsday, Davy Byrne's is now number one on the tourist trail. 21 Duke Street


A fine example of a traditional Victorian Dublin pub, retaining all that's best about Dublin's convivial drinking places. 51 South Great George's Street


Popular in the 1950s with Brendan Behan and other leading literary figures. 3 Harry Street


One of Brendan Behan's favorite drinking spots, although everywhere was a drinking spot for Brendan Behan. 1 Chatham Street


A sporting pub that gets its name from the Old Stand stadium at the home of Irish rugby, Lansdowne Road. One of Dublin's oldest pubs. 37 Exchequer Street


Built in 1895 and looking like it hasn't changed much since, enjoy its Victorian decor of wood, glass, brass and mirrors. 1 Dame Court


WB Yeats was not one of Dublin's great literary drinkers, and one of the Toner's claims to fame is that Yeats made his one and only visit to a pub here. 139 Lower Baggot Street

Sunday, July 05, 2009

July happenings

The cats help sue pack

Yesterday was the fourth of July and we went to Candy's house for a fun evening with friends. It was a great evening and we saw the Gilroy fireworks show from her house.

[Click here to see Fourth of July photos on Facebook]

Today we have been packing and getting ready for our trip. Day after tomorrow we fly to Europe.

[Click here to see cats and packing photos on Facebook]

Saturday, July 04, 2009

This is how I will update my blog

When we go to Europe the only computer I will be taking is my iPod touch. I called AT&T and they wanted $200 for an international data plan. That's way more tha I am willing to pay. My touch is like an iPhone without the phone or the camera So, pictures will have to wait until I return.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Train chasing day, July 2, 2009

Rails and reflections

Training Day
Yesterday was not a hard core train chase. Instead it was a relaxing day exploring old haunts, places I used to go to a lot to photograph trains. It was suprising to see a lot changed in some places, like the new Amtrak station in Martienez. I also tried to get some angles on places, I used to shoot at, but never shot quite the way I shot yesterday.

These are just some of the digital photos I took. I shot much more on film. I hope you like these. Yes, I still shoot film!

[Click here to see more photos on Facebook]

[Click here to see the photos on Flickr]

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yoga and Music in San Jose

Girish performing at Downtown Yoga Shala

Within a short walk of San Jose State University is a special place, Downtown Yoga Shala. Shala, a “sacred space” in Sanskrit, is just that. It is a wonderful yoga studio that has made a big difference in my life. Located at 450 S. 1st Street the Shala is in San Jose's blossoming South First Art (SoFA) District and is surrounded by art galleries.

On June 26, 2009 the Shala had a Candlelight Yoga Class taught by Jeff Lang featuring live music. Girish played wonderful music and the result was unlike anything I have ever seen or photographed. Veronica Cruz, a good friend and the owner of the Shala did a great job setting up this event!

[More Photos on Facebook]

CSU (SJSU) budget related Tweets

These links off Twitter this morning are very interesting:

  • Here's the Chancellor's message on CFA/furloughs...
  • CSU Urges Faculty Union to Bring Furlough Option to Members for Vote
  • CSU Trustees to Hold Special Meeting on July 7th

    Budget to be discussed...
  • Future worker supply at risk as cuts squeeze higher education - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal:

For more updates please check out my union Twitter feed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bike rides and Thai Sticks

Susie on a bike

On June 28, 2009 Sue and I went on John F. Kennedy Drive in San Francisco for a bike ride in Golden Gate Park.

We stopped at Stowe Lake for ice cream and later went out to dinner at the Thai Stick (love the name) restaurant in Millbrae.

[See More Pictures on Facebook]

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Weekend Fun

Shish Kabobs

It was a great weekend. On Saturday, June 20, 2009, I went on a "barrel" ride with Veronica, Randi, Bob and Harvey from Gunn High up Canada Road. The fog came in as we went north and it turned cold. Most of us were prepared for that.

[Photos from that ride]

On June 21, 2009 Ken came over and we had a Father's day BBQ. We made yummy shish kabobs. It was a family endeavour and everybody had a hand in making dinner. Both my other sons called. It was a great day!

[Father's Day Photos]

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Budget crisis to mean CSU layoffs and/or furloughs?

According to an FAQ posted on the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) Web site:

The State Budget Crisis has finally hit the CSU, and we are being faced with the possibility of massive layoffs as a result. On Tuesday, June 9, CSUEU President Pat Gantt, VP for Representation Dennis Dillon and SLRR Teven Laxer met with representatives of CSU management at the Office of the Chancellor on an information-gathering basis. The CSU informed the union that it was likely that the Budget Conference Committee would be recommending cuts to the CSU budget totaling $583,816,000, the amount proposed by the governor in the May Revise. This represents a staggering 13.5 percent cut to the budget.

[Click on this link for more information]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bikes out of control at SJSU

Cyclist riding without hands at SJSU

Many of the people who ride bicycles on the sidewalks at SJSU do so in ways that risk serious injury to themselves and others. Cyclists riding with no hands are unable to take evasive action if a pedestrian, cart or disabled person steps into their path. Usually cyclists who ride like this way are not wearing helmets.

This bike position is especially prone to falling. These cyclists, as well as endangering others, risk head injuries that could kill them or leave them permanently disabled.

[My blog about human powered vehicles at SJSU]

[More photos of human powered vehicles on and around SJSU]

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Trains on the salt marsh

Train at Alviso

On the evening of June 8, 2009 I took a 35mm SLR camera loaded with black and white film to Alviso, CA where I photographed trains and the salt marsh.

[More Photos Click Here]

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Fun bicycle ride

Whine and diners on Lollipop Ride

Wednesday's Lollipop ride was a lot of fun. More people showed up than I ever recall for a mellow ride and we had great weather. After the ride we had burritos, drank wine, talked and had a fine time!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

June Fourth Twenty Years Ago

Tiananmen Square Protester

Remembering Tiananmen Square

As we live our American lives enjoying so many goods that say "Made in China." Let's not forget how much it has cost. "The time for the Chinese government to provide the fullest possible public accounting of the thousands killed, detained, or missing in the massacre that followed the protests is long overdue," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Sean McCormack said in a statement on the eve of the 19th anniversary of what China has called the "June Fourth incident."

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly," Martin Luther King Jr.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Not a walk in the park

Susie at top of trail

Sunday; not just a walk in the park
Sunday was a recovery day for me, I was recovering from the previous day's century. We went for a short hike up to the top of a nearby ridge. Then, that evening, we went with Sue's mom to the Greek Festival where we met daughter-in-law Nicole's family. Unfortunately that evening I got a wicked migraine. That was not a walk in the park!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Looking back on 100 mile bike ride

Century Riders

Saturday Century Ride a Success
The first ever Whine and Dine Century (100 mile bicycle ride) went from San Jose to the outskirts of Hollister. It had a metric (60 mile) option that some riders rode. By the time we got home from the dinner after the ride, it was almost dark.

[More Photos Here]

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Buzz

Jolyce in Los Gatos

It has been a busy weekend with much going on. Friday there was the College of Engineering Commencement. Saturday morning was the big SJSU Graduation and that evening a fun party at the Crosby's. Yesterday I went on a bike ride with Veronica, that was a lot of fun. Then, last night, Sue and I watched the finale of Battelstar Gallactica.

Today I am doing grading but took time out to go on a fun bike ride with friends to Los Gatos. It was a good break!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Phone message from Marie

Listen to Audio

[Click here to hear audio]
Less than a week before she died Marie left me a phone message. She and I had been text messaging but for some reason she was unable to text back. So she left a phone message asking me to call back. I did and we had our last conversation. I was able to patch that phone message onto my computer. This is Marie's voice.