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.

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Please click on the photo above to enlarge it.

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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!