Friday, February 29, 2008

Shaking Man & More On Urge

This sculpture by Terry Allen is called The Shaking Man. He is here to greet all those who enter into the Yerba Buena Gardens.

Regarding an update on my Tuesday post Urge. Apparently, if you sit on the bench in front of Urge and weigh more than 130lbs. (59kg), the statue will sit. When you stand up, it will stand up. Wow, an interactive statue. How cool is that!!!

Funny thing is that I don't remember anyone sitting on the bench when I took the picture. Kind of spooky if you ask me.

Happy Leap Day,

Thursday, February 28, 2008


This hands-on arts & technology museum for kids located in downtown San Francisco is called the Zeum. In lieu of stairs, this roundabout walkway seen through the floor to ceiling windows makes traveling up and down the various floors a fun, but dizzying experience.

- AV

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

F is for Feathers on ABC Wednesday

A large number of seagulls call the Alviso Slough vicinity their home. This is where I found tons of white feathers scattered throughout a grassy area.

If you are interested in seeing more ABC Wednesday photos, go to Mrs. Nesbitt's Place.

Wednesday Heroes

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Michael E. Koch
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Michael E. Koch
29 years old from State College, Pennsylvania
East Coast-based SEAL team
February 4, 2008

"There are only approximately 2,500 SEALs in the Navy and they really are a brotherhood," said Naval Special Warfare spokesman Lt. David Luckett. "This is another unfortunate reminder of the risks and sacrifices these amazing warriors and their families make on a daily basis."

Koch leaves behind his parents and a fiancee. He enlisted in July 1998 and entered SEAL training in January 1999, according to The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk. He received the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Navy SEAL Michael E. Koch died Feb. 4 after being wounded by small-arms fire during combat operations in Iraq alongside fellow SEAL Nathan Hardy, who was profiled last week.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.


Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Nathan H. Hardy
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Nathan H. Hardy
29 years old from Durham, New Hampshire
East Coast-based SEAL team
February 4, 2008

It was Hardy's fourth deployment in Iraq, according to his father, Stephen Hardy, a professor of kinesiology a the University of New Hampshire. His mother, Donna Hardy, is an administrative assistant in UNH's psychology department.

Nathan Hardy grew up in Durham and was a 1997 graduate of Oyster River High School. He joined the Navy after graduation.

Other family members include his wife, Mindy, and their 7-month-old son, Parker; and a brother, Ben, of Middlebury, Vt.

Another brother, Josh, died in 1993 while a senior at Oyster River High School.

"Our hearts go out to Steve and Donna Hardy, and their son, Ben, at this incredibly difficult time," UNH President Mark Huddleston said in a statement. "We know it was Nate's dream to become a U.S. Navy SEAL when he graduated from high school, and he pursued that dream and excelled at it. His death has stunned all who knew him, and all who know his parents, who both are so much a part of the UNH community."

Navy SEAL Nathan Hardy died Feb. 4 after being wounded by small-arms fire during combat operations in Iraq.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Chico MacMurtrie who is known to create robotic artwork including this anthropomorphic piece called Urge.

I spent the weekend in San Francisco attending a 3-day comic book/sci-fi convention. During some spare time and when it stopped storming, I was able to go outside and take a few photos like this one at the Yerba Buena Gardens.

- AV

Friday, February 22, 2008

Faces in the Water

I saw these wooden sticks propped in the water. Someone had drawn faces on a few of them.

I will be out of town for a few days. Have a nice weekend everyone!

- AV

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

E is for Elvis Impersonators on ABC Wednesday

An Elvis hired to perform at a business meeting dinner. He sang a few songs and swooned some of the women.

Saw this one in Las Vegas this past Christmas Eve.

Saw this one dancing at a local community event. After he saw me photographing him, he handed me his business card to let me know he was for hire.

This is my friend Kenny as Elvis Trooper.

Here are a few pictures of Elvis impersonators I photographed over the years. Because we had the President's Day holiday on Monday, I totally forgot it was ABC Wednesday already until I started visiting my regular blogs.

Thinking it was only Tuesday, see my extra post below.

To see additional ABC Wednesday photos from other bloggers, visit Mrs. Nesbitt's Place.

- AV

Morning at the Alviso Slough

Time-worned wooden planks and an aging door are all that is left of this Alviso boat dock. For the curious, Alviso is about 43 miles (69 km) southeast of San Francisco.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Restaurant for Sale

Anyone interested in reviving this restaurant? This boat/restaurant has been for lease as far as I can remember by the marina of Alviso which at one-time claimed to be the "new Chicago of the far West", but the high tides occasionally flooded the town.

- AV

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Grand Opening

I attended a toy store grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony this weekend.

Employees and characters line up to welcome their first customers into the store. It was quite an impressive sight.

- AV

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Giant Camera

Camera Obscura also known as Giant Camera resides by the Cliff House in San Francisco. Built in 1946 and made part of the historical Playland amusement park by the beach. It moved to the Cliff House after Playland was torn down in 1972 to make room for housing.

I have never been inside this structure nor do I know if it is still in operations. But, if you go to the following links, you can get a glimpse of the live images it takes and an informational flyer.

Have a nice weekend,

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sutro Bath Ruins

This is a pathway down to the Sutro Bath ruins. Built in 1896, the Sutro Baths was the world's largest public indoor swimming location with 7 different pools ranging in temperature. The establishment also included a museum, a 8,000 seat concert hall, and a ice skating rink until it all sucuumbed to a fire in 1966.

Imagine standing on the Sutro Bath ruins yourself overlooking the Seal Rocks in the distance where sea lions used to congregate.

More remanents of the ruins with the rebuilt Cliff House in the distance.

While I was walking back to my car, I noticed this poster in the window of a nearby restaurant. This is what the Sutro Baths interior looked like in its heyday.

The Sutro Baths and Cliff House had always intrigued me as a kid. I guess nothing has changed even as an adult as this place still draws me in. However, I am disappointed on how much this place has changed. Click here for a Then & Now photos from the archives.

- AV

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

D is for Doors on ABC Wednesday

These are some unusually dangerous doors photographed at Alcatraz. I do not understand why the doors are so high up without any stairs leading downward to the bottom. Any ideas?

- AV

Wednesday Hero

Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley
Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley
21 years old from Nokomis, Illinois
2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne (Air Assault)
June 26, 2006

"His platoon leaders described him as the type of soldier every leader wants: A very talented, dedicated soldier, who did everything that was asked of him." That's what Lt. Col. Greg Butts, commander of the Army's 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, said about Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley at his memorial service. "I'm glad I could come here. It was an opportunity to recognize one of my great soldiers."

Cpl. Buckley lost his life on June 26, 2006 when an IED detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad. "I held him while he died," Spc. Richard Morris, a fellow soldier who was wounded in the attack, said after the service. "He was my best friend. This nation has lost a hell of a soldier."

Ryan Buckley, a 2003 graduate of Hillsboro High School, was attending Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield in March 2004 when he left school to join the Army. He had told his mother on 9/11 that he planned to join the military to defend his country. Jennings Carter, who recently retired from the Army, was the commander of the Litchfield Army Recruiting Station when Buckley signed up. Carter said Buckley was an unusually cheerful young man. "Every time we saw him, he was always smiling," Carter said. "Before he went to Iraq, we saw him a few times. He was always happy. He would come by and tell us what he was doing."

Jean Buckley, Buckley's aunt, said he was always a responsible young man, who took his school work seriously, as well as his role in the school bands. The talented French horn player was awarded the John Philip Sousa award his senior year as the outstanding band member.

"He was always a protector," Jean Buckley said. "It's such a sad time. We're so thankful for the Ryans of the world. I appreciate all the veterans and all they've done for this country."

Cpl. Buckley was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq from Nov. 30 to June 23. Bronze Stars were presented to his wife of one year, Tina Buckley, his mother, Sally Nation, and father, Dennis Buckley.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Music Concourse

This is San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Music Concourse. As a kid, I seem to recall performances happening on stage, but I can't find any recent activities.

This is the main walkway between the de Young Museum to the California of Science Museum scheduled to be reopened in the Fall 2008. Expect more pictures about that later in the year.

Here is a wider angle view of the de Young Museum.

- AV

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Corridor Pin & More

This giant safety pin called Corridor Pin, Blue created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in 1999 can be seen at the de Young Museum's Sculpture Garden. The 21-ft. high structure is made of stainless steel, aluminum, and polyurethane enamel.

This is the close up of the pin. I really like the blue color.

What does this have to do with the safety pin? Not a thing. We attended our friend's graduation from the police academy the other day and we are so proud of him. It's something he always wanted to do.

- AV

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tower Views

9th story tower windows

View of the Academy of Sciences Museum which will have its grand reopening in the Fall.

View of San Francisco homes and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post. The 9th floor 144-foot tower at the top of the De Young Museum is typically reserved for education programs. However, the 360 degree view all around the tower is what most visitors will remember.

Have a nice weekend,

Friday, February 08, 2008

De Young Museum

De Young Museum Exterior & Tower

De Young Museum first floor lobby

De Young Museum from the 2nd floor looking at the enormous purposely blurred painting on the wall.

The de Young Museum was opened in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in 1895. Its fine arts display enriched visitors over the last century including yours truly who spent many summer weekends there as a kid. In 2000, the museum closed down for renovations and reopened in 2005 with a new look and more art. Last December, I visited this place for the first time since its grand reopening after being absent for almost two decades.

Happy Friday,

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

C is for Clocks on ABC Wednesday

Huge clock on the wall of the Musee d'Orsay. This museum is on the site of a former train station; thus, the large clock.

Also at the Musee d' Orsay is this clock that can be seen from the inside and outside of the building. Funny enough, it is located right by the cafeteria.

This clock is located on the sidewalk leading to the famous Hotel Del Coronado.

- AV

Wednesday Hero

Robert S. Cone
85 years old from Delray Beach, Florida
506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Surrounded by family, feted by a U.S. congressman and a Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard, one of the few surviving members of the "Filthy Thirteen" was honored on October 8, 2006 in a backyard on Massapoag Avenue.

Robert S. Cone, 85, now of Delray Beach, Fla., finally received the 13 military medals he was due for his service on D-Day during World War II, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, POW medal and Presidential Unit Citation.

"To tell you the truth, I never expected it. I'm very honored to get it and really feel good about it," Cone said.

"He's finding it an honor, and he's a little embarrassed, to be honest," said Cone's son, Edward R. Cone, 45, who hosted the family barbecue that included a visit from U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch.

Only a few members remain of the 101st Airborne Division's famed "Filthy Thirteen," an elite parachute and demolition unit that volunteered for a suicide mission on June 5, 1944, the eve of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

The Filthy Thirteen, who shared a Quonset Hut in England, were a group of "pretty bad boys," Edward Cone said, renowned for hard-living and fierce fighting. They are believed to be the inspiration for the 1967 movie "The Dirty Dozen," although none of the Filthy Thirteen was a convict.

The unit's mission was to parachute behind enemy lines on the night before D-Day to blow up bridges and impede the Nazis.

Many were killed on the drop. The survivors found it difficult to reunite on the ground because the pilots had panicked when the Germans opened fire.

Cone said he spent two days in a hedgerow battle and was shot in the right arm. When he escaped to a French farmhouse, the owner turned him over to the Nazis and he became a prisoner of war.

His unit and his family thought he was dead. His mother, in Roxbury, received a telegram from the War Department saying he had been killed in action.

Cone spent 11 months in three POW camps in Germany before being liberated by the Russians near the Polish border. He fought alongside the Russians as they made their escape, his son said.

Cone walked to freedom through Poland, Russia and Romania, journeyed by ship to Egypt and was eventually flow to Italy, finally making his way home.

All the medal ceremonies had taken place without him.

Cone married Ida, now his wife of 61 years; became a postal worker and plumber; raised three children in Hull; and spoke very little about the war, Edward Cone said.

About four years ago, Edward Cone decided to find out whether any of his father's Army colleagues were still alive.

He found the Filthy Thirteen's leader, Jake McNiece, in Oklahoma, and put his father in touch by telephone. Their conversation was recorded by the BBC and played on the anniversary of D-Day.

Later, the History Channel filmed its own segment on the pair, which still airs, Edward Cone said.

The group reunited in Taccoa, Ga., the home of their jump school.

"My Dad and I drove from here to Georgia. I heard everything on that trip," Edward Cone said. "Three were alive from the unit. They talked and drank and told stories for days."

Three years ago, McNiece published a book, "The Filthy Thirteen: From the Dustbowl to Hitler's Eagle's Nest: The 101st Airborne's Most Legendary Squad of Combat Paratroopers."

It was McNiece who mentioned that Cone was due a few medals. Edward Cone and his fiance, Kate Guthrie of Leominster, who works at the Statehouse, gathered documentation and contacted Lynch.

The result was the Sunday party, also attended by Cone's daughters, Ronna Townsend of Monroe Township, N.J., and Natalie Gaudet of Hampton, N.H., and most of his seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Cone admits he never talked much about the war before.

"I really didn't," Cone said. "But they insisted I tell the grandchildren and the great grandchildren. So I talk to them. I tell them stories. I tell them true stories. They all enjoy it."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ocean Fisherman

I spotted this lone fisherman by San Francisco's Ocean Beach area. The path leading to the ocean was extremely narrow surrounded by water on both sides. I wandered out as far as I dared.

- AV

From Troopers to Troops

I spent part of Friday photographing some Stormtroopers who made a surprise visit to a local company's sales meeting. They actually made a few people jump out of their seats during their brief appearance.

On Saturday, my friends and I joined 30+ other volunteers sorting care packages to send to the troops in Iraq. We stuffed magazines, books, toiletries, Starbucks coffee, and other tidbits in the boxes you see in the photo. This is a quarterly sorting event that the South Bay Blue Star Moms organizes.

Have a nice week,

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Agave Trail

This view was discovered by accident. I decided to travel down a set of steep and narrow stairs from the main prison and after what seemed like 100+ steps, I saw this magnificient view before me. The Golden Gate Bridge is in the background.

From the water's edge, visitors can take this path which winds around a bird santuary and then back towards the ferry landing. Apparently, this trail is only open to the public from October through February when the birds who reside on the island aren't nesting.

This will be my last posting from my Alcatraz adventure. I hope the series ended on a somewhat positive note of a place with beautiful views. I still have a few more Alcatraz photos I might throw out for future ABC Wednesdays.

I really appreciate everyone stopping by and commenting.

- AV