Archives » August, 2005

August 31, 2005

Downtown Reno Photos

Today Sammy and I took a stroll around downtown Reno. I had some specific pictures in mind that I wanted to take for a story I’m putting together for Around Carson, but along the way I found plenty more to snap pictures of. So I gathered a bunch of those impromptu pictures and put them up on Flickr, in a Downtown Reno photo set. I’ve got plenty of landmarks in there, like the river and the arch, but soon I got off the main strip and started snapping pictures of the old, run-down motels that are sitting a couple of blocks off Virginia Street.

El Ray and Reno Motels

City Center Motel

Reno Motel

In-Town Motel

Go look at the whole set. There are lots of junky motels that deserve to be torn down, with cool old signs that deserve to be saved. The motels, I have no doubt, will eventually fall to the wrecking ball. In fact, one of them is in the process of coming down now. But the signs will either go with them, or be removed and locked up somewhere. But we’ll always have the pictures.

And keep your eye on Around Carson. I should have the real pictures, the ones I went to Reno to get, up soon.

Expo 86

I found a pretty in-depth site about Expo 86. Expo 86 in Vancouver was the last World’s Fair held in North America, and the only one I’ve been to (even if I was only 10 years old). Up until now information on the web has been scarce and scattered, like here, here, here, and a list of links here. But by far the most extensive I’ve seen is this site, looking back at Expo 86. A bit of a warning, all the pages on the site consist of a single 1120×725 jpg file, so you’ve either got to have your resolution bumped up or prepare to do a lot of scrolling. And the whole thing is laid out like a glossy brochure, where you have to flip from one page to the next, and there’s very little text. But there are hundreds and hundreds of pictures here of the fair, so even for all its shortcomings it’s definitely a site to point to.

Also, one of the curiosities at the fair was the floating McDonald’s restaurant (seen here). After the fair it was towed to a boat junkyard and left to decompose. But that doesn’t stop some people from rowing out to it and sneaking around on board. Look here for an account of an illicit expedition to the “McBarge”.

August 29, 2005

Take Your Child to Work Day Week Year

Today is the first day of school in Douglas County, and that means it’s back to work for my wife. Which means it’s back to Daddy’s office for Sam, and that means Daddy’s office is back to looking like a daycare again. Oh well, at least Sam’s mess will divert attention away from my own mess.

Having the kid at work isn’t always the easiest thing, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. He’s old enough now (almost two!) to play by himself most of the time, so it’s not like he needs to be constantly held anymore. And a good deal of my work doesn’t require me to leave my desk. I can answer e-mails and talk on the phone right from here, and I can handle most tech support issues over VNC without even standing up. There are rare times that I have to make the journey to someone’s office for a bigger problem, but then Sam is able to just come along. He doesn’t have to be carried anymore, and office visits are usually short enough that he doesn’t get bored and start running down the hall. The big trouble comes when he’s taking a nap; I’m really glued to my desk then.

Of course, being stuck in this 9×15 underground room isn’t the best thing for a growing boy. I can’t just send him outside to play, nor can I let him run loose down here in the basement. And he can’t always have as much of Dad’s attention as he wants. So we’re starting to consider the unthinkable; putting him into daycare. Now, it’s not unthinkable of his behalf. He’s very independent and can go for hours without even realizing we’re in the room. But it’s unthinkable for us, since we never let him out of our sight. We’ve only left him with a babysitter one time, and that was after some careful deliberation and soul-searching. He was fine, but we were a wreck.

So to send him to daycare, and let strangers look after him for a full seven to eight hours a day, is a huge step for us. But I think it’s time to think of the child, not ourselves. He loves being around other kids, and having toys and games to play with, and I’m sure he’d have no problem with not seeing us for a few hours. He’s probably sick to death of seeing these weird people follow him everywhere he goes.

He’s more than ready, no matter if we are or not. So what if Mommy’s hair turns prematurely gray from the experience?

But, until that happens, it’s Daddy and Sammy back in the office again. Everyone here knows him; he’s becoming like the official company child. It’s just amazing that I stumbled into a company that lets you bring your one-year-old to work all day, every day, just in the name of family. When I finally leave this job, I think I’m going to be shocked to find out what real work environments are like. Plus, Sam does give me some kind of human contact when I’m stuck in the basement here for hours on end. Normally I have to go seek people out, or wait for someone to get lost and accidentally wander downstairs. So I will miss Sammy when he goes to daycare, and I go back to only seeing him in the evenings. But at the same time, it will save me a few gray hairs when he’s not down here yelling his head off to try to create an echo.

August 28, 2005

Carson City News Video – On the Web!

A while ago I wrote about how shocked I was to find out that there were podcasters in Northern Nevada. Well, that news did little to prepare me for the shock of finding out there is a videocaster, right here in Carson City. His name is Dave Morgan, and he produces a news program for the local cable access channel. I live in Douglas County, so I don’t get get any of the Carson City cable access, so I didn’t know about his show. But he sent me an e-mail last week pointing me to the show’s companion website, And normally, when I visit a companion site for something on TV, I come away underwhelmed. But when I visited this site, I was blown away to find that all the video he shows on the TV is also available on the web. The site is full of downloadable videos, each one 1 to 5 minutes in length, and loaded with interviews, on-scene footage, and a full news report on the subject. And not only that, but in a follow-up e-mail he said that he was thinking about dropping the broadcast portion of his news venture and moving strictly to the web.

This is something great to see, especially coming out of a small city like Carson. We have no local TV stations or TV news. The only video coverage we can get of local happenings is if the story is big enough for one of the Reno stations to send a crew down, and that happens very seldom. But even with those stories, once they’ve hit the airwaves they’re gone. Here at NewsCarsonCity, Dave is building up an archive of video, all of which can be watched at any time. And, the big surprise, it’s not streaming video either. You can actually download it right to your desktop, which is apparently a concept the big networks haven’t heard of yet. I’ve been through so many hours of frustration trying to fight with streaming video, dealing with buffering problems, or dropped frames, that I’m completely sick of it. The far better model is something like NewsCarsonCity, where you can download the entire show and watch it without those problems.

Online video has really been taking off this year, and I think it’s mostly an offshoot of podcasting. Once podcasting got popular, and <enclosure> tags were showing up in feeds everywhere, video producers started to realize that podcasting would work for video too. One of the first out of the gate was Rocketboom, where you could subscribe to the feed and have a show delivered to your desktop every day. Then the tech-based shows started popping up, like Stysm, From the Shadows, and Diggnation, and more. Add to that the rise of network TV shows that can be illicitly downloaded with BitTorrent, and you’ve got a world of video out there that’s just waiting to be downloaded.

But I didn’t expect to see anything like this coming out of Carson City for a few more years, at least. But here’s this guy, who’s admittedly more of a writer/reporter than a web guy, sitting right there on the leading edge, beating out the local newspaper and the big Reno stations at their own game.

NewsCarsonCity does have its drawbacks, though, and they’re mostly technical. For one, it seems to be just a static page, with no permalinks, and you can only get to the archives by scrolling down. This kind of a site would make an excellent blog, and if I thought I might actually have the time to do it, I’d offer to help Dave switch over to some kind of blogging platform. And also, and this is kind of a symptom of the first problem, the site has no RSS feeds. So that means there’s no way to set up my iPodder to download new videos when they’re released. But these are technical speed bumps, and nothing more. The fact is that Dave is doing something pretty extraordinary for a small market, no matter how humble he may be about it.

Check it out.

August 25, 2005

Harvey’s Bombing Anniversary

25 years ago this week, a bomb was smuggled into Harvey’s Hotel/Casino at Lake Tahoe. A demand for $3 million was received, but many things went wrong with the negotiations and the bomb ended up being detonated, destroying a large part of the casino and causing millions of dollars of damage. Now, all these years later, Harvey’s has fully recovered, but the memories of those tense days still remain. To commemorate the anniversary, Reno Gazette Journal editor Jim Sloan dug through stacks of interviews, court documents, and newspaper archives to put together an in-depth report on the bombing. It’s so in-depth that it’s been split into 8 parts, and installments are appearing daily in the newspaper and its website.

The one thing the story is lacking, though, is a single index page linking to all the installments. To find the stories on the website you have to dig through days worth of archives and “related links”. The series has an introduction page, an about page, and summaries of upcoming installments, but nowhere is there an actual link to all the articles. So that’s what I’m gathering here, so you can read through them without having to dig around.


8/21/2005: Day 1: Special delivery for Harvey Gross

8/22/2005: Day 2: A stern warning: ‘It is full of TNT’

8/23/2005: Day 3: From hard-earned riches to blackjack tables

8/24/2005: Day 4: ‘We never expected them to get the bomb inside the casino’

8/25/2005: Day 5: The payoff: ‘There will be no extension or renegotiation’

8/26/2005: Day 6: The bungled extortion: A cold night in a forest full of bees

8/27/2005: Day 7: In a deserted casino, bomb experts flip the switch

8/28/2005: Day 8: Once the charge was set, there was no going back, and news video of the explosion.

Update: They’re linking to their own index page now.

August 21, 2005

Northern Nevada Podcasters

You can tell this whole podcasting thing has really caught on, because now we’ve got a couple of podcasters right here in Northern Nevada. I always think of this Reno/Tahoe area as being a few steps behind the times technologically, so it always shocks me to find a new blogger to add to my list (look to the right there, under “Northern Nevada Blogs”). But now I’ve actually found that some of those bloggers are podcasters too! I guess it’s easy to forget that there are a few individuals out there that do keep up with the times, after all.

Here are the Northern Nevada podcasts I’ve found so far:
Mr. Jerz was one of the first Northern Nevada bloggers I found, and he was also the first podcaster I found. Topics include technology and sports.

Richard Barnet
Richard doesn’t podcast alone. He gets his wife involved, his kids, and even, it sounds like, his parents. It’s a big family affair where they talk about what they’ve been doing lately, which seems to involve a lot of geocaching.

The Reno Lake Tahoe Entertainment Report
This fairly professional-sounding podcast is put together by Don Tucker. Sometimes it almost sounds too professional. The intro especially, with its wacky sound effects and Simpsons quotes, gives me flashbacks of bad morning disc jockey shows. That could be a by-product of their affiliation with the Association of Music Podcasting. But once you get past the annoying bumpers, the podcast itself is filled with music that’s relevant to Reno, both from local bands and from national acts that are coming through the area on tour. And Don Tucker’s voice, also, is almost too good for podcasting. He sounds like he should be on the radio, but there probably isn’t a local station that would let him do a show like this.

Community Services Agency
Apparently this is what Richard Barnet (see above) does for a day job. This is a pretty short (60-90 seconds) and dry podcast describing what’s going on at this non-profit agency. Not remarkable for its content, but just for the fact that it’s being done at all, from a source that you wouldn’t expect to be podcasting. Looks like Richard must be a pretty good evangelist!

It gives me a lot of hope that Reno’s starting to get on the podcasting map. It makes me wonder how many podcast listeners there are around here, who aren’t blogging about it.

And I’m always looking for more local stuff, so if you know of other blogs or podcasts from the area, clue me in to them.

August 18, 2005

Our Day By The Bay

I finally broke down and signed up for an account with Flickr. I’m not sure why it took me so long. I think it’s partly because I still like having complete control over my photos by putting the galleries on my own site, and partly because I was waiting for the whole on-line photo-sharing arena to emerge with one clear winner. But, my reasons are eroding, so I’ve now joined the rest of the free world in using Flickr.

Looking up California Street from Market. Cable car coming downhill.

And the first photo set I’ve posted is made up of pictures from our trip to San Fancisco last week. I tossed up 29 photos that I took during our day in the city. We got a hotel in Fremont ($70 a night for a suite? Can’t beat that!) and rode the BART into the city. Since we were on a one-day mission to strictly visit tourist traps, we walked down to the newly-restored Ferry Building, then hopped on a historic streetcar down the waterfront.

The F-line historic streetcars on the Embarcadero.

The main street along the waterfront is called the Embarcadero, and for 30 years it was dominated by a hideously ugly double-decker freeway. But if you go today you’d never even know it was there. That’s because the freeway, which was unpopular from the start, was damaged in the 1989 earthquake. And that damage was the final ammunition that opponents needed to get the freeway ripped out, which finally happened a couple of years later. Now, when you go along the Embarcadero, it’s a nice wide thoroughfare with palm trees, plazas, and streetcar lines.

The Embarcadero then

The Embarcadero now

It’s a completely fascinating urban renewal effort, and it’s great to see it happen. And I’ve been finding tons of links about it. You can read more about the “Freeway Revolt” of at and A21 Design has an article about the Embarcadero Freeway, and one about other freeways that were planned for the city. But for the topper, follow this link and this one to read about the “Aquatic Freeway” plan that would have consisted of a freeway running through a tube in the bay. Nutty Californians.

Tourist-y goodness on Pier 39.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, talking about our vacation. I get sidetracked so easily. We took a quick jaunt out Pier 39 and back, which I’m sure will cause groans among anyone who actually lives in the Bay Area. But when you go to Reno you visit the casinos, right? So when we go to San Francisco we go to Pier 39. Deal with it.

Alcatraz. Building 64 is on the lower level, with the lighthouse and the burned Warden’s House up above.

After that we stepped next door to Pier 41 where we boarded a ferry to Alcatraz, probably the highlight of the trip. For all its fame, the buildings on Alcatraz are in pretty rough shape, pretty much crumbling right before our eyes. That’s the main reason it was closed back in 1963, because it was just too much trouble to keep it maintained. Before the famous cellhouse was built, there was a brick citadel on top of the island. And when the cellhouse was built in 1912, they built it on top of the citadel’s brick foundation and used crushed brick as filler for the concrete. 90 years later, those bits of brick are a fatal point of weakness in the concrete walls of the cellhouse. Renovations are in progress, but the old prision definitely shows its age.

The Warden’s House.

Yet, for all its problems, the cellhouse is in remarkably good shape compared to some of the island’s other buildings. Several buildings dating back to the early 1900s, including the Warden’s House, shown above, burned in 1970 while the island was occupied by Native American protesters. The cause of the fires was mysterious, with the Indians blaming the US government and vice versa. The burned-out shells have been left in place, and like most buildings on the island they are covered with several coats of white “paint” provided by helpful seagulls. And at the south end of the island, on the old military parade grounds, several buildings used to stand that were used as houses for the families of the prison guards. Those buildings were demolished by the government not long before Alcatraz was designated part of a National Recreation Area. The piles of rubble are still there, and you can even make out a few walls and windows that didn’t get entirely smashed. The parade grounds themselves are used by the gulls as a nesting ground.

Approaching Pier 41.

After Alcatraz we enjoyed a nice ferry ride back to the city, then walked along the waterfront to Aquatic Park. From there we grabbed another streetcar back to Market Street. This time we stayed on the streetcar all the way up to Powell Street, and since we had another hour or so until the last BART to Fremont was scheduled to leave, we took the hike up a few blocks to Union Square. This part of the city really is alive, and unlike the push of tourists down by the water, here people are just going about their everyday lives. Our time was up, though, and us country folk didn’t fancy staying in the city after dark, so we escaped to the cool underground lair of the BART and grabbed our train back to Fremont.

Powell Street BART station.

There was so much of the city left that we didn’t see. I think it would be impossible to see most of it in a week, much less one day. But for us, who hadn’t been there to visit for years and years, it was enough of a taste so that we can feel like we’re familiar with the city now. We’ve walked its streets, we’ve breathed its air. It’s not just another mythical place in a book anymore. We might head back there soon, and spend another day exploring other parts other city. But we stepped onto that BART train content that we could now find our way around San Francisco.


I think I’m starting to like Flickr. If you clicked on any of the thumbnails that I tossed into this essay, you’d find yourself on the Flickr page for that photo. It was pretty easy to add them all to this post, it just took a lot of copying and pasting. And of course there are many more pictures where those came from; go check out the whole set.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Flickr around these parts. Maybe soon I’ll put together something about our day at Six Flags Marine World. You have been warned.

August 5, 2005

Around Carson Dining Guide

Another new addition to Around Carson today, the Around Carson Dining Guide. It’s pitifully small right now (three restaurants), but that will soon change as I run around town grabbing photos and take-out menus from all of Carson’s restaurants. This page is going to be an exhaustive guide to the restaurants of Carson City, as well as Minden and Gardnerville. Complete with photos, take-out menus, phone numbers, and reader reviews. I’m looking to make one resource that will blow away the yellow pages, newspaper dining guides, and other such lists, most of which are limited because they charge for inclusion. Ideally, this will end up listing every restaurant, big or small. Realistically, I know it’s going to take a while to reach that point, but I can at least start out with some of the places I frequent.

All PHP and database-driven, of course.

And this will probably be my last post for a week, since I’m going out of town. We’ll be back at Nevada Beach for a picnic tomorrow, but then on Sunday it’s off to San Francisco to become tourists and make complete fools of ourselves. We’re taking the laptop, but it’s a few years old and overheats quite easily. So it’s a pain to use it to post anything. Plus it never feels right to spend my whole vacation sitting on a laptop in the hotel room. So I’ll be back next Friday, hopefully in one piece.

August 4, 2005

Photo Uploading Now Available

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on Photos From Around Carson, the online photo database at I’ve added pictures from all over the area, but up until now, I’ve been the only one adding pictures to it. Kind of one-sided and boring, especially for me, since I’ve seen all these pictures before.

Cascade Lake

But, starting today, you (well, anyone who has ties to Carson City, NV…I’m trying to keep things local) can go to the Submit a Photo page and enter your own pictures into the database. All the photos will show up on the main photo page, newest ones at the top.

I wrote all this in PHP. It’s built on a database on the backend that stores info about the photographer, title, and description of the photo. Then it takes the uploaded photo, extracts the filename, stores the filename in the database, then creates three jpgs from the one original file. A 800px full version, a 400px small version, and a 155px thumbnail. It drops those three files in the photos directory, then uses the filename stored in the database to build <img> tags. A pretty slick system, and it seems to be working well. Doubtless there are still bugs in it, though, and I’m sure they’ll start popping up once the public gets a hold of it.

If you live near Carson, or you used to and you have pictures you want to show to the folks back home, go give it a try. Bug reports to my e-mail address.

Nope. Didn’t Do It

Remember last week when I said I wasn’t going to go out and get a cracked copy of Windows Vista to play around with? Well, I didn’t do it.

Totally didn’t.