Record your COVID-19 story for the History Center.

Street art spotted during a walk along North Park Way. This masked face looks a bit like a cosmic ice cream cone.

I was looking at the website of the San Diego History Center yesterday when I noticed a cool project they’ve undertaken.

The History Center is looking for San Diego residents to document their personal stories regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The recorded experiences–in writing, video or audio–will be preserved by the San Diego History Center and become part of their permanent collection. Years from now, when people want to understand what this unusual moment in history was like, they’ll be able to refer back to your own unique story.

Questions you might answer include “How has COVID-19 changed your daily life?” and “How is your neighborhood/social circle responding to the crisis?” and “Has COVID-19 changed your perspective about living in San Diego?”

If this project piques your interest and you have something to say, go to the History Happening Now! website and Share Your Story by clicking here!

A lesson I have learned from blogging.

Never stop flying.
Never stop flying.

This coming Sunday, Cool San Diego Sights turns seven years old.

Seven years doing this? Unbelievable.

Starting a blog and watching it grow very, very slowly over many years has taught me an important lesson about life. Patience and perseverance might be the two most important keys to success.

While having fun and doing things that I love–walking and writing–I have spent literally thousands of hours working on Cool San Diego Sights. A good chunk of my life has been spent taking and selecting photos, cropping and adjusting them, doing research, being a detective, plotting out future blogs, making corrections, being obsessive/compulsive, providing updates, pulling out my hair (what’s left of it), periodically wondering if I should quit this sometimes tedious exercise…

And now, to my complete surprise, I find myself getting traffic from Google News, News Break, Chrome’s suggested articles, and a remarkable variety of major websites.

As a result of Cool San Diego Sights’ growing success, one of my other websites, Short Stories by Richard, is being visited by students from classrooms around the world. Most are reading my little story One Thousand Likes, which I’m told might be used in an upcoming twelfth grade textbook produced by one of the world’s most prestigious publishers.

Pinch me.

Is this real?

To think this thing started on a whim. I’ve always walked. I had an unused little camera. I created a simple, easy WordPress blog. I figured I’d post a photo and a few words once in a while.

So if you’re a blogger or writer out there in a ridiculously enormous world that contains billions of web pages, and you’ve begun to wonder if it’s really worth the effort–keep at it! Don’t give up! Do your best! Stay passionate! Write well, be truthful, be original, be creative, be smart, be curious, understand and appeal to your readers’ humanity, and remember to always maintain your sense of humor!

And never lose hope! Because you never know!

Actors read literary works online for TwainFest!

The spirit of Twain lives in this wonderful annual festival.

Do you love reading literature from the 19th century?

I do!

I love Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville . . . there are too many great Victorian authors from this period to mention!

If you love to read these authors, too, there’s an online event in progress that you’ll probably like!

During this special event you can listen to selections from 19th century literature read aloud by San Diego actors!

It’s part of Write Out Loud’s virtual TwainFest, and you can subscribe by clicking here to get daily links to new YouTube readings in your email!

What was the event like before the coronavirus pandemic? To see photos from TwainFest last year in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, click here!

Mark Twain uses his cane to point out his classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Many 19th century authors and fictional characters were seen walking about during TwainFest.
Mark Twain uses his cane to point out his classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Help others! Join virtual Red Shoe Day online!

The 11th Annual Red Shoe Day is almost here! But this year it will be different. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the gathering of donations for Ronald McDonald House in San Diego will be entirely online!

Instead of plunking your spare change into a big red Ronald McDonald shoe held by a volunteer at a busy intersection, there’s going to be a virtual Red Shoe Day on June 4, 2020 that everyone can safely take part in and share online with others!

Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, according to their mission statement: provides a “home-away-from-home” for families with children being treated for serious, often life-threatening conditions at local hospitals.

Put yourself in the shoes of a family with a seriously ill child and imagine how important this would be. You could spend much more time with your child as they undergo super scary medical treatment at a big, scary hospital. Read more about what Ronald McDonald House Charities does here.

And here is what you can do!

Click here and join this year’s virtual Red Shoe Day!

Recruit friends, coworkers and family members! Form a winning team!

Look at all the smiling volunteers I photographed in past years, before the coronavirus pandemic…

Click here to join Red Shoe Day and make a huge difference in people’s lives!

You’ll feel good, too!

Create a virtual tribute to a deceased Veteran.

After the Memorial Day ceremony, some people linger to view the ceremonial wreaths. The plaque behind the rostrum contains President Lincoln's famed Gettysburg Address.

Are you a relative or friend of a deceased military Veteran? Are you grateful to someone who served in the United States Armed Forces who is no longer with us?

On this Memorial Day–or on any day–you can create a virtual tribute to those who chose to protect our nation and our freedom.

The online Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM) now allows visitors to leave a comment on a Veteran’s memorial page.

According to the Veterans Legacy Memorial website, which is an extension of the National Cemetery Administration: “NCA manages more than 140 national cemeteries as shrine spaces to honor our Nation’s Veterans, and extends memorialization of the 3.7 million Veterans interred in those cemeteries to this digital memorial space by providing a VLM profile page for each Veteran.”

If you would like to create a virtual tribute to a deserving hero, a digital tribute that might endure forever, click here.

A live stream event celebrating Memorial Day.

Love and respect are shown for those in the military who pledged to protect their countrymen, and defend freedom. They are honored on Memorial Day.
Love and respect are shown for those in the military who pledged to protect their countrymen, and defend freedom. They are honored on Memorial Day.

This coming Memorial Day will be very different. The coronavirus pandemic has caused public events around San Diego to be cancelled.

But I’ve learned there will be a live stream over the internet that celebrates Memorial Day this year, and the virtual event will feature four locations: the USS Midway Museum, Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, and Miramar National Cemetery. Those who perished serving in the United States Armed Forces will be honored and remembered.

If you’d like to learn more, or view the live stream online this Memorial Day starting at 9 am click here!

Listen to live Easter music around San Diego.

The historic Great Organ at St. Paul's Cathedral.
The historic Great Organ at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

There are many online opportunities to listen to live musical performances this Easter Sunday. During the present coronavirus pandemic, everyone who is safely at home can enjoy the inspiring music of Easter remotely.

As usual there will be a video live stream of the 2:00 Sunday organ concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Civic Organist Raul Prieto Ramirez will also chat with those who tune in to listen. To read the details, click here.

Many local churches will be live streaming their Easter services, and those who listen will hear beautiful music from San Diego’s finest organs. To see the complete list, including links to the live streams, click here.

Playing the organ inside the beautiful First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.
Playing the organ inside the beautiful First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Amazing desktop wallpapers of San Diego!

An amazing photograph of Balboa Park, perfect for your computer desktop wallpaper, provided by the San Diego Tourism Authority.
A breathtaking photo of Balboa Park, perfect for your desktop computer wallpaper, courtesy of the San Diego Tourism Authority.

I just made the above photograph the wallpaper background on my desktop home computer. It’s one of seven stunning images that were made available today by the San Diego Tourism Authority. I learned about it because I subscribe to their email list.

The amazing photos were sized to be used as Zoom video communication virtual backgrounds, but the high quality .jpg images also work perfectly as wallpaper on a computer.

Anyone can freely download beautiful images of Balboa Park, Torrey Pines, Cabrillo National Monument and Windansea.

To download these wallpapers, visit the San Diego Tourism blog by clicking here!

Another recent post links to amazing virtual experiences from around San Diego, including many of the city’s most popular attractions. You can access live webcams at the San Diego Zoo and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, go on a virtual tour of the USS Midway aircraft carrier and the San Diego Museum of Art, listen to world-class music by the San Diego Symphony, view clips from some of the Old Globe’s famous productions, and much more.

To check out these virtual San Diego experiences, click here!

Very cool, indeed!

Blogging during the coronavirus pandemic.

California is now under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic. The streets are almost empty as people remain safely in their homes to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Obviously, this will affect my photography around San Diego. Until the situation improves, I’m going to curtail my outdoor walking, except to grab groceries and perhaps briefly exercise while avoiding close human contact. It’s a terrible situation. But we all need to look out for one another and do our best to minimize the impact of this very nasty virus.

What is an idle photoblogger to do?

Cool San Diego Sights already features thousands of photos–so I’ve decided to pick out past images and add them on a daily basis to my Instagram page, which is instagram.com/coolsandiegophotos.

I’m afraid I haven’t been very active on Instagram, but if you want to be cheered by colorful photos of the city, click the above link and perhaps give me a follow!

In the following days I will also concentrate on writing fiction. I have another short story in progress that concerns gratitude. Hopefully I’ll finish it soon.

To read some short works of thought-provoking fiction, you can click Short Stories by Richard.

Meanwhile, everyone who is reading this take care. We’ll eventually get through this awful situation.

The sun continues to rise.

Behind the scenes look at the City Archives!

Old books contain important records in the cold vault of the San Diego City Clerk's Archives Center.
Stacks of old books contain important records in the cold vault of the San Diego City Clerk’s Archives Center.

Yesterday I stepped into City Hall to enjoy an educational event open to the public during the City Clerk’s 3rd Annual Archives Month. When I entered the Archives Center in the basement of the San Diego City Administration Building, I didn’t really know what I might experience.

I saw and learned more from this behind the scenes tour than I expected!

I and a few others were led into a small lecture room and introduced to City of San Diego Archivist Jerry Handfield. He’s an energetic historian and professional archivist who in the past has served as State Archivist for both Indiana and Washington.

Jerry Handfield presented an overview of his job and explained the critical importance of maintaining genuine, reliable, trustworthy public records.

We learned that good governance depends on maintaining accurate records. Trustworthy public records protect the rights of citizens and promotes public trust in government. A healthy democracy relies on trust in its institutions.

Archives play such an important role that in 1850, when San Diego was a tiny town with very limited resources, the city’s newly created common council directed that a very expensive iron safe be appropriated to the clerk for the safekeeping of city records.

As an archivist, Jerry Handfield provided a list of reasons why records matter: they protect life (medical records), protect the public from disasters (maps and floor plans), protect property rights (deeds), and include all sorts of other critical information. He mentioned insurance and bank records, marriage licenses, work licenses and business records.

We learned that for an archivist preservation is a constant war. It’s a war against time, negligence, disasters like floods and mold, decay caused by acids in paper, and other often unpredictable factors. Some media that store records, such as floppy disks and magnetic tape, degrade over time, become corrupted or technologically obsolete.

Some of the City Archive’s older paper documents are given a special chemical treatment to help preserve them. Many are placed in acid-free sleeves or boxes and placed in a temperature and humidity controlled cold vault.

The City Clerk Archives is continuously working to digitize its many hard copy records–to preserve them for all time and make them readily available to the public via the internet. But there remain thousands upon thousands of documents and photos to be scanned and classified.

After the lecture we stepped into the cold vault and saw shelves stacked high with archival material. Then we stepped into a room where photos and negatives are scanned and digitized.

Ranged all around the main room of the Archives Center are additional interesting displays. I saw many Mayoral Artifacts that were presented as gifts to the city from all over the globe. Among these are an assortment of beautiful decorative plates.

Enough of my inadequate written description. Let’s look at a few photos and you’ll get a better idea of what I experienced!

San Diego City Archivist Jerry Handfield describes the importance of accurately recording and carefully preserving critical information.
San Diego City Archivist Jerry Handfield describes the importance of accurately recording and carefully preserving critical information.
Stacks of special boxes containing official records fill the temperature and humidity controlled cold vault at the City Archives.
Stacks of boxes containing official records fill the temperature and humidity controlled cold vault at the City Archives.
Archivist Jerry Handfield shows visitors shelves of old canvas and leather-bound books, including some that contain City Council Resolutions.
Archivist Jerry Handfield shows visitors shelves of old canvas and leather-bound books, including many that contain past City Council Resolutions.
In one room at the Archives Center, old photographs are scanned and categorized in order to be digitized for easy public access.
In one room at the Archives Center, old photographs are scanned and categorized by trained volunteers, in order to be digitized for easy public access.
Many cool historical photos of San Diego cover the walls!
Many cool historical photos of San Diego cover the walls of this room!
Man and Children in Halloween costumes, circa 1960.
Man and Children in Halloween costumes, circa 1960.
First Official Map of San Diego, June 1867.
First Official Map of San Diego, June 1867.
A treasure trove of San Diego history at one's fingertips!
A treasure trove of San Diego history at one’s fingertips!
Mayoral artifacts displayed at the San Diego City Clerk's Archives Center include many gifts from around the world.
Mayoral artifacts displayed in the main room of the San Diego City Clerk’s Archives Center include gifts from other cities and people around the world.
Armetale plate with Seal of City of San Diego.
Armetale plate with Seal of City of San Diego.
Paper mache oni mask from Mizusawa, Japan.
Paper mache oni mask from Mizusawa, Japan.
Filner Mayoral Artifact RF-4. Ballast Point Whaling Station, San Diego, California (1820's).
Filner Mayoral Artifact RF-4. Ballast Point Whaling Station, San Diego, California (1820’s).
While walking about the City Archives I spied the cover of an Official Views San Diego Panama-California Exposition souvenir book.
While walking about the main room of the City Archives I spied this cover of an Official Views San Diego Panama-California Exposition souvenir book.
Boxes upon boxes hold tons of paper records in the basement of City Hall!
Boxes upon boxes hold tons of paper records in the basement of City Hall!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You might say this blog is a sort of digital archive. You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!