Local students engineer amazing robots!

Possibly my favorite part of today’s Grand Avenue Festival in Escondido was the robotics demonstration.

Students from several local high schools were showing their sophisticated robots, which can operate both autonomously and by manual control. These amazing robots are built every year to compete in the international FIRST Robotics Competition!

I saw one particular robot shooting balls into the air. One crazy looking robot with pipes sticking out of it was built to launch t-shirts!

All of the students I met were friendly and clearly smarter than me. Several provided technical explanations, which promptly went over my head.

I saw teams from Rancho Bernardo High School (Team E-Motion), Poway High School (Team Spyder), San Pasqual High School (Team SuperNURDS), and Escondido Charter High School (Team Daedalus).

Over the years, these local teams have had great success competing in the prestigious FIRST Robotics Competition. The acronym FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

The games that challenge the competing robots are changed each year, so students must utilize creativity, logic, engineering skills and sheer ingenuity. Robotics is one fun way to implement STEM education in schools!

Check it out!

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!

Love your eyes on World Sight Day!

Today, the second Thursday of October, is World Sight Day!

I didn’t know this until I happened to walk past a couple of friendly guys in Mission Valley. They’d set up a table in Civita Park and were telling passersby about the importance of loving your eyes. Both represent Shamir, an eyeglass company whose United States headquarters is right here in San Diego.

An informative brochure they handed me explains that eye health impacts a person’s education, employment and quality of life.

I learned eye health can be maintained via diet, physical activity, eye protection and, of course, routine vision check-ups. It’s very important that children have an eye exam before they start school.

Check out the following photo for more great information!

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!

Unusual and brilliant designs in San Diego!

San Diego-Tijuana has become a finalist for the World Design Capital in 2024. The two cross-border cities together have made the first ever binational bid for this international honor, which is bestowed by the World Design Organization.

According to their website, the World Design Organization evaluates “use of design to drive economic, social, cultural, and environmental development.” When you include the terms social and cultural, doesn’t that cover just about everything?

As I walked down Broadway this morning, I saw the street banners in the next photograph…

…and an idea suddenly popped into my brain.

Over the years Cool San Diego Sights has documented all sorts of interesting, unusual and brilliant designs: in art, in fashion, in architecture, in furniture, in quilts . . . you name it!

Not all of the fantastic designs you’ll see in the upcoming links originated locally. But many did!

Click the following links for fascinating photos and descriptions:

Architecture inspired by nature . . . and UFOs!

Malcolm Leland’s modernist designs in San Diego.

Kids create Minecraft-style Mona Lisa mural!

Cleverly designed furniture is surprising, playful art!

A visit to the California Surf Museum!

Amazing life-size cardboard superhero sculptures!

An amazing cube, like real Space: full of stars!

A 180 ton teddy bear made of boulders!

Museum exhibit shows evolution of fashion.

The fantastic, amazing Harper’s Topiary Garden!

Salk Institute architect Louis Kahn: an amazing exhibit!

Print Culture exhibit at San Diego Central Library.

Early American quilts: amazing color and patterns!

Ray Bradbury and crazy Horton Plaza.

Unfolding Humanity appears at Maker Faire!

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!

Electric vehicles showcased in downtown San Diego.

A variety of electric vehicles are on display today at the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego. The public event is sponsored by SDG&E and Nissan.

I walked out on the pier this morning to check out some beautiful cars, assembled by members of the Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego for the occasion. I saw many models by leading auto makers.

I’ve never driven an electric car. When I spoke to a representative of the Electric Vehicle Association, I learned they’re actually more fun to drive because they’re extremely responsive. Some models now have an over a three hundred mile range, and consequently the owner can charge them easily overnight at home without worrying about locating a recharging station.

She believes in ten years most new vehicles on the road will be electric!

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!

Cool photo memories from October 2016.

Many cool events could be experienced in San Diego five years ago!

Looking back at photographs I took in October 2016, I see an amazing Maker Faire was held in Balboa Park, and a Festa with lots of chalk art was held in Little Italy.

Five year ago I also enjoyed two very unique museum exhibits, took a walk through beautiful Los Peñasquitos Canyon, and had my mind blown during a special tour aboard an oceanographic research vessel!

If you’d like to see lots of colorful photos, click the links that are coming up!

Click the following links to revisit fun old blog posts!

Cool photos of creativity at Maker Faire San Diego!

Beautiful chalk faces created on a Little Italy street!

Photos of chalk art at 2016 Festa in Little Italy!

Culture and history celebrated at Festa in San Diego!

History of firefighting at San Diego Firehouse Museum.

Joan Embery’s My Animal World at Bonita Museum.

Nature and history on a walk in Los Peñasquitos Canyon.

Photos aboard new Scripps research vessel Sally Ride!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

PRONTO transit ticket machines go live!

The new PRONTO ticketing system for transit in San Diego and North County is now operating. I received confirmation today from an MTS Supervisor.

This morning, before boarding a Green Line trolley at the Gaslamp station, I noticed one of the PRONTO ticket machines has been uncovered. And it’s ready to go!

The new PRONTO ticket machines appear somewhat similar to the old Compass Card machines. Compass cards will be gradually phased out.

You can learn more about PRONTO, and how this new fare system is more functional and convenient here.

If you ride the bus or trolley, all September trips will be free with a PRONTO card!

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!

Multi-colored street lights coming downtown!

You know those strings of small lights that have been installed along certain downtown San Diego streets in the past year? This morning I saw workers on B Street toiling by one segment of the new lights, and I learned they’re installing a wireless network.

Once their work is complete, these strings of festive lights can be changed to different colors remotely!

What a cool enhancement for downtown’s atmosphere!

I can’t wait to see all the colors!

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!

Celebrating the trolley’s 40th Anniversary!

Thank you all for transporting me around the city, and for your friendly waves! I’ve loved trains since I was a kid!

A special public event was held today at the E Street trolley station in Chula Vista. The 40th Anniversary of the San Diego Trolley was celebrated!

A big crowd turned out to enjoy free entertainment, food and drink, and booths with transit information. As one might expect, there were also short speeches by city dignitaries, including representatives of the Metropolitan Transit System.

San Diego’s “first” 1981 trolley car–Number 1001–was parked on one of the station’s tracks, right next to several more recent, advanced trolley cars. Good old “1001” is now one of the cars that loop through downtown as part of the Silver Line. (I was told today the Silver Line will be resuming operation next week!)

Back in the 80’s, the first trolleys ran from downtown San Diego to the San Ysidro border crossing. Today, three major lines cover much of the city, and the Blue Line’s Mid-Coast Extension to Mission Bay and La Jolla is scheduled to open in just a few months!

It was interesting to hear in one speech how the trolley might one day be wireless, or even autonomous. Technology is rapidly advancing. It will be fascinating to see what the future brings!

As a very frequent rider of public transit, thank you MTS! If anyone reading my blog wonders how I spy interesting new things, it’s often by looking out a trolley or bus window!

MTS CEO Sharon Cooney addresses the crowd during the 40th Anniversary of the San Diego Trolley. The audience was very enthusiastic!
After the speeches, there was exciting breakdancing!
If one waited in line for a short while, there were oodles of free treats!
The two most recent models of trolley cars at the E Street Station. The 4000’s and 5000’s look pretty similar.
A car from 1981. This particular car, looking very shiny, now transports people around downtown on the Silver Line, along with a couple of older vintage PCC streetcars.

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 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!

Art purchased by the city from artists during COVID-19.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, local artists were supported through a special initiative undertaken by the City of San Diego. The city purchased almost 100 works of art for the Civic Art Collection. The initiative was funded by a generous art lover and philanthropist.

An exhibition of this acquired artwork, titled SD PRACTICE, can now be viewed at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park, and at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights.

I visited the San Diego Art Institute on Sunday to view their pieces. I noticed some of the artists are widely known, including Hugo Crosthwaite and Mario Torero.

Contemporary art is often provocative: subversive, angry, skeptical, iconoclastic. But many of the pieces I saw conveyed mostly a feeling of loneliness. Which I suppose isn’t surprising. They were created during a pandemic–a time of forced social isolation.

One canvas shows an elderly woman alone at a table set with dinner and cold smartphones. Other works–often with political messages–show people trapped alone behind borders or squares or lattices of drawn lines, or wearing masks, or concealed beneath sheets, or in shadow.

One artist’s tintypes were created with random people on the street. The artist and strangers pose together as if they are family. But the tintypes are very dim like faded dreams. And the momentary “families” weren’t real.

In one piece, an isolating smartphone has been dropped to one side, and two people lean into each other for simple human warmth.

As I walked through the gallery, one plastic chair made to appear gleaming and precious seemed inviting. But it was only one chair.

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!

The corner lit by San Diego’s first gaslamp!

The very first gaslamp that lit downtown San Diego was located in today’s Gaslamp Quarter. But where?

Stand at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and F Street, and you’ve found the location!

You’ll be standing next to the historic Marston Building. A plaque on this interesting old building reads:

Marston Block, 1881

In 1881, George Marston located his third department store in this two-story Victorian Italian-style building. It remained here until 1896 when it was relocated to a larger building. Until the 1970s, Marston’s was the largest and most successful San Diego-based department store and was purchased by Broadway Stores. The building suffered severe fire damage in 1903, and had to undergo extensive remodeling. The first gaslamp was placed on this corner in 1885, and on March 16, 1886, the first electric arc lamp was illuminated outside this building.

If any of you remember visiting the Marston Department Store as a young child, it was most likely Marston’s final location, in a large four-story, neo-Renaissance building on C Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. That building was demolished years ago. To learn more about George Marston’s various stores in San Diego, click here.

To view a historical black-and-white photo of Marston’s 1881 store–the location of San Diego’s very first gaslamp–click here.

As you can see, things have changed quite a bit in nearly a century and a half!

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 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!