Sunday, September 28, 2008

Libraries and cannons

The recent hurricane Ike exposed a civil war shipwreck (that was also exposed in 2006). That reminded me of a big storm from UCSB days. It was the only time I remember full size trees washed up on the Santa Barbara beaches, along with the terrible smell of dead seal lions and elephant seals. A lot of sand was ripped from the beaches, also unusual. But that exposed old cannons on the beach just south of campus. This fueled a controversy about whether they were from Sir Francis Drake's ("His exploits were legendary, making him a hero to the English but a simple pirate to the Spaniards.") ship in the late 1570s. There is a great write-up (but you have to scroll down to Goleta Cannon Site). Any city proving a visit by Drake would have coveted bragging rights :) More than you ever wanted to know about Drake and whether he got his latitudes correct here -- including a discussion of astrolabs :)

Speaking of more recent history, every time I hear about a Carnegie library I am amazed at how putting public libraries in cities large and small (Orosi, Exeter, and Dinuba, but not Reedley?) changed the United States. Fresno's was impressive
Funded by a 1901 Carnegie grant of $30,000, and completed in 1904, the Fresno Carnegie Library was one of the earliest and costliest of the Carnegies.
but was a victim of the tear-down fever of the late 1950s to mid 1960s. Another casualty was the Fresno Country courthouse from 1875, you can see the dome crashing down here (page 73).

One more thing: these photos from the VAB at KSC reminded me of the few (two?) times I was in the building with a shuttle in some state of integration with the external tank and SRBs. I remember going in a side door where we were given a brief safety briefing (like the one you get on a tour of Vandenberg before go into a room with a missle) and we had to put our ID badges in slots on the wall before we went into the main part of the VAB. Our guide said it was so that if something went wrong they would know who was in the building :)