*As the centennial of Titanic’s demise approaches, the news is full of memorabilia being auctioned off, various events, and all kinds of large and small things being done. For instance a Hampshire street is being named for Captain Rostron, the captain of the Carpathia that responded to Titanic’s distress call. A housing development, Rostron Close, was named in his honor. (Source: Street Named After Carpathia’s Captain Arthur H Rostron, BBC News, 25 Nov 2011,)
*Every association is being mined for the centennial. For years a certain soap that was used on the ship mentions that in advertising. Now a cutlery company is doing the same thing. Arthur Price supplied cutlery to White Star back in 1912. They issuing an updated version that was used by first class passengers. The Titanic centennial cutlery will be a complete set that includes teaspoons and butter knives. The White Star logo appears on each piece. (Source: Midland Firm Which Supplied Titanic’s Cutlery Still Going Strong ,The Birmingham Post, 25 Nov 2011, )
*Father Browne captured the only photos of Titanic at sea. An avid photographer, his collected works show facets of life back then. A new edition of his Titanic photos will be coming out soon. It will probably have updated details of his life, perhaps introductions from noted Titanic historians or enthusiasts. No date was given for it coming out so look out it in 2012. (Source:Titanic’s Final Photographs By Father Frank Browne , BBC News, 23 Nov 2011)
*The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has gotten tough about nonprofits filing their required reports. They sent out letters warning that failure to file will result in their nonprofit status being revoked. Over the years the IRS has let it slide but now many small nonprofits and churches are getting hit. Back in October the Marine Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts had its nonprofit status revoked for not filing required paperwork. When this was reported, it caused a minor stir and lots of questions as to why it happened. The local assessor was contacted and said the change in status meant property taxes would have to assessed.
The museum houses many maritime exhibits including a Titanic replica from the 1953 movie starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck. The replica was provided by the Titanic Historical Society in 1986 that stipulated that the Marine Museum would keep it in good shape. The historical society reserved the right to take it back if they failed to live up to the agreement. Ed Kamuda learned of the IRS revocation and probably read the news articles that raised questions about how the museum was being run. So he wrote a letter to the city outlining his concern about the museum closing and the Titanic replica. Recent news reports indicate that the accountant is getting all the paperwork in order. Yet something is very wrong here. One does not ignore letters from Internal Revenue demanding you file required paperwork or lose nonprofit status. The IRS is not posturing, they usually intend to do what they say.
Memo to Ed Kamuda: Consider putting the Titanic replica elsewhere.
(Source: Titanic Society Worried That Replica At Marine Museum Could Fall By Wayside, Fall River Herald News, 21 Nov 2011)
*Caltrain Woes (ongoing)
-About two months ago Clipper card machines were added to the Fourth & King Station in San Francisco. And then they sat there for that same amount of time with a yellow sticker across from them. Well apparently they finally got them powered up but not much else. Meanwhile the pigeons have something shiny to sit on.
-There was a major problem with the Jerrold Bridge project a month ago that got barely reported in the press. They were replacing an antiquated bridge in San Francisco with a new steel one. It was gong to be done overnight so that train traffic on Saturday morning would run. Something went amiss though and when I arrived in Millbrae that morning, no trains were running into San Francisco. So everyone had to take BART. Supposedly we to be given free BART tickets but no one offered me one. My return trip around noon found the San Francisco station shuttered and the station guy telling us to board a SamTrans bus for a trip Powell Street Bart. Again no BART ticket was handed out as the press person claimed it was. Trains began running the full circuit after 1:00pm
-The *temporary* San Bruno station has the feel of temporary. One Clipper card reader has been out of order for weeks, one of the electronic signs is also just about dead. They are still putting up fixings like a walkway. There are giant gasoline powered lights that light up the parking area. They constant rumble must be a joy to the residents. And on any given day parking is thrown into mess. There is a lot of parking (and a long way to walk to the station). But due to construction one side might be closed in the morning so everyone has to park on the other. And of course the dust. Lots of it as they tear up the old station. And occasionally a homeless person decides to make one of the passenger shelters or ticket areas a temporary home.
-Everyone who rides Caltrain hears the familiar refrain about it being a nonsmoking train, keep feet off seats, please talk quietly on cellphones etc. But of course the conductors can choose to ignore it. One Saturday afternoon a couple sitting across from me had their feet up on the seats and drinking adult beverages. The conductor walks in, goes by them and back again. Never tells them to take their feet off. What happens when the train is full of boisterous people heading to a game? Conductors tend to avoid walking through the cars unless there is a real reason (they do an initial walk through and may check tickets but then stick to the first car for remainder of trip). What they miss is cars turned into party zones and other things they would prefer not to see. Some conductors seem grumpy and even mad about having to be there. Others seem to just want to sit down and have a chat with each other. Now most conductors I have met are decent and do their jobs well. But those few grumps and lazy ones are the ones that everyone notices (and tries to avoid if possible).
-Southbound 284 hit a snag in San Francisco the other night. When departure time came, the doors were closed and then we sat there. A problem with the signal we were told. Looking out the window, I saw the 6:33 head out which was not good news. Normally we wait at Bayshore for that train to pass. Eventually the conductor came on the intercom and told us the signal was out of order, this train was out of service, and for us to de-train and go to track 10. Once again a train defeated by a simple but malfunctioning piece of equipment.
-Rate increases are coming according to Holier Than You Blog . An upcoming Joint Powers Board (the wizards that oversee Caltrain) meeting has on its agenda a fare increase but hidden within “tariff changes.” According to the document, a public meeting will include discussing elimination 8-ride tickets, increasing the cost of paper one way tickets, day passes, and zone upgrades, and increasing the Go Pass price. That means if you use anything other than Clipper, you pay more. Caltrain has been doing well lately with increased passengers and revenue, which is why they are keeping talk of fare increases quiet for the moment. 8-ride tickets though make little sense these days. They ought to eliminate them and give everyone who uses Clipper a discount. It is more economic that way for people who travel more than 8-rides and less than a full month. If they want to make more money, bring back the old parlor car and sell coffee and snacks.
-Although unrelated it is sort of Caltrain news. When the N-Judah stopped running out to Caltrain on weekdays, there were howls of protest from commuters forced to take the 1 car T-Third that was slow (it was a J-Church back then, now K-Ingelside). It got so loud Mayor Newsom got into the act and the N line returned running to Caltrain on weekdays. Then they decided to shut it off on weekends saying not enough passengers used it. Fair enough but what the never factored in was all those many special events (including sports games) that brought many into a city on the weekends. Events at AT&T Park are easy to deal with since Caltrain passengers just walk down the street and they can put on extra trains out to the ballpark. But what about events further away like in Golden Gate Park , the Presidio, or the Ferry Building?The 10, 30, 45, and 47 all serve Caltrain but none go near the Embarcadero. For that you can take the T and at Fourth & King became very packed. The other bus lines can take you to Market Street where you can transfer to other lines but means also more people packing into those buses. Over at the N line stop right across from Caltrain, a sign hung on a chain (often not drawn across so people mistakenly walked up to the platform) told people the line did not operate on weekends or holidays.
My guess is that there were complaints made about the lack of transit on weekends. The T and the buses simply could not handle the extra capacity. I noticed the N running out one weekend and presumed it was for the Cal game at AT&T park. It turns out though it was a trial run to restore the N weekend service. It happened without any major notice except on the Muni updates one weekend. It said simply the N was running on weekends again to Caltrain. That is good news because now you can get to the Embarcadero much easier and the two car N line can absorb a lot more passengers than the T. Too bad it took a lot of frustration and headaches to make the wizards at SFMTA figure that one out.