Friday, May 31, 2024

Napa Valley pioneer

TL;DR -- Ships brought people to CA. So, ship people settling in CA would be expected. We look at one Salem family, descendant of Thomas Gardner, who pioneered in Napa Valley's Oak Knoll district. 


Can we write too much of California? It was the environs of New Spain but had New England influence not too long after Jefferson's deal. We have looked at Los Angeles a bit due to the Butterfield Stage Line that started in St. Louis and went to San Francisco via Los Angeles, and prior to that Tucson and El Paso. San Francisco was of interest due to the Gold Rush plus the Presidio which was established in the era of New Spain. Then, we have looked at the early arrivers who were mountain men and trappers.  

Today, we will use an article from Melissa Berry due to its theme: Photo Album of California Pioneers (part 1). Of coursel, these pioneers were going to an already established place, namely New Spain. But, it is good that the photo albums of CA are being used. Melissa names the families which include some from Salem and Nantucket. Bowditch and Gardner are on the list. 

The article shows the following photo of the Napa Valley vineyards which were in the Oak Knoll District. The website for the Vintners of the district gives some history of the involvement of Capt. Joseph W. Osborne

Joseph W. Osborne's vineyards

Be sure to visit the photo album at the site of The Society of California Pioneers.

Remarks: Modified: 05/31/2024

05/31/2024 --

Thursday, May 30, 2024

US History, details

TL;DR -- The first photo show several things that are of interest. We only mention a few. Like, the beginning of Sunset Blvd that goes out from near Union Station to the beach. Too, curators continue to provide photos of areas of LA during differnt periods. LA can conserve. It does (has) not, lots of times. 


We will keep to a detailed view of history. Mainly, we look for forgotten stuff. So, let's get back to a couple of examples. One deals with real life and real estate. The other is real but pretains to bits which we now deal with in mountains upon mountains. 

Okay, we have written of Bunker Hill West. Our latest post, Old LA and the US, looked at an area near Union Station. In one photo, City Hall was visible. It's from the late 1920s and is a reference point. Another looks at a Church that started in the 1700s and was rebuilt in 1861: La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles. It is still there. So, LA can conserve. 

This photo was taken in the 1950s as the freeway was worked. You can see the Union Station and the Church. Another landmark? Sunset Boulevard starts there. In this photo, near the Church. 

1950s, highway work
near Union Station, LA in CA

If we went along that freeway for abit, we would get to Bunker Hill West. Let's look at a photo of the area where we can see buildings that were there in the 1950s, the same time of the highway work. 

This is along 2nd Street looking
eastward. Notice the top 
of City Hall. 

This is the way that DTLA looked a few years ago. Toward the right, one can see the City Hall tower. 2nd and Hope would be a couple of blocks north of where the group of buildings are to the left,  US101 runs just north of that area almost parallel with the streets, such as 2nd. 

View along 
Olive street

This Google Earth link goes to the view of OneWilshire which is the visible to the left of Olive as it is on Grand. 

The Google Earth is shown as lots of good information is now available through this medium that represents progress from the efforts of people along all sorts of domains of talent. We cannot go back, but we can find descriptions about the great buildings of Bunker Hill West. An example is Angelo Hotel (sketch) which was on Grand near Temple St. Many are working on this. 

Hopefully, curators will keep those silly, make-believe products of GenAI at bay and reduce the negative influences that are awaiting to happen. 


The above represents lots of remarkable work. We cannot name them all. But, an important one was covered in the latest IEEE Spectrum. There is a good story of the beginning of TCP/IP. If that isn't familiar, then the article will add in some detail. Too, we ought to know these events that left their markings. 

Just like we will remember the mischief let loose by Open AI in late 2022. Lots to discuss there. 

The 2022 IEEE Medal of Honor recipient envisioned the
               network of networks that became the Internet.

Remarks: Modified: 05/30/2024

05/30/2024 --

Wednesday, May 29, 2024


TL;DR -- GitHub has May as Maintainers Month where Open Source folks get together and compare notes as well as party. We say, maintainers are of all sorts, including those working what might be called legacy stuff. 


Maintainers? Who are they? What have they to do with TGS, Inc. and Gardner theme? 

Well, we are taking a technology focus. The NEHGS this month is touting how AI will change Genealogy. We say, wait a minute, folks. This stuff would work better if people knew what was going on under the covers. Right now, we have an uncertain situation due to choices by those pushing out this stuff. 

Take GenAI, please. The EU (yes, our European cousins) as telling OpenAI that their ChatGPT-4 is not suitable for real stuff. Myself? I looked at the latest verison and failed it with two questions. I wrote of it somewhere (will try to find this). Actually, folks, The Atlantic had it right in 2022 when the first release came about: toy not tool. 

Okay, the theme? We have had many post on technology. Some mentioned GitHub. So, that site is an example of handling code. What is involved with that? Well, code is developed. We can go into this but pass over it for now. When code is ready for use, it's executable plus there are copies of it in library form. That's the bailiwick of the likes of GitHub. One might say code management.

And, GitHub has May as Maintainer Month. In their version, the focus is on Open Source. That has become the norm where people keep a system/program going by offering their services, for free. Many of these people have jobs doing the same thing. John spent his career in code in a large variety of situations. "code maintenance" is important; its history is that the newbies get the task. 

But, as systems mature, more and more talent/experience is needed in order to keep it running and up to date. On the other hand, development of new stuff may be exciting. For a while, as no major system ever gets easier as it comes into being. Now, maintainign something that you did may be more fun. But, it's not easier, necessarily. 

So, we're nodding to code maintainers of all sorts. It'll be a necessary job now and into the future. Right now, "legacy" types are in serious needs of maintenance. 

Wait, GenAI as removing the need for people? Think again. Those doing that sort of thing, managers wanting something for nothing, will pay the price. Too, their customers will be impacted. It's too bad that there is a lack of maturity. But, we have to agree on how these things ought to be run. 

You know, GenAI is trained on code that has not been curated. Hence, errors are incorporated from the beginning. Let''s talk a realistic approach. Done right, it would go along the line of code "snippets" that John started doing long ago. As well, done right, we could track the history of major software and problems involved with such. That is, GenAI is a tool with insights that are artificial. It does not have insight which is the key deal. 

Remarks: Modified: 05/29/2024

05/29/2024 --

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Memorial Day, 2024

TL;DR -- Following our Memorial Day theme, we look at two organizations: an American one that formed after the Civil War; a British organization that served in the Burma campaign. 


In our last post on the Memorial Day theme, we listed some posts from the Mays of our existence starting in 2011. In 2019, we started to have a Memorial Day post. This time we look at news about Nantucket Island and the Gardners. 

Melissa Berry published an article this week on GAR Civil War Vets. The Grand Army of the Republic group was formed in 1866 and lasted until 1956, according to the article, after the last member died at 109. Melissa provided the below photo which was of the GAR Thomas Gardner Post 207. 

Nantucket Island, 1909

For more information on the Gardners of Nantucket, see this Guide to the Gardner Family Papers, 1717-1960


Switching to another century and continent, we have been corresponding with Diana Davidson about technology and Gardner history; her family descends from the Gardners of Nantucket and lives in England, near Dorset. The family descends from Edmund Gardner who was of the Whaling family. We will write on this family a little more, but for now let's shift our attention to WWII.  

Diana wrote, recently (edited): 

My Grandfather was Charles Frederick Gardner. He volunteered to fight in WW2 but claimed that he was thought to be “too old to fight”. 
As a Member of the Leander rowing club and a Cambridge blue, he was passionate about rowing and had always kept himself very fit. He was also as a Member of his local branch of the Territorial Army when he lived in the U.K. 
He volunteered to join the Chinditz and led a group of Africans who had been drafted in to fight the Japanese in the sweltering heat of the jungles of Burma. 
I did not know of this group but was somewhat familiar with our joint efforts with the British in the Burma campaign. The following is more information on the British organization under which C.F. Gardner served. 
Chindits Text Banner Special Force Burma 1942-44


Each year, we will mention that Memorial Day has become a general time of reflection on the dead with visits to graves and the placement of flowers. Too, it's the unofficial start of summer as most of the schools have started their break. 

Remarks: Modified: 05/26/2024

05/26/2024 --

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Human intuition

TL;DR -- In our technology thrust, AI is a regular feature needing attention. Recent papers suggest that a proper maturity is being sought by players of importance. One of these is the US DOD in this case represented by its US Army with respect to issues of using data from research, classification and control. 


This post is short for various reasons. We just want to report some recent articles plus another from 2019. These deal with humans and artificial intelligence. Or, we'll use machine learning for the last one. 

Essentially, discussions come down to one question: who ought to be in charge? Humans have been for all of time that we know, some humans that is. And, there are many things that we do not control. Just look at the storms (tornados) that rip across the interior of the U.S. on a regular basis in the spring. 

There is a new player, though, the machine. Hence when it learns, marvels seem to appear. We'll skip over that as the press has been full of stories along this line for almost two years now. For one thing, we just remind everyone, there is no creature emerging from the antics of artifical modes such as we see with heated circuitry. Too, "smarts" is debatable. Yet. 

There has been no end to the discussion. We are leaning toward the thought that humans and their talents are such as to be of importance in this matter. That has been on the table for a while. We might just be seing evidence that technology can help us in the matter by establishing the ways and means that people can use to raise their focus and involvement.

So, let's look briefly at three articles. 

  • Demystifying data mesh -- this article is from June of 2023 which is recent and targeted toward the C-suite. McKinsey is a consulting firm of note. They discuss "data mesh" which comes out of data science which is a type of predecessor of machine learning. There are several key themes to the topic. One thing is that machine learning is highly dependent upon the quality of the data that is being used to teach it what is supposed to know. Another is that the mode of control, whether decentralized or centralized, has a huge impact. One theme is that business purposed need to keep the human element involved. For one thing, decisions need human involvement. Then, usual practices that are human-oriented must come into play. 
One might ask, where did this notion come from? 
  • How to Move Beyond a Monolithic Data Lake to a Distributed Data Mesh -- from May of 2019, this article was written about the issues of data science which evolved to be the thingc concerned with data and its managment. It addresses the importance of viwpoint; as well, works like "trustworthy" and "truthful" are used. In 2024, we all remember a year of trying to deal with and to understand the "hallucinating" world of machine learning in the guise of the large language model (LLM). The author stresses human involvement as essential. 
Where would such insightful thoughts find its influence?  Late last year, the USDOD announced its guidelines on AI. In that report, machine learning was noted to be problematic. Hence, people with training and expertise were seen to be the key factors in maintaing stability as a way of computational life. This month, a team of engineers for the US Army brought their focus to the public. 
  • Human Intuition and Algorithmic Efficiency Must Be Balanced to Enhance Data Mesh Resilience -- from May of 2024, this article stresses that humans need to be involved in decisions made by a machine. This involvement can range from small for inconsequential, regular processing. However, as the stakes rise, so too ought the human oversight. It is interesting that "intuition" is utilized. This article references the one of the former bullet. The context is military which brings in imporatnt differences not considered in normal business, for the most part. 
These three are merely represenetative, as many other articles on the subject have come to fore. In short, they represent a normalization of thinking after the shock of the recent release of AI. ChatGPT is an example. Now, these are being called GenAI. Some use LLM for the language processing that is involved. 
The balance for
data mesh resilience 

For the most part, these approaches are applied mathematics. Some of the issue that arose are due to lack of understanding of the underlying operational approaches which can be overcome by education and public discussion. It is refreshing to see that the complicated world of the military hs the insight to note the importance of human talent and training. 

But, taking the U.S. and its 250th coming up, we can look at the military experience as a whole and consider how the culture has changed. The U.S. military will face even more complexities as time goes on. Using machine learning as an assitance ought to be a natural step forward. These papers suggest that and ought to be on everyone's table for reference.  

Remarks: Modified: 05/15/2024

05/15/2024 -- 

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Old L.A. and the U.S.

TL;DR -- We continue to look at CA via two cities in order to learn more about the Spanish period that preceded the entry of New England's influence into the area. Period photos are the enabling technology. 


We have been looking at two CA cities, LA and SF. Early on, we had Jedediah Strong Smith representing the eastern culture in his wanderings across that country. He was there in the 1830s. Later, we looked at the Butterfield Express which brought people, goods and mail from St. Louis, MO and from points in between, such as TX and AZ, to LA and onward to SF. This was in the 1850s and was quite successful despite the arduous nature of the trip. However, the Civil War interrupted the business for a few years, but post that conflict things boomed again. 

There were several motivations for looking at this area of the country which include the early explorations when it was a territory of Spain, then the initial comings and goings by sea and land, the acceleration of the New England influence after the Civil War, and, in particular, an area of DTLA that was known as Bunker Hill. As we have mentioned, it now is full of sky scrapers (high-rise corner), but the area represents changes that were fast and furious over the years. However, a huge change was the introduction of the railroad across the country. We can read of this: Samuel Clemens took the trip by stage coach; later, R. W. Emerson took a similar trip by rail. Clemens disliked the journey so much that he returned to the east coast by sea which was no mean feat either.  

W e have mentioned, before, the Cathedral (St. Vibiana's) that moved from the base of Bunker Hill to being on top in the latter part of the 1900s as urban renewal took its toll. The older building still stands, near the LA City Hall and serves the function of an event center. Today, we saw an early photo which was from before the time that the Cathedral was built. It is a smaller Catholic church with an interesting history with respect to our continuing studies of the other colonial experiences in the founding of the U.S.  

Before going further, let's pause to recognize and honor the work of the Water and Power Associates (WPA) which has collected photos related to the history of Los Angeles. This is their mission statement: 

to inform and educate its memberrs, public officials, and the general public on critical water and energy issues affecting the citizens of Los Angeles, Southern California and the State of California.

The below photos and information are courtesy of their virtual museum and collection of period photos. 


We start by looking at an earlier church (La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles - Wikipedia). It is on the left of this photo that looks north on the Calle Principal which is now Main Street (Wikipedia) and which has been mentioned many times. We can consider the area to be at the foot of hills to the west of DTLA such as Bunker Hill. 

Old Plaza Church 

Zanja Madre
The caption for the photo at the WPA site mentions the "Mother Trench" (Wikipedia) with this caption:

The "Old Plaza Church" facing the Plaza, 1869. The brick reservoir in the middle of the Plaza was the original terminus of the Zanja Madre.

As mentioned, LA is a very dry place. So, water was brought in early and has continued to be of concern as the population abounded, and still abounds, almost without bounds. 

But, in the beginning: 

The Pueblo de Los Angeles was an official settlement of Spain. They had three types of settlements in Alta California: presidio (military), mission (religious) and pueblo (civil). The pueblos would provide the commercial and agricultural needs of the military as an alternative to the missions. (source Wikipedia) 

When researching Jedediah's experiences, we looked briefly at the military aspect of the community. The Old Plaza Church and St. Vibiana's are examples of the religious. In some of the early photos that we show below there were other churches appearing as New England's influence grew. But, for now, let's look at travel and trade, again. Butterfield is mentioned in one of these photos. 

Old Plaza Church
and the LA City Hall

In our earlier look, we mentioned how his coaches came into the area where the Times-Mirror building is now. Let's use a photo of Main Street looking south to set the dimensions. The photo is from 1928 which was not long after City Hall was finished. We see that the civic building is just down the street from the church. 

And, the facilities used by Butterfield (and his cohorts) would have been just on the other side of the City Hall from the church. 

Quoting the WPA site: 

The Overland Mail Company operated by John Butterfield (the founder of American Express) rented space for a station until it built new quarters in 1860 at Second and Spring--the present location of Mirror Building. The Wells, Fargo and Company also had their office here and Phineas Banning (Wikipedia) operated coaches to Wilmington and San Bernardino from the hotel.

But, that brings up another view to consider. We will be looking more at the history of Bunker Hill, eventually. It is just south of Fort Moore Hill which is in the background of the church in this photo. From this perspective, one can see why there was an effort to tunnel through these hills to go west. 

Fort Moore Hill to 
the west of the 
Old Plaza Church

The PWA site on Fort Moore hill: 

Fort Hill (also known as Fort Moore Hill) was a prominent hill overlooking the pueblo of Los Angeles. Its commanding view of the city made it a strategic location.

Fort Moore was an historic U.S. Military Fort during the Mexican–American War. Its approximate location was at what is now the Hollywood Freeway near the intersection of North Hill Street and West Cesar Chavez Avenue, downtown. The hill on which it was built became known as Fort Moore Hill, most of which was removed in 1949 for construction of the freeway. The hill was located one block north of Temple Street and a short distance south of present day Cesar Chavez Avenue, between the Los Angeles Civic Center and Chinatown.

The fort is now memorialized by the Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial, 451 North Hill Street.


Now, getting back to Butterfield, the building where he started was built in 1835. That is very early as the area was still under Spanish control. This next photo is from 1865 and shows the state of the building after additional floors were constructed. 

1865 view after
addition to 1835 building of
Isaac Williams (Wikipedia)

Quoting the PWA site: 

The Bella Union Hotel was considered the first hotel in Los Angeles. It became the Clarenden in 1873 and the St. Charles in 1875.

Constructed in 1835 as the home of Isaac Williams, a New England merchant who moved to Los Angeles three years earlier, the one story adobe became the last capitol of Alta California during the Mexican era when Governor Pio Pico purchased it for his office.

After the conquest of Los Angeles by American forces in 1847, the building was used by Lt. Archibald Gillespie, who commanded the occupying forces. Later it housed American troops, and after they left, it became a saloon. By early 1850, the building was operating as the Bella Union Hotel. Later that year, it became the county's first courthouse and beginning in 1858, it was the region's transportation hub. The Overland Mail Company operated by John Butterfield (the founder of American Express) rented space for a station until it built new quarters in 1860 at Second and Spring--the present location of Mirror Building. The Wells, Fargo and Company also had their office here and Phineas Banning operated coaches to Wilmington and San Bernardino from the hotel. 

Wikipedia quote: 

On October 7, 1858, the first Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach from the East, arrived 21 days after leaving St. Louis, Missouri. "Warren Hall was the driver, and Waterman Ormsby, a reporter, the only through passenger. In that era it was the region's transportation hub: Wells, Fargo & Co. and Phineas Banning's coaches to and from Wilmington and San Bernardino had offices there.

By way of comparison, the Sante Fe trail went from Independence, MO through Fort Larned, KS on its way to NM after passing through Gardner, KS. That trek, western MO to western KS took three weeks of hard work, daily. The coach trip took the same. Mostly, the horses did the work. However, think of the difficulties of the trip compared to our modern times and its highways. 

Isaac Williams is an example of the multifaceted gents who were into fur searching, trading and then ranching. Earlier, we looked at William S. Bent, New Englander, and his adventures in the middle of the country; he was a cohort of Kit Carson and others. Williams was close to the same time and followed Jedediah Strong Smith out through the Mojave Desert to the lower coast.  

Connection: One owner was Obed Macy (WikiTree) who was a Thomas Gardner descendant of a Nantucket Island family. 


Let's do one more photo as the three-story building that started as the Bella Union Hotel (Wikipedia) and became the St. Charles Hotel was there for a long while. And, it has a storied history that needs some attention. We will look more closely. The Daily Mirror sent an artist to visit the St. Charles and published a sketch March 16, 1936. It was demolished in 1940. 

As well, we will look at Bunker Hill houses and other buildings and identify those built by New England families. There are many photos to browse through which show the houses to be quite demonstrative of culture and money, considering the problems of LA and obtaining building materials. In one case, a mansion was converted to an apartment hotel and operated for years. 

Labeled photo, 1869

This photo is from one end of Bunker Hill which sweeps around to the right. It mentions the Times building and the "old" Overland Stage Corral. The Civil War interrupted the flow of traffic. This was several years after that conflict. Notice that the 3rd Street dig for the tunnel had already started. 


So, as grounding or control, here is a modern view of the Bunker Hill area and its surroundings from Kenneth Hahn State Park (Times article). 

May human curators reign for a long while. Thank you, Power and Water Associates. 

Remarks: Modified: 05/01/2024

05/01/2024 --