September 24th, 2010

A Norden bombsight

This device was considered a critical state secret during WWII: as I understand it bomber crews were given a thermite gun to melt it if necessary to prevent its capture, and it was taken from each airplane after landing under armed guard and stored separately in a vault.

The LDS Church

On today's tour I was most surprised by what you see here, which suggests this religion was intended to be compatible with mainstream American precepts concerning private property and government.

My understanding of this religion is still minimal, in the broad scheme of things.

Bill Gates' early work

This is software for the Altair, on punched tape. The instruction manual at the rear of this display (not visible in this photograph) contained a phone number at which to directly call Bill Gates if you had any sort of problem with this software. I tried calling that number, but it was answered by someone at a private residence who had no connection to the computer industry. In other words, if you still program in MITS BASIC on an Altair 8800 computer, you should update your support contact info.

A modern Uncle Milton's Ant Farm

I had one of the old-style Uncle Milton's Ant Farms as a very young child, became convinced at one point that the ants had died because I'd forgotten to feed them, and as a result for the first time in my life felt something that I recognized as "regret."

I later learned that the ants had a two-month life span, and I actually hadn't forgotten to feed them, so at least as an adult my conscience is clear.

But either way, as you can see from this box with new Ant Farm owners this is now a moot point :)

Rachael at the marker for the geographic center of the U.S.

As we learned only after arriving here, in Belle Fourche SD, the actual geographic center is 20 miles north of this marker, on some private pastureland.

This was, understandably, frustrating.

As such, this photograph shows both the marker, and Rachael being frustrated.

Vancouver BC

As my last adventure of the summer I spent a few days in Vancouver BC, leaving on September 17 and getting back on September 19.

I've always loved Vancouver BC, but in part this trip was motivated by the fact that the Robert Pickton serial killing case was finally put to rest, just six weeks ago, with the denial of Mr. Pickton's last appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada; as I understand it his case was the worst case of serial killing in Canada's history, and I wanted to get a few pictures in the Vancouver BC area related to this loser's horrifying spree.

What you see here is Robert Pickton's former "pig farm," though obviously all of its buildings have long-since been demolished.

I won't go into too many gruesome details here; the above link to his Wikipedia page is available for anyone with further curiosity.

Of course, one of the real tragedies of this case is that Mr. Pickton was apparently correct in his assumption that the victims he chose were ones the police wouldn't care that much about, and indeed it's difficult for me to believe that for any other kind of victim a way wouldn't have been found to convict him based on the physical evidence in his 1997 murder attempt.

The Pickton "Piggy Palace"?

To judge by the street addresses on either side of this driveway (as provided here), this driveway should have led to the address of the old Pickton "Piggy Palace" parties, and one of the buildings you see here looks like a photograph in an old news report which followed news of the Pickton killings first being made public.

Beyond that I can't really say, and since the whole area was private property I couldn't look around any further.

The Astoria Hotel

Robert Pickton used to hang out here a lot, apparently, and presumably took victims he met elsewhere in Vancouver BC's downtown east side (or "DES") here before heading back with them to his "farm."

My main interest here was in seeing whether this neighborhood was any different than it was reported as being at the time of the Pickton murders, including police presence.

And unfortunately, if there's some reason why another Pickton couldn't be operating in this same area now (perhaps at a slower pace), I'm just not seeing it.

The HI Vancouver Central hostel

Of course, since this hostel is located right on Granville Street, it's now an even more attractive option.

You can still call it just a day or two in advance, even during the height of the tourist season, and find an available space.