Monday, July 21, 2014

Krooze-night


Scarlett. (This is four years ago; now she’s gray in the muzzle.) (Photo by Linda Hughes.)

The other morning (Monday, July 14th, 2014) I took my dog to Petco in nearby Canandaigua (“cannan-DAY-gwuh”).
Petco is a pet-supply store. I needed a small bag of dogfood.
They allow pets in the store as long as they’re leashed. I decided to take my dog instead of abandoning her in my house.
WHOA! Yanking and pulling every-which-way when I let her out of my car. A silly lunging monster; this is the high-energy Irish-Setter I brought home.
I may be lame and old, but I can still hang on to my dog.
We went into Petco.
Yippee; a new place to check out — lots of food and toys.
Lunging this-way-and-that; I’d get pulled down aisles.
I managed to find my dogfood, then got in line to check out.
“Awww; can I pet your dog? She’s beautiful.”
The store had treats on display below the checkout counter. My dog glommed a few.
Well, obviously this was a great idea. Take my silly dog some place she’s never been, but I get the dog I brought home five years ago.
One of my supermarkets in Canandaigua, Wegmans, holds a car-krooze on Thursday nights. A fellow widower I eat with bought an SS-Camaro he shows at this show.
Being a car-guy myself. I’ve wanted to attend this show, but always felt like I had the dog-problem. I felt like in order to attend this show, I had to abandon my dog in the house.
But after Petco, I decided I should take my dog to the show.
So, off we went, headed for the Thursday-night Wegmans car-krooze.
I found my friend and his Camaro right away. We exchanged greetings, and I immediately began walking around.
Lunging and pulling: “Oh, what a pretty dog?”
“Can I pet your dog?”
“What kind of dog is it? You don’t see Irish-Setters any more.”
I had along my camera, and didn’t get far before I saw the gorgeous 1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible pictured.


A ‘62 Bonny — one of the best-looking cars ever. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

I almost said something, but didn’t, because it’s not 1961, which I consider one of the best-looking cars ever.
‘62 is almost as nice, but not as nice as the ‘61.
The only thing wrong is GM’s failure to give up the knee-knocking “Wrap-Around” windshield.
Both the ‘61 and ‘62 Pontiacs still have that tiny vestige of a Wrap-Around windshield.
The Wrap-Around wasn’t gone until the 1964 model-year. Other ‘61 and ‘62 GM cars have that same windshield, Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac.
I continued my wandering, being pulled this-way-and-that.


Ersatz 427 Cobra. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“Is it an actual 427 Cobra?” I asked the owner of the car pictured.
“It’s not. I had to pull out the original 427, then install a new motor. It’s 402 cubic-inches. But the car-body is 427 Cobra.”
“Looks like a 427,” I exclaimed, snapping a picture.
Next I came across the white ‘57 Chevy Bel Air two-door hardtop pictured, an excellent example of perhaps the most collectible classic-car, the ‘57 Chevy.


The two-door hardtop. (Photo by BobbaLew.)


The four-door hardtop. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

I saw at least three ‘57 Chevys at this show, none of which were convertibles, perhaps the most collectible classic-car of all.
Not many Tri-Chevys were in attendance; ‘55, ‘56 and ‘57.
I didn’t see any ‘55s, and I prefer the ‘55s.
I saw only one ‘56, a two-door sedan (a “post”), and it was leaving, although it sounded strong.
Hardtops are no longer made. They lack the vertical door-post up to the roof like a sedan. The front and rear side-windows of a hardtop interlace just like a convertible; which is where the name comes from: “hardtop convertible.”
That hardtop doesn’t retract, of course. Only Ford did that for a few years; ‘57 through ‘59. It was overly complicated, and its top was short.
A hardtop has no roof stiffness. Flip a hardtop and its roof will crush. Safety-mavens in the guvamint decided roof-stiffness was needed so a car could roll without killing its occupants.
The windshield might shatter, and other glass, but a car can end up on its roof without it crushing.
Okay, but losing the hardtop was a loss. It looked really great, especially if all the windows were cranked down.
The four-door hardtop was an engineering nightmare. The heavy rear door was hung off a post that didn’t go all the way up to the roof. You had to engineer chassis-stiffness that didn’t sag everything at that door-post. Otherwise the rear door wouldn’t shut, and/or the side-windows wouldn’t properly interlace and seal.
They managed to pull it off. I’ve seen many four-door hardtops, but never a one where the glass and door didn’t line up.
Maybe there was a tiny bit of sagging, enough to throw the rear doors out of alignment, but it was minimal.
I then came across what to me is “Best-of-Show,” the red ‘57 Thunderbird pictured.


Best-in-Show. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

I always liked the early two-seat Thunderbirds, especially the ‘57. And that’s despite its canted tailfins which look okay on a Thunderbird, but ridiculous on full-size sedans. —Think N.Y. taxi!
‘Birds weren’t as interesting as the early ‘Vettes, which lacked the style the T-birds had.
And the ‘Birds, though unsophisticated with a boat-anchor motor — compared to Chevy’s SmallBlock — were steel, not fiberglass.
Wandering complete, I then sat down next to my friend’s Camaro.
But I soon got up to visit a nearby Wegmans concession selling hotdogs, hamburgers, and soda-pop.
“Any chance I can get water for my dog?” I asked.
They proffered a bottle of bottled-water and a plastic drink-glass.
SLURP-SLURP-SLURP-SLURP; but she then knocked it over, spilling everything.
Later I went back for a hamburger, that night’s dinner.
It wasn’t easy to eat that hamburger with my dog continually trying to snag it.
I saved her a small piece; CHOMP-CHOMP-CHOMP-CHOMP!
I then continued wandering.
I came across a 1964 Corvair identifed as a Yenko Stinger.
I don’t know as there were any 1964 Yenko Stingers; Wikipedia is telling me the first Yenko Stingers were the second-generation Corvairs, actually 1966.


A ‘64 Corvair Monza coupe. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Corvairs always interest me, since I had one myself.
They were General Motors’ most Porsche-like (“POOR-sha”) car, unique enough for opportunist Ralph Nader to make a life as a crusader against corporate evil.
The Yenko Stinger was a special version of the Corvair tuned by Don Yenko.
The motor was souped up, and handling supposedly improved.
But that was 1966; the car pictured (1964) may not be a “Yenko Stinger.”
My Corvair was stock; not even a four-speed floor-shift — it was PowerGlide.
It was my first legitimate car; not my first car, which was a Triumph TR-3 totally unsuited for transportation.
My Corvair was the first car I could drive in rainy or Winter weather.
My father purchased it used for $600 by cosigning the loan.
But I couldn’t pay it, which I never heard the end of despite later forking over hundreds of dollars for my younger siblings’ college educations.
The Corvair pictured looks like my car, which was also a black Monza coupe.
But it’s a ’64; mine was a ’61.
Other Corvairs were also at the show, including second-generation Corvairs, which I prefer.
Too bad GM had to give up on the Corvair. It was Nader, but mainly Ford’s Mustang, which is really just a reconfigured Ford Falcon.
There weren’t many hotrods, but there were a few.


A-bone. (Photo by BobbaLew.)


T-cup. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

One was a pretty red five-window coupe made into a hotrod, and there was a T-cup hotrod, all-engine, and not much else.
A five-window coupe has the fourth and fifth windows behind the door-posts. A T-cup is the tiny Model-T roadster body, which looks like a cup. T-cup hotrods are generally hardly anything.
Hot-rodders call the Model-A “A-bone;” Model-Ts “T-bone.”
I also came across the insanity pictured, a tiny Volkswagen Beetle re-engineered as a V8 hotrod.


As a friend says:  “Gas it and flip!” (Photo by BobbaLew.)

I had to take a picture. Look at the rear tires! The area that used to be motor is now all tires.
And of course when I asked owner how he could drive such a thing, I got the macho-man response.
I then discovered my poor neighbor up-the-street still trying to sell his gorgeous 25th-Anniversary Corvette, which he had on display. A “For-Sale” sign was in its windshield.
“How much do you want for it?” asked a callow young dreamer.
“Eleven-six,” my neighbor said.
Dreamer walked away.
$11,600 is ridiculously cheap for what to me is a gorgeous $25,000 car.
I’d be interested myself were it a four-speed floorshift, but it’s automatic.
“So otherwise, how ya doin’?” my neighbor asked.
“Well, I haven’t burned the house down yet.”
My neighbor knows my wife died, and is also a car-guy like me.
My dog yanked me into a tree, nearly pulling me down into surrounding mulch.
We weren’t far from the food-concession, so “How about I give your dog a hotdog?”
“Sure, she’ll eat it,” I said.
The dude took a white-hot off his grill and broke it up for my dog.
CHOMP-CHOMP-CHOMP-CHOMP! Gone in a second.
I then headed back toward my friend’s Camaro, but a lady I met earlier produced a hamburger-scrap. “Can I give it to your dog?”
CHOMP!
We then decided to leave.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Faux Pas

The other night, probably Monday, July 14th, 2014, I worried I might have stepped in it.
An old friend, who now lives near Los Angeles, had recently changed his Facebook profile-picture.
This guy is Bryan Mahoney, who worked at the Daily Messenger newspaper in nearby Canandaigua while I was there.
I used to say he was the best reporter the Messenger ever had during my tenure. All because he had the moxie to try Roseland Water-Park’s 100-foot water-slide when it opened.
Adventures like that prompt the best writing.
Mahoney married Marcy Dewey, my number-one Ne’er-Do-Well; the one who got me blogging.
There was another photograph of Mahoney with Marcy all dressed and made up for some weirdo gig.
With Marcy.

The profile-pik.
It was clearly Marcy in that other photograph, but in Mahoney’s profile-picture, while identical, it looked like Mahoney’s companion might be someone else.
Whatever, it was good to see Mahoney smirking.
While his companion might be Marcy, it looked more like a female impersonator, a cross-dresser.
For Mahoney to do this is really cool.
So I said it looked like a female impersonator,
the cause of my later anguish.
A while ago I stuck my foot in it royally with snide remarks about photos they ran in Facebook, photos from a funeral.
I have to be careful. I’m more likely to say things I later regret. This is a stroke-effect. I had a stroke over 20 years ago, and an effect I was left with is poor emotional control.
Otherwise, I recovered fairly well. I can pass for un-stroked.
Mahoney saved my ass; he deleted my comments.
So I worried I might have done it again.
But I guess not.
No histrionics.

• The “Messenger” is the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger newspaper, from where I retired almost nine years ago. Best job I ever had — I worked there almost 10 years (over 11 if you count my time as a post-stroke unpaid intern. (“Canandaigua” [“cannan-DAY-gwuh”] is a small city nearby where I live in Western NY. The city is also within a rural town called “Canandaigua.” The name is Indian, and means “Chosen Spot.” —It’s about 14 miles away.) —I live in the small rural town of West Bloomfield, southeast of Rochester.
• “Marcy” is my number-one Ne’er-do-Well — she was the first I was e-mailing stuff to. Marcy and I worked in adjacent cubicles at the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger newspaper. A picture of her is in this blog at Conclave of Ne’er-do-Wells.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Airshow

Tailhook. (The tailhook has red-and-white paint, and would snag a cable on the aircraft-carrier deck, to keep the airplane from going into the sea after landing.) (Photo by BobbaLew.)

On Saturday, July 12th, I and a friend, Jim LePore (“luh-POOR”), also a widower like me, attended the Geneseo Airshow (“jen-uh-SEE-oh;” as in “Jell-o”).
It was probably a mistake for oldsters like us, since it involved lots of walking over poor footing under beating sun. We’re both 70, Jim slightly older than me.


(Photo by BobbaLew.)


(Photo by BobbaLew.)

The Geneseo Airshow is probably the premier airshow in the area, especially if you like old propeller airplanes.
It’s put on by 1941 Historical Aircraft Group (HAG; National Warplane Museum), a club that restores old airplanes.
They’re based at Geneseo Airport, which is only a grass strip.
Geneseo Airport is next to the Town of Geneseo, essentially a university town in western New York. Geneseo has a college, a branch of the state university system.
I’ve been to the Geneseo Airshow a few times, and I’d say it’s no longer what it was.
The Airshow would attract WWII warbirds from all over, many Mustangs, usually a B-17 or two, even a B-24 once, and there are only three still airworthy.
The Geneseo Airshow was always a bit frustrating. Too many Stearman and Texan trainers! And old Piper Cubs painted olive-drab.
But the good stuff made it worth going to.
One time a DC-4 came, and supposedly a Lockheed Constellation, although I’ve never seen one. (What I’d give to see one; the Connie was the best-looking airplane of all time.)
Last time I went, about 10 years ago on my motorcycle, a P-38 Lightning was gonna show.
It did, and was badly in need of restoration, but airworthy.
But not much was there this time. Stearmans and Texans galore, but only one B-25.


The one-and-only B-25. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Once there were at least five or six.
And it was dreadfully hot. The only shade was under an aircraft-wing. I remember once riding out a downpour under the wing of a B-17.
But there were no B-17s, and I think Historical Aircraft Group (HAG) used to have one.
I saw three Douglas DC-3s — the Army Air-Corps called ‘em C-47s — including “Whiskey-Seven,” the HAG C-47 that flew all the way to Normandy for the 70-year D-Day remembrance.


Two of the C-47s. That’s “Whiskey-Seven” behind. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Quite a few paratroopers parachuted out of C-47s behind enemy lines; parachute-jumps out of “Whiskey-Seven” might have been re-enacted.
The conventional wisdom is that three things won WWII for the Allies: the Jeep, the GMC six-by (a truck), and the C-47.
But essentially that’s all the WWII warbirds there were, three C-47s.
Although there were two P-51 Mustangs, and a single Corsair, the inverted gull-wing Navy fighter pictured on top.


The Mustangs. (Photo by BobbaLew.)


The Corsair. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

But it wasn’t the maximum Corsair, only a three-bladed propeller, instead of four.
There also was a P-38 Lightning, but I never saw it running.
It was being towed when I saw it.
In order to do this, I had to get up at 5:30 in the morning. It takes an hour and 20 minutes just to get around to eating breakfast. That’s making my bed, getting dressed, unloading my dishwasher, and making coffee and opening gates outside.
Breakfast to departure-time is another hour and 20 minutes, which includes morning ablutions.
So I was leaving my house at 8:10, headed toward my old friend in Canandaigua who daycares my dog at their grooming-shop.
Getting to that shop takes 20-25 minutes, followed by 5-10 minutes jawing at the shop, and then 5-15 minutes over to Jim’s house, which is on the other side of Canandaigua.
Jim would drive his truck to the airshow, but over roads I’m not familiar with.
Fabulous vistas of beautiful rural western New York opened before us, and then it was a straight shot to Geneseo.
Amidst heavy stop-and-go traffic we drove in, and headed for handicap-parking. Jim has a handicap tag.
But we missed it, and parked far from handicap parking, which was poorly signed.
Thus began our long hike over poor footing, lumpy pasture.
A jitney for handicappers passed, so we got on. It took us toward the flight-line, which was parallel to the grass strip.
We got off next to a Douglas A-26 HAG has restored. It looked pretty good.


The A-26. (Photo by BobbaLew.)


The Twin-Beech is at right; all the rest are Texan trainers, except for that lone Beechcraft T-34. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Next to it was a Twin-Beech, painted as a Marine C-45.
It too looked pretty good.
I eventually wandered away from Jim, because it looked like the Mustangs, etc. were far away.
Flyovers were beginning; it was the Stearmans.
Then the small tiddlers.
The one-and-only B-25 then landed. I was about to cross a taxiway, but an army of security-personnel prevented me. The B-25 would use that taxiway to get to its parking-spot.
The B-25 pulled in with me behind the prop-wash.
Oh what a relief it was to feel wind, but it almost knocked me to the ground.
The B-25’s engines stopped — in a cloud of oil-smoke — the security-personnel let us cross the taxiway.
I hobbled slowly across. I’m lame; I have a problem with my left knee. It’s swollen and hurts.
I hobbled slowly toward the Mustangs. At first I only saw one, but then I saw two.
And they were both two-seaters.
The Corsair was also there, and the so-called “star of the show,” a deHavilland Mosquito. Two Merlin V12 engines.
By then I decided to try to locate Jim. We were both carrying cellphones. But his was off.
I hobbled around some more, and after a half-hour or so, I got him.
We talked about where we were, with no knowledge by either party of anything.
So we agreed we’d head for the giant hanger HAG has.
The hanger was open, so I hobbled inside.
Still no Jim, but interesting stuff was in there.
A wingless airplane fuselage was off to the side; unpainted aluminum.
What appeared to be a short twin-engine wing-section was beside it, also unpainted aluminum.
I have no idea what it was.
Various complete airplanes were parked here-and-there, mainly biplanes.
A short section of an Ercoupe fuselage stood at one side, complete with wings, but devoid of cockpit and dashboard and engine.
It was also devoid of the trademark Ercoupe double-rudders.
I wouldn’t have known what it was, had I not overheard an enthusiast talking: “the Ercoupe was supposed to put Americans in the air. It steered like a car.”
I’ve heard this before. So was the Piper TriPacer, and the early Cessna 172s.
Uh, sure; Granny in an airplane. She has a hard enough time driving a car.
And if your Ercoupe cripples, you fall from the sky, and crash in flames. —And probably die.
Thankfully, Granny in an airplane didn’t happen.
My brother in northern Delaware, who once had his private pilot’s license for a Piper Cherokee he co-owned with his father-in-law, tells me how frightening it was to land.
I then hobbled back out of the hanger and called Jim.
He was at the “crew-tent” waiting for me.
No idea what the “crew-tent” was, but I could see tents, so off I went again.
Another long-ass hike across lumpy pasture in the hot sun.
It took at least 20 minutes to get to the first tent; without hobbling it might have taken 5-10.
It just so happened the first tent was the “crew-tent,” so I found Jim sitting outside under an awning at a table.
Finally, off my feet!
“Did you find a food-tent?” I asked. Jim had been looking for a food-tent.
“No,” but there was a line of food-concessions we headed toward.
Jim had a better idea. “How about we head out, and stop at a Kentucky Fried-Chicken?”
Great idea. Better than waiting in line in the hot sun.
So we headed back toward the parking-area, hoping we’d see a jitney.
One appeared, so off we went in search of Jim’s truck.
Jim tried the horn-blow on his radio-key, but nothing.
We wandered around. By then we were the only two on the jitney. It had a capacity of about 20.
“I think I see it,” I said. It was the Harley decal on his rear window.
We then drove out, air-conditioning on full-blast.
On the way home we stopped at a combination Kentucky Fried-Chicken/Taco Bell.
Was the airshow worth going to?
We were both bushed from so much walking, and it wasn’t as good as it has been sometimes.

• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. Jim’s wife died about a year later, also of cancer. He had been married 51 years.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I hardly watch TV

 “I hardly watch TV at all,” I said to an old friend.
I had to reset my DVR after a power-failure.
I had it do a channel-scan: 61 channels, 20 of which are non-digital.
I get them over cable, the cheapest and most basic video-service.
(I also do cable Internet.)
I remember when there were only three channels: ABC, CBS, and NBC. And they all broadcast over-the-air.
Our house in Erlton (“EARL-tin;” as in “Earl”), like all houses back then, had an antenna on the roof, then a double antenna-wire down inside our house to our TV.
Then we got a fourth channel. It was educational-TV out of Wilmington, DE, Channel-12. ABC out of Philadelphia was WFIL, Channel-6, CBS was WCAU, Channel-10, and NBC was WPTZ, soon replaced by something else I can’t remember the call-letters of, Channel-3.
I come from the Howdy-Doody and Lone Ranger generation.
“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-yo, Silver!’”
Our first TV was a giant heat-box by RCA (Radio-Corporation-of-America) that was black-and-white.
My mother once worked at the RCA plant in Camden, NJ, assembling radios.
RCA went defunct in 1986.
When that TV finally died, shortly after my family moved to northern DE in December of 1957, my father refused to replace it.
He declared TV was Of-the-Devil, a waste.
I remember my 11th-grade English-teacher, an avowed Christian like my father, unable to understand I couldn’t watch “Julius Caesar” like his other students.
Color-TV began in the late ‘50s, but I felt it wasn’t worth it.
In fact, I didn’t buy a color-TV until the ‘80s, a Sony Trinitron. —Remember Trinitron?
For years my wife-and-I had no TV at all. Our first TV was a black-and-white Sears portable from the early ‘70s. I remember watching the Watergate hearings on it, and Nixon’s audio-tapes.
Bespectacled John Dean wiggling, and Sen. Sam Ervin, upraised index-finger wagging, reciting Galatians 6: 7-9 “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap!”
I still have that TV. It’s downstairs in my basement. It got its signal from rabbit-ears, over-the-air TV.
So I guess I inherited my father’s values concerning TV; I feel it’s a waste. About all I do is record the news, which I watch on delay while eating dinner.
I’m not the least bit interested in “Dancing With the Tarts,” “American Idol,” and other bits of trash.
Nor am I interested in some overly-buxom floozie explaining why her boobs are so big.
I have no interest in droll Dr. Phil, or Dr. Oz. And “Oprah” turns me off — as does fulminating on “The View.”
The cardio machines at the YMCA are cardio-theaters. They have an integral TV-set. I shut ‘em off.
But unlike my father I don’t fervently study the Bible.
What I do is monkey with this computer, and sling words.
Every once-in-a-while this ‘pyooter lobs some stinking hairball at me, which I get to figure out.
And just about every morning I’m slinging together one of these blogs while I eat my cereal. —Which is what I’m doing right now.
I end up killing time writing these blogs, and have no time for TV.
My TV reflects my values. It’s just the cheapest flat-screen I could find, maybe 14 inches wide, not some gigantic 48-inch “plasma-baby.”
Where my money is, is this here computer.
And its peripherals.
My gigantic scanner cost over $2,000.
My printer is also gigantic; it can print photo-quality up to 17 inches wide.
I also have a lot of money tied up in software, Photoshop-Elements, plus optical-recognition software, for example.
How many people have optical-character-recognition (OCR) software? I might need it. Those David P. Morgan articles in “Trains of the 1960s” are from OCR scans.
This laptop itself, an Apple MacBook Pro bought reconditioned by Apple, not new, set me back about 1,700 smackaroos.
I think my TV cost about $250.
My brother-from-Boston is incensed. He can’t understand why I don’t have a 48-inch plasma-baby to watch “Junkyard Dogs,” Howard Stern, and the Bachelorette.

• “Erlton” is the small suburb of Philadelphia in south Jersey where I lived until I was 13. Erlton was founded in the ‘30s, named after its developer, whose name was Earl. Erlton was north of Haddonfield, an old Revolutionary town.
• I work out in the Canandaigua YMCA Exercise-Gym, appropriately named the “Wellness-Center,” usually three days per week, about two-three hours per visit. (“Canandaigua” [“cannan-DAY-gwuh”] is a small city to the east nearby where I live in Western NY. The city is also within a rural town called “Canandaigua.” The name is Indian, and means “Chosen Spot.” It’s about 14 miles east. —I live in the small rural town of West Bloomfield, southeast of Rochester.)
• “Plasma-babies” are what my brother-from-Boston calls all high-definition wide/flat-screen TVs. Other technologies beside plasma are available, but he calls them all “plasma-babies.”

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Plunged into the Stone Age

The other night (Tuesday, July 8th, 2014) the bereavement support-group I attend — my wife died over two years ago — held their regular monthly meeting at a combination delicatessen/café in nearby Canandaigua.
It wouldn’t be our usual meeting. We would eat out instead.
What we usually do is sit in a circle in a small conference-room in a hospital cancer-center and tell our latest achievements.
As if anything we do is an achievement, although I guess it is.
It’s hard to think of anything as an achievement when you’re always sad.
I was joined by a girl who worked at the Messenger newspaper when I did, who lost her beloved husband to melanoma a while ago.
She’s not a regular at these meetings, but we surmised it might be nice to talk to others who understand.
Most don’t understand bereavement, what you go through. They also might say something stupid, and are surprised we hadn’t “got over it” in a year-or-so.
While consuming our entrees, a gigantic deluge occurred outside.
We’d look outside, and it would be pouring.
It looked like we’d get soaked retrieving our cars.
But then the rain stopped, and the sky cleared to the west.
I fired up the weather-radar on my SmartPhone and indeed the deluge had passed.
We would be able to retrieve our cars without getting soaked.
When I returned home I noticed the clock on my stove was flashing — indication the electricity had gone off.
The digital clock on my microwave was reading “88:88,” another indication the power had dove.
I went outside for some reason — probably to retrieve my dog.
I could hear my stand-by generator blasting away.
My stand-by generator. (Photo by Bobbalew.)
I guess the power was still off.
At least the stand-by was working.
Perhaps two months ago the power failed, and my stand-by wouldn’t crank. Its battery was dead.
I fed the dog, and went to bed, in the dark.
A neighbor and I replaced the battery, a car-battery.
The failed battery was original, at least six years old, maybe 10.
The stand-by doesn’t push everything.
I only push essentials, most of the rooms, plus freezers and furnace, etc. Even my water-heater needs electricity, although it’s gas. —Plus the opener for my massive garage-door.
So here I was in my house with everything pushed by that roaring stand-by generator.
I hoped my electricity would return before bedtime, so I didn’t have to sleep versus that supposedly “whisper-quiet” stand-by below my bedroom window.
Hours passed. Still on the stand-by. I had got home around 7 p.m., and it was approaching 10 p.m.
Anomalies were occurring.
My bedroom had no lights, as intended, but my bathroom had lights.
My DVR and TV were both dead. Both are on a backup-battery that I guess went dead during the outage. They’re on that backup-battery so the DVR doesn’t lose its settings, which it will when my stand-by delays 30 seconds before starting.
What I didn’t expect was the outlets to my TV and DVR were being pushed by the stand-by. My original thought was they weren’t.
No matter, all the DVR settings were lost; so needed to be reset.
I’ve done it before; I unplug everything when I go to Altoona to chase trains.
My porch-lights also didn’t work. I don’t remember cutting them out.
Then I discovered my dishwasher was powerless. Was it on its own circuit, avoided thinking my wife would wash the dishes if the power dove?
Then the whole-house air-conditioning came on at 9:15 like always, to lower my inside temperature from 75 degrees to 72.
I thought we avoided the whole-house air-conditioning when we set up that stand-by.
Air-conditioning, no dishwasher, no porch-lights; strange anomalies.
Then about 9:50 my hard-wired smoke-detectors chirped signaling return to the grid.
I went into my bedroom; it had lights, and the stand-by was off.
I started my dishwasher and went to bed. No “whisper-quiet” stand-by generator.

• The “Messenger newspaper” is the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger, from where I retired almost nine years ago. Best job I ever had — I worked there almost 10 years (over 11 if you count my time as a post-stroke unpaid intern [I had a stroke October 26, 1993, from which I recovered fairly well]). (“Canandaigua” [“cannan-DAY-gwuh”] is a small city nearby where I live in Western NY. The city is also within a rural town called “Canandaigua.” The name is Indian, and means “Chosen Spot.” —It’s about 14 miles away.)

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Morgan had it wrong


Still dead weight pulled by a powerful locomotive. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

I have subscribed to Trains Magazine since 1966, which is the year I graduated college.
Which makes me what magazines call a “constant reader.”
I don’t remember if I subscribed while in college, or after; but I’m a railfan, and have been since age-2 — I’m 70.
I subscribed because of David P. Morgan, who was editor at that time.
He’s a railfan much like me, and communicated the drama of railroading, which is why I’m a railfan.
Morgan retired in 1987, then died in 1990.
Trains went through a few editors after Morgan, some moribund.
Now they’re in pretty good hands, although it’s not Morgan.
I don’t read cover-to-cover any more; I don’t have time.
I try to read what interests me, but even then I may not have time.
Not long ago I read writings of David P. Morgan in Trains of the 1960s, a magazine-format special put out by Classic Trains Magazine.
It reminded me of some of the things Morgan wrote about, which I consider because they never came true.
Morgan liked the propositions of his columnist John Kneiling, an iconoclastic engineer who wanted changes in railroading.
And Knieling made sense, or so it seemed, with his proposal that every freightcar be self-powered, taking advantage of its heavy load to get traction.
This ends the practice of dragging dead weight with a powerful locomotive, what railroads have always done, and still do.
Kneiling proposed having a separate power-source in the train, and then wiring the power throughout the train.
Made sense to me, and also Morgan.
But there are problems:
—1) Railroads have a hard enough time maintaining an integral air-line throughout the train for brakes.
I monitor a railroad-radio scanner, and occasionally a train reports it’s “gone into emergency” (stopped) because of an air-leak.
Couple together 100 or more freightcars and you have potential for an air-leak. Not just at the coupling-hoses, but also within the cars themselves.
100 or more wiring connections beg failure.
If anything can go wrong, it will.
Everything from the disconnect on goes dead, and the train stalls.
Years ago my wife-and-I rode Amtrak’s Silver Meteor to visit her parents in Florida.
We got on in Wilmington, DE, and the train had head-end power; that is, the train-cars got their electricity from the locomotive.
About 10 minutes after we got on, the power-cord from the locomotive unplugged, and we rode all the way to Baltimore, our next stop, in the dark.
In Baltimore the cord was replugged, but five minutes after leaving it came unplugged again.
We rode all the way into Washington DC in the dark.
We rode Auto-Train a few years later without incident, but I worry about power-transfer through cords.
Not to mention that cord has to be pretty heavy to power 100 or more traction-motors.
—2) Doing traction-motors for the nation’s entire freightcar fleet is a monstrous investment. I suppose it could be done piecemeal with a power-cord from the locomotive to the traction-motored cars.
But even that would be a monstrous investment. Unpowered freightcars have to be wired to pass along power to the traction-motor cars. Or segregated, wired cars from unwired cars.
Traction-motored cars are a nice idea, and I can see it happening some day.
But not right now, and probably not initiated by the rail-industry.
I’m more inclined to expect some shipper to try it — shippers have already tried electric brake-activation.
—I remember during the ‘60s passenger-service from Washington DC up to New York City was planned with individually-powered coaches, much like commuter-coaches, except they could do 150 mph.
The lead car of a New York-Washington express.
I think this was actually instituted; I’ve added a photo at left.
But since then Amtrak, which took on railroad passenger service from the railroads in 1971, has gone back to locomotive-pulled trains. Dead weight coaches pulled by locomotives, just like it’s always been.
And the self-powered express coaches were getting their power from an overhead wire, not a power-cord.
Morgan was a great writer, but he got it wrong following Kneiling. Kneiling’s unit-train concept of long trains of only a single commodity, e.g. coal, which ran point-to-point, including through classification yards, was adopted by the railroads.
But those unit-trains are still dead weight pulled by a powerful locomotive.

• The lede photograph is the Norfolk Southern Monongahela heritage-unit pulling a unit-train of loaded crude-oil tankcars through South Fork, PA.
• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her dearly.

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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Our sacred Honor


(Photo by BobbaLew.)

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

PUH-LEEZE!

Yrs trly holds all his image-files in PhotoBucket.
So that every image you see in this here blog is via an HTML image-tag (e.g. <img src="??????????????????">
<span style="font-weight:bold;"></span>Caption. <span style="font-style:italic;">(Photo by BobbaLew.)</span></span>) embedded in the body-text — this site interprets HTML — that indicates an image-source at a PhotoBucket http address.
The carets make those portions of the tag invisible. I add a caption and overwrite the photo-credit when I have to.
That isn’t how it was long ago. This site had its own image-repository, which I think was Picassa.
But then suddenly that no longer worked — perhaps I had maxxed it.
So my wife and I set about finding some other image-repository, and ended up with PhotoBucket.
I upload an image to PhotoBucket as a digital image-file, and then this blog-site displays the picture via the HTML-tag and http address.
Apparently there’s a lot more to PhotoBucket than what I do with it. And in fact my image-files are pretty small.
They are only 72 pixels-per-inch, 5.597 inches wide.
You can go hog-wild with resolution and image-size.
My camera shoots 300 pixels-per-inch, and could go much higher.
But 72 pixels-per-inch, 5.597 inches wide is what displays correctly on this blog-site. Exceed 72 pixels-per-inch and the image displays too big.
Six inches seems to be this blog-site’s default column-width.
I suppose I could dork around.
But I use BlogSpot’s default settings since my whole point is cranking words.
So last night I set about cranking all the pictures I would use in my August Calendar-Report.
I scan each calendar-picture, then dicker a little with my Photoshop-Elements. This includes resizing.
I then upload my finished picture to PhotoBucket.
When I first started using PhotoBucket, perhaps five years ago, there were no ads.
But now, like all marvelous computer-apps, PhotoBucket has resorted to ads to enhance its bottom-line — or avoid bankruptcy.
I didn’t mind at first. PhotoBucket was running ads of maybe 5-10 seconds.
YouTube does this too, although it gives the option of turning off the ad — or waiting until it ends in perhaps 15 seconds.
PhotoBucket’s solution is to allow you to go ad-free; for a price, of course.
My Station-Inn webcam can be ad-free. It’s only $8.95 per month, and I’ve sprung for that. If it’s not ad-free, it shuts off after five minutes, then runs an ad you may be able to skip when you reconnect. Or perhaps not. —Some macho baseball-star hawking “five-hour energy.”
But for what little I do with PhotoBucket I see no sense in going ad-free.
So I upload a picture, then PhotoBucket wants me to rename it. During which their ad starts playing.
Recently it was off-road bicyclists crashing down a path to frenzied rock-music.
I might hear five seconds of it before switching to something else, which shuts it down.
Meanwhile, that’s five seconds of being blasted across the room.
Last night it was an ad for a war-game.
All-of-a-sudden noisy explosions and flaming fireballs. Tanks got blasted to smithereens.
I hurriedly rename my picture-file so I can shut off the racket = switch out of the ad.
The ads have become even more irritating; I have to be sure they don’t scare the bejeepers out of me.
But I ain’t about to go ad-free with PhotoBucket.

• “HTML” is Hyper-Text Markup Language, a background instruction system made invisible in text by surrounding carets (“<” and “>”). I use it only to embolden, underline and italicize text, although it can do other things. I do paragraph drops with it. My picture-inserts and links are also via HTML-tag.
• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her dearly.
• “Station-Inn” is the bed-and-breakfast I stay at when I’m chasing trains in the Altoona area. Station-Inn is actually in Cresson (PA, “KRESS-in”) on the western slope of the railroad up Allegheny Mountain. Station-Inn caters to railfans like me; I’m a railfan and have been since age-2 — I’m 70. Station-Inn has a video-camera aimed at the railroad across the street. With it I can watch trains passing Station-Inn over the Internet.