Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Foliage on the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville

LA&L #428 at the north end of the excursion. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“So didja have a good time?” asked a guy in a conductor’s uniform.
“Well, more-or-less,” I said.
“So what can we do to make your ride better?”
“Well, I’d like my wife back.”
The Rochester Genesee Valley Railroad Museum (“jen-uh-SEE”) ran a fall-foliage railfan excursion on the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad (“ah-von;” not the make-up), which runs by its museum.
It’s the first railfan excursion I’ve taken since my wife died two-and-a-half years ago.
It was all I could do to not start crying right there in the coach-seat. I teared up a few times.
The Rochester Genesee Valley Railroad Museum was founded in 1937 as a chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS). I think it may have been first, a founding chapter.
In 1971 the chapter purchased an old station along Erie Railroad’s branch into Rochester. The station is south of Rochester in the tiny rural town of Industry.
The group restored the station, and put in tracks for railroad equipment.
They began collecting stuff in 1981, old railroad cars and locomotives destined for the scrapper.
In the ‘90s they built a railroad up to the nearby New York Museum of Transportation.
It was finished in 1993, and now a portion has been electrified so trolleys from NYMT can operate over it.
The museum rosters over 40 pieces of railroad equipment, including nine operating diesel-locomotives, two steam locomotives, seven cabooses, seven freightcars, and coaches from New York Central’s Empire State Express which were converted to commuter-service.
Those coaches comprised our excursion, and are in fair shape; a little tattered, but operable.
I am a member of this organization, and have been since 1985. But I’m not active; I only joined to get their newsletter.
They hold monthly meetings, but I rarely attend.
Upset with the National Railway Historical Society, the group cut loose in 2010, no longer an NRHS chapter.
I voted for it = cutting loose.
I’ve ridden their railroad, although it ain’t the Pennsy main.
We could only do about 10 mph, and I was in a track-car trailer. A track-car is a small conveyance with a car-engine and railroad wheels.
Track-cars found use on railroads, but now the track-cars are regular pickup trucks, etc., with retractible guide-wheels so they can operate on track. —And use highways to get to a location.
The railroad out of Industry is fairly steep. The New York Museum of Transportation is at a higher elevation.
The railroad pretty much follows the lay-of-the-land, up and down over hill and dale. The group couldn’t afford the cuts and fills a regular railroad might do.
I also rode their railroad years ago in a caboose pulled by a locomotive. My impression was guys operating the equivalent of Lionel trains, except they were real.
Livonia, Avon & Lakeville is a shortline that goes back to 1964.
In fact, the railroad itself goes back to 1853, when it was constructed as the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad, which later became Erie Railroad’s Rochester branch. It connected with the Erie main in Corning (NY).
Tracks between Livonia and Wayland to the south were abandoned 1956. In fact, the original railroad grade is pretty much obliterated into Corning.
Livonia, Avon & Lakeville was formed because Erie-Lackawanna (a 1960 merger of Erie and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western) proposed abandonment of the line to Livonia from Avon. This included a short branch to Lakeville on Conesus Lake (“koh-NEE-sis”).
The area south of Avon didn’t wanna lose its railroad-service, so local businessmen formed the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville. Operation began in 1965.
LA&L gave railfan excursions at first. The line is quite scenic.
LA&L’s first steam-engine; #17.
But it was kind of a secret. I didn’t ride it myself until 1971.
LA&L had a steam-engine at first, ex-Buffalo Creek & Gauley #17, a 2-8-2 Mikado.
But it broke down and was sidelined before I rode the railroad.
#17 was eventually scrapped.
Time to drag out my early LA&L pictures.

The first railfan excursions I rode were very rudimentary. Perhaps two or three coaches pulled by a tiny 44-ton switcher. My black-and-white pics are that.
A 44-ton switcher weighed about 44 tons, so could be crewed by only one — per union rules.
The LA&L was fairly steep up into Livonia. Expecting a 44-ton switcher to do that was a bit of a stretch.
But it could do it, if few enough coaches were being pulled.
One pic has three coaches.

Northbound out of Livonia. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Southbound around Bullhead Pond in the scenic Triphammer Creek valley. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Out in the farmland, back to Livonia. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Livonia, Avon & Lakeville got another steam-locomotive, #38, a small 2-8-0 Consolidation.
I rode behind it.
It was sort of a teakettle, but fairly strong for a teakettle; about 1900 instead of before the turn-of-the-century.

#38 in Livonia. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Under the Bronson Hill Road bridge on its way to Livonia. (Photo by Bobbalew.)
I remember once getting its engineer to “lay rubber,” that is spin the driving-wheels. Breaking traction of a steel driving-wheel on a steel railhead was fairly easy.
The engineer just yanked back the throttle and it “laid rubber.”
#38 was eventually sold, and I think is still in use.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I’m not making this up

I decided I shouldn’t make people wait until my November Monthly Calendar-Report, or wade through it, just to read my ’41 Chevy stories:
As I understand it, the ’41 Chevy was one of the most popular used-cars of all time. Others were the ’57 and the ’64.
Our family had a ’41 Chevy; we had it in the early ‘50s.
A ’41 Chevy in the early ‘50s is a bit of a stretch, but it was a very nice car, at least in appearance.
We bought it from a family in our church, who thought the world of it, and babied it.
It had a visor and spotlight, owner-installed add-ons.
It wasn’t a typical four-door sedan of six side-windows, a small window behind the rear door.
It was four doors, but only four side-windows; I think a ‘custom.’ I think all GM brands had ‘customs.’
Transferring a babied car to my father was like consigning it to the pits of Hell.
My father never maintained any of his automobiles. —Unless they didn’t start or run.
Death to my father’s cars was -a) if they blew up, or -b) if they failed inspection.
Some of my father’s cars were junked, but I think the ’41 made it to a hot-rodder.
The ’41 looked nice, but I don’t think its previous owner did maintenance. Oil maybe, but it overheated on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Pittsburgh.
My father, ignorant of car-maintenance, removed the thermostat — a bad move — and replaced the gasket with a cut-out from a Ritz cracker-box.
The radiator was probably later boiled out, the thermostat reinstalled with a proper gasket, and we continued without incident all the way to Arkansas — from south Jersey.
My sister always says ‘Name one car that didn’t break down on the first day of a vacation-trip.’
Well, there was one, our ’53 Chevy, otherwise known as ‘the Blue-Bomb’ (it was navy-blue), that went all the way to St. Paul and back without breakdown in 1960.
My father parked it illegally in a church parking-lot, declaring ‘The Lord will watch over it,’ while we took the train up into Canada for over a week.
I’m not making this up, dear readers. My father was a Bible-beating zealot.
The ’53 Chevy was the car I learned to drive in.
Our tires were always cast-off baldies picked up at a junkyard. He repaired exhaust-systems with Campbell soup-cans from our trash.
When I pointed out bald tires and tire-cord before a long journey from Rochester home to northern Delaware, I was angrily told the Lord would protect them.
They made it; which of course proved my father right,  and that I was rebellious and ‘of-the-Devil.’
My mother was always incensed with my father’s cars, but he refused to buy dependable transportation or maintain what he had. It cost too much!”
I could go on-and-on.
My younger brothers related various stories of misadventures with my father’s cars.
-A) They had driven up into Quebec with a camping-trailer, but came upon a road-block to their campground. A garbage-truck had flipped into a nearby lake. Their road was blocked trying to tow out the garbage-truck.
My father decided to drive around. He went off the side of the road, and blew two of the baldies.
Well, one spare, chillen. So the spare in their car got put on, along with a spare borrowed from another car. The bolt-pattern wasn’t right, but it was close enough.
They then continued to the campground, and my father had to go into town and buy two new tires. —I bet them tires cranked at least 60,000 miles.
My father was then able to return the borrowed spare.
My father also helped get the garbage-truck out of the lake (he was a good rigger), and was thereby declared a hero.
-B) My mother was taking my younger siblings up toward Philadelphia, and in so doing crossed the mighty Penrose Ave. Bridge across the Schuylkill (“skookul”) River south of Philadelphia. By then the area south of the Schuylkill was part of Philadelphia, and the Penrose Ave. Bridge was high enough to clear ocean-going ships.
The bridge was four lanes, but was being painted; such that one northbound lane was closed.
Traffic was crawling, and my mother had the air-conditioning on in a car my siblings called “The Tank.” The car was a 1964 Oldsmobile Dynamic-88, 394-cubic-inch two-barrel, but the AC wasn’t factory — it was an add-on.
As such, the AC radiator was installed in front of the car-radiator, compromising its effectiveness.
The car overheated, and blew its coolant all over the highway.
My mother then instructed my two younger brothers to walk across the bridge, and then back down to a gas-station on the far side of the bridge — to get water. In deepest, darkest Philadelphia at ages 8 and 9.
Meanwhile, the bridge-painters emptied a large drinking-jug into the car’s radiator, so my mother could get going again.
The boys made it to the gas-station, got water, and started back up the bridge.
My mother then drove to the gas-station, but apparently missed her boys.
My brothers, being Hugheses, attempted to spit on tug-boats far below going underneath the bridge.
A policeman stopped, queried my brothers, and corralled them into his cruiser — a Jeep Cherokee.
The policeman then proceeded to part traffic up and over the bridge, and then back, trying to find my mother.
My brothers were reunited with my mother in the gas-station.
To repeat, chillen, I’m not making this stuff up!
-C) At age-17 (1974) my younger brother (from Boston) was working at the same boys summer-camp in northeastern MD I worked at as a teenager 1959-’61.
He had a family-car known as “The CremePuff,” a white 1968 Oldsmobile Delmont-88 four-door hardtop.
For his day-off he decided to take some of his friends to Wildwood on the south-Jersey seashore. They went in that car.
In Wildwood the car’s timing-chain apparently jumped a couple teeth throwing off the valve and ignition timing.
That timing-chain was under a cover on the front of the engine, so was more-or-less inaccessible.
My brother, being mechanically-minded, installed a new condenser, and new points in the ignition-distributor. But the car still wouldn’t start.
My father was at home in northern DE, and my brother and his friends needed to get back to that boys-camp in northeastern MD.
My brother’s first phonecall to my father was to report he was gonna install the new ignition parts.
His second call was to report the car still wouldn’t start.
So my father said my brother and his friends should hitchhike back to the boys-camp.
By then it was dark, after 9 p.m. They were looking at a hitchhike of about 90 miles, through the pine-barrens of south Jersey, down the New Jersey Turnpike (where hitchhiking was illegal), up across the Delaware River on the Delaware Memorial Bridge, a huge suspension-bridge, then across northern DE on Interstate-95 (where hitchhiking was also illegal).
Granted, hitchhiking back then wasn’t the definite no-no it is now.
But it was after dark, and who knows what drunken ne’er-do-wells packing heat might pick them up.
My father lived the “life-is-tough” philosophy, and of course the Lord would protect.
Nowadays a helicopter-parent would drive to Wildwood to rescue their child.
In fact, who says ya hafta be a helicopter-parent? Perhaps my father could have rescued my brother.
My brother and his friends made it. They hitchhiked all the way back to that boys-camp. They got back about midnight.
-D) This final entry involves me, although by then I was out on my own, married and living in Rochester, NY. —I’m the oldest.
My parents and younger siblings decided to visit me, and would drive the so-called “Gutless Cutlass,” a 1966 Oldsmobile Cutlass with a four-barrel 326 with dual exhausts — so it wasn’t gutless.
Notice all the cars mentioned later were Oldsmobiles. This was a step up for my father, but the car-dealer was Chevrolet-Oldsmobile.
They’d call him saying they had just got a trade he might be interested in. Quite a few were Chevrolets, not just Oldsmobiles.
I would take them on a day-long journey through scenic western New York, down into the nearby Finger-Lakes region.
Things went fine until the radiator sprung a leak, and the engine seized coming back to my house.
The engine cooled enough to unseize, but the radiator was still leaking.
The car got us home, but the leak had to be stopped to get back to DE. At which point my father suggested world-famous “Schmutzee.”
“Schmutzee” is apparently epoxy paste that hardens into a solid.
“Schmutzee” could plug the leak.
My father worked at an oil-refinery in northern DE where my second brother now works. He has to explain all the refinery repairs that were made by my father with “Schmutzee.”
So my father purchased a tube of “Schmutzee,” and thereby plugged the radiator-leak.
I’m sure the auto-parts clerk wondered was “Schmutzee” was, and was uneasy parrying religious fervor, if any.
And on the seventh day, not resting, the Lord invented “Schmutzee;” and I finally found a way to get that word into a blog.

• “Hughes” is my last name; them too. “Bob Hughes” = “BobbaLew.”
• A “helicopter-parent” is one who totally shepherds their child, getting involved in everything, supposedly to protect the child’s welfare.
• The Finger Lakes are a series of north-south lakes in Central New York that look like the imprint of a large hand. They were formed by the receding glacier. The area is very scenic, hilly, and heavily wooded.
• On the eighth day the Lord invented duct-tape.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Leaf-peeping at Letchworth Park

The Upper-Falls and trestle. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

A few days ago I implied “blog-material” was “crazed experiences and utter madness.”
That’s not necessarily the case.
This past weekend my younger brother from northern DE, and his wife, came up to visit the old widower, me, I suppose partly to see if I was all right.
My wife dying was rather traumatic; still is, sorta.
I was kind of a wreck at first; still am, sorta.
I guess I’m doing all right. I haven’t burned the house down, and ain’t interested in suicide.
His visiting would be a challenge with my knee-problem.
My left knee is pretty-much bone-on-bone, and has me hobbling.
What we’ve done past visits is take my dog to the park. But for me walking that much is now out.
My brother suggested we go to Letchworth State Park, about 30-40 miles from my house.
It would mainly be driving, with some walking.
Well okay, I guess I can try that. It would be better than sitting around my house killing time.
Letchworth is a giant gorge carved by the Genesee (“jen-uh-SEE”) River from a higher elevation in southwestern NY to a lower elevation in central NY toward Rochester.
There are three waterfalls in Letchworth, at least two more in Rochester, before the Genesee attains the level of Lake Ontario.
The area was purchased by William Pryor Letchworth, and he managed to keep developers more-or-less at bay.
Developers wanted to harness the water-power of those waterfalls.
The gorge is about 15-20 miles long, around 600 feet deep in most places.
A flood-control dam was built at the north end of the park, and filled-up that dam-lake goes as far south into the gorge as the lower waterfall.
That dam keeps the Genesee River from flooding that area toward Rochester. The only time it’s been full is Hurricane Agnes, which did quite a bit of damage otherwise.
So the upper two waterfalls always look natural.
The upper waterfall is about 70 feet, and the middle about 120.
I would take my dog, who hasn’t been to a park for months. At age-10 she’s still a very high-energy dog.
I get depressed I can’t take her to the park.
A railroad also crosses the gorge, the sky-high trestle in my lede picture.
I’ve walked it, although you can’t any more. You could even walk it with a train on it. It’s around 234 feet above the river-bed.
That trestle is ancient and in bad shape. Trains can’t exceed 10 mph for fear of taking it down.
It was erected in 1875 when the first trestle, which was wood, burned.
The railroad will replace it. The line is operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad, and is the old Erie line to Buffalo. The line has become quite busy, as it’s now Norfolk Southern’s line across NY.
The trestle has become a bottleneck.
A train of auto-racks was slowly crossing the bridge as we drove in, but was gone by the time I got where I could photograph it.
So began my series of long hobbling hikes. I also had my lunging dog on a leash.
“Oh what a beautiful dog! Can I pet her?” We’re at Letchworth Park, surrounded by gorgeous scenery, yet my dog is getting more attention.
I took my dog to a car-show once, to accompany a friend I eat with who was displaying his Camaro. “That dog gets more attention than my car,” the guy told me.
My first destination was the restrooms, then the location of my lede picture.
Letchworth is a honky park. I don’t think I saw any African-Americans at all.
But lots of Asians; they had come in a tour-bus from Toronto.
Otherwise it was grizzled Harley-dudes and their bloated Harley-mommas.
Occasionally I saw young couples holding hands.
My college, Houghton College (“HO-tin;” as in “hoe,” not “how” or “who”) was about 20-25 miles south, so Letchworth was our default picnic-area.
Houghton is a religious school, not a party-school.
After taking my lede picture we hiked back to my car to go to Middle Falls.
We had come in my car, not my brother’s. My brother had also bought sandwiches.

Middle Falls. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

We then hiked to overlooks at Middle Falls. I took pictures, and I had to hand off my dog while doing so. My pictures are with my iPhone, then e-mailed home for processing. Doing all that is about 10-15 minutes per photo-site of my brother holding my dog.
During which my dog worries she’s being abandoned (gasp). She wants to be with me. My brother could never walk her; she’d keep coming back to me.
We then drove to a place called “Inspiration-Point.”

At Inspiration-Point. (You can see the trestle.) (Photo by BobbaLew.)

More pictures, then back to my car.
You can see both the Middle and Upper Falls, plus the railroad trestle, but I wasn’t inspired.
Unholster tech-device. “No service.” “WHA...? I just got a text from my brother Jack in Boston.”
Gorgeous beauty all around, but people paying more attention to their cellphones. Then there was the lady trying to photograph the Upper Falls with her iPad — holding up that big beige panel.
Sorry dudes, I prefer my camera or iPhone. And most of the cameras I saw had gigantic telephoto cannons on them, the photographer’s phallic-symbol. (I’m sorry, but nine-times-outta-ten a telephoto ain’t what I need.)
We then drove to Lower Falls, which ain’t much to look at.
We hiked a bit, and came to a long path: 176 steps down to the Lower Falls.
“I can’t do that,” I said; “but I can probably keep hobbling.”
“Easy view of Lower Falls, 1,000 feet,” a sign said.
We walked a ways, but my brother stopped to ask if I wanted to turn around.
“Let’s keep going,” I said, hobbling.
We went farther, but came upon a short staircase up to what appeared to be the “Easy Lower-Falls Overlook.” But we could see the Lower Falls from where we were, so didn’t attempt the steps.
Climbing steps is hardest for me; I have to just-about pull myself up. If there’s no handrail, I can hardly do them at all.
From Lower Falls we drove home, a long ride to the north end of the park, then via a grocery and the place in Canandaigua that grooms and daycares my dog.
It was a social visit, the shop’s co-owner who I used to work with at the Messenger Newspaper. Why he cares about me I have no idea, but he more-or-less keeps me alive.
We also passed a giant Arts-and-Crafts Show at the north end of the park. 89 bazilyun cars, and hundreds of vendors. It was so crowded the local police were directing traffic at the north park entrance.
One also has to remember Letchworth is mainly the Civilian Conservation Corps, part of FDR’s New Deal during the Depression.
All the steps, paths, and stone-fences are the Civilian Conservation Corps.
If it weren’t for FDR’s New Deal, Letchworth might not exist.
And so concludes a visit by my brother, pleasant and a distraction from the awful fate that has befallen me.
But I always return to that same awful fate.

• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her dearly.
• My current dog is “Scarlett” (two “Ts,” as in Scarlett O’Hara), a rescue Irish-Setter. She’s my sixth Irish-Setter, a high-energy dog. (A “rescue Irish Setter” is an Irish Setter rescued from a bad home; e.g. abusive or a puppy-mill. [Scarlett was from a failed backyard breeder.] By getting a rescue-dog, we avoid puppydom, but the dog is often messed up. —Scarlett isn't bad. She’s my fourth rescue.)
• 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.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Oh Dora, look! A bus. PULL OUT! PULL OUT!

Right up the street the state highway I live on makes a sharp 90-degree turn west.
It probably used to be an ordinary four-way intersection where the state highway turned.
But the intersection has since been regraded so the state highway is continuous.
It’s still a sharp 90-degree turn, and you have to slow for it.
But ya don’t hafta signal. It’s the highway turning left.
Continue straight through the intersection and you remain on West Bloomfield-Pittsford Road, the road past my house.
Continue following the state highway, and you end up on Ontario Street at the intersection. Ontario Street goes into Honeoye Falls (“hone-eee-oye;” as in “oil”).
Turn right at the intersection, and you end up on Baker Road, an insignificant rural byway.
So here I am in my car, bopping lazily north on the state highway, having just left my house. (Past my house the highway is West Bloomfield-Pittsford Road.)
I’m headed for Honeoye Falls to deliver a stool-sample to my vet.
I notice a car approaching the intersection, driving south on West Bloomfield-Pittsford Road.
He has a stop-sign at the intersection to allow people like me to swing left on the state highway.
It looks like he will get to the intersection the same time as me.
I flip on my turn-signal, even though I don’t have to. The state highway swings left through the intersection.
I do that because I used to drive city transit bus, and I wanted people to know what I intended to do.
Okay, the dude has stopped as if to let me swing left, but then he charges right out in front of me. I had to brake to let him clear.
Like HELLO; I did have my left-turn signal on.
No problem, per usual. Drama avoided.
How many times did I do things like this driving bus?
“Oh Dora, look! A bus. PULL OUT! PULL OUT!”
I don’t blog stuff like this much any more. I get phenomenal avoidances just about every time I drive, some Granny paging through pictures of her grandchildren, some glowering intimidator, or some young hussy on her cellphone telling her mother about the bum she married.
One time a guy took to the sidewalk because I wouldn’t run a red light.
I did blog that.

• For 16&1/2 years (1977-1993) I drove transit bus for Regional Transit Service (RTS) in Rochester, NY, a public employer, the transit-bus operator in Rochester and environs. My stroke October 26th, 1993 ended that. I retired on medical-disability. I recovered fairly well.
• A “glowering intimidator” is a tailgater, named after Dale Earnhardt, deceased, the so-called “intimidator” of NASCAR fame, who used to tailgate race-leaders and bump them at speed until they let him pass. Glowering intimidators usually shake their fist at me, blow their horn, and give me the middle-finger salute as they roar past.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Let ‘er rip!

This morning Garrison Keillor on Writer’s Almanac mentioned some writer who said: “One never knows what to write about, until your head starts writing it for you.”
“Yep,” I said. “That’s how it works. These blogs start writing themselves in my head. I’m just along to exercise a modicum of control. Grammar and syntax; that’s about all I do.
People occasionally take me to task. “The things write themselves,” I say. “I’m just along for the ride.”
Yesterday afternoon a guy cut me off with his car. Almost immediately a blog started writing itself in my head.
I’m hoping I can get to it in a day or two.
The opening lines of a blog bubble up in my head, and I usually do whatever polishing is needed.
After that, the words flow out on their own.
Usually some explaining is necessary. I do that, and then I just let the words follow.
It isn’t like I’m following a written outline, although an outline of sorts is in my head.
There are things I feel I should mention, and often they get forgotten until I finish, when they get added as asides.
I may have to dicker to get the aside added.
Often what I write goes off in a direction I hadn’t planned.
Usually I just let it go, but if it’s really off-the-wall I’ll dump it.
70 years I’ve been on this planet, and for whatever reason a surfeit of stories is in my head.
Crazed experiences and utter madness.
“Blog-material,” I call it.
Of course, my blog is just a cheap-shot. It ain’t War and Peace.
To write something like that would be arduous work.
Writing whatever pops into my head is easy — and fun.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

iPhone follies-2

Yrs Trly doesn’t know what to think.
I allowed my iPhone to update its operating-system the other night — to iO8.
My iPhone gets my e-mail, allowing me to preview it.
The other day I started to get my e-mail, and got a hairball.
It wouldn’t do it.
E-mail seemed locked up.
Just to open an e-mail I had to click it first, then click some other app, then click back to my e-mail again.
Um, this wasn’t how it was with iO7, which seemed pretty stable.
E-mail on my iPhone had become a struggle, a wrestling-match of try this and then that.
For cryin’ out loud,
Apple. You’ve become Microsoft; get the stuff out, then fix it later.
Madness like this is “blog-material.”
But now my iPhone e-mail is acting like iO7: normal.
No hair-pulling madness.
It wants me to log-in to iCloud all-the-time, but that’s just a “cancel.”
A friend has an iPhone, and she’s never changed anything since she bought it. She doesn’t have the log-in required to operate her iPhone that started with iO7.
iO8 also seems to have the screen-darkening feature my Apple laptop has. The screen darkens if the lights are off. —Which makes my iPhone impossible to read unless I turn on the lights.
iO7 didn’t require I turn on the lights to read a text.
This sounds like the Microsoft-Jones, the bit where Word® would vaporize your file if you happened to breathe on the wrong key.
Which is why I don’t use Word. I had a stroke long ago, so am left with sloppy keyboarding.
“Not my fault!” Bill exclaims. “If you have sloppy keyboarding, you ain’t normal. You shouldn’t be driving Word.”
So I don’t. I use Apple’s “Pages;” it doesn’t punish me like Word does.
So now Apple seems to be becoming Microsoft.
That is, Jobs is gone.
A friend who drives Windows PCs complains about never-ending updates and patches.
My wife drove a Windows PC. She’d get an update that took over her machine. We couldn’t even shut it off.
About all we could do was pull-the-plug, and plugging back in Microsoft took over again.
And as I recall, she couldn’t do anything while Microsoft was updating. — And I swear they were starting from scratch. An update might take all night.
At least Apple gives you a “later” option, and if you allow it it might take 10 minutes.
But I worry about my iPhone.
It’s stable now, but what’s it gonna do next?
Where’s Jobs when we need him?
Maybe I should have done like my friend and refuse updates.
My iPhone worked pretty good with iO7 — in fact, it worked fine before iO7.
Maybe I should have left well-enough alone.
So now Apple is trying to get me to configure iCloud.
I think I will pass.
My computer backs up here in my house, plus configuring iCloud requires a new operating-system.
A new operating system might lunch some of my apps. I’ve had it happen.

• I had a stroke October 26, 1993, from which I pretty much recovered.
• “Bill” is Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft. His equivalent at Apple Computer, was Steve Jobs, who died two years ago.
• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her dearly.


So which is it?

“ISIS” or “ISIL?”
The media seems to be calling it “ISIS.” Yet gumint minions call it “ISIL.”
I guess “ISIS” stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; and “ISIL” stands for “Islamic state in Iraq and Levant” — “Levant” being a large area of the Middle East in which “ISIL” wants to establish an Islamic state. It includes Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, parts of Turkey and Egypt, plus Iraq.
Media reports call it “ISIS;” yet the president and his press-secretary, among others in gumint, call it “ISIL.”
I’ll let a Washington-Post Internet article weigh in:
“If you're following the ongoing crisis in Iraq, you've probably encountered the conflicting acronyms used for the jihadist group storming through the country.
The Washington Post has been referring to the organization as ‘ISIS,’ shorthand for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
This is how most news organizations that operate in English began identifying the outfit when it emerged as a dangerous fighting force two years ago, launching terror strikes and carving out territory amid the Syrian civil war.
But the acronym that’s now deployed by many agencies as well as the United Nations and the U.S. State Department — and President Obama — is ‘ISIL,’ for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Here’s how the Associated Press justified switching its acronym style from ‘ISIS’ to ‘ISIL.’
‘In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to northern Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area.
The standard English term for this broad territory is “the Levant.” Therefore, AP’s translation of the group’s name is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ‘ISIL.’”
So speaks mighty Associated-Press, arbiter of all things taste in the dreaded media (gasp!).
While I worked at the Messenger Newspaper in Canandaigua, we went by the vaunted “Associated-Press Style-Book.” I even had one of my own — I still have it.
Of course, what I have is out-of-date. AP style seemed behind normal language usage, but fluid.
We even had exceptions at the Messenger (gasp!).
AP style wanted us to hyphenate “teenager” (as in “teen-ager”). We did when I was first there, but later during my employ the newspaper’s head-honcho ditched the hyphen.
Other words remained hyphenated: “e-mail” and “web-site,” for example.
The voice-recognition on my iPhone doesn’t hyphenate these words. —And I ain’t about to put ‘em in there myself.
Ya mean they actually pay people to decide this silly junk?
No wonder Rush Limbaugh hates the media, which he dare not admit he’s part of.
What does it take to decide such arcana?
I still hyphenate “e-mail,” but I stopped hyphenating “website.”
My defense is it’s my blog. I can do whatever I want.
So AP having weighed in, I expected to hear “ISIL” from the media.
But NO! National-Public-Radio’s news pronounced it “ISIS.”
So what do the ISIL guys say? Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham? —Abbreviated  “ISIaS?”
Do they even care, as they behead yet another?
This is like the cellphone wars. At least my iPhone only adds “sent from my iPhone.” Others add “from my 4-G Samsung Galaxy-4 via Verizon’s network,” or “from my Samsung Galaxy-4 via T-Mobile,” or “from my Samsung-Galaxy using Touchdown (”
Can you say “information-overload?”
So what we have is war. Elitists in the media (ISIS) versus elitists in gumint (ISIL).
Grist for Limbaugh and his elitist lackeys. (Cue fevered blustering.)

• 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.)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Monthly Calendar-Report for October 2014

21J westbound on the controlled-siding. (Photo by Bobbalew with Phil Faudi.)

—One of the best shots I’ve ever snagged!
At least I think so.
The October 2014 entry of my own calendar is a westbound trailer-train on the controlled-siding into McFarlands Curve, railroad-east of Altoona.
Three tracks here are all that’s left of Pennsy’s fabled four-track “Broad-Way” across PA.
And the grade is wide enough for four tracks.
And Pennsy’s premier “Broadway-Limited” passenger train wasn’t named after Broadway in Manhattan.
It was named after Pennsy’s “Broad-Way.”
The tracks, left-to-right, are Two, One, and the “controlled-siding;” “controlled” because it’s signaled.
Westbounds hardly ever use the controlled-siding. I have pictures of eastbounds on the controlled-siding.
The railroad across PA is mostly just two tracks. For Altoona and Allegheny Mountain it widens to three.
In fact, just west of Allegheny-summit there is a section of four tracks.
Look down at it from a highway overpass, and you see five tracks.
But that fifth track is a storage-track. Heavy coal-drags get stored on it before being slugged over the summit.
Apparently Track Two here was closed for maintenance. So the dispatcher shifted this westbound over to the controlled-siding.
And here it came, me with my strong telephoto, not fully maxxed, but fairly strong.
A westbound on Two would have been okay, but not as good as the controlled-siding.
My friend Phil Faudi (“FOW-dee;” as in “wow”) was with me, the railfan-extraordinaire from the Altoona area who leads me around.
I had been wanting to try this shot for some time. I’ve done it before, but not with telephoto.
The fact the train was on the controlled-siding is EXTREMELY lucky.
This shot was also the best I could do for fall-foliage; the trees had already turned.

A REAL hot-rod. (Photo by Scott Williamson.)

—To me this is a REAL hotrod, what hotrods usually were.
The October 2014 entry of my Oxman Hotrod Calendar is a ’32 Ford roadster with a Buick “nail-valve” engine.
“Nail-valve” because the valves are kinda small.
“Nail-valve” in cross-section.
The valves are vertical in a pent-roof combustion-chamber, which aims the exhaust the wrong way.
The exhaust had to twist-and-turn very-which-way to attain the outside exhaust-headers.
Which restricts engine-breathing.
But hotrodders weren’t fussy.
The idea was to crank much more engine into that humble Ford body than what was there originally.
If you could get a Buick “nail-valve” engine fairly cheap, that was way more than what was in there originally.
Buick eventually redesigned its V8 engine to be more like the typical overhead-valve V8.
The “nail-valve” was Buick’s first V8. Prior to the 1953 model-year Buick had done overhead-valve inline eights.
A “nail-valve” might be less costly to manufacture.
So in the ‘50s, hotrodders were dropping “nail-valve” Buick motors into their hotrods. And the new Cadillac and Oldsmobile overhead-valve V8s.
“Nail-valves” were extravagant torque-generators.
That ended with Chevrolet’s SmallBlock of 1955. The SmallBlock was a better V8, plus they were cheap and plentifully available.
“Nail-valves” were built through the 1966 model-year, out to 425 cubic-inches.
And this nail-valve is a 425. Which leads me to believe this hotrod was built with an earlier nail-valve. Nail-valves were introduced at 322 cubic-inches.
That earlier nail-valve wore out, yet the car’s owner had enough class to replace it with another nail-valve instead of a Chevy SmallBlock.
A ‘60s engine in a ‘50s hotrod doesn’t sound plausible.

Stacker approaches Conway Yard near Big Beaver, PA. (Photo by Jermaine Ashby.)

—This is the best photograph photographer Ashby has ever had in this calendar.
And it’s his third.
The October 2014 entry of my Norfolk Southern Employees’ Photography-Contest calendar is a stacker negotiating a cut toward Conway yard near Pittsburgh.
Ashby’s prior two photos were both shot in darkness.
They looked okay, but not very dramatic.
They were more displays of technical prowess: the ability to get pictures in the dark.
Which usually involves time-exposure, except the trains were standing.
One picture had a darkened lump off to the side. It was an old E-unit stored for restoration.
But for the captioning I would have never known. That lump was also somewhat distracting.
So Ashby does a photograph in daylight, although it appears cloudy.
I guess he’d been through this cut on trains.
The picture was shot from an overpass high above the tracks.
I’ve been attracted to overpasses myself.
Many of the photos in my own calendar are from overpasses.
Conway is a major yard near Pittsburgh. It was built by Pennsy in 1905. But later it was enlarged. Just about everything eastbound on Norfolk Southern’s Pittsburgh-line (to Altoona) goes through Conway. Conway is HUGE; built to handle a flood of traffic.
This location is not one I’m familiar with. What I know is Allegheny Crossing, Pennsy’s old crossing of Allegheny Ridge. Railroad operations there are very dramatic; ASSAULTING THE HEAVENS climbing, and holding back a train descending.
Allegheny Crossing I know extremely well; I’ve been there many times.
Allegheny Crossing is 250 miles away, yet I know it better than local railroads — which include CSX’s main across New York state, the old New York Central.
“Norfolk Southern milepost 258.8, Track One, no defects” transmits a defect-detector on the railroad-radio. I know precisely where 258.8 is. It’s in the little town of Portage.
Yet Ashby has snagged an exceptional photograph, one I’d be proud of myself.
It gives me hope Ashby has “the eye.” His two earlier photographs were not that inspiring.
I feel like the only “eye” I’ve got is to pore through the 89 bazilyun photos I shot, and pick out the good ones.
Although a photographer-friend told me that’s what a photographer’s “eye” is, in which case I shaddup-and-shoot — and hope I snag some good ones.
So far only one photograph I planned was successful, others with similar input bombed.
Many of my pot-shots are extraordinary.

A screaming-chicken (1974 Trans-Am). (Photo by Peter Harholdt©.)

—The October 2014 entry in my Motorbooks Musclecar calendar is a 1974 Pontiac Trans-Am.
“Screaming chicken” because of that decal on the hood of the car. All Trans-Ams had that.
The “screaming-chicken.” (Photo by Peter Harholdt©.)
It’s not the 1970 Trans-Am, which I think is one of the best-looking cars of all time.
A 1970 Firebird Trans-Am. (Photo by Peter Harholdt©.)
But it’s based on the 1970 body with updates.
I just did a long blog on Pontiacs. Prior to the coming of Bunkie Knudson (“nude-sin”) Pontiacs were turkeys, a “GrandPop’s car.”
Knudson was brought in to spice up Pontiac, make it appeal to the youth market.
He succeeded. By 1959 Pontiac was a performance-car and the 1961 Pontiac “Bubble-Top” is one of the best-looking cars of all time.
A 1961 Pontiac “Bubble-Top” Catalina. (Photo by Richard Lentinello.)
Pontiac was GM’s performance-car until its demise with the GM bailout.
Witness the Pontiac G-T-O, which made musclecar performance affordable. It could be said the Chrysler 300s were the first musclecar, but they were beyond the price-range of the average buyer.
Even the G-T-O became pricey.
A ’69 RoadRunner.
Plymouth’s RoadRunner was a smashing success, since it made musclecar performance affordable.
Pontiac’s other musclecar was the Firebird Trans-Am.
The Firebird was Pontiac’s version of the Chevrolet Camaro.
Both the Camaro and Firebird could be good, but Pontiac’s Trans-Am seemed better.
My neighbor up the street once had a Trans-Am. He still tells me about it, comparing it favorably to his Corvette.
A Pontiac Trans-Am is a desirable car. And to think, prior to 1955 Pontiacs were turkeys.
This car has the gigantic 455 cubic-inch Super-Duty Pontiac engine, which to me is too much weight on the car’s front-end.
A 455 Trans-Am would be just about unbeatable in a straight line, assuming you could get the rear-tires to hook up.
Throw a curve at it, and a BMW 2002 would leave it in the weeds.

A great passenger locomotive downgraded. (Photo by Fred Kern.)

—The October 2014 entry in my All-Pennsy color calendar is what the Pennsy E-6 Atlantic (4-4-2) gravitated to as it aged.
The E-6 Atlantic was Pennsy’s attempt to build a better passenger-locomotive without more driving-wheels. That is, an Atlantic (4-4-2) instead of a Pacific (4-6-2).
The E-6 was a reflection of Pennsy’s locomotive philosophy at that time, the philosophy of Alfred W. Gibbs. Pennsy was building its own steam-locomotives.
Alfred W. Gibbs was Pennsy’s Chief Mechanical Engineer at that time.
Gibbs thought he could build a better passenger locomotive without adding driving-wheels, an Atlantic instead of a Pacific.
About the turn-of-the-century most railroads were using Atlantics. But they were teakettles, much like the 4-4-0 Americans they were using from about 1860 through the end of the century. Pennsy had an E-2 Atlantic.
Gibbs thought he could make a hairy-chested Atlantic work; whither the E-6.
The E-6 is a big boiler on Atlantic running-gear, not a teakettle.
The E-6 worked for a while, until train-weights exceeded what an E-6 could pull.
E-6s were originally assigned to pull passenger-trains over what has become the Northeast Corridor. At that time, Pennsy’s line only went to New York City, and wasn’t electrified.
The line is now Amtrak, is electrified, and goes to Boston.
The E-6 was replaced by Pennsy’s famous K-4 Pacific, really only the lighter K-2 Pacific improved.
Even the K-4 became unable to cope with increasing train-weights, but Pennsy didn’t develop a 4-8-4 in the ‘30s like other railroads.
It was pouring capital into electrification, and could afford doubleheading or tripling its passenger-trains; two or three K-4s — that’s multiple crews.
The E-6 Atlantic fell to light-weight local and commuter-duty, which is what we see here; three coaches — a commuter-train on Pennsy’s Norristown branch.
The picture was taken in 1953, when no doubt photographer Kern was shooting anything-and-everything with 35 mm color-slide film — probably Kodachrome.
Kern has certainly had plenty of photos in this calendar.
But I end up wishing his camera was like my digital Nikon D7000, so he could render a better photograph.
Color photography was in its infancy back then. I tried to lighten that E-6 with my Photoshop, but it’s lost. In fact, the whole train is too dark.
Lighten too much and it looks weird.
This calendar-picture is lightened a little.
I’ve had this problem with other photos in the All-Pennsy Color Calendar.
The fact it’s a 35mm slide also doesn’t help. A 35 mm slide is a bit too small to render edge-sharpness in a big calendar-picture.
Pictures taken years ago don’t render as well as they do now.
But that red keystone number-plate looks pretty good. It’s what I was always looking for. It signified a Pennsy locomotive, and Pennsy’s locomotives looked fabulous.
Only one E-6 is left, #460, at Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania near Strasburg, PA. It’s being restored for display.
#460 is the locomotive that beat the airplanes getting movie-footage of Lindbergh’s return to Washington, D.C. up to New York City theaters.
The train had a baggage-car converted to a darkroom. The airplanes got there first, but their film still had to be developed.

In your face! (Photo by Philip Makanna©.)

—14 giant cylinders, 1,830 cubic-inches.
A roaring monster, and this wasn’t the apex of radial airplane-engine development.
That would come later with the 2,000 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp 18-cylinder radial of 2,800 cubic-inches — the engine in the Grumman Hellcat.
Later versions of the Double Wasp got as much as 2,800 horsepower with very high-octane fuel and water-injection.
Typical American V8 car-motors of the ‘60s and ‘70s displaced 300-to-400 cubic-inches.
Car-motors nowadays are smaller.
I saw one of these big Double-Wasps powering a pulling-tractor. It was mind-blowing!
The Wildcat wasn’t Grumman’s premier aircraft-carrier fighter-plane.
Only its first.
And it suffered from narrow landing-gear. It could tip when slammed into a carrier-deck.
Grumman later fielded the “Hellcat” with wider wing-mounted landing-gear and more motor (the 18-cylinder 2,000 horsepower Double Wasp).
Thousands were built, and more-or-less turned the tide in the Pacific War during WWII.
Grumman was known as “iron-works;” its fighter-planes were just about indestructible. Some were lost, but many returned shot up.
The Japanese fighters were a bit fragile compared to the Grummans, although lighter and more maneuverable.
The Japanese fighters lacked the armor the Grummans had.
Japanese fighter-pilots seemed expendable.
And the Navy refused to use water-cooled engines, as were the Army Air-Corps’ P-38 Lightning, the P-40, and the P-51 Mustang.
The Navy’s engines were air-cooled radials.
A water-cooled engine could be disabled by shooting up its cooling-system.
This calendar-Wildcat wasn’t actually manufactured by Grumman. It was manufactured by General Motors, although it’s the Grumman Wildcat.
GM Wildcats have the Wright-Cyclone B-1820 radial engine rated at 1,350 horsepower. Grumman Wildcats have the Pratt & Whitney R-1830-36 Twin Wasp engine rated at 1,200 horsepower.

A Q-2 duplex (4-4-6-4) (Photo courtesy Joe Suo Collection©.)

—At this point Pennsy is overextending itself.
The October 2014 entry of my Audio-Visual Designs black-and-white All-Pennsy Calendar is the massive Q-2 duplex, a 4-4-6-4.
The Q-2 did not do very well. It’s not articulated, that front driver-set is not hinged.
Everything is on a common frame, which dictated an extraordinarily long driver wheelbase.
A long wheelbase requires straight railroad, which can be found across Ohio and Indiana, but not PA.
I don’t know as the Q-2s were ever used in PA.
The duplex concept is Baldwin Locomotive Works. The advantage is multiple drivers without the long and heavy side-rod set a two-cylinder locomotive needed.
Multiple cylinders; in this case four cylinders for 10 drivers, instead of two cylinders.
The problem is you hafta lengthen the driver-wheelbase to fit that second cylinder-set.
Lengthen the driver wheelbase and you get drivers that can’t follow the rail in curves.
Even two-cylinder locomotives with 10 drivers had this problem.
Lengthen the driver wheelbase to fit in two more drive-cylinders and the problem is worse.
So a duplex reduced the rail-hammering that came with a heavy side-rod set, yet they needed straight railroad.
T-1 4-4-4-4 duplexes were used in PA, but I don’t think on Allegheny Crossing west of Altoona.
A long driver wheelbase might derail on Horseshoe Curve.
The T-1 was really Pennsy’s 4-8-4, a bit late, and also a duplex with four cylinders.
The Q-2 was also sort of rushed.
Pennsy did not develop steam-locomotives in the ‘30s.
They were pouring capital into electrification.
With WWII’s traffic-surge, the were unprepared. They had to try outside locomotives, instead of develop a locomotive specific to their needs.
They tried Chesapeake & Ohio’s T-1 2-10-4, and Norfolk & Western’s “A” 2-6-6-4 articulated.
The J-1 2-10-4 is not a Pennsy design; it’s a C&O T-1. Pennsy built them, but they’re a Lima (“LYE-muh;” not “LEE-muh”) Locomotive design. They lack the trademark square-hipped Belpaire (“bell-pare”) boiler nearly all later Pennsy steam-locomotives had.
The Q-2 is late ‘40s, an attempt by Pennsy to catch up.
The calendar-picture is a publicity-shot, the train standing still before proceeding west with a string of reefers from Rochester, PA.
It’s a dull picture, so I ran it last. The Q-2 is not a gorgeous locomotive. Pennsy’s smaller K-4 Pacific is.
The K-4 is essentially Gibbs, and by the late ‘40s Gibbs was gone.
I wondered what valve-gear the Q-2 has. It’s Walschaerts (“WELL-shirtz”) driving piston-valves.
Walschaerts was sloppy, but easy to work on.
The T-1s had Franklin Poppet-valves instead of piston-valves, but they were hard to work on compared to Walschaerts — and more failure-prone.
The Q-2s were extremely powerful, and very well liked; but also costly to maintain.