Monday, February 27, 2017

Monthly Train-Calendar Report for March 2017

Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian passes a westbound stacker in Lilly, PA. (Photo by BobbaLew with Phil Faudi.)

—The March 2017 entry in my own calendar is Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian on Track Two, passing a westbound stacker on Track Three.
We are on an overpass in Lilly, PA.
It’s the only picture in this 2017 calendar where Phil Faudi (“FOW-dee;” as in “wow”) was with me.
Phil is my railfan friend in Altoona who introduced me to many of the fabulous photo locations around Allegheny Mountain.
He did it as a business at first. Taking his railroad-radio scanner, along with his vast knowledge of schedules and area operations, he’d zag me all over the mountain “chasing” trains.
He called ‘em “tours.”
Railfan overload; I’ve been one since age-2.
We’d be motoring placidly along, he’d hear something on his scanner, and suddenly we’d do a 180° turn.
Every time a train passes a signal, its engineer has to report the signal-aspect on railroad-radio: e.g. “04T, east on Two, 258.8; CLEAR!”
04T is Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian.
Phil knew where the signal at milepost 258.8 was, and now I do. My brother Jack is learning.
Can we get to that overpass in Lilly before 04T?
The chase begins!
I remember bucketing down a one-lane dirt-track, parting shrubbery with Phil’s Buick. “I hope no one’s coming,” he said.
The Pennsylvanian is the only passenger-train left on this storied line.
04T is eastbound (in the morning), and 07T is westbound (late afternoon).
The picture is long ago = six or seven years, maybe even eight.
My wife was still alive, and Phil was still in business.
He has since given it up. His wife has Multiple Sclerosis, and he wants to be around in case she falls.
In fact, he gave up the business years ago, but continued leading me around, me driving instead of him.
Now he just stays home, but monitors his railroad-radio scanner and calls my cellphone.
Now it’s just me and my brother Jack. Both Jack and I became fairly savvy with our railroad-radio scanners — Jack more than me. Often my brother shouts “call Faudi!”
It’s March. Spring is coming, and snow is melting.
Light is still low, but we beat 04T to Lilly.
Phil stops atop the bridge to let me out.
A westbound stacker is passing underneath on Track Three.
Here it comes! I’m gonna get what Phil calls a “double,” two trains at once.

Not the ore-train. (Photo by Robert Malinoski.)

—The March 2017 entry in my All-Pennsy color calendar is two Pennsy I-1 Decapods (2-10-0) leading a coal-train near Tharptown, PA.
I can’t find Tharptown in my GoogleMaps, but a village of sorts is just north of Shamokin (PA) and has a “Tharp” Street.
The railroad runs through it, and Shamokin Creek is in the foreground of the picture.
The caption says two more Deks were pushing.
The Deks were 10-drivered Consolidations (2-8-0), what Pennsy earlier used to move its freight  —  especially in mountainous PA.
The Deks were developed after 1916, and were so big enginemen called ‘em “Hippos” — big for that time; bigger engines came later.
Pennsy’s Dek was difficult, crews hated ‘em.
With drivers so small, counterbalancing heavy side-rod weight was near impossible. Therefore they rode rough, slamming the crew up-and-down.
50 mph was about all they could do, if you could stand it.
But they were immensely powerful.
They also were the first Pennsy engines with coal-stokers. Even two firemen couldn’t keep up with a Dek’s coal demand.
The last remaining Pennsy Dek, shorn of its boiler-lagging and piston-rods, stored inoperable near Buffalo. (Photo by Chris Galka©.)
Only one Dek was saved, #4483. It wasn’t from the famous Mt. Carmel ore-train, an application well suited for Deks.
Four Deks, two pushing, would slam a heavy train of iron-ore up Pennsy’s Mt. Carmel branch to interchange with Lehigh Valley . The ore was for Bethlehem Steel.
4483 came from another final stomping-ground for Pennsy’s Deks: heavy coal trains up Pennsy’s line across NY to Sodus Point wharf on Lake Ontario.
Pennsy saved 4483, originally with its collection of venerable steamers at Northumberland roundhouse.
Most of those streamers are now at Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania near Strasburg, PA.
Thank goodness Pennsy saved one of each class of its classic locomotives  = those actually owned by Pennsy, not some investment trust. Most railroads scrapped their retired steamers.
But 4483 was moved to Wilmerding, PA for display in front of the Westinghouse Plant.
4483 has since been moved again, and is now stored near Buffalo, NY.
Pennsy didn’t save any of its modern steamers, like the gigantic Qs and T-1 duplexes. (The Qs were also duplex.)
But the train is using four Deks, just like a Mt. Carmel ore-train.
It’s heavy, and probably headed for Mt. Carmel, where it will become like a Mt. Carmel ore-train.

Probably 36A. (Photo by Sam Wheland.)

—The March 2017 entry in my Norfolk Southern Employees’ Photography-Contest calendar is a trainload of farm-equipment passing CP-Hunt on the old Pennsy main across the state.
My guess is it’s 36A, the first train I saw with my railfan friend Phil Faudi many years ago.
Phil was conducting railfan “tours” in the Altoona area as a business at that time. It was our first “tour.”

The “Tuxedos” behind 36A. (Photo by BobbaLew with Phil Faudi.)

Phil showed at my bed-and-breakfast and quickly exhorted me to get in his car. I was alone.
Norfolk Southern’s Executive Business-Train was climbing The Hill. Our goal was to photograph it; we quickly zoomed toward Lilly.
An overpass was over Pennsy’s tracks — same overpass as my first picture — so we parked, got out, and walked up on the bridge.
Train 36A was passing underneath; it had farm equipment loaded on flatcars.
36A was eastbound on Track One. The Executive Business-Train would be westbound on Three.
At that hour you have to be east of the tracks to get proper sunlight. Therefore 36A could block the Executive Business-Train.
Norfolk Southern’s Executive Business-Train uses four rebuilt EMD F cab-units, both A and B, for power.
The train itself is restored passenger equipment, usually in Norfolk Southern or Norfolk & Western tuscan-red paint (“TUSS-kin;” not “Tucson, Ariz.”).
The F-units are painted dark brown with white trim, and called the “Tuxedos.”
I thought 36A was gonna block, but two gondolas appeared which allowed me to photograph.
Phil told me 36A often has farm equipment, bull-dozers, etc.
My first thought was 35A, but that ain’t right. Odd is westbound.
CP-Hunt is an interlocking in Huntingdon on the old Pennsy “Middle Division.”
The Middle Division, from Harrisburg to Altoona is the original Pennsy main laid down during the early 1850s.
The railroad still follows the original alignment, but curves were eased, etc.
The line became so busy Pennsy had to go to three or four tracks, the “Broad Way.”
West of Tyrone there’s a controlled siding which renders three tracks into Altoona.
Now it’s mostly just two tracks west of Harrisburg, although on Allegheny Mountain, west of Altoona, three tracks are used — four at one point.
And I notice the train has only a single unit, an EMD SD60I.
SD60Is are ex-Conrail, only purchased by Conrail, and had a special quiet cab.
I heard the dispatcher refer to “one-unit wonders” on my Internet railroad-radio feed.

This time it is. (Photo by Robert F. Collins©.)

—This time it IS the Mt. Carmel ore-train, 60 hoppers loaded with heavy iron-ore for Bethlehem Steel.
But it’s not at Shamokin (PA) yet; it’s departing Northumberland Yard for Shamokin, where it will become the famous Mt. Carmel ore-train, headed up Pennsy’s torturous Mt. Carmel branch for interchange with Lehigh Valley in Mt. Carmel (PA).
In Shamokin it may switch to four Pennsy Decapods (2-10-0), two pulling and two pushing. But here it’s getting by with an M-1 Mountain (4-8-2), and perhaps a pusher. (I see smoke!)
Out of Northumberland is not as challenging as the Mt. Carmel branch.
The March 2017 entry of my Audio-Visual Designs black-and-white All-Pennsy Calendar is M-1 #6782 threading the twin bridges over the Susquehanna out of Northumberland on June 15, 1956.
In 1956 steam on Pennsy would last another year.
Pennsy considered the M1 Mountains the finest steam-engines they had. Mountains were excellent cruisers; 30-55 mph.
The M-1 Mountains were used to haul freight over Pennsy’s “Middle Division,” its original mainline across PA, Harrisburg to Altoona, through the end of steam in 1957.
Mountains were fabulous for the assignment. Steady uphill Harrisburg to Altoona, but not arduous. 40-50 mph average, sometimes faster. A river grade; the Juniata River (“june-eee-AT-uh).
Their firebox, at 70 square feet of grate, was same as a Decapod, and even the K-4 Pacific (4-6-2). But the boiler was that of the Decapod, and ahead of the firebox was a long open combustion-chamber.
It enhanced coal-burning.
It’s intriguing to consider a Pennsy 4-8-4 if they had developed one — the Mountain is only 4-8-2.
But Pennsy was pouring investment into electrification. Plus they could doublehead K-4s to cope with increased train weights.
They could afford double crewing. (Steam-locomotives couldn’t MU.)
A PRR 4-8-4 didn’t come until WWII, and that was duplex, the T-1 4-4-4-4.
T-1s weren’t articulated; its eight drivers were on a single frame with four drive-pistons.
Pennsy also had duplex freight steamers: the huge Qs (4-6-4-4 and 4-4-6-4).
None were saved; nor T-1s either.
Thankfully an M-1 was saved, #6755 at Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania near Strasburg (PA).

M-1 #6755, shorn of its boiler-lagging, subject to the weather — to me the most important Pennsy steamer extant. (Pennsy loved ‘em.)

It was one of engines Pennsy saved at Northumberland Roundhouse. One of a number of historic PRR steamers now all at Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
None are currently operable, although a couple have been. They were operated on the short Strasburg tourist railroad in southeastern PA.
The M-1 was also more dual-purpose.  Its drivers are only 72 inches diameter (six feet), not the 80 inches of a passenger engine (K-4s are 80 inch).
I did some poking around with Google Satellite-Views. It looks like Northumberland’s iconic twin bridges are no more.
The bridge at right looks oldest, and was the one removed. It could only handle one track.
The bridge at left remains, and was and still is (or was in the Satellite-View) double-track.
I don’t know what goes where down there. The calendar-caption says the train is headed for Shamokin. To me the light says the train is headed south, like perhaps down the Susquehanna on its east bank.
As I see it, the train is headed for the branch inland to Shamokin. That’s south of Northumberland.
Northumberland is where the Susquehanna breaks into west and north branches.
The twin bridges were to an island in the north branch. More bridging was needed to get off that island.
I also can’t imagine a Pennsy Mountain slugging that heavy ore-train up the Mt. Carmel branch.
It’s a dramatic picture, but confusing.
I also can’t help noticing that gorgeous slab- sided Belpaire (“bell-pear”) firebox, a trademark of nearly all Pennsy engines.
It was much longer than the grate to accommodate the combustion-chamber.

Years ago.......

.....At the Mighty Mezz.
I was responsible for reporting the Canandaigua lake-level (“cannon-DAY-gwuh”), the level the lake was above sea-level, which varied per run-off input and outflow.
Every morning the guys at the Canandaigua city sewer department, which was at the lake outlet, would call and tell me the lake-level.
We’d run that in the daily on the weather-page, along with what the lake-level was supposed to be. The lake-level went up and down maybe three feet over the year, higher in summer.
Since I was lake-level guy, an angry caller was referred to me.
“We gotta do something about that lake-level. It’s too low! I can’t get my boat outta the water. I can’t even get it to shore!”
“Ma’am,” I said; “I don’t actually control the lake-level. All I do is report it.”
“Well I never! I wanna speak to your supervisor!”
I set about switching her to head-honcho.
“Better yet,” she screamed; “I’m friends with George Ewing (“you-ing”). Lemme speak to him!”
George Sr. is an earlier owner of the Messenger, the one that hired me.
“He retired some time ago,” I said. “He’s no longer here.”
What happened after that I don’t remember. But all this reminds of what happened to me on “Connor-Jeans.”
“Connor-Jeans” (a takeoff on “genes”) is a private Facebook my brother-in-northern-DE set up where members of my mother’s family could post memories and old photos.
My mother’s maiden name is “Connor.”
My parents were stridently religious. I have a hunch my mother’s brother Walter made a snide anti-religious remark that got my parents, especially my father, upset.
They were extremely judgmental.
As a child I was told the uncle, and his wife and family, were unsavory.
Somehow that feeling made into “Connor-Jeans,” getting that uncle’s children justifiably upset.
I felt badly, and tried to apologize — which crashed mightily in flames.
Since I was the one reporting, and was still alive, I could be loudly excoriated by that uncle’s children.
Suddenly I no longer could view any “Connor-Jeans” posts by that uncle’s children.
“I don’t actually control the lake-level. All I do is report it.”

• The “Mighty Mezz” is the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger newspaper, from where I retired over 11 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 26th, 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, February 23, 2017

’58 Pontiac

’58 Pontiac Tri-Power Chieftain Catalina. (Photo by Thomas A. DeMauro.)

In 1955 Yrs Trly was 11 years old.
In my opinion 1955 is the year General Motors’ automotive styling got really good, although looking at it from today’s perspective I think it’s stupid.
To me it’s the basic smallness of the ’55 Chevy. From Pontiac up GM’s cars got bigger, but weren’t overloaded with glitz.
Stripped of its chrome trim a ’55 Chevy is depressing. Its shape is Buick, and it has that silly wraparound windshield. (Retract knee before entering!)
At least its shape is basically square; car-guys call it a “shoebox.”
Reinstall the chrome side-trim, and the Buick curves disappear. That trim emphasizes squareness.
At least it’s small enough to be attractive. Olds and Buick looked good too, but appear larger. Not unattractive, but larger than the ’55 Chevy.
GM cars were variations of different wheelbase lengths. Chevy was smallest, although I think Pontiacs were available Chevy-size.
Oldsmobiles were slightly bigger, Buicks bigger yet. Really big were Cadillacs, although I think Buicks and Oldsmobiles were also available Caddy-size.
Boomers think the ’64 Mustang initiated Detroit’s hotrod phase.
Not this kid; although I’m a pre-boomer.
To me it’s the ’55 Chevy, and Chevrolet’s fabulous new high-revving V8 introduced that year. What later became known as the “SmallBlock.”
Chevrolet developed “Big-Blocks” for its trucks. Those Big-Blocks were also hot-rodded into high-performance car engines.
The Mustang was vastly important, but mainly as a marketing concept. It has Ford’s version of Chevy’s SmallBlock.
It succeeded Ford’s “Y-block,” which compared to Chevy’s new V8 was a turkey.
If General Motors had been smart enough they could have beat Ford introducing the ponycar concept.
It had the motor (the SmallBlock), four-speed floorshift, and demand was apparent with sporty Corvairs.
For 1958 GM blew it. Styling started downhill in 1957. Buick and even Oldsmobile became bloated.
For 1958 all the General’s cars became chrome-laden, quad-headlight bloat-mobiles. Even Chevrolet; thus ending the fabulous Tri-Chevy of ’55-’57.
The April 2017 issue of my Hemmings Classic Car magazine has a feature on a restored 1958 Pontiac.
It’s by an independent, not the magazine’s Editor, Richard Lentinello.
Many are by Lentinello, and are pretty good.
The Pontiac is best-looking of GM’s 1958 bloat-mobiles. If you get past that grille, which looks dreadfully plain, and un-Pontiac.
The ’58 Impala looks okay too, but it too has the grille problem.
Both lack the finning very much in vogue at that time. But for 1959 both went extremely bonkers with fins. Most ’59 GM cars look horrible; only the Buick looks okay.
I’ve said it before: the ’59 Chevy is the worst-looking Chevrolet ever made, and I’m a Chevy-man.
The car featured is a 1958 “Tri-Power” Pontiac.
“Tri-Power” means it has triple two-barrel carburetion, what hot-rodders were often doing to increase performance.
The car is a Chiefton Catalina, “Chiefton” meaning it’s the low-priced model, and “Catalina” meaning it’s a hardtop.
And it’s from Pittsburg, PA, not southern CA or FL.
The car’s owner, Chuck Brown, wanted to buy a ’58 Pontiac like his father’s car, but I bet Tri-Power wasn’t planned.
The car wasn’t drivable when he considered it. It needed a battery, and the Tri-Power was in the trunk.
Off the beach, onto the highway; a ’58 Pontiac is leading, barely hanging on in the sand.
Tri-Power was also raced; Detroit’s attempt to make its cars unbeatable versus other Detroit cars.
Oldsmobile also did triple two-barrels.
The racers were actually stock; National Association of Stock-Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).
Not any more. Current NASCAR racers are hardly available at a dealer. Identification is often little more than appliques.
Although a car pretending to be a Ford will have a Ford motor, and a pretend Chevrolet will have a Chevy motor.
The feature car is three-on-the-tree, but its serial-number has the letter “H,” meaning it was originally Hydramatic.
In 1958 handling wasn’t within Detroit’s purview.
I remember a picture of a ’58 Pontiac leaning and all crossed up through Daytona’s old north turn from beach back to highway. Cars would slide the sand. —That was before Daytona Speedway.
Handling was what racers could get.
The picture above is not the one I remember.
That ’58 Pontiac is drifting, but looks more under control than what I remember.
It probably has track-bars and anti-rollbars not available from a dealer.
Brown’s Chiefton is still a bloat-mobile, but the Pontiac was best-looking of GM’s 1958 bloat-mobiles.
Especially if looked at from the rear, as illustrated.
Brown’s car is drivable, which means you might encounter it on the street.
“Hey Dad, look at the antique car.”
“Antique my foot! If that thing’s antique, so am I.”


Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Probably a Wegmans chip-reader.

“I have wonderful news,” I said to my doggy daycare friends.
“Danny finally got chip-readers.”
Danny Wegman.
“Danny” is Danny Wegman, current head-honcho of Wegmans supermarkets, which dominates Rochester’s grocery-biz, and is now expanding into the east-coast megalopolis.
“He finally sold that Ferrari and joined the 21st century,” I said to my checkout clerk at the Canandaigua (“cannon-DAY-gwuh”) Wegmans.
She got it. Danny is a car-guy; he street-raced a 454 Chevelle growing up.
He’s five years younger than me, which makes him a Big-Block dude.
Danny lives in a grand estate on Canandaigua Lake just south of Canandaigua.

Probably Danny’s Ferrari. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

If a red Ferrari is parked in the Canandaigua Wegmans parking-lot, it’s probably Danny.
Wegmans is a family business, privately owned.
Danny inherited from his father, who inherited from John and Walter Wegman who founded Rochester Fruit and Vegetable Company in 1916.
My doggy daycare friends are **** and **** ******** of ******** ***** Pet-Grooming in Canandaigua.
Both are ex of the Mighty Mezz, the Canandaigua Daily Messenger newspaper. where I worked after my stroke.
**** was a reporter/editor in News; **** was an ad executive.
Both eventually left the Mighty Mezz, **** first after they gave her a raw deal; then ****.
For whatever reason **** did not get along that well with the paper’s Executive-Editor, whereas I did.
I sometimes think the Executive-Editor liked me because -a) I wasn’t costing him much, yet -b) I was extremely enthusiastic. It was the best job I ever had; compared to driving bus it was fantastic.
My pay was a pittance; usually the case with stroke-survivors.  But compared to Transit it was fun.
My job-title was “typist,” but I never typed anything. What I did was develop computer-tricks that saved time — plus make the newspaper more accurate.
I also generated reams of page-blowing copy. Despite my stroke I got so I could OCR scan (“Optical-Character-Recognition” on a computer).
I always say the reason I recovered so well from a stroke is because of that newspaper.
Wegmans has been dominant as long as I’ve been in Rochester — almost 60 years.
When I came there were Star Markets, but they tanked.
Only one competitor remains, “Tops Friendly Markets,” from near Buffalo. But I don’t perceive them as “friendly.”
There are other supermarkets, but they’re not part of gigantic chains like Wegmans or Tops.
I actually patronize three supermarkets, Tops and Wegmans in Canandaigua, plus a local supermarket in nearby Honeoye Falls (“hone-eee-OYE;” as in “boy”).
Wegmans seems cheapest, although they have the reputation of being expensive.
They use “consistent-low-pricing,” where the others use special sales on things I don’t often buy. (I don’t need a year’s supply of dishwasher detergent!)
The store in Honeoye Falls seems far more expensive — Wegmans or Tops haven’t invaded yet.
I shop those three supermarkets because I know where things are — or were.
But mainly Wegmans. Their employees seem friendlier = helpful when I ask where something is.
They’re not likely to excoriate me for interrupting their day-long donut break. I had that happen at WalMart* once.
Wegmans seems to be a happy ship; they treat their employees as valuable.
I think that’s mainly Danny — he’s not Simon Legree.
Yet for the past couple months no chip-reader at Mighty Weggers.
I thought they were required as of the first of the year. Before chip-readers the card-issuing bank ate fraud; but would not continue to do so unless the store used a chip-reader.
I.e. Still a stripe-reader, the store swallows the fraud, no longer the bank.
Scuttlebutt had that chip-readers take too long: BEEP! “You can now remove your card.” —At which point the clerk tells you to pull out your card = add 30 seconds to the transaction.
I hardly ever purchase groceries with cash. I use my credit-card, then pay in full. —That way my grocery expenses float up to a month. (Plus the banks pay points for me to use my card.)
“Danny, ya gotta quit tearing up the lake with yer gigantic Cigarette speedboat. The one with four unmuffled Big-Block Chevys.”
A Cigarette speedboat.
“He finally sold that Ferrari,” I said to the checkout-girl.
She knew about Danny’s Ferrari.

• I had a stroke October 26th, 1993, from which I pretty much recovered. Just tiny detriments; I can pass for never having had a stroke.
• 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 ended that. I retired on medical-disability.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Incredible journey of iPhone discovery

SCHLURP! (Photo by Jill Scarborough.)

“Do I dare bless ***** with another steaming-pile of turgid prose?
I’d rather not, I told her I’d give her a break.
But ***** recently got an iPhone, and like me seems to be discovering its joys.
And I’m on this incredible journey of iPhone discovery to south FL, where it seems a smartphone is needed to exist.
***** and her husband *** ******* were majordomos in my high-school class — I graduated in 1962. *** was star end on our school’s football team, and probably excelled academically — I don’t remember.
***** may have been “Humanities Scholar,” equivalent to a valedictorian, our school’s feeble attempt to be unique.
Whatever; she did extremely well.
I was just a bottom-feeder — no idea what I was doing — destined for ‘Nam.
Except I had other priorities.
I encountered ***** at our 50-year high-school reunion, and learned she’d been a computer-programmer.
Well of course; she reminded me of my wife, who died over four years ago. ***** was smart enough and savvy enough, and above-all self-driven enough to figger out some deeply-buried programming misstep throwing things awry.
My wife was in law-book publishing; I don’t know about *****.
I probably coulda done that myself — I like playing with ‘pyooters — but I’m also a railfan.
I been chasing trains all my life, but I also vastly enjoy this here MacBook Pro, also my iPhone.
Especially figgering ‘em out.
Our plane, an Allegiant Airlines A320, drifted toward Fort Lauderdale over the Atlantic.
Our descent began over 89 bazilyun tightly packed bungalows, many with red stucco roofs, many with postage stamp-sized swimming pools.
I come from a rural setting — my neighbors aren’t right next door. I hardly ever see ‘em; they’re 500 feet away.
I’m from Wilmington’s (DE) suburbs, but my wife was country. I came to prefer country living.
South FL is the most densely packed agglomeration I’ve ever seen.
Skyscrapers in Fort Lauderdale were also visible.
I (we) fenced at least half of our 4.7 acres — at least half of that is wooded.
I can let my dog out without fear of her getting hit in the highway. Loud Harleys blast past at 80+, throttles to-the-moon! (A crotch-rocket will crank 100+, wheelieing.)
My next step was car-rental, my biggest leap since my wife’s mother’s 100th birthday in De Land, FL last year.
For that my wife’s brother carted me around.
It ain’t easy; I miss my wife immensely. My wife’s mother’s 100th was my first trip. Over three years had passed.
I had a stroke 23 years ago due to an undiagnosed heart-defect. My wife thereafter covered for me.
I’m left with slight aphasia, difficulty getting words out for speech.
People tell me I talk fine, but I’m aware of it; especially my stoney silences.
I arranged car-rental in advance through the airline with National.
Or so I thought!
After a long hike through the airport, National sent me packing!
What to do? After a few minutes, and calling my niece, I ambled over to Alamo. They rented me a car.
So long National! In words of our newest prez: “You’re fired!”
Next was getting to my niece in north Fort Lauderdale, not far from Cypress Creek.
The intent of my trip was to visit my niece.
She’s my sister’s only child, and now has two children of her own. My sister, younger than me, is now gone.
I thereafter set up my iPhone’s GPS, airport to my niece.
Around-and-around the airport I drove, at least twice. Multiple views of the “Departure Area;” look-out for the fish-festooned county bus (HONK)!
“Turn right in 300 feet.” I’m approaching many right-turn options; I’m supposed to get out and measure 300 feet?
Finally onto I-95 north per the GPS-lady: “Exit to Commercial Boulevard.”
I called my niece. “Not there,” she cried. “Cypress Creek Road.”
“I’m already on Commercial, per the GPS-lady.”
“You can do it from there, but we always use Cypress Creek Road.”
Next was 31st Street. My niece was suggesting I use 31st Street to get over to Cyprus Creek Road.
“I’m driving into the sun, so I can’t see the signs.”
So much for 31st Street; GPS started “recalculating.”
Back-and-forth! This way and that! Loop around; around-the-block.
“South FL is a grid, north-and-south or east-and-west,” I was told.
“Then how come the street I’m on is diagonal?”
Finally, using GoogleMaps GPS, I was on her street, but passed her abode at least three times.
When I pulled in their dog roared at me, then gave me a hearty welcome (above). “Oh, a dog-person, eh? SCHLURP-SCHLURP-SCHLURP-SCHLURP!”
“Any other visitors allow this?” I asked. “Ya ‘bout knocked me over.”
The next morning we carted their daughter to a softball practice. She’s only seven, I think, and only a beginner.
Six or seven young girls, and a couple coaches.

My niece’s daughter Katie. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Daughter’s flowing hair was getting in the way. “She needs a pony-tail,” my niece said to a coach.
“He can do it; he has daughters of his own.”
Next was the “dog-lake.”
South FL is so crowded dogs are not allowed in parks. Instead there are “dog-parks.” To run yer dog, ya take it to a “dog-park.”
Except this place was a small lake, what up north we’d call a “pond.” It was privately owned, and charged admission.
My niece’s dog, Lily, a smallish female German Shepherd, knew where she was, and started whining as we approached.

Lily in the dog-lake. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

At lake’s edge other dogs were running freely, mainly retrieving balls, etc tossed into the lake by their masters.
Zoombita-Boombita! Occasional growling and humping.
Dogs careening this-way-and-that, merrily cavorting.
My right thumb started infecting as I left Rochester. I hoped it would hang on until I got back.
But it was swelling, and began to hurt.
I wanted to lance it, but my niece’s husband suggested “urgent-care;” better-yet.
Off we zoomed, but the first place we tried was closed on weekends.
Um, HELLO; I thought the whole idea of urgent-care was to cover weekends. (It was Saturday.)
Here it is, dear readers, we’re in south FL: unholster smartphone.

“I need the nearest urgent-care open on Saturday,” hubby said to my niece.
He had already Googled his own smartphone. Now my niece was helping.
Urgent-care didn’t lance; just a prescription for antibiotic.
Next was a surgical-strike to my wife’s brother and his wife about a half-hour north. That brother is now 75; I’m 73.
We’d eat out at some fancy restaurant in Boca Raton.
Brother-in-law texted me the restaurant address, and it was underlined in his text.
“Click that!” my niece exclaimed. WONDER-OF-WONDERS, it fired up the same GPS-lady my GoogleMaps uses, but was Apple’s “Maps” app, on my iPhone when I got it. (GoogleMaps was from the App Store; suggested by my ‘pyooter store.)
No matter, took me right right to it, in some deepest, darkest funky place awaiting the next hurricane.
The only drama was finding a place to park — brother-in-law had to use valet parking.
The area appeared to be from the ‘50s.
“Seems like the onliest way to exist is south FL is to operate a smartphone,” I noted.
“That’s only the youngsters,” brother-in-law observed. “No smartphones for oldsters.”
The next day, a Sunday, we visited one of the sightseeing piers out into the Atlantic from Fort Lauderdale beach. It was my niece and her son Ty. He’s 13.
A grizzled fee-collector warned to not feed the pelicans.

Ty at pier entrance. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“Aye-aye, matey.” (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Surf and sand and flesh. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“EEEEEUUUUUW!” my niece wailed. “That’s chopped-up shrimp on the railing; fishermen are chopping bait out here.”
We then ate gelato and bought a souvenir tee-shirt.
“We gotta come here more often,” my niece said. “It’s a neat place, and northerners come to visit. —We live here.”

Ty and his mother next to the gelato emporium. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

On our way home we passed both a Maserati dealer and Ferrari dealer. Ty, like me, is a car-guy.
Or I was.
” What sense does that make? Stuck in traffic fiddling the radio in yer 200-mph car. Can’t chase trains in a Ferrari or Maser. Where’s the road-clearance? No farm-tracks for those things!”

iPhone alarm at 4 A.M. Over 600 smackaroos to Courtyard Marriott. (I think the reason I’m loaded is because I don’t like spending money.)
Three times around airport before finding rental-car return, plus one off-route.
Amazingly I didn’t lose anything, although I tried awful hard. Glasses, pens, lumbar support, keys, etc. Over-and-over: “Where are my glasses/keys/whatever?”
Also I never fell, and my balance is dreadful! —I think that was more paying attention to where my feet fell; like careful at curbs, escalators, etc.
At the car-rental return I suggested I might beed a motorized Skycap to get me to the security check. “Skycaps have to be reserved in advance at your destination.” Hmmmmnnnnnn....
“Why thank you ma’am; sounds like yer a gumint employee.” —I hiked it.
I managed to parry all this madness without my usual cheering-section: “Thank you, National,” missing this-or-that, “reserve Skycap at destination,” etc, etc.
Every move we made was chronicled by text. Even though miles apart, we knew where we all were — utterly beyond the pale 50 years ago.
What I noticed most was how everyone in south FL was using a smartphone. Even the geezers — they were probably playing ‘pyooter-games, or hitting porn sites.
People awaiting their plane in the airport toying their smartphones.
Restaurants, gas-stations, groceries, church.
Anything untoward or unexpected happens; drag out smartphone.
My brother-in-law, his wife, and me, all awaiting din-din at the funky restaurant, fiddling our smartphones.
“Forget Lambos Ty, the future is yer smartphone.”
(Although what will it be next year?)

• “Jill Scarborough” is my FL niece I was visiting.
• My wife died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her immensely. Best friend I ever had, and after my childhood I sure needed one. She actually liked me.
• I had a stroke October 26th, 1993, from which I pretty much recovered. Just tiny detriments; I can pass for never having had a stroke. It slightly compromised my speech.
• A “Lambo” is a Lamborghini (“lam-bore-GEE-nee;” as in “get”), a mega-priced Italian sports-exotic, competition for Ferrari and Maserati.


Wednesday, February 08, 2017


.....said my friend **** ********, president and head-honcho of ******** ***** Pet Grooming in nearby Canandaigua. They groom and daycare my dog.
The other day was ****’s birthday. She fired up Google for some reason, and hovered her mouse over “Google.”
It flashed “Happy Birthday” at her.
At this point my friend in Syracuse would say “kewel.”
I side with ****. SNOOP ALERT!
Her husband ****, who helps her out, and helps this aging geezer stay in his house.....
.....reported he ordered parts for his lawnmower from Sears.
Almost immediately Facebook was entreating he buy tools from Sears.
We glanced at the sprinklers in the ceiling of  their shop.
“They may look like sprinklers,” I observed; “but actually they’re NSA microphones.”
A couple weeks ago I online ordered a Bearcat radio-scanner from Home-Depot.
After ordering I switched to Facebook. There, on the right side, was a Home-Depot ad exhorting me to buy a scanner.
As I enter the nearby supermarket I can watch myself on video, hobbling behind my wussy-kart.
They’re watching us everywhere.
My niece’s daughter visited the White House in Washington DC. While there she uttered the word “assassinate.”
“Don’t say that!” she was told. Secret Service appear, Uzis drawn.
Years ago Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, PA put in a webcam at Horseshoe Curve. Video streamed live from the Mighty Curve.
My wife and I visited, and looked for that webcam.
After finding it, I called my brother-in-Boston.
“Fire up the Curve webcam!” I shouted.
We thereafter waved.
“Chop-chop!” my brother exclaimed. “Lazy, no-good, layabouts!”
A lady wondered what we were doing.
“That’s the webcam up there,” I pointed. “Yer all over the Internet.”
“Wait a minute,” she said. “Let me comb my hair.”

• RE: “wussy-kart.......” —Most supermarkets now have small shopping-carts that don’t hold anywhere near as much as the big carts. My siblings call ‘em “wussy-karts.
• My wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her immensely.

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Monday, February 06, 2017

Ease up Suckerbird!

“Facebook went through yer smartphone’s contact-list,” said my niece yesterday during an eat-out.
Yrs Trly has a Facebook. I don’t do much with it; more like put up with it.
It’s frozen this computer, although not recently.
The fact I have one is due to a fast-one on their part. I’d dump it, but too many of my actual friends use Facebook to communicate.
The other day I fired up Facebook, probably from one of their e-mail notifications.
Per usual were a row of Facebook “Friend” suggestions, complete strangers who happen to be “mutual friends.”
Except for one, my aquatic therapy coach at the Canandaigua YMCA.
“Whither?” I wondered.
No “mutual friends.”
Oh, what the Heck! I sent her a “Friend” request. She’d be number 57.
Then I wondered how Facebook knew to suggest her.
SNOOP ALERT! They’re following my every move.
They probably even know I’m writing this blog.
I ordered Puffed Kamut Cereal online from Amazon, and within seconds Facebook was exhorting me to do it again.
They also decided at age 73 I’m a dirty old man. Right-side ads expose maximum cleavage.
“Okay, makes sense,” I said to my niece.
“I got Facebook-for-iPhone a month-or-two ago, and that aquacise coach is in my contacts — I don’t remember why.
So it sounds like Facebook trolled my contact-list.”
People are upset with The Donald.
Worse yet would be Zuckerberg.

• “Suckerbird” is Facebook head-honcho Mark Zuckerberg.


Friday, February 03, 2017

National Warplane Museum

(That headline is a link, dear readers.)

Outside, a C-119 Boxcar, and a DC-3. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“You know what I’m told about radial airplane engines,” said my friend Ron Palermo.
“They don’t leak oil. They’re marking their territory.”
Ron, like me, is a retired bus-driver from Regional Transit Service (RTS) in Rochester, NY, a public employer, the transit-bus operator in Rochester and environs.
Both he and I like propeller airplanes, particularly WWII bombers and fighter-planes.
Radial engines are different than most internal-combustion gasoline engines. Their cylinders are arrayed in a circle around a common crankshaft.
Most radials are air-cooled = aluminum finning on the cylinders.
Each cylinder activates just one master cylinder — usually atop the circle.
That is, each cylinder’s crank is not activating the propeller-attached crankshaft. They activate only that master crank, which rotates the propeller.
Air-cooled radials found favor with the Navy, since they weren’t disabled by shot-up water cooling.
And during WWII, engineers developed incredible power out of radial engines, as much as 2,600 horsepower (I’ve seen as high as 2,800) for the 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine — nine cylinders per row.
Although often this was done with water-injection, and/or supercharging or turbocharging.
Warbirds burned extremely high-octane gasoline. Tetraethyl-lead was added to snuff preigntion. It also lubricated valve-seats. Tetraethyl-lead is no longer allowed in automotive gasoline. Lead is poisonous.
Ron is a member of National Warplane Museum at Geneseo’s (“jen-uh-see-oh”) gigantic grass-strip airport.
The airport sits low in the vast Genesee Valley (“jen-uh-SEE”), our nation’s first bread-basket. The Genesee Valley gained prominence for farming, mainly because of NY’s Erie Canal.
National Warplane Museum is a collection of WWII warplanes. They have a B-17, a C-47, plus a C-45 (Twin-Beech).
They have other stuff, some of which, like the three mentioned, are also airworthy.
National Warplane Museum is a volunteer effort — Ron is a volunteer.
Every July, National Warplane Museum puts on a giant airshow — I’ve attended a few. Classic warplanes fly in, then do flight demonstrations.
This includes P-51s.
Every American, BY LAW, should required to see a P-51 fly aerobatics.
Hammerhead stalls, 500 mph power-dives, upside-down.
Just the sound is incredible. (That’s a YouTube P-51 link.)
We ambled through dusty buildings into a HUGE airport hanger.
Many airplanes were stored inside, including the B-17. Winter is the time maintenance is done.
Over everything towered the B-17, one of the movie “Memphis Belles.” Not the actual “Memphis Belle,” which is at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH.

The movie “Memphis Belle” outside at Geneseo in 2009. (Photo by Ron Palermo.)

The movie “Memphis Belle” is owned privately, not the National Warplane Museum.
Also inside was “Whiskey-Seven,” a C-47 that led the second wave of paratroopers for the Normandy invasion.

Working on “Whiskey-Seven.” (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Whiskey-Seven still exists, and was flown all the way to Europe for the 70th Anniversary D-Day commemoration.
It was converted into an executive transport — many DC-3s were — but was restored to military configuration.
Both its engine-cowlings were off, and the engines were dripping oil into giant funnels the size of bathtubs.
I had my dog with me — dogs are allowed, although she snapped at other dogs — but I had to watch where she went: “Out of them cartons, Big Meat-Head. There’s nothing there to eat.”

Nose-art on the movie “Memphis Belle.” (On the other side, her bathing-suit is blue.) (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“I sure wouldn’t wanna be in a ship being chased by one of these A-20 ‘Havocs’ with its six cannons blazing.” (The rudder-fin of the movie “Memphis Belle” towers above all.) (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Stored outside on display were a Fairchild C-119, along with a DC-3 also owned by the B-17 guy.