altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
"And Flun is the letter I use to spell Flunnel,
A softish nice fellow who lives in a tunnel.
He only comes out of his tunnel it's said
When the right kind of softish nice music is played
On a kind of a hunting horn called the O'Grunth.
To learn how to play one takes month after month
Of practicing, practicing, isn't much funth.
And besides, it's quite heavy, weighs almost a ton-th,
So few people bother to play the O'Grunth
And the Flunnel's been out of his tunnel just one-th."

—Dr. Seuss, On Beyond Zebra

(I hope I got that all right. No copy handy to check.)

Finally down to practicing music for the IRM picnic on Saturday. Gary and I ran over a selection of train-related songs he has picked out. Tomorrow morning we'll meet with Amy and go over some again. And possibly Thursday afternoon with Neal. Then he meets with Neal and Amy on Friday while I'm at work. And then it's Saturday and we try to fit it all together live. Ha ha. Ho ho. Hee hee.

Getting back my guitar calluses after years of slacking is rough. And that says nothing about trying to get back the actual licks. But no matter.

*licks sore finger tips* I hope.

At least the weather has been nice. Hope it holds up for the weekend. I swear I saw an Anna's hummingbird at the library. And we are swarmed with orioles and goldfinches here at home. Thought there was a baby screech owl nearby last night, but it could have been a neighbor weaning a foal. The sound is not that different.
altivo: My mare Contessa (nosy tess)
What wolf are you?
Your Result: Omega Male/Female

you are the omaega male/female you tend to be a loner and you have only a couple close prefer to be alone . and you are not much of a follower.

Regular Wolf
Alpha Female
Alpha male
Beta Male
Beta Female
What wolf are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

After reading the first three of four books in Patricia Briggs' "Alpha and Omega" series, I realize that when I created Argos, an Omega wolf as she defines it would be just about exactly what I intended. I've always said that Argos is myself, in a sense, so when I came across this quiz I figured I should take it and see. There's the outcome.

Day started sunny but turned cloudy in mid-afternoon. Then thunder, rain showers, more thunder, a rattle of small hail, more thunder. Nothing serious, at least not here, just nuisance.

Fortunately, we went to the open house of the Sun City Model Railroaders while it was still nice out, since they feature a garden railroad setup, as well as indoor O, HO, and N scale layouts. There was a Z scale layout in a briefcase, too, which was kinda cute but really tiny.

I have to admit I had a negative reaction to the environment, though. The first people we encountered in the garden area were loudly discussing the "fact" that Obama is not a true citizen and that his birth certificate was "faked" in order to get a black into the Oval Office. It's incredible to me that anyone takes that stuff seriously. (Not to mention the fact that his birth certificate is irrelevant as long as his mother is a US citizen, which she is.)

A lot of money was in evidence. Unfortunately, not a single black or hispanic person was visible, and a lot of narrow-minded attitudes were being expressed all through the exhibits. Way to make a good impression folks.

Moar trains

Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:31 pm
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
More snow too. Or maybe sleet. It fell very lightly for a good chunk of the afternoon, without any significant accumulation as far as I can tell.

Gary wanted to go to a train exhibition at Harper College (in Palatine, not Rockford as I mistakenly thought.) So we went. It was a good show, though we have seen most of the layouts that were there. The really important points were that he got to talk to someone new about t-track modules and landscaping, which helped reduce his concerns about "doing it wrong." Actually, everything he has been doing is just fine. And he got some new ideas. We also had lunch with [personal profile] casey382 and got to talk about landscaping with him and get some added ideas as well as confirmation of what we already heard. That made it worth the trip. Even looking at the same layouts another time, we are learning to see more details and observe the construction tricks.

Had lunch in Crystal Lake, did some grocery shopping, and came home just in time for evening animal care.

Saw a rat in the yard, so Gary put out his traps again. After dusk, saw a big opossum out there too. Hope he doesn't get caught in a rat trap, though we'd rather he went somewhere else. Anywhere else. Not only are opossums among the ugliest of mammals, they carry a neurological parasite that can infect horses with very unpleasant consequences. If he keeps showing up, we may have to trap and remove him to somewhere far away.
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
Like flim flammery. I know, the Woodstock ground hog predicted springlike weather in two weeks, and here it is two weeks and we have sunny days and temperatures well above freezing. All the snow is gone, and replaced by mud.

Drove Gary to his optometrist appointment this afternoon since they would dilate his eyes so he couldn't see to drive home. And they did, and he couldn't, so that was a good thing. He's back to normal now and passed all his tests. Only a slight change to one eye after four years.

Discussion with friends I plan to meet with at FCN led me to check into train schedules and fares to Kalamazoo, which is conveniently close to their farm. To my astonishment, since I haven't looked at Amtrak schedules for some time. There are four trains a day each way between Chicago and Kalamazoo, and the fare is just $22. That's competitive with the price of fuel to drive there. In fact, if the price of fuel goes up this summer as it usually does, the train will be cheaper. I'd have to take Metra from Woodstock to Chicago, then switch stations (just a block or so apart) to get Amtrak. It's quite workable. Timewise it's competitive as well, because though the train ride is slightly longer, I wouldn't be driving and could write or read or whatever (sleep!) on the way. I'd like to go visit them for a weekend, but I hate the driving. This is a good discovery.

And after tomorrow, comes a three day weekend. Yay!


Feb. 15th, 2012 10:06 pm
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
It's raining fairly hard. This is definitely unusual so early in the year, even though they say it will turn to slushy snow later.

The usual long, tiresome midweek, now survived and bed beckoning to me. Tomorrow only a half day of work but I have to drive Gary to the optometrist in the afternoon because they will dilate his eyes so he can't drive himself.

Gary painted the wooden bases of the t-trak modules and last night we put the tracks back on. Now we're ready to start landscaping them.

Can't stay awake any longer. Good night.


Dec. 22nd, 2011 10:04 pm
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
Well, a little one. This is the little guy I mentioned yesterday:

Mane Events donkey

He's made by "Mane Events" and is supposed to be a dog squeaky toy. Once I saw him I couldn't bear the thought of him being chewed and possibly ripped to pieces, so I took him home with me. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to rescue all his brothers and sisters and had to leave them at the store.

No photo of the steam locomotive I mentioned several days ago. It did arrive today, but alas, it doesn't run. I did make a reasonable attempt, including cleaning, lubricating, adjusting the power pickup brushes, but no luck. It's supposed to be returnable, seller message sent.

Gary and I went and finished shopping this afternoon. This included a visit to a new wineseller where I was intrigued by possibilities but only bought what I needed for gifts. I'll be going back later, I'm sure.

We got a couple of items for his mom as well, and that concludes everything but the wrapping and the cooking. (Yes, we're making a ham and hauling it to Chicago. Sigh.)


Dec. 5th, 2011 10:00 pm
altivo: My mare Contessa (nosy tess)
Not originally in the forecast, but we had snow flurries at least three separate times today. Nothing stayed around though, even with the temperature right at freezing.

I now own two box cars. N-scale model ones, actually. Guess I need some track and a locomotive too.

Spent a good chunk of my work hours today trying to revive a dead computer, without success. Finally pulled a "retired" Win2000 desktop out to serve as a temporary replacement. We are due to get some new staff machines in, but the order is delayed while the trust managers come up with the funding.

Sleepy, guess I need to go to bed where it's warm.
altivo: Gingerbread horse cookie (gingerhorse)
I promised photos of the railway museum last week. They are loaded (finally) and can be seen starting with this one:

Pre-war era CSL

That's an old Chicago Surface Lines street trolley from before WW2. Click on this image to go to the set on Flickr, and proceed with "newer" photos to see the whole group. When you get to the photo below, you've reached the next event.

And that's the Boone County Pioneer Festival in Spencer Park:

In the cabin

That's a photo taken in one of the restored cabins in the park. The re-enactor is making butter by shaking cream up in a preserving jar (yes, that works, but it takes about 20 minutes.) She then proceeded to bake rusks on the woodstove. Click on this image to go to the set of photos, and proceed with the "newer" photos to see the whole group.

I apologize that things seem to be in no particular order. The Flickr uploader sometimes does that to me and I haven't figured out any way to resequence them.

Gloomy, cold, rainy, windy day here. Looks like more of the same for the next week or so. There's been a major geomagnetic storm today, with radio disrupted etc. If you have clear skies anywhere in North America, you might want to check for aurora to the north around midnight or so.


Sep. 17th, 2011 09:20 pm
altivo: (rocking horse)
Gary was away at a Civil War event all day, so once my chores were done I dashed over to the Illinois Railway Museum (just three miles from the farm) to meet friends for the afternoon. This was their "Showcase Weekend" when they pull as much working equipment out of the barns as they can and run it all around on the tracks so visitors can ride it.

It was an impressive display. They had two electric trains (one was a caboose train pulled by an electric switcher) and two Diesel trainsets running on the main line, as well as a borrowed replica of a Civil War steam locomotive, the Leviathan. Electric trolley buses were out of the barn and making rounds, which is a rare occasion. Regular rail trolleys were running in large numbers too, representing at least a hundred years of progress I believe. We also saw them moving some CTA subway cars and a pair from New York in and out of the CTA station, though I don't think they were carrying riders on those.

I took a lot of photos and some short video clips. Here's a teaser of the Leviathan locomotive. You'll have to wait a day or two for the rest until I have access to more bandwidth for uploading.

altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
Was a good day in spite of the gloomy skies. It didn't actually rain, but was a bit cool and we could have used a little more breeze to blow away the mosquitoes. Otherwise, I think everyone had a great time at the Illinois Railway Museum today, and thanks to [personal profile] casey382 for organizing it. We even did get around to riding a couple of trains. I particularly enjoyed visiting the railroad post office car and talking briefly with the old timers who actually worked in the mail service on the roads back in the 1960s.

Watched The Voyage of the Dawn Treader tonight and while some of the scenery and costumes were worthwhile as usual I found it disappointing that they felt they had to alter the story for no particular reason except to insert a lot of extra violence and muddy the original plot line. I give it no more than three out of five possible apples.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
PensiveFirst things first, here's a photo of Sarah, the Polish Elkhound, early on Saturday morning when she was just waiting for us to get moving and give her and Simon their breakfast. Her priorities are usually quite clear. I'm well pleased with the little Kodak. It does very well for the price. This was taken only with dawn light coming through the north facing window, no flash, handheld camera, set to imitate a high speed ISO 1600 film.

Today Gary and I went with [personal profile] casey382 (Who is quickcasey on LJ) and rrwolf (see LJ also) to a show put on by the Rock River Valley Division of the National Model Railroad Association. I've been to a couple of other model railroad shows but this was the largest and most diverse I can remember. I took the opportunity to give my new camera some testing, with closeups of tiny (N gauge) trains in motion, and it did quite well in my opinion. I need to sift through the images before posting any, but I'll get some up in a day or two. N gauge models are quite small compared to the model trains of my childhood, something like 13 feet to the inch or so (160:1) which makes it possible for the models and scenery to be much better proportioned and for the trains to move at a reasonable speed in real time without seeming to move much too fast in relation to the scenery. You still need a lot of space for a realistically proportioned exhibit, but it's within attainability with one scale mile fitting into 35 feet or so of real space. Of course, even more than it was when I was a kid, this is a pretty expensive hobby. Locomotives appear to run from $60 to several hundred dollars, and you need track, control modules, and rolling stock as well. The realism you could attain, though, is amazingly close to Hollywood miniature quality. I'll be looking forward to the opportunity to photograph more of these tiny trains in appropriately scaled settings.

Afterward we had lunch in Belvidere and went back to the house where Casey gave us a demonstration of a t-trak ( modular setup of N gauge track, putting together a running loop on our dining room table top in just a few minutes. Track and scenery are assembled in interchangeable wooden modules about a foot long. I had seen these in operation before, but had not seen the assembly or dismantling processes. It's impressively fast and easy.

All said, it was a fun way to spend a day, with good company and doing something different.

Rail dazed

Jun. 6th, 2009 09:51 pm
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (radio)
Great day. Tired. Rode trains. Looked at trains and signals. Rode trolley bus. Spent time with friends. Rode more trains. Went to dinner with same friends.

Missed "RPO weekend" by a week, may have to go back next Saturday to see the railroad post office car actually operating and get some covers with the special cancellation.

Now I need to get some sleep, though.

August 2017



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