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A Compendium of Model Railroad Operations (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 24 June 2018 00:00

kay, for people who’ve never listened to my hobby-babble, model train operations means running your model train layout (your own or a club’s) like a real railroad. I’ve been doing this for years and have been blogging about it endlessly HERE. So this, like anything else; stamp collecting, slot cars, whatever, is total geekdom stuff.

But, oh yeah, it’s cool.

This book goes into how railroads work. What positions should you simulate. What do trains do. How do they make money. And how do they avoid crashing into one another. It’s actually a fascinating subject (trust me on this, or come out to our train come someday and watch us do it). But enough of this: to the book itself.

I found it quite interesting. It’s already got me thinking about how our club forwards freight. Right now, we use a computer program to do it (takes a couple of hours). This book didn’t come out and say how to do it better but it got me to thinking and we’ve got a new system bouncing around right now, getting closer to trying. And that’s good. But then again, I suggested to another layout owner how he could improve his session and he politely asked me to keep paperwork out of his hair, so there’s that too. Not everyone’s a convert.

On the plus side of this book, it’s pretty inclusive. It covers a lot of things about railroading that you didn’t know about (like B&O-style signaling). It also does a fairly good job given newbies (those people who have a round-the-Christmas-tree loop of track and are looking for something more) some practical steps on going further.

Now, on the negative side, that’s fine. But the book did go off the rails (had to use that pun) in a number of spots. Those B&O signals, that was a page and a half of space which probably could have been used better elsewhere. Me, I wanted to find out more about warrants (which we use at the club). The question I had, the “Do not foul ahead of” option, was brushed off. And as far as how waybills work, yes, while they spent dozens of pages detailing all the famous systems in model railroad history, I don’t remember a newbie-level example of a waybill and a lading slip, and how they really work. Same with string diagrams. Same with how Time Table and Train order really work (their fictional account was more filled with artistic license that actual solid examples). So, in the long view, I’m not sure what the target for this book was – it wasn’t basic enough to school an isolated newbie to get started with his first basic sequential operations scheme (was that even covered?). But for the railheads, most of this was pretty basic (with the exception of that “Do not foul” thing, which I’m still swimming in countering definitions over).

But great pictures and interesting information, all around. The good thing about this book is that, if you are a railroader and sitting on the fence about whether to op or not, this might push you into the greener pastures.

>>>WHAT CAN I SAY? MY OWN BOOKS ARE FOR SALE DOWN THIS LINK<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 June 2018 19:28
 
Terminal (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 17 June 2018 00:00

he big conversation these days is the settlement of Mars and how everyone would go (well, now, if you ask them). And this story centers on how they will go. In this case, it’s in Jalopies – single person pods that will feed you, entertain you, and keep you somewhat sane on that long voyage across space to Terminal, the new city being built on Mars. For once you’ll arrive you’ll be a citizen, your Jalopy will be scrapped for the city, and you’ll join the others in this hardscrabble existence.

But that’s the thing. Jalopies are cheap – you can sign up to go on a street corner. And a lot of people are going who have medical conditions, people who won’t make it to Mars – why not? You’ll still get the materials there, right?

And so Terminal is a drifting story of this drifting fleet, of Haziq (a fellow who left his wife and family behind) and Mei (a woman suffering some sort of bone degeneration) as well as a lot of other people chattering back and forth across their radios, monitored (even voyeured) from Earth. Don’t expect technical details or a hard conclusion or anything from this story. It is more a drifting tale of people coming to terms with themselves in this great human migration, of individuals and dreams and frailties. I rather liked it – it didn’t have any powerful much, no gotcha ending. It just drifted along (like the Jalopies) towards an eventual conclusion.

I found it in The Best Science Fiction of the Year which I think was for 2016. You still should be able to get it, or possibly find the story on its own someplace. Good luck, Space Cowboy.

>>>MY STORIES, ON THE OTHER HANDS, CAN BE FOUND RIGHT DOWN THIS LINK. HAVE A LOOK. PICK ONE UP! AND THANKS!<<<

 
The War in the Air (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 10 June 2018 12:15

kay, since I’m in the middle of a couple of gigantic books with no end in sight, I needed to go back to the shelves and pick something for review. Yes, even thought this isn’t DOG EAR, I must say that I’ve forgotten big chunks of some of my favorites, so much that I’m not comfortable reviewing them. But War in the Air, much like that other Wellsian classic, War of the Worlds, has thoughts and scenes that stick with me.

So were stuck in this world of 191- with Bert, a humble bicycle mechanic. Bert labors through his days and follows his petty concerns (as I recall it) while the great powers are stirring for their final struggle. You see, the airship is all the rage and replacements can be built in small, scattered shops. Once the fleet is aloft, there is damn near nothing that defenders can do it stop it from centering on cities, of bombing them into ruins, of striking and continually striking, even when their home cities are destroyed.

Sounds a little like all the terrifying me technologies we have, of ICBMs and stealth bombers and internet malware and all the ways that a carefully constructed civilization can be turned into rubble, no?

I remember this being a cracking good read, with Bert sweapt up by the German air fleet, of the final battle between an Oriental Fleet and the Germans over Niagara Falls, of the crashing fall of civilization and Bert’s long trip home to his little village in England, and what it has become. And this story still carries one of the most stunning moments that illustrate how situations and adventures may change a man, when Bert returns to find his “shire” run by evil men. This he quickly sorts out in a scene that hangs with me years afterwards.

You’ll have to peck around for this one – possibly your library has it. And, wait, I just checked – available on Project Gutenberg , HERE, so I’m giving you this one for free. It’s a short read. Have at it, and write me  to remind me why this was so very good!

>>>AND SOME DAY, I’LL HAVE TO REREAD MY OWN BOOK, FIRE AND BRONZE. OR PERHAPS YOU CAN READ IT (GET IT HERE) AND REMIND ME ALL ABOUT IT!<<<

 
Extraction Request (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 03 June 2018 00:00

’m currently digging through a book on the ins and outs of Model Railroad Operations Design (and I’m sure you’ll all be hanging on for that review). But with nothing in the hopper for this week, I went back and read a shorts story from the anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year (Vol 2, which I think means 2016). While the first story I know I’d read somewhere, I knew I hadn’t read the second, Extraction Request, because I don’t recall that feeling of sick dread.

Yeah, it was damn creepy.

So let’s go with the time-honored opener: a convict combat squad from some futuristic time are picking through the wreckage of their shuttle which hit some sort of smartmine in the air and came down in a swamp. The crude soldiers (with all sorts of grim reasons they were convicted into this unit) look at one of their number, a fellow with one arm and nothing else, ruined beyond saving but still glugging in pain. On their heads-up vision, they get a request (the “nudge”) to vote his death. Everyone gives a gloomy upvote, the clamp on the back of his neck detonates, and it’s RIP for him.

And he’s the lucky one.

For this cast-away squad (with its morphine-stealing leader and gruntier-than-grunt-grunts) have landed in a swamp that the locals and even the rebels avoid. And as we read, we realize why; because something that makes the infamous Alien look like a house cat is moving through the swamp, under the mud and slime, and there is nothing they can do.

And I’ll give it this – this was a very unique enemy, about as nasty (and imaginative) as they come, something that you’ll need to read to believe (hello, nightmares). Great work by Rich Larson, a very talented author.

So if you want to see what happens when a misfit squad of convicts runs into the most frightening thing alive, find this anthology or look for it online. Great tale.

>>>THE SCARIEST I COULD MANAGE WAS ASSYRIANS, AND EVEN THROUGH THEY STACK SKULLS, THEY DIDN’T COME CLOSE TO THIS. ANYWAY, CHECK OUT MY HISTORIC NOVELS, DOWN THIS LINK<<<

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 June 2018 08:41
 
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