July 3, 2022

Death’s End (Review)

nd this is the third book in the series that started with The Three-Body Problem and ramped up in The Dark Forest. It’s a look at humans, our planet and our place in the sprawling galaxy. Older characters have pretty much faded away and the story focus on Cheng Xin, a thoughtful young rocket engineer who ends up getting caught up in events she is forced (and sometimes unqualified) to face. She is the one, upon finding out that a passing college acquaintance gifted her an actual star (not the name of the star, no, but the entire thing, planets […]
July 1, 2022

On Sheet – Keeping tabs on things

o some of you might be actually rolling dice for destinations and thinking that there has got to be another way (especially when that die knocks over scenery or bounces under the layout). A step up from rolling dem bones (and below developing a full-fledged waybill system) is the tab-on-car system. It works just like it sounds. You need to go to the local hobby shop and get some styrene strips (Evergreen makes them). Look for the stuff that has a cross-cut like a bracket like this – [ – Take it home and cut it into small square pieces. […]
June 26, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 6/26/2022

o be honest, I feel a little like one of those people who are reading Time Magazine at 30,000 feet, rationing my peanuts and trying to ignore the loudmouth in the seat next to me. The next moment, I’m waking up in a muddy field surrounded by wreckage, still strapped to my smoldering seat. First thought: what just happened? The first shift on the Komars’ West Virginia Northern went really well – the railroad was clicking through its paces and we actually finished up a little early, allowing us time to prep up for the post lunch & meridian shift. […]
June 26, 2022

The Churn (Review)

veryone knows the few facts about Amos Burton of the Rocinante in The Expanse, that he is a mechanic and also a likable yet unstable crew member. When it comes to total zen violence, Amos is your man. Other facts we know – he grew up in flooded Baltimore, a city of people either involved in criminal acts or on government assistance. We know that his real name was Timmy, that he lived with an old woman, Lydia.That his childhood friend Erich is a cripple with a shriveled arm who now runs the crime in Baltimore. And that Timmy took […]
June 24, 2022

On Sheet – A certain Point of View

o said Obi Wan Kenobi in one of the early StarWars movies: “A certain point of view”. But this isn’t about hedging your uncomfortable backstory, this blog is about ops. So last week, I mentioned how you could pick up a six-sided die and essentially run a loop or two on your layout, then roll the die to determine which car of your string was going to be cut on and placed on a siding. And if you did that, you might have looked at it in one of two way as you visualized your operation. Train-Centric :You might have […]
June 23, 2022

Celeb (Dog Ear)

got a chance to be famous the other week. I was with the wife at Juniors, our official dining room, when a curious (and ego-boosting) thing happened. Okay, needed backstory: I’ve given Early ReTyrement to our two waiters. One of them saw us always reading at the table and asked for any toss-out books we might have (he wanted to get into reading). Of course, I probably poisoned the well by giving him my self-published novel. And then the other waiter said she wanted one too. It’s okay, I’ve got a box full of these literary loves). So I’ve pretty […]
June 23, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/22/2022

y original plan was to run a through freight with my new Pennsy F’s, but it turned out I was the only dispatcher on deck so back into the office I went. Smooth night with a good turnout. Crews were meeting their on-call times (if not a little before). The layout is running better (though the metal wheels continue to cause cursing and might result is us switching the worst offenders back unless a better alternative is found). Once I reminded people to call clear of the main, they generally did. In this, I got to focus on my panel. […]
June 20, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 06/19/2022

ather’s Day in Tuscarora, Pennsylvania, 1962. It’s a lazy weekend in the middle of summer. Somewhere in this idyllic town, boys are playing softball with their fathers. Being Sunday, the industries down by the tracks are closed. And with shippers being closed, the usual through traffic on the railroad is non-existent. But the mines are still working and eastern coal consumers, the powerplants and the export docks are in full swing. And for that, the rails are still humming from the passage of coal drags. Given the increasing length of the trains, the Pennsy has taken the RS units out […]
June 19, 2022

The Seas That Mourn (Review)

o I was looking for something other than cutting edge scifi and saw this book on my wife’s done stack, something she got from somewhere that had caught her eye, The Seas That Mourn, by Patrick D. Smith. Now, I didn’t know about Mr. Smith but have since found out that he is a very popular Florida writer and has a section of State Road 520 named after him (which I’ve driven a lot of times and never noticed). Of course, this honor was done by a governor before they started using their office to ban books and punish gay-tolerating […]
June 17, 2022

On Sheet – Just die!

o I was asked to explain all the facets of model railroad operations, to spool this out and gradually teach you how to research, string diagram and prototype your operations so you’ll have ops so successful you’ll need velvet ropes and a bouncer to keep things manageable. But you aren’t sure about ops and want to try, just you, on your little home layout? So here’s what you do. Go into the den and loot through your board games, Risk or Monopoly or whatever. Take a single six-sided die from the box. Now, on your layout, build a train with […]