Monday, November 20, 2006

I'm feeling much better...

Thank you all for the warm wishes and get well notes. I am feeling almost human again and it is so damn wonderful to be actually able to breath through my nose for the first time in two weeks. I'm also not sounding like George Burns in a TB ward anymore either... Which sucked at work because my engineer couldn't understand me half the time on the radio.
Anyway, I'm better.
I'm also going to be rather busy the next few days this week... Between work and a very special visitor coming for a few days I won't have much time for blogging. I'll be back later next week, refreshed, relaxed and, well... Better!
Happy Thanksgiving all!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Denis Leary was right again, as usual

On Tuesday I had alluded that I wasn't feeling very good. That was sort of an understatement. For the past week and a half I've been sort of "Holy shit I haven't been this fucking sick in fifteen fucking years please shoot me and put me out of my misery" sick. I'm not going to go into the details of my symptoms, but if any of you have ever read Stephen King's "The Stand" will identify with how I felt. I had been trying to persevere with it and just keep on soldiering on but last night when I got to the yard office I couldn't go on anymore. The other night one switchman called out, and the last two nights my engineer was out with what we're now calling the "Clewiston Cruds". I got the yardmaster to mark me off for the night and proceeded to the local Wal Mart to get the Elixer of the Gods... Nyquil.

Capitol "N", little "y" Big fucking "Q"...

The "Q" had been calling me to succumb to the Green Death flavor...

I got back home and was already opening the bottle before my front door was closed. Down a HUGE shot of it and Bang! Right into the Nyquil coma.

Bliss for eight hours of un-interrupted sleep.

I'm still not feeling 100% but that NyQuil Coma was just what I needed. That and a solid night's sleep. Hopefully I'll be feeling better in a few days... I hope so. I really hate feeling like this. The crop isn't even half over yet and I've got a lot more work to do.

Is it April yet?

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Go figure

Because I'm feeling rather shitty... I've been sick for about the past week and not getting any better, and of course my Work Ethic won't let me call out sick... I'm not feeling all that creative right now so I pinched this survey off of Ecblade:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Midland
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Go figure...

Yo Vinnie! I wunner how it figgered that wun out? Wanna go downna two street an getta chizsteak?

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A different perspective

Since I started working here, I've been on the 11 PM to 7 AM shift so all I get to see is what you see above while I'm working. Needless to say it's not really conducive for great photos to post. Starting this past week though I've been working several hours overtime, over and above the regular 56 hours weekly. I've been putting in a few 4-hour extra shifts added on to help cover another guy's shift while he's out injured. (NOT job related!) This being the case, I've had a few opportunities to get some pictures while I'm actually working and you can actually see what it is that I'm doing and a little scenery thrown in.
Tooling down the main line heading out to one of the sugar cane loading elevators, as seen from my window of the locomotive...
Arriving at "Flaghole #4" loading elevator, slowing down to "spot" empty cane cars and pick up loaded ones...
The "Agro" Department, loading cane cars with fresh cut raw sugar cane...
Leaving Flaghole #4 with a load of sugar cane to take to the mill... (Actually not leaving, I had my engineer stop the train so I could get this shot...)
traveling along the mail line again, through large cane fields. Again, the "Agro" department busy burning the fields... This need to be done just prior to harvesting so the cane will be processed correctly and a new crop can grow next season.
A view looking out my window at my train... I look this way often, especially on curves, like this one coming into Flaghole Junction. I look back often to inspect my train for any defects and hot boxes...
Finally, Train 405 arrives at Clewiston railyard with it's load of 100 cars of fresh sugar cane for the mill, seen in the background.
Another day in the life of Ranger Tom, Railroader.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, November 10, 2006

I thin I need to do a little splainin'

Like Ricky Ricardo used to say...

It seems my Wednesday post had several (but not all!) of my loyal readers quite baffled. A few got the joke. As I was driving home Wednesday morning, I was stuck behind a car with one of those annoying "WWJD" bumperstickers... He was driving really slow, like 15 in a 35 MPH zone... And I thought:
"Jesus would run you off the road, asshole!"
I'll always respect someone's faith, whether it be for Jesus, Budda, Allah... Or the Cosmic Muffin. But don't throw it in my fucking face! Especially the far Right-Wing Christians with all the hypocrisy...
Can anyone say Ted Haggard?
So I got to thinking, all these little smarmy catch-phrases that every religion has... And how each is just as annoying in their own way. So I decided to come up with my own little catch-phrase...
And just what would I do? He he he... What do you think I'd do in any situation?
I've decided to add that to my T-Shirt line... Click on this link to see my whole line of quality RT shirts:

So click away and get you very own WWRTD? T-Shirt today!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


What Would Ranger Tom Do?
Depends on my mood and who I really want to piss off that particular day.
So keep checking back daily to find out what I'd really do. I can tell you one thing, you'll never be bored...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What's in RT's grip?

As I promised yesterday... A peek into Ranger Tom's grip. A "Grip" is a small bag or case that every railroader carries with them at work. It holds everything a conductor might need on the train. Click on the image to get the full-size photo.
From left to right...
1) Railroad operation and safety rule book
2) Work gloves
3) Extra batteries for my lantern
4) Insect repellent
5) Crossword puzzle
6) The grip itself
7) Railroad fusees (flares)
8) Extra pack of smokes
9) Ibuprofin & Naproxin
10) "Wheel Report" book (What I keep track of my train's cars with)
11) Pens
12) Railroad Conductor's Lantern
13) Reflective safety vest (Where I keep a spare switch key, knife, pen, and extra gaskets for glad hands)
Not seen is my lunch, munchies and a few bottles of Gatorade I bring along every night.
I hope this give you all a little more insight into my job!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, November 06, 2006

Some slang

Since venturing off into my new career, From soldier to cop to court security, to volunteer firefighter and babysitter to vast piles of West Virginia bituminous... Now onto my dream career as railroader full time... I've led a very checkered past and path to where I am now. While every job I've had has had some colorful slang, the railroad is no different. Since I'll be writing a lot about my trials, tribulations and (mis)adventures riding the "High Iron" I thought I'd give you all, my loyal and dear readers a glossary of sorts of my new profession's own terms for things...

hogger, hoghead, driver

Engineer trainee

Ram-rod, conducer, The Brains, skipper


brakie, pinner, pinhead, baby lifter

Yard Master
yard goat, dinger

Yard crew
yard rats, hostler

Car inspector
car knocker, wheel knocker, car toad, car tonk

Fucking dispatcher, dipsnatcher

Track worker
Gandy Dancer, snipe

peeps (short for "people")

iron bender

Railroad detective
bull, cinder dick, pussyfoot (in plain clothes)

hogs, lokies, power, motors

hack, crummie, brain box

Switcher engine

main, iron, high iron, high rail


string of cars

Train order

little terrorists, munchkins

Had enough? Didn't think so...

"On the high iron, let the big dogs walk" means the caboose is over the switch and on the mainline so open the throttle all the way on the locomotives

"All black, well stacked, goin' down the track clickity clack" means the train looked good on the visual roll-by inspection.

"Pull the pin" or "let's pull the pin and roll" means "uncouple so we can get out of here"

"Highball it out of here." Proceed at maximum permissible speed

"Double the hill" means the train is split in half to get up a grade

"We are on the ground!" means the train has derailed

"Mosey Speed" means when you approach the limit of your track warrant and have not received a new warrant, you mosey up to the limit prepared to stop.

"Grip" Trainman's suitcase

"Dead Head" A railroad employee traveling as a passenger

"Drag" Describes the movement of a heavy train, such as a coal drag

"Dump the air" Emergency application of the air brakes causing a train to stop abruptly

"Dog chasing" A crew change out.
And my personal favorite:
"Train 405, permission to enter the yard limits and place our engine into the roundhouse and deliver our load..."
"...Train 405, you have permission to enter the yard limits unrestricted, the switches are lined for your movement of your engine and load, you have permission to place your engine into the roundhouse."
Tomorrow... What's in Ranger Tom's "Grip"...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nuff Said?

Went to work in a shitty mood. Spent my shift in a shitty mood, came home in a shitty mood.

Friday, November 03, 2006

WARNING: Do Not Read If Easily Offended

I'm keeping with my motto and having absolutely no Sacred Cows... Anything and everything is open and I will find humor in anything, so here it goes.
Last night while I was getting ready for work I was scanning over the news headlines on Yahoo to see if anything had happened while I was off in the Land of Nod and one headline caught my eye and I immediately broke out in fits of laughter because of what crossed my mind as I read it.
The headline you ask?
"300 letters to God found floating in the Atlantic Ocean"
And now what though crossed my mind that made me laugh hysterically?
I pictured Jesus... Taking a leisurely stroll one morning last week, say, taking a shortcut from Hoboken, NJ to the Azores... Going through his morning mail, sipping a nice espresso. All at once he had one moment of doubt about his own faith...
"Can I really walk on water?" He thinks...
And Sploosh!
All that is left is a soggy Starbuck's cup and his mail floating along the Gulf Stream as the only reminder...
Another rare glimpse into the warped and demented mind of Ranger Tom...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ain't nuthin' funny about it

I think I've broken something in my arm.
About a week ago I was getting back on my locomotive and I felt a little pain in my left arm as I was climbing the ladder. The locomotive was moving at the time and I may have overextended the arm a bit...
A sharp pain. Not a dull, achey pain like a sprained muscle.
It runs from my elbow all the way down my humerus to my wrist... And hasn't gotten any better and I'm almost out of Aleve. I've been eating them like M&M's...
I've just been soldiering on with it for the last week hoping it was just a sprain but apparently it isn't. And of course my medical doesn't kick in until the end of November.
Anyone got any Naproxin they can spare?
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden