Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It never fails...

...That during the coldest night already this winter, 30 F, we not only get a locomotive with no cab heater, and we have to work the elevator the farthest from the mill. 17 miles to be exact.
Again, I say What the fuck!
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, January 29, 2007

One step up, two steps back...

Ok, it never fails. Every fucking time I think I'm getting ahead, something or someone comes along to fuck it up.
This is what happened this time.
I bought my new truck last month, paid cash for it. There was a few little things wrong with it, but you expect that when you get a vehicle that's just about 13 years old. But I should have fucking known when the dealer was an Italian guy from North Jersey.
Fucking Wop Guinny bastard.
So about a week ago I start to get the really bad vibration when I hit 35 MPH. Felt exactly like a Universal joint going out. No biggie thinks I, I'll take it to the shop and have them replace it. It's not a really major deal if you get it in time... If you let a U-Joint go for to long you run the risk of the drive shaft falling out.
Definately ungood.
So I thought I'd get it taken care of as soon as possible. I dropped it off at the shop here in town last week and get a call from them the next day.
It wasn't the U-Joint.
I have a dead cylider. One of the cylinders isn't firing at all and when the RPM's get up to the high range the motor runs ragged, making it feel just like a U-Joint. No compression at all in N. 8 cylider.
(And before any of you think to say it, yes, now I know I'm not running on all eight cyliders... And the car had no warranty, it was sold "as is"... And everything checked out ok when I drove it off the lot)
So now this morning I have to drop in off again for a complete valve job... Going to run me around $1,000.
On top of that I've got to rent a car because I can't keep asling my buddy JP to pick me up every day for the next week, it's unfair to him. And I do prefer to have a little freedom.
So, this is just another in a long line of reasons why my No. 1 phraze to come out of my mouth is "What The Fuck!"
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, January 26, 2007

Buy A Buick!

Now why didn't I think of that four years ago?

Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cold Front?

Ok, it seems a cold front is supposed to be moving through the area here tonight... Bringing with it temperatures in the 30's...
Good thing I still have winter clothes.
30 degrees isn't all that cold in the greater scheme of things, but it is cold... And it is January. I somehow knew I wasn't going to escape the winter entirely, and as maybe an omen of things to come, this past Sunday was the 30-year anniversary of snow really falling , and laying here in Clewiston...
It'll be cold, yes... But nowhere as frigid as my marriage was... Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of sex right up until the moment I said "I Do"... Then later the sex came back, but sadly I was never included.
I'll go drag out my long underwear and put on some hot chocolate now...
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What will I do?

I've received several messages lately asking, "Ranger Tom, you keep saying about the crop ending... What will you do then?"
Well, I'm not 100% sure how it will go in the end, but here's the plan so far:
I keep on hearing that the crop will end anywhere from the middle of March and this year it might go on until the end of April. No one really knows for sure, so for the sake of argument I'm going to assume it's not going to end until the end of April. If it ends earlier, then that'll be a pleasant suprize.
After the crop is over and I'm laid off from work, I'm definitely going to head north back to Philadelphia for a few weeks to see family, scarf down a never-ending line of cheezesteaks and Italian hoagies...
After that I'm heading west... Short term there's a short-line railroad in southeastern Idaho that's extremely interested in me... Interested enough that I get an email from them about every two weeks saying "Any idea yet when you're available?" to a larger railroad a little further east of that in Casper, Wyoming that's hiring about 400 conductors a year for the next several years to take up the slack in the coal mining region on the Powder River Basin.
So west in a few months, and maybe Big Sky Country...
Now I really have to get to bed... I've been working shitloads of overtime and not getting enough sleep.
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, January 22, 2007

Descripitives on how I feel right now.


That's just what my Thesaurus found in the first try. I'm to damn tired to find more.

Maybe I'll write tomorrow...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Shut the FUCK UP already!

Ok. I've been working seven days a week now since the middle of September, with only one day off where I wasn't sick as a dog. I haven't really bitched to much about it here but I'm tired.
But... But there's one guy I work with I like a whole lot. I guess you could say he's my best friend here in Clewiston. But every time he opens his mouth for the last three fucking months all I fucking hear is how fucking tired he is... How he didn't get to spend Christmas eve with his family because he had to work...
How sick of all the work he does...
And because he's my friend I've bit my tongue... Kept silent but I'm really not sure how much longer I'll last without a monumental explosion of biblical proportions. I'm going to erupt at some point in the near future and tell him this:
"You know what pal? We're ALL FUCKING tired. Here's a little fucking news-flash for you... We're all working the same fucking hours you are. And you didn't get to spend Christmas Eve with your family? Big Fucking Deal. I haven't seen MY FUCKING FAMILY for three FUCKING YEARS! Fucking DEAL with it! Life's fucking tough... Buy a fucking helmet. You've got free housing, an absurdly good salary and all's you've got to do is complain and fucking whine? We're all as tired as you and you're the only one who's bitching? Do your fucking job and SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!!!!!!!
Ok. I vented my spleen.
I'm feeling much better now. You can now all return to what you were all doing.
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My next new toy...

Springfield Armory, National Match grade M1A... 11.4 pounds of 7.62mm heaven...
And will shoot 1/2" MOA at 500 meters.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A new RT-Mobile!

I've been so busy with work I forgot to tell you guys...
This past 27th of December was my 41st birthday, and since for the past three years or so I've been driving around in a shitty little truck I decided to give myself a little present.
I drove over to Fort Myers and found this little gem and bought it for myself.
A 1994 Ford Bronco XLT 4x4.
I've always liked them and was saddened by Ford's decision to stop production of the Bronco in 1996. I had a 1988 that I had bought for myself new when I got out of the Army.
So now I've got a new "RT Mobile"
Now all I have to find is a 26' travel trailer and I'll be set!
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Half way?

So the other day I said we were at the half-way point in the crop. To me it feels like we've ground to a halt for some reason.
For the past month or so we've been running our collective asses off, leaving the yard as soon as we punch in and never getting back to the depot until it's time to punch out...
But the last two nights we've been dead. One run, that's all. Around 1:30 this morning Jack and I finally leave the yard with 33 empties to take to one elevator and pick up 28 loads.
That's it.
Total elapsed time: One hour, thirty seven minutes.
I spent the last three hours of my shift sleeping in a lounge chair in the crew room. I used to think the army was the only place in the world I could do absolutely nothing and still get paid. And the most ironic thing is I've been on overtime since Friday.
I don't know what's worse, running your ass of or doing nothing.
At least I was able to catch up on some sleep.
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The scare of my life, or how high cholesterol can really almost kill you

This might be a little to much information for some of you but I do have to vent...
Ever since my separation from my ex-wife and the ensuing divorce I've been getting a yearly HIV test. I wasn't sure just what little hitchhikers she had brought home to me so I was being safe and getting myself checked.
So since I had a doctor's appointment this past Tuesday and he was going to do a full blood workup on me anyway, if figured what the hell, toss in the HIV test along with it. It's been almost a year since my last one so I didn't see the harm in killing two birds with one stone.
No problem, he writes the orders, I make a follow-up appointment for the 16th of this month to go over my test results for everything else and go over to the outpatient clinic to let the vampires have some blood.
So Thursday rolls around, I get home from work, do some laundry, cook myself some dinner, watch the news and go to bed... Around 3 PM my phone rings and wakes me up. I look at the caller ID and it's the Doctor's Office... Must be serious because I left instructions on my chart NOT to call after 11 AM... I'm asleep. Calling me at 3 PM is the equivalent of you weird people who work in the daytime getting a phone call at 2 AM... So I think it might be serious... I answer the phone...
"Hello, Mr. Wolfenden?"
"We've got your lab results and the Doctor needs to go over some things with you..."
The very first thought I had was "Oh shit!"
My heart is pounding in my chest now, my mouth gets instantly dry... My breathing is shallow at this point and as I break out in a cold sweat I ask...
"What's wrong?"
"Sir, we can't give any information over the phone since it's an HIV test..."
"Well, it's got to be serious if you're calling me... I already HAVE an appointment next Tuesday!"
"Then you can come in then sir..."
"What the fuck! Tell me what's wrong, damnit!"
"Sir, like I said before, we can't give that information out over the phone... But your cholesterol is a little high..."
"No shit my cholesterol is high! I'm forty-one fucking years old and don't eat right... Now my blood pressure is sky-high too!"
"I'm sorry sir... You'll have to discuss this with the Doctor..."
After a few more words are exchanged, none of them really pleasant, I hang up and try to get back to sleep....
Yeah, right. That's going to happen.
I finally fall back to sleep about two hours later, tossing and turning... I do remember getting up at one point to use the bathroom... This is where it gets funny... I do remember being so tired I sat down to piss...
I wake up to my alarm clock a little later, stagger out to brush my teeth and look in my reflection in the mirror...
The head of my dick is blue!
I've got HIV now my dick is turning blue and going to fall off!!!
I look again and the color is strangely similar to the water in my toilet...
Dumbass! Your John~Thomas hung down into the water earlier when you were pissing...
Another stroke avoided.
But I still HAD to find out what the fuck was wrong with my test results. I couldn't wait until Tuesday. So after a troubled night at work I drove directly to the Doctor's office and waited until they opened at 8AM... I told the receptionist what had happened and she immediately got the doctor.
I told him my story and he was very apologetic and we went over my test results.
Hep. A - Negative
Hep. B - Negative
HIV - Negative
My LDL cholesterol count by the way? 131
The "Target" range for a male in my age group is 130 or lower.
So for one fucking point I almost stroked out and got a blue dick on top of that.
But I did get a script for Lipitor...
Shit like this can only happen to me I keep telling you...
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, January 12, 2007

I'm "The Little Engine That..."

Lat night I was informed that we've actually reached the "Mid-season"... Halfway through the crop...

Three more months?

Is it April yet???

Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jericho - Five for Fighting Music Video

I'm not really big on TV at the moment but there are a few shows I really like, Jericho being my favorite... Maybe it's because of the drama involved, or quite possibly it's my recurring post-apocalyptic dreams I have...

Either way, it's a fantastic show.

Watch it.

The New Season Begins February 21

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another of RT's "WTF" moments...

So the other night I got called into work early. Seems the 4 to 12 conductor had a death in the family and automatically gets three day's off... I'm secretly listing people in my family to off so I can get a few day's sleep...
Anyway, I got called into work four hours earlier than usual. I got up and dressed and headed my happy ass into work.
But I forgot something.
I forgot to shut off my alarm clock... Which has the most annoying "Eeeh Eeeh Eeeh" in the world, and it's loud.
It was set for 9 PM...
My master bedroom shares a common wall with my next-door neighbor's master bedroom...
My next-door neighbor who just happens to be the Senior Vice President of the Railroad I'm in the employ of...
I get home the following morning at 7:15 AM and I'm not even at my patio yet and I can hear it...
"Eeeh Eeeh Eeeh..."
What the fuck!
I haven't heard about it yet... But I'm sure I will soon enough...
Sometimes you just got to laugh or you'll cry.
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


This morning I had a little on-the-job injury... Got my hand pinched while I was lacing up air hoses on my outbound train this morning.
Hurt like a bitch... And me being left-handed leaves me out of certain extracurricular activities for a few days.
This wasn't as bad as one I did to myself right before Thanksgiving. I basically took off the entire pad of my right thumb.
That one brought tears to my eyes.
And least I wasn't smushed by a rail car.
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Even Mr. Conductor fucks up

So last night didn't start out to be as busy as the last few weeks... Everybody, although very tired, sees the end in sight. Crop should be over by the end of March so that's got everyone in a better mood.
Jack and I only had two elevators to contend with last night and they were loading, well, sort of like old people fuck...
Anyway, we weren't chasing cane all night. Jack and I took a cut of 26 empty cane cars out to Townsite #3 spotted them and pulled in 30 loaded ones our first trip. Second and final trip of the night, supposedly easy, was to run 21 empties out to Flaghole #1, spot them up and pull in 13 loads they had waiting.
Easy, right?
We get out to Flaghole and it's around 4 AM at this point. It's darker that the inside of a West Virginia coal mine and a heavy, low fog has rolled in off the cut cane fields so it's harder that hell to see what we're (I'm) doing... We couple up to what I thought was 13 cars and pulled them off the siding to the main line. I do a break test and check the air in our train line and everything checks ok. I hop on the locomotive, finish my paperwork and stuff on the computer and we head back to the yard...
I get on the radio and inform the yardmaster we're inbound with 13 loads, he gives us our instructions and tells us he's lined us into track #5... We roll into the yard and the yardmaster is out at the #5 switch checking our train... Next thing I know he's on the radio to me asking "Just how many cars were you bringing in?" I tell him 13 and he says there's only 10 on my train...
Oh shit.
So now Jack and I have to creep back out on the main line all the way back to Flaghole, making sure we didn't leave them on the main line somewhere...
Fortunately they were there at the elevator...
So we get back in to the yard around 6 AM with the last three cars and here it comes... The ball-breaking that I've been expecting. Especially from one of the other crew's switchman, who I've been teasing about not being able to count cars...
Well, at least I receive a good ballbreaking as well as I dish out.
Because if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
Tomorrow's another day!
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Reader participation required!

Got a few emails about my post yesterday... Namely, Hey RT, what the fuck are you talking about with the 'Ask RT' stuff?"
Ok. Here it goes. This is what I need you to do. Glean through your local newspapers and send me the letters to "Dear Abby" and the like... Don't send me the replies.
That'll be my job.
I'll answer the questions... In my own acerbic and caustic style.
Go here for an example:
You'll laugh so hard you'll piss your pants.
Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, January 05, 2007

Funny Foto Friday is back!

Just imagine girls! Being able to stand up to piss just like us guys! No more waiting in long lines at concerts and nightclubs! Just go right into the men's room and use the urinal!
With enough practice, you might even master the fine art of writing your name in the snow!
Happy Funny Foto Friday!
Oh yeah... As an after thought, I'm thinking of bringing back "Ask RT"... For those of you who don't know what that is, it's where I take every day letters to "Dear Abby" and answer them myself in my own caustic style...

Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Random & Weird railroad pictures

An alligator I spied one morning in a canal next to a switchstand...
Sunrise behind my locomotive this morning...
My best bud here, JP (left) who is the "Dump" conductor, and his engineer, Robert in the crew room at the depot.
Some graffiti on one of our covered sugar hoppers, ones like this one are what I build my "outbound" train every morning. I'll have anywhere from ten to forty loads like this I have to put together every morning before 7 AM. Each one holds close to 100,000 pounds of pure refined sugar in bulk. I'm going to start an album of just the graffiti I see. Some is very creative and artistic, like the one pictured above...
Some decidedly not so creative and artistic...
Yet another dead turtle carcass...
A Banyan tree stump out on the main line. I took this photo to give a little perspective but that really didn't work...
So here's another perspective. Mind you, that's me standing there and I'm 6' 2 1/2" tall...

Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My train of thought derailed

Last night went well considering right off the bat I almost got run over by a tank car filled with 25,000 gallons of molasses that was kicked down the wrong track...

You can't hear rolling freight cars when there's no locomotive attached.

Anyway, this is a brief snippet of a conversation between my engineer, Jack and myself last night:

Me: "So again there's no sand in the locomotive?"

Jack: "Yep."

Me: "Wonderful..."

Jack: "We just got another pig on my side again..." As he blows the whistle for a crossing.

Me: "Crossing is Clear! Get it good?"

Jack: "Naw, just swiped it some."

Me: "How's the train line holding air?"

Jack: "Got eighty pounds in the train line and the main reservoir is holding at ninety... Train line's dropping some..."

Me: "I'll check the hoses when we get to Weatherald Two... Probably another gladhand gasket..."

Jack: "The rip track will have nothing to do after you're done, you've bout' changed every gasket in the fleet in the last three months..."

Me: It's not like this stuff is old or anything, the car right next to the motor was made in 1929, practically brand~new..."

Here's where the radio come to life...

"Sugarmill Yardmaster to the 405, over..."

Me: "405 answering, over."

SYM: "405, bypass Townsite Two and bring the 56 loads you have on your train right into the yard... Ag is slowing down and the mill is cranking up, over."

Me: "I copy bypass town two and bring my train directly into the yard, over."

SMY: "Roger 405, Sugarmill Yardmaster out..."

Me: "405 out..." then I look at Jack. "Tell me again Jack how lucky I am to be working here..."

Jack: "Yep, you are..."

Me: "You know what Jack? It's so fucking refreshing working for a company where every department communicates so well with each other, so well in fact it purrs like a finely tuned, well-oiled machine..."

And with that statement Jack rolls his eyes and laughs...

Jack: "Hey, it's raining on my side of the train..."

Me: "Yep, raining on my side too..." As I reach up and turn the knob for the pneumatic wipers. "Just in time for us to get back to the yard and work the outbound..."

And that's how my night went... At least I wasn't smushed by a 100,000 pound rail car.

Copyright 2007 Thomas J Wolfenden