Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dream vehicle...

Every year since my divorce, right around this time of year, I try to buy myself something just for me...

A few years ago I went on a trip to Alaska, a the year after I bought myself a nice Ford Bronco and two years ago I bought a really nice mechanical drawing of a steam locomotive that I've got hanging over my fireplace...

Last year I decided to get a vehicle I've always wanted. A Land Rover Type 3... And I found this one on-line for 950 Pounds Sterling (sorry, I can't figure out how to get the little "L" thing on my keyboard) or about $1,500. The one problem, it was in the UK. I contacted the owner as this price was more than acceptable... We talked a few times and I went looking for a shipper.

I found a Import~Export firm in Bristol, UK and we negotiated a price... From Bristol to the Port of Miami the shipping would be around $650... Still way below my $5,000 self-imposed ceiling.
Here's were things began to turn to shit... I contacted the Government here to find out the taxes and tariffs I would incur on importing the said 1978 Land Rover Type 3...

To make a very long story short, to comply with EPA and Federal Highway Regulations, I'd have to spend well over $10,000 to make the vehicle compliant with current standards... Before it even left the fucking dock! Not including the import fees, which were close to $2,000!

Needless to say I didn't spend $14,500 for a $1,500 vehicle...

I may be a bit crazy, but I'm not stupid.

I still want one, but I'm not going to pay out my ass for one.

This year my present to me was going to be a 6 week trip to Australia to visit (get drunk with) some mates, but now with the way the economy is going I'm definately NOT going to be spending $3,000 for just the airfare... Which is the lowest fare I've found so far... For that price the flight attendant better blow me hourly for the 17+ hour flight to Oz...

For a few months now I've been eying the UK... And BritRail has some great deals for a month-long rail pass that will let me get on and off the train, as many times I want anywhere in Britain, Scotland & Ireland.

And maybe I'll finally get to the Imperial War Museum and find the town where my father was billeted in Scotland during World War II prior to D-Day.

Well, wish me luck!

And maybe next time I'll have a new RT~Mobile!

Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Small List...

...Of shit that piss me off.
1) People who are actually upset that they have to go to work right after they punch the time clock.
Excuse me?
God forbid one should actually have to work when they're at work, on the clock! I know it's a stretch, but here's a unique concept: You punch in, you go to work. You punch out, you go home and lounge around. Eight hours' work, eight hours' pay.
These are the same people who work harder at getting out of work that actually doing their job to begin with... Usually pawning it off to someone else.
I say shut the fuck up, do your fucking job and quit your fucking whining.
2) People who work night shift and come into work at say "Boy am I tired!" Shut the fuck up already.
How about getting to sleep when you're at home and not stay up all day. I worked with a guy a few years ago on night shift... He'd go home, stay up all day in an empty house when his wife was at work and his kids were in school. He wouldn't get to bed until after the wife and kids were home and complain almost every night how tired he was.
You fucking dolt.
Did you really believe you were going to get a restful evening of sleep with 3 boys, ages 6, 9 and 12 running around the house?
Sleep when the damn house is empty, dumbass.
3) People who say "Un-Thaw" Now in my mind, "Un" means the opposite. So if you want me to un-thaw something, you want me to freeze it. To thaw something out is to let in "un-freeze"...
So if you ask me to un-thaw that steak, I'll put it back into the freezer.
I was dating a woman a while back in West Virginia. She left a note for me in the kitchen one morning: "Tommy, there's some chicken in the fridge... Un-thaw it for me will you?" So I put it back in the freezer.
Good = Good, Ungood = Bad.
Thaw = Melt, Unthaw = Freeze.
Am I wrong here?
4) People who say "Hamburger meat". There ain't no such thing. I've never met a guy who said he was a Hamburger Rancher.
It's ground beef, moron. Or ground pork or ground turkey. Got it?
5) People who misuse the apostrophe. Like this: (I've actually seen this printed on menus) Hamburger's $5, Cheeseburger's $6, Hot Dog's $2.
What the fuck! It's basic second grade English.
One day while I was still living in Arizona I noticed a hand-painted sign on a power pole on the road to my house. it read:
Puppy's 4 Sale
I couldn't resist. I got my cell phone out and called the number. When the person answered I asked them what the puppies had for sale. They didn't get it.
If you cant distinguish the difference between the use of 's or ies, you've got no damn business writing anything at all, especially on signage people will see.
I expect misspellings on Chinese Restaurant menus, but not people educated here. No wonder everyone else in the world thinks we're all a bunch of morons.
Learn basic English and learn to spell (or at least use spell-check) before you decide to print out a sign and post it somewhere...This is a sign (I shit you not) I saw at a coal mine I worked at briefly in Raven, Virgina:

Am I the only one who gets pissed off at these things?

I haven't had a good rant like this in a while... I needed that! I'll have a drink now.

Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Now if you'll just think "US Army Rangers" every time he says "Marines", everything will be alright.

Because when you Positively, absolutely have to have it destroyed over night...

Don't call a Jarhead.

Call a Ranger!


Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The day before Christmas...

When I got home this morning from work I had all intentions of writing about the bad night my switchman, The Rambling Hillbilly had, because no matter what he did during the shift, it went wrong. Nothing major... Nothing to get anyone hurt... Just a whole bunch off little things happened that I wont go into because it would necessitate a huge description of a bunch of railroad terms... So a long story short, he was having a bad night, and the more frustrated he got, the more me and my conductor laughed, and the more we laughed the angrier he got...

Not that I would ever derive pleasure in an other's discomfort...

We laughed our asses off!

Sorry, Bill, it was just too damn funny! That look on your face was precious!

Now to what I decided to write about. Christmas traditions...

Christmas was always my Mother's favorite holiday of the year (and being that my siblings and my birthdays are all around the end of December I'm leaning towards St. Patrick's Day as my Fathers...) and she would go all out decorating the house and the tree.

I'm of German descent on my mom's side, and I was always told that in Germany, they wouldn't put up the tree and decorate it until Christmas Eve. So that being said, we'd always, as a family, put the tree up and decorate it right before going to bed.

In 1992, few years after I got out of the Army and I was working in Law Enforcement, my father died and now it was up to me to come over the house on Christmas Eve and put the tree up so my mom and sisters could decorate it.

This I did, every year, then one time my sister said something about "The Leaning Tree of Christmas..."

Let me explain a little...

So I'd come over the house and put the tree up...

But I'd always stop off at the local watering hole, Lengehan's Pub, before the requisite tree erection... So I'd usually have half a load on. My sister told me it always would have a 10 degree starboard list when I was finished...

How was I to know?

It looked fine to me!

So that's my last recollection of Christmas in the home I grew up in... A tree askew in the living room... much like the one pictured above, only that's not it.

And as they say on the nightly news, alcohol was a factor...

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden
Photo pinched from the Interweb

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Now I'm really confused...

I went on line last week to renew my vehicle registration since my tags would expire at the end of this month. On the same FL DMV web page I found I could change my address on my Driver's License for a small $25 fee. As I've moved over two years ago from my previous residence, and since it's Florida state law to change your driver's license within 10 days of any relocation, I figured then was as good a time as any to change my address. I needed to anyway for another reason I'll get to in a few minutes.

I was told then after I made my secure credit card transaction that this would be the last time I could do that because new laws that had just taken effect.

Now in Florida, to get a Driver's License or renew a current license, you must now make an appointment at the DMV and show proof of identity...

That being: (all listed... Not just one)
A Current Passport
Birth Certificate
Social Security Card
Voter Registration Card
Another Photo ID

And proof of residence, being at least two utility bills, bank statements, a copy of a lease agreement or mortgage agreement and pay stubs showing current residential address.

Ok. Swell. I understand all about the need to be wary, and how the 9-11 hijackers and terrorists obtained phony ID's...

But this is getting a little too much.

The ironic thing about this is that one's current driver's license is NOT acceptable as a valid ID.

What the fuck, over?

Ok. I need to get a new Passport. I was planning a trip to Australia this summer to visit (get drunk with) a few mates of mine, but the way the economy is going the airfare to Oz are going through the roof, so I might just go to the UK and Ireland this summer. Either way I need a new passport. I was stupid and let mine expire two years ago, so now I've got to go through the whole damn process again... Meaning I've got to get my birth certificate from the City of Philadelphia. My original was misplaced years ago. Now to get that, I've got to send them a certified copy of my current Driver's license, showing my current address.

So I needed to change my address on my license.

OK, that taken care of.

But still...

I can get a copy of my birth certificate, by mail, using my current driver's license.

And use that as an ID?

It has no picture of me on it... The one picture I have of me taken around the time the ink was drying on it you see in my profile picture. While the attitude is still the same, I look a little different.

And I don't think those tiny little footprints are valid either.

And OK, let's look at the other forms of ID the state is requesting.

Social Security Card.

Again, no photo, only this, printed in bold on the very bottom: FOR SOCIAL SECURITY AND TAX PURPOSES - NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION (Form OA-702 Rev.9-61)


Voter Registration Card. Again, no photo.

And "Another Photo ID". Now what the fuck do they want? My Sam's Club card? Or my employee ID card, which I had to show my Social Security Card and my Driver's license in order to be employed?

But my current Driver's License is now not acceptable for ID.

What next?

Irhe Identifizierung Bitte?

I need a damn drink...

Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I guess I've always been a Black Sheep...

Ever since I was a young boy I've always been a bit different. I never excelled at sports. I played Little League baseball, but I wasn't really any good at it, to the dismay of my father. I'd rather read books and play army in the back yard than play sports. To this day I'll rarely watch sports on TV unless it's a playoff game and a team from Philadelphia is playing. I'd much rather watch a documentary on the History Channel or Discovery.

I wasn't popular in school until I began to use humor, and even after I was voted Class Clown, I was still kind of an outcast. The popular kids thought I was weird, the jocks beat me up, and even the "weird" kids thought I was a bit off... I kept clowning around, not really doing well, just coasting along on a joke and a laugh.

By myself.

At around 13 I discovered girls, but they hadn't discovered me. I was just a goofball in the back of the class making fart noises with my armpit.

Oh yeah, I was suave...

I guess I used the humor to get people to like me... If I saw them laugh I was doing good, not realizing at the time they were really laughing at me, not with me. So in ignorance of the disdain my peers felt about me, I coasted along in school... I still find humor a great relief and still love to laugh. But not the way I used to.

The army, years in law enforcement and life in general over the years has sucked off almost all of the humor I have left, leaving me a drunken bitter cynic and the only vestige of that humor anymore is the black gallows humor and sarcasm here in this little corner of the googlenet/interweb. I laugh at myself now, because if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you really laugh at?

So for years I floated along in life... Trying to please other people. My parents, siblings, my lovers, then my wife... My bosses, my friends... Doing what others thought would be best for me, never once considering what I really wanted. To do that would be the ultimate blasphemy. I was raised Irish Catholic, so guilt was a big motivator in everything I did.

From the time I was born until the time I separated from my ex, save for when I enlisted in the Army, I had done what other people thought I should do. The job I had, the clothes I wore, where I lived, everything was decided by someone else. My divorce was the defining moment in my life.

Do not get me wrong. I was by no means a pussy. I didn't take shit off of anyone. Not then and definitely not now. But it was the people who were close to me I'd be afraid to disappoint so instead of creating a confrontation, I just went along with their advice whether in was solicited or not. Looking back it seems that everyone else was thinking of their image, not how I felt... "Oh, if you do that, what will people say?"

I'd always enjoyed writing short stories... But was told by people close to me "I'd never make any money doing it, so I'd just was well stay working where I was..." I always wanted to work on the railroad, maybe a engineer someday... "But you'd always be away from home! You've got a good job now, just stay where you're at!"

So I did.

And it sucked.

And I began to loathe myself.

I moved to Arizona in 1998 because my wife wanted to. I didn't really want to go but told myself a hundred little lies to convince myself it was the right thing to do. I was leaving my family, and really good, close personal friends it had taken years to make. I was alone out there, and the friends I did make I found out after my separation where just fair~weather ones, who left me high and dry when I needed them the most.

Like I said before, my divorce was the most painful thing that had ever happened to me, next to the days my parents died.

It was the lowest time in my life. When I reached out for help... All I got was patronizing and thinly veiled "I-told-you-so's". Everything I'd done in my life up to that point according to some, had been "Stupid" and if I had just listened to them, I'd have been in better shape. Instead of the 38 year old man I was, they spoke to me like I was an errant 13 year old juvenile delinquent and it infuriated me.

Well, I didn't listen to them. Not that time. One day while wallowing in self pity I read a want-ad in the local paper for a job on the railroad. I called the number listed, and even though I was in my late 30's with no railroad experience at all, the interviewer decided to hire me... For the next six months I travelled around the country working on a huge machine doing track work. It's not what I really wanted to do, but it was a foot in the door.

But to some that was stupid too. Bouncing across the country like that.

At the end of the six months I had returned to Arizona with a little more steel in my spine but the town I lived in was a virtual prison to me. My ex was still there and all our friends became her friends so I was again alone. I had spend a good chunk of time that summer in West Virgina and really liked it there so one day, after a particularly bad row with the ex, I decided to head back to West Virgina, no thought except to get the hell away from Arizona before I did something I'd really regret.

I had saved a little money and one day I just packed what I could cram into my car and headed east, no real plan in my head. When I crossed the state line into New Mexico on I-40 it was like a one-ton weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had no real plan, but I knew there were railroad jobs in WV, and I was going to get one, come hell or high water.

I rolled into West Virgina five days later with no job, no place to live and $39 in my pocket. I was homeless. For two weeks I lived in my car, bathing at a gas station restroom but I did find a job working security. A week after I landed that job I found a little apartment and set up home... And that's when I started this blog. I've always been a survivor. Ranger School taught me to never, ever give up.

It's not what I wanted, but I knew I was going to get it. I'd found a conductor school in Huntington and took the entrance exam. I'd scored high and the school wanted me in the very next class! After the 10 week school, I was guaranteed a job on CSX Railroad's New River Subdivision... Another step closer to reaching my goal.

But I got another kick in the nuts.

The school cost $5,500 and I was turned down for a student loan because my credit had been destroyed in my divorce. They still wanted me in the class, could I get a co-signer?

So with hat in hand, for the first time since I split with my ex, I called family for help. Somehow I knew what the answer would be, no... But I didn't need to hear about the upcoming vacation to Italy in the very next breath.

I wasn't asking for money, just to co-sign the note.

So I didn't get the loan, didn't get into the school and vowed never to ask anyone in my family for help again.

I worked security for the next year, made some friends in WV and was coasting along. What I'd been good at before in my life, but this time my mindset was completely different. I wasn't going to settle for anything. I'd set my goal and I was going to prove all the naysayers wrong. I'd do it myself.

Like I said, I worked security for about a year when I found a job for a railroad way up in the northern part of the state. I moved there and worked the entire summer, making really, really good money, but as I found out after I got the job and was working, it was only a short term job and was going to get laid off the following October. So I scrambled to find another job...

And that's when I found this one I'm working at now. Again I picked up and moved, over 1,200 miles to Florida.

It took me a while, but I finally got to where I wanted to be.

I got here alone. No help what so ever.

Do I have any regrets? Yes. I've burned several bridges and lost a few friends along the way, but at some point in every one's life you've just got to do it... Take that one step...

So here I am... that goofy weird kid making fart noises in the back of the class. The class clown that was beat up by the jocks after school...

The Black Sheep of the family who no one ever calls anymore...

Became an Army Ranger, then a railroad locomotive engineer...

And along the way became a man.

A man I really like.

A man I wasn't, even five years ago. Those who know me before now wouldn't even recognize me as the same Tommy... Well, I look the same, a little grayer maybe and thicker around the middle, but I'm a completely different man.

But to some I'll always be that crazy weird kid. And to those who never had faith in me, they're not laughing now.

Now, after all those miserable years, I really have something to laugh about.

Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Foamy Christmas!

I couldn't have said it any better myself...

Wait a minute!

I'm letting a neurotic squirrel do my talking?

I've really slipped a track at some point...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Get ready to hold your breath!

What I'm about to write about is just another thing in a long procession of things going on in the world today that has me convinced that at some point in my life, probably when I was asleep, I was transported through a gap in the Space~Time Continuum and placed in a world that appeared to be the same, but was completely alien to me.

This is Not the America or the world I grew up in.

Let me explain.

When I was a little kid I'd threaten to hold my breath until I got what I wanted. My dad, ever the stoic he was, would just look at me, smile and tell me:

"Go ahead... You'll only turn blue, pass out from lack of oxygen, and start breathing again. You're NOT getting a (insert toy/book/candy/machine gun I wanted that time)!"

But now it looks like we're all going to have to hold our breath now. To exhale would mean hefty fines for polluting and discharging a "pollutant" into the atmosphere.

Just a few days ago, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA said it would begin regulating several gasses that were considered "Pollutants" that contribute to "Global Climate Change", one of which happens to be Carbon Dioxide.

Now wait just damn minute!

If I remember correctly from my Science classes in school, is that all air-breathing life forms on this planet breathe in oxygen and exhale Carbon Dioxide. Plants on the other hand take in Carbon Dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. Hence, we give the plants life, and in return, they give us life.

Pretty spiffy thing, I'd think.

But because the Earth is getting warmer by the minute (oh, wasn't it Houston that got it's earliest recorded snowfall this year? and it was 39F/4C when I got home this morning from work here in sunny south-central Florida...) and if we all would just stop breathing, we'd all save the planet.

And on who's authority are they doing this?

Well, they're the Government.



Who needs them! We're from the Government and we're here to help!

And don't forget that pesky little document called the Constitution... Oh wait! They already did!

One Federal Agency, in one fell swoop, completely circumvented the entire checks and balances thing the Constitution was written for.

So I want you all reading this to stop breathing right now! We've got to stop this pollutant from killing the planet!
You'll only be blue for about 4 four minutes... Then you'll die...

But you've saved the planet!

Sometimes I really believe these nutcases won't be happy until we're all wearing loincloths made of hemp, eating tofu and living in yurts.

And I pledge to stop farting.

Farts are a pollutant too. Methane is a "pollutant", so I'm going to refrain from any future flatulence.


Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Official...

I'm a Dirty Old Man.

Let me explain.

Since the beginning of the Sugar Harvest, I've been working 60+ hours a week and things tend to get left undone at the old Ranger Tom Homestead, so I've hired a woman to come and clean my house once a week... It's nice to come home to a clean house and most of the time I'm just to damn tired to do it.

No, I have not started nailing my cleaning lady.

Since I work nights and get home from work around 8:15 every morning, I use that one morning every week to go out and do some errands and leave her to the cleaning. Most of the time I'll finish up my trip around town down at the Tiki Bar around 11 when they open. I'll have a few ice-cold adult beverages and get a sandwich, getting home around 12:30 or so to a nice clean house and clean sheets to crawl into. (If you've ever had the chance to get real 1000 thread~count Egyptian Cotton sheets, get them! They're HEAVEN!)

Yesterday was no different. I did some running around town and found myself perched on my favorite stool at the Tiki Bar sipping on a ice cold MGD. I'm alone down here in Purgatory, and it gets kind of lonely this time of year. I haven't spoken to anyone in my family really save for my brother since my divorce five years ago and now I'm unsure how that's going to go since he's started sending me Watchtower propaganda...

Not only that my birthday is coming up... on the 27th I'll be 44 and I'm really starting to feel all the abuse I've done to my body over the years... So with aching knees, Christmas and my 44th right around the corner I was feeling kind of low, even though I have the best job in the world in my humble opinion.

I'm a regular at the Tiki, and know almost all of the bartenders and servers by name, and consider most of them my friends. I'm moping a bit watching ESPN highlights on the muted TV when one of the servers sits down next to me. She does this quite often when the place is empty, like it was yesterday, and we began talking. She is quite the looker, and I have been know to take a look-see (ogle) once in a while but she's a bit younger than me, in her mid-20's. But she's engaged to a really nice guy so I've never put the "moves" on her. Besides, after the last few relationships with women who are Bi-Polar, have Borderline Personality Disorder or a Chronic substance abuse problem, I've put myself into a self-induced celibacy for a while.

But I'm not dead.

I do look, OK?

Anyway, I was lamenting to this very attractive friend of mine how I was feeling old, because my birthday was creeping up on me...

What she said next was harmless, I knew she was trying to cheer me up a little bit...

But she might have well just hauled off and kicked me in the balls with steel-toed boots...

"Oh Tommy! You're not old! My mom is only 41!"


Now I feel really great. I'm ogling girls young enough to be my daughter.

Happy Birthday to me, you dirt old bastard! I might as well be like the guy pictured below.

On second thought....

That's not really all that bad, is it?

Yes it is...

I've just creeped myself out!

Whining lament Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden
Photos pinched from the Interweb

Friday, December 11, 2009

Retro RT

Since I've been so busy and haven't been able to post as often as I'd like, here's a vintage RT post from February, 2005 for your enjoyment!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

I'm A Proud Member of PETA

That's right. I'm a member of PETA. Damn proud of it too. I've been a member of it my entire life. "People Eating Tasty Animals". I like animals. Not only do they taste yummy, they're chock-full of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. You know why I like eating tasty animals? Well, I was made that way. It's the way nature intended. I'm what they call an Omnivore ( 'Omni' from the Greek meaning don't let your exposed digits near my mouth when I'm really hungry and the 'Vore' from the ancient Celt meaning 'Vore')... All humans are omnivores. It's the way nature intended us to be.

Now I'll let you in on a little biology lesson (not THAT biology, get your mind out of the gutter!) to help you understand more easily what I'm talking about. We (Humans) have diffent teeth (unless you're from the rural part of Yavapai County Arizona, then you have 'Tooth') , four different kinds. All for special purposes. First off, I'll start at the back of the mouth and work my way forward. To the very rear we have "Molars". They're designed to grind up all kinds of tasty morsels into a kind of puree that our stomach can easily digest. Stuff like carrots, chocolate chip cookies and raw or cooked chunks of Tasty Animals.

Next comes the "Bicuspids" these handy-dandy little guys two two jobs in one. The take the large chunks of tasty morsels, and make them into smaller chunks of tasty morsels. Amazing, isn't it?

Now here comes the most fascinating set of chompers. We as a species only have four of these. They're called "Canines"... Know what they're for????? Huh????? Bet you don't know! (This is the squeamish part, so all you Vegans better not read this part.) Well, fair readers, they're for RIPPING AND TEARING RAW FLESH! Yes, as in ANIMALS!!!!! Bears are omnivores. They have the same things we do, only BIGGER and SHARPER!

Lastly, those nice pearly-whites in front and called "Incisors". They're used to bite into Really big chunks of tasty morsels like apples, gingersnaps and the whole hind quarter of a gazelle we've just ran down on the Veld... Well, maybe not that, but you get the picture.

So the lesson today is boys and girls?

It's that were omnivores. We are SUPPOSED to eat meat AND veggies... "Omnivorous" literally "Eats everything/Anything" and we're higher up on the food chain. It's the way its supposed to be! Nature wanted it that way. If I was out on the ocean fishing, and caught a big shark, I'd cook it up and eat it. I've had shark before and it's quite tasty. (No, it does NOT taste like chicken. Only chicken tastes like chicken, It tasted like shark, damnit!!!! I absolutely HATE it when someone compares ANYTHING to chicken! Only chicken tastes like Chicken! Snake tastes like snake! Turtles taste like turtles. Baby seals tastes like.... Who knows? I don't eat them, I only club them to death... But I digress)

In that instance, I'm higher up on the food chain than the shark. But nature is funny sometimes. The food chain is flexible. Ok, not really too flexible. Masses of krill are not going to rise up and eat a baleen whale anytime in the near future. But it is flexible. Ok, just for instance. I'm on the boat and I've had too many ice cold and frosty adult beverages. I slip and fall into the sea. The shark who I didn't catch, but is damn pissed I caught his poker buddy Phil, sees me wallowing around in the water. I'm wallowing because I swim as good as a rock. So this shark, he sees me. He swims over to me. Takes a my left leg off at the knee and swallows it whole. (He's really hungry, so he's forgotten his manners) He thinks; "Hey, this people tastes pretty good!" and then proceeds to devour me.

Well, you'd think I'd be mightily upset at this shark for eating me. I'm not though. Do you know why? Because the very instant I hit the water, that ol' food chain flexed (it's flexible, you know) and at that very instant I became LOWER on the food chain than the shark.

It's nature. It's the way it's supposed to be. I accept that. Hell, I'll eat a salad. I love salads. But give me a giant slab of dead animal with it... Preferably cooked over fire... With lots of Ice-cold frosty adult beverages... And nowhere near any large bodies of water... Now go out and eat everything you see!!!!!!!

Who says science isn't fun and interesting? Now wasn't that more fun that clubbing baby seals?

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Word on Goddamn Yardmasters...

Since the beginning of this year's sugar harvest I've been putting up with this goddamn Yardmaster... Every time we turn around this motherfucker has got us doing the dumbest shit... Hence the photograph above... My "BOHICA" T-Shirt from my classic irreverent t-shirt line sold right here on this blog... It stands for Bend Over, Here It Comes Again!" Myself, My Conductor Jay and my Switchman Bill have been getting bent over every night...

Just kidding, Scott!

You're doing one hell of a job up there! Keep on doing what you're doing Brother! I'm really happy you're up there instead of the other alternative. At least you use what's in between your ears!

Keep up the great work, and stop over the house again some morning and we'll have a few frosty~cold adult beverages again! I know you read this from time to time and I remembered that conversation we had at the Tiki Bar that afternoon, so I just couldn't resist breaking your balls!
Now on to other things... A lot of stuff has been happening and every morning when I get home I really haven't felt like doing much of anything except getting some supper, a shower and crawling into bed.

I absolutely love being an engineer but with it comes a lot of responsibility. I'm handling a lot of horsepower, and literally thousands of tons of railroad rolling stock every night... A lot of times with my friends and co-workers riding on the outside of the said equipment. Shoving 30, 40, 50 even 100 cars at a time into tracks. A lot of things can go dreadfully wrong and I've always got that on my mind. It's no wonder that I'm mentally drained at the end of my shift and have let a lot of things slip by the wayside...

Like finally opening my email and finding well over 350 unanswered emails, many from dear and close friends who were wondering if I'd died or not...

Sorry guys, I'll try to be a little better at answering those emails!

And I'll blog a little more!
And speaking of friends... My great friend Bill who's now working with me here is really turning into a real railroader.

I was deeply troubled and worried there for a while, but after he got his shit together he's turned into a real asset on my crew.

I'm really proud of you Bill... Even though you still crack on me about being old.

I'll still kick your ass, you young snot-nosed punk!
And again, speaking of really bad things happening while one is handling really heavy equipment...

The photos above and below are what happened to us around 1 AM on Thanksgiving night.

Happy fucking Thanksgiving!

We had just pulled 31 cars off "C" Dump, where they dump the loaded cane cars into the mill and "kick" them out the other side. Bill had counted me down past the "C" switch, and getting on the point of the shove, he gave me the "Ahead" order on the radio. He was around 1,200 feet way at the point of the shove as I steadily eased the throttle back and gained speed. At around 5 or 6 miles an hour my train felt like it was starting to bog down and it just didn't feel right. It's hard to explain.

Anyway, I immediately knocked off the throttle and instead of rolling to a stop, my train stopped dead.


I got on my radio and asked Bill if anything was wrong and he told me to stand by, he'd look back.

My conductor was way up the track getting us lined into a storage track and came on the radio...

"Bill, are there cars on the ground...?"

"Eh, yeah... Several..."

Oh Shit!

I heard Jay call our Yardmaster and tell him what was happening as I centered the reverser, cut out the generator field and tied a handbrake on the locomotive and walked down to see what mess I had made.
After an investigation it was determined that about mid-way though the cut a thin flange had "picked" a switch, sending about 9 out of the 31 I was shoving over a frog and putting them on the ground.

No one's fault, but I'm really glad no one was hurt. Just a freak accident. I'll tell you one thing though, Bill's face was white as a ghost and I know it scared the living shit out of him... If anthing can be brought out of this on a postive note it all reenforced a really healthy respect for the equipment we use and a better respect for all of us on why it's very important to always be 100% aware of your surroundings when working on the railroad!

Photographs and rambling diatribe Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden