Monday, February 27, 2012

On My Way Home

Time for me to head back home.
South Station, Boston. I hung around the lounge for a while and was surprised by my Aunt Alice who managed to evade all security protocols and enter the lounge area. It was good to see her before I left.
I never spent much time in this part of the city.
On the way out of Springfield, MA, looking at Memorial Bridge.
The pictures I tried to take of the sunset all came out blurry, but take my word for it, it was amazingly beautiful. Like some of the best Hudson River School paintings.
I talked for a while with a guy on his way to a wedding in NY, he sells smoking devices in a store in Providence. Says that they sell many pipes made in Oregon, which is no surprise to those that know the state.
We stopped for a couple of hours in Albany, NY to pick up the rest of the train. I had dinner with a well heeled couple who were on their way to Arizona for the winter. We had a long conversation about many things. He collects Marklin trains and Swiss watches, which should tell you something about his income level. They had a bedroom in the sleeper, which is the apex of luxury.
The velcro that holds the curtains in the roomette was not functioning well. Again, I’d prefer not to have a toilet next to my bed. The Lakeshore Limited just isn’t as magical as the Empire Builder.
I have no idea where this is. Breakfast was spent with a Puerto Rican non-denominational evangelical minister. Nice guy.
Nor this. Somewhere between Albany and Indiana…
The Chesterton Indiana water tower.
2012-02-02_09-48-07_783 We arrived in the late morning in Chicago, I had about 4 hours to kill so I walked around the city. If I had known the train would be delayed leaving (by about two hours) I would have tried to take in the Art Institute, but I didn’t think a couple of hours would do it justice.
Under an overpass.
Yes, I wandered around in alleys. A bit of industrial archaeology.
I guess it’s an attractive building.
This was impressive architecture.
I hung around on bridges as well.

This is why I don’t live in the city. Noise and stink. Nice saw though!
The Sears Tower was in the clouds.
Being a hick I took a picture of the automatic toilet seat covers in the lounge restroom. Wave your hand in front of the sensor and the plastic tube advances around the seat.
On the train, on the way out of the station. The train was delayed for two hours leaving. I met a nice woman from Seattle in the lounge and we passed the time chatting about a variety of things. She was thinking of studying Food Psychology, which is a thing I guess. We also were partnered up for dinner as well.
The dinner was interesting as our companions had just taken the Wolverine train which derailed when it hit a freight truck on a crossing. They were somewhat traumatized. Ironically the one guy was a Syrian from the embattled city of Hama (or possibly Homs, I couldn’t completely follow) where life was arguably safer than on a train in the middle of America.
The stewards on this leg are peppy!
There was a family in two of the roomettes, three kids and mom & dad. They were moving from New Jersey to the wilds of Montana. They actually had a family cheer, “To a new home and a new life, Montana!”. It was touching to see that sort of optimism.
Some sort of insane asylum or school for mutants.
Ready for lunch.
North Dakota. The furrows go on forever. Apparently there’s a beautiful woman behind every tree. I had lunch with a peripatetic drywaller who sounded and looked a lot like Sam Elliott.
There was a wine & cheese tasting in the afternoon. I actually tasted the wine which I regret as it was terrible. Everyone agreed. The cheese wasn’t much better although I enjoyed it more than the rest. My companions were a farm couple from Illinois and another oil rig worker.
Sunset. At some point one of the coach passengers went crazy and had to be hauled off the train. It isn’t as bad as Greyhound, but there is a small percentage of lunatics riding the rails nonetheless.
Dinner was with a couple from Whidby Island, although the wife was from Wales originally. The other man, somewhat of a glum character, said, “You always catch me with food in my mouth” as he was interrupted by questions for the umpteenth time. You have to be social on the train.
A couple from Montana suggested blacking out the curtains in the roomette as there was a 3/4 full moon as we went through the rockies. I did that and it was about as classically magical a train ride as you could imagine. Just the moonlight reflected on snow and the lights of the train curving around the mountains.
It’s sad to end the trip…
Breakfast failure, akin to the dinner failure on the way out of Portland. If I go again I’ll definitely take the train from Seattle so I can enjoy the dining car. At least the coffee is good.
I have no idea what fruits these were, but I stopped eating them. I think the pink ones are papaya.
The mighty Columbia.
I art-tarted up these two pics as they were all washed out and blurry. I chatted with an older woman from Albany, OR. We saw many bald eagles.
Fort Vancouver.
Interstate Bridge.
And so I arrived in Portland and then after a short while boarded the bus back to Albany. Felice and the kids even remembered to pick me up at the station, which was nice. Now back to work!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boston Marathon

Not a real marathon, but a long day. I had promised myself that if I did have some free time I’d meet up with Keith Shaw, one of my oldest (as in long term) Taig lathe customers as well as my boss. In the middle of the last decade he innocently asked me if I was interested in doing some 3D modeling for a Braille Display project he was working on for Tactile Display Corporation. Many years of fun were had working on a variety of designs. So plans were made to meet up for a quick lunch.
I love this sign on the way to the trolley stop in Milton.
Here comes the trolley.
My sister considered the prospect amusing so she chaperoned me. We met Keith outside of Central station. Wandering around the high tech buildings, I was entranced by this display in the Broad Institute..
I decided my that my dislike of Gehry is probably unwarranted.
Worried for an instant that my sister was going to check me in.
This is where they make the Tootsie Rolls.
Not an inspiring place to work, we could make out employees in the break room.
After a bit of hunting we found a $7.95 all you can eat Indian buffet, Shalimar of India. It was head and shoulders above our local Indian restaurant’s buffet, which is pretty sad.
Keith enjoyed the meal.
After lunch Keith decided that it would be fun to trespass visit the Francis Bitter Magnet Lab, where he had worked for many years as a young PhD. He led us through the warrens of graduate students until he finally tracked down someone who both remembered him and would allow us entry to see the NMR Spectroscopes.  Impressively anonymous machinery.
One of the control cabinets was open and they were ventilating it with a large household box fan.
I started to walk towards the machine and was told to stop where the tile changes colour. At the border I was being exposed to 5 Gauss. It felt enervating, although likely that was a psychological effect as it isn’t that large of a force. There were pacemaker warnings all over the building though.
The red nozzle is where the Helium vents when something goes wrong.
Etched plates…
The original plan was to stop at that point but the day was warm and beautifully sunny, so we embarked on a long hike that my sister only ended when the International Red Cross got involved. Something about the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Brothers or somesuch nonsense.
Crossing the Charles.
That bridge is new to me.
Nick_Betsy_mass ave bridge
Me & my baby sister. She’s smiling because of the pain she’s planning on meting out.
Keith and I. I guess the belly does say that I need to take a long walk.
The Hancock with moon above.
That’s some science fiction scenery.
Boston is charming.
Hey look, Betsy is on the phone…
A crane.
Park Street Church. For those following at home, we’ve already walked from Mass Ave. in Cambridge to Boylston St. and along it to the Boston Common.
The giant kettle.
The Holocaust memorial with the Oyster House in the background. I’m not sure about the symbolism.
Wrong. It’s Boston Garden. You can’t sell my childhood memories that easily.
Betsy in front of the Bobby Orr statue.
My Dad had to miss the game, even though he had tickets, as Betsy was born that day.

We saw Keith off at North Station and got on the T to visit Jackie and Mike again. My feet were tired even though the total distance of the walk was only about 4 miles. Possibly it had to do with the new pair of shoes I had purchased for the trip, the large Indian buffet or my general lack of fitness.
Next post will be the trip back West...