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Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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Trouble on the Line Today ~ Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Not a "tresspasser strike" or any such euphemism today, just a breakdown.

CalTrain doesn't normally use mid-train helpers, but in this case a broken down train got a push from the one behind it.

Meanwhile they're operating single track. My train is late but showed up while I was writing this.

The people on the "pusher" train have probably been stuck on there for a while now...

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Scootering Around Stanford ~ Sunday, May 20, 2018

We visited the campus to do some maintenance on our Geocache at the "Weeping Angel" statue.

Nearby, there is a Cactus Garden (it was supposed to part of the landscaping for a never-build Stanford family estate; specimens came from along the SP's Sunset Route through Arizona). This turns out to be a great time of year to visit because cacti are in bloom:

On a fence around a construction site, we found this commemoration of Edward Muybridge's pioneering motion picture photography which was made here (essentially, the first movie).

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Checkered Adwrap ~ Wednesday, May 09, 2018

This one is for Dropbox.

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Don't Get Rattled ~ Sunday, May 06, 2018

We took a walk in the Sibley Volcanic Preserve in the East Bay Hills, starting from Old Tunnel Road. (This road leads to the former east portal of a long-gone highway tunnel, rather than the Sacramento Northern tunnel I've written about previously.)

We encountered some typical wildlife like dragonflies, roly-poly bugs, lots of birds (more heard than seen), and this guy:

Definitely a rattlesnake. We walked on the the other side of the road. It didn't rattle or even move, other than watching us and flicking its tongue.

We pressed on to the top of the (long-extinct) volcano,

from which you can look east to Mt Diablo or west to the Golden Gate.

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Too Many Movies in May ~ Thursday, May 03, 2018

There are a lot of local possibilities this month:

The Niles Film Museum will be showing (nb: download the PDF schedule--the version you can browse on the website itself seems to just show one week out) among other things: The Thief of Baghdad, Raffles the Amateur Cracksman, and lots of enjoyably silly stuff.

The Castro Theater will be hosting the SF Silent Film Festival (hoping to see a silent version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, and of course we're always up for anything by Buster Keaton) and plenty of other good stuff (it would be pretty cool to see 2001 on the big screen).

Meanwhile, enjoy today's Google Doodle honoring Georges Méliès.

And while I'm talking at movies I'll throw in another plug for the Alice Howell Kickstarter Project, which you can contribute to and get a two-disk DVD set in exchange.

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To Calgary ~

The week before last, I visited Calgary, Alberta, to attend the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing. Before I even started the trip, I noticed this poster at the Western Railway Museum:

I used transit (RWC->CalTrain->Millbrae->BART->SanBruno->SFO) to reach the airport--the first time I've ridden transit to my home airport for the practical purpose of flying somewhere.

The International Terminal had several exhibits on display--one of early coin-operated machines, one of American folk art (with a case full of interesting carved stone books), and a commemoration of the creation of the rainbow flag.

My first view of Alberta looked pretty chilly.

Temperatures improved over the course of the week.

I had the good fortune to be traveling with a colleague who agreed that taking local transit downtown would be the interesting way to get there. Calgary Transit's CTrain doesn't run directly to the airport but you can take a bus (#100) to connect to it (helpful people will probably tell you to take bus #300 directly but that's not as much fun).

Keep an eye out and you'll get a quick view of the CTrain's yard/shop complex, where some of the original Siemens-Düwag U2's are being scrapped--but as you can see, there's still some in service.

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Ohlone Village Field Trip ~ Sunday, April 29, 2018

Nathan and his class were looking forward to this field trip for a long time, and they finally (OK, a few weeks ago) got to visit an Ohlone Village in Coyote Hills Park (in Fremont).

The park has a small museum:

I tried looking these words up in an Ohlone/English Dictionary. The only one I could find a match for was ma'yan=coyote; -kma is a plural ending (here is an Ohlone grammar--the author, incidentally, later invented Klingon) so maybe šáatošikma=hills? (This dictionary and grammar are actually for a different one of the Ohlone (Costanoan) Languages).

Our docent selected two students to dress up for roles in Ohlone society. Here is Nate as a hunter!

We walked a ways on a boardwalk through swamp/wetland to a kind of island which is the site of an actual historical village that has been partially reconstructed. The class got to crawl into a sweatlodge (the Ohlone word is Temescal, which has been memorialized in the name of a lake in Oakland, which the Sacramento Northern once had a bridge over--hey this is a officially a trolley blog. Just trying to stay on-topic here!).

The name of the village is Tuibun.

Note that you can normally only peek at this through a fence. If you want a closer look, call the park to ask about when they are doing a tour--or chaperone a field trip!

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Train Films this Weekend at the Niles Film Museum ~ Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Niles Film Museum is dedicating this weekend to movies about trains.

Saturday afternoon (3:00-5:00) they will be showing a bunch of railroad-themed silent shorts. I understand they will be showing a lot of them, and you can drop in and watch as many or as few as you want, for a recommended donation of $0.50 a film.

Saturday evening (7:30) they will be showing a more typical program of two shorts and a feature, starting with "The Great Train Robbery". Probably anyone with the slightest history in film has seen this, but the program says they will be showing a hand-tinted version, which is something I've never seen.

Sunday afternoon there is a talkie matinée featuring two nonfiction films about trains.

While in Niles also check out the Niles Canyon Railway (operating on Sunday this time of year), the Niles Depot Museum and adjacent train layouts (open Saturday), and/or Niles Ice Cream (I've never seen it closed).

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Kickstarter Film Restoration ~ Tuesday, April 24, 2018

When people talk about what streaming movie services they like, I tell them "I get my movies via Kickstarter"!

Ok, not all of them, but the platform has been used to raise funds for film restoration projects, where donors get a DVD.

The latest is The Alice Howell DVD Project, which aims to publish a collection of movies by this mostly forgotten comedienne.

We have been enjoying two DVDs of films by the equally obscure silent comedian Marcel Perez, also produced and accompanied by Ben Model and are looking forward to seeing the results of this latest project.

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Pumpkin Patch Trolley Book ~ Sunday, April 22, 2018

We bought this book at the Western Railway Museum shop last week. I haven't read it yet (I've been out of town--more on that later) but Sue and Wini read it to Nate. I understand it involves time travel. Sounds fun! The author, Gene Fabryka, is a volunteer at the Oregon Electric Railway Museum. Here's a story about him in a local newspaper: http://portlandtribune.com/en/30-news/277243-152757-author-calls-all-aboard-for-trolley-tales

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