Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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A Short? ~ Monday, September 18, 2017

Some of us CalTrain passengers noticed smoke from the VTA tracks. A tie seemed to be cracked open and smoke was coming out of it. This was right next to a big wire welded to the rail, by a switch. A fellow passenger took a cup of water to dump on it, which was foolish, (since this was at Mountain View, he was very likely an engineer!) and if I realized what he was doing earlier I would have yelled at him to stop,  but no harm came of it.

A VTA employee took a fire extinguisher out of an electrical box, and this made an impressive cloud of spray, but didn't seem to solbe the problem, which makes me suspect a smoldering short. Then the pros showed up from the MVFD so I presume everything is under control now, possibly with some service disruption if they turn off power, which seems likely. 

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Volcano in the East Bay Hills ~ Sunday, September 17, 2017

While Wini worked at Chabot last saturday, Nate and I explored the nearby Sibley Volcanic Preserve.

This is a nice short hike in the Oakland Hills that takes you to a long-dormant volcano, whose plug was once excavated as a quarry, allowing you to walk right into the heart of the mountain. And right in the middle, someone has made a maze out of rocks.

We also saw a lot of wildlife on the way: a mouse, dozens of lizards, and small and very fast snake I couldn't get a picture of, but which was probably an "alameda whipsnake".

This is very close to the Sacramento Northern tunnel, which I will have another entry about some day.

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It's Hot! ~ Friday, September 01, 2017

I was going to take the VTA back to CalTrain today,  but had to leave early, which meant biking in 110° heat! 

It's not *so* bad--just take it easy and stay hydrated.

At least I got to see a freight train.

I also took a picture of the train I was riding to show somethIng I've noticed: CalTrain seems to be modernizing some of it's headlights. Note that the flashing lower lights are white (LEDs?) while the upper light is old fashioned amber glow. 

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I Didn't Draw These! ~ Friday, August 25, 2017


My neighbor leaves out sidewalk chalk for neighborhood kids and somebody drew a very nice trolley and a TARDIS.

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It Works! ~ Monday, August 21, 2017

Just about at the peak of the eclipse now. 

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Eclipse Viewer ~ Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tomorrow is a solar eclipse (not complete here, but at least 75%) so we made a sun viewer.

First we tried the cereal-box/camera-obscura design that you've probably seen recommended in the internet. I thought the image was kinda meh so I built a version made out of mailing tubes, with a pinhole lens at one end and a "screen" (cap) for it to project onto at the other,  and cut out a window to view it.

It works but was a little hard to aim, so I added some cards as a guide--if the shadow of one card is on the other,  you're holding it right and shold see the sun.

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Emoji Building ~ Wednesday, August 16, 2017

At first glance this new building in the Netherlands looks like pretty conventional retro-styled architecture, but note the molded details.

Perhaps Emojis will be with us forever (that is to say, remain popular--thanks to the Unicode Consortium they're going to be available for a very long time, alongside the world's cultural heritage of alphabets, syllabaries, ideographs, numerals, etc), or perhaps in the future this building will be a funny cultural reminder of the "twenty teens" when it was built.

Either way, it would make an interesting structure on a contemporary urban transit layout.

You can read more about it and see more pictures here.

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Lepidopterology ~ Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Is not something I know much about, but I got this nice picture at Wunderlich Park.

I try to take pictures of lots of butterflies, but they are a tricky subject!

Comparing this with pictures on this SF Bay Wildlife site, I think it's either a Northern Checkerspot or a Mylitta Crescent, but I can't decide.

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Ran into Wini at Work ~ Saturday, July 29, 2017

At the Chabot Space Science Museum.

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"Needs Work" ~

Saw this on the road today (traffic was stopped). At least it has wheels!

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