Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Drive A Train, CA. Train Makes Tracks! Dinos. Alaska. Puerto Rico. Mason-Dixon. Edison. Shopping.

For "Travel Tuesday:
Operate a real diesel locomotive at this hands-on museum:

"The Western Pacific Railroad Museum is located in a former Western Pacific Railroad locomotive servicing facility in Portola, California, in the Sierra mountains about 50 miles from Reno. The 37-acre site includes a 220-foot-long, 16,000-square-foot diesel shop used from 1954 until 1974 as well as two and a half miles of trackage primarily of a balloon track and various yard tracks.

The museum has more than 35 locomotives and 80 cars of various types. Unlike many other museums, visitors to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum soon discover that this is a hands-on facility where they are encouraged to climb up in the cabs of locomotives, sit in the engineer's seats and browse through the many cabooses and passenger cars that are on display.

The museum is one of the few places in the world where you can operate a real diesel locomotive (reservations required). It'll cost you $150 for an hour, but for anyone who's dreamed of being a railroad engineer, it's a mighty reasonable price.
The museum is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., the first Saturday in April through the first Sunday in November. Learn more at its website. "


Ever see a train LAY ITS OWN TRACKS?

"I wonder what all those laborers who laid the first cross country tracks would think if they could only see this! http://www.wimp.com/traintrack/"



Camping is closed until next spring at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Ill., because of tree damage caused by recent storms.


Dinosaur National Monument

"The famous quarry at Colorado and Utah's Dinosaur National Monument will reopen to the public on Oct 4. It shelters a rock cliff face where you can see hundreds of dinosaur bones, making it one of the most impressive fossil sites in the world. In all, more than 1,500 fossilized bones can be found in the quarry. Some are large and can easily be seen protruding from the rock.

Visitor Center Closed due to structural hazards.

Dinosaur National Monument is open and visitors can still see fossils elsewhere in the park.

Visit www.nps.gov/dino for more information."


"Scientists think that the Earth is very old and that dinosaurs lived 150 million years ago. They use relative and absolute dating to come up with these enormous numbers." More at:




Now some items from the past on this date:

Oct 18, 1867:  U.S. takes possession of Alaska

"On this day in 1867, the U.S. formally takes possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia for $7.2 million, or less than two cents an acre. The Alaska purchase comprised 586,412 square miles, about twice the size of Texas, and was championed by William Henry Seward, the enthusiasticly expansionist secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson.

Russia wanted to sell its Alaska territory, which was remote, sparsely populated and difficult to defend, to the U.S. rather than risk losing it in battle with a rival such as Great Britain. Negotiations between Seward (1801-1872) and the Russian minister to the U.S., Eduard de Stoeckl, began in March 1867. However, the American public believed the land to be barren and worthless and dubbed the purchase "Seward's Folly" and "Andrew Johnson's Polar Bear Garden," among other derogatory names. Some animosity toward the project may have been a byproduct of President Johnson's own unpopularity.

As the 17th U.S. president, Johnson battled with Radical Republicans in Congress over Reconstruction policies following the Civil War. He was impeached in 1868 and later acquitted by a single vote. Nevertheless, Congress eventually ratified the Alaska deal. Public opinion of the purchase turned more favorable when gold was discovered in a tributary of Alaska's Klondike River in 1896, sparking a gold rush.

Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, and is now recognized for its vast natural resources. Today, 25 percent of America's oil and over 50 percent of its seafood come from Alaska. It is also the largest state in area, about one-fifth the size of the lower 48 states combined, though it remains sparsely populated. The name Alaska is derived from the Aleut word alyeska, which means "great land." Alaska has two official state holidays to commemorate its origins: Seward's Day, observed the last Monday in March, celebrates the March 30, 1867, signing of the land treaty between the U.S. and Russia, and Alaska Day, observed every October 18, marks the anniversary of the formal land transfer."



Oct 18, 1898: U.S. takes control of Puerto Rico

"Only one year after Spain granted Puerto Rico self-rule, American troops raise the U.S. flag over the Caribbean nation, formalizing U.S. authority over the island's one million inhabitants.

In July 1898, near the end of the Spanish-American War, U.S. forces launched an invasion of Puerto Rico, the 108-mile-long, 40-mile-wide island that was one of Spain's two principal possessions in the Caribbean. With little resistance and only seven American deaths, U.S. troops were able to secure the island by mid August. After the signing of an armistice with Spain, the island was turned over to the U.S forces on October 18. U.S. General John R. Brooke became military governor. In December, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Spanish-American War and officially approving the cession of Puerto Rico to the United States.

In the first three decades of its rule, the U.S. government made efforts to Americanize its new possession, including granting full U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans in 1917 and considering a measure that would make English the island's official language. However, during the 1930s, a nationalist movement led by the Popular Democratic Party won widespread support across the island, and further U.S. assimilation was successfully opposed. Beginning in 1948, Puerto Ricans could elect their own governor, and in 1952 the U.S. Congress approved a new Puerto Rican constitution that made the island an autonomous U.S. commonwealth, with its citizens retaining American citizenship. The constitution was formally adopted by Puerto Rico on July 25, 1952.

Movements for Puerto Rican statehood, along with lesser movements for Puerto Rican independence, have won supporters on the island, but popular referendums in 1967 and 1993 demonstrated that the majority of Puerto Ricans still supported their special status as a U.S. commonwealth."



Oct 18, 1767: Mason and Dixon draw a line

"On this day in 1767, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon complete their survey of the boundary between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland as well as areas that would eventually become the states of Delaware and West Virginia. The Penn and Calvert families had hired Mason and Dixon, English surveyors, to settle their dispute over the boundary between their two proprietary colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies' settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania's adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania's crest on one side and Maryland's on the other.

When Mason and Dixon began their endeavor in 1763, colonists were protesting the Proclamation of 1763, which was intended to prevent colonists from settling beyond the Appalachians and angering Native Americans. As the Britons concluded their survey in 1767, the colonies were engaged in a dispute with the Parliament over the Townshend Acts, which were designed to raise revenue for the empire by taxing common imports including tea.

Twenty years later, in late 1700s, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line would begin arguing for the perpetuation of slavery in the new United States while those north of line hoped to phase out the ownership of human chattel. This period, which historians consider the era of "The New Republic," drew to a close with the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free. The compromise, along with those that followed it, eventually failed.

One hundred years after Mason and Dixon began their effort to chart the boundary, soldiers from opposite sides of the line let their blood stain the fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in the Southern states' final and fatal attempt to breach the Mason-Dixon line during the Civil War. One hundred and one years after the Britons completed their line, the United States finally admitted men of any complexion born within the nation to the rights of citizenship with the ratification of the 14th Amendment."



Oct 18, 1931: Edison dies

"Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors in history, dies in West Orange, New Jersey, at the age of 84.

Born in Milan, Ohio, in 1847, Edison received little formal schooling, which was customary for most Americans at the time. He developed serious hearing problems at an early age, and this disability provided the motivation for many of his inventions. At age 16, he found work as a telegraph operator and soon was devoting much of his energy and natural ingenuity toward improving the telegraph system itself. By 1869, he was pursuing invention full-time and in 1876 moved into a laboratory and machine shop in Menlo Park, New Jersey.


Edison's experiments were guided by his remarkable intuition, but he also took care to employ assistants who provided the mathematical and technical expertise he lacked. At Menlo Park, Edison continued his work on the telegraph, and in 1877 he stumbled on one of his great inventions—the phonograph—while working on a way to record telephone communication. Public demonstrations of the phonograph made the Yankee inventor world famous, and he was dubbed the "Wizard of Menlo Park."

Although the discovery of a way to record and play back sound ensured him a place in the annals of history, it was just the first of several Edison creations that would transform late 19th-century life. Among other notable inventions, Edison and his assistants developed the first practical incandescent lightbulb in 1879, and a forerunner of the movie camera and projector in the late 1880s. In 1887, he opened the world's first industrial research laboratory at West Orange, where he employed dozens of workers to systematically investigate a given subject.

Perhaps his greatest contribution to the modern industrial world came from his work in electricity. He developed a complete electrical distribution system for light and power, set up the world's first power plant in New York City, and invented the alkaline battery, the first electric railroad, and a host of other inventions that laid the basis for the modern electric world. He continued to work into his 80s and acquired 1,093 patents in his lifetime. He died at his home in New Jersey on October 18, 1931."





More about the saga of Ray's HDTV not getting more than 20 out of our 74 channels.  When I called the cable company they said that the TV had to be connected to a special box for HD TV's.  I had picked one up, and it was going to cost an extra $5.42 a month, so they charged me that much extra when I paid my bill.   Ray couldn't get the box to do anything different than before, still 20 channels.   The cable company has trucks in here doing something all the time, and the next day Ray suddenly got all 74 channels, without the box.  I called the cable company, and told them that we didn't need the box after all, that I wanted to return it, be credited, and they agreed.  So far so good. 

Yesterday,  Misty and I went down to pick up Jay to go into Conroe to shop, and return the HDTV box.   While Jay was getting ready, late as usual, Misty had a good walk-about down there, and sniffed her doggie friends, Maddie and Muffie.  I didn't say that she saw them, as she can't see.  Sniffing and tail wagging is the extent of her greeting.

Jim was on his way to pick up the cargo trailer to straighten the bumper.  Jay and I were only just back here in time to take a few things out of the trailer, remove the jack stands, and cement block steps, as he got here.

Even though it has been cooler the last few days, it was supposed to be up in the 90's, so I left the AC on at home.

We loaded the van with things to go to Conroe, and finally left.  At the cable company's office, she took the box and fiddled with her computer a lot, and said that the $5.42 would be credited to my account, but my bill would now be $2 a month more, as I had returned the box!!!   

She also said I had been misinformed, and that this box was not necessary for an HDTV, it was to get an extra 100 HD channels.  When will company reps ever give one the right information!

We went to a couple of thrift shops, but nothing said "Buy Me".

Jay had to pick up his mother's prescription at Walmart, so I bought a few things there.  I found a small bag of tiny silica sand crystals cat litter.  I wanted the tiny crystals, so they go through the scoop.  My cat's don't like it by itself, but a few of those crystals added to their litter does control odor. 


Birds-at-feeder-from-screen-porch I also needed some more wild bird seed, the cats love to watch the birds from the screen porch, and the birds like to tease the cats.


A stop at Kroger's to get some cat litter, fruit, and veggies for me, and I also bought some Ezekiel bread, as I have wanted to try it for quite a while.   Jay picked up some items for his Mom, as she is going to make pineapple cake.

We hunted shade trees when parking, and we were glad of the AC in the van, but yesterday was supposed to be our last hot day.


The cargo trailer is back here, with a straight bumper.  It was a lot cooler this morning when I opened the windows and doors, and we will have to wear T-shirts instead of tank tops when we work on the cargo trailer today.


Dizzy-Dick said...

Love this cooler weather.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Hi Dick, thank you for your comment.
Yes, I actually had to put my tank tops and shorts to one side, and wear a t-shirt and jeans, today.