Monday, November 29, 2010

Mogul the Magnificent!

Port Townsend, today. Tim Ball recently sent me photos from his latest "road trip." Amongst the interesting lot were these two shots of Canadian National 2-6-0 #81.

This doughty little engine is representative of the backbone of the Canadian National Railway's branch line feeder connections, with 469 of these Mogul's shouldering the load.

There were 25 of these units in this series built by Canadian Locomotive Works in 1910 for the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR). They were rated at 63 horsepower, with a starting tractive effort of 26,300 pounds, and set up to provide heat and electricity for short run passenger service as needed. Road class E-10-a had 63" drivers, regulated by Stephenson Valve gear, at 170 psi. The water tank carried 5,000 gallons of water and 10 tons of coal.

In 1923, GTR 1001, boiler number 914, became Canadian National Railway #903, and subsequently renumbered #81 by the CNR in 1951. Her brothers and sisters went to the scrap yard in the mid to late 1950's.

Today, #81 is proudly displayed, without intervening fence, at Palmerston Railway Heritage Museum, Ontario.

As a class, more than 11,000 "Moguls" were built between 1860 and 1920. The "Consolidation" 2-8-0 quickly overran the popularity of the 2-6-0 beginning in 1866.

The term "Mogul," used to designate the 2-6-0-wheel arrangement, despite urban legends to the contrary, was applied to any large freight locomotive regardless of wheel arrangement in the 1870's. Baldwin used the name "Mogul" for its 2-6-0 locomotives in 1871. Others hold to the claim that the class was named for a 2-6-0 built in 1866 for the Central of New Jersey, bearing the name "Mogul."

But I prefer to go to the root of the word. Where did the word originate:

Mogul Mo·gul" noun [ From the Mongolian.] 1. A person of the Mongolian race. Great, or Grand, Mogul, the sovereign of the empire founded in Hindostan by the Mongols under Baber in the sixteenth century. Hence, a very important personage; a lord. [Dryden]

That version appeals to me.

Whichever version you subscribe to, it is proof once again that the old timers had it right. "Mogul" is a heck of a lot more romantic name for a type of locomotive than is "ES44C4!"

Thanks, Tim, for sharing your great photos!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested!"

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
-- US Constitution, 4th Amendment.
There was a time when groping and fondling people like this was considered a crime. But attach it to the Patriot Act, and it becomes a dream job for some, I am sure.

With images like this being viewed, who knows what kind of "locker room" talk is going on with TSA employees these days!

There was certainly no thought given as to how certain groups of citizens will react to being subjected to invasive groping like those photographed above at Denver International. People who are:

  • Rape, incest, or molestation victims
  • Wearing colostomy appliances
  • Wearing urostomy appliances
  • Pregnant
  • Obese
  • Members of conservative religious groups or ethnicities
  • Recovering from breast removal

or, a guy like me, who would probably instinctively put a knee in a guys face if he touched "my junk."

Don't even start with the "they will use common sense" when referring to the TSA. "Common sense" is not a prerequisite for work as a passenger screener. That has already been demonstrated; consider Flight Attendant Cathy Bossi wearing a breast appliance, or Thomas Sawyer, wearing urostomy appliance.

Ask yourself: How you are going to feel when you travel this holiday, watching some stranger grope, fondle and otherwise invade the privacy of your significant other, while other people watch and leer?

But then there are the "peace keepers" who simply roll their eyes around and sing-song something like "Well, they know what is best for us. We have to do this to fly safely."


AS IS COMMON in the "creative arts" field, one occasionally hits a stretch of bad road, sending one scurrying to the nearest Unemployment Office. I knew the only hot jobs consistently and immediately available were out at Portland International Airport; cabin cleaner, wheel chair attendant, and passenger screener. There were permanent ads in the Oregonian for a "career field" that, at that time before the Feds took over, had a turnover rate approaching 75%.

So when all else failed, I swallowed my pride and did what I had to do to, which netted the same income, but got me off unemployment.

(There was another outfit in every Sunday Oregonian, which appealed to the rail fan in me. Delivering a train crew to relieve a crew who "died" on the road. But I had a friend working for that company, and it did not appeal to me for a number of reasons.)

So I worked for one month for a private security company (pre-TSA) at Portland International Airport screening passengers. As one well healed in employee training methodology, I was absolutely stunned at the "training" we received. I could write several articles on that brief encounter. However, I desperately needed work, or I wouldn't have been there in the first place, so I kept my mouth shut.

While we were terrorizing passengers - and believe me, we compared chuckles at coffee and lunch breaks - the airline was loading the belly compartment underneath the passengers, with mostly unscreened cargo and luggage containers.

No doubt about it. A gun can be seen in this scan. However, a security arch would have sounded, and a wand would have pinpointed the same object. I know because I was trained to find guns just like this.

When these discussions heat up about frisking passengers, nobody, but no body, brings up the fact that less than a dozen feet below your passenger seat, is a cargo container the contents of which probably wasn't checked.
One Sunday evening, whilst rummaging through a woman's purse (I learned a LOT about what women carry in their purses) looking for guns, knives, bombs, kidnapped children and mace, a voice behind me said "If I EVER catch you going through MY purse like that, I'll break your fingers!"

It was my wife. She was returning from a business trip to California, and was passing through the same concourse I was screening, when she spotted me "at work."

Later, when I got home, we were sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea. The silence was deafening. Finally, I blurted out, "I have to do it in the name of national security, for gawds sake!"
She never said a word.

So that qualifies me to speak out against the current debasing system of screening passengers. I am positive that many screeners are mortified even being required to do this, and are once again looking for work.

Well, you may reasonably say, that was some time ago. As it turns out, one of my buddies ended up in the same predicament - out of work - and "scurried" to Portland International Airport, and was immediately hired by TSA. With the high turnover rate, there was rarely more than a week or two before an opening occurred.

So Jim and I compared notes. Turned out, that in the intervening nine years, nothing had changed, except the employer and uniform. And the turnover rate was holding at 75%.

Mom always told me to have a solution before I criticized a problem. So here it is:

Listen to experts who live closer to terrorism than we could ever imagine.

Listen to El Al Airlines, and follow the no nonsense practical approach they have successfully refined over the years. Listen, as Keith Olbermanm did the other night, to people like Issac Yeffet, former head of El Al Airlines Security:


Here is the back-story on how the full body scanners came into being. This is the story network news and your local TV station are too damn lazy to ferret out. These changes didn't take place because the searches prior to the body scanner machines and intrusive pat-downs weren't working: they were working extremely well.

No, these changes happened because "The former Head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, had an ulterior motive in promoting the Airport security scanning machines that people are objecting to so strongly.

Rapiscan, the company that makes the machine is now one of Chertoff's clients. In the past under the Bush administration Chertoff was selling these machines to the government and to the Obama administration and they bought it hook, line and sinker. Michael Chertoff has been the leading promoter-sales pitch man for All body Scanners." (Politco)

You can be sure that Michael Chertoff will never step foot in his own company's body scanner when he flies. Mike has his own private jet, which he can freely board without all the touchy-feely, compliments of the American taxpayers.

It also appears that none other than George Soros owns 11,300 shares of OSI Systems Inc., the company that owns Rapiscan. Not surprisingly, OSI’s stock has appreciated considerably over the course of the year. Soros certainly is a savvy investor.

For a nation who is always thumping it's breast, bragging about how intelligent we are, we certainly give the rest of the world a hearty chuckle now and then.

As for the War on Terror? We've already lost it. Our economy is in shambles.

See also: Lemon into Lemonade

Monday, November 1, 2010

Abnormal Waves

"It is a known fact that giant waves occur on the South African coast in the Agulhas current region, where southwesterly gales prevail against the southward flowing Agulhas current.

Professor Mallory of Cape Town University analyzed the recorded conditions that prevailed each time a number of ships were damaged by exceptional waves, and found that in all cases the dominant waves were always from the southwest. It is the interaction between the strong southwesterly wind and the strong south flowing current which at times can reach 6 knots that creates monstrous freak waves, of which the charts warn:

Abnormal waves of up to 20 meters in height, preceded by deep troughs may be encountered in the area between the edge of the continental shelf and twenty miles to seaward thereof'.

- Extracted from "Southern African Cruising Notes" by Tony Herrick

This rare photo of a rogue wave was taken by first mate Philippe Lijour aboard the supertanker Esso Languedoc, during a storm off Durban in South Africa in 1980. The mast seen starboard in the photo stands 25 meters above mean sea level. The wave approached the ship from behind before breaking over the deck, but in this case caused only minor damage. The mean wave height at the time was between 5-10 meters.

Rogue waves (also known as freak waves, monster waves, killer waves, extreme waves, and abnormal waves) are relatively large and spontaneous ocean surface waves that are a threat even to large ships and ocean liners. In oceanography, they are more precisely defined as "waves whose height is more than twice the significant wave height (SWH)," which is defined as the mean of the largest third of waves in a wave train.

Today, the westbound "A Whale" and eastbound "B Whale" are passing abeam each other off Reunion Island. Unfortunately, the marine reporting service to which I subscribe suffers from a dead zone where the sisters are passing, between Madagascar and Singapore Strait.

"Ehhh... yaaah. A Whale, A Whale, A Whale. This is Captain B Whale. Do you copy? Over."

"Yaaah. This is A Whale. Copy, B Whale."

"Ehhh... yaaah. This is Cap'em B Whale. Ehhh ... yaaah. Confirm Port-to-Port is okay with you, skipper. Over."

"Yaaah. Copy B Whale. Understand you. Port-to-Port. That looks good to me. Okay. A Whale - out."

This has been really trippy for me to trace the activities of these two vessels, both leading to the first and second longest Heavy Haul iron ore rail corridors. The "A Whale," who created such a firestorm of controversy on the Gulf of Mexico back in July, led us to Vale and the longest iron ore Heavy Haul corridor in the world, the Estrada de Ferro Carajas Railway (EFC.)

Now, her sister "B Whale" has led us to Kumba Resources and the second longest iron ore Heavy Haul corridor, Orex, in South Africa.

Moreover, those events, in turn, led to Frenske Otzen, photographer, who graciously allowed me to feature her stunning photograph of the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse. Both the "Whales" are passing this historic landmark, as they make their way along the iron ore trade route.

Ms Otzen has stunning examples of her work on her website, which I encourage you to peruse.

Part II of the Orex line will be up this week; waiting for confirmation of certain data.