Track Tales

Our country is broken. More broken than even I thought…

November 9th, 2016 by Conductor

In a horrific turn of events, Donald Trump, bully, racist, misogynist, xenophobic egotistic troll, was apparently elected President on November 8th, 2016.
I’m disgusted, and terrified by this, but more so by the clear and massive divide in this nation.
Those who voted for him didn’t just elect him, they hand him a nomination for Supreme Court Justice. Every decision SCOTUS has made in the past century is in danger.

Posted in Musings, Uncategorized, World News | No Comments »

Pain sucks, and is surprisingly tiring.

February 23rd, 2010 by Conductor

Got the MRI this past Friday. Results in a day or so.
The machine was a bit too narrow for my shoulders, so it didn’t do a lot to reduce the pain.

Arm hurts like hell. Still typing lefty.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Ok. I think it’s time.

November 9th, 2009 by Conductor

While it still works, the battery life and coverage on my venerable Sony CM-Z100 Cell phone make it pretty much useless to actually take anywhere. Plus, for some reason call forwarding is disabled on my plan.

So I checked the Sprint website to make sure I’m not in contract or anything…

“Sprint Subscriber Agreement: Expired on 06/12/1999”

Yeah, looks like I’m clear on the contract thing.

Oh, here’s ye olde cell phone, BTW:

Yes, I've had it for 10 years...

Yes, I've had it for 10 years...

So now the questions are what to replace it with and on which carrier.

T-Mobile’s out right off the bat. They don’t work indoors.
Verizon’s a possibility, but I don’t care for their nickel & dime pricing for everything. Their Wireless broadband is good, but their phone selection and feature lockdown practices are a huge turnoff.

AT&T I’m familiar with, but their 3G network is abysmal where I work, and their wireless broadband is good but not cheap.

Sticking with Sprint is an option, but their phone selection’s also pretty bad, and they’re also pretty bad in terms of locking down/out features on phones. Their coverage at my job is not very good either, despite being CDMA like Verizon. It’s all about the cell towers, I suppose.

Complicating issues somewhat is the main reason I’ve held onto the old phone for so long. The form factor. The Z100 fits in my hand, pocket, backpack and the little pouch on my cue holder just about perfectly. I want to get something that fits as well if not better. I also love the scroll wheel on it, which has been superseded by trackballs, buttons and scroll pads, none of which I’ve found to be very good on the phones I’ve tried.

As you can tell, I’m very picky about what I want from a cell phone.

Flip phones are out. I just don’t like them – never have, although that one they tried making look like the Star Trek:TOS communicator was a cool idea that came too soon.

Candy bar phones are closer to what I want but too narrow and long.

Don’t particularly want a slider phone either.  I’ve played with a few, but they don’t go far enough.

Ironically,  the only things that come close for me are Blackberries. The Curve, and to a lesser extent the Bold.

The ironic part is that I hate… no, I despise the always reachable concept that the Blackberry embodies all too well.

It’s contributed in the worst way to the idea that being reachable 24/7  is a good idea for people.

It isn’t; it just allows businesses to squeeze more work out of their employees, often without compensation.  Not that all businesses would abuse their employees loyalties like that, but the temptation to milk productivity for no monetary cost has to be a powerful one, and a practice one could all to easily fall into.

Downtime is critical, possibly moreso than ever now that it’s so easy to just keep working until you can’t focus or fall asleep.

But enough ranting about bad business practices, I need a new cell phone.


Posted in Communications, Uncategorized | No Comments »

My, that’s a large cat… Wait. That’s NOT a cat!

March 27th, 2009 by Conductor

It’s a Raccoon. A freakin’ Raccoon!
Ok. It’s after midnight, I’m looking out the front window of the house and noticed what I thought was a stray cat sniffing around the neighbors garbage. Then it moved more into the light and I realized that it was in fact a Raccoon. In the middle of Brooklyn. It headed up my driveway and disappeared into the darkness before I could get outside with a camera. Yes, I know, chasing a Raccoon in the dark is not smart, so I didn’t go after it. I did want to get a picture of it though, since I don’t think anyone in this neighborhood has ever seen a live raccoon in person. I know I haven’t in not quite 30 years of living here.

Update: Apparently, I’ve simply been lucky or unlucky enough to have never seen a Raccoon in Brooklyn before. They’re everywhere.
As it turns out, New York City has the highest concentration of the little masked bandits in the state. Suck it, Cheektowanga!

A neighbor has also seen the Racoon (assuming it’s just the one) as well, so I wasn’t having some late night hallucination.
Yay, vestige of sanity, eh?
No signs of the critter since then.

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Ok. HDTV time.

December 31st, 2008 by Conductor

Ok. I wasn’t planning on doing it until next month, but the pricing and free shipping from Newegg were enough to get me to go ahead and do it today.

Bought myself a 46″ HDTV. Samsung LN46A650 to be exact. I was gonna get the 550, but the 650 was only a couple hundred more, and adds an additional HDMI connection.

Now I’ve got to move my 36″ Sony WEGA. 🙁
Not that I’m unhappy about getting a new HD set, just that the WEGA is a CRT and weighs about 230 pounds. It took two guys to get it in here, and I’ve only moved it once since then – moving it off of our old coffee table onto the stand I built for it. Not looking forward to that part. Good news is the new set weighs in at about 60 pounds.

The stand will house the new set, but the WEGA will for now, go into a corner, then eventually to the basement, one day to be joined by a pool table. ONE DAY!!!

Anyway, now I’ll have an actual VGA connection to my HTPC rather than using component, which should make reading text much easier.
Also, the HTPC’s limited to 1024*768 on the WEGA, but will do 1920*1080, so I’ll have much more screen real estate.

Of course now I’ll need to change a few other things to maximize the usage of the set.
Switch out the DirecTV box and Dish for the HD version.
Make a new Ethernet cable to connect the TV to the network –
Get an HDMI cable to connect that to the TV.
Adjust the cabling to my other peripherals – DVD/VCR combo, PlayStation2, SNES, & NES (yeah, those aren’t typos).

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Ah, the insanity…

December 22nd, 2008 by Conductor

So I reassembled an older machine of mine, with a new(ish) AGP video card (Radeon HD3650 for the curious), and 2GB of RAM.

I’ve installed XP SP3 on it, and was pondering browsers. Now that Google Chrome is an official release I may as well try it out, but that in an of itself is not insane.

So, I’ve decided to install Firefox, Safari, and Chrome along with IE6, but not IE7 since IE7 is a bucket full of uncustomizable failure, inadequacy, and blind paranoia. Aso, no Opera, since I just don’t like Opera. It works in ways that fail to make me go “F*ck yeah, Seaking!” or nod in sage (or even grudging) agreement. Perhaps once I get VMWare up and running on another machine I’ll try it, but for now, the for browsers of the apocalyse will be IE6, Firefox 3, Safari 3.21, and Chrome. I’ve got a set of bookmarks I’ll import into each; no formal testing, just seeing how pages I frequent look in each.

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Go Vote.

November 4th, 2008 by Conductor

If you can go vote today, and you don’t go vote today, don’t complain later. Also, you’re a lazy sot.

Don’t like the candidates? Tough, pick one or ask for a Write in Ballot and put in the name you want, just as long as it’s not Dr. Phil or something…

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It is decided. Halloween > Christmas.

November 1st, 2008 by Conductor

I shall explain.

On Halloween, people are free to dress up however they want, walk about the city as if it were any other day where nobody pays them any mind except to compliment them on their outfit, and if they’re so inclined, act like the character they’re dressed up as. Well, within limits anyway.

No homicidal crime sprees or destroying the Tokyo Tower or fondling people without their permission. If, however you do get permission from someone to fondle them, and they are of legal age in your municipality, then I say to you lucky guys and gals, “Woohoo! and smoke ’em if you got ’em!

Anyway, back to Halloween. It’s about as free and uninhibited as you can get these days. As I mentioned, you can be anything you want. And I mean Anything.

French Maid? Oui! Geisha? Hai! You and your crew want to go as the Justice League, Sand Ninjas, Pimps & Ho’s, Zombies, Pirates, Ninjas (regular), or just walk around as a giant penis in a forlorn search for a giant vagina, anus or mouth? Good on ya! Just don’t be surprised if people, including small children, come up to you and ask to pose for pictures. Anything you want to be or just look like, your imagination, budget, and how willing you are to go out in public in that outfit.

It’s the one day out of the year where spandex, used for good, evil or just wrong is ok with everybody. If, as apparently many out there are, into spandex, then Halloween is your night, be it as a Voyeur or a Participant.

To be honest, I see the allure. But then being out on the street with literally hundreds and hundreds of good looking women with really nice legs in tights, stockings and pantyhose of pretty much every color out there, combined with the many, many skimpy outfits that went with them, it’s pretty hard not to see the attraction.

Oh, and I have to take a moment to comment to the young lady that looked at me a bit funny last night as she walked past my car at a red light. Just to be clear, if you’re less than 5″5″, wearing what appeared to be a showgirl outfit (red with black trim I think) with what I can only describe as a rather aggressive bustier, and walk past someone with your… womanly charms propped up like a pastry shop display at their eye level, just take it as a compliment if said person doesn’t look you in your pretty blue eyes right away. It’s a base genetic response, so forgive us if we don’t feel as much of a need to suppress that reaction on Halloween, the night it’s ok to look. By the way, my inner caveman says, “Nice Rack.”

Anyway, let’s take a look at Christmas.

While it’s supposed to be a religious event to celebrate the birth of Christ, in reality, what it winds up is 30 days of shopping and hoping you know the people you’ve been shopping for as well as you think you do, and that they’ll like the gift you got them. One of the worst feelings one can have is seeing someone open your very thoughtful gift that you stood in line for hours to get, and see, if only for a split second, that look of disappointment on their face as they realize it wasn’t what they wanted, or it’s something they have already, or worst of all, exactly what they never ever wanted to get. Now the recipient doesn’t mean to make you feel bad, and will usually try to mask the reaction to avoid doing so. However, they don’t always succeed. I think I’ve managed to avoid that on both sides, although I know I’ve done the expression thing myself before. All the while, everybody’s supposed to seem cheerful, even if they’re not. As for costumes, on the adult side you’ve got Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves, Angels and reindeer I suppose, but that’s pretty much it outside the characters from the Nativity plays have, and those are just for children. Pretty limited selection there, and totally ignores everybody who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Then there’s all the culturally sensitive crap that’s cropped up like stinkweed over the last few years where people want to make things super generic by making everyone simplify their greeting and well wishes down to “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” If I know which holidays my friends and coworkers celebrate, I’m going to wish them a good one. If they don’t celebrate any of them, I wish ’em a Happy Festivus, we laugh and move on.

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New links

April 12th, 2008 by Conductor

Check the blogroll for links to Devin’s blog site, which you should check out for the really cool work he does with resin, tiny sailors and swingline staplers.

Also, CK’s blog. He’s a programmer. I have no such skill, but I do understand the process for the most part. If they ever release a pseudo-code IDE and compiler, watch out!

And then there’s Carol’s blog. I would fear for her sanity if I thought it would do any good. However, she is one of a very few people I know that is actually more anti-morning than I am. That alone is link worthy.

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This isn’t Kansas, but I do have a cousin named Dorothy…

August 8th, 2007 by Conductor

Hoo boy. What a week this was.

Monday, August 6th, 2007. My department moves offices from our digs on the 2nd floor to the 30th floor. I’ll miss the windows more than anything. The end of my day is spent moving my stuff upstairs and purging stuff I don’t need. Not fun, but necessary.
Tuesday, August 7th, 2007. I got home, and decided I didn’t feel like driving in to work the next day, so back to the Subway for me! This was not to be.
Wednesday, August 8th 2007. The thunderstorm was loud enough to wake me up briefly sometime between 4:30am and 6:30am. Thankfully, I fell back asleep fairly quickly (I think).
An F2 tornado in Brooklyn, two and half inches of rain fell in about one hour, and basically 95 percent of the MTA rail system came to a soggy, waterlogged halt, and stayed halted for the next several hours.

Then I woke up, knowing none of this had happened, only that it had rained during the night. Still didn’t feel like driving, so I clicked onto so I could check for any major transit disruptions. I say major, because it has to be pretty significant to get reported; 30 minute delays often get unreported, and they almost never look at a subway map to make the connection that a problem with an uptown 3 train at Clark Street will affect not only the 3, but the 2 and if it’s long enough a delay, the 4 and 5 trains as well. That’s mostly the MTA’s fault, since they know where every single train is at all times, and can tell instantly if theres any kind of delay simply by noticing that a train is not moving when it should be. They could, and should make this data available to the public online, but they won’t do it because it would illustrate just how lousy the system is running much of the time.

Anyway, instead of seeing some minor delays, I see headlines of suspected tornadoes, massive flooding, and a link to the MTA’s web page listing which lines have been affected by the storm. This is bad. Why? Because it means there’s too many affected lines to list on the 1010WINS website. So I click, and they may as well have just posted this:
“Sorry folks, nothing’s really running and the trains that are running won’t get you where you need to go. If you manage to get on a bus, or own a bike, motorcycle or scooter, good on ya! Otherwise, just stay home. Oh, and don’t bother asking those people in MTA uniforms that will be standing around everywhere anything. While we agree they should be actively assisting the people paying their salaries in finding alternate routes, even if that just means telling you ‘Oh, don’t bother going down to the subway since it’s not running and won’t be until maybe tonight. Try the buses or walking instead.’ they are mainly a bunch of unionized slackers who pretty much show up to collect a paycheck while doing as little as humanly possible and will never do anything outside of their job description to help someone unless it’ll get them a promotion to a nigh un-fireable management position, where they get to wear a suit and tie and do jack shit for even more money. Sweet gig, huh? Umm… anyway, we’d apologize for the inconvenience, but we’ve got to to go plan the next fare hike/service cut package to screw you even more.”

The Gothamist has a pretty interesting time line of things.
From what I heard on the news, one woman was killed in a car accident as a result; what’s doubly tragic about that is that the idiot responsible for the crash didn’t have a valid license, and probably paid someone to take his drivers test for him. He probably won’t go to jail, and I’d be surprised if he even had to pay a significant fine.

Posted in Transit, Uncategorized | No Comments »

And now, the blog.

May 4th, 2007 by Conductor

05/04/07 – Now with 100% more BLOG!

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Gas Station thievery

May 3rd, 2007 by Conductor

Just a quick one here. Why hasn’t there been as much of an uproar about the ridiculous increases in gas prices in the last few months?

Hell, in the last two weeks the price has gone from the already outrageous price of $3.10/gal (Premium) to the downright silly price of $3.50 at some stations around here. That’s not including some of the last chance for at least 5 miles stations yet. The stations I usually get gas are at $3.30, which I just can’t (won’t) pay if i can help it.

It isn’t even summer yet.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Wherein your host bemoans infrequent updates and gas prices…

March 29th, 2007 by Conductor

03/29/07 – Another long stretch. Bah. Might have to start using actual blogging software…
Anyway, asides from a few days where I had the car in for routine service, I’ve more or less avoided mass transit. Now this might come as a shock to some, but I haven’t missed it one bit. Well, I do miss not being able to read on the way in to work or on the ride home, but I’m fairly certain the other motorists are quite pleased that I’m not reading while driving. Winter seems to be over, so the weathers been nicer, so I may ride the rails for a bit again. We’re in that magic period where it’s not cold but not really hot either, so no bulky coats or sweaty people to put up with on trains or buses. Also, gas prices have spiked again, and are in that ‘bad touch’ zone, which is truly bogus, especially since the W is one EFT away from being paid for.

In a bit of site related boring news, I’ve switched registrars from, about whom I have absolutely nothing good to say, to GoDaddy! who, despite, having an annoying penchant for trying to get you to buy additional services from them, have been easy to use and about as transparent as one could hope for.

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You took the Bus? Really? Yes. It was nice, even.

August 9th, 2006 by Conductor

08/09/06 – Ok, that was a long stretch of no updates. But transit wise, it’s been fairly boring for a change.

Had an interesting experience this morning. Had to take the WRX in for scheduled maintenance, and to have the A/C checked, since it’s been blowing hot air lately. (Most uncomfortable during the recent heat wave, but it was better than the subway, and I had my Camelback.)
Anyway, as I headed towards the dealership, I saw some express buses heading the opposite way.* I saw that the X28 went to 23rd St. while the X38 went to 57th and Madison in Midtown. Since I was not looking forward to the endless haul on the D train, I decided to take the X38 in, since it would get me within 2 blocks of the office. After dropping the car off at the dealer, I walked over to the bus stop and waited. Unlike the B35 that takes 10-15 minutes to show up on a good day, the X38 arrived less than 5 minutes later. I got on, sat down, and fired up PocketTunes on my Tungsten X and tossed together a playlist. (2GB SD cards are handy) This was around 8am, probably a few minutes after. After a surprisingly comfortable ride of about an hour, I got off the bus at 48th and Madison, and got to work at about 9:15. Nice. Of course, given my normal luck with the MTA, to simply get to an express bus stop requires me to drive or take a regular bus first, which really defeats the whole “Express” purpose. Plus, the express bus lines nearest my home don’t go near my job. The MTA – going your way, just not from anywhere near where you live.

*My dealership is about 7 miles (30 minute drive) from my house in the opposite direction from my job, and my appointment with them was for 7:30am. I work 10am to 6pm, so I normally get up between 7:30am and 8am, so getting up at 6:30am was not fun. Have I mentioned I’m not a morning person?

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Transit Strike

December 20th, 2005 by Conductor

12/20/05 – So I go on a nice relaxing vacation, come back, and what awaits me? A transit strike. JOY.

I got up at 5:30am today. My shift is 10am-6pm.
It’s widely acknowledged that I’m an anti-morning person.
If I see 5:30am normally, it’d better be because I haven’t gone to bed yet.

Because of the tightwad, greedy sh!tbags running the transit union, I was up at 5:30am, to confirm that they’d actually gone on strike. Once I confirmed that my initial carpool didn’t have enough people, I planned out my options.

I could wait until 11am and cruise in solo, getting to work at about noon, then stay until 8pm. Not a great option, since it would cost more to park, but I’d avoid the madness going on out there.

I could go to one of the park and ride locations and see if I could find 3 people who worked within a few blocks of Radio City, weren’t creepy, smelly, or smokers. Doable, but not my favorite plan.

I actually set out to try the second option, figuring at worst I’d strike out, head down to the battery tunnel, then wait until 10:59am and go through. After the first park & ride was completely empty, I headed towards the 2nd and realized I was a couple blocks from the pickup point of the bus my job had arranged for, but which I’d not been able to sign up for having been on vacation last week. So I decided to swing by to see if 3 of the 24 people slated to be waiting there wanted to ride in. I figured worst case is they’re not there and I head to the 2nd park & ride. By now it’s about 7:30am, and the bus was scheduled for 7:40.

As I mentioned earlier, I poached 3 people, took the road less traveled to the Battery tunnel, breezed through, and got from battery park to 52nd and Broadway in about 10, maybe 15 minutes. The ladies that rode with me gave me $5 each for parking/gas, which suited me fine since parking is $17, and I was going to get gas today anyway. So we got to work at 8:30am. The funny bit is I got there 20 minutes before the two people I was originally going to drive with, who had to take the LIRR in and walk up to 51st & 6th Ave from Penn station. 😀

Getting home this evening was fairly smooth since I took the West Side Highway, but the traffic around the garage added probably 20 minutes to the trip. I left at about 5:10 pm and got home about 7pm, which is when I normally get home if I leave at 6pm. I was listening to the all news station on the way, and I don’t know if a friend who works downtown but lives in Long Island has gotten home yet, given the sea of people at Penn Station waiting 5 blocks deep just to get into the station, whose main entrances had been closed for crowd control inside the station. The east side of Manhattan was/is a massive standstill, with a 90 minute delay at the midtown tunnel inbound. I emailed a coworker that left after I did to warn her about Penn and she replied that she had to duck under a roped off area to make her train, and that it was in fact, a madhouse. Moments after I read her reply (at a red light of course) the transit report came on and the reporter said Penn Station was… yeah, you guessed it, a madhouse. After that I just switched to a CD, and made my way home. The ladies I rode in with took the bus home, since it was waiting outside the job – no standing out in the cold.

Tomorrow, the plan is for me to pick up the same trio near the bus stop and we’ll cruise in again at 7:45am. I suspect traffic will be worse tomorrow, but we should get to work between 8:30 and 9am.

As for the $1million per day fine levied against the union? Good. I’d be happy if it were higher. As for the penalties that will be imposed on Transit workers (docked 2 days pay for each day they’re on strike), good. Their strike is illegal under NY State law, they knew it, and did it anyway. Furthermore, their demands are excessive, unrealistic, and would give then better benefits than nearly all their customers, and salaries that quite honestly piss off every single person I’ve encountered today. (Starting salary of $52,000) Reagan’s handling of the ATC strike came up more than once today, and I can’t say I’d mind if something similar happened now. They gave lousy service already, and now want less disciplinary action, more money, and free benefits. To hell with them. The police, firefighters and the military don’t get that, and they risk their lives every single day.

Your jobs aren’t that hard.

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That perfect time between winter & spring.

April 6th, 2005 by Conductor

04/06/05 – No more winter! I was really getting sick of cold weather. Mind you, once spring kicks in to full swing, I’ll look back fondly on this in between time when nothing’s blooming (and flooding the air with pollen) yet. In other news, I got a little bit of woodworking done, and have the tools and materials in place for a couple more projects I’ve been wanting to do. Still driving too much, and gas prices have spiked again, so I think I’ll be dusting off the old metrocard soon. Speaking of ye olde subway, there’s a new submission! Check it out here.

Posted in Musings, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Death to spammers. No, I’ve better Idea. Make them read all of it.

January 8th, 2005 by Conductor

01/08/2005 – Alrighty then. The message board is gone. Go ‘way spam bots! This year, I want to do more woodworking, and when the weather warms up again, more flying. The latter half of 2004 was highlighted, if you want to call it that, by me avoiding the Subways completely. Despite the expense, I don’t miss it. However, it doesn’t make financial sense to keep it up, so I’m trying to wean myself from driving every day. It won’t be easy*.

* At times I am a master of understatement. This was one of them.

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2003 Year end summary – Take 2 (nobody’s writing!!!)

December 29th, 2003 by Conductor

12/29/2003 Take 2 – Apparently no one who visits this site has any interesting stories to share about the NY Subway system. Amazing. I’m not just looking for nightmarish tales of woe, but something odd or funny or even sad would suffice. Something!

(06/10/2008) Not the best bit of pandering to the audience there, but I think I may have been a wee bit annoyed at the time.

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Death of the dinky little message board.

October 4th, 2003 by Conductor

10/04/2003 – Well, the message board is pretty lame. I’m hoping to replace it with something that doesn’t suck*. Ah well. Can’t beat the price I paid for it (Free).
Overall, things are pretty tame at the moment. I need to get to the gym regularly, and I really need more sleep, or at least better sleep than I’ve been getting. Don’t know why.

* – This was written back when I just used Netscape Composer and Frontpage and didn’t know about WordPress.

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A tiny post about the short lived, dinky message board…

May 25th, 2003 by Conductor

05/25/2003 – Ok, so now there’s a message board. This could be really good, or the second worst thing I’ve ever done (see 5/11 update). Ah well, at least I can just delete this one if things go horribly wrong.

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