Five

moiI didn’t note the day or the month, or even the year, for that matter. We say “when we were twelve” because that’s our best guess (though she probably remembers better than I).

It doesn’t really matter, the specific date, or even the year. What matters is that we met, and talked for a while one random, long-forgotten night. And then again another night, and another.

It was lost for a while, changes in life, adjustments in time zone, we didn’t connect at all and eventually lost touch completely. Until another random, long-forgotten night, when I decided to clean out my contacts list. She happened to be online, so I asked who she was. We talked some more, and eventually made a connection to an event we both remembered (something about underwear and pyromania).

Even for this, it doesn’t really matter, the specific date or time that we found each other again. What matters is that we did, and that we talked again, and again, and again, and then some more.

312570_10150300651507539_1218378609_nTime went by, and the story evolved in the way so many do. Boy meets girl, boy decides he likes girl and girl decides she likes boy, they get together and make the best of it. But that’s where we are a little different, because we are so far separated. Not in a Romeo/Juliet kind of way, our families didn’t hate each other – they didn’t even know each other. We faced a different challenge: isolation. I lived in Wellington, New Zealand, she lived in a small town somewhere in Virginia.

Somehow, though, we made it work. Through plane tickets and immigration paperwork and moving and money and more immigration paperwork, we made it work. And so here we are. Today marks five years since we committed to what we had in front of friends and family, what we had essentially committed to a few months before that by beginning the application process to USCIS, what we had almost committed to just by stepping foot on the planes the very first time, flying to meet the other, meeting the friends and family, seeing the home towns and environs.

Kelly, I love you. Here is to another five years, and then another five, and another five after that, until how long it has been doesn’t really matter anymore, until what matters is that we met that random, long forgotten night, so many years ago. You were, are, and maybe always will be the best decision I ever made – to ask who you were, and not to just hit “Delete.”

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China’s High Speed Rail

Below are some cool photos of China’s High Speed Rail network that I received via email today. I was intrigued, however, by a comment at the bottom.

It read as follows: “HOW DID THEY DO THIS? THEY COPIED THE USA IDEAS OF THE 40’s & 50’s AND COMBINED THEM WITH TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY”

Here’s my quibble with this statement. In the 40s and 50s America and Europe were both big into rail transport and the networks weren’t doing too badly. But the whole thing with “progress” is that things don’t always stay the same. Things are replaced or upgraded. In the case of Europe, they elected to subsidize public rail transportation options and thus the Swiss have great public rail transport, the French have great high speed rail transport with the TGV, as do the Germans with ICE. Even Great Britain is doing pretty well with their HSTs and the Eurostar and other similar trains.

But the United States elected to neglect it’s passenger rail system in favor of cars and planes. In the 70s several passenger routes were doing so badly that the government had to step in and save them – a decision which is still debated to this day – forming Amtrak, a thriving railroad in the North East of the country, but that’s about it. Everywhere else is underutilized and largely noncompetitive against road or air options.

So yes, it’s probably true to state that China’s High Speed Rail is a “copy” of the USA’s rail system of the 40s and 50s, but it’s more accurate to suggest they took the ideas of Japan, France, Germany and Great Britain and did their own thing. It’s hardly fair to blame Communist China for copying the discarded ideas of Capitalist America.

Anyway, enough ranting. Here are some cool photos showing how far China has come in it’s development of high speed rail, setting the standards high for sure.

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Photo Friday: Something Gold

What else could it be? This is Crash, my golden retriever. He weighs 115lb (not overweight, either, he’s just that big!), he will beat you to death with his excited tail, and is generally a furball of happy.

You may have noticed the last four posts resemble an old adage.. It wasn’t intentional, at least, it wasn’t when I posted the first one. Something new, something old, something moo, something gold. Cheesy, yes. I just hope that someone enjoyed it!

Photo Friday: Something New

I try really hard to take photos of things that aren’t trains, and most of the time this endeavor fails. Most Fridays I can be found somewhere close to a railroad track, holding a camera, listening to a scanner, and probably watching ATCS to find the next one. Last week I tried something new, I tried to break out of my regular photographic style a little. It kind of worked, though it is certainly in need of practice.

Typically I go for shots taken from close to the tracks, whenever possible. I have a few spots that I know well and use regularly. On Friday I tried to break out of that, and try firstly a different method of composition, and a couple of different places that I’ve never used, or never used in the same way before.

Such as the siding at Lynnwood (just south of Elkton, north of Grottoes). Usually I take up position on the east side of the tracks and get a nice tight view of the northbound train. This time I took the west-side, way back from the tracks and went for a wide view. The composition was good, but on reviewing the shots later, the camera didn’t cooperate with focus at all.

I did get this one, however, a little later in the day, at La Grange, just west of Staunton. Amtrak train #51, the westbound Cardinal between New York and Chicago is running a few minutes late on a Friday afternoon. If you look closely, you’ll see a full-length dome at the end. That is Amtrak’s last, and is placed on the Cardinal for a couple of trips during fall every year.

Photo Friday: Fallout Shelter

In the scenic county of Highland, Virginia, lies the small town of Monterey. Known for it’s regular events intended for drawing in tourists from all over, it apparently also had a Fallout Shelter built in the Courthouse/Jail building.

Not much seems to be publicly available about the shelter, though with a capacity of 55, and a town population of 150 or so, not everyone would fit..