Parenthood: First Birthday

I realized when I posted earlier this week that it was the first blog post I had made in over two years. So much has changed in that time: I went from working in tech support to working in Systems Administration. I went from constant customer interaction to occasional customer interaction, I went from guy who has been at the company more than half the staff to guy who only has about 5 people ahead of him in terms of seniority, and a couple of them aren’t on anything close to related career paths. It’s weird.

And I became a parent.

This time last year, we were in Labor and Delivery, going through hour 24 or so of labor. The nurses were struggling to get reliable readings on their monitors, and so it would be another 8 hours before we got a good nurse who was determined to get the child out of my wife, and another 16 hours before that effort would succeed.

Today we celebrated that with a party. As all good first birthday parties are, it was at least as much for us older people asĀ it was for the guest of honor. My wife went to great efforts to plan and prepare a simple affair with a mostly-gnome-but-generally-woodland themed affair with mushroom-decorated cupcakes and gnome decorations along with animal tablecloths. We ate under a tree and generally enjoyed each other’s company.

Here’s a small array of photos from the event, enjoy!

Trains from Broadway


Last night I happened upon a large number of old train documents that have been added to Google Books recently. I haven’t scanned for more recent dates, I just looked at 1906 and found three trains in each direction served the small town of Broadway, VA. That’s six a day, and four of those went to or came from Washington DC!

What’s more interesting is that I know where all of those locations are. And that the trip took upwards of five hours! Five! Today, we drive most of that in two hours, maybe three if you skip the interstates!

For more old train timetables, for anyone who is interested in the history or other parts of the country in that era, here is some more information on how to find the books in Google’s archives:

Western North Carolina, in Northern Virginia

I could have sworn I had posted about this, but apparently not. About a month ago I learned of a model railroad club based out of the old railroad depot in Vienna, Virginia. Sited along the path that once was the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, the depot is in use today as the home of the Northern Virginia Model Railroad club.

The club has existed since the late 40s. It has occupied the Vienna depot for the last 35 years or so. The club models the Western North Carolina Railroad, which was a real line in North Carolina between Spencer and Asheville. In fact, while the club models the mid 50s, the prototype is still in service today, as part of the Norfolk Southern network.

The layout itself is quite large, with hundreds, if not thousands of feet of track. All the track that is visible is hand-laid, with rails spiked on hand-made ties. The only places where flex-track was used is in tunnels and particularly the helices where it is harder to get to. It operates on Digitrax DCC, and signals are being installed. They largely operate as Automatic Block signals, but I understand full CTC is on the way.

It’s quite impressive to see, and if you’re in the area when they are holding their regular open-house events (next one is May 25th and 26th for the Viva Vienna festival, other dates can be found at it’s worthy of a few minutes at least to watch things happening and listen to the talks about how and why things are.

As it relates to me more personally, last night I was read in as a probationary member. Despite attending meetings for the last few weeks, I just missed the meeting in April so I had to wait until the May business meeting. It’s fun so far, and I’m enjoying meeting the various members (including, I believe, one of the NS train crew in the area who I hear about often from other railfans) and learning the rules and regulations of the layout. I also participated in my first scenery auction event, where old pieces of no-longer-required scenery are put up for a silent auction. I picked up a small schack for 50c, and an Atlas 9″ turntable ($20-30 value) and motor drive (another 20-30) for $10 together! I was excited!

I still need to acquire and install my first set of DCC decoders. Money is tight this month, but I’m confident it can be done before too long! Even just one!

iptables issues again

Well, it’s been another fun evening battling with iptables.

The goal is simple: allow access for specific things across the router, and drop/reject everything else.


Client connecting from specific IP must be able to connect on port 80 and be redirected to the transparent proxy on the same machine (done, tested, working)

Client connecting from same specific IP must be able to connect out on ports 25, 53(udp), 110, 143, 443, etc, unhindered (with space to reject more specifically later)

Reject/drop everything else from that IP.

Allow anything else traversing the system (or beginning/ending there) to be handled separately.

Seems easy enough, but it seems I can make one happen but not the other. But tomorrow is another day.

Retiring Bed Parts

You may recall that back in December 2010 Crash broke our bed. As a result, I built a new one to replace it.

This week one of Kelly’s friends gave us her old box spring that was no longer needed and after sleeping on it a couple of nights we’ve decided it was time to properly retire my one.

So now it’s in our second bedroom, waiting for a project to use the lumber for. Or something.

Expanding Upward and Other Train Things

According to NOAA, it’s 87 degrees outside. It’s 82 inside. Dear apartment complex, please decide to enable A/C some time soon. Thanks.

It’s been a good week, so far. Back to work on the new shift tonight (7pm to 3am, Wednesdays through Sundays), but progress has been made on various model related things this week.

Over the last few days I’ve been doing some research on a set of freight cars I have, and from what I can tell they are offset quad hoppers that were a real freight car – mildly surprising given my models of them were made by the likes of Tyco.

HoppersTo be specific, I’m referring to the brightly colored open hoppers often used for coal or ballast on a model railroad made by companies to include Bachmann, AHM, Tyco and possibly others. They seem to be most closely matching to a 70 ton ARA hopper that was used by several railroads on the eastern side of the United States starting from the 20s and 30s and stayed in production in a few forms through the early 60s. I’ve found several photographs of them painted for B&O, Reading and one or two others, but not much more. I’ve also seen several model maker’s sites referring to Norfolk and Western and the Southern Railway having some (and operating them through at least the early 80s, which fits my loose era of the 80s and 90s on NS) but I am yet to see any photos of them at all. If I can find some, I can consider repainting them into more realistic colors and possibly add to my fleet of Southern hoppers.

Also on the N scale front I finally started building out the hills (expanding upward!) using paper and glue. They’re just now taking shape and perhaps next week I’ll be able to start laying plaster and making them solid.