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:

Either VDOT reads my blog, or they just have great ideas

Back in January of 2009 I wrote a post about how bad a particular highway in Virginia was when it rained. VA-42 between Broadway and Harrisonburg is 4 lanes all the way and is well trafficked, and yet had no lights or any form of marking on the road other than the paint. This is all well and good, during the day or in good weather. At night, when it’s raining, the lights from cars just reflect off the shiny water surface and the lines become invisible. I realized with snow and plowing etc that reflectors might not be a good idea, but some other main roads in the area have recessed reflectors that work well.

It seems VDOT have realized the lack of safety when it rains on roads like 42, and on the recently surfaced sections of the road, the sections closest to H’burg and closest to Broadway, they have installed reflectors. Hopefully whenever they get around to resealing the middle section it’ll get the same treatment, but for now I’m happy that even just part of the road should be visible at night, when it’s raining.

Rest in Peace, Sir.

Soldier from Harrisonburg killed in Afghanistan

The Defense Department says Specialist Brian M. Anderson died Saturday of wound he received when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. Anderson was 24 years old.

Disclaimer 1: This is one of those awkward posts, where I’m not entire sure of my thoughts, feelings or beliefs on this whole situation. I have a deep respect for anyone who goes to war to fight for what they believe, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with what they believe. However, I fully understand that a lot of people will disagree with what I think. It’s one of the downsides of living in a country where liberty is a major piece of the foundation, and where freedom of speech is one of the pillars. I have the right to believe anything I wish, FOR SO LONG AS it doesn’t interfere with your right to do anything you wish. I also have a poorly formed opinion on soldiers and how they should be remembered in death, as well as in life, and I have a right to voice that opinion, whether you like it or agree with it or not. If you like what I think, good for you. If you don’t like what I think, that’s your right. I am not forcing you to read what I write, it is by your choice. It’s what freedom and liberty are about.

Disclaimer 2: The only reason I know his name is because he died in the service of his country. I have nothing but respect for the men and women who are prepared to lay down their lives for what they believe. This post has nothing to do with those brave soldiers who volunteer their services to the armed forces of their countries, and I mean no disrespect to any degree to the men or women who have fought and died, fought and lived, who are fighting now, or who will fight in years to come for the ideologies instilled in them by their parents, their friends, and their political leaders. This post is also not aimed explicitly at Specialist Anderson or at his family specifically, this is about my observations of the people in this town and their reaction to the news that a Broadway man had been Killed in Action. May he rest in peace, and be appropriately remembered for his life and for his service to the United States of America.

This is my situation. It quite possibly applies to many others living in this country right now, and more than likely applied to others in some form or another in decades past. Friends and family, classmates and workmates, many people knew him or knew who he was. I am not one of those people. The only reason I know his name is because it was in the newspaper, because it was on facebook, and because people have been talking about it. The only reason I know how he died is because it was in the newspaper, because it was on facebook, and because people have been talking about it. But I can’t help but wonder if the only reason I know who he is now, is because he is dead.

For many soldiers, returning from war alive is not a big thing. Only once have I seen a veteran publicly thanked by another man for his service outside of an event intended for their memorial. I was leaving Burger King on Route 33 in Harrisonburg one day, and I noticed a man who looked to be in his 40’s approach an older man wearing a shirt signifying his participation in an armed defense force (I think it may have been the Marines, but I don’t remember). He asked the elder man if he had served, and after receiving a positive answer he asked which war. I believe the answer was Vietnam, after which the younger man offered his hand and said (..something along the lines of..) “Thank you for your service to our country.” It is something I think should happen more often. For all of the men and women who come home in coffins, many more come home breathing. The ones who die deserve our respect and our remembrance. But if anything, we need to give more to the ones who return alive – they are the ones who have suffered the effects of war and have to deal with them beyond their discharges from the military units they served with. The ones who return alive are the ones who, at best, have to deal with the mental and emotional effects of being in battle and losing buddies, or in some cases, more lasting physical problems resulting from injuries sustained in combat.

While I don’t entirely agree with the notion that we are fighting for American Freedom by being at war in Iraq or Afghanistan, the soldiers who are fighting in it have nothing less than my respect and my support. The people responsible for them being there are a different story entirely, and I would like little more than to see the leaders making more public moves in terms of steps to getting the men and women of the American Military out of the warzones and to see more rebuilding in the shadows of destruction that we have seen over the last 10 years.

“Wait, he’s not even American. Why should I care what he says?” — You’re right. I wasn’t born here. I don’t fully understand or like or agree with a lot of the cultural things that go on here. In many ways I’m torn as to how I think I should feel about a man I didn’t know who I feel is only famous now because he died serving a military branch overseas in a time of war. Had he come home alive, I doubt as much attention would be cast on him. But he did die while fighting for something he believed in, and for that alone I feel he deserves my respect.

This is not a political thing for me. I could care less who started for war, or who was in power during its time and who brought it to an end. My feelings on “bringing freedom” to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan is another issue entirely. I just hear a lot of people saying things, and see a lot of people doing things, and I wonder why. I don’t know any family members of any men or women Killed in Action to know how they feel when they are offered condolences for their loss by people who didn’t know their son or daughter, when the only reason anyone is remembering their child is because they died at war. I can only imagine that I would also feel torn between being honored as the parent of a young man or woman with a name, with feelings, with opinions and thoughts of his or her own, that his or her friends and other family members will remember and talk about for years to come, and being honored as a parent of a child brave enough to fight for what they believed, who is remembered because their name is on a plaque along with hundreds of others who served and died. The struggle is deepened, I suppose, because both circumstances are equally honorable. I just thrive on personal interaction, and when I don’t have a connection to an individual I don’t care to the same level as if I had known them.

So with that in mind, I wish to offer my condolences to the families of the many men and women who have died in service to their country, whether it be the United States, or the United Kingdom or one of its many allies. May they rest in peace, and be long remembered by the people and beliefs they died fighting for.

And more-so, I offer thanks to the men and women who fought and lived. Especially to the allied veterans of World War One, and World War Two, but also to those who fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. May you be remembered in life and in death for that which you have given to your country, and to the people and beliefs that you bravely fought for.

Church and a Lawnmower

Yesterday I mowed the lawns around the house. Usually my brother-in-law does it, but he was busy helping his girlfriend and her mom do yard work at their house, and after being offered the chance to try last week (and enjoying it) I decided to take the opportunity again.

I got out my iPod and started the Christian playlist, thinking I would have my own mini-pentecostal service while mowing the lawns. I thought that an awesome song would come on, that I’d just rock out thinking how awesome God is. I thought that God and I would have a moment, and how cool it would be to blog about what happened. I mean, it’s not the most normal place for God and Man to connect..

But it didn’t happen. I guess God knew that I would have used it for a completely wrong purpose, making it about me rather than about him. Don’t we do that all too often? When things go wrong, it’s God’s fault. When things go right, we’re such awesome people that do such a good job. Right? How often has God done something good in your life and you’ve shifted the focus from the greatness and awesomeness of God onto yourself, whether it be by taking all the credit or by focussing on how funny it was to happen when/where it did, with the intention of building self and intentionally or otherwise detracting from whatever it was that God did for you.

Yesterday I got my full Virginia drivers license, and am now fully prepared to drive to work in Washington DC alone every day (assuming I get the job I’m interviewing for tommorrow morning). Speaking of which, I’ll have another 4 hours tomorrow to church alone (well, with my wife), and if I get the job I’ll also have 4 hours a day to church (really alone!) as well.

In other news, last night I made two phone calls to New Zealand, the first being to my Mum, and got to talk to my Dad and my brother as well. Mum was doing well, Dad was getting over a cold/flu thing, and my brother was doing pretty well also. I asked my brother if he had given any thought to what he wanted to do in the future (work/study-wise), and he said “Film and Media, or higher English” and on asking to clarify the higher English, he suggested he would like to write fan-fictions (fiction stories using famous characters in a prequel/sequel-type situation, think a continuation of Star Wars or the Matrix, or episodes of CSI or Law and Order). I suggested he could try to create his own characters and write something original as well, or even go so far as writing stick-figure based cartoons, since he described himself as a poor drawing artist.

The second call was to my only living Grandma (my Mum’s Mum passed away nearly a year ago now), again to wish her a happy mothers day and to catch up a little. She also had a chance to talk, for the first time, to her grand-daughter-in-law. I was worried about calling them after Dad mentioned that my Grandad wasn’t doing well mentally, warning me that “..if the man who answers the phone sounds like Grandad, but doesn’t recognise or seem to know who you are, don’t be surprised or upset..” He’s in his 9th decade (80’s ;-)), and after a stroke or two these things tend to happen! I was rather pleased when he did answer and was very quick at responding to what I was needing, seeming at least to recognise me (may have had something to do with sounding like my Dad and calling him Grandad?)

We’re also house-sitting for a friend (who was housesitting and had to go to New York with her family for the weekend). It’s a pretty awesome house, we’re planning to take photos of some cool things we’d like to try to make or remember when our turn to decorate comes around. They don’t have a lot of things on display, so there is minimal clutter, but what they do have is high up and generally pet friendly.

Lastly I wanted to mention that we’re going to stop in at Front Royal on the way home from the interview tomorrow and check it out for size and shopping facilities etc etc. It’s apparently somewhere between Broadway and Harrisonburg for size with a population of around 13-14,000 people and we wanted to get a feel for what was there and what was close by compared to what we would have to drive for.

Anyway, thats more than enough rambling from me for another day or two. Happy Mothers Day!

Community-Based ISP’s – Could This Catch On?

I was stumbling around the internet the other day when I came across this article about Wilson, NC. It reports that the small city of Wilson was sick of the phone/tv/internet services being provided by the options they had, so they started their own. My question is, could this take off throughout the country? Comcast, Time Warner, all the other cable and DSL companies have been screwing the country over for a long time. Maybe if more community-based providers come up, it will force the big boys to lower their prices and improve their services. By the way, if anyone in Broadway/Timberville/Harrisonburg/Rockingham Co is interested in starting something like this I’d be keen to join in wherever possible. Whether it would be in a server/services administrative role or something helpdesk, I’m interested!

Here’s the link to the article:

Danger! Danger! Lights and Sirens!

EDIT: This was found this morning: – We’d suspected he’d gone to 259 to try and go for the West Virginia border, but he didn’t make it that far.

So tonight, after watching American Carol (funny movie with an interesting message, btw..), and visiting CiCi’s pizza (and not eating much), and socialising with my in-laws, Kel and I dropped by the apartment to grab some things before coming up to Broadway for the night.

That was all well and good, got the laptop and some clothes, etc. Anyway, we were leaving our street, and turning right onto Mount Clinton Pike, and a black SUV with blue lights flashing comes past towards VA-42 at speed. We’re just thinking “Wow…thats weird…”, and turn to follow a little, and hear lots of sirens coming at us from the opposite direction. There was a white Bronco came up Mt Clinton with a large amount of smoke coming out.. followed by approximately 8 police cars of various descriptions. We were nearly hit by the first SUV as it U-turned on Mt Clinton to join the chase.

We carried on toward 42, where a further 4 police vehicles were encountered – a black SUV which took the right-turn at speed (crossed the center line in front of us), a cop with lights off sitting in a parking lot, a state cop and a city cop with crossed the tracks and turned onto 42-North (later U-turned to go south and up Mt Clinton Pike as well).

We continued driving, expected it had moved away from us. Anyhow, arriving in Broadway, about 15 mins later, 2 cop cars were sitting at the South entrance to Broadway on VA-42 conversing, and about 4-5 minutes after passing them (and parking up, discussing what had happened with Kelly’s parents and brother who were a couple of minutes ahead of us) we heard the chase come back through Broadway heading North – this time vehicles sounding in much worse condition.

I’ll be watching Google News a lot, as well as keeping an eye on the news sites (CNN as well as more local places), but if anyone has any idea what was going on, it would be interesting to know! There is speculation it was drug related, and there are reports within the last 24 hours of drug busts made this week, but whether this is related or another matter entirely remains to be seen.