Repeat Rebirth

by Jim on 2014/08/27

[Jimbaux knows that all these places have their moments, with lovers and friends he still can recall.]


Todavía Estoy Aquí

Hello.  I am alive and mostly okay.  Today, Wednesday 27 August 2014, I got my first pictures since before the surgery that I had two weeks ago, the second such surgery this year.  Thanks for the comments and well-wishes from the last article.  As for the repeated caution about addiction to pain-killers, thank you, but I have never had any problem with addiction.  When my pain reduces, I simply don’t think of taking the medication and basically “forget” to take them, realizing hours or a day later that I haven’t taken them.

Ending A Brief Mid-Summer Drought

The temperature has been damned hot anyway; so, it’s not like I want to spend much time or effort out taking pictures even if I was totally healthy, and, so, it’s not like the recent short drought of pictures is really a big deal.  In any case, the drought ended – albeit not for action shots – at the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad’s France Yard as I got this shot of some parked locomotives.

Yeah, okay; whatever.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

There had to be something moving on the NS Back Belt, since there usually is something moving on it at around this time of day; there was, but this morning was really weird.  Preston gave two northbound (eastbound) trains instructions to move via the Southbound Mainline, which was weird.  I had seen NS train 345 (with a nice spartan-cab NS GE leading) parked at Marconi, but I had not noticed that it was parked on the northbound mainline.  WTF?

I set up at a slight variation of my dental school shot that I have done plenty just this year and of which I am already tired, and a clue emerged about why the railroad was running bassackwards this morning, thereby ending the action shot drought, though you wouldn’t know it from the visual implication that this train is parked based on the fact that not a single headlight is on.

I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but that is a track geometry train, which, for those of you who don’t know, inspects the “geometry” of the railroad to make sure that the rails are properly gauged, among other things.

You can see the tail end of the 345 – an empty centerbeam flatcar – in these pictures.

Whiskey Tengo Foxtrot

Dammit, this thing had no headlights on, not even the nose light!

I signaled to the engineer all that I could to get the lights on, but he just honked the horn and waved at me; if he did figure out what I meant, it was once the train was past me, and I could not see if the lights were on.

It’s really hot out here (for just staying out as high sun gets worse), and I have places to go, but I want to get that other train coming because I want something normal on the Back Belt for my first day back.  Well, I’m not quite going to get what I want.

Whiskey Tenemos Foxtrot

This job identified itself as CSX’s Y305, and that’s what Preston called it too, but what’s with this power set?

Dammit!  So much for trying to get something “normal” this morning.  How can something like this happen when, supposedly, BNSF is so power-short?  There were no railroad-owned cars and no flat cars or gondolas or boxcars in this entire train, meaning that it neither looked like a regular BNSF train nor had any CN family cars to help determine that it probably came from the CN.

Here is a good lesson on things not being (or not always being) what they seem.  Even though I am a person very knowledgeable (for a layperson) about train movements here, had I not had my radio with me, I’d probably have assumed, like practically everyone else, that this was a BNSF train.  This is an important opportunity for lessons for non-railroad-enthusiasts about trains and how regular people can’t assume that the railroad who owns the locomotives that they see pulling a train is the railroad that is running that train.  Frequently enough, I hear or read people say that they saw X railroad’s train running in a place where X railroad does not even run.  “I saw a Union Pacific train in Slidell,” someone will tell me.  No, you did not.  “Well, the locomotives said ‘Union Pacific,'” he responds.  I’m sure that they did, but that’s just paint and just who owns the locomotives (actually, usually, a bank owns the locomotives, and the railroad has it on a long-term lease) and not indicative of whose train it is; even if the locomotives say “Union Pacific” on them, a train moving through Slidell is a Norfolk Southern Railway train, meaning that NS is totally responsible for the movement, NS crews are on the train, and NS earns all of the revenue from that part of each car’s movement.

Well, this brief little outing hasn’t turned out quite like I had hoped, and I need to get out of here because I have things to do anyway; it’s not like I care anyway, since it is summer, and I hate summer.

The Neatest Find Of The Day, Seen In Four Views

An hour later on the W’ank, I encountered this scene on the old New Orleans Lower Coast track next to Gouldsboro Yard on Madison Street.

That is the old NOLR 1229 in fairly fresh NOGC paint!  I only recently noticed that this locomotive had this fresh paint scheme, and since I hadn’t seen the locomotive in a really long time, I wasn’t even sure that it was still on the property.  This locomotive was built in 1953 for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; It is a neat old switcher locomotive – an EMD SW9U that was part of Santa Fe’s San Bernardino rebuild program – that doesn’t have handrails along the hood.  There was a neater and older find at the end of this parked train, though.

Wow, look at that!  I’ve never seen NOGC reporting marks on anything other than a locomotive before!  These apparently all the old ballast hopper cars that have been on the property for a long time, now wearing fresh paint in NOGC colors and NOGC reporting marks.

These cars were at the end of this train to Belle Chasse.

Check out the build date on this car!

Wow, 1949!  That’s the oldest car in current service (albeit non-revenue service) that I have ever seen!

W’ank Tenemos Frontin’

Hours later, still on the W’ank, here’s a cloudy going-away view of the afternoon westbound local on 4th Street in Gretna.

Yeah, okay.

That’s all for pictures today, and they are not even close to being my best, but they are still presentable, obviously.

The Near Future

My path of some-day-per-week activities until at least about Thanksgiving or so will have me near the NOGC; so, you can expect to see more photographs of this operation until then, I guess.

Otras Cosas

I have plenty to say but little inclination to say much of it here and now.  So, these tidbits will have to suffice now.

Making Suicide Worse By Criticizing It

The famous blogger Matt Walsh really showed his true cruel colors shortly after Robin Williams’s death.  Walsh felt the need to write an article to tell people that Williams’s suicide was “his choice,” as if most of us don’t know what the word “suicide” means!  Plenty of criticism – including some from yours truly – was thrown Walsh’s way for this, but he also gained thousands of followers in the process.  As other commenters wrote, all that Walsh did was add to the stigma, thereby making the problem worse.

Lack Of Freedom of Association Makes Freedom of Religion Irrelevant

Walsh also recently wrote about yet another recent instance of a provider of wedding-related service being subjected to legal punishment for refusing to be involved in a same-sex ceremony.  One problem is that Walsh and most of his “Christian” “followers” see this as an issue about religion and-or about sexual orientation.   You can read several comments from me and others on his Facebook posting of his article, but here is my best response in response to someone who brought up the “private business” argument:

The issue of whether it is private or public is largely irrelevant, since hotels and grocery stores are private businesses that are legitimately called “public accommodations,” since denying service to people seeking food or hotel rooms causes a serious problem.  The issue should be whether this wedding place on someone’s private property should be considered a “public accommodation”; since nobody’s life will be negatively impacted by not being able to get that service, there or anywhere else, I do not think that it should be considered a public accommodation the way that a hospital, grocery store, restaurant, doctor’s office, or hospital – even if all of them are privately-owned – should.

The issue is, does the government have a compelling reason to compel providers to serve EVERYONE?  In the case of those essential types of businesses that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I believe the answer is yes.  In the case of a wedding reception place, a wedding cake provider (people don’t eat wedding cake because they are hungry), and, especially, a photographer (there are no government regulations whatsoever when it comes to photography), I believe the answer is no.  Please note that my entire comment here is completely devoid of any mention of religion or sexual orientation; this issue is not about EITHER religion OR sexual orientation.

If we don’t have Freedom of Association (for interactions not involving non-life-sustaining goods and services), then of what value is Freedom of Religion? or even Freedom of Speech?  Most or all of the people who chose to go into fields of non-essential goods and services – dare I say “superfluous” goods and services – like photography, personalized-wedding-cake, and wedding receptions, probably don’t think of themselves as ‘public servants’ the way that surgeons, all medical professionals, bankers, hotel owners, restaurant owners, and grocery store owners do, and that’s why we rarely have problems today with discrimination from providers of those essential services: they just aren’t of the mindset to discriminate.

If Hooters restaurant – or a local Hooters restaurant, or someone hosting an event at a local Hooters restaurant – calls me, a photographer, wanting me to photograph an event there, and I respond that I will not do so because I don’t want to be associated with a place whose business model is rather conspicuously based on the deliberate sexual objectification of women, is that grounds for a lawsuit against me?  If not, then why is refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony grounds for a lawsuit?  Anything involving art or personalization – unlike, say, a restaurant cooking a meal – is something that the provider cannot do well if he or she is not comfortable with it; that is the very nature of art, and an event at Hooters not being photographed will not harm anyone at or involved with the event.  That the government strives to ensure, even through force, that everyone has access to food, medical care, banking services, hotel services (remember that our “public accommodation” laws exist largely because hotels refusing service to black people meant that traveling itself was very difficult for black people more than 50 years ago), and legal services, makes sense, and I am therefore not against it; how, though, does it make sense to use force to ensure that people have access to much more superfluous stuff like photography or a customized-personalized wedding cake? especially when the baker will sell anything else that he makes (like doughnuts or non-customized-personalized cake) to the gay couple?

The real problem here has nothing to do with either sexual orientation or religion; the real problem is, as I have described, an excessive expansion of what constitutes a “public accommodation,” and that is what has led to plenty of outrage and plenty of arguing over reasons for non-service.  The reason should not matter!  For non-essential goods and services, “I don’t want to do that” should be all that needs to said.  Please note that in a proper segregation of non-essential, non-life-sustaining, non-quality-of-life-sustaining goods and services from essential, life-sustaining, and quality-of-life-sustaining goods and services, the reason for refusal of services is, in both cases, irrelevant.  Unless we are talking about kicking out a disruptive customer or someone who has a history of not paying bills, which are other matters entirely, a hotel, a grocery store, a hospital (even privately-owned), a passenger airline, a telephone company, an internet service company, a private bus service, a surgeon, any other medical professional, a bank, a restaurant, a large apartment complex, a pharmacy, and a clothing and apparel store cannot refuse service to anyone or any group for any reason.  Similarly, the artistic and-or non-essential, non-life-sustaining services like photography, music, and customized-personalized wedding cake, and even wedding reception, should be able to refuse service for whatever reason.  Notice the consistency!  Notice, too, that it has nothing to do with either sexual orientation or religion!  The reason for wanting to refuse to serve, both for products and services in which we should prohibit refusal of services and for products and services for which we should not prohibit refusal of service, does not (or would not) matter.

Policing the reasons that non-essential non-life-sustaining service is refused is very disturbing; it is the policing of thought.  Why is it okay for me to refuse photographic service to (or at) Hooters but not okay for me to refuse photographic service of something gay-related?  Policing reasons for such inaction – yes, please understand that it is the policing of not doing something, meaning that is the forcing of someone to do something – is an invasion of privacy, and it is a form of temporary slavery when it is something like photography in which my alternative is to stay at home (as opposed to a restaurant, which would be open even if it did not serve black people.)  Matt Walsh and his followers are right to be outraged by what happened, but their stated justifications for their indignation only make the problem worse; they paint the issue as one of religious freedom and-or one of sexual orientation, and that only increases the divisiveness.  Painting it as a “religious freedom” issue suggests that some sort of religious objection would be justifiable, which suggests that a non-religious person should not have the same rights of not being forced to provide a non-essential service; it’s like making a special ‘pass’ for religious people that non-religious people cannot obtain.  Painting it as a sexual orientation issue (or a marriage equality issue) means that I can’t refuse to photograph a gay wedding but, apparently, I am “allowed” to refuse to photograph something at Hooters.  What sense does this make?  Since when does government regulate commercial photography? and concern itself with reasons for not photographing something?

Until Next Time . . .

I guess that I don’t have the energy to say much else, and I guess that I said more than I thought that I would say.  There is a small chance that I will be in Acadiana (or deeper into it) this weekend, meaning that you might see a few pictures from out there.  Until then, have a “blessed” weekend, and mind your own damned business.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Howard Bingham August 30, 2014 at 14:38

Nice photos… Haven’t seen New Orleans Public Belt locomotives since they were moved for safe keeping to Houston before Hurricane Katrina (Houston’s fabled Astrodome was also temporary home for displaced New Orleans residents after rescue from the Superdome which was surrounded by flood waters.. Now Houston’s Astrodome fate is un-known, as owner of Houston Texans and the Houston livestock Show and Rodeo wnt the Astrodome demolished, however the Astrodome owner, Harris County Commissioners Court have other ideas to save the Astrodome..!

Howard Bingham, SW Houston


2 Dick Burt August 30, 2014 at 14:53

As a former resident of New Oroleans, I like pictures that bring back fond memories of those days when I was still a kid.




3 Steve Boyko August 30, 2014 at 21:26

Nice photos! That NS “engine” behind the headlight-less lead engine on the track evaluation train doesn’t really look like an engine. I wonder if it is dedicated to track evaluation service.

Love the street running photo.


4 Tom Beckett August 31, 2014 at 02:09

I enjoy the mundane train shots, even if you’re sick of them. What’s common today will be “Oh, check that out!!” in 20 years. I am right now uploading a bunch of photos from 1994 onto RR Picture Archives, which has given me pause: it’s hard to reconcile 20 years have gone by; and that I used to see all those trains on a regular basis, and now most of them are gone. I used to largely ignore end cab swithcers-they were just in the background and not “real” engines like road power. Now you never see one. I’m glad I took what photos I did, even if I mostly still can’t tell them apart.

The reality of today’s rail world is that pretty much any power can run anywhere, especially since there are only 7 large systems with largely the same locomotives. I have seen pairs of BNSF GE’s on local trains on NS in Binghamton NY-go figure!!

I agree with you on the right of a business to refuse service to anyone, for any reason or no reason. I think a lot of times doing so is unfair, but life is unfair. That said, in the end, money talks. The money of the gay couple who wants to get married is just as good legal tender as the straight couple; business owners might want to think that one through before refusing dollars they might want to have. I am always amazed at how people will let philosophical or religious differences that don’t really matter in the real world dictate their economic activity, often to their detriment. The city of Fayetteville here in northwest Arkansas-the Ithaca of the Ozarks-just passed an ordinance outlawing discrimination of any kind, partly to address exactly this situation, though no one can recall a case of anyone actually being discriminated against. It’s a noble gesture, but also to many, it was a solution in seach of a problem.

The fact that you are not taking your pain meds as often, and that you occasionally forget them is a good thing. Usually it means the pain is diminishing to the point where it’s not affecting you all the time. In any case, hope you are recovering well. The cooler weather should be upon you soon, which will help.


5 Jimbaux August 31, 2014 at 09:40

“I agree with you on the right of a business to refuse service to anyone, for any reason or no reason.”
— Let’s please be clear that I am talking ONLY about superfluous or non-utilitarian things like artistic things like photograph, customized-personalized wedding cake or whatever, celebrations, etc. I’m NOT in favor of telephone companies, large apartment complexes, grocery stores, medical providers, electricity companies, airlines, hotels, etc., being able to discriminate on any basis other than the consumer’s inability or unwillingness to pay for the services; those are rightly called “public accommodations.”

I do need to check out the stuff that you have recently posted. Yes, I’ll probably value the pictures from this posting years from now more than I do now.


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