Foamin’, Frontin’, and Frustrated On Tuesday

by Jim on 2014/09/09

[Jimbaux is feeling miles away.]

New Views From the NS Back Belt

I just love, love, love that song!

Feeling Like A Candle Burning At Both Ends

In response to some goofy middle-of-the-night text message about whoadies that I had sent out to a few whoadie-friends over the weekend, Captain Sal replied that “he who lives by his whoadies dies by his whoadies.”

I replied, “let’s hope not,” but on Monday night, already feeling quite awful and tired mostly due to a lack of sleep, I was beginning to think that my whoadie Captain Sal’s prophecy might come true.  Another of my so-called “whoadies” essentially reneged on an offer around which I had made plans, and it left me in a real bind that, given how tired I was, could have had deadly consequences.  The whole thing left me in a really foul and untrusting mood.  Attention everyone: don’t make promises of one resource or set of resource to more than one party!

I Don’t Belong Here?

Fortunately and to my great relief, my whoadie The Feather came to my rescue.  Jimbaux survived.  Therefore, he walked the Earth – specifically, Whoadieville – this morning to get some pictures, including some never-before-seen views.

A Flurry Of Early-Mid-Morning Activity

In the space of about an hour, there were six or seven trains moving the length of the NS Back Belt (or at least as far as L&N Junction, for trains to and from CSX) that I saw with my own eyes: four or five eastbounds, and two westbounds.  All of this – particularly the spurt of eastbounds – reinforces my point about how several eastbound trains that have been waiting for awhile get turned loose once the northbound Crescent departs and that double-tracking the parts of the Back Belt that are now single track would not solve this problem in ways that the proposed Middle Belt would.

Before we get to the new shots, we’ll start at a familiar scene.

Different Activity At A Familiar (Albeit This Time Overexposed) Scene

At Terminal Junction, a place that I have photographed many times before, we see something that I had not yet photographed before, some work being done in one of the little yard tracks under Franklin Avenue, as seen in this overexposed view.

Those tracks seem to be where bad-order and-or wreck damaged cars and MofW cars are stored.  So, I’m not sure that this movement made it the length of the Back Belt (hence my earlier-stated uncertainty of how many trains moved the length of the Back Belt), as it may be just some yard job working this yard.  The cut of cars on the right makes me think that this same job might have been moving those and, therefore, that this was the morningly CN transfer, but that cut also looked like it could have been from the UP.

Three Unphotographed Trains

I can’t remember if it was before or after this picture that I observed the CSX’s morningly yard job returning from the CN go by NE Tower.  That train had, surprisingly, two six-axle locomotives (old SDs), including one lease locomotive.

During this whole time, NS train 345 was parked at I-10 while NS train 393 was parked right behind it at Marconi.

The New Shot, Seen With Two Trains, Each Viewed Twice

The NS Back Belt is only 7.6 miles long.  So, quite naturally, after only a few years of photographing trains on it, I not only did but also wore out most of the good shots on the line by a few years ago.  There are only so many views that one can do while standing on the ground on land that is publicly accessible.  (I really need a bucket truck and-or a drone; please see the philosophizing section below the pictures for some news on that front.)  This morning, I finally got a new shot, something that I have been conceptualizing since the early spring when I realized that it existed, that I hadn’t fully exhausted all of the shots that are doable from ground level from publicly accessible land.  I had attempted to do this shot in the spring shortly after I conceptualized it, but it was not to be.

This morning, comint indicated that I’d get another eastbound train moving on the Back Belt.  So, when I heard Preston give the eastbound Z-train a route, I decided to go suffer out in the sweltering heat (the humidity has, for the last few days, been quite oppressive) for a few minutes while waiting for the train to show up.  My new shot is at Frenchmen Street from the northern side of the tracks.

First, before the trains arrive, let’s have a look across the track up Frenchmen Street.

Part of the problem with shooting eastbound (railroadwise, northbound) trains on the Back Belt is that the light isn’t good for such shooting in spring and summer mornings – as you may have noticed from some of my pictures – mainly because access to the track is generally more difficult from the north than it is from the south; I also now consider the Wisner Boulevard shot – a great view of eastbound trains – to be too dangerous to do, apparently a function of becoming more risk averse the further away from one’s teen years one ages.

Mais, That Don’t Look Like A Z-Train

Not only did it not look like the Z-train, but what showed up for my first ever shot here from the northern side of the track at Frenchmen Street had some symbol that I did not recognize and now can’t remember; not only have I never done this shot before, but, as far as I can tell, nobody else ever has either (and I doubt that anyone else ever will.)

Yes, I certainly wish that I’d have done this shot before the old Southern Railway cantilever signals were removed and replaced last year!  You can see the two masts that replaced the old signals.  Also, the inclusion in the picture composition of the Popeye’s sign – of the Popeye’s right by the track at Paris Avenue and Gentilly Road – was deliberate.  We also have a new CSX GEVO with the new little logo leading the train, which I guess is neat.

I just wish that the CSX would rename itself as the “Chessie System” and paint all of its locomotives and other equipment accordingly; the Chessie System had one of the snazziest paint schemes of all time, but its successor is my least favorite of the “Big Eight” railroads on the continent.

I had things to do, I was really hungry, and it was hot; so, I left the scene, being done with pictures for the morning, until I wasn’t done with pictures for the morning.

The Z-Train Cometh

I left the scene, but then at around East City Junction, I saw the Z-train coming; so, I returned to the location of my new view, and I got some similar shots of the Z-train, which had eight empty Tropicana refrigerator cars at the front end and was led by two fairly clean UP GEVOs, as seen here.

One thing that makes this shot possible even two hours after sunrise and even only two weeks before the fall equinox is that the trains are going east-southeast here instead of just east.

Okay, that really is enough; it’s time to get the heck out of here, get some cool air, and get a life.  I hope that you liked the new shots, especially as I’m not likely to do them again this year.

Miscellaneous Philosophizing

New Heights – And New Possibilities – In Photography

Just when I think that, as expressed by the novelty of this new shot on the NS Back Belt, I have done all of the shots that there are to do in certain areas and that the time to give up this “railroad photograph” thing is now, something comes along that shows that there are still so many possibilities within reach: unmanned areal vehicles, a.k.a. “drones.”  This past weekend, Grumpy got his first DSLR shots from a drone, and they show tremendous potential, as you should see in part of his article from Saturday on which I commented; isn’t that awesome?

For such a long time, I have wanted to be able to “get high” to get better pictures, and for all of that time until now, I thought that the best and perhaps only (except maybe a helicopter or airplane, bot of which are highly impractical even if I had such money) way to do it was to get a bucket truck; the problem is that bucket trucks themselves are expensive, and then I’d have to pay insurance on a vehicle that I don’t need, find a place to park it, and then the fuel economy would be quite atrocious too.  A drone would have none of those problems, and it would have a greater range!  Right now, my brain is going over so many familiar photographic locations and wondering how I could get some great shots with a drone that are not otherwise possible!  At some point, I’ll have to get my hands one one of these things.

What’s Good For The Goose Is Not Good For . . . The Other Goose?

In a follow-up to the recent debates about Freedom of Association in terms of sexual orientation, rights to refusal of non-essential goods and services about what should and what should not constitute a “public accommodation,” and what a person can do with or to his or her own body (see the philosophy sections of the last two articles here), I had an interesting discussion with a woman who is married to another woman and who is a drug prohibitionist!  WTF?  I find a peculiar irony in the fact that someone who is so openly and unapologetically gay as she is and who is married to another woman could be such a prohibitionist, even for marijuana.

Yes, let’s get the government telling us what to do in our personal lives!  You’d think (or, at least, I’d think, but so should you think) that someone who has experienced societal oppression (or at least judgment for who she is) and who only has a newfound freedom to marry her same-gender partner would be a little bit more aware of how that same problem lands people who haven’t actually harmed anyone in prison.  I guess that I had never thought of that duality until now (and, apparently, neither has she), but, I wonder, how could someone who almost certainly is highly sensitized to having her personal life and her personal choices judged – by both society and by the government that functions as that society tells it to function – be so cruelly judgmental of other people’s personal lives and personal choices?

You Probably Don’t Know The Rest Of the Story

There is, as you should expect (there I go again telling you how you should think), more to this story, and surely more than I know too.  This woman’s stated reason for being against marijuana legalization (yes, she isn’t necessarily a prohibitionist, but many prohibitionists don’t know the difference anyway and don’t know that they are prohibitionists, just like I didn’t realize that I was one when I was one) was that someone she knew had a really bad experience with marijuana.

That this justification or rationalization for prohibition is so common makes it all the more disturbing.  Basically, because my friend, relative, or I had a bad experience with a product – most likely due to issues of our own self-control, but we don’t want to admit that – everyone else should be prohibited by law and by use of force from using this product.  So, responsible users who don’t necessarily even harm themselves, much less other people, have to go to jail because you couldn’t handle the product, and you, rather cowardly, it seems, blame your own issues of self-control on an inanimate product rather than on yourself (or your relative, or your friend, etc.) where it belongs.

Yes, I have to call this out as cowardice and much worse than that, since you are basically blaming – and seeking to punish – anyone, including people you don’t even know, who uses, even responsibly, a product that you yourself abused.  This is, as I wish people would realize, the same tragic mentality that led to alcohol prohibition nearly 100 years ago.  At that time, there were problems of men squandering so much of their income on alcohol, thereby causing the entire family to suffer.  Seeking to remedy this problem was itself a noble idea, but the problem with prohibition – then and now – is that it makes no distinction between abuse and responsible use; trying to make such a legal distinction would, at best, be a horribly tricky proposition.

My father, who leads a healthy life and who is active, sometimes drinks one or two glasses of wine while watching television or messing around on the computer at night before going to bed; his drinking “habit” never negatively affected his family, his ability to provide for it, or his professional obligations.  Under prohibition laws, he is (or would have been) just as much of a “criminal” as the man who squanders the family income at the bar every day, starts alcohol-fueled fights, and leaves his children hungry.  The existing prohibition of currently prohibited drugs – but especially marijuana, given alcohol’s legal status –  also lacks any distinction between abuse and harmless (or inconsequential) use, and, therefore, the current laws are no less criminal, oppressive, and anti-freedom themselves than the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution was; there really is no distinction.

When Drugs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Drugs

What’s even ‘funnier’ about this lesbian prohibitionist’s reasons for being against legalization is that marijuana’s illegal status did not stop her friend from having problems with marijuana!  How in the heck would keeping it illegal ‘solve’ that problem or prevent it in the future?

Prohibition, like gun control laws, does not keep the most destructive peoplethe very people whose habits the prohibition laws and gun control laws are most designed to address – from obtaining the drugs; all that it might do is prevent people who are too timid to deal with the underworld – and, therefore, much less likely to have destructive use habits in the first place – from getting the drugs.  Substitute “drugs” for “guns” in the statement often quoted by those against gun-control that “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns,” and you might understand (if you don’t already) what I mean; there is not much difference.  If prohibition stops anyone from getting drugs, those whom it stops would generally be responsible users, who don’t need to be stopped in the first place; I again point you to the example of alcohol prohibition.

You are worried about addiction?  Not only are addicts the last people who care about what the law says, but prohibition only makes it more difficult for addicts to get help.

It’s About Minding Your Own Business – So That Your Own Business Won’t Be Minded By Others

Not only does prohibition not work, and not only do many world leaders realize that prohibition does not work, but, far more importantly than any of that, prohibition should not work.  If you think that it’s okay for the government to prohibit you from putting something in – or do something with – your own body, as if you are not an adult, then you are part of the problem.  LGBT people, of all people, should understand this, but, apparently, not all of them do; they should know better than to assume that the most obnoxious behavior of a certain “group” of people (whether we are grouping people by drug of choice or of immutable sexual orientation) does not reflect upon all of the people in that “group.”  If you want people to mind their own business and not take a position one way or the other on your personal choices, then you need to do the same.  Live by example.

Until Next Time . . .

That’s certainly enough for now, and it’s about damned time, time to both end this article and time for ice cream (my own habit, both recreational and medicinal, simultaneously); I think that I’ve earned it today.

Be well.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nathan Kaufman September 16, 2014 at 11:29

Man, I looked up Grumpy’s drone after seeing his pictures…I might have to settle on a GoPro compatible version for under $1000. That being said, I’d be worried about the reduced quality would compromise the pictures I expect out of myself.

Maybe when I win the lottery (or even if), I’ll get a drone even half as good as Grumpy’s.

Nathan Kaufman


2 Mid-city Marine September 17, 2014 at 11:47

I remember you telling me that their removal was eminent but I was hoping that NS would be busy and not have replaced the Southern cantilever signals before I made it down to Whoadieville again. It seems to be a systemwide thing; here on both the former Georgia RR and Seaboard Coast Lines, NS is replacing the older 3-light and the bullseye signals with the new “Darth Vader helmet” types. Plentiful but not nearly as interesting looking.


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