More Trains

In an odd coincidence, the day after I set up my old train set, we met friends down at the Navy Pier. Up in the “Winter Wonderfest” was a neat train setup, including some replica Metra trains and a replica of the Chicago skyline. Near this setup was a giveway table with brochures for MTH Trains and free copies of a magazine dedicated to the proposition that model railroading is “the Greatest Hobby”. I signed up for drawings to win stuff and carried off one of every brochure that was there.

Now what I really want is to get me one of the Metra locomotives and double decker passenger cars. The one they had running looked great. Just seeing it go by gave me that sinking “I’m late for my train” feeling, like I should start sprinting!

Train in Vain

The second XMas of our married lives, which was the first non-broke-student XMas of our married lives, my wife bought me a train set. I always wanted one as a kid and never got one, so she bought me one. At various points since then, it has been set up but mostly it has been boxed in houses with no good place for it. Today we had to tidy the joint to allow a maid service to clean and voila – my basement office suddenly had a huge open space in it. As I type, I have the minimal oval set up with the minimum respectable train (locomotive + caboose) circling in it. I don’t know why I find this so comforting, but it makes me happy to see it going round and round. I might need to scare up some more Bachman EZ Track, since I only have enough curved pieces to make one loop. I can extend it since I have lots of straight, but I can’t get tricky with curving.

The trick for me is moderating my newly rekindled enthusiasm for the train set. I’m so obsessive-compulsive that I can never just do a little of something. I must resist going nuts and spending lots of time on the train that 3 hours ago was in a box. If I can keep it to just a little thing I play with while I’m in the office, that’s good. The last thing in the world I need is one more time and money consuming pastime.

It Begins

In a way, I wish I wasn’t getting serious about fitness right at the new year. That has the stink of a resolution that will soon be abandoned. That’s not how I feel. I’m getting back in slowly, with the intent of staying in for a long long time.

I don’t have any explicit plan for right now, other than I’m going to stop eating cookies, candy and other snacks without limit. That era ended at midnight last night. I might do sometime very much like Body For Life. I’ve been on this plan before and found it effective and not hard to stick to. It’s not extreme about eating only meat, but it does reduce the amount of simple carbohydrates. It focuses on portion control, keeping meals balanced, carbs low, banishing empty calories, and mixing this all in with a sensible excercise regimen. Even the excercise is balanced, with alternating days of cardio and weightlifting. Of all the things folks are doing to lose weight and get fit, this is the one that makes the most sense to me. You don’t start out in a phase that you can’t maintain forever (like the Atkins no carbs whatsoever beginning phase). Everything about it (even the name) is focused on you doing this every day of your life.

I also need to find out about gyms. I will do a light workout today with the rubberbands, just to get my muscles stretched and myself doing those motions again. In the next week, I’d like to be in a gym and working out with machines but if not, I’ll continue with the rubber bands. I’m off to the races. Next stop, a healthier me.


I saw a reference to Furl on one of my Localfeeds blogs and I went to check it out. In theory, it sounds awesome. It is an online filing cabinet for URLs, and it allows you to do textual searches across all of them. All good, this sounds like something I’d like to use. I created an account with my standard username and a fairly decent password. It rejected it for two reasons:

  1. My username was not between 4 and 10 characters
  2. My password contained “disallowed characters” (ie, punctuation; ie the stuff that makes passwords better)

Even though this service looks good, that’s enough to send me away forever. I have learned to loathe services that require me to weaken passwords to only alphanumeric characters or even worse, only letters. What exactly is the reasoning behind that? An 11 character username is not allowed? Plenty of people use their names or variations on their names as usernames and are way more than 10 characters. Seems ridiculous to me. So, Furl might be awesome but I won’t know because just creating the account put me off them.

Follow For Now

Timely post alert! The Underground Recordings episode for January 1, 2004 is that of legendary Atlanta funk-rock band Follow For Now! You can hear it at 8 PM EST at 91.1 FM in Atlanta, hear it streamed at WREK’s website or hear it via the archive from 9:05 PM EST on January 1 until 8 PM EST on January 8th.

I’ve written about Dave Ryan Harris in here before. I was a huge FFN fan in the day. I hosted their first appearance on Live@WREK (until I hear this, I won’t know if I was the host or not), I talked my fraternity into booking them, I bootlegged their shows. At one point, I tried to get entrepeneurial and be their sub-licensed t-shirt guy but after a week or two of trying to get them all together to talk to them at once, I decided that it might make my life too complicated to get into business with the guys. Regardless, I loved their music and still listen to the boots and their one recorded CD every so often. This will definitely be worth a listen.

Update: WREK’s AudioVault ate the file, so the show did not air tonight. All the links above remain correct, but move the dates back one week. I’ll post again when the show actually airs.