Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Wolmar and Trains

I spent this evening at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco listening to Christian Wolmar give a lecture about his new book about American railroads, The Great Railroad Revolution (titled The Great Railway Revolution in the UK). I enjoyed the talk, although I was amused that at a place called the Mechanics Institute they would have been so disorganized as to use a laptop with no charge to drive his presentation and then have to spend ten minutes fiddling around to find a power supply when the computer went to sleep for lack of juice. I also was somewhat put off by some of my fellow attendees, who seem to embody the attitude that there's been no good trains since 1950 or thereabouts and everything today is terrible. I got rather annoyed at the nitpicker (similar to the SF fan version) who, when I talked of the Union Pacific main line in front of my house in Fernley, said, "You mean the Central Pacific line."

I told him, "I could speak in footnotes if you insist, and call it the Union Pacific, ex-Southern Pacific, ex-Central Pacific, terminus of the Fernley & Lassen Railroad line, but I'm not going to do that, and I'm talking to Christian here, so hold your horses," and turned my back on him when he started to go into how technically the line was still Central Pacific up until not too long ago. Honestly, people, if you want to pretend that it's still 1949, leave me out of it.

Anyway, Wolmar's talk was good, and I was glad to be able to talk to him for a couple of minutes. I only wish I could have spent more time discussing various things railway/railroad with him. I tried to get a picture of the two of us together, but nobody else there seemed to be able to handle my camera phone, and the only photo came out terribly. I'm not going to post that one since Wolmar is running for the Labour Party nomination for Mayor of London and I wouldn't want anyone using that photo to make him look bad. Instead, here's the photo I took of him after the lecture:

The gathering broke up with me having just under an hour until the next train, so I walked down to AT&T Park and watched one inning of the Giants-Rockies game in the right field archway where you can walk in and watch the game for free through the fence. (If there is a crowd, there's a three-inning limit.) Then I made my way to Caltrain and rode down to Mountain View where I parked. I would have got home sooner, but a woman on the train asked me to walk her to her destination several blocks down Castro Street, and I was happy to oblige.

Now I need to get some sleep, because I still have to work tomorrow morning before heading off to Fernley sometime after Noon. I'm hoping that Thursday afternoon traffic is lighter than the usual getaway Friday stuff.
Tags: fernley, trains, transit

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