Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Reflections at mid-week

A grungy day in Roanoke

Tuesday found three Southern Pacific locomotives -- each more grungy-looking than the last -- on hand in Roanoke, Texas (UP Choctaw Sub, originally T&P). I took a short break from my bike ride to photograph each of them, more or less for posterity. I'm somewhat amazed that... 1) Ten years after the UP-SP merger, locomotives are still running around looking like these and... 2) that un-rebuilt GP40-2s are still active on ANY Class One railroad.

Southern Pacific 7619 - Roanoke, TX - 11/14/06

Some people dismiss today's Class One railroads as being uninteresting (i.e. "everything looks the same"), but as long as there are gems like this holding down assignments on branch lines and industrial spurs, I'll beg to differ.

We don't know how good we have it

A couple years ago, I read a couple books about the immigration situation between the U.S. and Mexico. One -- Coyotes, by Ted Conover -- is an auto-biographical account of the author's experiences living and working with various groups of illegal immigrants during the 1980s. The other -- the Devil's Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea -- chronicles an ill-fated crossing of the southern Arizona desert in May 2001, when 14 illegal immigrants died from dehydration and exposure after their guides lost their way and abandoned the group.

I've just finished reading The Devil's Highway for a second time, and am now in the process of re-reading Coyotes. Besides putting a human face on the immigration issue, both books serve as a sobering reminder of the lengths to which some of our neighbors to the south will go to improve their standard of living... to move incrementally closer to a lifestyle that many of us in the U.S. take for granted. It seems especially appropriate to reflect on this as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday.

Living in one of north Fort Worth's newer neighborhoods, where many new houses are being built, we see a lot of construction workers in our area. I'm not exaggerating when I say that probably 95% of the workers are Hispanic, and I'd hazard a guess that a large portion of them are illegals. I wonder what stories they have about crossing the border, what hazards they've endured, what sorts of lives they'll be going home to when (if?) they decide to return to Mexico. I'm not always as appreciative of my life -- of my healthy family, of our nice home, of my cushy little job down at the train dispatchers' office -- as I should be. Books like Coyotes and The Devil's Highway really put things in perspective, and help remind me of how truly fortunate I am.

If you are interested in this topic, I highly recommend one or both books -- they're two of the most interesting and captivating current events books I've ever read.

Whiskey's World Series of Pop Culture (part 8 of an occasional series)

I received simultaneous correct answers to question # 7. The Bubble Boy's father drove a Yoo-Hoo truck. Congrats to Shawn Levy and also "Ft. Worthian", who both submitted the correct answer. I'm not sure who was first -- Shawn responded via email and Ft. Worthian posted a comment on the page -- so we'll call it a tie.
I was a big fan of the Seinfeld series. I believe the "Bubble Boy" episode ran during the fourth season (the same season as the legendary episode "the Contest") which, as far as I'm concerned, was the best season by far. That year's season finale provided a nice finishing touch when it featured several of the minor characters seen during the season (including the Bubble Boy) watching the "pilot" episode scripted by George and Jerry. Classic!

No one attempted to answer my extra credit questions, so I'll make those the next question...

Question # 8) Name the characters played by actor Brian Doyle-Murray in the movies "Waynes World" and "JFK".
Respond via email, or by posting a comment below.
nr: Ted Conover - Coyotes
np: King of the Hill reruns


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