Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Caboose pictures

So this is how I spent most of last Saturday, prying up these floorboards (under supervision of course) We got about half up, then the subfloor has to come up. There is a work party every other Saturday. I got a break to take pictures of the arrival of the trucks, since I was the only one who had a camera. The regular camera guy was MIA. If you notice the flat prybar  in the third picture, this was before I broke it. The good news was that the boards were a full 1" thick. The bad news was, they were toe nailed with 2.5" nails.

There was some consideration given to running all this dust thru a gold pan.
In the last post I mentioned the story of the trucks. The caboose was sans trucks when it was rescued from it's previous life as an office addition at a used car lot in the south bay. Finding the proper trucks seemed like a tall order. They are primarily made of oak. A pair was located in a rail yard of the Mt Ranier Railway. They apparently had a similar caboose which was accidentally destroyed by a swinging boom of a crane. Fortunately they kept the trucks all these years. The wood was falling off them, but specifications were located and they were reconstructed. They were purchased for the  scrap value of the iron which was a heck of a deal. (However, they weigh about 3 tons apiece) The caboose still needs couplers. 

As much work as still needs to be done, other projects are already being eyed. A passenger car from the 1860's that ran on the NorthWestern Pacific (NWP) has been located, presently being used as a house, that has been donated. It uses similar (but bigger) trucks, and of course, does not have any. I think I've found a hobby.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I've been working on a railroad

I've just recently started working with a great group of gentlemen restoring an old caboose, built I believe in 1898, from the Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railroad. They have done an amazing job, and I am mostly just trying to stay out of their way.

BEFORE ( a long time ago)

A more recent before.(2 years ago, shortly after arrival)

And now.

You may note the lack of trucks (wheels) and the cupola. The cupola is off getting a separate facelift. The trucks, which have their own amazing stories, arrived this weekend.  Again, BEFORE

And now
Several photos by Gus, Thanks!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cat Yodeling 1A

They say they want it spread, and I'm desperate for content. (I have a picture of the beginning of a century plant bloom coming!)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I guess we should have spent more time in Madrid!

Spanish study shows cocaine in the air in 2 cities

By CIARAN GILES, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, May 14, 2009

(05-14) 08:52 PDT MADRID, Spain (AP) --Air pollution has long been a fact of life in Spanish cities, but scientists now say it is not just smog that chokes people as they walk to work or stroll through the park. A new study has found the air in Madrid and Barcelona is also laced with at least five drugs — most prominently cocaine.

The Superior Council of Scientific Investigations, a government scientific institute, said on its Web site Thursday that in addition to cocaine, they found trace amounts of amphetamines, opiates, cannabinoids and lysergic acid _a relative of LSD — in two air-quality control stations, one in each city.

The group said the findings would be published in the U.S. journal Analytical Chemistry.

Despite the findings, the council said there was no reason for alarm.

"Not even if we lived for a thousand years would we consume the equivalent of a dose of cocaine by breathing this air," scientist Miren Lopez de Alda said in a statement.

The scientific group stressed that "in no case should these levels be considered representative of the air in the two cities." It said the tests were done in areas where drugs were likely to be consumed.

In Madrid, the test site was close to a ruined building believed to be frequented by drug dealers. And in both Madrid and Barcelona, the studies were carried out close to universities.

The group said the study showed higher concentrations of the components on weekends, suggesting that drug consumption was up in these periods.

The research found cocaine in concentrations ranging between 29 and 850 picograms per cubic meter of air. A picogram is one-trillionth of a gram.

Mar Viana, another researcher who worked on the project, said the levels were far higher than those found in similar studies in Europe.

A similar study in Italy found traces of cocaine and cannabis in the air in Rome and Taranto in the south. Italy's National Research Council reported in May 2007 that the maximum concentration of cocaine in Rome was 100 picograms per cubic meter of air — it said that was a fifth the legal limit for toxic substances in air — but that even this small amount was reason for concern.

According to the U.S. State Department, Spain is Europe's largest consumer of cocaine and hashish. It is also a major transit point for narcotics shipments from South and Central America as well as Africa.

I guess it could explain the unusual architecture and painted buildings!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Plaza Mayor

This is the Plaza Mayor, about a 100' from our hotel room. Apparently it was the site of lots of executions and torture during the Inquisition and various other times. The day after this shot was taken they roped off most of the center and started constructing a stage for an opera performance the following Sunday. The staging was at least 3 stories tall the last we saw it.

This is a view out one of the arches in the direction of our hotel

More trip pics

This is the Atocha train station in Madrid. There was a terrorist bombing very near here of several trains, killings lots of people. There is a memorial sculpture.

Inside they have a rain forest which makes it very humid. They have misters running all the time.
At the bottom of the picture above there is a turtle pond with an unbelievable number of turtles. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jet Lagged musings

I took pictures of our first high speed train from Cordoba to Madrid. I wasn't THAT impressed with the trip. There were no speed indicators, but it just didn't seem THAT fast. Plus there were three stops. The ride was incredibly smooth. The only sound was from junctions where there would be a slight click. There was a bit of centrifugal force around curves but it was not like a train ride or anything else.

The train from Madrid to Barcelona was something entirely different. Even before I looked at the speed indicator, which this train DID have, I knew we were hauling. Anything within 20 yards was a blur, and you could not focus on things out to about 60 yards. The top speed was 301 Kmph (about 187 mph I believe) but mostly we cruised about 285. It rocked and clicked like a train should. Non stop Madrid to Barcelona.

The flight back was not as bad as I feared. It was 8.5 hrs Barcelona to JFK a 2.5 layover in a very warm and humid airport, then 6.5 hrs to SFO. All in all we were up for over 24 hours. I did ok until about the last 3 hours when I started to get antsy and counting the minutes. I was greatly helped by watching two movies "Doubt" and "The Wrestler" and by numerous games of 20 question trivia available on the back of the seat in front of me. I had the sixth highest overall score on the first leg, and the highest on the second. There were only 3 questions that I saw again on the 2nd leg and I knew two of them anyway.

Despite being unable to keep my eyes open and doing some head bobbing on the bus home from the airport, once home, I couldn't fall asleep, so I stayed up until about 1:30 am. I've been low energy all day, I'll do something, (shop, mow the lawn etc) then have a laydown.

Our casa en la Fuente Tojar

Casa en Madrid, Hotel Plaza de Mayor. (2nd floor from top)

R.I.P. Michaela

Got back from Spain late last night and came home to a two cat household and a note from the housesitter that Michaela had passed quietly several days ago. We had left instructions for that eventuality. She was 21 or 22 years old and will be missed.

I feel bad that I wasn't here with her, but she really liked the housesitter and apparently was purring when she passed.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hola from Madrid!

Took the AVE high speed train from Cordoba to Madrid. Friday we take it to Barcelona.

Last Monday we did the Alhambra in Grenanda, a 2 hour drive from Fuente Tojar. Spectacular, might be one of those "must sees" ala ¨Bucket list¨

Tuesday we sampled Anise at a factory/museum

Saturday, May 02, 2009

News flash from Fuente Tojar

Wed. morning it was reported that the power pole to the water treatment plant was broken and in danger of collapse. The Mayor, Maria (also our host for this segment of our trip) spent the morning dealing with it before picking us up and giving us a tour. The pole can be stabilized until permanent repairs can be made. Maria was quoted as saying, "It´s always something"

So we´re out of Barcelona and into the countryside of Andalucia. Olive trees EVERYWHERE! Millions! This is the Napa Valley of Olives, and that is important to olive us.

Posting this from Ubeda, road trip!