Posts by Bill Walker

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1) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Things I wish that all people who work with the public knew... (Message 1682099)
Posted 7 days ago by Profile Bill Walker

Rule #4 The customer is not always right!

Maybe so, but if you want to keep dealing with the customer you need to be VERY careful how you tell them this. Right or wrong, the customer pays your salary. They are allowed to make mistakes, as long as the check clears.

I spent several years watching German salesmen tell North American customers they were not just wrong, but obviously stupid, if they didn't want to buy the German helicopter in place of the French helicopter. Only the Germans were surprised when the French helicopter company bought out the German company.
2) Message boards : Cafe SETI : OTUS? (Message 1681907)
Posted 8 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
I'm old enough to remember when LOL meant Little Old Lady.
3) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Things I wish that all people who work with the public knew... (Message 1681906)
Posted 8 days ago by Profile Bill Walker

Rule #1. The terms "sweetie" or "dear" should NEVER be used to address any person older than 14 years of age.

I think that may be a regional thing. In Canada women over 60 often call everybody dear, especially other women. No disrespect is meant, or taken. Now, if a 20 something calls me sweetie or dear in just the right tone, then a great deal of disrespect is obviously meant.
4) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1680041)
Posted 13 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
I was amazed at the specs for the wheels of these new Acela 64 locos. Do they wear in use by 3" or is that after skimming in the factory refurb?

1,117 mm (43.98 in) (new)
1,041 mm (40.98 in) (worn)


It is a combination of wear and re-skimming. Mis-use of brakes can lead to flat spots, impact with objects on the rail can cause nicks and dents, all these are removed by skimming. My understanding is that the "worn" dimension is the allowable minimum after skimming. Below this, the wheel must be replaced.
5) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1678878)
Posted 16 days ago by Profile Bill Walker

PS to my knowledge, there is still a shortage of available freight locos so some you see may look old and tatty but if they run, they will be used, doesn't really matter about the cab if it is a trailing unit.

According to recent quarterly statements from both CN and CP, their growth at present is limited by how fast they can acquire new engines and rolling stock. So, yes, a lot of beat up old stuff seen on the rails these days.
6) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1678800)
Posted 16 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Is it a reasonable question to ask, that why do the American railways have to shunt so many of their locomotives all over the place all the time. Is it just to keep the train spotters happy, or are they just incompetent?

Locos get moved to and from factories, overhaul facilities, and various end user facilities. It is a big continent, so these places can be quite far apart. There are also seasonal needs (like getting all the grain off the Canadian prairies each fall) that see locos leased and rented in a bewildering mix. Once you have paid for the right of way, and are running a train anyway, the incremental cost of dead heading a loco is pretty small.

7) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1675159)
Posted 20 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
If I'm remembering my training correctly, ideally diesel exhaust should be almost invisible - water vapor. From a pollution standpoint, grey smoke is less damaging than black smoke, since black smoke is mostly unburned fuel.

Diesel exhaust, by its nature, is chocked full of carbon particles of various sizes - that is the grey smoke. If the particles are small enough they are barely visible, but they are still slowly killing you. The particles are still there in black smoke as well. They got away with this for decades because pollution regulations initially focused on COx and NOx, the carbon particles were ignored. This was partly due to the fact that the health effects of the soot were not fully understood, and partly because technology wasn't available to measure and categorize the soot. The Chinese government today still claims their urban air is fairly clean, because they don't bother to measure carbon particles of all sizes. Any westerner who has been to Beijing in the last few years would dispute this claim.

This has shifted in the last 20 years, and big bucks are now being spent to reduce the production of these particles, and capture the rest before it goes out the tail pipe.

8) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Raccoon Update XX I - All are welcome in the Critter Cafe (Message 1673869)
Posted 24 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
I wonder what colour Rob Ford's raccoons were.
9) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Raccoon Update XX I - All are welcome in the Critter Cafe (Message 1673445)
Posted 25 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Do behave Bill :-))


George Crum, a half black, half Native American cook at Moon's Lake House, who was trying to appease an unhappy customer on August 24, 1853.


English food writer William Kitchiner's 1822 cookbook The Cook's Oracle

Kitchiner's "crisps" were a quarter of an inch thick! Hardly crisp. If anything, this quote may prove that the English invented Pomme Frits.

In University I lived down wind of a Frito Lay factory for several years. Took me several decades to be able to face them again.
10) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Raccoon Update XX I - All are welcome in the Critter Cafe (Message 1673339)
Posted 25 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Those are crinkle cut crisps.

Clearly they are ripple chips. This from the continent that invented them. You Brits should learn to speak proper English.
11) Message boards : Cafe SETI : How Old are You compared to what this photo website says you are? (Message 1673002)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
I tried 2 pictures. One was myself and a 35 year old co-worker, it always locked onto the co-worker had had him as 44. The one of just me came back at 70. I'm only 62!
12) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1673000)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
I believe that the Wabash Canonball was a fictional "named train". Back when the song was written many US scheduled passenger services were named. you can see the remains of this tradition in Bernie's and David's posts. The best of them were quite glamorous, and the song was trying to capture this. Added in edit: I did a little digging on the real Wabash Railroad. It appears they did rename one of their scheduled services the Cannonball, in 1949, AFTER the song became famous. The line became part of the Norfolk & Southern in the big US railway shakedowns of the 1970s and 1980s.

The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, commonly known as the Rock Island Line, had a long and at first glamorous, then tragic, history. It was the first railway to offer scheduled service across the Mississippi, crossing at Rock Island. There is still a railway bridge there today, but I don't think it is the original. The Rock Island Line never made it to the Pacific, and fell on hard times in the mid 20th century. They eventually became part of the Union Pacific in a very messy bankruptcy/merger/shutdown in the 1980s.
13) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Beet's give us a caption #60 (Message 1672320)
Posted 28 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
The instructor said to keep the horizon right HERE in the windshield, but something doesn't seem right.
14) Message boards : Cafe SETI : On the light side a novel use of a Star Trek technology (Message 1668548)
Posted 22 Apr 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
It would be a cure for cancer. Just beam out all the cancer cells.

I remember a Larry Niven novel using that technique many years ago. They could set a transporter for this mode. You stood in one transporter, they hit the button, and a cloud of dust appeared in another transporter next to you. Cured cancer, aging, and all sorts of other stuff as I recall.
15) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1668522)
Posted 22 Apr 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
Just an example of how messed up Canadian freight tariffs used to be:

Back in 1976 I worked in a small vehicle manufacturing plant in Calgary (the prairies). Freight rates gave preference to manufactured goods from the east to the prairies, and raw material, like plate steel, paid an extra premium to be off loaded in the prairies. The cheapest way for us to get steel plate from Ontario steel mills was to ship it by train to Vancouver on the west coast, passing through Calgary, and then put it on a truck for the 600 mile run BACK to Calgary. It would have cost more to unload from the train in Calgary, because freight rates and taxes encouraged shipment of Ontario steel plate to BC ports for export, but not to prairie centres where it would compete with eastern manufacture of finished goods.
16) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1668515)
Posted 22 Apr 2015 by Profile Bill Walker

But looking at that Canadian 4 header, and even realising that USA/Canada is 3000 miles wide, why does so much freight have to be moved long distance from A to B?? Why aren't goods produced where they are needed? Ok mines cant be moved to the users, but how much %age of freight is mine output as against other goods?

It goes back to the original Confederation in 1867 Chris. Tariffs and taxes were set up to encourage manufacturing in the "old" provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and agriculture in the Maritimes and the "new" provinces on the prairies. This has gradually been reduced over the years, but the manufacturing base remains mostly in the east, and the prairies export a sh*t load of everything agricultural. That freight in the picture in my post is probably prairie grains heading for BC ports, where it will get shipped on all over the Pacific (mostly China and Japan). Alot of the grain traffic runs in government owned cars, over private rail lines.

The trains have shifted to bulk goods over the last few decades, but that is more than just mine output. Today it includes processed food (cans and frozen meat for example), wheat, corn and forestry products, and most recently crude oil. Crude oil shipments by rail in North America have grown by at least 20% per year for the last 5 years. CN and CP just love it when the Yanks can't agree on building new pipelines.

A large amount of imports from overseas arrives in containers on the coast nowadays, and then moves by train to the population centres. I live in one of the most densely populated parts of the country, and we are at least 1,500 miles from the nearest salt water port. Container trains are generally "fast freights" because of the high dollar value of the contents (TVs, cell phones, etc.). They are usually relatively short, but have lots of horsepower on front for fast acceleration. They get priority over just about everything, including passenger trains.
17) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1668440)
Posted 22 Apr 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
Just to add to Bernie's comments, in the two smallish freight yards in my home town it is quite common to see even the yard shifters working in pairs. We used to have a lot of cow and calf combos 20 years ago,but they are disappearing.

Out west, through the mountains, you can regularly see long freights with upwards of 20,000 horsepower attached.
18) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Have you been to the library, recently? (Message 1663942)
Posted 11 Apr 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
two tips, on extras that many libraries offer:

1) Free passes to musical/museum events.

2) Undesired (i.e., low-volume check-out by patrons) CD's, and books.
Many are really good; it's amazing what others don't like that appeal
to yours truly. These items are yours, to keep.

I get both of those, through my wife's membership in a volunteer group that runs the Library book store. They sell the surplus collection, plus people's donations, to raise funds for the library. As a volunteer, my wife gets first dibs on new stock, and a 50% discount. This means LPs for 25 cents each, and hardcover books for 50 cents each!

One of the things they do with the funds is sponser several concerts a year in a great music facility attached to the downtown main branch. A wide range of music, I go to the classical and the jazz shows.
19) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Beet's give us a caption #60 (Message 1663910)
Posted 11 Apr 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
You can always lead a horse to water, but if you can get it to dress like this you have a real talent.
20) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Have you been to the library, recently? (Message 1663904)
Posted 11 Apr 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
I get many books from our library as e-books, but a lot of the obscure old non-fiction that interests me is only available on paper, so I'm a regular at the local branch. I do use their on-line catalog a lot before I go. I'm also signed up at the local university engineering library, again for obscure old stuff.

Even when the obscure stuff goes electronic, I will probably still be down there for CDs. A great way to try out new artists before investing in a hi-rez download.

And yes, we use self check out at the city library. Haven't noticed a drop in staff numbers, but have noticed staff have more time to help me find books.

And Chris, the "thrill of the hunt" is still there with e-books. And some of the e-books offer stuff just not available in paper. I'm currently reading the 1913 Jane's All The World's Aircraft at home, thanks to Gutenberg Press. I don't think many of you can check that one out of your local branch.

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