More steam train memories

After yesterday’s post about steam engines on South African railroads, I received a couple of questions about it.  The first was about Garratt-type locomotives, which were never used on US railroads and thus sparked the curiosity of several knowledgeable readers.  The second was about the Montagu Pass, which I described as ‘magnificent’. Garratt locomotives were a unique design, of particular value on narrow-gauge railroads that couldn’t support the weight of very large or powerful engines.  They were articulated, with a steam engine at either end fed by a set of boilers in a central unit.  This meant that a single

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Computer update

Thank you very much to everyone who responded to my earlier request for advice about replacement computer systems, either in Comments here or by e-mail.  I appreciate your help. I followed all the links you provided, and compared all the systems you recommended.  Most of them were reasonably attractive deals, but if I were to go with a laptop system, most had one or more limitations – display resolution, or memory size, or processor, or whatever.  It began to look increasingly as if my idea to spend as little as possible, buy a less capable system, and replace it again

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Memories of steam trains

Earthbound Misfit has been putting up a regular series of steam engine video clips on her blog every Friday.  I’ve enjoyed them, and they’ve brought back many memories for me.  You see, in South Africa steam engines were in everyday use on the railways until the early 1990’s, and still are for a few private tourist companies such as Rovos Rail.  I’ve traveled countless thousands of miles behind steam locomotives, from Cape Town to Johannesburg and back on the Trans Karoo Express, from George to Oudtshoorn and back over the magnificent Montagu Pass, and on the coastal light rail between

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Might Israel nuke Iran?

I said yesterday that I thought Israel might be preparing to attack Iran if it felt that the Geneva agreement wasn’t having the desired effect (which, in my opinion, it won’t).  Now Foreign Policy has a very interesting look at the possible use of nuclear weapons by Israel against Iran.  Here’s an excerpt. The recognition of Israel’s nuclear capabilities will continue to matter over the next six months because, if we are to take Tel Aviv seriously, Israel could undertake a unilateral military attack against Iran’s known nuclear facilities. Should the IAEA’s outstanding questions about the possible military dimensions of

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Stinky!

It seems three whales washed up on the shores of the Faroe Islands the other day.  The islanders decided to cut them up in order to remove the bodies more easily. Unfortunately, the man doing the cutting seems to have forgotten that whales are big enough to decompose from the inside out – and that gas buildup in the internal organs will find an explosive way out if you cut into them.  You can see a video of the result here.  WARNING:  It’s a pretty gruesome sight, so if you’re sensitive of stomach or constitution, don’t watch it!  It’s an

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A bleg for laptop advice, please

I’m in need of advice from those of my readers with greater technical and user expertise than mine in the field of laptop computers, please. My present laptop is a fairly basic 2009 Gateway model (it’s really a re-badged Acer unit).  Its hard disk is starting to give errors on boot-up, requiring more and more frequent CHKDSK runs to resolve them – a sure sign that it needs to be replaced.  (Yes, I have good backups, both local and online!)  However, the computer has only USB 2.0 ports, and I’d like a couple of the much faster USB 3.0 ports

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Doofus Of The Day #742

Today’s award goes to a businessman in Arkansas. A Jonesboro man has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder after police say the intended victim overheard the suspect planning the crime. Jonesboro police arrested Larry Barnett, 68, on Thursday after being contacted by a Paragould man. The man told Detective Jason Simpkins he received a phone call at 12:30 p.m. from Barnett. He said it appeared Barnett had “unknowingly made” the phone call. The intended victim said he overheard Barnett give another man directions to his home in Paragould. During the call, which lasted approximately 1.5 hours and was ongoing

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The Geneva interim agreement with Iran

I’ve delayed commenting on the recent agreement with Iran over that country’s nuclear program, as I couldn’t get enough information about it to be sure I was accurate in my reaction.  That information is now available, and it’s worse than I feared.  The only appropriate historical comparison I can find is the infamous Munich Agreement between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler in 1938 – the one that produced “Peace for our time” . . . and World War II a year later. In the first place, this unravels very long-standing relationships between the United States and two of its allies

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