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From the creator of Jammer's Reviews

May 2011

The TRT-909: An engineering marvel

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had something of a fascination with trains. Well here’s the ultimate train: one that tears up and then lays down its own tracks. It’s the TRT-909 Track Renewal Train, which made its way by my neighborhood last weekend.

TRT-909The TRT-909 Track Renewal Train is a train upon a train, with its own rails to transport this tie ferry.

I’d known it was coming based on prior news reports weeks ago. I knew it was actually here when I heard very loud noises coming from the tracks a few blocks from my house on Sunday.

These particular tracks that run through town are part of the corridor that runs between Chicago and St. Louis and is being upgraded to accommodate the forthcoming high-speed Amtrak that will travel the corridor in a few years. (Note that “high speed” is by the lowly standards of Amtrak and not those of the world.)

Anyway, the TRT-909 is an impressive machine. It pulls up and spreads the rails apart, removes the old wooden railroad ties and replaces them with new concrete ties, then puts the rails back down. There are also a dozen or more smaller vehicles/machines that do other work on the tracks before and after the TRT-909 does its thing. I’ve seen other videos online that show this process in more detail, but this video shows the gist of the main part of the job, as well as I could shoot it from my distance of 20 or so yards away. Apologies for the shaky-cam quality; I was kind of far away and had to zoom quite a ways in to get the detail.

That such a machine was conceived and built and can do this is quite an impressive thing. It’s a very specific job, and here they’ve created a very specific engineering marvel.

When it comes to social networking, I’m not very social

Working as I do in online media — both as a career and as a free-time hobby — I naturally have to keep up with what’s hot, what’s trending, where everything is going, how people are using online tools to get and share information, etc., etc.

Obviously, over the last several years, social networking has exploded. Facebook and Twitter are pretty much platforms that every company or blogger has to be on, otherwise they’re missing out on a swath of people who might be on Facebook or Twitter all day, but do not necessarily seek out and view content on websites without being reminded by updates they get on Facebook or Twitter.

(Interestingly, the idea of going to websites to seek out the content you want — without getting some sort of reminder — seems almost foreign to me now. I pretty much do all my online reading via RSS feeds, where Google Reader gives me a list of headline links from all my favorite sites that I either choose to click on to read the story, or not.) (Read more…)

Star Trek: TNG reviews: Season 5, Episodes 15-26

I’ve posted reviews for the remainder of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5.

Go read ‘em. Then post comments to the individual reviews over on the reviews themselves.