Posts tagged ‘pictures’

Me & Eliot

In a hard-hitting, incredibly researched piece of journalism entitled "Me & Ted", Josh Marshall polled his progressive friends at Princeton and found that they all thought Ted Cruz was an asshole.

Well, it turns out Ted and I went to college together. And not just we happened to be at the same place at the same time. We were both at a pretty small part of a relatively small university. We both went to Princeton. I was one year ahead of him. But we were both in the same residential college, which basically meant a small cluster of dorms of freshmen and sophomores numbering four or five hundred students who all ate in the same dining hall.

As it turned out, though, almost everyone I knew well in college remembered him really well. Vividly. And I knew a number of his friends. But for whatever reason I just didn't remember him. When I saw college pictures of him, I thought okay, yeah, I remember that guy but sort of in the way where you're not 100% sure you're not manufacturing the recollection.

I was curious. Was this just my wife who tends to be a get-along and go-along kind of person? So I started getting in touch with a lot of old friends and asking whether they remembered Ted. It was an experience really unlike I've ever had. Everybody I talked to - men and women, cool kids and nerds, conservative and liberal - started the conversation pretty much the same.

"Ted? Oh yeah, immense a*#hole." Sometimes "total raging a#%hole." Sometimes other variations on the theme. But you get the idea. Very common reaction.

Wow, so this is what famous journalists do?  Hey, I can do the same thing.

I went to Princeton with Eliot Spitzer.  He was a couple of years ahead of me but had a really high profile on campus, in part due to his running for various University Student Government offices.  So I checked with many of my friends back in college, and you know what?  They all thought Spitzer was an asshole.  I was reminded that we all disliked him so much that when one person (full disclosure, it was me) drunkenly asked who wanted to go moon Spitzer and the governing council meeting next door, we got 30 volunteers.  He was so irritating that he actually inspired a successful opposition party cum performance art troupe called the Antarctic Liberation Front (Virginia Postrel also wrote about it here).

Wow, am I a big time journalist now?  Will GQ be calling for me to do an article on Spitzer?

Look, this is going to be true for lots of politicians, because they share a number of qualities.  They tend to have huge egos, which eventually manifest as a desire to tell us what to do because they know better than we do.  They are willful, meaning they can work obsessively to get their own way even over trivial stuff.  And they are charismatic, meaning they generally have a group of people who adore them and whose sycophancy pisses everyone else off.  In other words, they are all assholes.

The Urge to Control

This is the personality of the people we are electing to higher office.  They have such an urge for control that they will not allow cell phone pictures taken of them in public.  By personality, these people have to control everything.  Is it really any surprise when they turn around and read our email?

From the article at the fabulous Photography is Not a Crime:

Hillary Clinton’s henchmen snatched a smartphone from a man who had photographed her giving a speech in Miami Thursday, deleting the image before returning the phone.

“That’s American politics,” one of the individuals in charge of preventing the presidential hopeful from being photographed told a Miami Herald reporter covering the meeting.

No, that’s Russian politics. Or Chinese politics. Or Cuban politics.

By the way (and I could be wrong here) Carlos Miller strikes me as much more Occupy than Tea Party in his political preferences.  But he obviously doesn't pull any punches on his issue (legality of public photography) when his team is involved.

A Short Rant on Over-Saturated Photography

I was at a couple of art shows during my vacation, and saw a lot of photography.  A staple of photography are the shots of Italian allies and colorful sea villages.  I have one on my wall that I shot myself, the classic view you have seen a million times of Vernazza, Italy.  My wife observed that these photos at the shows looked different than mine (she said "better").

The reason was quickly apparent, and I am seeing this more and more in the Photoshop world -- all the artists have pumped the color saturation way up.  I had to do this a bit, because the colors desaturate some when they get printed on canvas.  But these canvases friggin glowed.  I see the same thing in nature photography.  Is this an improvement?  I don't know, but I am a bit skeptical.  It reminds me a lot of how TV's are sold.  TV pictures tend to be skewed to over-bright and over-vivid colors because those look better under the fluorescent lights of the sales floor.  TV's also tend to have their colors tuned to the very cool (blue) color temperatures for the same reason.  None of this looks good in a darkened room watching a film-based movie.  Fortunately, modern TV's have better electronics menus and it is easy to reverse these problems, and my guess is there is less of this anyway now that many TV's are sold online based on reviews rather than comparison shopping in a store.

I am left to wonder though how this new super-vivid, over saturated photography would look in a home, and how it wears with years of viewing.  Am I being a dinosaur resisting a technological improvement or is there a real problem here?

Off to Comicon

As you could probably tell from the scarcity of posts, I have been on quasi-vacation for a few weeks.  Today I fly off to San Diego to go to Comicon with my son.  Sorry, don't expect any Coyote Cosplay pictures.

New Education Department Guidelines: Violating 3 Constitutional Amendments Simultaneously

I have been meaning to write on the new Obama Administration guidelines to colleges for treating speech as sexual assault and reducing the due process rights of accused students.  But George Will does such a great job I am going to let him do it.

Responding to what it considers the University of Montana’s defective handling of complaints about sexual assaults, OCR, in conjunction with the Justice Department, sent the university a letter intended as a “blueprint” for institutions nationwide when handling sexual harassment, too. The letter, sent on May 9, encourages (see below) adoption of speech codes — actually, censorship regimes — to punish students who:

Make “sexual or dirty jokes” that are “unwelcome.” Or disseminate “sexual rumors” (even if true) that are “unwelcome.” Or make “unwelcome” sexual invitations. Or engage in the “unwelcome” circulation or showing of “e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.” Or display or distribute “sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials” that are “unwelcome.”

It takes some work to simultaneously violate this many Constitutional protections in one letter, but the Obama Administration continues to demonstrate its heroic determination to ignore that aging document.

By the way, I cannot find any story about a single university President in the whole country who has objected to these rules.  What a bunch a spineless conformists we running universities.

A few things I would add to Will's comments:

  1. I have written about this emerging "right not to be offended" on University campuses for some time.  This is the Obama Administration trying to codify this nutty BS "right" into law.
  2. There is no way in a rule of law where one can have a law where only the opinion of the victim matters in determining culpability.  To some extent, the loss of due process rights are almost secondary here -- if it is a crime if the victim says it is (ie they were offended), then what defense can one have, anyway?
  3. Given that everyone takes offense to something nearly every day, this law would quickly cause everyone to be kicked out of school.  The Venn diagram of speech that is offensive either to, say, fundamentalist Christians or Muslims and to radical feminists would encompass essentially all of speech related to sex.    Since everyone will not be kicked out of school, the rules will almost certainly be enforced disparately, likely punishing speech with which the university administration disagrees but being far less aggressive in pursuing "unwanted" sexual speech with which it might disagree.

Where Did the Last Batch Go?

Obama and the Left want a big new infrastructure spending bill, based on twin theories that it would be a) stimulative and b) a bargain, as needed infrastructure could be built more cheaply with construction industry over-capacity.

Since this is exactly the same theory of the stimulus four years ago, it seems a reasonable question to ask:  What happened to the damn money we spent last time?  We were sold a 3/4 of a trillion dollar stimulus on it being mostly infrastructure.  So where is it?  Show us pictures, success stories.  Show us how the cost of construction of these projects were so much lower than expected because of construction industry over-capacity.  Show us the projects selected, to demonstrate how well thought-out the investment prioritization was.  If their arguments today have merit, all these things must be demonstrable from the last infrastructure bill.  So where is the evidence?

Of course, absolutely no one who wants to sell stimulus 2 (or 3?) wants to go down the path of investigating how well stimulus 1 was spent.  Instead, here is the argument presented:

Much of the Republican opposition to infrastructure spending has been rooted in a conviction that all government spending is a boondoggle, taxing hard-working Americans to give benefits to a favored few, and exceeding any reasonable cost estimate in the process. That's always a risk with new spending on infrastructure: that instead of the Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system, you end up with the Bridge to Nowhere and the Big Dig.

In that sense, this is a great test of whether divided democracy can work, and whether Republicans can come to the table to govern. One can easily imagine a deal: Democrats get their new infrastructure spending, and Republicans insist on a structure that requires private sector lenders to be co-investors in any projects, deploying money based on its potential return rather than where the political winds are tilting.

This is bizarre for a number of reasons.  First, he implies the problem is that Republicans are not "coming to the table to govern"  In essence  then, it is up to those who criticize government incremental infrastructure spending (with a lot of good evidence for believing so) as wasteful to come up with a solution.  Huh?

Second, he talks about requiring private lenders to be co-investors in the project.  This is a Trojan horse.   Absurd projects like California High Speed Rail are sold based on the myth that private investors will step in along side the government.  When they don't, because the project is stupid, the government claims to be in too deep already and that it must complete it with all public funds.

Third, to the extent that the government can sweeten the deal sufficiently to make private investors happy, the danger of Cronyism looms large.  You get the government pouring money into windmills, for example, that benefits private investors with a sliver of equity and large manufacturers like GE, who practically have a hotline to the folks who run programs like this.

Fourth, almost all of these projects are sure to be local in impact - ie a bridge that helps New Orleans or a street paving project that aids Los Angeles.  So why are the Feds doing this at all?  If the prices are so cheap out there, and the need for these improvements so pressing, then surely it makes more sense to do them locally.  After all, the need for them, the cost they impose, and the condition of the local construction market are all more obvious locally than back in DC.  Further, the accountability for money spent at the Federal level is terrible.  There are probably countless projects I should be pissed off about having my tax money fund, but since I don't see them every day, I don't scream.  The most accountability exists for local money spent on local projects.

Cute Animal Pictures

I am just about to enter my ninth year on this blog and I realize that I have not participated much in the primary purpose of the Internet -- posting cute animal pictures.  So here is some catch-up, via a recent trip to the San Diego zoo.

 

Where Did the Mid-Range Jumper Go?

NY Times has a great interactive graphic of Miami and OKC shooting by location on the court (roll over the face pictures to get the actual graphics).

It provides some insight as to why the NBA game seems to be all threes or points in the paint -- the mid-range jump shot just does not have the same return on investment (ie points per shot).  Which begs the question, I suppose, as to why anyone shoots the mid-range jump shot at all  (look at Battier's and Hardin's maps - they are almost all threes and layups/dunks).  I suppose the answer likely takes the form of "you have to shoot mid-range to open up the other two zones", a sort of run to set up the pass in football strategy.  Don't know enough about basketball to say if this is true.

Update:  Also, the shot clock probably has a lot to do with it.  Given infinite time, teams would be able to get the shot they want, but in 24 seconds sometimes you just have to loft one up  as time runs out from wherever you are.

Here are the stats:  Close range -- 1.19 points per shot, 3-point -- 1.08 pps, mid-range --  0.80 pps

Surgeon General: Hanging Out With Jimi Dangerous for Your Health

This time capsule of pictures of various music stars hanging out with Jimi Hendrix features a surprising number or people who died young.

Evening of September 11, 2001

I've already told the story of being in Manhattan on 9/11.  Through the day, vehicles could leave the city, but they could not come back (even taxis).  That evening, most people who could leave Manhattan had done so.  We were stuck until the next day.   We ended up finding a restaurant for dinner in Times Square that was open.

Times Square was just totally bizarre.  There were no cars at all.  Perhaps one car would pass every five minutes.  A couple of guys were roller skating around the streets, I supposed just because they could.

I was reminded of this experience by this photograph by Lucie and Simon, who take pictures of cities and digitally remove the cars and people.

 

 

The Facebook Conundrum

Here is my business problem:

On the positive side for Facebook, it is the only platform we have tried, from static web pages to blogs to Google to whatever, where we really get a good real-time interaction going with our campground customers.  Its an easy platform for them to ask questions, provide feedback, and upload useful content about the campground (from pictures to reviews to videos).  Many of my older employees are flummoxed by even the simplest computer tasks (I have had folks it has taken days of effort to teach how to get into their corporate Gmail account) but it is relatively easy to learn how to add an update or answer a query on a Facebook page  (and by "page" I mean the corporate or business pages like this one here:  http://www.facebook.com/RockCreekCanyon, not one's individual page).

But here is the problem:  The Facebook staff changes FB's layout and user interface faster than a sugar-overloaded ADD 7-year-old gets tired of a new toy.  I swear they have no reason for some of the changes other than "we're kind of bored with the user interface staying the same more than 3 months and some junior guy coded this timeline thing so let's make him feel good and put it up".

The shifting user interface is a training nightmare for my non-computer savvy managers.  What used to be tabs across the top are now text links on the left.  The Page admin panel changes almost every time I log on.  And don't even get me started on the simply stupid dueling column format of the new pages, or the fact that useless information like number of people who liked the site in a given month take up enormous amounts of the timeline's real estate now.  Just look at the page I linked above.  For the first 2-3 scrolls, the right hand column is different data than the left column, but then suddenly it becomes an alternating home for data that at the top only showed up on the left.    I am told that I can now pin a status update to the top, which will be nice, but at the cost of losing the custom landing page we used to have.

And woe be to he who actually develops for the platform, because he may soon find out that it all became wasted effort at the next over-caffeinated random user interface change.  I just did a tiny, minor bit of coding (less than a few hours) that takes my page administrators' status updates and posts them as a news feed on our web site  (ie here for the FB page above).  I could do more interesting things but I have absolutely no confidence that, for example, the FB page RSS feed I used will still be supported tomorrow.

What is Normal?

I often raise the issue of "What is Normal" when discussing climate.  The media frequently declares certain weather events as so "abnormal" that they must be due to man-made factors.  A great example is the current Texas drought, which is somehow unprecedented and thus caused by CO2 despite the fact that the great dust bowl drought of the 1930's was many times larger in area and years in duration.

The EPA has a new slideshow purporting to aggregate these "abnormalities."  While I could spend all year going through each slide, I want to focus on just one.

Now we all know that the EPA is just full of sciency goodness and so everything they say is based on science and not, say, some political agenda.  And the statement and the pictures above are absolutely correct, as far as they go.  But they are missing a teeny tiny bit of context.  Here is a longer history of that same glacier (thanks to the Real Science blog for the pointer, this is a much better map than the one I have used in the past).

The 1948 position is way up at the top.  You can see that the melting since 1966, which according to the EPA is an "acceleration," is trivial compared to the melting since 1760.  Basically, this glacier has been retreating since at least the end of the little ice age.

Those who want to attribute the recent retreat to CO2 have to explain what drove the glacier to retreat all that way from 1760 to 1960, and why that factor stopped in 1960 at exactly the time Co2 supposedly took over.

By the way, this same exact story can be seen in glaciers around the world.  Glaciers began retreating at the end of the little ice age, and if anything that pace of retreat has slowed somewhat over the last few decades.

 

Uh, Oh, I May Be a Terrorist Suspect

This is a bit old, but Radley Balko linked this story about a many busted for taking pictures of a refinery

Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures “with no apparent esthetic value” is within Long Beach Police Department  policy.

McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incidentin which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of North Long Beach refinery.

“If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery,” says McDonnell, “it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual.” McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.

McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer’s subject has “apparent esthetic value,” officers make such judgments “based on their overall training and experience” and will generally approach photographers not engaging in “regular tourist behavior.”

This policy apparently falls under the rubric of compiling Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) as outlined in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Order No. 11, a March 2008 statement of the LAPD’s “policy …  to make every effort to accurately and appropriately gather, record and analyze information, of a criminal or non-criminal nature, that could indicate activity or intentions related to either foreign or domestic terrorism.”

Among the non-criminal behaviors “which shall be reported on a SAR” are the usage of binoculars and cameras (presumably when observing a building, although this is not specified), asking about an establishment’s hours of operation, taking pictures or video footage “with no apparent esthetic value,” and taking notes.

First, I think refineries are enormously interesting photography subjects (disclaimer:  I used to work in the Exxon Baytown refinery) and I think they can be downright beautiful at night.

Second, I take pictures of industrial subjects all the time as potential guides for my model railroading.  Incredibly-boring-for-most-people example here.

Great (Princeton '84) Minds Think Alike

Coyote, Jan 2011

For many, low wage jobs are the first rung on the ladder to success and prosperity.  Raising the minimum wage is putting the first rung of the ladder out of reach of many low-skilled Americans.

My classmate Henry Payne, saying it better in pictures (via Carpe Diem)

Movie Recommendation

Well, I hesitate to recommend this movie, because the first three people I told about this as if it was some kind of clever discovery of mine said "Oh, yeah, loved it, saw it years ago."  So maybe everyone else saw this movie a decade ago and I just missed it.  But I really enjoyed an older Christopher Nolan (Inception) directed movie called Memento.    It stars Guy Pierce (LA Confidential, one of my favorite movies) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Matrix).

The movie is about a man trying to get revenge on his wife's murderer.  The only problem is that somehow, from roughly the point in time his wife died, he lost all of his short term memory.  So he can never remember things more than a few minutes.  He has to trust notes he has written (including tattoos on his body) for clues that he pursues.

The clever part of the movie is that it is shot backwards.  Well, I don't mean everyone walks backwards.  It is shot in a series of 3-10 minute clips with normal forward action, but then the clips are reassembled in the film in reverse order.  The end of each scene is therefore usually the beginning of the previous one  (though there is a second thread in black and white that moves through the movie in a slightly different way).

This seems crazy and confusing, until you realize that at any point in the movie, you are in exactly the same place as the protagonist - you know nothing about the past, or even, in the start of the clip, how you got there.  Its not a casual movie that you can watch while you are doing something else, it requires some concentration, but it worked well for me.   The most incredible thing is that despite the fact you know how it all comes out, the movie is incredibly tense and exciting -- you don't know why it came out that way, and the movie is full of twists and turns.

Postscript: There was a movie last year of completely different style -  straight forward plot line, uneven acting, more of an action movie - that had a sortof kindof similar plot.  The movie was called Vengence, and it was about a man who was losing his memory and slowly degenerating trying to find his daughter's killer.  It is a totally different movie, but cribs some of the Memento plot devices, such as labelled Polaroid pictures as a memory device.  It is pretty good, particularly for fans of Asian-style action movies, and is directed by Johnnie To.

Animated Pictures

Via Maggies Farm, I found these animated pictures really terrific.  I know what you are thinking -- cheezy animated smiley gif's people embed in their emails.  No, this is something entirely different.

Post-Apocalyptic Detroit

Some cool pictures of abandoned buildings in Detroit.   How do you abandon a public library and leave all the books?  All these buildings appear vandalized.  Could it be a sign of Detroit's problems that no one bothered to even steal the books?

I can't find the link right now, but these pictures remind me of ones posted a few years ago of Russian towns abandoned after Chernobyl.

Incredible Bread Machine

I thought this was ironic....

Germany--Standing in Aisle 1 of a local Aldi supermarket, between the €2.59 ($3.62) bottles of sparkling wine and the packaged bread, German master baker Wolfgang Schäfer is in enemy territory.

The third-generation baker lobs 15 cents into the massive, beige-colored automat before him, presses a button and cocks his ear to the machine for any clues to what's transpiring inside. Almost instantly, a warm wheat roll plunks into the bin below.

"Not even two seconds," says the 55-year-old Mr. Schäfer, who had switched out of a white shirt embroidered with his family bakery's insignia into a less conspicuous checkered button-down for the stealth fact-finding mission. "Whatever goes on in there, it's certainly not baking."

What exactly does happen inside the automats has become a matter of dispute between Aldi Süd, a discount supermarket chain, and most of Germany's 15,000 traditional bakeries, since the company began installing the machines in hundreds of its German stores this year. The automats are emblazoned with the word Backofen, or "baking oven," and pictures of bowls of whole grain and bouquets of wheat. Aldi markets the rolls and bread the machines dispense as "fresh out of the oven--direct into the bag."

But to thousands of German bakers, Aldi's freshness claim is half-baked. Worse, they charge, it misleads customers who might equate the German discounter's baked goods with the bread they and their employees knead, shape and bake through the wee hours of every morning.

The German Bakers' Confederation, steward of the country's centuries-old bread-making tradition, is taking Aldi Süd--one of the two companies that make up the Aldi empire--to court on claims of deceptive advertising. Aldi Süd says it rejects the claims in the lawsuit.

...in the context of this (see part IV)

This is a legend of success and plunder
And a man, Tom Smith, who squelched world
hunger.
Now, Smith, an inventor, had specialized
In toys. -So, people were surprised
When they found that he instead
Of making toys, was BAKING BREAD!

The way to make bread he'd conceived
Cost less than people could believe.
And not just make it! This device
Could, in addition, wrap and slice!
The price per loaf, one loaf or many:
The miniscule sum of under a penny....

If you never have read the whole poem, do so.  In concludes thus:

Price too high? Or price too low?
Now, which charge did they make?
Well, they weren't loath to charging both
With Public Good at stake!
In fact, they went one better They
charged "monopoly!"

No muss, no fuss, oh woe is us,
Egad, they charged all three!
"Five years in jail," the judge then said.
"You're lucky i's not worse.
Robber Barons must be taught
Society Comes First!"

Now, bread is baked by government.
And as might be expected,
Everything is well controlled;
The public well protected.
True, loaves cost a dollar each.
But our leaders do their best.
The selling price is half a cent.
(Taxes pay the rest!)

Awesome. Happy Halloween

Hat tip: South Bend Seven

And I will repeat my best ever Halloween Pumpkin:

Pumpkin1 Pumpkin2

(click on pictures for larger view)

How Can A Prius Possibly Compete With This?

via How to Be a Retronaut

"American company Fiberglass Freaks is producing officially licensed, road-legal 1966 Batmobiles. And yes, the flamethrower works.Each car costs $149,999 (£95,000), takes six months to build and features an array of working gadgets, including a red flashing beacon, a radar screen called "˜Detect-a-scope', a retractable, gold-coloured "˜Batbeam' and a dashboard DVD player.

More pictures at the source.

Recent Photography

I am a terrible photographer and seem to struggle getting any good pictures.  But with a little patience and some study, my yield has gone up, though it still is well under 20%.  Just for self-motivation, rather than any sense anyone out there is interested, here are a few of my recent photos that I thought came out pretty well.  A couple are experiments with HDR photography.  As usual click for enlargement:

Cinque Terre.   The HDR process in the first one really brings out the details, but like a sharpness filter turned up too high, the image falls apart when zoomed too much.

The next one could have been awesome if I had waited, say, 12 hours for the sun to be in the right place

This is the town of Portovenere

And at night, which was beautiful but I tried a zillion exposures and could never get quite what I wanted

I loved all the little winding staircases.  I struggled to capture the romantic element that attracted me to them.  This one came out the best, but still failed to get what I wanted

A couple of views from the roof of the Milan Duomo.  I really loved walking among the flying buttresses and thought these made interesting subjects.  These are probably my favorite shots from the whole batch. They are both HDR shots.

And here are the spires on the same roof:

The Grand Canyon and Sedona

Haze seems to be my never-ending enemy of good landscape photos.  I have tried filters of various sorts.  In the shot below, I tried HDR which really cut the haze but left the tree in the foreground as a blur (due to its movement between the photos that were combined to make the picture).

My Vote for #1

I had the opportunity to go to the Oscars once, along with the Governor's Ball afterward (the year Eastwood won for Unforgiven).  When asked what certain folks looked like (e.g. Sharon Stone at the next table), my answer was inevitably "not as good as in their pictures."  Claudia Schiffer sat right in front of me in the theater and all I can remember is her huge bony anorexic spine sticking out like some kind of lizard.

The exception was Cindy Crawford.  This may be unbelievable, but she looked even better than in pictures.  I kid you not.  Here is a sample of why she is the greatest, via Tom Kirkendall (he claims to just be blogging on the quality of the commercial - yeah right).

Very Funny if True

The word is out around town that Ben Quayle (yes, from that Quayle family) who is running for the Republican nomination for Congress, may be one of the founders and chief writers for local (very sleazy) gossip site Dirty Scottsdale  (which has since gone national as the Dirty -- barely SFW).  The site seems to specialize in printing pictures of club-hopping local girls and calling them out for either their looks, plastic surgery, or sexual preferences.

Update: Quayle denies it.  Either this is an incredible revelation of a secret life whose writing marks him as a real sleazy loser or it is an incredibly brazen (given that the accusation comes from his supposed partner) political hit-job.  Either way its a really interesting story.

Update #2: Quayle, uh, un-denies it.

Layout Progress: Base & Initial Trackwork

This is part of a recurring series on the evolution of my n-scale switching layout.  More after the break...

Continue reading ‘Layout Progress: Base & Initial Trackwork’ »

Layout Update - Track Planning

Rather than starting a new blog,  I think I warned you that I would be doing model railroad layout updates here as a reference for fellow hobbyists.  You are welcome to blow right on past if the hobby is too geeky for your taste.

I have completed Version 1.0 of the track plan for an 18" by 9-foot shelf-style switching layout in N-scale.  I used the 3rd PlanIt CAD program to do the design.  Click to enlarge:

The layout has a number of features I wanted

  • Staging area (not shown, around a corner to the left)
  • Interchange with 2 other railroads
  • Small yard
  • Lots of industry space
  • Space for urban scenery

The layout is an imaginary short line switching urban tracks in the Phoenix area, interchanging with both the Union Pacific and BNSF, set in modern day or perhaps backdated to pre-merger ATSF.  I have spent several weeks photographic rail lines and industries in the area and have a good idea of the look and feel I want.  I am going to build it in two modules which split just right of the diagonal interchange line.

Because I am a masochist, I am using code 40 hand-laid track with hand made turnouts using Fast Tracks fixtures.   While newer code 55 rail is a big improvement over older rail, it is still out of scale.  I may make the diagonal main line crossing at the junction code 55 just to emphasize the difference between main and branch line -- also because I don't really like building crossovers by hand and Atlas has a nice code 55 45-degree crossover I can use.

I am not going to run the largest modern diesels or any long passenger equipment so I am going to try to get away with #5 turnouts, except on crossovers where I will use #8 if I can make them fit.  I am still debating some issues like turnout control, so I will leave that for later chapters.   Minimum radius can be big - 18" or more, except on the interchange track because it has to tuck behind the backdrop.

You will see I have already planned some mirrors into the design.  That was something that always got visitor's attention on my old layout -- tracks or roads appearing to go on forever.  This time I will use it for the interchange track as well as the yard (a la John Allen).  I am also going to try to double the apparent length of my grain elevator with one.  As always, the hard part is hiding the edges.  The interchange track will be easy, and a highway overpass will likely work on the yard, but I have not yet figured out how to disguise the mirror at the elevator.

This weekend I hope to actually build the base of the modules, using 1-inch extruded foam insulation board glued to 1/4" Lauan plywood.  Stay tuned, I hope to have it all in pictures.