Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween from Indiana Jones

My halloween costume this year was Indiana Jones, which was remarkably easy to do since I already had boots, slacks, a button down shirt, a whip, and the hat. I went out and bought a couple belts and a Indy looking bag, and all was well.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Overheard in State College

Girl 1: "What are we going to do if the party is cancelled?"
Girl 2: "What party?"
Girl 1: "The one with all the floats."
Girl 2: "The parade?"
Girl 1: "Yeah.. the parade."

Ahh, homecoming, how I will not miss you at all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Railroads will save the world

I was very excited this morning to read this article in USA Today. I spent all day excited about it, and even showed it to some people, who were decidedly Not As Excited (tm) about it. This is probably the best news that I've heard all month.

The article is talking about Norfolk Southern Railway, which is updating some railroad tunnels and bridges as part of a new rail corridor from Norfolk, VA to Chicago. Points to take home with you from the article: The federal government is paying for over half of the project out of funds earmarked for highways. (Various state governments are also contributing money to the project.) The new corridor can handle trains that are double stacked with standard size containers (the same ones used for shipping all over the world), saving shippers around 500$ a container. With double stacked trains, Norfolk can actually make money. One train "replaces about 300 trucks".

Now, why are trains so important? Trucks are a terrible and inefficient way to transport goods. (By inefficient, I mean both physically and economically) Trucks get involved in many accidents on the highways. Trucks cause congestion on highways. Trucks damage highways to the tune of millions of dollars a year: one truck driving down the highway does the damage of 10,000 cars (Schwartzman). [Think about this: 1 Train = 300 Trucks = 3,000,000 Cars = lots and lots of your tax and toll money saved] Tires on pavement are way less efficient than wheels on tracks, not to mention that you're basically moving each item separately and with a diesel engine. Trucks pollute orders of magnitude more than trains, especially when you look at pollution per pound of goods transported, and in light of global warming, this is especially important. Trains are cheaper than trucks, these days, cheap transportation is everything.

Really, I'm mystified by the fact that we don't use trains much more than we do, in fact, we use trains even less than we used to. It just doesn't make sense in any way. Trucks should be limited to local delivery, the rail infrastructure should be updated and expanded, and something really has to be done about Amtrak. At any rate, you can see why this made me so happy. I hope this is the beginning of a new trend. Thank you, Nick Rahall, keep up the good work.