A Little of This and a Little of That … To Get Us Through the Weekend.

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that I was getting a new and much better format for this blog. It’s pretty much ready to go and the only thing holding up the switchover is me. I have to learn how to post in a new format that’s a good deal more complicated than what I’ve been used to all these years. (Understand that more complicated is a relative term. What’s complicated to me is bare-bones-basic to probably 95% of the rest of the human race.) At any rate, I’m learning the basics and should be ready to go after a tutorial with the person doing all the real work. When it happens, the switchover will be automatic, but I’ll give you a couple of days warning anyway.

 From the Big Island of Hawaii comes word that the authorities have busted a couple of people for getting close to the lava flow and dipping a golf club into the red-hot ooze for a souvenir. Apparently, the offense that justified their arrest was “trespassing” on county property.  The culprits had no regrets because, as one cheerfully noted, to see molten lava up close is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and worth a $50 fine. He’s right. If I were on the Big Island, I would probably do the same thing.

 A report has just been released detailing plans for a high-speed rail line linking Detroit and Chicago. Amtrak’s Wolverine runs three times a day on that route now with each trip taking about five-and-a-half hours. The proposed service would operate at speeds up to 110 miles-per-hour and would reduce the running time to about 3:15. The report also envisions increasing frequency to ten round-trips a day. It’s such an obvious thing to do, Ohio Governor Kasich will surely look for a way to kill it.

Amtrak’s fiscal year wrapped up at the end of September and the ridership numbers are up, albeit just two tenths of one percent, from the previous record-setting year. That’s really astonishing.   I certainly expected an overall drop because of the pretty awful on-time performance Amtrak has been turning in over the past year. And, indeed, ridership for the long-distance trains is down, with the Empire Builder “leading” that pack with a 16-percent decline. That’s hardly a surprise, of course, because that train — once Amtrak’s flagship — has been so shamefully victimized as a result of the increase in freight traffic along its route, primarily tanker trains full of crude oil coming out of North Dakota. All that notwithstanding, Amtrak’s revenues were up 4-percent system-wide, to almost @2.2 billion. Will that mollify congressional critics? Of course not.

Finally, as I was typing this, my phone rang. I picked up, said “Hello” and, after a slight pause, a recorded voice said “Good-bye” and the line went dead. What the hell is that about??!!