May 12th National Train Day

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation created the National Train Day in 2008, declaring the closest Saturday to May 10th the day to celebrate. This might account somewhat for the accuracy in train schedules. We’ll get there the closest hour to the hour scheduled to arrive… even if that is a couple days behind the time set aside.

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The date commemorates the joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific at Promontory Summit in Utah on May 9th, 1869. The tracks covered more than 1,776 miles. They were attached by a golden spike. Quite an accomplishment but why is the closest date to the 10th when they were joined on the 9th? Again, the dates just don’t match up!

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I remember riding on a train from Florida to Virginia on a day the time changed, the train basically stopped on the tracks to wait for that hour so when they said we would arrive at 8 A.M. we arrived at 8 AM. It didn’t matter that we could have gotten there an hour earlier! We sat on the tracks for time to catch up to us.

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But we do owe trains a lot more than we realize on the surface. For nearly a century they carried people faster than they had ever gone before and even today haul more cargo than any other means of transportation. Today trains are used more to move materials along the way than people. But just as we look forward to a time when we can be transported like they do on the Star Ship Enterprise, people use to look at the trains in the same way.

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So when you have to stop and wait at a railroad crossing for the train to pass realize that you are watching history go by.

How to celebrate – Take a train ride! Study the history of trains. Learn to appreciate all trains have provided.

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May 13th National Train Day

Talk about a strange day… not the theme but the dating! 2017 shows the day as May 12th but it also says it’s the Saturday closest to May 10th, which this year is May 13th, and what the heck does May 10th have to do with it!?! Supposedly it has something to do with the uniting of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific but that fell on May 9th.

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I think the one thing we can all agree on is that trains have made America what it is today. Without the train the westward expansion might have still happened but it would have been slower. The Civil War might have still been won by the Union but it would have taken longer. And the Great Depression probably would have ended at some point but not as soon as it did.

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And still, we have primarily forgotten about the train. We fly planes, take the buss and drive ourselves where ever we want to go. And yes, some of that is due to the train companies that charge an arm and a leg for poor service, poorer destinations and restriction on our comfort. But it wasn’t always this way. It use to have some of the best food available, entertainment and arrived in daylight at respectable places.

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With the invent of high speed trains perhaps things will change in the future. Just like the people depending on the trains in the mid-1800’s to transport them west, we are waiting for trains to answer the needs we as customers have.  Or maybe if we needed them a little more then things would change. At least the people at the National Railroad Passengers Corporation who created today hope it will.

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How to celebrate – Take a trip on a train (Maybe a short trip). Study the history of trains. Just sit by railroad tracks and watch the trains go by.

 

November 22nd Go For A Ride Day

Today is “Go For A Ride Day”, a day to sit back and enjoy just going nowhere. As a parent most of us have taken our young children for a ride to get them to calm down and hopefully go to sleep. Well, if it works for babies, why not adults.

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Why not enjoy just driving up and down the streets in a car they might have driven in the 1930’s. Back before there were highways and freeways where the only point is going as fast as you can to get where you are going. It use to be that we traveled down country lanes watching the leaves turn colors and enjoying the crops growing on the side of the road. Now the only crops growing along most roads are illegal in most states except Colorado.download-2

Or if you are a little more daring how about a ride in an old biplane. Looking down at earth while sailing among the clouds. The open air cockpit letting the breeze blow on your face, along with the old and fumes from the engine.  But still, it’s your chance to soar like an eagle unless you are in Colorado and stopping along the highway and cultivating the crops growing there.

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Or maybe you feel like being a King or Queen for the day and riding in a carriage! I find it very relaxing to ride in a carriage, at night, in one of the old southern towns. (The northern towns are probably pretty calming too though I have never ridden in a carriage in the north.) It is relaxing though just hearing the horse’s hooves clap on the road way… and the horns of the cars behind you that are mad because they can’t get around you.

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And this time of year there really is nothing like going on a snow sleigh ride. Just don’t go in your bathing suit.

Seriously though, going for a ride with no place in particular to go is relaxing. You get a chance to think about things you haven’t thought about in years, enjoy someone’s company (Someone who has hopefully gone along with you on the ride) and see things you normally miss when you are in a hurry to get somewhere.

How to celebrate – Figure out your favorite mode of transportation and go for a ride. It may be a plane, a train or an automobile. Close you eyes and remember a trip you made in the past when you enjoyed going where you wanted to.Take your best friend on the ride with you, whether that’s a person, a dog or a memory.

November 8th National Stem/Steam Day

S.T.E.A.M. stands for educating children the fun in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. It has been created to try and help our children to catch up to the rest of the world in those fields after falling far behind the rest of the world over recent years. The idea is a good one, it certainly beats common core and any of the other ridiculous ideas our supposed leaders have come up with over all those years that our children fell behind.

It use to be (As recently as last year) S.T.E.M., someone forgot the arts. This is not an unusual situation as the arts, history and practical applications have been long forgotten by the educational system. (Please note that history is still not listed as a part of the agenda.) MGA Entertainment at least got the arts put back into the equation with Project Mc2. Of course, it’s promotion for their Netflix show about 4 smart girls, McKeyla, Adrienne, Bryden and Camryn, who are a part of a super spy ring organization called NOV8. (Also the name of the show which stands for Innovate.) I have to blame common core for the lack of understanding of NOV8 since instead of trying to read the statement for what it actually says you have to sound it out to make it work.

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Schools instantly picked up on STEAM as the symbol 212 degrees, the temperature that water turns into steam. Many school have begun using the train to indicate children getting on the right track. Cute.

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They do, however, fail to note the cars and industry that also runs on steam. That’s okay though since the system also forgets to teach other subjects as well. I have worked for a public school system and asked simple questions like… “Who was our Second President?” kids do not know. “Who fought in World War 2”, kids and adults do not know. “Where was the War of 1812 fought?” No one seems to know but they all claim it ended in 1812.

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Now the system is good about teaching kids how to build whatever it is in the above picture. It fails in telling them why “whatever it is” is useful. Now I am all for education and I think science, technology, engineering, the arts and math are important and I commend the educators for this attempt at getting children well rounded in those subjects.

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But some of us do believe that you have to know where you have been to know where you need to go. You can not pop into google maps where you want to go and get direction telling you how to get there if you don’t add in where you are first. How did we get here? What mistakes can we correct? And just how does 9 dollars and 12 cents equal $10.00? Try rounding up your money and see if you can buy that $1,000 television to watch NOV8 for $912.00.

How to celebrate – Watch NOV8 on Netflicks. It may not teach you anything but at least you’ll be supporting the producers of the show. Participate in your schools Steam program. Spend some time in a sauna and melt your cares away in some real steam!