You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Amtrak’ tag.

Free Tutorials

While there are lots of great software out there (including both proprietary and open source), sadly there are a lack of manuals that can explain how to use the software that are written in a clear concise manner that doesn’t assume that you are already an expert. This article on has some tips on how to write a software manual that’s easy to follow for the end user which can easily be applied to other types of situations (like writing instructions on how to knit a sweater, for example).

A tool wrap, house slippers, and other things you can make from a pair of worn-out blue jeans.

Browse other free tutorials previously mentioned in this blog (along with pictures) right here.

Miscellaneous Links

This has got to be the coolest use of 3D printed technology yet. Mat Collishaw and Sebastian Burton collaborated together to create a 3D printed zoetrope that does an animated reproduction of Peter Paul Reubens’ Baroque painting Massacre of the Innocents with very impressive results.

Here are some gorgeous Edwardian Era photographs of two girls that were actually shot in color between 1910-1914.

8 Ways Privatization Has Failed America

America’s elites are leaving it to die: TPP, Baltimore, Amtrak & the deteriorating fabric of a nation

Back in 2004 the spouse of an employee at the video game maker Electronic Arts wrote a blog post about what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone who works for a company that constantly demands its employees to work 12 hour days, six days a week. That post hit such a raw nerve with people that it quickly went viral for a while. Sadly it seems like not much has changed in the video game industry since that blog post first went live, according to this article titled The Horrible World Of Video Game Crunch.


My husband and I got off the Amtrak Acela train and went straight to his father and step-mother’s place. My sister-in-law arrived from her home in Pennsylvania not too long afterwards.

We all set out to begin celebrating my father-in-law’s 80th birthday. We first went to the Snapple Theater that’s located on Broadway (yes, it’s decorated with giant Snapple lids on the outside and the refreshment counter basically served Snapple beverages along with RC Cola and 7-Up—no Coke or Pepsi products were sold there) where we saw The Fantastics. I first saw that play when my high school did a production of it many years ago so it was interesting to see how a professional Broadway theater group did it. I enjoyed the play very much and so did the other people who were with me.

What was cool was that the production was held in the Jerry Orbach Theater on the 3rd Floor of the Snapple Theater, which was named after the late actor who was most well known for his role on the TV series Law & Order. Reading the biography posted on the wall, I also learned that Jerry Orbach was also the voice of Lumiere the talking candle in the animated Disney movie Beauty and the Beast.

Afterwards we did some walking through nearby Times Square until we reached Abigael’s on Broadway, where we met my husband’s step-mother’s brother. We all entered the restaurant and we ate this really wonderful dinner. The decor was full of wood paneling and the meals were arranged on the plates so artfully that it was almost a shame to take a bite to eat and ruin the design. But we were all hungry so we had no other choice but to ruin the artful arrangements. None of us regretted it because the food was really excellent. What was really awesome were seeing photos of Bobby Flay on the walls along with some flyers that advertised the fact that the restaurant was recently featured on an episode of The Food Network show Throwdown With Bobby Flay. The flyer also bragged about the fact that the restaurant’s own chef, Jeff Nathan, won the throwdown challenge against Bobby Flay.

After dinner we went back to my in-laws’ place and we socialized until we grew tired and went to sleep. I didn’t take any photos of New York during my first day there since I spent part of the day riding a train and the theater didn’t permit photography so I left my camera behind at my in-laws’ place. I’ll use my camera more tomorrow as I walk around the city since I don’t have any other shows or special events planned on this trip.

Right now I’m riding the Amtrak Acela train to New York City and it has Wi-Fi on it. It’s a bit on the slow side and I can’t watch videos but it’s okay otherwise. I can spend the travel time writing something that I’ve been meaning to write for the last few days but I haven’t gotten around to it until now. I originally wrote this on an online political discussions forum but I think it bears reposting in this blog. A few days ago Elizabeth Taylor passed away. The media has been writing about her legacy as a major movie star who started off as a child actress and she made the successful transition to becoming an adult actress. The media has also written extensively about her turbulent personal life, which include many marriages—including the two times that she married Richard Burton.

But I want to focus on another aspect of her life that she began later in her life. I think her greatest legacy is her late in life advocacy on behalf of those with AIDS. She became an activist in that area after seeing her close friend Rock Hudson die of the disease and how some of the general public reacted with shock and horror at the news that he had the disease.

I’m old enough to remember a time when the general public treated those with AIDS the same way that people in biblical times dealt with lepers—as people to be shunned and avoided as much as possible. President Ronald Reagan didn’t want to do anything about the spread of AIDS because it was originally limited to what was dubbed "The 4-H Club" (Heroin addicts, Haitians, Homosexuals, and Hemophiliacs) and they were the people whom society could’ve cared less about. It was so bad that schools even expelled children like Ryan White simply because they were hemophiliacs who contacted the disease through blood transfusions.

Liz Taylor was one of the first public figures who advocated for those with AIDS and she kept up with that effort right up until she died. Thanks to her efforts (as well as the eforts of others who followed her lead), the general public have become more accepting of those with HIV and AIDS.

The fact that the Whitman-Walker Clinic (a health care facility that caters to the g/l/b/t community) in Washington, DC has an Elizabeth Taylor wing of the facility is a testament of what she has done for that cause.

But, then again, Elizabeth Taylor seemed like the kind of person who always stood by her friends during times of trouble even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. She stood by her friend Michael Jackson when he kept on getting into legal trouble over allegations that he molested young boys.

I know there is a tendency to write off Hollywood personalities like Elizabeth Taylor as self-centered creatures and there may have been times that was true when she was younger. I’ve read about the public horror and revulsion back in the 1950’s when she had an affair with Eddie Fisher, the husband of her friend Debbie Reynolds, which resulted in terminating that marriage and Fisher became one of her husbands. Of course, Liz Taylor then left Eddie Fisher for Richard Burton just a few years later.

But in the decades since that scandal, it’s obvious that Elizabeth Taylor have reached out to and made up with Debbie Reynolds. How do I know that? When I was watching The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC a few nights ago, he had guests on his show paying tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. Among the guests was Debbie Reynolds, who made a genuinely touching tribute to Liz. She spoke honestly about her friendship with Liz and only touched on briefly about how Liz once ran off with her husband. Debbie Reynolds could’ve been easily forgiven for expressing bitterness over what happened in her life but it was amazing that she willingly spoke positively about Elizabeth Taylor and focused on Liz’s good traits.

The fact that Elizabeth Taylor was able to get Debbie Reynolds to forgive her for wrecking Debbie’s marriage says a lot about Elizabeth Taylor’s character in that she took responsibility for all of her actions both good and bad.

Elizabeth Taylor is a one of a kind person who will be missed by many.

I thought what I wrote yesterday was going to be it as far as my recent trip was concerned. But then something else happened so I’m writing this short entry

My husband and I took the long Amtrak train trip from New London to the Amtrak stop at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. It was an uneventful trip until the end when my husband walked to the back of the car to gather the luggage. A friend of ours from the neighborhood was on that same train in the same car but we didn’t notice each other until the very end.

It turned out that the friend has a job that requires him to take Amtrak to New York City on a weekly basis. He boarded the train at Penn Station in the same car as where we boarded in New London. He usually takes the Amtrak to BWI Airport then switch to a Metrobus that takes him to the Greenbelt Metro Station. We were feeling generious so we offered him a ride in our car on one condition–we hadn’t eaten dinner so we told him that he would have to go to the DuClaw brew pub that’s located in nearby Arundel Mills.

So the three of us ended up splitting appetizers and drinking beer while watching live coverage of the rescue of the Chilean miners who had been trapped underground since August on one of the many television screens taht were up in the bar. Man, it was amazing to see the first of the miners get hauled up to the ground.

Today the rescue is still ongoing. As of this writing, half of the trapped miners have been rescued. I hope the rest of the operation ends well with no deaths. What’s really cool is that originally the miners were expected to remain trapped until Christmas but, thanks to the rescuers, it looks like the men will be rescued just in time for Halloween. That’s great news! 😀

My husband and I had originally intended to spend a couple of hours touring the U.S.S. Nautilus today. Except that the sub is closed on Tuesdays and today is Tuesday. We looked at other possibilities in Mystic but we decided to just spend our last few hours in Mystic just surfing the Internet until it’s time to return the rental car and board the Amtrak back to DC.

We realized that we had grown extremely tired because of all the touring around the Berkshires and visiting people and we just prefer to be lazy today. It’s no big deal really. I’ve seen Mystic Seaport before on previous trips. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Mystic Aquarium except I’m way too tired to do so today and I’ve been to other aquariums before (the most notable is the National Aquarium in Baltimore).

I wrote my last entry for my usual Benjamin Franklin Friday late last night after coming off of a grueling long trip. Before we headed off, I heard brief references to John Lennon’s 70th birthday and when my husband and I had a late dinner at this local tavern, we heard one of his songs. When we came back to the hotel room and I logged into the Internet, I saw that special Google logo featuring a brief animated tribute to John Lennon.

So I thought yesterday was John Lennon’s birthday. Wrong! Today is the actual day of what would’ve been John Lennon’s 70th birthday. Nearly two months later, it will be the 30th anniversary of his murder (December 8, 1980).

Like I wrote earlier, I underwent a grueling trip last night. We boarded a train that arrived 30 minutes later than scheduled then endured a five-hour trip to New London, Connecticut where the final leg was really slow because that station is currently undergoing renovation and there was only one track available and our train had to wait until another train going in the other direction finished using it. We got a rental car for the final leg of the journey to Western Massachusetts only to encounter horrendous bouts of rush hour traffic. (We were surprised as to how even smaller cities like Springfield, Massachusetts can get tied up in rush hour traffic.)

So now we’re in Western Massachusetts.

Previous Entries