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Rail Paul

Letter from Florida

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Delightful early winter day. Temp in the mid 70s, light breeze off the ocean.

 

Heavy rain about an hour ago everything is now dry. Odd.

 

There's a white heron of some sort in the littoral / preserved area across the lake. Just standing in the shallow water, periodically grabbing a small fish. He has been there about an hour.

 

I'm trying out a recipe for ancient grains white bread. 20% ancient grains, divided the dough in two pieces. So far, so good. One loaf went into the conventional oven at 400 for 35 minutes. Came out at 210 degrees internal.

 

The other is finishing in the convection, looks great so far. Also 35 minutes, with heat reduced to 375, no baking tile.

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Buzzards showed up yesterday, and cleaned out our lizards. Hundreds, probably thousands, of lizards perished.

 

Our area has been very hospitable to small lizard critters. Some as small as two inches long, others pushing eight inches, nose to tail. Several lakes, natural scrub brush, small trees, many insects, etc. A lizard paradise.

 

Several dozen buzzards descended and shook the bushes and lake grasses, grabbed lizards out of the trees, etc. Gobbled them down. Wholesale annihilation.

 

Fortunately, lizard reproduction makes rats look like exemplars of planned parenthood. I suspect we'll see more tiny lizards in a matter of days. The usual balance of population has blue herons and ibis sniffing and grabbing lizards out of the lake shrubs and low trees. Much more genteel than the buzzards.

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Yogi once said "you see a lot by just looking".

 

The TV local news down here is one breathless report of a murder, shoot out, drive by, road rage, child abduction, etc after another. If there's no good local footage, they borrow some from Mobile, Tampa, Houston, St Louis, etc. Broken up by weather and high school sports intervals. Stuff like the abundant political corruption gets a quick pass.

 

The newspapers and their websites are no better. The Palm Beach Post has a daily booking report on the front page. Picture of old evil looking dude's mug shot, click thru for the rest. The crime heat map gives the reader an overview of where crimes have been reported in the past week.

 

Lots of fear mongering

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Apropos of the last posting in this thread, several members of this gated community are discussing organizing a citizens' patrol to ensure the public security. There hasn't been a crime reported inside our walls, EVER.

 

The emergency responders and police are pretty responsive. I helped with a CPR incident a few weeks ago, and two police vehicles were on scene in four minutes. The ambulance in seven minutes. Both are comparable with the response in suburban NJ

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The new BrightLine train is now in partial operation here in South Florida. It presently operates between West Palm Beach downtown and Fort Lauderdale downtown. Although the distance is only about 40 miles, the highway time is often an hour or more, depending on traffic. The train does the distance in about 32 minutes, over a slightly shorter course. Much of the trip is done at 79 mph.

 

I rode the train last week, it was very comfortable. Very European, would be recognizable to anyone who has been on a TGV, ICE etc train. Siemens built the trains. Two by one seating in first class, with some tables. Outlets at each seat, good wi-fi. Free soft drinks. Lots of space. Coach was two by two seating, no free drinks, lots of space. High tech toilets.

 

The train is expected to go on to Miami downtown in 2018, the station is nearly done. That will be about 50 minutes from WPB, which will be a huge advantage over present travel. The rail company also owns large swaths of real estate around the new high tech stations. That's part of the mix.

 

The downside of this is that the locals continue to get themselves killed at an alarming rate. People routinely duck under the crossing arms and walk across the tracks in front of trains. Push baby carriages or shopping carts across, etc. Or drive around the crossing gates, Most of the time they make it. BrightLine has nailed two people in Boynton Beach this week. One was crossing with friends in front of the train, gates down, lights flashing, etc. The other rode his bike around the gates and ignored the flashing lights.

 

I think part of the problem is people / gate runners have become accustomed to 45 mph freights, and are not calibrating for a 79 mph passenger train. Going around the gates is against the law, and stupid, and many people don't look good as hood ornaments on trains. It is also extremely difficult to estimate the speed of on an oncoming train

 

A few placed deputies with ticket books and warrant checks would probably save a few lives.

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Yes, except for the last half mile or so into the downtown Miami Central Terminal.

 

The Florida East Coast Railroad, BrightLine's corporate cousin and current landlord, "founded" south Florida in the early 1900s. The rail line runs through the center of the downtowns all the way down the coast.

 

Amtrak and Tri-Rail, the local commuter line, operate on a different track a mile or two farther west, well away from downtown.

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