About Michael Doran

I have been encouraged and inspired by many throughout my life, and seek to do the same for others. My blogs and photographs reflect who I am and what I am thinking or seeing at the moment I post something. I hope what I share brings pleasure and meaning to others. Thank you for viewing my posts.

Freight Trains

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Back in my previous life as a locomotive engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad (now BNSF), I fell in awe of locomotives and trains in general. Although that was decades ago, I still love to hear the distant blare of air horns and feel the rumble of horsepower and wheels turning from these diesel-electric monsters. Yes, they burn fossil fuel unlike many transit trains on the east coast or in Europe, but there are three thousand miles to cover between New York and California which makes electric trains across America impractical. Besides, it is unlikely that electric locomotives can efficiently produce the horsepower needed to pull a 100 car coal or grain train. So, for now, diesel-electric is the main freight locomotive used in America, Canada and Mexico.

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I had a difficult time coming up with a title for this post as there are so many good songs about trains and railroads that I wanted to use. Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I thought of Iron Horses as this was the name given by our Native American ancestors when they first encountered the steam locomotive. However, the rail-line linking of the east and west in 1869 had devastating consequences for their way of life so I didn’t want to celebrate a cool name with such negativity. The past cannot be changed, but there is no denying that the trans-continental movement of freight plays a huge role in almost every segment of our lives.

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In the first two photographs, the westbound grain train is waiting for a mixed-freight eastbound train to pass so that it can proceed. There was track work being done east of here so trains had to share one track for a short distance. This double track runs from Chicago to San Bernadino and handles millions of tons of freight each year.

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Cabooses were replaced by signalling devices which feed the engineer with vital information about the amount of compressed air in the brake lines at the end of the train. As the eastbound leaves us behind, the westbound starts his movement. Destination unknown, but it will be up to speed within a few miles.

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Wheels of Time

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Grilles and chrome

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and hood ornaments and fancy headlights

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and rear fins and long bodies

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and more fins and classic styling

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to the muscle car era of the mid-60’s and early 70’s

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and just about any imaginable engine / trany configuration one wanted to pay for

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to modern muscle cars with more comfort, horsepower and better gas mileage

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one more icon, the Corvette

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yellow was the new “hot color” back in the “day”

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so was the celebrated LS Chevy engine, long front end, flared fenders, gills, T-top and so much more.

Not that many cars at this show, but enough to want more horsepower and nostalgia. Funny, no Mustangs or other high-performance Fords at this show. They are out there.

Today, car manufacturers are turning out faster and better cars than ever before…who would have thought after the 1980’s gas crunch, impotent and ugly automobiles and 55 mph speed limits?

By the way, the yellow Vet is for sale!

 

 

Radiance

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Day lilies…what can be more common? They grow everywhere-even (especially) in ditches! Yet, they are beautiful in their own way (to coin a phrase from a Ray Stevens’ song).

One day there is a single stem of two to three feet and the next day a bud and then a flower and the next day the flower is wilted and then the next day it is gone. But, oh the glory of that single day when she is in full bloom. Radiance !

The oft used phrase, here today-gone tomorrow, certainly applies to this species of plant. Regardless, one day in full color is better than none at all.  The Bible has a verse which states that it is better to enjoy one day in God’s courts than in a thousand courts elsewhere.

Although the Psalmist is referring to actual courts in his day, I like the analogy of Heavenly courts. My understanding is that their radiance will be so glorious it will be almost blinding. If that is the case then I can hardly wait to witness those courts where Christ’s light illuminates everything.

What we see on Earth is but a sample of what’s to come, and for this I am grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

Mediocrity?

Creativity is an odd thing…some possess loads of it while others have it within them, but can’t seem to squeeze it out all that often. In my case, the desire is there, yet the enthusiasm wavers a bit. Hence, not much creativity being published.

I like quotes, quips and prose. I read a lot…not a big deal. What do I gain? The more important question is, “What do I contribute?”.  Oh, I love a wonderful photograph and painting ! Great sculptures also capture my heart.

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I woke up early this morning before the sunrise, but as I saw the illumination upon my dining room wall, I quickly grabbed my Canon and took this image. The sky was changed within seconds. Literally.

Mediocre photograph…which may equate to mediocrity. What do you think ? I wonder ?

I like it because it reflects the ever-changing gift of God’s creation. Please take a moment and study the makeup of the clouds…the odd color and shapes…the background…the tree tops which just emerged from winter’s grasp.

Mediocrity. I am not sure I know the meaning of this word. However, I like this photograph because it reflects a peacefulness about it. I hope you like it, too.

Remember

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This is a bronze sculpture of an American soldier paying tribute to his fallen comrades after the Korean War which was waged from 1950 to 1953. It is often referred to as the Forgotten War because of the great conflict of WWII preceding it.  However, it was a bloody and difficult war resulting in an armistice rather than a mutual declaration to name the conflict as over. A demilitarized zone (DMZ) was created separating the north and the south from one another. It is the most heavily armed area in the world. As most know, this has been in the news of late as North and South Korea are attempting to put an official end to this debacle.

As with all wars, many civilians lost their lives in addition to the soldiers who sacrificed much. It saddens me that so many paid the ultimate price for a stalemate. At the same time, I am grateful for those who fought and sacrificed in behalf of freedom for half of the peninsula of Korea. Perhaps someday the north and south will unite as did Vietnam. The North is devoid of democracy and justice and the people live in a state of misery, ignorance and subjugation. My heart goes out to these citizens.

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America is not a nation of innocence when it comes to military conflicts and of war. Blood is on our hands. I wish we were free from self-serving bloodshed such as what we caused upon our own Native Americans, African slaves and one another during our great Civil War. But, we have also sacrificed much to the betterment of all mankind by defending and promoting freedom whenever the call to arms was issued. Not all agree with each conflict. I certainly don’t, however, I support those whom answered the call to do what they think is right and for the furthering of democracy.

Man, regardless of nationality, is a self-serving being. I stand amazed at how some European nations remained neutral during the Nazi terror of WWII. In the Pacific theater of war all became enemies of a misguided empirical nation. I am grateful that my father and uncle, along with so many other young men and women from various countries gave themselves for this cause of freedom. Freedom for others and not always for their own peoples.

There is still much of the world in armed conflict. America’s best are still fighting and dying for freedom for others. Various nations are in extreme struggles just to keep their nation’s alive and safe. May we never forget those who sacrificed so much and are still doing so today. I encourage all to honor a vet or family member this weekend whether  he or she is abroad or on the home front. They are most deserving.  I am reminded that their sacrifices allow me to write this post and bask in freedom’s light.

 

The BOSS

No, I am not referring to Bruce Springsteen, the legendary rock band leader. Nor, am I referring to a criminal mastermind or a particular public figure (many of these like this term as it applies to them). I have been called Boss when on construction sites, but I think this was more due to a worker’s name preference or lack of personal knowledge rather than my actions.

Bosses can be found in all sorts of arenas: the work place, at home, among friends, in most any kind of group, in sports, and the list goes on. Bosses can be inspiring or exasperating, kind or cruel. Some are brilliant and others just plain dumb. However, the Boss I am thinking about was neither dumb nor cruel…he was just furry.

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Here is Carson at the office. He is exhorting his team members to go out and get the job done right, on time and within budget. When Carson barked, people listened!

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Here he is making a point by standing on his desk. He makes eye contact with each person to make sure he is understood, and to offer that little bit of encouragement we all need from time to time. I miss my old Boss, but won’t forget the lessons he taught me. More than that, I remember how his positive actions spoke louder than words. Did he always get things right? No, but in the words of Steve Miller, “He was righter, righter than wrong”.