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Great (Rick) Scott!
tamparail video
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The Tampa Historic Streetcar Board met on the 20th and the bulk of this meeting was a stand up report by HART Interim Director Jeff Seward regarding the stunning development that the Teco Line Streetcar would be fare-free for a whopping three years.

Here's the video embed of that meeting that starts with Seward's presentation.

Jeff Seward explains to the Tampa Historic Streetcar Board 
the details of the streetcar system's upcoming 3 year 
free-fare period.

The free-fare period will likely begin in October of this year and is possible through a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grant aimed at, among other things, exposing user preference for the streetcar and setting up for a more solid argument toward the development of a modern system similar to one already operating in Kansas City.

Seward is careful to pause over the point that the grant had to be, and, obviously was, approved by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

So, this is the second time this week that we are hearing about Rick Scott's sudden involvement in turning Tampa into a transit rail town. First with a push to put a high(er) speed commuter rail system in the city, and now with a grant that will almost certainly prove a point that will then lead to Tampa's own "light" light rail system in the form of a modern streetcar. If this strange twist of pattern continues, I am going to believe it completely possible to find Scott showing up in Tampa to build a rail system himself.

Yeah it's gotta be politics. Scott wants to be a Senator or something, or maybe President (which makes him the sane choice if it ever comes down to him or Trump). Or, more positively speaking, it may be a legitimate recognition that with the eastern half of Florida well on its way, it's time to finally balance the State's investment in transportation choice by finally, finally , paying attention to the western half. All of this bodes extremely well, suddenly, for Tampa commuter rail and light rail.

The free-fare period is a ... "fair" ... way to ask the question of whether or not people are willing to use the system for serious transportation, given both economic and physical friction-free access to it. The fares aren't just going away, so is the entire fare process and even the onboard fare equipment . As near as I can tell that will make the system a simple "step aboard" one, from the designated stops of course.

It's important research because indeed, modern streetcar systems are volatile. Ft. Lauderdale's planned system has been stopped (there was a limit on how much they were willing to spend for it and the cost estimates began exceeding that) and in Atlanta, who went from free to charging $1.00 on its system, is now struggling with ridership big time (loosely analyzed, the line is too short and operates in mixed traffic -- Tampa's system does not). Therefore a demonstration on solid footing will be sure to put any future Tampa system on par with the successes such as Portland or Kansas City.

Streetcar Modernization and Expansion Update
tamparail video
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Here's the YouTube of a presentation given to the Tampa Historic Streetcar board about a month ago regarding the streetcar modernization and expansion project. The full video of that meeting is posted here but my embed below cuts straight to the part to the presentation itself.

Steve Schucraft provides update on status of
the streetcar expansion/modernization effort.

Key Highlights

Don't be a slouch, watch the whole thing. But if you're in a hurry -- these things stuck out to me:

  • Phase I is complete, they've submitted a letter to the FTA for entry into project development (which is apparently to say, they formally put the evolving concept on their official may-one-day-be-funded-by-them radar - they hope to receive a letter in return that says the FTA recognizes the effort)
  • The study focuses exclusively on a one-seat ride from end to end. This means that the study does not take into consideration the possibility of mixing the current heritage streetcars with modern ones (an idea I personally liked, but, now that I understand that it might split rides between vehicles, gives me pause for obvious reasons)
  • An extension would serve an additional 5,500 residents and 16,000 jobs over the existing nostalgia system.

Capture of the presentation&qts Next Step slide

Click on image for larger viewable detail.

The prospects of an extension and modernization are exciting for Tampa, particularly those who live in the core. It is good to see both fronts being taken so seriously and with apparent stride.

Walk the Rail to Wilkes-Barre Today
wbrail NJ Transit Video
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One of the presumed forerunner projects that this website highlights is the Lackawanna Cut-Off Restoration Project. That's because it is the most "actualized" of all the other possibilities I might otherwise mention. Unlike high speed rail, the hyperloop, or light rail connecting Hazleton and Scranton, there's actual work, actual track being laid in New Jersey for this project. If the momentum picks up steam that will eventually mean actual track being laid in Pennsylvania -- first in the Poconos followed at some point thereafter by Scranton. And then yes, Wilkes-Barre.

Screen capture of Chuck Walsh YouTube channel page.

Get to know the Lackawanna Cut-Off thanks to the work of Chuck Walsh.

But what do we really know about the original Lackawanna Cut-Off? It was the defining rail link between New Jersey and - believe it or not - Buffalo, New York, my current home city. Scranton was a stop in between. I actually find it kind of poetic that three of the places I have lived in my lifetime have been accessible by this single line (technically I lived in New York, not New Jersey, but I won't quibble. If this line existed as-is today I'd be able to travel by train to three of my favorite places on the planet right now).

There's a trove of web information on the line if you want to go look for it. This blog isn't based on expert knowledge and doesn't pontificate from that position. Quite the opposite, it is an evolving conversation on what I'm learning as I go . Questions and inaccuracies all.

However, the richest resource I think you'll find today is a YouTube documentary posted by Chuck Walsh approximately one year ago. Walsh is the president of the North Jersey Rail Commuter Association and an enthusiastic advocate for the project. He apparently put the time and gas into composing a 15 video tour of the line as it exists today, visiting key stops and points of interest, often with stories and recollections drawn right from his head of accrued knowledge and experience.

This is the best way right now to "walk" the line into NEPA along with Walsh acting as tour guide and narrator along the way.

First video in a series of 15.

The zero-budget production is raw and maybe a little dry to the non-enthusiast, but it is authentic and I might add, what YouTube is best used for which is the independent presentation of a niche but important subject matter to the thousands who are interested. There is not a TV station or a newspaper that could cover this line to such depth.

If you want to better understand the past to understand the future, this is a great way for the readers of this blog to spend a coffee Saturday afternoon.

Onlookers Flip Out Over Accident
video lol
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-- Yeah, so people are pretty mellow in Buffalo. I believe it is because we live so close to Canada and I for one have deemed it the "Canadian Field".

We Have Cool Cats
video personal
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Our cats (my roommate is careful to correct "her cats") were featured on America's Funniest Home Videos last Sunday night. That was pretty fun! I've had the video of "our" two cats playing around Christmas fixin's for about three years now andI've long since posted it to YouTube and Facebook.

Still, with the idea of maybe winning some $$$, about four months ago, I took a few minutes to upload the video to the AFV website. Last week the producers called to let me know they would be featuring it on Sunday's airing.

We didn't win any money, established ahead of time on the notification call, but also because I had not to that moment been jetted out to Hollywood the week of the show's taping. But I am getting a t-shirt out of the deal and it made for great Facebook feed fodder.

Speaking of which I created a new meme to reflect the excitement of receiving external validation from Facebook friends about our lives.

Cats and red dots human and red dots meme.

Trying Something Different
blogging lol periscope video
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Okay, let's try this.

In 2018 I am going to try summarizing my previous week's web activities here at my personal blog. This is part of my quest to understand where blogs can matter any more, if they can at all.

Here's the idea: My digital life is spent generating spurious spot content on Twitter, Facebook, and in countless discussion forums online. There's a ribbon above with icons that link back to my profiles on these forums -- it is in those places where I am actually digitally active each day, not here on the blog.

In some cases my comments at those sites read like full-fledged blog posts which are not, for some reason, posted here at the blog.

I know the reason of course. A large part of it is that I want the instant reaction in an active traffic stream (the forum I'm posting in) because narcissism, a want of validation and attention, a need to be seen and heard, like anyone. If I'm on stage with a comedy act and there's nobody in the audience, there's nothing in it for me. No reward, no dopamine release.

There's no audience here at the blog. I might be polite to myself and say "there's no audience like the audience at those places", but no, there's literally nobody hitting this blog on a daily basis for weeks or even months at a time.

So maybe the blog still has relevance in the context of an expression vehicle as a sort of "home base" to all that other stuff I'm putting out there, in a role that doesn't fan for attention, but rather, exists as a node for discovery among the interested. Who would "the interested" be? You can never tell. Old friends, new friends, potential clients and employers, the media, researchers, who knows really. But as this roadmap or archive of things I'm doing to keep the open web alive as just one person, it's important that I find out and keep tweaking to find where it matters.

Those facing the same internal question and struggle, keep an eye on this effort to see if it pans out.

Blogging Versus Facebook

With that being established, here's an embed response to a comment I just posted while searching for insight on the question of blogging versus "Facebooking". The search took me to this 2015 piece by Mitch Joel, The End of Blogging, and one commentator of the dozens and dozens hit the nail on the head insofar as I was concerned.

Here you go:

House Fire Down the Street

Early this afternoon a house caught fire down the street. When I'm at home I keep a police scanner running nearly all times. I'm keenly aware of what's happening in Buffalo at any given moment. It's a life long habit wherever I'm living.

Periscope Capture of Fire on Amherst Street

Today the call went out about the fire just a block or three up from me. Fullfilling my duty as a "content journalist" (known pre-web as "fucking nerd with a scanner showing up and getting in the goddamned way") for my BuffaloScan Twitter feed, I raced to the scene and began broadcasting.

Here's a link to the BuffaloScan Periscope "Fire Amherst Street Live".

Doing Education "As You Go"

In Disqus I waded into a thread with my recounting of how I managed to earn a college degree with very little, easily paid-back-within-a-few-years, debt. If you don't look too closely at what I've done with my college education, the achievement itself is one of my life's pride points. You can digest it here.

The gist otherwise:

So, I don't know how people get themselves into a situation where they wind up owing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars unless they literally believe that living responsibly to pay rent and to buy toilet paper, must somehow be a separate endeavor from living in a dorm for four years doing nothing but going to classes. To me anyone's post-graduation loan situation can be dramatically improved if they don't mandate a quick classical 4-year graduation timeline (one downside to my experience, but more because I'm a bit "slow" than anything, is that it takes longer to get a degree) for themselves and instead patiently pay for it bit by bit with current earnings and maybe a few short-term textbook loans as they go

I really believe in this college stuff mostly because if an actual idiot like myself can pull it off on the cheap, anyone can. What fundamentally spurred me to elevate myself this way back in my 20s? You'll just have to read that long-ass post in its entirety.

Fist Bump to the Online Slut I Admire

This one kind of hurts. There's this woman online I started following maybe a year or go or so on Twitter - @NYorNothing.

I followed her because she's "into" her life in New York City, something that sits well with my own experience and future aspiration to one day return. She totally gets it and embraces the awe and achievement of existing there day by day.

But it turned out, in time, that that wasn't the half of her online schtick. Turns out that embedded in her adorations of Gotham living she cranks out off-colored remarks about her sex life and retweets others doing the same. I mean, it's totally like I hit another kindered spirit kind of thing but, like, she has actual talent or something while keeping her nose to the grindstone on the docks of New York City of all places -- and if you take her tweets literally, maybe other places. I'm totally out on both - I left the city when I quit my boring desk job, and comedy did not save me! So yeah, I totally came to admire her rants.

Anyway, she's a slut humorist. Not that she is a slut (I mean, she could be, that material probably comes from somewhere though when it comes to comedy it's usually supposed to be a place of pain). What I meant was that there is a topic field of sluttiness , and she is a comedian in that field, apparently and effectively. Like Joan Rivers on steroids.

Anyway, on some impulse of affection and general pathetic-ness I begged her for Twitter re-tweet love and baited her by calling her -- a slut humorist.

I just wanted to join the fun!

She got it -- yeah she actually did! And I knew that she would. And she did re-tweet my remark which reached her audience who got it...not so much.

So I got a lot of flack for it. The only other time I had to endure Internet hate was when budgeteers (parakeet enthusiasts) lambasted me for running a webcam back in the 90s on two of my parakeets in a cage they noted was too small for them. I fixed it with a mammoth cage, and they were happy. In this case, I kind of apologized to her but figured I'll just leave the audience remarks alone. Internet hate is a lot more vicious in 2017 than it was in 1999.

Tweetdeck capture of my remark to Twitter comedian.

Tweetdeck capture of apology to @NYorNothing

So that's my digital week in review.

Somewhat to a lesser extent, you might be interested to know that I touched up WBRAIL and Tampa Rail too a bit.

If I can keep this theme up I'm changing the tagline to something like "A Blog About Me Talking About the Things I Talk About Online".

Total narcissism.

Selling is Service Video is Good (Admit It)
viral video lol
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The "Selling is Service, Service is Selling" video is good , not bad. That is why it is a viral sensation.

People are loathe to admit that a non-professionally composed video leaves them tapping their toe and humming the tune, hours and days later after first exposure to it. But that's why they are fascinated by the video, not because it is "campy".

Which of course it is.

Saying things like it is a video "so bad you can't stop watching" is just our mental excuse to keep watching it.

The video demonstrates a remarkable talent and the resourcefulness of its producers. The participants are spot on in their timing and facial expressions. The entire video is one happy personality after another, somehow brought to an actor's polish despite their obvious lives as the otherwise nameless change-givers in the wayward stores.

You have to imagine at least a few were not camera-happy (ever try to compose a video comedy sketch with your family or friends? It's why we can't have Skype things) so right off the bat its creators not only had the talent to keep the final product snappy and fun, they were able to encourage their workers, or whoever they are, to get on camera in the first place and "do the camera well". The interactions between each other are flawless.

The New York Daily News piece link below sheds light on the people behind it. Apparently it's a "Once in a Blue Moose" gift shop franchise training video in, of all places, Alaska.

The article doesn't get into the specifics of its producers, director, or the editing team, but it does cite Hillary Fisher, an office manager of the Blue Moose who explains the genesis a little.

Fisher said the small family business makes all of their videos in-house, each of which is designed to bring on the laughs.

....which it does, but only because that's how we permission ourselves to enjoy something that doesn't orginate from billion-dollar studios curating eugenically approved people to act in them. The people who actually sat down with video editing software to create this video are special and it would be great to know more about them and to what degree they are professionally involved in the field of video production.

Linkage

Bringing New York City Home
video
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It's been two or three years now since I left New York and I do miss it. I'm trying to cajole my SO to someday return but in the meantime a little live streaming helps sooth the pain. Here's a little HTML 5 embedded video showing off what I mean.

This post is more a test of my ability to post HTML 5 embedded videos than share my lament, but why not kill two birds with one stone?

City Council Somehow More Relaxed
wbrail Politics Video
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The February 23, 2017 Wilkes-Barre City Council Meeting is up for all!

There was no discussion of bringing light or high speed rail to Wilkes-Barre as per the norm, but still, WB Rail readers will be much aglow nonetheless.

Wilkes-Barre City Council Meeting, February 23, 2017 - Original YT posting.

Early on in the meeting, one fantasizes taking cue from Wilkes-Barre Rail - though really it appears from the videos leading to this one he was already on thin ice, Bob Kadluboski is escorted out of the meeting by a Wilkes-Barre uniformed officer just after the council and members of the public pledge ritualistic allegiance to the flag, and he piped up.

I mean, the council just read the rules and, boom, right out of the gate, Bob ignores them.

As the officer approaches for what one presumes is otherwise a normal ejection (and not even that uncommon at these meetings since other I would say "more authentic" satirists have literally been pulled from the meeting in their chairs), Bob "demands" that he be put into cuffs.

I would take that as the humiliated control artist's way of pretending that his booting was somehow self-directed. Even being told to leave, without choice, he has to pretend it's all part of the plan and that he's in control.

But really, when told to leave, all Bob really needs to do is leave .

If anyone thought his satire or outbursts were all just part of some misguided or ill-executed show while really motivated by all the right things people fight for, that credit is quickly dashed in his parting words to the council chair in a sneering remark that I believe reveals his true character. Yeah, wait for that one in the video, it will turn your stomach.

Bob Sneers

Bob Kadluboski sneers at council chair as he is being escorted out.

The effect of the ejection is felt throughout the meeting which can, for the first time in a while, proceed from beginning to end in much higher grade function without all the tension. To be sure, there were still "squaring off" speakers - those who for some reason treat the council like it spit on their dog as their first (and what, effective?) choice of communication with the council, but all respected the rules and kept themselves at bay.

'Zactly what needed to happen.

My advice to Bob, start a blog instead.

Stress MD for My Old Company
justneat video
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Here's the complete video from ABC Good Morning America featuring some of my ex-coworkers at Rakuten and the Rakuten offices (I recognize the lobby, not the actual "ex-coworkers"). They shot a piece about relieving stress over the holidays. I guess it didn't occur to them to shoot from over near the "Drinkshare" wall.

Capture of of video teaser.

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