Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hoboken El


This year I've been asked twice what I know about a very obscure local transit line, the elevated railway that once ran in Hoboken and Jersey City. Both people have created web pages I greatly recommend.

The first one is part of David Pirmann's site, the Hoboken-Jersey City Elevated page. He has a good historical summary, and then a fine set of photographs he has assembled from contributors. Take a look.

Just recently someone told me to look at the New York Rapid Transit Timeline, a series of maps showing the rapid transit systems every 5 years from 1870 to 2010, and within a day I heard from its creator, Alexander Rapp. You should look at those too. They're really good. He wanted to include the Hoboken El but needed details.

The Hoboken El was operated in the same manner as the Green Line on the Boston T, the subway-surface lines in Philadelphia, and the Muni Metro in San Francisco, namely as a rapid transit line with street trolley lines running into it. Unlike those, and the City Subway in Newark, the Hoboken route was an elevated line, not a subway. If you look at Rapp's maps for 1935 to 1950, you'll notice he shows in pale color the street lines that ran into the Newark City Subway. I've just sent him details of the street routes for the Hoboken El.

There is a little mystery about this elevated line.

We know for sure, from contemporary newspaper and magazine sources, that it opened on January 25, 1886, running from a station adjacent to the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad's Hoboken Terminal to a station on the west side of Palisade Avenue, Jersey City, between Ravine Avenue and Ferry Street. The first part ran along Ferry Street (now Observer Highway) on a structure similar to elevated railways in Manhattan, but then it veered into private right of way up a long incline that rose about a hundred feet on a 5.5% grade to the top of the Palisades cliff. The cliff was the reason for building the line. The el provided the only fast route from the Heights neighborhood to a New York ferry connection, and soon carried 10,000 to 15,000 passengers a day.

The el was operated by cable. Management at the North Hudson County Railway were concerned about a runaway on the long grade. They used the Cable Trust patents developed for the San Francisco street cablecar lines, but with the thickest wire rope ever used, one and a half inches in diameter, and massive thousand-pound grips on both trucks. Company engineer J J Endres developed the patent grip with three-foot jaws controlled by a wheel at the ends of the car.

There were 14 cars similar in style to New York elevated railroad cars. Cable operation lasted seven years, but below is the only known photograph, and it seems to be just before the end, since support poles for trolley wires are already up. From the book Art Work of Jersey City, via George Hilton's book The Cable Car in America.

We also know for sure that the elevated railway was extended in 1892. The extension continued from the Palisade Avenue station over private right of way to a big curve, over Central Avenue from Booraem Avenue to Hoboken Avenue, and two more blocks of private right of way to a terminal at Pavonia Avenue.

Construction was underway by August 1890, when Scientific American described the both the structure and the plans for cable operation on it. Hilton writes that cable was installed by May 1891. But then the company decided not to operate it with cable. Instead the extension was opened on June 6, 1892 as an electric trolley road, connecting at Palisade Avenue with the cable road. Six months later electric service finally began running through to Hoboken.

A trip report published in May 1893 in Transit Journal says that the cable was still being used in rush hours. This was probably done to maintain separation between cars on the incline. It would mean a change of cars at Palisade Avenue was required just when traffic was busiest.

Here is where the mystery begins.

Modern writers assume that with electric operation, through service to street trolleys began. When I started looking into this for David Pirmann I found evidence to the contrary. Instead I am now convinced that for a while, the elevated still operated separately.

The first clue was two maps from a Sanborn real estate atlas of 1896, four years after the extension opened. Here's the smoking gun, a full terminal at Pavonia Avenue:

Later on, there was an incline down from the end of the Newark Avenue station to ground level at Lott Street, and tracks ran out to the street in Pavonia Avenue. But here, there is a real terminal, with two wooden (yellow) platforms and a station house across the end of track, and iron (blue) stairways. Please note that this is not a map of planned structures, but of buildings that actually existed.

Less obvious was the situation at Palisade Avenue:

There is a train yard with four sidings on the Ferry Street side, which was not there later on. That's because later on the equipment was stored and repaired at the same barns as other trolley lines. But at this date, evidently the el needed its own yard.

Here's one of the images from David Pirmann's page, a beautiful view from Pavonia Avenue looking down the right of way. Going back you can see the Lott Street crossing, the incline, and a trolley at Newark Avenue station. But what's that on the right?

Why, it's a column from the original elevated terminal! It's the strongest trolley wire support column in town.

Here's one more item, from "The North Hudson County Railway" by Edward T Francis and George W Walrath, in The Marker, September 1946. I include here their caption.

No steps.

That raises some questions. The original stations at Hoboken and Palisades Avenue would have had floor-height platforms, consistent with the use of structures and cars like those of the New York elevated lines. The car shown above is a hybrid trolley and elevated car. It's small and lightweight like a trolley, but the end platforms have gates. A note in the journal Electricity for December 21, 1892, says "the new cars have the double trolley and are smaller than the cable cars". Francis and George write that these were among the first two-pole trolley cars.

The 1896 atlas shows all of the small way stations. While the Pavonia Avenue terminal is of the same size as the old Hoboken and Palisades Avenue stations, the others are much smaller. They are shown in 1896 as short and wooden. Available photographs, mostly from the 1930s and 1940s, show the same, and the platforms are not much above rail level. Were the platforms really higher once?

The original Hoboken station had only one track while in cable service. As described in an 1886 issue of Scientific American, it was a typical cable terminal operation. The incoming car dropped rope 700 feet before the station (a fairly long distance), and ran by momentum, assisted by a slight downgrade, into the one station track. The cable itself continued without a track and around a sheave at the end and started running outbound under the one track, where the outbound car could grip it to leave. There were platforms on both sides of the track, for exit and entrance, and the article reports that the car or train could unload and load within one minute for fast turnaround.

The original Palisade Avenue station must have been similar in design.

A Sanborn atlas plate of 1891 for Hoboken shows an iron terminal with two tracks drawn in it, but the mechanics of cable operation force me to think it was still really only one track. Notice that the end of the iron structure connects directly into the ferry building. The great majority of riders would have been headed for the ferry. This terminal had high floor-level platforms.

My conclusion then is that the first stage electric operation in 1892 was an isolated trolley line running only on the elevated railway, with floor height platforms. This continued until at least 1896 when the available Sanborn atlas was surveyed.

You won't find this information anywhere else on the web, except in a sentence on David Pirmann's page, because I pointed out to him the Pavonia Avenue terminal map.

But how long did this last? When did through operation to street lines begin? And what about the platform height?

Some years ago, I looked at some Sanborn atlases in the Jersey City Public Library, and took photocopies of a set dated 1908 and 1909. They show the ramps. So it's before 1908.

Here's Hoboken, apparently not long after the railroad terminal burned down on August 7, 1905, showing the site of the elevated terminal. The ruins in the background are the site of the railroad terminal.

The trolley in the foreground is running on the Union Hill Line, and the one behind it is a Summit car. Both of those routes used the elevated line. So by late 1905, street lines ran on the el, and also, by this date, the small Hoboken terminal had been removed, and replaced by a street-level loop. I would guess both things happened around the same time, because more terminal space was needed.

I have narrowed the start of street lines on the el to a date between 1896 and 1905.

Three of the routes that ran on the elevated were North Hudson County Railway lines, namely the previously mentioned Union Hill and Summit lines, and the Oakland line. All of these left the structure at Palisade Avenue. 

The fourth and last line however was the Jackson Line, the only one that ran to the end of the structure at Pavonia Avenue. Jackson, known as Court House until 1909, was not a North Hudson County property. Its corporate ownership remained separate until 1903, when its owners and NHC both were acquired by Public Service Railway. Was there through service before that?

Well, that's as far as I could get in one day. One of these days maybe I'll find something that narrows down that 1896-1905 gap. They had "Red Book" street guides to Jersey City and Hudson County later on, listing streetcar routes. I don't have one handy from before 1905. I never knew I needed one.


Sunday, September 18, 2011



Last week I didn't mention something great that happened to me. I had put together a nice post about a half-assed 9/11 story, photos taken around the yard, and my experiences in Newark, and I didn't want to throw in something off-topic.

Last Sunday I ran 5 k.

I mean without stopping. I've run 3 miles in as few as two parts, with a walking break. But not without stopping.

I know, I ran the Columbia 5 k Fun Run last year, but I took walking breaks.

I set out early Sunday, and I mean like 4:30, because I am crazy. I was going to run 2 miles, break, and maybe 1 or 2 more. But some days you just feel good. Know how that is? I was running along and thinking about stuff, and didn't pay attention where I was, and then I turned my attention and thought, I must have run a mile by now. And I realized I was at 1.5 miles. Good sign. When I got to 2.0, I wasn't done, so I went for 2.5. By then I was starting to feel a little tired, but I realized I had a shot at 3.0, so I kept going. And at 3.0, I figured, just another 500 feet or so, and I can say I did 5 k. I had not measured off how much more it was to 5 k, but I knew it should be about two blocks and two streets, so I did that. Just now I measured what I ran on gmap-pedometer and it was actually 5.1 k.


You know what, if 5 k had been another couple of blocks I think I would have run that too.

Sometimes having a goal and being near it gets you to squeeze out a little extra. That's why I run specific distances I've measured out. Of course it satisfies my weird sense of order, like lining up the windows on my computer screen. I proceed as if units of 5,280 feet meant something. But when I feel a little tired, completing a specific distance gives me something to accomplish. Sometimes I would give up sooner if I were just running as long as I felt like it. Maybe having any goal is the key thing.

I don't expect to run 5 k every time. In fact the next time I ran the same route, a couple of days later, I was pretty tired at 2 miles, so I stopped there and walked a little. After all I am not out to torture myself. But it is very cool to realize that I can do 5 k, under some circumstances.

Then came Thursday morning.

I had gone to sleep Wednesday night without incident. I should mention what I ate for dinner, to show that it wasn't involved. Sauteed kale in olive oil and a little butter, and then penne with marinara and small meatballs. Notice, nothing there very chewy. I had forgotten to buy bread, so I didn't have that to bite off and chew. We're coming to why that matters.

I woke up with something very wrong on the left side of my face. It felt tight and swollen, and I realized moving my jaw hurt. The center of pain was the joint, just forward of my left ear.

It didn't make sense to me. What could have happened during the night? I don't even sleep on that side much.

I was going to be home that day anyway, because a man was coming to check and clean the oil burner that heats the house. As usual my plan was to tough it out and see if the pain went away before considering doing anything drastic, like getting medical attention. Helen said I should take an Aleve, so I did.

It got slightly better through the morning.

The oil company has some long-term veteran employees, and I got one of them. I think it speaks well of a company to have people stay with them for a long time. This guy knew his stuff. He did a real nice thorough job. He showed me how filthy the combustion chamber was, and wondered if other guys had even taken the trouble to clean it the last few years. So I spent some time talking with him. He told me how some people these days don't do honest work and so on. It took my mind off.

Lunch was an ordeal. What I had bought for myself the day before didn't require much chewing, but I still needed to break the meat into little pieces I could sort of inhale.

After that I had nothing to do, so I lay on the couch and thought about my face and jaw hurting.

At such times— when something hurts— I feel that I should curl up into a little ball and await my fate.

But then Helen called to hear about the oil burner. She also suggested that instead of curling into a ball and awaiting my fate, I might call our dentist to have the jaw checked out. Dentist. They do jaws, not just teeth. Of course I said I didn't think so.

Twenty minutes later I decided I was an idiot. Appointment made for first thing the next morning.

I still felt like curling into a little ball and awaiting my fate, but I had a goal to achieve first. I needed to hang on till I saw the dentist. I didn't want to let him down by not showing up. That's a goal. Then I could give up all hope. I would be able to postpone it.

I sent email to work saying I might be out or not depending how it went. A friend replied that I could still drink. It is good to look on the bright side. For dinner I had soup, soft noodles, and a small amount of chicken cut into pill-size pieces. And two glasses of wine.

When I woke up Friday it felt worse again. As if something happened again overnight. What am I doing? Sleepwalking and chewing on furniture?

The dentist agreed it was pretty weird for this to start overnight. He said usually it's a case of biting into something tough, like a good bagel, and you feel something snap. That's why I mentioned to you what a soft dinner I happened to have Wednesday. If it was a delayed reaction it was very delayed.

I want to run this story up to a splashy finish, but what happened is that now two days on, after taking an anti-inflammatory drug a few times and wearing a guard the dentist made to keep my jaw slightly open at night, I am just about normal again.

It would be a better story if I had to go in for emergency jaw surgery, and all my friends and relations came by the hospital to see me one last time in case I didn't make it. I could tell you things they needed to say to me while they had a chance. I would also have to throw in the scene where I ask the doctor, "Will I be able to play the piano?", and, being it's jaw surgery, he would say, "Of course!", and I could say, "That's great! I could never play before!". You put in comic relief in tense parts of a story. Then I'd pull through and people would crowd around and say I am the richest man in town.

I would sell the rights and become famous.

But, taking a few capsules and wearing a thing at night, well, that's all I've got for you really.


Sunday, September 11, 2011



I had an idea for a story that I was going to call Uprooted. I was going to use the first photograph below for it.

It was going to be a 9/11 story. A man and a woman who worked together would be walking to the Twin Towers, and they'd be pretty close when the first plane hit, and they'd experience some details of the event, and it would shake them out of their ordinary routines. They'd walk away silently, and then they'd start talking about how they felt about work and life and everything. It might turn into a love story. I never worked out exactly where it was going to go. I was starting to throw every stray idea I had into it and losing focus. I was starting to think maybe they should not even be at the event. It was too big to comprehend. They could be stuck somewhere else by the shut-down of transportation on that day. But then it didn't need to be 9/11. It could be a hurricane. Maybe it was Key Largo. I gave up.

So I'm not doing a 9/11 post this year. The media are overselling it enough this time around anyway. Maybe next year.

If you want to read something, let me direct you to a good article that was in the Star Ledger a few days ago, a rare interview with George Tabeek, who designed and implemented the extensive building security measures implemented at the WTC after the 1993 bombing. By 2001 he described the results of his work with satisfaction as "99 percent locked down", and when asked what the one percent was, he said, "a plane". Go read it. Tabeek was on the bridge over West Street when the bridge collapsed as the north tower came down. He was there. And he still feels bad that he couldn't cover that last security hole.

And back to the home front...

You're looking at the nearest tree fall to my house during Hurricane Irene. We're a few steps outside my property, which starts at the power lines (second photo), and my house is off frame to the left. The tree was tall but thin, and the winds were kind enough to make it fall parallel to the power lines where it damaged only some other trees.

These asters were bent down by the hurricane rains, but now they're among the first to flower.

The feverfew in the crack of soil next to the house has expanded.

Look, another red tomato! We haven't had to buy cherry tomatoes in quite a while.

The jungle out front.

I took a day off Friday to recover from the last two weekends. I was going to do one good deed: drive Megan to Newark Penn Station in late morning. She was going to meet some friends so they could all drive to Bethesda for the Small Press Expo. They're sharing a table. Megan has the small first printing of the School of World book (larger printing to follow).

I drove Helen to work in Newark early and came back home. My plan was to drive to Newark a second time with Megan, but then leave the car in the university lot for Helen to drive home later, and I would come back on the train and get in a little walking. That way I'd only have to make one and a half round trips driving instead of three. This would be a treat for me and help me to relax.

It turned into a thing. First Megan heard that there was a delay, so we shouldn't leave when we had planned. Not long after, we heard that they were ready to go, so I drove into Newark, and right about when we got there, came word that there was something wrong with the car they were going to use, and they'd have to get use of another one, so we should probably stay home for a few hours. Back to S O. About an hour after we got home we learned the car was OK after all. The Check Engine light had come on, but the car had been brought to a shop and was quickly taken care of, and now the car was home and all was well, and they could use it. I drove to Newark again and let her off. Now I drove the car to the lot.

So, two and a half round trips. It is still less than three round trips. Now I could relax.

I walked over to the Warren St station of the City Subway Newark Light Rail and took an outbound car. I wanted to get a look at the underside of the Central Avenue bridge to see whether I was right about the structure. The car was too crowded for me to get to a window, but I knew I could take care of that problem by riding out near the end of the line and then staking out a window position on an incoming car. I had to come back anyway.

They did a ticket check at Orange Street station. Everyone had a valid ticket, including the woman who could not remember where her pass was, and took an eternity to check every compartment of her bag and clothing until she found it. I guess they don't check too often.

I rode out to Silver Lake, one of the two new stations on the 2002 extension. I never got off there before. I walked back to the next stop. After all the upgrades of the light rail system, I found a familiar old sight at Branch Brook Park station. The little street they use as a bus loop, Ropes Place, is still paved with cobblestones as I remember it from decades ago. The street that Newark forgot? It's just across the park from the Old Road to Bloomfield, and even that has been paved within my lifetime.

Check. The underside of Central Avenue bridge bears out what I wrote. Good. Notice I did not bring a camera. If you need proof, you'll have to get out there yourself.

When I got to Penn Station, I stayed on the car and rode around the loop for the first time. It is a measure of railfan geekdom to collect rare mileage, or at least new-to-me mileage. I took the other light rail line from there to Broad Street station. The little Broad Street line, a mile long, opened in 2006.

What a boondoggle it is. With its tight curves and street crossings, there are so many speed restrictions that it has no speed advantage over bus routes. And the distance is so short that it does not attract much ridership. It now runs every 30 minutes— 30!— outside of rush hours, further discouraging riders who can find much more frequent service by bus. The car I took around three in the afternoon had four passengers. The stations (except Riverfront Stadium) are elaborate structures that would have helped far more passengers if they'd been placed at downtown bus stops. And they built a ramp for it into the subway! Even granting that the underground junction was already there, all it gets you is one block of subway running and use of the subway terminal loop. How much is that worth?

Total cost for construction: 207 million dollars. I was trying to find ridership figures, but all I can find is combined ridership for the two lines. They're probably embarrassed to publish separate figures. The old former City Subway still looks strong. There were people standing in both directions, with ten-minute headways. My spot observation in midday is that the ratio is 3 full cars with standees on the old line to 4 people on the Broad Street. That's awful. The NJ Transit page even exaggerates the frequency to Broad St as 15 minutes instead of 30, a claim easily disproved by looking at the full timetable (linked from that page).

For some reason it wasn't till I got to Broad Street that I remembered the cutbacks of a couple of years ago on the Morris and Essex mainline. All-day 30-minute frequency? What was I thinking? Well, I was lucky. It could have been worse. I only had to kill 25 minutes looking at the historical images in the station until a train would come. It was more time than I needed really, but it was a nice day and I was being calm.

When I got home I went to sleep. If you've been trying to read this, you've done that already. I'll do better next time.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Hurricane Special


While we were waiting to pick up the new TV, the musique system was playing "My Love" by Petula Clark. It sounded worse than I remember, but so it goes. Her voice is pretty nasal. No wonder they loved her in France. She recorded whole albums in French. This is one of the stupid things I happen to know. Other stuff, well, Helen amuses us sometimes by remembering things about my family that never stuck in my brain. Like a steel sieve it is. But I am already off topic.

It was a good thing I had Central Avenue Bridge all set up ahead of time or you wouldn't have had a post last week.

The reason was called Hurricane Irene.

I realize our house got off better than some. I can be a whiner.

Saturday night, back there on August 27, the rains were falling and the winds were blowing. A friend told me she was awake listening to the wind and worrying about the trees on her property, so she couldn't get to sleep until one. Well, lucky her. I slept fitfully all night.

What do people mean by wind howling? In the city we'd hear it making a high pitched noise as it whipped around the corners. That's howling, right?

That's not the sound I heard. It was more like white noise, but much louder. It was the sound of wind going through the trees. It was continuous except that from time to time it would get even louder for a few moments. Now and then I heard the crack of wood breaking. I kept listening for the deep thump of trees or large branches hitting the ground, but I never did. We've got some huge trees that are close enough to hit the house if they went down.

Around 3:30 early Sunday the power went out. This meant the sump pump went dead, and the torrential rain continued until about noon. We ended up with about three inches of water in the basement. We had about six inches from Hurricane Floyd back in 1999, so the pump must have done a good job while it could.

We figured out how to make coffee in a coffee maker by boiling water on the gas stove— lighting it with a match— and pouring it slowly like the pot would have done. Pretty tedious. The juice was still cold and we had... I forget already, look at that... something to eat.

And we managed lunch. By supper we decided not to eat in the dark. We found a restaurant open in a part of Maplewood that had power. And we went home. Helen read her Kindle for a while and Megan read a book with a flashlight. I just whined and fell into despair and lay on a couch in the dark, and soon enough it was sleepy time. And boy was I tired.

Going to work the next day was pretty much out. I couldn't take a shower— a cold shower because the water had risen enough to douse the pilot light in the water heater— until daylight. Funny how that detail seemed a deal breaker. But even more significantly, no trains were running. I'm allowed to work from home when I need to, but that required electricity.

No Internet! Whine whine whine. Ooooh.

The biggest thing I did Monday was re-light the water heater, faithfully following the directions pasted to the outside. We could wash dishes. Sweet.

Four in the afternoon. One second of electric power! A miracle! Or sweet cruelty you might say, to give and then take away so quickly. That evening I drove to the store, and went down a different road than usual, no reason, and there, a few blocks from the house, I found the cause of the problem.

The biggest tree ever had fallen completely across a main road, knocking down power lines along it. The situation as summarized by the local online group was: the town could do nothing because it was a county road ; the county could do nothing because of the live wires ; the power company could do nothing because there was a tree in the way. Or something like that. Someone said they tried re-energizing the wire and the tree started smoking. If that didn't happen, it should have happened.

I don't know how you cut apart a tree of a diameter four times the length of a chain saw. Maybe they brought in military grade lasers, because I didn't hear any explosives used, but they did something overnight, because at five Tuesday morning, BANG there was light. I don't mean the sun. I mean electrical lights.

What a fine invention electricity is.

I went to work exhausted to find some mad scramble about suddenly needing detailed data for the top dogs about something we've been working on since April. Let's say it was not the quiet week I'd been hoping for.

We did have a nice lunch together with people from one of the academic departments we support. It was postponed from Monday. This was where my friend who couldn't get to sleep until one told me she worked from home on Monday. Don't you have trees?, I asked her. I think she said she has fifty trees, but the one that fell didn't hit the house although it just missed a car, and she had power the whole time.

Not fair. Whine whine whine. Look. Trees were down all over town, there was a part of Maplewood that had no water for a while on Sunday, and a part where the power was out until Friday, and parts of other towns in the area that are still flooded as I write this. So I should shut up.

I couldn't find any time to write though.

Saturday and Sunday, we went up to Helen's parents each day to help them out. The grating in their driveway had worked in reverse and drained a creek into the driveway and from there into the basement, a foot deep. Helen's brother and sister and their partners were there too, and we all had a clean out party.

Their basement always was the mother of cluttered basements. Now it was the mother
of wet moldy cluttered basements. Adding to the fun is that half the basement has a low ceiling, only five feet clear under the main beams. I can stand up in places, but mostly, to protect myself, I walked around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, or as her brother said, we looked like extras trying out for Planet of the Apes. Once in a while one of us would forget and stand up, typically while carrying a delicate work of art, bang our head, stagger trying not to drop the art, and try to come up with an exclamation suitable for the ears of my young niece and nephew.

There were works of art. Helen's mother is a sculptor. The bronzes were OK, and the fired clay seemed to be OK. The unfired soft clay was not always OK. She has made some beautiful stuff. Even Helen thought we had not ever seen some of them. So anyway, imagine having to move an uncountable number of more or less delicate and sometimes heavy things under the conditions I have described.

In the middle of the second day my sister in law declared that she was going to call the job done in a short time. I called her the project manager. She seemed to know the most about how to clean up and organize, and it was good to have someone willing to call it. It wasn't that we had tossed out all the junk, but that we had removed everything wet and either tossed it or else dried it and put it back.

We bought two sections of plastic shelving to replace some makeshift stuff they'd been using. I give you one example. A bust of Beethoven made decades ago by Helen's mother, stored inside the wood cabinet of a 1950s vintage television set. The story is that the plaster bust had exploded when they tried to make a mold from it to cast it in bronze, so she glued it back together, and her father (Helen's grandfather) found someone who could paint it to look like it was bronze. Everything seemed to have a story.

When you are carrying something delicate, being told not to drop it does not help you not drop it. When you are trying to make a polite reply about not dropping it, that seems to take over the part of your brain that remembers why you are bent over. When you hear a quiet "watch your head" as you start to stand normally, it is much appreciated, if said in time. Beethoven is OK, nestled in his new plastic tub. I'm just saying those things because they are true.

There is now a pile of water-damaged junk by the road in front of their house, the size of a small truck. Helen's sister took pictures but I don't have them for you. The story is that the town will come take it away.

Again I was too tired to write.

But the TV died. I don't know whether it was the power going off and on a few times, or if it was just its time. On Sunday morning we found it was shorting out, turning its own power off and on, and displaying interesting line patterns on screen. We yanked the cord and put it away to await its journey to beyond on Electronics Recycling Day. It still looks beautiful.

Today, Monday, we researched what are good TVs, ordered one online and picked it up at the store. It's ten inches bigger than the old one.

Then we turned our attention to cleaning the remains of mud from our own basement. Notice our priority list. Helen didn't like the fuzzy white stuff growing on the stairs down there, or the earthy smell.

And then finally I found an hour to avoid breaking the long string of weekly posts. It was a close one! But I am going for the record books. I thought, well, it's been a hell of a week, I should be able to toss off a few 'graphs. Any kind of garbage will do: the readers can't ask for refunds if I give it out for free. That's the kind of deal we make here at World of... I have forgotten the name of my own blog. Seriously, I wrote "World of" and then it looked wrong. At least it did look wrong. I am still tired. There's a couch in my office, but they keep asking me to do things.