Lionel Trains Warehouse Sale – Charlotte, NC

Well, this is the weekend of the big warehouse sale up at Lionel Trains’ headquarters up in Concord, North Carolina, just on the north side of Charlotte. I believe this is only the second year that Lionel has done this. More importantly, it is the first time I have attended. The sale goes on Saturday and Sunday, the 4th & 5th, but Lionel Collector Club of America (LCCA) members get in early on Friday night. Nice to be able to get in a bit earlier, though it is still quite crowded.

Little did I know that there is also a Lionel retail shop on site. Those pictures above that are all nice and tidy (the last 6) are the shop. The shop isn’t huge and by no means carries the full range of Lionel merchandise, but it is nice, friendly, and well worth the visit.

I won’t tell you how much money I spent, heck I am still trying not to let myself know, but there were some great deals to be had. Sections of curved FasTrack were only a dollar each, and straights were two dollars. There were random un-boxed cars, mint in every way except missing their boxes, for just $10. Suffice it to say that I stocked up on all sorts of stuff. But hey, I needed it all, right?

I must also mention how nice everyone was. From the Lionel folks working the sale to the collectors, kids, and other shoppers, everyone was smiling, pleasant, helpful and just having a good time. These are toys after all!

So, to some up, I think I have a new must-attend event and perhaps a new kickoff to the holiday train season. Now to see if I can make it to York next year …

Trains, Model RR, Hobbies ,

Sunday without a Net

I am cutting the cord – at least on Sunday. Well, every Sunday. I spend on average at least 10 to 12 hours per work day on the computer. On the weekends, I spend less time than that, but still far too much. cut the cord on SundayI need to regain control of my life. This means no more Internet on Sundays.

The first Sunday without Internet was two weeks ago and it went surprisingly well. No withdrawal symptoms, no website collapse, not even any missed deals on Amazon or eBay. What did happen is that time came back for reading real paper books, for writing with pen and paper, for working on the cars disassembled in the garage, and for baking. Yes, tomorrow there will be breakfast cooked before church and then eggnog rum bread baked in the afternoon. Read more »

Family and Friends, General , ,

Friends – Something To Be Thankful For

Our world is built upon the lives of those we have known. They are all there in the earth and the sky and the oceans. But friends, friends are something more. They are the parts we have chosen to include, specifically picked out to construct our homes in this world. Old friends are implanted so deeply in our hearts that they make up the mortar of our lives. And even if now, they are removed, the structure, the presence they helped to create. remains intact.

In this time of thankfulness, I give thanks for all the friends I have had over the years. Some are new and still developing while others are old and comfortable. Sadly there are those who are no longer with me due to distance or change of heart or life’s passing, but I give thanks for them all.

Family and Friends ,

Bluetooth Model Train Control

OK train people, I haven’t written much about model trains recently, but this Kickstarter project is very interesting. Basically, this small board which would be added into the model locomotive would enable you to control your trains via a Bluetooth device such as an Apple or Android phone.

BlueTooth Control

As much as other hobbies have advanced over the years, model trains have gotten a bit stuck. Or maybe we should say “derailed”? Anyway, the trains are still, for the most part, controlled via power and signals over the track. This is often called driving the track instead of driving the train. While DCC helps with that, it still relies on the track for the power and the computer signal to reach the train. The goal everyone would like to get to would be for the track to be support only, as they are in real life, with power and controls coming from the locomotive itself.

Read more »

DCC and Computer Control, Trains, Model RR, Hobbies , , ,

Review: Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins

I kept having to stop while reading “Not Without My Father” by my friend Andra Watkins. I kept having to stop and think. I was thinking of my own father and other people in my life who I have taken for granted or not spent the time with that I should.

Not Without My Father by Andra WatkinsWhile there are quite a few good laughs in this book, it is not a bouncy rainbows and unicorns type family story. It is an honest look at a hard personal journey of discovery and connections that is mirrored through the author’s own person journey to walk the Natchez Trace. Her father accompanies her on that walk, via comfortable car of course, to guide, protect and promote her. As any dad should. But this is not so easy a relationship. Along the way old wounds are revealed and feelings left unsaid, both good and bad, are voiced. And then there is mom. Mom throws a whole different spice into the brew.

As I read “Not Without My Father” I thought about my dad. And just as importantly I thought about both my son and daughter. I had to pause to wonder what baggage I was leaving them with, and what tools as well to help them on their journey. Were the experiences I shared with my family, all of my family, what I really wanted to leave them with? And most importantly, had I been present in their lives? Was I there, paying attention, and participating? Read more »

Books & Book Reviews, Family and Friends , , ,