Hidden engineering problems & solutions

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When the Portland area Max trains opened up between Portland and Hillsboro, I became a frequent rail commuter.

Just past the Sunset stop, I remember being amused by a water sprinkler system that came on just as trains passed.  “why?” I thought.
Then, at another turn in the track, I heard the train squealing loudly.
Why do trains squeal around corners?  After thinking about it, I decided it’s because they don’t have differentials which would allow the inside wheel to turn more slowly than the outside wheel. So they go the same speed around the corner, and the squealing is the sound of metal-on-metal friction, which is inefficient, noisy, and bad for the wheels and tracks (I imagine).
Later, I noticed the sprinklers had been disconnected.  “Hmmm. They must have figured something else out”
This week, at the Beaverton Central stop (where I work), I noticed an industrial white tub being used as a trashcan. It was labeled “SoyTrack Rail Curve Lubricant”. It made me smile.

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So Heidi’s reading the Harry Potter book…

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So Heidi’s reading the Harry Potter book our USPS guy dropped off today (man, that must have been some serious logistics…).

I’m surfing the web, and thanks to metafilter, found these amazing videos of the Talking Heads, doing a concert in Rome in 1980.
What an amazing band. In 1980 they had a following, but not nearly the recognition the deserved (and later got, once they took the hint and stopped writing songs that made sense)…but their confidence and energy on the stage in 1980 is phenomenal.  They knew they were that good, and it didn’t matter whether the world had caught on or not.
This is more or less a preview of the wonderful things to come in Johnathan Demme’s wonderful movie. More raw, some of the songs are better here…some not as polished. Adrian Belew is quite a character in many of the songs.  What an amazing show.

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