Tag: commute

A Good Head of Steam

Train

Trains are pretty amazing, when you think about it.

You’ve got several tons of steel on a couple of rails, and be it through steam power or electricity, this monstrosity of metal can speed along at quite a good clip. It carries quite a few people from one place to another, more directly than some other means of transportation, isn’t as costly as air travel and, in the case of electrics, is better for the environment. Back in the days of the coal-powered locomotive, getting a decent pace going required building up what was called ‘a good head of steam.’

I feel like I’m doing that with the novel.

I have a little notebook from the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh, and it’s slowly getting filled with the ongoing adventures of Asherian and his friends. I’m currently tearing through one of the action scenes in the story, down in the dark dwarven tunnels. Character and world building has proceeded better than I thought it would so far, and hopefully the fact that none of it has felt boring to write will mean it’s not boring to read, either.

It’s due in no small part to this train, right here.

Courtesy Wikipedia

Even if I don’t transcribe my jotted narrative scribbles right away, I still have that big of internal knowledge that I’m writing every day, making progress. As the train pulls into the station, I’m building characters. As it hurtles along to its destination, I’m debating the morality of and impetus for open warefare. The train takes on more passengers as I describe subterranian spiders and the efforts of Asherian and his companions to stay alive and uneaten. It’s a lot more than I ever got done with my commute while sitting in traffic.

I hope i can keep the head of steam up for the foreseeable future. It’d be nice to finish the first draft before the Philly Writer’s Conference in June.

Changing Commute

Courtesy Wikipedia

I’m running a bit behind today. And not because of the pictured train.

No, in fact, the train might be my salvation in a variety of ways. The commute from Lansdale to Doylestown was no picnic during the lunch hour, and I suspect in morning or evening it wouldn’t be much better. My current commute is rage-inducing enough on some days, I can’t imagine taking a route that’s more circuitous with the same kind of drivers on the road.

So, I think it’s time to invest in a SEPTA pass and hop on the daily train. There are several advantages to this change, which I’ll happily list here.

Fewer Expenses

At $69 per month, the Intermediate Two-Zone Pass (which is all I need since I’m not going into the city at this point) might seem like a large expenditure up front. However, that’s about two full tanks of gas, to say nothing of wear & tear on the engine. Also, while taking the train there’s no temptation to stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Taco Bell or a Bob’s Greasy Unhealthy Meatburger Shack. That means it’s not only less expensive overall, but also healthier, and not just for me…

Greener

Along with the usual seething at people acting like jerkasses on the road, especially those in fancy cars that for some reason can only pass on the right (despite it being illegal in PA) and never seem to have working headlights, when you sit at a stop light or in traffic, you’re pumping more waste into the atmosphere. That isn’t the case with a train. It can sit at a station until the cows come home, it’s not emitting anything terribly wasteful. Sure, some bad gasses might be coming from the power plant that provides the locomotive with juice, but if I’m not sitting in traffic, I’m not adding to the problem, now am I?

More Time To Write

Ah, the big one. The one I’m really looking forward to. I spend the better part of an hour commuting every day. That length of time was only looking to get longer with the move. However, when taking the train, I’m not responsible for my transportation. The engineer, bless ’em, makes the train move and keeps their eyes on the track. That leaves me free to jot down notes, lay out the course of conversations, and maybe even write entire passages, if I should get my hands on a keyboard for the Palm I unearthed in our cleaning & packing procedure. It’s likely to be a lot less expensive than a new netbook, and much more portable than my current laptop jalopy.

Very Little Bad News

My schedule will be a bit more dictatorial in terms of when I can leave the apartment, how long I can stay on the typical work day, and needing to handle things in the middle of the day, which sometimes might require me to take the car. However, in the long run, it seems to me that the pros of this change of commute far, far outweigh the Khans cons.


I know it’s May 4th, so may the Force fourth be with you. I miss the original Star Wars, with its somewhat whimsical outlook, the simplicity of the special effects and the charm & chemistry of the cast. There was life to it, once. But I won’t bore you with the fanboyish lamentations of my abused childhood. Not when other people are doing it better than I ever could.

Like Mr. Plinkett, for example.



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