Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ends and Odds, 4

The Curious Case of the Time-Traveling Meat

Last week I bought some deli-style lunch meat for sandwiches, including a couple of packages of roast beef because I prefer beef over ham or turkey.

Yesterday I finally opened one of the packages of roast beef only to notice that the sell-by date on the package said 2010. I looked at that, and I looked at the meat. As a rule I don't take a chance on eating six-year-old lunch meat -- it's a thing. But as a rule I don't expect six-year-old lunch meat to not be green and fuzzy.

I sniffed the meat. It smelled like fresh roast beef lunch meat should.

And I decided that somehow the package got misdated at the packaging plant, and I went ahead and had my sandwich.

This was yesterday. Nothing uncomfortable has happened since then. Everything I've sent through the digestive tract has traveled in the intended direction and at the intended speed.

I think I may have guessed right about that sell-by date. And I think I'll have another sandwich.

The Curious Case of the Non-Traveling Freight Train

The CSX main line through our general area is mostly single-track, with occasional sidings. It's a busy line, so it's not unusual to see a train waiting on a siding for an oncoming train to clear the track ahead before it continues on its way.

What's less usual is to see a freight train waiting smack-dab on a stretch of single-track line. Today it was a northbound Tropicana train (southeastern trainspotters will know what that means), stopped about 100 yards short of the one major at-grade crossing outside of the next town -- well short of where it could have entered the siding that runs alongside the main line, as sidings do, through the town (where most crossings are not at-grade).

Thing is, some trains are too long for the sidings. So they have to wait on the single-track until the oncoming train can get onto the siding, clearing the main line ahead.

Makes you wonder why CSX doesn't just double-track the line between the two sidings this Tropicana freight was waiting between.


  1. I think the railroad makes single tracks to make life interesting, and it certainly does for the railroad crews. BTW, I'm backwoods conservative, but I can't get the format you're using to say that.

  2. Well, right-of-way and materials probably matter, and they're able to get by with it as long as no trains are too long for the spaces between sidings.

  3. I have a job shuttling Norfolk Southern crews around, and I get to hear the chatter between dispatchers and crews about who has to wait for who. Usually it's a matter of which train has the hottest delivery time. NS doesn't usually have any problem with a train being too long, but I've heard it can happen between Spartanburg and Columbia.