I work with interesting people

They remind me daily to enjoy each moment. They don’t often think about what’s going to happen in the future. They don’t think a lot about the past either. I’m very fortunate to be reminded so often. It’s a crucial skill for a happy life – stay in the moment. Be present. Pay attention. Appreciate what you’re doing and the people you’re with and the place where you are. What a treat. They have so much to teach.

One of the guys I work with is 12 years old and loves to swim outdoors. The outdoor pool opened at ACAC on April 1. His enthusiasm is infectious. Yesterday (16 April) was our first opportunity. We took it. It was sparkling clear out, sunny, breezy, 68º. Which if you’re dry is a very pleasant temperature. And the water in that pool is pleasant as can be. I would guess 80º or higher. Really, really comfortable. We jumped in and swam for a long time. He would have stayed until dark. Finally we got out. It was startling. But very, very invigorating – let’s just say it reminded you just how alive you are. Wow. Thanks buddy – I would never have done it without you. Look how beautiful that pool is:

Swimming outdoors in April! WOW!

Another guy I work with loves trains. I love trains too but I wouldn’t really take the time to look at them. But together we found an incredible place where CSX freight trains stop for extended periods and you can walk right up to them. I get to take some fun pictures. We see trains down there nearly every week. I got this shot a couple weeks ago.


If you’re interested, this locomotive (CSX #590) is a GE AC4400CW. 4,400 HP. A typical train down there has two of these on the front pulling ~100 loaded aluminum coal hoppers. Each hopper holds ~100 tons of coal. 10,000 total tons of coal on each of those trains. They’re typically on their way to Newport News. I think they export a lot of that coal.

It’s easy to find the locomotive type. There’s a website called rrpicturearchives.net. You just look up the locomotive number and it tells what it is. Then google it (or look it up in wikipedia). It’s fun if that’s what you’re into. As I said, a couple of guys I work with are seriously interested in trains. So I look them up and learn about them and tell the guys all about them. It’s an education for all of us. I also have a fascinating collection of essays by John McPhee called Uncommon Carriers. It contains an essay called Coal Train. McPhee rides a coal train just like one of these from the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming to a power plant in Georgia. I read another book called Coal Trains – The History of Railroading and Coal in the United States. So I can tell these guys great stories about the trains they’re seeing. It’s just so much fun.

In other news (mentioned in an earlier post), Alex brought home a great new cat earlier this week. His name is Sinatra because of his lovely blue eyes. We’ve had him shut in a bathroom for the first few days so he could get acclimated to the sounds and smells and rhythms of our home. This afternoon we brought him out to the den and put him in a big cage so the other animals could check him out and so he could check them out. He is making himself at home very, very quickly. He’s only a year old or so. Friendly and well-mannered and an intelligent, fast learner. We’re now up to three cats and four dogs – I think that’s our limit! But Sinatra’s a great guy. Here’s a picture from this afternoon. In a second. I’m also going to use this to demonstrate what is (to me, to my inner nerd) the “miracle” of retouching a digital photo. The flash was on so Old Blue Eyes became “Old Red Eyes” in the first shot. I used a very simple feature from the software that came with the camera to correct it. Look at the second shot. Incredible. Anyway, take it easy, have a great day,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
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2 Responses to I work with interesting people

  1. Grace says:

    Did you see the sign on the train? The way it is photographed it reads, “WATCH OUR STEP”. Great shot of the engine. I feel like I am about to be run over by your blog-very cool.

  2. Yes – that rail blocks out the “Y” and turns it from the 2nd person plural to the 1st person plural. Who knew?

    The engine was stopped there – it’s double track and they’re always sitting there idling. There’s an asphalt car crossing right there in front of where they stop. I can put my camera right on the ground and fold out the view finder and take cool shots like that. It is so much fun.

    I talked with an engineer one time. There’s a pretty narrow rail yard called Fulton Yard a couple miles down. It’s full a lot. And they don’t like to leave those heavy trains sitting on the viaduct for a long time. So they let them wait up there for the yard to clear out.

    Anyway, have a great day,


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