Garl Latham

I’m saddened to report that long-time passenger rail advocate, Garl Latham, has died.

Although it would be presumptious of me to say that I was his friend, I met him several times at various TXARP meetings in both Dallas and Fort Worth; and I was looking forward to seeing him again a couple of weeks ago at a conference in Fort Worth that I couldn’t attend.  Garl greeted me personally on my first arrival at the current Amtrak station in Fort Worth, and I met him on his first arrival at the current station in St. Louis.

Garl was a deeply religious person, but apparently one who took Matthew 6:5-6 to heart.  I knew him as a very humble and caring person who never threw his religion in your face.  Our discussions were all about trains, and I learned a great deal from them.

My heart goes out to Garl’s family and close associates.  I know he’ll be missed…heck, I miss the thought of his being around, and I was never more than on his periphery.

It Never Changes

I read this morning:

… wisdom and virtue are by no means the sole objects of respect; nor vice and folly, of contempt.  We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the virtuous.  We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent.

— Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, p.74

No change for almost three centuries, and I’d guess much longer than that.

I Voted

This boomer always votes in every election, even for the mythical “dog catcher”…civic duty don’tcha know.  Today was easy since there were only two items on my ballot.

1. An additional 3% sales tax on recreational, not medical, marijuana.

I have nothing against marijuana; indeed, I used it myself when I was much younger; but I often vote for taxes just to counter the votes of folks who automatically vote “no” on any question that has “tax” in it.  Yeah, sales taxes are regressive; but folks who have actual prescriptions won’t have to pay it.

2. Lindbergh School Board — five candidates for three positions.

School board elections are important, and not entirely because we want to keep fundies off of them.  I voted for an actual teacher who has endorsements from organizations with “equity” in their names, a guy who uses various versions of “inclusive” among his issues, and a guy who likes teachers and thinks that they should get a raise.  I declined to vote for a “human resources” manager (don’t get me started) and a guy with “parental rights” as one of his issues (possibly a dog whistle about cancelling non-cis-het folks and removing from the history curriculum any mention of race).

More on My Aborted Trip

We can’t blame Amtrak for this one.  The storm damage in Little Rock would almost certainly have caused the Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the tracks that the Texas Eagle uses between Joliet, IL and Dallas, TX, to tell Amtrak not to send the train.  (Superliner rolling stock has a pretty high profile and can be blown over in extremely high winds more easily than single-level equipment can.)

I had actually shown up at the Amtrak station way early to beat the rains that were headed my way.  I had a sleeper ticket on the train, so I had access to the first-class lounge; and I wrote what would have been my day-zero trip report while I was there:

2023-03-31 13:20

Now begins my trip to Hurst, TX for the Southwestern Rail Conference 2023.  Although the venue is called the Hilton Garden Inn Dallas, it’s actually closer to Fort Worth.


I’m way early for 21’s departure, but the storm that hit California the other day is now bearing down on me, and I wanted to beat the rain.  There’s still over six hours until we start boarding; but since I’m in the sleeper, I get to use the first-class lounge.

I’m leaving a day early, and returning a day late, because I couldn’t get sleeper space on the Texas Eagle on the days that I wanted to travel, probably because other conference attendees were quicker making reservations than I was.  Fortunately, the folks at the meeting hotel gave me the conference rate for both extra days.

I finally got my BU-353N GPS receiver that plugs into a USB port on my laptop, and I’ve verified that I can see my current location using mapping software called Maptitude, but I haven’t tried it out while moving yet…we’ll see how well it works.  Like on my recent trip to Seattle, I also have my Oticon TV Adapter 3.0 which will plug into the earphone jack on my scanner and generate a bluetooth signal that feeds my hearing aids, so this train geek will be able to listen to the conversations between the conductors, engineers and dispatchers without disturbing any other passengers.

I have room D in both directions, so the electrical outlet will be near the window, and I’ll need only the power strip with the surge protector and four-foot cord on the train; but I’m bringing along the power strip with a longer cord just in case there’s no place to plug in the laptop near the desk in the hotel room where I’ll be using it.  (That was the case with the the first place I stayed in Seattle which seemed like it was designed by marketeers instead of hospitality folks.)

Even though we should depart with about four hours left in day zero, I’ll use the day-one report for the whole train trip.  I expect to be in my hotel room by late afternoon tomorrow, or maybe early evening, depending on how late the train is.

According to, so far this year train 21’s arrival into Fort Worth has averaged a bit less than half an hour early.  Here’s my own analysis with some abecedarian statistics.  Three no-data days are probably due to Amtrak’s server failure.

It turns out that the train actually made it as far as St. Louis, but terminated there.

I suppose that there are other ways that I could have gotten to Forth Worth, but taking an overnight bus trip (St. Louis’ Amtrak and Greyhound stations are in the same building) didn’t seem like something I’d want to do, and lots of flights would probably have been cancelled as well.  The very nice woman at the Amtrak ticket counter offered me a family room on today’s (Saturday’s) train; and since I was a day early anyway, I still would have made it to Texas in time for the meeting; but I declined because I worried that that train would be cancelled as well, although it appears that it’s running.  (21 is sitting in St. Louis as I write this, and Amtrak’s status page shows an estimated arrival in Forth Worth for tomorrow…no service disruption yet.)

Oh, well.  There’s a chance that the conference might be just feel-good speeches with not a lot of data anyway.  Attending it was mostly an excuse to ride the train.