Amtrak Blues

Amtrak Blues

Here’s a letter I just sent to the Federal Railroad Administration. Hope they find it as entertaining as I think it is.


U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Grossly Inefficient service

March 27, 2021


It’s my sincere hope that a new Administration will do something to upgrade our country’s passenger rail service. No exaggeration, I wept bitter tears of envy from just watching You Tube  video of advanced rail systems around the world. Shinkansen and its ilk make my heart stop in awe and wonder. Just yesterday I found out about Acela. So USA actually has a miniscule  effort at modernization. But there’s no hint of modernization or anything like it here in Reno, Nevada.

I prefer train travel to car or plane. I don’t even need high speed. High speed would be wonderful, but all I want is a system that functions and doesn’t do to me what I endured going from Reno to Seattle.

Why does it have to be like this?

Dingy old train station in downtown Reno with noplace to park. One grouchy overworked clerk.  To go from Reno, NV to Seattle, or anyplace west of here,  one has to go through Sacramento, CA.  I guess something is perpetually wrong with the California Zephyr, as was the case every time I tried to take a train anywhere, so no chance of train travel from Reno to Sacramento. I had to take a 3 hrs 30mins bus which made every local stop in between.

Finally to Sacramento with the only good feature the wall mural which, I guess, depicts driving of the Golden Spike. Now to endure an endless wait until midnight – wondering for my safety in this part of town – sitting on miserable old uncomfortable wooden benches.

I am elderly and not very mobile. I approached one of the grouchy, overworked, personnel at the station who made it clear she had no time for me. I told her I couldn’t do the long march to the tunnels and the tracks. I saw some people on what I guess was a luggage wagon, and said could I ride that. Would she tell me how to access it.

Useless. I got a shrug and a blur as she ran off.

The train – I guess it’s the Coast Starlight –  was announced around midnight. No help anywhere. I managed a painful long shuffle to the track, lagging behind all the others. Nobody to help me hoist myself onto train. I grabbed what hardware there was by the door and managed, but it was uncomfortable and scary for me.

Then everything was fine. The ride was endless – I think over 24 hours – with countless local stops and slow, slow speed. I wonder if we ever went over 30mph. But all that was acceptable because of the comfort and many amenities.

Finally to Seattle. I had asked the conductor for help unboarding, but he was nowhere to be found, so I had to fling my bag onto the platform, then endure fear and unbalance as I got myself onto the platform.

Summary –Requests:

  1. Upgrade station houses and provide short and long term parking.
  2. Hire pleasant people. Hire enough people so they don’t get overworked. Train them in communications and customer relations.
  3. Have more frequent trains  so nobody ever again has to sit in Sacramento station for hours on end until midnight.
  4. Train all personnel to assist passengers, especially elderly like me. Teach them to listen, to respond to requests, to provide assistance as needed.
  5. Make sure somebody is on hand to help people on and off the trains.

This video is informative, but frustrating. Will Amtrak problems ever be solved?
Why The US Has No High-Speed Rail

Thank you for considering my comments.

Regards,Trish Swain

It’s About Time

It’s About Time


I think about this stuff on & off through the years: My words, not Einstein’s. But he also thought about time, didn’t he?

Young Einstein

If I go to the Past, then it is no longer the Past. It is the Present when I get there.

Once I get there, then to go back to where I started – that place exists in memory. I used to call it the Present but now that I have gone to what I used to call Past, I now call my starting place the Past. If I anticipate going back to wherever I started,  then the imagined Past is now the Future.

If I somehow get back to what I used to call the Present, I will remember my trip to the Past which makes it definitely the Past.

But if I plan to return there, then it becomes the Future.

What’s in it for Me?

  1. Does the Past exist now and can we access it? (if we had a time machine) That makes it the Present.
  2. If so, can I go back and undo big mistakes?
  3. If I go to the Past will I bring the wisdom of age – so hard won – with me? Or will I be a clueless adolescent again? At this writing I am 74. If I go back to 1973, would I be 32? Or would 74 year old me make the trip?
  4. If I long for the Past – so I can have a second chance – I don’t really want to go there if I’d be as deluded as I was at that time. I want an enhanced Present. As I dream about it, it becomes the Future.
  5. Connecticut Yankee had his knowledge with him. So for him he was simultaneously in Past and Present.
  6. If I travel to the Future, that means it already exists, so it is the Present but has been inaccessible. When I get there, what I presently call Present, becomes Past in my mind.
  7. If I leave the Future and return to the Present, then the Future is a memory and so it’s the Past.

Everybody really ought to watch IdiocracyComedy or documentary?

Time continues even if we are not conscious of its passage. For instance, we may be cryogenically stored to be revived at some future date, like Luke Wilson playing Joe Bauers in Idiocracy. Joe knows how he got there when he wakes in the Future. Is it the same for people waking from comas? Do we go someplace in our heads even then? I know my poor mother did, waking up from heart surgery because she could tell me a bit about what she was seeing. A bit of that was angels dancing in her room. Eventually she came back to full awareness as we understand it, and she didn’t like it very much by comparison. Who would?

And once the individual does “wake up” do they still think the Present is a fixed reality? Joe Bauers wants to get back to where he began, but that’s impossible so he has to settle for being President in his new Present.

The Big Picture best expressed by others

Tibetan Book of the Dead speaks for itself far better than I can. Likewise the Tibetan concept of emptiness which underlies what I’ve been saying all along. Here’s a bit of it:

Sunyata, in Buddhist philosophy, the voidness that constitutes ultimate reality; sunyata is seen not as a negation of existence but rather as the undifferentiation out of which all apparent entities, distinctions, and dualities arise.

Here is beloved teacher Losang Samten explaining
Tibetan mandalas and the Wheel of Life

Help End Wildlife Killing Contests

Help End Wildlife Killing Contests

What Are Wildlife Killing Contests?

  • Events usually sponsored by a local restaurant or bar or perhaps a national organization, typically held over a weekend. Contestants pool resources for prizes – like either cash or guns. Frequently billed as a family event which involves children
  • Contestants spend a day or several days searching and destroying as many animals as they can. Frequently calling devices are used which mimic calls such as a pup in distress, which lures usually cautious coyotes
  • Coyotes are the most frequent victims. In Nevada, they have Unprotected status which means they can be killed anywhere anytime – no limitations.
  • The dead carcasses are hauled into the meeting place on the last evening. They are weighed and prizes awarded for categories such as largest, smallest, most killed, etc. Then food and festivity.

About Wildlife Killing Contests in Nevada

The National Coalition to end Wildlife Killing Contests is making phenomenal progress nationwide. Working with local activists, the Coalition has successfully enacted prohibitions on killing contests in seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington.

Spurred by this momentum, here in Nevada, on March 2, 2021, the Clark County Commission unanimously approved a resolution condemning these horrific events. This boosts our ongoing efforts to achieve a Nevada ban.

And due to efforts of Reno Councilperson Naomi Duerr and to our Fauna Tomlinson, the Reno City Council will vote Sep. 8, 2021 on a proposed resolution supporting a ban on wildlife contests! The resolution will honor the late Norm Harry, a noted advocate for the wild.

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners (NBWC)is taking cautious steps toward perhaps someday voting on a prohibition. They rejected petitions from wildlife activists in 2015 and 2016, despite a tremendous turnout from our side, standing in line to testify.

But this June the Board, with different membership, agreed to discuss the matter further. They needed to see a list of our objections because some of them couldn’t fathom why anybody would object! Below are some of the fundamental reasons we find killing contests heinous, uncivilized, brutal and cruel. You are welcome to use these as talking points in your comments to NBWC.

Friday August 6, 2021 NBWC held a virtual meeting. Unfortunately they are still grappling with the question and put further discussion off to some cloudy future. Stay tuned; any new developments will be on this page and in the Nevada Wildlife Watchers Newsletter.

Suggested Talking Points

Visit Project Coyote for complete information, watch their film, and sign the petition!

  • Coyote populations have a rebound effect. The more killed, the more will be born. They have expanded their range despite efforts to cull their numbers.
  • It is not Fair Chase to use electronic calling devices, snares, and powerful guns to kill animals.
  • Children are exposed to violence and disrespect for animals.
  • These contests are giving Nevada’s hunting community and her residents a bad reputation.
  • As more states ban the contests, predator hunters are flocking to Nevada to enter killing contests.
  • More shooters on the loose pose danger to the public.
  • Randomly killing wild carnivores will not prevent conflicts with livestock and will not increase numbers of deer or other game for hunters.
  • Coyotes are essential to the ecosystem as rodent control and scavengers. 
  • The myth of the evil coyote is folklore believed by generations. An animal is not “evil” because it is a predator. For that matter, coyotes are omnivores, eating many foods in addition to meat.
  • Contrary to the myth of the evil coyote, the majority of the public admire the intelligence, agility, adaptability and iconic sound of the “Song Dog”.
  • Peaceful co-existence with coyotes can be achieved through simple precautions in suburban and rural locations.
  • There have only been two recorded incidences in the United States and Canada of humans being killed by coyotes. One involved a child in Southern California in the 1980s and the other a 19-year old woman in Nova Scotia in 2009.

Page Two: Warning! Disturbing Photos of Coyote Killing Contests. And even more outrageous – Disrespectful, mocking lingo used by participants.