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Old 01-04-2012, 10:19 PM   #46
GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes
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Drive at Ludicrous Speed!
They just didn’t have that feature installed on these particular busses

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Awesome picture! We drove through Shenandoah last year and really enjoyed the scenery there. Even though it was March and none of the trees had leaves yet.
It is certainly beautiful country

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So nobody wanted to watch "Speed"?

That might have been good, but no one thought to bring that one.


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I've driven through Virginia, and yeah...that's how it looks.
We have a confirmation.

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You sure about that?
In mixed company… yah, I’m sure

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I thought he was trying to be a superhero. But he might want to turn around if he wants to stop the bus.
Your young’ens already have a valid clam on that title (acquired back in Chicago) so I suppose it’s just as well.

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I seem to watch that part in dusty rooms for some reason.
Yah… that explains it.


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And I could have taken you to an awesome Philly cheese steak place if you'd stopped in Delaware. Just sayin'.
And I’d have taken you up on it, but I didn’t get a say in route plan (and we were trying to avoid as much heavy traffic as possible)

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Although that's not a bad backup plan.
It’s edible enough.

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Did you suddenly start craving Pepsi and decide buy a Prius?
“Not likely Mate”

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I can vouch for the fact that the Susquehanna is indeed pretty scenic. Nice view at the I-95 crossing as well.
I need to put together a road trip of my own, but It’s gonn’a have to wait foe a while yet.


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Barry welcomed you to civilization, and then you left it so quickly...


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My wife and daughter are in California right now, having gone to the Rose Bowl Parade yesterday. It's interesting to see this in a "behind the scenes" context.
You need to add a bonus feature to you current TR about their experiences on that one (or have them start their own TR on the trip)

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Wow! There's like, room to walk and everything!
Believe me when I say that was actually a luxury.
We are absolutely starved for space back at school.


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I remember one band/chorus trip when we had a massive water-gun/water balloon battle raging in the hotel. The chaperones may have been involved.
I had a similar experience during the one and only long trip that my band was allowed back in the day. Compared to me these kids are civilized.

It’s almost scary.


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NY looks more orange than I expected.
That’s just your “imaginary nation”… or it might be that same “gold hue” I encountered in my other TR that occurs when I forget to raise the flash and don’t have enough light.


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Ditto

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Oh man, I feel your pain. My job is the same way--I feel like we bust our butts doing tasks that end up being a complete waste of time, over and over again. Sorry you were put in that situation. I feel your pain.
Like I said to Andy a bit ago… I suspect that entirely too many of us regular Joes understand situations like this all too well.



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Hey, I like the idea that your son is 16. I had two boys who were once that age...they are now almost 26 (gulp) and 23. I remember the teen years, fondly (most of the time).
Good! Then you can tell me whenever I’m fowling up.

Oh and



Officially!
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:00 PM   #47
GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes
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Chapter 2: Rock This Town
(Day 2 - Tuesday)




Part 1: If You Show Me Yours…










Tuesday morning arrived with the same rain, fog and generally miserable conditions that we encountered during the drive up. Our window on the world should have had an excellent view of mid-town Manhattan, but the conditions ensured that to us it still looked like this…





Believe it or not… there are a whole lot of skyscrapers buried in the midst of all that grey muck there on the horizon. We just weren’t going to be able to see them from here for another day or so. The forecast was for conditions to actually get worse across the day, but this mess was also supposed to start breaking up tomorrow and completely clear up by Thanksgiving morning. Since it could just as easily have been the other way around, we counted out blessings and resolved to deal with the rain and cold as best as we could (like there was really any other choice in the first place).

The kids were up fairly early to eat breakfast and then head outside to rehears for the better part of the morning. We were looking forward to doing some sightseeing later on but since this was still a “working vacation”, the work part has to come first. Just before heading down to join the rest of the adults for some breakfast we could hear folks practicing down in the parking lot, so I took a look out to see what they were working on…





Guess what…that’s not our kids. Remember when I said that there were a lot more busses in the lot the night we arrived? Well as it turns out there were two other bands staying in the same hotel at the time. Imagine the nightmarish thoughts that must have been going through the minds of the folks who work in guest services in the hotel. “The good news is that there won’t be 250 kids staying a week; the bad news is that it will be somewhere between 700 and 800 teenagers in the same confined space instead”. Well… it wasn’t as bad as that really. One group loaded up and moved on to a different hotel early that morning (dropping the number of rogue teens down to about 500), but the other group, Legacy HS from Broomfield, CO (just north of Denver) would be staying here with us for the rest of the week. Their schedule for the day had them getting started a little before out kids and that actually caused a slight problem this particular morning.

The other group was supposed to be using the main dinning room on the top floor for meals and meetings while we were in charge of the ballroom down in the basement. Signals got crossed, the folks from Colorado ended up down stairs first, and the staff didn’t notice the difference (I mean, how would they know… they were expecting a large group of teenagers and that’s exactly what showed up). No biggie… we just swapped spots that morning and had to pass the word to anyone that was seen heading in the wrong direction. Later on that day the various directors and staff got together and straightened that snafu out so all was normal and went as expected for the rest of the stay.

Plans altered, info passed, we headed up to the twelfth floor to have breakfast and about the time we sat down our kids were also outside in the far corner of the parking lot warming up…





After some eggs and plenty of bacon, we dropped back by our room to let the girls finish getting ready and grab the coats and bags we’d be needing for the rest of the day. It was right about here that our young’ens started heading down toward the main lot for their turn to practice their parade routines in the larger space.





The interesting thing about that picture is the number of kids in tee-shirts, shorts and pajamas (including Max in the white shirt a little to the right of center in this image… at least he was wearing sweatpants rather then shorts). The folks that plan the parade made a special point to “remind” the two groups form the Deep South (that would be us and a school from Homewood Alabama) that it actually does get cold in New York (wow, really?) and we should ensure that the kids dress warmly.

Dress warmly?


Look folks… we have winter too; there’s just very little snow and the temperature swings more wildly during a typical day. We can’t get out kids to wear or carry a coat to save our lives. They just grit their teeth early in the day so that they don’t have to carry extra stuff around in the afternoon. A thirty-five degree morning will see our youngsters at every bus stop along the way with nothing more substantial then a hoodie (and some of them wearing flip-flops as well). Being as this is the case, our headstrong brood was out there on a wet forty-ish degree morning in their regular attire. The hotel staff though we were insane… the kids however were completely nonplused by the conditions.

At this point the two bands decided to play a little game of “if you show me yours… I’ll show you mine”. OK… all you concerned parents out there can calm down… I’m talking about the different parade routines (you need to get you minds out of the gutter there). Since they were there first, Legacy performed first. Then the two groups switched spots and we returned the favor before the other group heading off on their excursions for the day.






Another shot showing Max among his cohorts waiting for the next order
(white shirt just ahead of the sousaphone in the middle line there).




Once “Show and Tell” was over the folks from the Fount Range hopped on their collect of busses and departed for adventures unknown and our kids got down to work. Here’s a vid of one of those practice runs (and remember that I was seven stories up and listening to this through the sealed glass of our room at the time)





Meanwhile, back up in Room-630… Once the lady folk had everything organized for the day we headed on down to watch the rest of the rehearsal as the kids worked on various spots in the routine (well… there wasn’t much else to get into in beautiful scenic Hasbrouck Heights at this time of the day).





You may notice in that last image that the adults are all wearing coats. Like I said, it wasn’t that cold to us really and granted that the kids were working at the time, but the grownups are no longer worried about looking cool or proving how tough we are (that stuff gets old after a few years, and the teens know far more about life then we will ever hope to anyway, so we really can’t expect them to listen to us).

After working on the “official show” for a good while, they then set about practicing the pieces that would be played during the actual marching part of the parade.








So… what’s the difference? Well, I may have explained this earlier, but the bit that get’s shown in television is different form what gets played during the rest of the parade. Macys & NBC want an exclusive début of that first piece on a live feed and they don’t want any recorded performances prior to that début. So you have to play something else on the actual route. The other rule it that you can’t play “Christmas” music, because the holidays don’t start until St Nick arrives in Harold Square. Some bands got around this restriction by playing “winter” music that was not specifically Christmas oriented (say like: “Winter Wonderland”). Our directors chose three of the tunes that we normally play in the stands during ballgames that also generally get good crowd response (“Louie, Louie”, “Hay Baby” and “Money, Money”). The idea was to create more of a party atmosphere for the people watching along the route. The kids all know these tunes already (which is an added benefit) and as it turns out, the crowds along the way really did respond very well to these choices.

After working through the parade tunes for a while the kids were dismissed to stow their gear and grab whatever they wanted to bring along for the rest of the day. By now our fearless drivers had the busses warming up in the bull pen…






…and in just a few minutes we load up and finally head into town. You still couldn’t see Manhattan through all the gloom and low clouds covering the area, but we knew it was over there somewhere. It was time to go hunt it down.









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Old 01-09-2012, 03:36 PM   #48
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Our window on the world should have had an excellent view of mid-town Manhattan, but the conditions ensured that to us it still looked like this…
Quite... breathtaking???

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Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
(like there was really any other choice in the first place).
Mother nature isn't very good about taking requests.

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but since this was still a “working vacation”, the work part has to come first.


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Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Imagine the nightmarish thoughts that must have been going through the minds of the folks who work in guest services in the hotel. “The good news is that there won’t be 250 kids staying a week; the bad news is that it will be somewhere between 700 and 800 teenagers in the same confined space instead”.
Even worse, just think of some random person who was actually paying money to stay in that same hotel.

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The other group was supposed to be using the main dinning room on the top floor for meals and meetings while we were in charge of the ballroom down in the basement. Signals got crossed, the folks from Colorado ended up down stairs first, and the staff didn’t notice the difference (I mean, how would they know… they were expecting a large group of teenagers and that’s exactly what showed up).
Oh no!!! Did they eat all your bacon???

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Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
After some eggs and plenty of bacon
That's a relief. At least they didn't order the continental breakfast.

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The folks that plan the parade made a special point to “remind” the two groups form the Deep South (that would be us and a school from Homewood Alabama) that it actually does get cold in New York (wow, really?) and we should ensure that the kids dress warmly.
Did they remember to speak loud and slow when they gave those reminders?

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Dress warmly?
Yep, overrated.

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Being as this is the case, our headstrong brood was out there on a wet forty-ish degree morning in their regular attire. The hotel staff though we were insane… the kids however were completely nonplused by the conditions.
Eh, I've been known to go outside in a T-shirt with snow on the ground. Depends on how hard the wind's blowing and whether or not you're moving. I actually think it makes sense for them to be a bit underdressed while marching. Once you get hot and sweat it really does get cold.

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(well… there wasn’t much else to get into in beautiful scenic Hasbrouck Heights at this time of the day).
Well, I guess you're allowed to watch now that you have all your work done for the day.

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After working through the parade tunes for a while the kids were dismissed to stow their gear and grab whatever they wanted to bring along for the rest of the day. By now our fearless drivers had the busses warming up in the bull pen…






…and in just a few minutes we load up and finally head into town. You still couldn’t see Manhattan through all the gloom and low clouds covering the area, but we knew it was over there somewhere. It was time to go hunt it down.
Woohoo! Sightseeing time!
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:56 PM   #49
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Those Colorado bacon thieves. Luckily for peaceful coexistence you got to eat their bacon.

The band sounded and looked good. This is a life-time memory making trip for them.
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:38 PM   #50
Captain_Oblivious
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Part 1: If You Show Me Yours…


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Tuesday morning arrived with the same rain, fog and generally miserable conditions that we encountered during the drive up. Our window on the world should have had an excellent view of mid-town Manhattan, but the conditions ensured that to us it still looked like this…
Welcome to New Jersey!

Don't feel bad. We went to the Statue of Liberty last year, which was even closer to the city, and had this view of the majestic skyline:



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Since it could just as easily have been the other way around, we counted out blessings and resolved to deal with the rain and cold as best as we could (like there was really any other choice in the first place).
It's just as well. They don't control the weather like Disney does.

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We were looking forward to doing some sightseeing later on but since this was still a “working vacation”, the work part has to come first.
So you needed a vacation from your vacation?

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“The good news is that there won’t be 250 kids staying a week; the bad news is that it will be somewhere between 700 and 800 teenagers in the same confined space instead”.


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Being as this is the case, our headstrong brood was out there on a wet forty-ish degree morning in their regular attire. The hotel staff though we were insane… the kids however were completely nonplused by the conditions.
...pharmacies in SC reported an uptick in orders for antibiotics later in the week.

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You may notice in that last image that the adults are all wearing coats. Like I said, it wasn’t that cold to us really and granted that the kids were working at the time, but the grownups are no longer worried about looking cool or proving how tough we are (that stuff gets old after a few years, and the teens know far more about life then we will ever hope to anyway, so we really can’t expect them to listen to us).


I believe I have reached that point where I am no longer cool, and don't really care. It started when I found myself unable to identify any songs on the radio.

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Our directors chose three of the tunes that we normally play in the stands during ballgames that also generally get good crowd response (“Louie, Louie”, “Hay Baby” and “Money, Money”). The idea was to create more of a party atmosphere for the people watching along the route. The kids all know these tunes already (which is an added benefit) and as it turns out, the crowds along the way really did respond very well to these choices.
Sounds like a good choice. Much better than the theme from Platoon (which I have heard at a halftime show before).

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…and in just a few minutes we load up and finally head into town. You still couldn’t see Manhattan through all the gloom and low clouds covering the area, but we knew it was over there somewhere. It was time to go hunt it down.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:51 PM   #51
GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes
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Quite... breathtaking???
Quite

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Mother nature isn't very good about taking requests.
A lesson we would continually re-learn.

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Even worse, just think of some random person who was actually paying money to stay in that same hotel.
Most of them never even saw us. I was going to save this for latter on, but at breakfast on the Friday before we left for home, I was chatting with several of the hotel staff. I offered up a proper thanks for their hard work, and noted that we appreciated them for putting up with such a large group of young’ens. They collectively responded that we were actually very easy to deal with. They also noted that during our stay they had fewer complaints about noise or behavior then they otherwise would receive during a normal week of operations. I’ll elaborate a bit more on this later on, but I have to say that I was very proud of all the kids.

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Did they remember to speak loud and slow when they gave those reminders?
I’m sure they would have, but being uncertain as to weather or not we actually had working telephones, they wisely chose to communicate their concerns via the US Post. Here’s a piece of the letter that we received…


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Yep, overrated.
Indeed.

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Well, I guess you're allowed to watch now that you have all your work done for the day.
For the time being anyway…


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Those Colorado bacon thieves. Luckily for peaceful coexistence you got to eat their bacon.

Direct result of folks not paying attention. Adapt and move on. We didn’t have any other problem the rest of the week. That says good things about the kids from the great west as well.


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Originally Posted by cj9200 View Post
The band sounded and looked good. This is a life-time memory making trip for them.

Thanks. I’m pretty sure that this is a story they’ll all be telling their kids about.



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I wondered if anyone would pick up on that title.

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Welcome to New Jersey!

Don't feel bad. We went to the Statue of Liberty last year, which was even closer to the city, and had this view of the majestic skyline:


Wow… I see the outlines of actual buildings! (sort’a ) So that what it was supposed to look like.
(and another great Oblivious Family Portrait)

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It's just as well. They don't control the weather like Disney does.
That Maniacal Mouse…
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So you needed a vacation from your vacation?
I could use a permanent one, but I’ve become rather accustomed to what salary I have left.
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I’m sure that was pretty much their initial reaction.

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...pharmacies in SC reported an uptick in orders for antibiotics later in the week.
Actually, it was me that caught a cold toward the end of the week.

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I believe I have reached that point where I am no longer cool, and don't really care. It started when I found myself unable to identify any songs on the radio.
I dwell in this same cave.

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Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
Sounds like a good choice. Much better than the theme from Platoon (which I have heard at a halftime show before).
Wow… an interesting choice I must say.
Our competition shows tend to be original works for this very reason. It’s harder to apply a preconceived idea of what the music should sound like of what message it should convey. I’ll demonstrate that in a couple of upcoming “flashbacks”




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Woohoo! Sightseeing time!
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And I’ll be getting to it in the near… but first I think I feel a Bonus Feature may be on the horizon.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:03 AM   #52
GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes
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If it’s still here tomorrow… I may ignore it again
 
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Bonus Feature 2:





Your Charabanc Awaits…













A bus… is a bus… is a bus… right?

Well… actually no. It depends on what job said vehicle is doing at the time (and its configuration as well) that determines whether it’s actually even a “bus” at all.




OH Noooooooooooooo!
It’s a Bonus Feature!!!!!!








That is a correct observation, and… I’d advise you go watch reruns of the Simpsons rather then spend time reading the rest of this post. But… we spent a lot of time on “busses” and most of the folks reading this will also have spent a lot of time on “busses” in their travels around “The World”. That being the case, I thought that a closer look at his humble mode of transportation was in order.



So what exactly is a bus? That seems simple enough and a quick perusal of the nearest dictionary confirms our suspicions:


Bus /bəs/

1. Noun:
A large motor vehicle carrying passengers by road, esp. one serving the public on a fixed route and for a fare.



But… is it really that simple?
Consider this accompanying definition from the same dictionary:



5. Noun: (electronics, computing) a substantial, rigid power supply conductor to which several connections are made, or a set of electrical conductors (wires, PCB tracks or connections in an integrated circuit) connecting various "stations", which can be functional units in a computer or nodes in a network.



Now why is that so? And… is it related in anyway? Again, we get a yes and no answer. Yes, it is related in origin… no, it has nothing to do with vehicles (per say).


Aaaaarrrrrrgggggg!
Can’t you just give me a straight answer?



OK, I guess it’s time to go back to the beginning. As usual we will start with some history.



= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =



The concept of a “bus” as a mode of transportation began in France in about 1828 when someone came up with a clever idea for a business venture. They started with a “coach” (which is not exactly the same thing and we will be getting to that in a bit), and striped it down to the basics. The result was pretty much just a wagon with seats in the form of benches down each side. They then used this new form of conveyance to offer an innovative type of public transport that (and this next bit is key) was open to everyone, of any social class. This was ground breaking and radical social engineering for it’s day. It was also an instant moneymaker and quickly spread as a business model. The designation our un-named venture capitalists chose for their brainchild was: “voiture omnibus” meaning: “carriage for all”.





Like I said… the business model traveled quickly and the name of this new vehicle of trade traveled with it. Upon arrival in England the Brits took one looked at this French phrase and immediately shortened it (I mean… “voiture” was obviously foreign rubbish, but the other word was classical Latin and they could live with that). So now this rig was simply an Omnibus (“for all” in Latin). The shorter name traveled back across the Channel to the continent just as quickly and soon became the accepted “nom de guerre” for this new type of public transportation.





Once internal combustion engines were available and reliable enough, they replaced the horses and the new arrangement was at first known as an “Autobus”





The word Omnibus would remain a fixture in the legal names of the business that operated these vehicles (as you’ll notice in the last picture), but the public, for ease of conversation, would shorten it farther to “bus” (oddly they dropped the “all” part of the word thus keeping only the “for something or other” suffix, but this was unintentional, as most folks never even questioned why it was called an Omnibus in the first place). This kind of shortening of names has always been common. I mean seriously, why on earth… would we all agree that this common device…





…should be referred to as a “quiet” (the Italian translation of “piano”). The answer is simple: “gravicembalo col piano e forte” (meaning “gravity assisted harpsichord with both soft and loud capabilities”) was just way too dang many syllables to be allowed. Outside of Italy, it was immediate shorted to “pianoforte” (again and without any thought as to meaning, keeping only a contraction of the classical Latin words which this time meant just: “soft-loud”) and then shortening that down to the modern piano.

“Funny ol’ world… ain’t it.”



= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =



Now then… remember that other definition for the word “bus”; the one that had to do with things electrical? Well its short for “omnibus-bar” and that word came to electrical engineering via politics.


Whoa… what!!!


Yep politics. Shortly after the appearance of the word “omnibus”, the more learned (remember that Latin used to be taught in school) quickly understood that this verbal bit of ancient Rome which had recently wedged itself into the vernacular could also be used to describe anything that was intended to be “for all”. Some have credited Washington Irving as the first to realize this fact. For the record, he did use it in his commentaries; describing a particular piece of 1831 legislation thusly: “The great reform omnibus moves but slowly” (“Poetry… sheer poetry!”). In this instance, a large number of somewhat unrelated reforms were all rolled together into a single piece of legislation. To this day… omnibus bills (especially omnibus spending bills) are a common tool of the US Congress (along with gridlock which is something that busses are actually supposed to alleviate).





After the politicians succeeded in adding a new definition for omnibus to the language, it should not come as a surprise that engineers would see it as a good thing, pick it up and run with it. Electrical engineers chose to make practical use of the “for all” meaning of the original Latin when they barrowed it to describe a devise known as an “omnibus bar”. This device was originally a long metal bar that was electrified. Multiple separate devices would then be attached to said bar and “all” of them would derive their power from this single source. As is true with most words, it was shortened over time to the same three-letter word used to describe a vehicle. This is why these three guys…





…were so concerned when this particular warning light on the “Odyssey’s” master control panel flickered on…





Of course there were a lot of things (rather bad things) going on at the same time, but what that warning light was telling them is that every device which was attempting to use the omnibus-bar connected to “fuel-cell B” (the middle one) as it’s main source of power, was no longer capable of doing so. This was very “not good”. It’s also why “we’ve got a main bus B undervolt” was the second thing Commander Lovell said right after the sentence “Huston… we’ve had a problem”.






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OK, fine… now we’ve learned about the alternate meanings of the word “bus” and we know why the vehicle in question is called a bus, but is a bus always a bus? Nope. Depends on how the device is configured or used.

One of the first developments was the “Tram” which replaced the wagon wheels of the omnibus with the steel wheels and rails that were in common us in the mining industry.





These first showed up in Scotland (not surprising given the mining background). The word (which was already in use for the carts used in the mines) probably derives from the Middle Flemish “tram” meaning: "beam, handle of a barrow, bar, or rung" and referring to the rails that they ran on. The advantage of a tram is that the reduced friction of the steel wheel/rail system allowed fewer animals to pull vastly greater amounts of weight. When electricity became available as a source for powering these trams, the name changed (in the US at least) to “Trolley”. That word was derived form a device used in warehouses at the time called a “troller” which worked in a similar fashion.


Trolleys also made a significant contribution to Baseball. The electric trams were so ubiquitous in the NY borough of Brooklyn around the turn of the 20th century that even crossing the street could become an adventure. As such, the local residents were derisively called “Trolley Dodgers”; a name that they chose to embrace and even gave to their first professional baseball team. It was later shortened just to “Dodgers”. As the US grew and demographics and economic factors altered the game, “D’em Bums” moved to Los Angeles. Ask a fan from LA what exactly a “Dodger” is and you’ll likely get an answer of: “ummmmmmm…”. But now you can straighten ‘em out. They are routing for a team that is named in honor of “Brooklyn working class folks who had to avoid being run over by trolleys while crossing streets and were later forced to move to the city of angles”. Clear as mud ‘eh (oh… speaking of transplanted ball teams… while you’re there, ask that LA fan just what a “Laker” is).




Another adaptation of the omnibus had more to do with how it was used. The “Charabanc” (pronounced: char-à-banc or sometimes: chara-bang`) was popular mainly in Britain during the early part of the 20th century. These were used mostly for sightseeing or day trips and were usually open topped to allow for the best field of vision.





First conceived of in France in the 19th century, it was again the French that named the contraption: char à bancs (meaning "carriage with wooden benches"). The Brits just rammed the words together this time. Originally horse-drawn like the Omnibus, they were quickly adapted to use combustion engines once available. At first they were distained by the more refined citizenry who called them “rolling pubs” because of the tendency for them to be operated by public houses who encouraged their clientele to imbibe during the various outings. Over time these early tour busses would have roofs added, but generally remained open sided so as not to block the view. I’m sure you’ve ridden on one or two of the modern variations of these devices (although they are often mistakenly referred to as “trams”)





So why is it that we don’t see Trolleys much any more (and certainly not many Charabancs outside of those that work the parking lots and fine amusement areas). Well… most of them were killed off by the bus.


Wait a minute… they are busses… what are you talking about?


A conspiracy; that’s what I’m talking about. Really! You can check the court document out for yourself if you don’t believe me. General Motors along with Firestone and several other parts manufacturers and satellite companies were actually convicted of conspiracy to buy out trolley lines and other types of rail transportation in a number of cities and replacing them with busses.





They also offered lost-leader deals on startup costs and worked “behind the scenes” with a number of city officials to convince growing municipalities to also make the shift. The result it that intercity busses are common (although rarely is there enough capacity to properly service the city you find them in) and rail transportation is much harder to come by (and since the original infrastructure was ripped out in the past, the startup cost for “light rail” are now astronomical. One thing you will see in some of the larger markets though is the Trolley-Bus…





These hybrid critters make use of the previously existing overhead powered wire system to drive electric motors rather then diesel engines. Obviously their routes are limited by the existing infrastructure but the do tend to be less expensive to operate in the long run (assuming you had the wiring in place in the first place). Another interesting thing about that last image is that the bus is articulated. It’s two busses that have been hooked together and having a joint in the middle to help it navigate the curves and turns of urban streets while carrying greater passenger loads. This is also a feature seen from time to time on free-rolling busses, but it’s much more commonly found among the Trolley-Bus fleets.



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So… now y’all now know everything that need be known about those busses that we rode around in all week… right?


Welllllllll…


As it happens, I learned something else while researching bus history that I was otherwise unaware of. It turns out that we weren’t riding on busses at all. Those are “coaches”.


Oh… give me a break!
Now I suppose you’re going to talk about those now huh?



Indeed I am. You see… a bus is used for short duration travel. A coach is used to convey people (and sometimes cargo) over longer distances. Trough out history, the well to do and the powerful could afford better modes of transportation then the regular rabble (this goes without saying). Before the wheel, they’d be carried; afterward they’d be carried along in various types of “carriages”. By the 15th century, the best carriages were being built by the wheelwrights in the city of Kocs (pronounced "kotch") in Hungary. These were light (and therefore swift… an important feature for avoiding the highwaymen of the day), steel-sprung (to deal with the roads of the day), well appointed (well, because they were built for the wealthy at first) and yet rugged. Their common name is derived from the Hungarian word "kocsi", literally meaning "of Kocs".





Because of their speed and durability, these would come to be used to carry mail and would travel in stages from one town to the next thus acquiring the name stage-coach. Being long haul vehicles it was an obvious adaptation for businesses with mail charters to take passengers along with the mail as they traversed the countryside. As railways were developed the mail and passengers naturally move onto the larger devices and the name followed them. Again, as omnibuses developed and could be considered robust enough for long distance travel, they offered similar services to the passenger market that allowed folks to travel to spots that might not be as easily reached via rail.





As you can see form the last image, former stagecoach operators were among those to adapt the bus concept for long haul travel. A coach very similar to that last one actually became a bit of a movie star. Specifically, this photogenic GM bus operated by Greyhound Bus Lines that appeared in the 1934 “Best Picture” Oscar winning comedy (you don’t see those words strung together anymore) “It Happened One Night”





I love all the license plates that were attached to interstate vehicles of the time. This picture also illustrates some other differences between a coach and a general-purpose bus. Coaches will usually have a luggage hold separate from the passenger cabin (which also causes the passengers to be positioned higher off the ground), interior racks or shelving for additional storage, more comfortable seating and other “conveniences” in the more modern examples. You can see these changes in height and configuration a bit more clearly in the coaches from the late 30s and 40s.





Roll forward another decade or so and they start to take on the form that most of us are more familiar with.





At least that’s what a coach looked like when I was growing up and through most of my adult years. Some where in the 1990s they started getting somewhat sleeker and a bit more boxy. All the rounded edges and aircraft look faded away and the more modern vehicles that now fill the highways began appearing. The names of the manufactures have changed of the years as well. Many (if not most) of the busses and coaches built now are produced by European firms like this example here….





That… is a VanHool C2045 built somewhere between 2002 and 2006; one of the most common long haul busses on the market. Built by a Dutch company, it is their twentieth “coach” design series (thus the C20) and in the US is generally built to forty-five feet in length (the “45” on the end of the “C2045” designation). As busses go, these are pretty good. At least the five of them that we spent our time on during this trip were able to get us from point-a to point-b pretty reasonable.










“OK… now everyone remember where we parked”
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:41 AM   #53
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Ok... bus to piano to Apollo 13 to trams to trolley to stage coach to motor coach. Is there anything you didn't link a bus to?

Oh yeah, aircraft carriers. How did you manage to write an off-topic post about transportation and not mention some kind of boat?

Although it appears that one of your pictures was taken on a boat... nevermind, you did it. You included any type of transportation possible in this update.
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Old 01-16-2012, 10:38 AM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
At first they were distained by the more refined citizenry who called them “rolling pubs” because of the tendency for them to be operated by public houses who encouraged their clientele to imbibe during the various outings. Over time these early tour busses would have roofs added, but generally remained open sided so as not to block the view. I’m sure you’ve ridden on one or two of the modern variations of these devices (although they are often mistakenly referred to as “trams”)
Next time I get on the parking lot tram at my favorite theme park, I will be calling it a "rolling pub". I will get the stink-eye from Bambi, and I will blame you. She may or may not hunt you down with a frying pan.

Consider yourself warned.

Aside from that, it was a great bonus feature!
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:28 PM   #55
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Impressive stuff! Now no matter what vehicle my wife gets on, she most likely will call it the wrong name, and I can correct her that she's actually riding a tram, or a trolley, or a charabanc, or a coach. She'll love learning all of this information!

Seriously, good stuff.
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:49 PM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreezinRafiki View Post
Next time I get on the parking lot tram at my favorite theme park, I will be calling it a "rolling pub". I will get the stink-eye from Bambi, and I will blame you. She may or may not hunt you down with a frying pan.

Consider yourself warned.

Aside from that, it was a great bonus feature!

Thank you sir, and I will consider myself to be forewarned. I’d expect no lees of you than to use the reference. I’d also expect no less of Bambi then to hold me personally accountable for promoting and even enhancing your incorrigible behavior.




"Oh, mother, I have got to get me one of these!"

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Old 01-22-2012, 07:57 PM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
Impressive stuff! Now no matter what vehicle my wife gets on, she most likely will call it the wrong name, and I can correct her that she's actually riding a tram, or a trolley, or a charabanc, or a coach. She'll love learning all of this information!

Seriously, good stuff.

Oh good… I starting to sense a pattern here.


Ummmmm… Mark…


Mrs. Knowitall wouldn’t happen to be as adept with the fine art of marshal frying pan arts as Bambi… would she?



“Frying pans! Who knew, right?”

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Old 01-22-2012, 08:01 PM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
Ok... bus to piano to Apollo 13 to trams to trolley to stage coach to motor coach. Is there anything you didn't link a bus to?

Probably… But I had a feeling that I may have been pushing y’all just a might too far down this side trip.

I was beginning to feel just a might guilty.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:06 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
Oh yeah, aircraft carriers. How did you manage to write an off-topic post about transportation and not mention some kind of boat?

Although it appears that one of your pictures was taken on a boat... nevermind, you did it. You included any type of transportation possible in this update.

Oh Snap… you did not just go there did you?


Now y’all have to know that I can’t possibly just let that stand (especially as it’s coming from my nemesis).
Well then… every one will know who to blame for what is about to happen.


But… I do promise that I’ll post an actual update to the TR itself right after I get done dealing with this bit of insolence.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:17 PM   #60
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Bonus Feature 3:





A Coin to Pay Charon












As it turns out…I checked back over my notes and research and found that I left an entire section out of my bus history feature (a situation that I’m now forced to correct).

Specifically… I left out a discussion on the bus that has no wheels.


Suppose that you were traveling on an extended trip and the coach you were riding on happened to come upon a river; a common geographical feature, which was now separating you from your destination. Well if there was a bridge over that river, we wouldn’t be having this discussing. The same would be true if you were either carrying you own “Bailey Bridge” (which is unlikely) or just happened to be on an amphibious bus.





Additionally, if the point at which you were attempting to cross said waterway was shallow enough, you could simply “ford” the river, but it’s far more likely that you’ll be in need of a “ferry”.
(remember this last bit there… there’s another bonus feature on the distant horizon where knowing the difference between a “ford” and a “ferry” will have a very definite impact).




This particular ferry is part of the rout between Bangkok and Koh Chang in Thailand.



So what exactly is a ferry? Well… it’s a bus. It just happens to also be either a boat or a ship depending on size and configuration. Either way is a waterborne craft that is charged with the task of carrying human cargos (and their possessions and vehicles) across bodies of water. Like a bus, a ferry will generally have a set route and will make scheduled trips between the points on this route. Historically speaking… the idea of a ferry (both in concept and as a profession) is ancient. There has long been a need to cross rivers and lakes for purposes of trade and communication…





…or for the purpose of reaching an individual’s final destination. A number of ancient religions saw a river or water crossing as an integral part of their postmortem journey to come. Not least the Greeks who believed that Charon was waiting at the banks of the River Styx to ferry them to the underworld.





They also knew that the ferryman had to be paid if passage was to be obtained. A belief that lead to the common practice of placing a coin either in or on the mouth of the departed prior to interment. This payment was known as “Charon's Obol”; a name that came form the specific amount required for the passage (an obol being one of the basic denominations of ancient Greek coinage that was reportedly worth one-sixth of a drachma)



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OK, enough mythology… lets get back to the history. In their earliest incarnations ferries were simply skiffs or rafts, rowed by oars, or towed by men or horses using ropes. Fairly quickly the folks that operated these craft for a living settled on a common and simple configuration; that of a double-ended raft which in one manner or another was attached to a rope that stretched across the river in question. The rope served as a guide for crossing, a means of locomotion and as a defense against the current carrying them off course and downstream.





Hollywood immortalized this particular type of ferry in the famous “Missouri Boat Ride” scene in the film “Outlaw Josey Wales”.





With the advent of steam power, the double-ended ferry concept became an extremely practical vessel for moving commuters and rolling stock along the coast lines and around major metropolitan areas (nearly all of which were purposely built on rivers, inlets and bays).





Ferries are still a common site in larger cities, with numerous routes covered by these waterbuses in New York alone. Probably the most famous of those would be the Staten Island Ferry; a ship that I would certainly catch site of later in the week…





But not one I’d be riding on this time around (although I would find myself on a couple passenger only ferries later on as well…





…but that’s a story for latter on).


City size however is not a dictating requirement for encountering a ferry system. The State of North Carolina maintains a small fleet of ferryboats to service parts of the Outer Banks.





And in South Carolina there are several passenger ferries that provide the only viable access to Fort Sumter in the middle of Charleston Harbor.






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Since the definition of ferry boat is related more to function then to specific design… it is also not unheard of for vessels that were never intended for the purpose to be pressed into the ferry service. Troup ships are the most common military example of this. Both the RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Mary were requisitioned for the purpose of ferrying troops across the vast expanses of the Atlantic Ocean during the Second World War (and the QE2 would see similar duty during the Falklands Conflict) …





…with “Elizabeth" once carrying a record number of 15,028 troops in one single trip.





But still there is another relatively common instance of a ship being used as a ferry, which occurs with in the US Navy and is particularly jarring to the uneducated eye.


That would be this one right here…





What you're looking at is the fight deck of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan covered with the vehicles of Navy Sailors heading to Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington. Having recently served in Asia, the Reagan was headed to the Puget Sound area for scheduled upgrades and repairs.





Since she was going to make the trip one way or another and obviously would also need to bring her entire shore based support team (and their possessions) along. Doing it this way just makes sense. The only other way to move all the vehicles owned by the sailors assigned to this ship would have been to put them in another ship. This is just the most logical (if unexpected) and even economical method for solving the problem. It also illustrates how very dissimilar things can actually have rather close ties once you take time to look beyond the obvious.








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