Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leaving the armchair

I know, I know, some Luddite I am. Here I am starting my first blog, years behind the curve (and after a two-decade career in Information Technology, at that). Oh, it's so passé by now, I suppose, now that I've shown up to the party. Heck, it's only been a few years since I got into social networking by creating a LinkedIn account. Still no Facebook or Twitter in my daily routine, as a little thing called "life" keeps eating up my available time.

Speaking of free time, what little I have these days with work and extensive business travel tends to get dedicated towards family stuff or other social obligations - things like church, scouting, homeowner's associations, and general activities and chores that come with adulthood and home ownership, to name a couple. However, with maturity comes knowledge and insight - often via the school of "hard knocks" or just years of study and experience under one's belt.

Getting back on topic, I've just spend the better part of three decades "in the armchair." No, not literally just sitting there atrophying in my Lazy Boy recliner, but figuratively pondering The Hobby. You know, the topic that likely brought you to this page in the first place. Model railroading has always been near and dear to my heart and mind - an interest (some may call it an obsession) I've had to one degree or another since my second year, according to my parents.

Oh, I've had layouts in the past - a couple during childhood and into my teenage years, back when I had loads of idle time (compared to the relative insanity of my calendar today) - but it's been many years hence since I last had one up and running. Things like college, military service, getting a career off the ground, marriage and raising children all have taken precedence over getting out of that "comfy" chair and gettin' a-buildin' on that next pike. I'm sure many of you are nodding your heads right now, having shared similar circumstances.

Still, I've always been fascinated by trains and railroads, both in miniature and full-size. God knows why, as during those early impressionable years my family was stationed on an Air Force base while Dad finished up his post-ROTC commitment to the Army. You'd think I'd have gotten into jet aircraft and modern flight due to the proximity of an active runway, but instead a busy Class I mainline ran outside the base parameter, and weekly outings likely exposed me to those loud, exhaust-spewing, massive pieces of transportation hardware rolling mile-long trains of heavy freight hither and yon. Somehow, something clicked in my young mind, and I've been "bit" ever since.

Now that I'm a Dad three-times over I'm proud to announce I've successfully duplicated this old experiment outside the lab. Earlier in the millennium I was travelling full-time for my old job while my two youngest kids were growing up, and while our relationships are close they found their own interests and pursuits during those extended times I was away. My eldest daughter is now officially a teen, and besides boys, music, artistry, texting friends and YouTube videos are the entertainment of choice. My middle son had recently hit his second decade (in age) and is a full-blown video game wizard - terminology such as Wii, 3DS, life points and other such minutia consume his mind, often to his parent's chagrin. Keeping him physically active and on top of his homework has become a full-time job lately.

However, our youngest came into our lives only a few short years ago, and he happened along as my active time "on the road" was starting to wind down. As he approached the toddler years I started to take him along to a train show here or there, or even on the occasional railfan outing, mindful of when I first took an interest in steel wheels on steel rails. Well, if my Mom's observation is any indicator - "He's way worse than you were at his age." - my goal of getting at least one of the kids interested in the hobby was a smashing success. If anything, I'll have someone to pass along all my piles of accumulated unbuilt kits to when my train to Providence arrives into the station.

Well, hopefully that will be many, many years from now - my final ride, that is. In the interim, I expect to get out of that armchair shortly and get active again. Now that my youngest is in Kindergarten, his persistence (along with my wife - God Bless her) on Dad getting off the dime, and building a layout has pushed me from my research and analysis-driven stupor and onto a project plan whereas we'll soon have benchwork sprouting in the long-dormant downstairs train room. I hope to keep this blog a running journal of our experience, and hopefully you'll glean some useful (and perhaps, insightful) tidbits of information and knowledge in the process.

And so, begins the journey.

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