In less than six months, I'm a convert. I love trains.
It all started last fall, with a confluence of events: gas prices spiking at more than $3.00 per gallon and a semester where I had to be on campus four days a week, instead of my normal two. I live 35 miles from campus, so it added up to a lot of time spent on the highway and a lot of money spent on gas. I decided it was time to start taking the train.
I'm lucky; there's a CalTrain stop about a mile from my house. It backs up to Bay Meadows racetrack, so sometimes I even get to watch horses breeze around the track while I'm waiting for the train.
I like almost everything about trains...the size and heft and noise of a passing train...the excited clamor of the crossing gate alarms, and the distinctive, rhythmic clang of each train's bell as it approaches the station.
I like it that CalTrain cars are two stories high and I can look up to them. I like waving at the engineer in his high perch at the front of the train (southbound) as it pulls into the station.
And I like the notion that the train doesn't turn around. Instead, after delivering the last of his riders to San Jose, the engineer simply puts it in reverse and backs up all the way to San Francisco.
I like the people on trains too. Yesterday I sat across from two guys, obviously movie buffs, chatting with one of the conductors. Between stops, the conductor, a former prop man, told tales of working and partying with actors like Micheal J. Fox. And the guys, Tim Sika and Larry Jakubecz, talked about some of their favorite movies and some of actors and directors they've interviewed for their radio show, Celluloid Dreams (which desperately needs to update its web page). The show airs Mondays at 5 p.m. on 90.5 KSJS-FM, the campus radio station at San Jose State...where I happen to teach.
Small world, right? But there's more....
Turns out Sika and Jakubecz really want to figure out how to create RSS feeds, so they can post podcasts of their radio show for all the world to hear...and I just happen to be teaching a new media class this semester that includes a segment on podcasting...and I have an RSS guru lined up for next week's class.
Sometimes the stars are aligned, and the right people meet at just the right time. Sometimes a penchant for chatting with strangers is a good thing.
I'm looking forward to seeing my new friends in class next week...and maybe on the train.
To read a Spartan Daily News feature on Celluloid Dreams and its hosts, click here.