Have you been on a train lately, 2014? Reprise.

I had so much fun on Amtrak

The Amtrak Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, through the vast expanse of the fabled American West.

imgres I decided to take my wife this time. It is August 2014. Our first time Westbound. We decided to visit our son in Los Angeles. We took the Missouri River Runner to Kansas City and then changed to the Southwest Chief with direct service to Los Angeles.  A 42 hour trip in all, following the route of the  Atchison Topeka and Santé Fe, with stops in Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Barstow and San Bernardino. The Missouri River Runner  follows the Missouri river through Jefferson City, the state capital to Kansas City.amk34images Continue reading


More trains Calif Zephyr 2010 and Sunset Limited 2010 Texas Eagle

English: Union Station (Los Angeles)

English: Union Station (Los Angeles) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Map of El Paso

Map of El Paso (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: El Paso Skyline from the north.

English: El Paso Skyline from the north. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

El Paso Museum of history, El Paso, Texas

El Paso Museum of history, El Paso, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

El Paso, Texas in 1886. Bird's Eye View of El ...

El Paso, Texas in 1886. Bird’s Eye View of El Paso, El Paso County Texas, 1886. Lithograph, 20 x 30 in. Lithographer unknown. Private Collection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

University of Nevada, Reno

University of Nevada, Reno (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Downtown Reno, including the city's famous arc...

Downtown Reno, including the city’s famous arch over Virginia Street at night. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Donner Pass : California Zephyr

Donner Pass : California Zephyr (Photo credit: Loco Steve)

English: lobby of Union Station in Los Angeles

English: lobby of Union Station in Los Angeles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The abandoned Track #1 CPRR/SPRR/UPRR...

English: The abandoned Track #1 CPRR/SPRR/UPRR railroad grade over Donner Pass. (2003) ©2003-2007 DigitalImageServices.comhttp://digitalimageservices.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Donner pass Ca.

Donner pass Ca. (Photo credit: Loco Steve)

donner pass scenic overlook

donner pass scenic overlook (Photo credit: Slideshow Bruce)

I presented my paper at the ACS national meeting in San Francisco. Although I flew out I decide to reduce my carbon footprint and take the train back to St. Louis. Although I had ridden the train in Europe many times, it was my first overnight trip in the States. I was excited.

The California Zephyr leaves from Emeryville between Oakland and Berkeley Calif. It takes 48 hours. For the first hour the train hugs the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. We cross the Sierra Nevada during  March the Donner Pass was still covered in snow.

Reno  The trip through the desert was fascinating. It was just light enough to see something. The best part of travel on the train is the people you meet. The Zephyr goes thorough Salt Lake, Denver, Omaha, and Iowa.

Crossing the Missouri the Mississippi Rivers in the same day. There was one glitch, the train doesn’t go to St. Louis. I got off in Galesburg where my kind wife was waiting for me. We drove back on Route 61 and back home after a stop in Hannibal. A very worthwhile trip.

Three days in a train I took the train twice that year

My daughter and I drove my son out to LA to graduate school at UCLA. Marion had heard about my trip on the Calif Zephyr. She wanted to try the train herself. I was reluctant at first, but she talked me into it. It turned out to be a great idea.

Official seal of City of El Paso

Official seal of City of El Paso (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The train from LA to St Louis takes three days with an over night stay in San  Antonio. Although the Southwest Chief was shorter, we opted for the more southern route hugging the border with Mexico Sunset Limited as we had stopped at the Grand Canyon on the way out. We boarded the train in Los Angeles Union Station in the afternoon. The first stop is Pomona then Yuma. After a brief trip through Tucson and New Mexico we spent the next three days  in Texas including El Paso, the Alamo, Austin and Dallas. Yes, it really is a big state. After three days we arrived home in St. Louis. The train continued on to Chicago. With the addition of an additional wagon. Trains are popular now.


Reno (Photo credit: ChrisYunker)



Regional Västtrafik train arriving in Vårgårda...

Regional Västtrafik train arriving in Vårgårda, Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tile work in the Morocco pavillion at the Epco...

Tile work in the Morocco pavillion at the Epcot World Showcase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regensburg-Tangier-Stokholm by Rail 1978

Regensburg-Tangier-Stokholm by Rail 1978


locator map for Morocco

locator map for Morocco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A very bad year 1907

1907: A Very Bad Year

In 1907 a bout of speculation on Wall Street ended in failure, triggering a particularly severe banking panic. J.P. Morgan was again called upon to avert disaster. By this time most Americans were calling for reform of the banking system, but the structure of that reform was cause for deep division among the country’s citizens. Conservatives and powerful “money trusts” in the big Eastern cities were vehemently opposed by “progressives.” But there was a growing consensus among all Americans that a central banking authority was needed to ensure a healthy banking system and provide for an elastic currency. http://www.federalreserveeducation.org/fed101_html/history/index.cfm

Knickerbocker trust one of the largest banks in The United States at the time went bankrupt. Nelson Aldrich senator Rhode Island revises American financial system. aka Lehman Bros, Goldman Sachs, FANNIE, FREDDIE–you get the picture.

Senator Borah Idaho Citing that “4% of the people of the United States own 80% if its wealth,” Borah advocated the lowering of tariffs to promote world trade, inflationary monetary measures such as paying depositors to put their money in circulation and reissuing silver, and, most importantly, the destruction of monopolies, which were “bleeding our people white.”
http://www.kevincmurphy.com/williamborah3.html date accessed 5/25/2007

1907 CULTURE and ART

Figure 1 Mit alle zibn finger


1907 Marc Chagall These were years of hardship and poverty for Chagall. In Bakst’s studio he had his first contact with the modern movement, which was sweeping Paris, and it liberated his inner resources. His pictures of this early period are lyrical evocations of his childhood. In Study for Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers, Chagall presents us with the Jewish fascination with numbers. Art historian Sandor Kuthy suggests that the Yiddish folk expression Mit alle zibn finger, used to indicate the entirety of energy used in completion of a task explains this strange physical anomaly in the painting. http://www.answers.com/topic/marc-chagall He would later become a leader in the avant-guard.
1. Matisse painted his “Red Madras Headdress” which featured his wife as the model. The painting later became part of the Albert C. Barnes collection. [see 1925, Barnes] Matisse also painted “Blue Nude” in this year.
(WSJ, 11/28/95, p.A-12)(WSJ, 7/9/01, p.A26)
2. http://pomegranate.stores.yahoo.net/0817.html

The model is Masam Matisse

Figure 2 Matisse Red Madras Headdress

Figure 3 Matisse Blue Nude 1907

Wassili Kandinsky Focusing on the first half of his career, the exhibition begins with a series of early landscapes inspired by the exquisite Bavarian countryside and folk imagery from Russian fairy tales and legends. It then explores how Kandinsky’s style evolved after he moved to Germany and co-founded the groundbreaking Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group.
3. http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/kandinsky/kandinsky.autumn-in-bavaria.jpg

1907 Milestones: Public Works and Utilities

Building the MacArthur Bridge

At the turn of the century, St. Louis had two bridges over the Mississippi River, the Eads and the Merchants. The Terminal Railroad Association, a group that owned much of the rail infrastructure in the St. Louis area, owned both. The TRRA took advantage of this monopoly by charging what were considered to be excessive tolls. The issue came to a head when St. Louis hosted the 1904 World’s Fair. The city decided to build a public bridge over the Mississippi to break the monopoly.


Figure 4 Free Bridge

Work began on the St. Louis Municipal Bridge in 1909. Piers were built, and steel was ordered. The three main steel spans were in place by 1912. At that time, funding ran out, and three successive bonding issues failed to pass during elections. As a result, the bridge sat without the approaches being built. The only part that was finished was the 6-foot wide walkway, which hung off the downstream side of the structure (it has since been removed, but the brackets that supported the walkway are still in place and visible in one of the photos below). Several hundred people a day crossed the bridge on foot. Funding kicked in again after several years, and the roadway on the upper deck was competed. Now known as the Free Bridge, it opened to auto traffic in 1917. The city and the TRRA were still feuding, so the TRRA put a defacto boycott on the bridge. It was not until 1928 that an agreement was reached, and trains started to use the lower deck. The bridge was in full operation by 1931.

Despite being a city owned “Free Bridge”, a small toll was added in 1932. The money was used for depression relief. The bridge was renamed the General Douglas MacArthur Bridge in 1942 after the famous general. The bridge was designated as the route for US-66 from 1929 to 1935, having taken over that roll form the McKinley Bridge, and then giving it up to the Chain of Rocks Bridge. It was designated City US-66 from 1936 to 1955. http://www.johnweeks.com/upper_mississippi/pagesC/umissC15.html

1900: The first experiments using lime and ferrous sulfate as water purifiers are conducted.

1904: The Water Division begins adding milk of lime (Ca (OH)2 ) and ferrous sulfate (Fe2SO4) to purify the water.

1908: A new Coagulant House is built at Chain of Rocks Plant to store lime and ferrous sulfate.

1911: Edward Wall is named Water Commissioner.

In 1911, Mr. Wall was made Water Commissioner. He immediately began to envision improvements and expansion of the Water Works to the 1930’s. A new intake was built mid-stream, and slightly upstream from the original raw intake. He also promoted the conception of a filter plant as a final step in the purification of the Water, which comprised Primary and Secondary Coagulation, followed by filtration and chlorination.

1907 Union Electric Ameren

The Ashley plant downtown has been providing steam for downtown businesses for 3 years; it is still in operation today.
Eight percent of U.S. households are wired for electricity. It took until the 1920’s until most homes were wired with electricity. My uncle who grew up in rural Texas didn’t have it in his home until he was a teenager in the 1950’s.
Other famous trusts
International Harvester 1902
Capitalized at $120 million, the merger acquired other concerns as its lines diversified. The federal government brought action against the company, and in 1914 the Supreme Court found the company an illegal combination under the Sherman Antitrust Act and ordered division of the company’s property among independent corporations (United States v. International Harvester Company, 214 U.S. 987).
http://www.answers.com/topic/international-harvester-company date accessed 5/25/2007

1907 Anaconda Copper

Amalgamated Copper Company War of the Copper Kings. Greed, corruption, bribery and fraud, insiders getting fabulously rich while workers get robbed. That was the great battle for Butte, Montana, at the dawn of the twentieth century when it was the richest hill on earth. Copper was the treasure, eagerly sought after for wiring the modern world, and the hard rock below Butte was riddled with veins of the precious metal. Open pit or strip mine. Nation’s largest Superfund site.


Thomas Edison, autodidact, and inventor of so many modern conveniences conceived of the modern R&D (research and development) laboratory and financed it all with private capital. There were no government grants in those days.

Blaise Pascal, this French philosopher is a favorite off my son Ted so I had to work him in here some how. It is 245 years since the death of this French mathematician. People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.
Blaise Pascal

You always admire what you really don’t understand.
Blaise Pascal

It is 2194 years since the birth of Archimedes another favorite.

Summing an infinite geometric series


I dedicate this series of articles to my children.

I thank to the superb editing skills of Dr. Lisa Balbes
Without whom these articles would have been unintelligible.

Ted Gast is an American artist

American Chemical Society St. Louis Section    tel: 314-993-2870

Ted Gast    fax: 314-993-0496

Chair 2005    email: ted@cfgastco.com

Ted Gast is an American artist whom some describe as neo-fauve, but he prefers to describe his goals as repurposed industrial waste and sustainability. A prime example is Danube; a tonal study painted using only indigo and white. Rhein a 48″ x 144″ mural depicting the River Rhine from its source in the Alps through Germany to its delta in Holland in the North Sea is another example of Gast’s work.

English: MetroBus with a view of the St. Louis...

English: MetroBus with a view of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, MO (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Always interested in new uses for old materials, as a part time inventor and with the aid of a partner, Gast has recently formed a company to produce high quality post consumer cotton paper from repurposed textiles and rags. Ted cites his five most influential artists as Kandinsky, Cezanne, Matisse, Chagall and Swiss painter Paul Klee. By coincidence Regensburg in Bavaria has also produced the latest pope, Benedict XVI.

Ted comes from the heartland of the country, in the heart of industries laid to waste by the changing global economy. Ted has taken it all to heart and tried to find a way to repurpose the lost industrial majesty. He expresses himself with bold colors and a variety of repurposed materials. First exposed to the works of Kandinsky and the Blaue Reiter in Munich and Venice, Ted paints in the style of the abstract expressionists. His work is propelled by a childlike play of shape and color, and often displays an underlying mathematical formula or element of chemistry.

Gast has spent a lifetime admiring art and the last ten years participating in the field. He has been strongly influenced by his German heritage – both sides of his family emigrated from Germany to St Louis, and he is only the 3rd generation to be born in this country. An appreciation for art runs in the family – his great-great grandfather was an immigrant to St. Louis from Trier, Germany and was an ecclesiastical sculptor.

Gast himself was born in St. Louis, MO in 1957. At the age of twenty he spent a year of study in Bavaria at Regensburg studying chemistry, the German language and linguistics. Travel during that year sparked Mr. Gast’s life long interest in the arts. Gast visited some the finest Art museums in Munich and Europe. He traveled extensively, visiting areas as diverse as Spain, Morocco, Istanbul, and Scandinavia. As well as to Paris, Vienna, and behind the Iron Curtain to Belgrade and Rila Monastery, Berlin and Budapest. The influence of Bavaria, riparian Regensburg and the Danube are still apparent in Gast’s work, and dovetail with his own origins along the Mississippi river in St. Louis.

The fall of communism intensified the feeling of the end of ideologies. No matter what artists attempt to do art has ceased to be anti-establishment or revolutionary. Everything seems to have been done. Content merely with color and light Fauvism has again come into fashion.

The Fauves did not presume that Art could change society. They did not strive to destroy painting but instead to further it. From the greatest to the least they tried to present the joy of painting.

Ted lives in Richmond Heights with his wife of 23 years, two teenage children –a boy (17) and girl (15), one dog and two cats.

Ferrier, Jean-louis. The Fauves:The Reign of Colour. Finest-SA/Edititions Pierre Terrail, Paris c 1992.

Greenspan’s Mistakes:It’s not the end of the World, Yet

Campaign poster showing William McKinley holdi...

Campaign poster showing William McKinley holding U.S. flag and standing on gold coin “sound money”, held up by group of men, in front of ships “commerce” and factories “civilization”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. Latviešu: Abrahams Linkolns, sešpadsmitais ASV prezidents. Српски / Srpski: Абрахам Линколн, шеснаести председник Сједињених Америчких Држава. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abraham Lincoln - Series of 1880 $100 bill

Abraham Lincoln – Series of 1880 $100 bill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greenspan’s Mistakes First let’s make one thing perfectly clear this is a financial PANIC it is not a replay of 1929. 1929 saw 30% unemployment. 1929 saw the government increase taxes during a recession. 1929 saw the government take 3-4 years before taking any action. Information exchange was much slower in 1929. Telephone, telegraph and radio were the primary means of exchange of information. Television much less the internet was unheard of. The government was less powerful to expand the money supply. The world and the United States were on the gold standard. For better or worse you can’t go out and print more GOLD; you have to buy, mine, smelt, refine or otherwise process it. As a currency it is much less elastic than credit. The currency of the United States is based on trust that the US government will one way or another honor its debts. We have squandered the greatest economic opportunity of all time. As the wise king Solomon once said and repeated by Abraham Lincoln This too shall pass.

We are suffering from a loss of confidence.

The separation of investment and commercial banking should never have been eliminated.

Tax cuts, a balanced budget, reduced government spending.

Adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) AT LOWEST Interest rate in 40years 2 1/2% people should have gone for a 30 year fixed rate.

Long Term structural problems in the economy need to be worked out every 20 years or so. Panics in 1837, 1857, 1873, 1897, 1907, 1929, and 1974.

Assuming everyone is honest and will always do the right thing is foolish. There are always those who will do whatever they think they can get away with when no one is watching.

Technology and the internet— We don’t need those big brokerage houses anymore and their research the exchange of information is instantaneous. With the fall of Lehman, Bear Sterns and others who will put those big deals now?

Leverage—you want it but you should put money into the economy when it is going up not when it is going down for a better effect.