12.14.2006

incompatible


there are certain things that are incompatible

then there are some things that are misunderstood

the relationship of Neil Young and Lynrd Skynrd
friendship or feud?

it has always been my understanding that this was an issue of incompatibility
but urban legend and folklore may be incorrect
it may be another issue commonly misunderstood

last night I ran into another issue of incompatiblity concerning Neil Young

a few nights ago I felt the frustration of preparing for Christmas
setting up the lights and wrestling with fuses and burnt out bulbs raised my heartrate
then the inability to solve my inoperable Lionel train set took my heart rate to the next level
my boys were let down... I was frustrated
eventually the lights were up
the boys were still yearning for the train

later that dayI was having dinner with my dad I told my father of my Lionel train woes
the conversation closed with my request for one of his LGB G scale trails to go around our Christmas Tree
my father lit up with excitment and the seed was planted
over the next few days there was a volley of emails about the loaning of these trains
the term loan was repeated
in the last set of emails my father reminded me of the excessive cost of the engine and the cars
only to get the response back from me with a reminder of the age of my boys
as much as they promise as pure as their intent... they are still two and five
the simple age and boyishness of my children would put the expensive trains at risk
my father offered to resolve the issue by purchasing me a new Lionel train engine
this was a far less expensive resolve

there was some hesitation about the new engine
my father knew the situation and understood my question of where the failure existed with my system
although the transformer had a green light
I was not confident that the failure was in the engine or with the transformer
not having another engine or another transformer these issues could not be worked through
things were still a mystery

so...
just as I tried to buy a cordless drill for 29.99 and ended up buying 169.99 cordless combo kit my father ended up moving through the logical progression of the cost of an engine, the cost of an transformer... stepping up to the cost of a Lionel starter kit; The Pennsylvania Flyer
it is logical to the consumer and to the marketing group
here is where it gets a little crazy
Lionel existed for nearly 100 years with a standard style of track... there is a slight variation in the radius of some turns... but the connectors and basic functionality remained unchanged for roughly a century
until now
my father knowingly bought the set that is incompatible with the track that I already possess
my Lionel set purchased several years ago along with some track I collected from a set that has circulated about the family

the track changed...
the track rests on a raised base and the connectors are similar yet incompatible
hopefully the track has changed for the better
just as it is time for me to move forward with the LED Christmas lights
getting past the retro bulbs with broken glass, dull bulbs, and burnt fuses
it may be time to move to the new and improved style of track
it defnitely seems to be more stable on carpet than the old style

in the end...
the old engine works
which leads me to believe that the failure was with the transformer that came with the other starter set
BUT!
I have not assembled an oval of the old track
there may have been an issue with power connections or conduction with the mixture of old and new track
that is a trouble shooting session for another day or maybe night

so...
last night to carry the Christmas momentum I went to my dad's house with the boys
returned some tools he was requesting back and picked up the train set
the boys were estatic that grandpa had treated them to an early Christmas present
a gift that should give great pleasure and joy for many years to come

the age requirements reads 8+
which means that the trains are an activity that demands parental guidance and control
the boys got changed into pajamas while I set up the track
the boys rushed downstairs with their teeth brushed
turns were taken and instructions were followed
there was only one high speed crash

the boys listened and learned
the lights went off and they watched the train circle the track
then the boys went off to bed

with the kids in bed I put away the engine and the cars
leaving the oval track set up
then pulled out the oak blocks
assembled a simple bridge and a simple tunnel

I knew that it would be an early morning

sure enough
the boys woke with a snap when they realized that the train would be set up
I told them to go downstairs and check things out
there were figures and accessories that could be set up around the track
it was not long before one child came up requesting my assistance then the other
so I rolled out of bed and fetched some coffee
put the train on the track and guided a morning of train action before a day of work and a day of school

I brought down clothing for the boys
told them to get dressed before I set up the engine and cars

again the boys were respectful of the trains
there was some incidental roughness
but this is to be expected and partially accepted
then the issueing of more rules
no touching the moving trains do not step on the track bring the train to a complete stop before trying to load something on the flat bed cars along with the rules there was the effort to teach the patern of the controls the transformer has a patern of forward/neutral/reverse/neutral/repeat

dean at five grasped this pretty well
grant handled things pretty well with guidance

there was good turn taking and good sharing
there was respect for the trains
and no complaints when I told them it was time for breakfast
the boys ate their breakfast then I took them both to school

I warned them that I was working late
it will be interesting if lisa will be able to guide the boys to play appropriately with the train
I fear that I may come home to a Katrina-esque disaster
bridges and tunnel colapses
track in disrepair
and engines and freight cars that will never roll again
these are the risks
hopefully my fears do not become realities

sure I could wait till the boys turn 8
but... I think with guidance and some oversight
things can be controled
fun can be had
lessons can be learned

yikes... I need to rush off to work

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