trainThe Rail Philatelist

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Volume 1 Number 5 ………………………………………………………… February 1, 1997

Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:

1997 is off to a great start thanks to all the mail orders and a couple of good shows. I used most of my travel time in January to complete the alphabet lists for my web page - now I just need to update them each month for the two letter lists I send out with the newsletter - I may get this down to a manageable system yet. Several readers have suggested that monthly is probably too rigorous a schedule and wished me luck trying to maintain it. The biggest problem may not be the time to do it but finding enough material to fill those two blank pages that greet me each month. So far I've been just letting my mind wander. If you have any ideas or suggestions, send them along.

PACIFIC 97 - GOOD NEWS! Looks like I'll be able to have all my stamp and Cinderella stock and some of my cover stock in my friend's booth on June 6, 7, and 8, the last three days of the show so make your plans to visit me there then - details on the booth number and location later.

NEW COMPUTER : Is this a great country or what! No, Santa didn't come thru but I went out New YearÕs Day and got a new computer the American way - NO MONEY DOWN and NO PAYMENTS FOR SIX MONTHS W.A.C(with approved credit). I signed a few forms and walked out with a $3000 Macintosh Power Book 1400cs, the laptop computer of my dreams. Now all I need to do is learn how to use it and sell you all enough good stuff to pay for it - so get those orders in the mail! As I feared, my old workhorse Microsoft WORKS 2.0 integrated word processor, spreadsheet and database doesn't work on the new computer -ERROR Ònot enough memory" or something like that. Give me a break - the old computer had 5 meg RAM and a 40 meg hard drive (but System 6.03), this one has 16 meg RAM and a 750 meg hard drive (and OS 7.5.3). Fortunately, Claris WORKS translates my old files with only minor problems such as stamp prices in the data bases come over as just numbers rather than dollar values (e.g. $0.20 shows up as 0.2). So once I get the field widths adjusted, the $ entered and the fields justified in my 30+ database files I should be ready to go. The real problem came when I tried to use my old NEC Silentwriter 2 Model 90 LaserWriter. After getting everything installed into the new computer in the same places they occurred in the old one (actually did this twice) I managed to graduate from the ERROR MESSAGE "NO PRINTER SELECTED -GO TO CHOOSER" even as I exited the chooser after having selected the printer and having it's icon on the screen. But I got hung up on ERROR MESSAGE - "FILE @##&$$@(*^%# NOT FOUND". After three or four of these I was shouting "FIND THE @##&$$@(*^%# FILE" at the computer with a notable lack of success. I spent 8 hours searching all the manuals and trying everything I could think of and went to bed frustrated only to wake up about 4 AM with a whole new string of things to try as soon as I got up. None of them worked either so I called Claris. They politely suggested I call NEC and provided an 800 number. While on terminal hold with NEC, I went exploring, opening and closing whatever I found. Hidden in the CHOOSER I found a button for 'Background Printing' ON or OFF. (No mention of this in any of the manuals). It was ON, so I turned it OFF and the printer worked fine! I hung up on NEC and ran off to my first ever root canal (Honest - do you think I make this stuff up?(Copy of dental appointment slip and bill available upon request)). But I'll admit I do lay awake some nights thinking what to say here! The printer problem was much more painful than the root canal so I rushed back home and tried again. Sure enough - the printer worked fine with 'Background Printing' OFF, same old Ò@##&$$@(*^%#Ó with it ON, so it stays OFF! I had done about half of this newsletter on the old computer and finished it up on the new one. Claris WORKS has a more full-featured word processor than my old one so you may be seeing some changes and improvements in issues to come as I learn how to use things. I've already found 3 spelling errors in my SHOW SCHEDULE and a couple in this that I've hopefully corrected before you receive it.

STAMP OF THE MONTH: Is United States Scott #1028 {The Gadsden Purchase} really a railroad stamp? None of the various handbooks and catalogs have listed it as such but I think they should. Most of the first day cover makers for this stamp included a train in their designs - why? - do they know something that we don't. Many historical records indicate that the Gadsden Purchase's primary purpose was so that the Southern Pacific Railroad could acquire the best right-of-way for

the Sunset Route. According to Norman A. Graebner (1993 World Book Encyclopedia Vol. 7(G) pages 4-5), " provide the United States with a good southern railroad route to the Pacific Coast, the government bought from Mexico a strip of land that included the region south of the Gila River in what is now Arizona and New Mexico." James Gadsden, the U.S. minister to Mexico (who incidentally was also a railroad executive according to Robert M. Weir (also in World Book)) made the 29,640 square mile purchase for $10 million on Dec. 30, 1853 and the deal was ratified on June 30, 1854. That should be enough railroad connection to qualify Scott #1028 for inclusion in your railway stamp collection.

FIRST DAY COVERS: The FDC used to illustrate the item above is a hand painted James Knoble (Mellone FDC Catalog #1028-18). It is just one of several thousand U.S. and foreign FDCs in stock. Like so many other things, I haven't yet found the time to make a listing of all the items available. I have several different cachets for each of the U.S. train stamps (including #1028) plus one or two for most of the foreign items. I can also provide FDCs for the new items as part of my New Issue Service. You can send me a want list by Scott # and cachet maker and I'll be happy to send photocopies of the items in stock.

PARKINSON'S LAW: As you may recall, "work expands to fill the time available" and the corollary "A bureaucracy can maintain itself on it's own internally generated paperwork". I'm sorry to report that I've reached this state of Nirvana. Just working up the stock I've accumulated, creating price lists and newsletters, etc is more than I can keep up with. Throw in a 3-day or longer show trip or just a simple order or two and I'm behind the power curve. Thus, wasting a day or more getting the printer working and spending a couple days learning my way around the new computer kept me from getting all the new issues out before I left on this latest trip. Getting them and this out when I got back delayed some other orders. My apologies - I'm trying to get myself organized enough to respond to your requests as quickly as possible, but I don't always succeed. E-mail is the fastest way to communicate with me although I do check my telephone messages every evening when on the road - snail mail waits until I get back - that's the price I pay for being a one-man band. (I do enjoy marching to my own drum though!) Thanks for your patience. Best wishes.


Al's signatureAL PETERSON

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