Thursday, April 30, 2020

Laser Stuckem?

Left: E. L. Moore's Stukem Glue Works from MR Oct '77; Right: GCLaser's Blucher Glue Works
John was mentioning that he'll have two of the E. L. Moore machine shop kits - one of them purchased at a store in Toronto when he was 14 - in a new rural area on his layout. He sent me a link to GCLaser, and I noticed their Blucher Glue Works kit is very similar to E. L. Moore's Stuckem Glue Works that appeared in the October '77 issue of Model Railroader. I was lucky to see E. L. Moore's original back in 2015. The kit looks quite nice and would certainly be a quicker way to build up a new glue works for your layout than cutting a lot of balsa and inking a lot of window frames :-)
Left: E. L. Moore's Stukem Glue Works from MR Oct '77; Right: GCLaser's Blucher Glue Works

Rain, rain, rain

I guess I'm only in the mood for hiatusing while the sun shines. Today and tomorrow: rain, rain, and more rain. I heard the Siren's Song and I'm back at the keyboard.

Vince was mentioning that he has a two page spanning photo in the May issue of MR. Unfortunately for me, with the stay-at-home orders and all, there isn't a hobby shop open to go buy a copy, Hopefully there'll still be a few copies on shelves when things re-open.

Next week they say the sun will be back, so I think the blog will go into summer operations. No hiatus, but likely a reduced posting frequency.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

A short hiatus after a third inspection

Shot outdoors in bright sunshine using a concrete block for a backdrop - pants not yet fixed :-)
I'll be taking a little break from blogging now that the good weather finally seems to have settled in. I'll still be stowed away at home, futzing around the house and in the backyard. Hopefully the sunshine and fresh air will breath some new life into my stale postings. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

End of road weathering - for now

I did another round of road weathering to tone down strong hues and unify the colours a bit. I also pulled some buildings from the shelf to see how the road tones compared to those on the structures. I'm still thinking about how they go together, no doubt some further adjustments will still be needed.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Test arrangement

I was working on weathering the roads and thought I'd try a test setup on the Ocean Park end of the layout. Moving the buildings around and trying different arrangements is part of the fun for me. I'm beginning to see the look I'm after starting to peek through, but more detailing, and finishing the Canadian Press complex, is needed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Three amigos

I was anxious to see how the three buildings in this complex looked now that the centre one was standing. I especially wanted to check on the squareness of the whole thing. It's not too bad. I think I'll have a go at the new 4th floor on the rightmost building.

Centre building standing

Building the core for the Canadian Press building was a little tricky. One thing I learned was I need to buy a specialized foam board cutting tool if I'm going to continue working with that material.

The main side walls, roof, and walls for the ground floor stores were cut from 3/16" white foam board. They were glued up into a structure using a combination of transfer tape, Weld Bond, and Roket card glue. I'll admit to overkill, but I wanted to make the structure as solid as I could.

The interior floors are cut from 1/8" white foam board. The back of each floor has a couple of notches cut in so lighting wiring can be snaked to the ground floor. I envision the floor details being built up on styrene 'trays' that can be slipped into the structure.

That light brown outline on the foam board edges is transfer tape for bonding the floors to the facade.

The resulting box had a slight twist in it, so before attaching the facade I put it in an old frame clamp that I found when I was cleaning up the workshop a few months ago. I had thought I had lost this thing and was quite glad to find it and see that it still works.

The very last thing was to bond the facade to the box. While the glue was drying I placed a heavy book on top and waited.

It stands pretty square. There's a lot of detailing on the horizon for this thing, but the basic structure is now finished.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

High and Low

It's not often that the sound of a trolley pole trolling along the overhead wire, combined with the unique sound of trolley trucks grinding around tight narrow gauge track, provides a clue in a mystery movie, but it does in Akira Kurosawa's High and Low. Don't worry, I haven't given anything away if you haven't seen it. An excellent noir and trolleys. What's not to like?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Inspection, Take 2

I sprayed some Dullcote on the figure's pants to see if that would kill the shine. It did, sort of, but maybe not really :-) Although the sheen is much reduced, there are still highlights under the LED photo lights. I should repaint the figure and take a few photos outside in natural light. Now that the good weather's approaching, I can move picture taking outside without freezing.

Infinite Model Railroading

I set aside Detective Comics and rooted around the shelves to look for Finite and Infinite Games after I read Chris Ford's post speculating on what might happen to the model railroading landscape in the UK in a post corona virus world. Although my insight into the UK model railroading scene is built exclusively from their magazines, my understanding is that building layouts for shows is a cornerstone of the sociology of model railroading there, so if there are far fewer shows, or maybe none for awhile, it would seriously impact how a sub-group of people approach the hobby.

Reading his post got me thinking again of James Carse's Finite and Infinite Games that I first read back in the '80s. I wrote a little bit about it in the Three things I've learned post. Although in that post I was talking about the book in regard to model building, for me it also applies to model railroading. 

Basically, one could think of approaching model railroading in two ways: the finite and infinite. The finite version is one characterized by deadlines, schedules, building for competitions, shows, conventions, or magazines or other such venues. There are rules to be followed and rewards to be won. In this version, model railroading is somewhat like a business activity, or professional sport or entertainment. One of the key features of an infinite game, and infinite model railroading in particular, is that it isn't driven by externalities like events, deadlines, prizes, or money, and their associated rules. It's a personal pursuit where playing 'the game', in all its dimensions, is the focus. The infinite approach isn't a disguise for new age squishiness as things like the pursuit of craft through skill enhancement and mastery aren't abandoned. 

If there is a pull back from the current finite game approach, both here and elsewhere, maybe we'll see new approaches in the months and years to come as both the finite and infinite incorporate new ways of using the internet we haven't thought of yet. Time will tell. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Snow gone; squirrels back

This isn't Ocean Boulevard Jason, it's Gotham City

My isolation reading has now moved on to my old stash of comic books. That panel, with different words of course, is from Open-And-Shut Case!, the first in a series of stories from The Master Crime-file of Jason Bard that appeared in Detective Comics No. 425, which is the first issue of that comic I bought. In my mind it's always Batman I associate with Detective Comics. I'd forgotten about this Jason Bard who seems like an actual detective as opposed to a superhero. I've got a few more issues and it looks like there are some Jason Bard stories in them too. I should note that Open-And-Shut Case! was written by Frank Robbins with art by Don Heck.


Friday, April 17, 2020


Before another round of weathering on the roads I thought I should lay down a few markings so they'd get blended in as weathering was done. That above is in an area around the Mortimer loop and the natural history museum where road surfacing is newer.
John and I were talking about adding lines to road surfaces. It turned out we both used Tamyia yellow and white paint pens most of the time; however, I mentioned that my white pen was spent and my yellow was almost there. So, I'm going old school and masking off the lines to be painted white - using Tamyia's flat white acrylic. My old yellow paint pen actually isn't too bad to use because it gives a rather aged and thin look straight from the pen. 

Abandonment - Part 4

All the days are starting to mush together into one long day punctuated by periodic darkness. But here's something different. Part four in the rip roaring tale of New Toronto.

If you've missed Part 3, it's right here, but if you're up-to-date, let's get going!

I was in a room with three beds. Curtains hanging from tracks in the ceiling divided the room into three cells. The curtains were thin and didn't block out my roommates' personal dramas. I tried to ignore everything going on, but it was impossible, and I quickly realized I wasn't in such a bad way. 

My little cell included an outside wall and a window. I promised the nurse I'd stay in the room, but I didn't promise to stay in bed. I pulled a chair up beside the window and plopped myself in it. I couldn't lie in any bed. I was scared I'd fall asleep and not wake-up. I fell asleep in the chair now-and-then, but when I woke up and realized I'd been asleep I didn't feel any dread that the next time I fell asleep might be the last as I did when I was lying down.

I was lost in thought, staring out of the window, when I heard the curtain pulled back. In walked Leslie looking like a tall drink of cool water to a very dry desert rat. She said, "Why aren't you dressed? I thought you were getting released today?"

"Something happened last night. They caught me in the lounge sitting in a chair and talking rather loudly to myself. Long story short, they're keeping me for one more day for another round of tests, and a shrink is supposed to drop by."

"It's come to 'shrinks' has it? I knew this day would arrive."

I didn't appreciate the sarcasm, but let it pass. Instead I got all factual with her and said, "They said that maybe the accident triggered some thoughts that were giving me trouble."

"Ok. Who were you talking to?"

"Adams again. I also talked to him when I had the accident. He was as real as you are right there. Maybe I was hallucinating."

"Maybe? There isn't any other explanation."

There might be. Both encounters seemed so real, just as if he was there. But ghosts don't exist. I keep telling myself that. I said, "I know it's crazy, but it seemed like he was right in front of me."

She seemed to sense I wasn't in a joking mood and simply said, "Tell me."

"It's like I spoke with two Adamses. Last night's Adams was different from Adams at the accident. There he was uncharacteristically mellow and laid-back, but last night he was back to his usual self, formal and tightly wound. Dejected and depressed too. At the accident he said he had a job for me, and last night he told me what it was. He wants me to get a box of files that has all the dirt on the criminals he was working for and give it to a high-placed guy at the bureau who'll blow the whistle on them. Those guys were responsible for wrecking your fusor research, your dream, not to mention they're implicated in murder, theft, and subversion. They might get caught if all this is true."

She had that intense look of hers I knew so well. I had her attention. I continued, "I've been sitting here all night wracking my brain trying to think of a time when Adams told me about his evidence stash. I don't remember anything."

"You aren't going to drop this just because I'm skeptical are you? What do you want to do?"

"I think it might only take a day or two to follow-up on this and bring it to an end. If it turns out to be a wild goose chase, I'll forget all about it. Are you with me?"

"You know I am."

"One more thing. You know my memory is not so good these days, but I have to ask: are we married?"

Leslie slipped on a mischievous smile. "No. When the ambulance picked you up I told them I was your wife so I could ride with you and get in the hospital. They didn't ask for ID and I didn't offer any. I didn't think anyone else would be with you while you were here."

"Thanks Leslie. I owe you."

Leslie's smile flattened. "Look buster, our relationship isn't based on owing. You don't owe me. I don't owe you. When I do something it's because I want to. You should know that by now."

Our relationship? I changed the subject and said, "I have an idea to get this little investigation over with quick. Instead of picking me up here tomorrow, meet me at the Kresge's downtown at Young and Ellington."

"The one with the long lunch counter and phone booths?"

"Yes, that one. Be there at 11:30. I'll buy lunch."

"That'll be a first."

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Standing on the right

Instead of standing up the centre section I decided to do something a little easier and stand up the building on the right. It was just a matter of cutting the remaining walls down to match the facade and gluing them all together.

Well, there was one other thing. I had to narrow the back wall a bit because I'm not using the left trim piece on the facade, so to make the front and back the same width, the back had to be slimmer.

One thing you can't see in the photo is the slanted cut I made on the wall that will attach to the centre section. It's a boo-boo that can be fixed to square things up, and luckily it won't be seen.

I'm not doing the prototype justice by generically referring to it as the-building-on-the-right. A little internet searching found that's it's called the Quebec Bank building. It was built in 1886. You can see from the photos and description at the link that the prototype is a fascinating building, and my little approximation doesn't begin to capture its magnificence.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Li'l Aqua

My Li'l Aqua water delivery show rod is a combination of AMT's Li'l Gasser and Amtronic kits. I think I built this back in 2005, or maybe a couple of years earlier. I submitted some pictures to Starship Modeller back then and they graciously posted them. Since I've been thinking about show rods these days I thought I'd take some new pictures. 

A couple of parts fell off while I was handling the model and taking the pictures, but they were easily re-glued. Overall, it still seems fairly solid after all these years.
The front end of the Li'l Gasser kit got used on the Li'l Overlook project, and the back end of the Amtronic was the basis of the Amtronic Ranch.

Snow on the composters

We awoke to snow. Just a dusting. Shouldn't last.

Standing up the building on the left

The order I placed for the rightmost building in this complex also included the styrene channels I needed to complete the side facade on the leftmost tower. They were painted up to match those on the front and stuck on with transfer tape.

The moment of truth had arrived. All was ready for assembling the tower.

The first thing I had to do was figure out the dimensions for the other side wall, the back wall, the floors, and the roof. All this activity needed was a sharp pencil, ruler, and my trusty calculator. All of those pieces were cut from 3/16" black foam board. The street level store will have a styrene floor, but that will be added later.

First up was cutting out the floors. That notch is to allow wires for lights to be snaked down the back wall to the base and into a hole in the layout to connect up to a power pack. I'm thinking that interior detail will be setup on styrene sheets that can be slipped in and out of the floors.

Transfer tape was stuck to all edges of each floor piece except for the back where the notch is.

In this photo the foam core side wall, and all the individual floors, have been stuck in place. All that needs to be done now is to attach the last side.

The back wall isn't glued in place. You may remember that in the Thomson building project I built a back wall that slides into place. On this tower the model is too small for a slide, so I cut the back wall to friction fit to the sides. It seems to hold ok, but time will tell if I need to make a more secure attachment.

Gluing on the other sidewall was a tricky juggling act involving superglue, Weld Bond, cursing, and many clamps.

After the action had ceased, it was left to completely dry overnight.

The foam core that forms the back wall has a piece of 0.020" sheet styrene stuck on. It was cut wide enough to overlap the end walls to make things look neat.

To the sheet I attached a piece of channel to one corner as well as some Micro Mark self-adhesive concrete block paper and a strip of their brick paper. These were lightly painted with the same colour as was used on the facade's verticals, and then were washed with thinned flat black. Some of the colours and textures from the papers are still visible after painting which gives a rather nice effect. 

I'm thinking the tower has a little problem with squareness. Yeah, it doesn't look too bad over there compared to the square, but I think its base might need a little grinding or shimming once I begin to attach the other buildings in the complex. Any oddities that result along the base I should be able to mask a bit when I put on the ground floor storefront overlays.

That's the finished back wall and the side wall that will attach to the centre building. Only half of the side has been papered and painted as the lower black part will be  unseen.

On its own, this tower seems a little small for HO, but it could be just fine for N once suitable adjustments had been made on the ground level storefront. But, when I place the tower near the two other facades that will make up the complex, it looks about right. It's always fascinating to me how context changes perception.

The other thing I noticed about the model was that once it was standing I had a feeling of recognition. I've walked by the prototype many times, and on seeing the model I strongly felt it looked right, which suggested even with its faults its likely heading in the right direction.

Well, that's that for now. The next step will be to stand up the centre building.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Frank talk about society

Clearly the blobs are not to scale!
I'm going to start this post with the usual Vince-and-I-were-chatting line because it's true :-) We were talking about the famous Sociology of Model Railroading article and how it might relate to this model-railroading-as-a-medium business I've been going on about.

It's tough for me to comment on the sociology story because I'm not a very social hobbyist. Being a nerd I summarized my social status with that Venn diagram up there :-) Mainstreamers would classify me as a lone wolf interested in a niche aspect of the hobby. I don't belong* to clubs, groups, or organizations**, and only a couple of my friends are into the hobby. I do attend nearby swap meets. I went to the annual Ottawa train show until it disappeared, and I've been to some far-flung train shows over the years. I read the magazines now and then***, but I'm mainly interested in old printed material. I read some blogs and websites on a regular basis. Forum participation is one or two posts a year if that, and I sometimes read threads of interest. My primary hobby-related social outlet is this blog. 

Given my weak bona fides in this area, my only thoughts are that I think the sociology story applies mainly to a large swath of the 'Mainstream Model Railroad Hobby' blob over in the Venn diagram. Given the 2012 date on the story it likely needs updating regarding digital life, and for changes in the coming post-corona virus world. A subject I might add to the story is one dealing with camaraderie and fellowship. 

L to R: Capt. Dalton, the General, Lt. Merriweather; MR Mar '43
When it comes to the social I'm somewhat stuck in the fantasy mindset exemplified by Model Railroader's 6-part serial that appeared in the 1943 March to August issues called My Adventures in Model Land. It's a fictional story about how three friends, Captain Jack Dalton, Lt. Frank Merriweather, and The General, got into model railroading and built layouts after retiring from the service. The story's quite low-key, pleasant and filled with gentle humour, although there are parts that indulge in casual racism. The byline is given to Frank Merriweather****, so it's not clear who actually wrote it. There are line drawings throughout that are attributed to G.R.H. - I don't know who that might be. It's a social story, not a technical one, and camaraderie plays a big role. Viewed 77 years later it seems amazing that this serial was printed at all. Even a modernized version wouldn't be published today. Maybe it was thought it could be a morale booster during the war about happier times ahead for model railroaders when it was over.

*I follow the teachings of Marx - Groucho Marx that is - and wouldn't belong to any group that would have me as a member :-)

**Hmm, now that I think about it, I am a member of Friends of the Pendon. They do have me as a member and I'm very glad I am. Apparently there's an exception to *.

***Ok, to be clearer, I subscribe to the quarterly Voie Libre, and only buy other magazines from a newsstand if they contain a compelling article.

****When I saw the name Frank Merriweather I immediately wondered if this was a reference to Frank Merriwell and his brother Dick who were protagonists in many popular stories that ran in Tip Top Weekly magazine from the late 1890s into the 1910s. After Tip Top Weekly, Frank Merriwell continued to appear in other media well into the 1930s. Even E. L. Moore noted he had read Frank Merriwell stories as a boy. I suspect many writers in the 1940s would be well aware of the Merriwell brothers, so maybe this retirement memoir of 'Frank Merriweather' is some veiled Frank Merriwell fan-fiction about what he got up to after he hung up adventuring.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Second round of road painting

As the title implies, I continue to work on painting Ocean Boulevard and its side streets. It's turning out to be a surprisingly interesting job. And a big one too! 

I think I've got the colour of the streetcar apron about right. I find that Model Master Camouflage Grey layered with Testors Aged Concrete is giving me a good approximation to the colour in my reference photos. But, I must note that the colour does vary from one location to the next along the TTC, as well as with the time of year.

As for the road, some sections will be closer to black to simulate recent paving, and others, like the section down near the ocean, will be greyer and more distressed. I'm continuing to refine the colours - I spend a lot of time just standing back and looking at the road as I progress to think about how it's coming along and what to do next - but I might stop soon as I'm getting low on paint.


Few people associate thinking with photography. In reality they are so close that we cannot tell one from the other.
John Alton, from a section called What Is Thinking in his 1949 book Painting With Light.

Consider this list of model railroaders where photography appears to play a significant role in their practice:

John Ahern
John Allen
Glenn Footscray
Dave Frary
Malcolm Furlow
Ben King
Lance Mindheim
E. L. Moore
Chris Nevard
John Olson
Jerry Quinn
Paul Scoles
Pelle Soeborg

+ many others. I mean no offence to anyone I've omitted. These are simply names that readily came to mind when I started to write this post.

I sometimes wonder if innovations in the medium come as much from photography as they do from layout design, research, or improved detail. This is likely well trod ground, but as I continue my stay-at-home bookshelf adventure it's one of the topics I've been thinking about. 

From the moment I began broadcasting, that medium seemed like another world, as indeed it is. The moment I began to experience the studio environment, my while reaction to what I could do with music under the proper circumstances changed totally. From then on, concerts were less than second best - they were merely something to be gotten through. They were a very poor substitute for a real artistic experience.

Try out this idea for a minute: layout operation is to model railroading as giving concerts was to Glenn Gould. Or maybe this one: photography is to model railroading as studio recording and broadcasting was to Glenn Gould.

In his article, Turning His Back on His Audience, Mr. Gould discusses how in the '50s he came to realize that producing an album or broadcast wasn't simply recording a performance as best as one could, but was about the creation of an altogether more appealing sound than that which I was able to achieve under "real, live" conditions. Likewise, in the hands of a master, applying photography to the medium isn't simply recording a layout - although it's often put to that purpose. It allows for expression that's maybe closer to what the modeller actually has in their mind that casual layout observers don't see. In fact, in many photographs the layout is as superfluous to getting at the user's meaning as a concert is to a Gouldian recording.

Since the fate of most layouts is destruction followed by a last ride to a dumpster, and given that the internet can circulate and store a seemingly endless stream of photographs and video, maybe the medium's future developments in expression won't require a layout of any sort. Clearly, this isn't news to many people, but I'm always on the trailing edge :-)

Friday, April 10, 2020

Ice T anyone?

Vince and I were chatting recently about show rods and during the conversation he mentioned that I start many posts with "Vince and I were chatting recently about .....". I agreed I was getting sloppy and was now relying on overused phrases. Let me start this post again.

I was discussing the sociological implications of the sub-category of automotive technology known as 'Show Rods' with an esteemed colleague and member of the 30Squares editorial board. There was an inquiry as to whether I had ever built the Show Rod known as Ice T. I retorted that I had many odd years ago in my halcyon days. It was assembled in a naive manner with a brushed-on application of paint highlighted with primitive dots stippled on in a Jackson Pollock-esque style with a Sharpie pen. Art Brut? Homage to juvenile art of a lost era? Or maybe it was just a way to have some simple fun :-)

There's no business like snow business

Yesterday morning we had a snow flurry. Until then the only remaining snow was that little pile just to the left of the leftmost composter. I shot this photo from the back porch, and as you can see the flakes are quite large, but luckily they melted as soon as they landed.

No such luck with the snow that fell last night. It stuck to the ground that was still rather could. Luckily it's just a dusting and should all be melted as the day goes on.

A little off the top

After looking a little more closely at the downsized facade of the rightmost building it was clear that I should have removed a little more from the top to make it closer to the prototype. That was easily fixed with another cut with the razor saw. Now all the decorative trim has been removed. It might be maybe 2 brick courses too short, but I think it's now a little closer to the prototype, and the newer, more modern bit on the top will look a bit better.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Skill, a little more

Skill gives you the wherewithal to execute whatever occurs to you. Without it, you are just a font of unfulfilled ideas. Skill is how you close the gap between what you can see in your mind's eye and what you can produce; the more skill you have, the more sophisticated and accomplished your ideas can be. With absolute skill comes absolute confidence, allowing you to dare to be simple.

Analyze your own skill set. See where you're strong and where you need dramatic improvement, and tackle those lagging skills first. It's harder than it sounds (most useful habits are), but it's the only way to improve. In A Book of Five Rings, the sixteenth-century Japanese swordfighter Miyamoto Musashi counselled, "Never have a favorite weapon." Warriors know they need to enlarge their arsenal of skills in order to avoid becoming predictable to their adversaries.
Some thoughts from Twyla Tharp on skill in her book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, A Practical Guide. I bought this excellent book many years ago from the remainder bin outside a new age bookshop - don't ask :-)

Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings: The Real Art of Japanese Management is one of the few business books I've bought - although, strictly speaking, it isn't a business book. It was reprinted in paperback in 1982 with some commentary. Back then understanding what made Japanese companies so successful was all the rage, and since at the time I was enthralled with Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and quality, this book seemed like something I'd be interested in. It was. 

While not calling out skill specifically, the following passage from TBFR about the skill of selecting what to use where has stuck with me all these years.

In building a house, the lumber is sorted. Straight, gnarless lumber which is beautiful to behold is used for the external pillars; lumber with a few gnarls but which is straight and strong is used for inconspicuous pillars; lumber which may be a bit weak but which is gnarl-free and beautiful to behold is used for the threshold, lintel, doorways and shoji ("sliding panels"); lumber which is gnarled and slightly distorted but which is strong, is used in places appropriate for such lumber after careful study has been made for such places, thus resulting in a house which is solid and long lasting. There is also lumber which is heavily gnarled, distorted, and weak, and such lumber can be used for scaffolding and later as firewood.

When I had cable and watched its infinity of home reno shows it was clear that sort of skill wasn't a consideration. Demolition and replacement with new commercial materials was standard procedure - don't get me started about the hackneyed scenes of homeowners swinging sledge hammers :-) The above seems more applicable to a society where materials aren't abundant, but I think it's a good principle to always keep in mind. In scratchbuilding I've found it a useful principle for thinking about how to use my scrapbox and accumulated materials.

Abandonment - Part 3

You're cooped up. You've streamed so much, water is coming out of your tv. You've eaten more macaroni-and-cheese than is humanly possible. Friend, take a break on the electric streets of New Toronto. Missed part 2? Then take a detour here, otherwise, let's get on with the action. 

I couldn't sleep. Hospitals put me on edge at the best of times and especially at night. During the day they ran their tests on me and later told me my head seemed ok, but said I should stay over night so they could observe. Just in case. I didn't have anywhere to be, and I didn't want to risk some blow-out in my brain. I stayed.

But I couldn't sleep. I think it's the sounds. The only free bed they had was up on the seventeenth floor in the geriatric ward. During the day it was ok, but now there were all manner of disturbing noises. I decided to walk around the floor awhile and try to burn off my edginess. There was a small lounge near the nurse's station. It had a coffee machine that dispensed some fluid they referred to as soup. I walked over, dropped in some coins, and out squirted something steaming into a cup. I reached down to remove it from the machine's output slot and felt a cold grip on my left shoulder. I turned to see who it was and automatically jerked my shoulder back when I did. It was Adams. Again.

Adams released his grip and pulled back. He said, "Hello again."

It was either a ghost or I was having a stoke. I stood there frozen, staring at him. If it was a ghost, I could handle that; a stroke, not so much. He said, "Why don't we sit down."

I shuffled over to one of the worn out, half-dozen cast-off chairs that made up the lounging part of the lounge. I sat down and Adams sat in a chair opposite me. He said, "Are you ok?"

"I don't think I'm ok. I'm sitting in a hospital talking to myself."

"You are not talking to yourself, you are talking to me, Zachariah Adams. Do you remember who I am?"

"I remember who you were. There must be something wrong with me." Believe me, I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. I said, "I think I need to speak to a nurse."

"If it will make you happy, but before you do, please let me speak."

I was finally feeling tired. Maybe it was the shock. I didn't feel like fighting him. Fighting it. Or fighting period. I slumped back in the chair and said, "Ok, shoot."

"I need you to do a job for me."

"Can you tell me why I should believe you're here? Maybe you're a hallucination? Are you a ghost? I saw you die."

"Yes, I am dead, but I do not know if I am a ghost. All I know is I have seen no one or no thing. I do not know if I exist or not. Sometimes I believe I think or something thinks my thoughts. I cannot explain anything or even how I got here, but I am here, and I have a  job for you."

"Why me?"

"We are connected. Are we not?"

I was feeling tired and raw and my edge was getting ragged. I leaned forward and asked, "Is this how the afterlife works? Harassing the living and giving them jobs? Why should I help you after all the trouble you caused?"

Adams leaned forward, put his elbows on his knees, rested his head in his hands and stared at the floor. He replied, "I do not know how all this works. Am I ghost? Am I in the afterlife? Heaven? Hell? I do not know what I am or where I am. I know I caused a death, ruined lives, and was responsible for all manner of trouble. I deeply regret it and I would reverse it all if I could, but I cannot.  All I know is I have a job for you."

He was distraught. I relented to try and end all this. I said, "OK, what do you want me to do?"

Adams looked up a bit and replied, "I kept a set of records documenting my activities with those men who were paying me to disrupt fusor research. I put the records in a file labeled Smith and stored them at my home mingled in with my family genealogy records. My daughter was to get the genealogy files when I died. Please retrieve the Smith file from her and send it to Phil Douglas. He is, or was, the deputy-secretary at the bureau. He is the only one there I trust. I cannot fix my sins, but Douglas will recognize what you have sent him, and have the proof to go after all those people who are bent on ruining things for other people so they can make life better for themselves. That is all I can do."

"Why me? Why don't you contact your daughter and get her to do it?"

"All I know is that we are connected and I need to ask you. I do not know why I cannot contact her. I do not know how any of this works."

"Do you know her phone number?"

"316, Russell, 738."

Here I was, in the middle of the night, sitting in a chair in the middle of a hospital lounge talking into thin air and asking a ghost for a phone number. You'd think someone would notice. Someone finally did. A nurse at the desk gently called over to me, "Are you alright Mr. Bryce?" I turned to look at her. She got up and started to walk towards me. I turned back to Adams. He was gone.

Part 4 is here.