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Author's profile photo Jim Spath

The short-haul clue train

[Friday] | [Saturday] | [Sunday] | [Monday] | 

Saturday morning, I’m driving a short distance from my home to the Amtrak station just north of here, in Aberdeen Maryland, to join a colleague for a short-haul clue train ride to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.   From there, we plan to pick up the blue line ( thanks @jenrobinson ) across town, view the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, then meet up with about 150 of our friends and fellow volunteers.

This will bring back memories of the Clue Train from Frankfurt to Berlin as part of the SAP TechEd 2008 EMEA conference.    I’m hoping that the American rail experience is at least palatable compared to the efficiency of Deutsche Bahn.    While few of the German employees were as friendly as those I’ve met in the U.S. and Canada train system, I was able to get around for 10 days with a minimum of delay or hassle.


Why am I calling this the short-haul ride?  For those not immersed in railroad lore, a short-haul line is one that doesn’t go far.  Think of the Short Line on the game board of Monopoly. There is a stop in Wilmington, Delaware, and that’s it.

Part of my Amtrak reservation process asked about carbon offsets, which I purchased for just a few dollars (shades of “Rented a car lately? Would you like carbon offsets with that?“) from 

Quantity Product Name Price/Ea. Total
1 2,500 Miles Rail Travel $3.00 $3.00
    Sub Total: $3.00
    Shipping: $0.00
    Total:    $3.00

On the agenda this weekend are more activities than last year’s conference planning session, because more volunteers are attending, and the scope has widened from the several day physical event to the entire year of virtual events.

We’re putting together calendars of webcasts, like the one hosted by Thomas Jung and Oliver Mayer of SAP, plotted on SDN wiki pages, and other events throughout the year.  I have  surveys I’m cooking up, and there’s always the chance of the random blog post.  I am not certain how we can plan for that kind of sporadic news, gossip and story-telling event, so we’ll see what we can do.

The last blog I posted on the ASUG site responded to Craig Cmehil‘s Friday Morning Report, and his personal blog post, where he’s challenged himself to run a 24-hour internet show, and challenged us to donate to a worthy charity – Doctors Without Borders.  I think Craig greatly underestimated his motivational skills, as his initial goal was $500 US, and over $100 was raised during the first hour after he went public with the concept on his show.  As I write this, the donation amount is already over $500, at 3 weeks before the show.

The idea was so awesome, I jumped in with both feet and promised to host an hour webcast using ASUG facilities, and to facilitate a simulcast of Craig’s show for those who might have the channel blocked. The registration and publicity are still being worked on (think “marketing”); you can check out the former on  We’ll have guest speakers, show a lot of networking tools, talk about volunteerism, and chat about what is important.

My company has a matching gifts program and I’ve used it to multiply the power of giving.  Previous posts about water bottles and related environmental issues have expressed my opinions, shaped behaviors, and possibly, made a drop of difference.  Coincidentally, during Craig’s marathon, there is an independent charity drive set up with Twitter for water issues.

I first heard about Doctors Without Borders “back in the day” (okay, the early 1980s) when we were organizing against Reagan, the weapons industry, nuclear power and wanton chemical manufacturing (Bhopal, etc.).  A friend of a friend was a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and another was part of Programmers for Social Responsibility.  My early reaction was, oh, that’s nice, but why would you need a group to do that; shouldn’t it be part of your daily life anyway?



Keywords or tokens to use in your tweets, to help searches and viewability

  • #FMR
  • #fridaymorningreport
  • #MSF
  • #craig24


My SDN 1K T-shirt, and my Latin American contact map, from Doctors Without Borders

The map title reads, “We find out where conditions are the worst–the places where others are not going–and that’s where we want to be.


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      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt
      Really enjoyed this post and surprised not more folks commenting on it.  Glad my vacation starts "after" the marathon which will be Feb. 12th