|From: Jon Koplik||6/20/2020 7:38:45 PM|
|CBS News -- North Korean defectors sometimes struggle to adjust to new life in South Korea .............|
June 20, 2020
North Korean defectors sometimes struggle to adjust to new life in South Korea
This year marks seventy years since North Korea invaded South Korea, igniting the Korean War. There is still no peace treaty -- just a truce that left North Korea's repressive Kim family in power.
Over the decades, more than 30,000 defectors have escaped through China, some paying thousands of dollars to brokers. They come to South Korea hoping for a new beginning, but as Barry Petersen reports from Seoul, adjusting to life there is not always easy.
North Koreans are accustomed to food shortages in their home country. When they successfully make it to South Korea, they are sometimes overwhelmed by the abundance they encounter.
Hannah Song, who runs an NGO called "Liberty in North Korea" from an office in Long Beach, California, told Petersen that some defectors say coming to South Korea is like getting in a time machine and fast forwarding 60 years.
Song said one defector she met "froze" when he encountered a buffet -- "not only overwhelmed just by the abundance of food but by the abundance of choice."
"He ended up simply eating rice and leaving," she said.
Back in North Korea, propaganda of Kim Jong Un instills a cult of the supreme leader into the heads of every child.
"A lot of young North Koreans who come to South Korea and want to study will say how frustrated they are because so much of what they had to learn in North Korea was about stories of the Kim family," Song said. "And they are like 'what a waste of brain space'… and it puts them on this incredible unlevel playing field."
Jung Gwang Il fights back against the regime from his kitchen table with a laptop and flash drives where he dubs over movies and TV shows. The flash drives then go into plastic bottles and are tossed into the river that flows north, to be picked up by North Korean fishermen who sell them as a much-sought commodity.
Jung Gwang Il spent three years in a political prison camp on espionage charges. "I defected holding great hostility towards the North Korean regime," he said.
Some defectors will never adjust, never become a part of South Korea's high-tech, hurried society. But still, they come.
Song said there are parallels between what American immigrants face and what defectors from North Korea face when they flee south.
"Just like my parents came here and made an incredible amount of sacrifice so that my brothers and I could live here, could grow up here, and have all the privilege and opportunity that we have … it is the exact same for North Koreans," she said.
"They may struggle, but for their children that will grow up, that may be born there ... their lives will be significantly different."
© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc.
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|From: Jon Koplik||7/10/2020 12:39:22 AM|
|WSJ -- The Delicious Evolution of Mayonnaise .......................................................|
July 9, 2020
The Delicious Evolution of Mayonnaise
Ancient Romans ate a pungent version, but the modern egg-based spread was created by an 18th-century French chef.
By Amanda Foreman
I can’t imagine a summer picnic without mayonnaise -- in the potato salad, the veggie dips, the coleslaw, and yes, even on the french fries. It feels like a great dollop of pure Americana in a creamy, satisfying sort of way. But like a lot of what makes our country so successful, mayonnaise originally came from somewhere else.
Where, exactly, is one of those food disputes that will never be resolved, along with the true origins of baklava pastry, hummus and the pisco sour cocktail. In all likelihood, the earliest version of mayonnaise was an ancient Roman concoction of garlic and olive oil, much praised for its medicinal properties by Pliny the Elder in his first-century encyclopedia “Naturalis Historia.” This strong-tasting, aioli-like proto-mayonnaise remained a southern Mediterranean specialty for millennia.
But most historians believe that modern mayonnaise was born in 1756 in the port city of Mahon, in the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. At the start of the Seven Years’ War between France and Britain, the French navy, led by the Duc de Richelieu, smashed Admiral Byng’s poorly armed fleet at the Battle of Minorca. (Byng was subsequently executed for not trying hard enough.) While preparing the fish course for Richelieu’s victory dinner, his chef coped with the lack of cream on the island by ingeniously substituting a goo of eggs mixed with oil and garlic.
The anonymous cook took the recipe for “mahonnaise” back to France, where it was vastly improved by Marie-Antoine Careme, the founder of haute cuisine. Careme realized that whisking rather than simply stirring the mixture created a soft emulsion that could be used in any number of dishes, from the savory to the sweet.
It wasn’t just the French who fell for Careme’s version. Mayonnaise blended easily with local cuisines, evolving into tartar sauce in Eastern Europe, remoulades in the Baltic countries and salad dressing in Britain. By 1838, the menu at the iconic New York restaurant Delmonico’s featured lobster mayonnaise as a signature dish.
All that whisking, however, made mayonnaise too laborious for home cooks until the invention of the mechanical eggbeater, first patented by the Black inventor Willis Johnson, of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1884. “Try it once,” gushed Good Housekeeping magazine in 1889, “and you’ll never go back to the old way as long as you live.”
Making mayonnaise was one thing, preserving it quite another, since the raw egg made it spoil quickly. The conundrum was finally solved in 1912 by Richard Hellmann, a German-American deli owner in New York. By using his own trucks and factories, Hellmann was able to manufacture and transport mayonnaise faster. And in a revolutionary move, he designed the distinctive wide-necked Hellmann’s jar, encouraging liberal slatherings of mayo and thereby speeding up consumption.
Five years later, Eugenia Duke of North Carolina created Duke’s mayonnaise, which is eggier and has no sugar. The two brands are still dueling it out. But when it comes to eating, there are no winners and losers in the mayo department, just 14 grams of fat and 103 delicious calories per tablespoon.
Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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|From: Jon Koplik||7/13/2020 1:34:42 AM|
|WSJ obituary of William Dement, Stanford professor saw urgent need to treat insomnia, apnea, etc. ............|
[ Check out the part I underlined, near the end. Jon. ]
July 10, 2020
William Dement Diagnosed America as Sleep-Deprived
Stanford professor saw urgent need to treat insomnia, apnea and other disorders
By James R. Hagerty
William Dement, a medical professor at Stanford University, spent his career trying to wake Americans up to the dangers of not getting enough sleep.
In 1970, Dr. Dement opened what he called the world’s first sleep-disorders clinic at Stanford. He established the treatment of those disorders as a board-certified medical specialty, lectured across the nation and taught a hugely popular undergraduate course called Sleep and Dreams. Typing with two fingers, he wrote books and more than 500 scientific articles.
Dr. Dement, who died of heart failure June 17 at the age of 91, kept his message simple for laypeople. On Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” in 1974, he told the late-night audience that “sleepiness is a signal to go to bed.”
Even so, in a 2007 speech, he said too few people were seeking or being offered medical treatment for insomnia, sleep apnea and other ailments that deprived them of adequate sleep. Failing to treat those ailments increases the risks of falling asleep at the wheel and can lead to a weakened immune system and heart disease, among other health problems.
“We are not a sleep-aware society,” Dr. Dement said. “The challenge today is education.”
As a sleep doctor, he was always on duty. On a commercial flight, he once noticed a man snoring. Later, spotting the same man in an airport restroom, Dr. Dement warned him of the risks of sleep apnea. The snorer stalked off without thanking Dr. Dement for his advice.
Rafael Pelayo, a Stanford professor of sleep medicine, said many others did heed his messages, and countless lives were saved as a result.
William Charles Dement was born July 29, 1928, and grew up in Walla Walla, Wash., where his father was a bookkeeper. Stationed by the Army in Japan after World War II, he edited a regimental newspaper.
While studying basic medical science at the University of Washington, he lived on a houseboat and played the string bass in jazz bands.
He wanted to become a psychoanalyst and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Chicago. There he met a physiologist, Nathaniel Kleitman, and a graduate student, Eugene Aserinsky, and worked with them on research illuminating what became known as rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, the phase most associated with dreams. Dr. Dement earned a medical degree in 1955 and Ph.D. in neurophysiology two years later.
As a research fellow at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, he conducted sleep research in his own Manhattan apartment. To find people willing to be monitored while sleeping, he advertised in a newspaper and attracted members of the Radio City Rockettes dance troupe.
His studies included electroencephalography, or EEG, tests in which electrodes were attached to the scalp to chart brain activity. Aside from the Rockettes, he ran tests on his wife, the former Eleanor “Pat” Weber, and himself.
When Congress created a national commission on sleep disorders, he was selected as chairman and held public hearings in the early 1990s. The commission estimated that 40 million Americans suffered from chronic sleep disorders.
The consequences, Dr. Dement argued, included deadly automobile and industrial accidents, along with impairment of “intellectual and emotional capacity.” The commission said fatigue helped cause the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and the Three Mile Island nuclear-plant accident in 1979.
During his Sleep and Dreams courses at Stanford, he sometimes used a squirt gun to rouse those who nodded off. In recent years, he navigated the Stanford campus in a customized golf cart known as the Sleep and Dreams Shuttle.
He is survived by three children and six grandchildren, including Zaniel Zaiden Zooey Dement, whose initials, ZZZ, honor his grandfather. His wife, Pat Dement, died in 2014.
When he had trouble sleeping, Dr. Dement said, he resorted to watching dull television programs or listening to the radio.
One mystery he couldn’t solve was the purpose of dreams. “It’s very puzzling,” he once said. “What can it be for? Can it be some kind of cosmic joke?”
Write to James R. Hagerty at email@example.com
Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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|From: Jon Koplik||8/7/2020 12:45:47 AM|
|Bloomberg -- Your Old Radiator Is a Pandemic-Fighting Weapon .........................................|
August 5, 2020
Your Old Radiator Is a Pandemic-Fighting Weapon
Turn-of-the-century faith in ventilation to combat disease pushed engineers to design steam heating systems that still overheat apartments today.
By Patrick Sisson
The coronavirus pandemic has revived interest in the role design has played fighting infectious diseases. Most famously, the trailblazing modern architecture of the early 20th century -- open to nature and filled with light and air, as practiced by designers such as Alvar Aalto and Richard Neutra -- reflected au courant ideas about health and wellness, especially in combating the scourge of tuberculosis (which also influenced bathroom design).
The battle against pathogens reshaped the inner working of buildings, too. Take that familiar annoyance for New Yorkers: the clanky radiator that overheats apartments even on the coldest days of the year. It turns out that the prodigious output of steam-heated buildings is the direct result of theories of infection control that were enlisted in the battle against the great global pandemic of 1918 and 1919.
The Spanish Influenza, which caused just over 20,000 deaths in New York City alone, “changed heating once and for all.” That’s according to Dan Holohan, a retired writer, consultant, and researcher with extensive knowledge of heating systems and steam heating. (Among his many tomes on the topic: The Lost Art of Steam Heating, from 1992.) Most radiator systems appeared in major American cities like New York City in the first third of the 20th century. This golden age of steam heat didn’t merely coincide with that pandemic: Beliefs about how to fight airborne illness influenced the design of heating systems, and created a persistent pain point for those who’ve cohabitated with a cranky old radiator.
Health officials thought (correctly) that fresh air would ward off airborne diseases; then as now, cities rushed to move activities outdoors, from schools to courtrooms. When winter came, the need for fresh air didn’t abate. According to Holohan’s research, the Board of Health in New York City ordered that windows should remain open to provide ventilation, even in cold weather. In response, engineers began devising heating systems with this extreme use case in mind. Steam heating and radiators were designed to heat buildings on the coldest day of the year with all the windows open. Anybody who’s thrown their windows open in January, when their apartment is stifling, is, in an odd way, replicating what engineers hoped would happen a century ago.
Leeds claimed that the “spent breath” of the occupants of poorly ventilated homes contributed to 40% of the deaths in the country.
The memories of the flu pandemic lingered. Engineering books from the 1920s often mentioned this need to design heating systems, notably the boilers and radiators, to operate with all windows open, a requirement of the “fresh air movement,” Holohan says. This health crusade, which has its roots in the post-Civil War era, saw fresh air as a necessity for good health; adherents believed that rooms with closed windows and tight airflow meant that others would breathe in your vapors and catch disease. The theory originated before modern germ theory, at a time when tuberculosis was a significant health threat. “They called unventilated air the ‘national poison,’” Holohan says.
A key proponent of the idea was Lewis Leeds, a health inspector for Union Army field hospitals who came to the conclusion that “vitiated,” or spoiled, air was the cause of the many diseases. The “spent breath” of the occupants of poorly ventilated homes contributed to 40% of the deaths in the country, he claimed, and often said “man’s own breath is his greatest enemy.” He would spend decades promoting the cause, designing ventilation schemes for buildings, penning a 1869 book, Leeds on Ventilation, and lecturing across the country. He explained his ideas with the aid of a “ magic lantern” projector -- think old-timey Powerpoint presentations. He’d show slides of a family in their drawing room, then add a slide showing red air coming out of the father’s mouth. The child crawling on the floor would eventually fall over. It “scared people to death,” Holohan says.
Leeds was joined in his fervent ventilation campaign by author Harriet Beecher Stowe, of Uncle Tom’s Cabin fame. With her sister, Catherine, Stowe would coauthor a 1869 book, The American Woman’s Home, that claimed “tight sleeping-rooms, and close, air-tight stoves, are now starving and poisoning more than one half of this nation.” It also introduced terrifying scenarios to shock American readers into action, such as this passage about the impact of vitiated air on a child:
Little Jim, who, fresh from his afternoon’s ramble in the fields, last evening said his prayers dutifully, and lay down to sleep in a most Christian frame, this morning sits up in bed with his hair bristling with crossness, strikes at his nurse, and declares he won't say his prayers -- that he don't want to be good. The simple difference is, that the child, having slept in a close box of a room, his brain all night fed by poison, is in a mild state of moral insanity.
These ideas would become more formally accepted by architects and engineers during the beginning years of the 20th century. The 1901 New York State Tenement House Act mandated that every room have an outdoor facing window. New York City Health Commissioner Royal Copeland, who, as a U.S. senator in the 1920s proposed redesigning the Senate Chamber to deal with deadly, stale air, would praise the tenement laws as having a significant impact during the flu pandemic.
By the time the Spanish Flu hit, the maxims of the fresh air movement had become popular enough to impact building designs. The toll of the pandemic solidified this thinking, says Holohan. Having robust steam boilers that could keep apartments and dwellings comfortable with open windows became standard in New York City, as well as other northern cities in cold climates, such as Detroit, Chicago, Denver, Boston and Philadelphia.
The pandemic abated in 1920 but these standards had become locked into place. The architecture firm KPF found that nearly 75% of Manhattan’s existing square footage was built between 1900 and 1930. And since steam heat systems are incredibly durable, they’ve lasted for generations.
In the ensuing decades, shifts in building practice and fuel usage made the problem of over-indexed steam heat worse. The type of fuel used to heat the steam boilers changed, from coal to heating oil to natural gas, and during the changeover, Holohan says, they didn’t properly resize boilers or systematically change design standards to account for the changing power source; replacement boilers were kept big to err on the side of caution. Better windows, especially double-pane varieties, would provide the benefit of better insulation and less heat loss, but only served to lock in the impact of overly aggressive radiators. (If you own an old radiator-equipped house, you might have noticed how overpoweringly effective they can be after you replace leaky older windows with more well-insulated modern replacements.)
By the 1930s, Holohan says, a few common remedies to mitigate excessive radiator heat came into practice that last to this day. Researchers at the National Bureau of Standards found that if radiators were painted with a special kind of bronzing paint -- specifically, the silver tone found in many radiators today -- it would reduce some of the heat transfer. Same goes with “radiator cozies,” knitted covers sometimes placed over the ribs of radiator pipes. They have the added benefit of protecting kids from getting burned, but one reason they became commonplace was as a way to blunt excess heat.
Roughly 80% of residential buildings in NYC are still heated by steam, and surveys with tenants found that 70 % are chronically overheated in winter, according to Demystifying Steam, a 2019 report by the Urban Green Council. The durability of steam “has locked into place technical limitations of a century ago, ” the report noted; their role as disease-fighters forgotten, radiators are now seen as energy-sucking dinosaurs. “Many tenants open windows for relief, even on the coldest days,” the report found, “but steam systems are so unbalanced that other residents in these same buildings don’t receive enough heat.”
Steam’s grip on the city’s building stock has made the challenge of meeting environmental goals much harder, in effect overheating more than merely the buildings in which they operate. According to John Mandyck, CEO of the Urban Green Council, 70% of the climate emissions in New York City are generated by buildings, with the biggest share from the fossil fuels used for heat and hot water in large, multifamily buildings.
Steam might get a bad rap now, but Holohan notes that its inefficiencies can be traced to poor maintenance and long out-of-date building codes. (It’s not supposed to clank either.) “The banging and clanging wasn’t normal,” he says. “Steam heat was fast and silent when it was first installed. When it’s properly tended, it can be an efficient way to heat. Most people just don’t know how to do it right.”
As a Covid-haunted winter looms, residents of steam-heated buildings may get another opportunity to crank their radiators up and put them to their intended use. Holohan says he’s bemused to see his field of expertise reemerge in connection with the current pandemic, as ventilation is being again promoted as a key strategy to cut infection.
“I’ve been talking about this for like 30 years or more,” he says. “And suddenly I’m living it.”
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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|From: Jon Koplik||8/20/2020 10:49:15 PM|
|Bloomberg -- Hangover Cure Successfully Tested on Drunk Subjects in Finland ..........................|
August 19, 2020
Hangover Cure Successfully Tested on Drunk Subjects in Finland
By Kati Pohjanpalo
A group of Finnish researchers believe they’ve discovered what people have spent centuries searching for: a cure for hangovers.
A dose of 1,200 milligrams of amino acid L-cysteine was found to reduce alcohol-related nausea and headache, while a dose of 600 milligrams helped alleviate stress and anxiety, according to a study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism by researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland.
The randomized, double-blind study had 19 healthy male volunteers consuming alcohol doses of 1.5 grams per kilogram over three hours in a controlled setting. The subjects were then asked to swallow placebo or L-cysteine tablets containing vitamin supplements.
Researchers say that as well as reducing or even eliminating hangovers entirely, L-cysteine also helps “reduce the need of drinking the next day,” thereby cutting the risk of alcohol addiction.
Binge drinking is common in Finland, with more than half a million Finns considered at risk from excessive drinking.
The researchers received funding from Catapult Cat Oy, which sells the L-cysteine supplements.
The study ran into certain difficulties. Some participants weren’t able to consume all the alcohol required and had to be excluded, some had such high tolerance levels that they experienced no hangover symptoms; and some were sidelined because they insisted on topping up the dose by heading for the bar, researcher Markus Metsala told local media.
-- With assistance by Leo Laikola
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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|From: Jon Koplik||8/24/2020 2:17:40 PM|
|WSJ -- [ out of control ] Model Railroaders / Souped-Up Spaces .................................................|
Aug. 12, 2020
Model Train Enthusiasts Are Parking Their Railroads in Souped-Up Spaces
Forget unfinished basements. These model railroaders are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build train rooms in their homes.
By Candace Taylor
Retired professional golfer Ed Dougherty built a six-car garage for his home in Pennsylvania, but it contains no automobiles. None that are big enough to transport people, that is.
Mr. Dougherty, 72, uses the 2,000-square-foot space, plus another room in the house, for his enormous collection of model trains and accessories, a miniature world where trains chug and whistle their way through mountain tunnels, cars zoom back and forth, neon signs flicker, and tiny people emerge from doorways as the trains pass. The walls are covered with shelves displaying even more model trains, plus vintage Lionel advertisements and railroading memorabilia.
When they decided to do the renovation that included the garage, Mr. Dougherty told his wife, Carolyn, “ ‘I need room for my trains,’ ” she said. “I didn’t realize I would never have my car in the garage.”
A Connecticut Conductor
Harvey J. Yaverbaum in his train room, which has a nude beach and a backdrop of Ebbets Field.Photos: Julie Bidwell Photography for The Wall Street Journal(4)
So where do they keep their cars?
“In the driveway,” she said with a laugh.
Model railroading is an obsession that has besotted the likes of Neil Young and Tom Hanks. The rocker Rod Stewart spent decades creating a 124-foot-by-23-foot model train layout in his Los Angeles home. While on tour he would book an extra hotel room, using it as a workshop to put together models for his layout between concerts.
Even the most elaborate model railroads are usually relegated to no-frills spaces like basements or attics. But a few railroading enthusiasts have taken a different track, devoting entire rooms in their homes to the hobby and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to outfit these spaces for trains. Some even build separate structures for their layouts, or convert swaths of their backyards to so-called garden railroads.
This realistic landscape is the home of Harvey J. Yaverbaum's collection. The scene includes an amusement park, a snow-covered ski mountain with an operating ski lift, and a motorboat that pulls a water-skier in circles. It took him seven years to create.
VIDEO: Julie Bidwell for The Wall Street Journal
Such is the allure of trains that normal real-estate rules don’t seem to apply to these homes. Typically, real-estate agents warn that adding highly customized features to a home can damage its resale value. But model trains have a way of charming potential buyers, agents said, even those not involved in the hobby.
“There’s a big romance with trains among a lot of people,” said real-estate agent Steve Lambert of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, who recently sold a North Carolina home with miniature train tracks built into the guesthouse.
The romance is expensive to create. These days new miniature locomotives retail for up to $1,800 each, while collectible antique trains can sell for $8,000 each, according to Ron Hollander, author of the book “All Aboard! The Story of Joshua Lionel Cowen and his Lionel Train Company.”
Retired professional golfer Ed Dougherty and his wife, Carolyn, with his train collection. Photo: Michelle Gustafson for The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Dougherty’s collection includes vintage Lionel advertisements and layouts. Photo: Michelle Gustafson for The Wall Street Journal
Rideable, outdoor steam trains sell for far more. Sean Bautista of Hillcrest Shops, which makes small and narrow-gauge railroads, said a large, rideable locomotive can cost $500,000. Because all the parts must be individually made, he said, “it’s like building a custom Ferrari.” Passenger cars and cabooses range from $17,000 to $250,000. For some wealthy clients, he said, he has made dining cars large enough for passengers to eat dinner onboard. “People have multimillion-dollar railroads in their backyards,” he said.
Many railroad hobbyists got hooked on trains as children. Model trains were popular gifts for children -- especially boys -- in the 1940s and 1950s, said Mr. Hollander.
“Trains were the gift,” he said, with Lionel toy trains in particular becoming “the third wing of Christmas, along with Santa Claus and the Christmas tree.”
Retired pro golfer Ed Doughtery uses his six-car, two-story garage at his home in Boothwyn, Pa., to house his enormous model train set. VIDEO: Michelle Gustafson for The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Hollander said he became fascinated with trains when he got his first train set for Christmas as a child in the 1940s. He went on to collect roughly 1,000 trains, but for years, “I never had a real layout,” he said. “Somebody would say, ‘oh, can I see your trains?’ and I would take them to a commercial storage place and show them this vast room that was filled with cartons.”
He vowed to change that in 2013, when he started looking to buy a home with this then-girlfriend. “Every single house we looked at, every condo we looked at was, ‘Where will the trains go? I don’t think this is a big enough basement to have trains.’ ”
In the roughly 4,000-square-foot Long Island house they ultimately bought for $350,000 in 2013, he quickly designated an unfinished room on the second floor as the train room. After the closing, he had the room sheet-rocked and painted, then added windows, air conditioning and track lighting. To reduce noise—the train room is located above the master bedroom—he had the floor lined with soundproof insulation. “We did tests, where I would blow the whistle and say, ‘can you hear that?’ ” he laughed. “It’s not the easiest thing to live with a train collector, I suppose.”
He had silver aluminum shelving mounted on the walls to display the trains. Mr. Hollander designed the benchwork -- the structure that supports the railroad -- and scenery is on adhesive backdrops. He hand-painted the tracks a rust-like color to make them as realistic as possible.
Bells and Whistles -- These model train sets are right on track.
The train room on the second floor of Ron Hollander’s house on Long Island.
Dorothy Hong for The Wall Street Journal
Building the room cost about $15,000, he said, and he “couldn’t begin to estimate” what he's spent on trains.
Now the room is outfitted with Mr. Hollander’s layout, which includes models of the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal. The walls are decorated with Lionel memorabilia and photographs of steam engines. When fellow members of the Railroad Museum of Long Island came for a tour, “they were pretty awestruck,” he said. “Most of the guys I know have these basement layouts.”
Like Mr. Hollander, Harvey J. Yaverbaum loved trains as a child, but never had a layout until he retired from his career as a partner at a New York City law firm. “I spent many years daydreaming about it,” said Mr. Yaverbaum, 75. When he and his wife, Kathy, purchased their retirement home in Roxbury, Conn., in 2003 for $1.9 million, he converted a basement into a finished room that now contains his roughly 900-square-foot model railroad. “It’s bigger than a lot of studio apartments in Manhattan,” he said.
Ron Hollander Photo: Dorothy Hong for The Wall Street Journal
The space, where 17 trains run simultaneously, took seven years to create. Mr. Yaverbaum said the total cost, including renovating the space, building the layout and buying the trains, ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The now-finished layout includes a 20-foot-long river and at least 20 different bridges. A snow-covered ski mountain has an operating ski lift, while a motorboat pulls a water-skier in circles. There is an amusement park and a model of the New York City subway—the Brighton Beach line, which Mr. Yaverbaum rode growing up—that announces stops such as Coney Island and Times Square. There are two beaches, one of which is clothing optional, Mr. Yaverbaum said with a laugh.
To outfit the space, Mr. Yaverbaum moved the doors “so that a person entering would have trains to his or her left and right.” He finished the floors, walls and ceiling, and added lights on dimmer switches for creating nighttime scenes. The walls are painted with a backdrop of sky, clouds and buildings including 555 West 57th Street, where Mr. Yaverbaum’s wife worked for years.
The Long Island Rail Road
The train room in the Long Island home of Ron Hollander, which includes a model of Grand Central Terminal. Photos: Dorothy Hong for The Wall Street Journal(3)
One challenge was the home’s HVAC system, which is housed in a box in the middle of the basement. Mr. Yaverbaum built the layout around the box, converting an access panel for the HVAC into a destinations board for his railroad. When HVAC repairmen come to the house, he said, “we have some interesting conversations.”
Dan Hoag, the owner of Eaglewings Iron Craft in Phoenix, has a number of overhead train tracks running through the walls of his house. One set travels through the master bedroom, bathroom and closet; another goes from the kitchen to the living and dining rooms. The trains run on elaborate iron trestles and bridges, including a bridge Mr. Hoag designed for his Disney -loving wife, Patience. Based on a scene from “Cinderella,” it has a Mickey Mouse shape in the ironwork. Mr. Hoag said when he installed the layout, friends said to his wife, “how can you let him put that in your house? It’s ridiculous!”
Railroad enthusiasts readily admit that by altering a home’s structure to make room for trains, they may be turning off some future potential buyers.
“I look at this room and I think, ‘how am I going to sell this house with this train room?’ ” said Mr. Hollander. But for him and others, resale value is beside the point. “It’s not something you do as an investment,” he said. “What I love about the trains are the memories they hold for me.”
Trains Move Houses
A model railroad built into the guesthouse at the home of Richard Ticktin. Photo: Steve Lambert/Premier Sotheby's International Realty
Model trains seem to charm potential home buyers.
A few years ago, Chicago-area real-estate agent Michael LaFido of @properties listed a home with both a rideable outdoor train and an indoor model railroad. “It was known as ‘the train house’ to locals,” he said. “We made sure to make that a focal point in our marketing efforts.”
His team made a marketing video with footage of the homeowner driving the outdoor train in a striped conductor’s hat. In another scene, the indoor train pulls up to the billiards room loaded with two copper mugs containing cocktails for the smiling pool players.
The circa-1926 house ended up going into contract for over $2 million, Mr. LaFido said, a sale price that hadn’t been seen in the neighborhood for seven years. In fact, the seller wanted to keep the trains, but the buyer agreed to pay more for the house if the seller would include them in the sale.
Two years ago, entrepreneur Richard Ticktin paid $1.35 million for a vacation home in the mountains of North Carolina listed by Steve Lambert of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. The guesthouse on the property has a model railroad layout integrated into the structure, with trains running overhead through multiple rooms on custom wooden platforms. In the past, “I was never a train guy,” said Mr. Ticktin, 55, but when he saw the guesthouse, “I thought it was very cool.”
While the trains weren’t the primary reason he bought the property, “this was kind of like the cherry on top of an amazing ice cream sundae.”
Mr. Lambert said when it came to showing the property, “the trains were definitely a plus.”
Since buying the house, Mr. Ticktin has been bitten by the railroading bug, spending tens of thousands of dollars to restore and upgrade the train set so it can be controlled by smartphone.
Write to Candace Taylor at Candace.Taylor@wsj.com
© 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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|From: Jon Koplik||10/5/2020 11:14:45 PM|
|great Nobel prize winner notification story (today.) This is from the WSJ article titled :|
Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded for Discovery of Hepatitis C Virus
<<<<< Dr. Alter said he was in a deep sleep when he heard the phone first ring at 4:15 a.m., and ignored not only the initial call but a second one. By the third call, he said, he “got out of bed rather angrily, figuring this was another political solicitation or someone wanting to extend the warranty on my car.”
It turned out to be from Stockholm, telling him he had won a Nobel Prize. “It’s been quite a morning since that time.” >>>>>
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