Ask Luke’s Mother-in-Law: Trains, Brains and Auto Home-Feels


Luke’s mother-in-law is former LAPD, a licensed property appraiser and a self-described crazy cat lady. None of which has prepared her for TR readers. All questions and answers are real.

Hi All!

Well, another week of the questions that Luke has sent for me to try to answer. As I start every week, here is some more info about me – one of my favorite topics. I currently live out in the Mojave desert in Joshua Tree which is very near to a place called Giant Rock. Giant Rock is a huge boulder (google it). What is really cool is that under the rock is a large room that was dug out many years ago. It has been used as a base for spies and a bar. Many even say it is a vortex for alien contact. The USMC training base is behind this area, and if you are out at the rock you can see some very interesting aircraft that the military uses. One time we were out at Giant Rock and saw 2 jets just hovering – it was so cool. I love stuff about aliens and love listening to the radio late at night to the programs about aliens. I am sure we are not alone. We always tease at the house that the cats are really aliens and the round fountain in the entry is how they speak with the home planet – when that is not working, they talk to the wine cooler and change the temperatures.

Now, to your questions…

James K Polk: Speaking of which. What do you know about monomaniacal obsessions? I seem to have a one track mind that frequently derails. Strangely obsessed with a single musical group, then aliens, then beer, then a different musician, then beer again.

Is there any hope for this condition?

Thanks for the Bangs song: it was great. I have to get that cat’s trust again after the episode in the house. Anyway, to your question. Yes, monomaniacal obsession is to only do one thing. Very successful people have this issue and that has made them what they are. You are in excellent company with folks like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Gandhi and Bob Dylan. All are said to have monomaniacal obsessions. Perhaps you just need to channel the obsession into a productive path – like taking over the world.

skrag2112: Dear Lyt’s Mom-In-Law.
Was there ever a nerd property or genre LYT was into that you openly disapproved of? When I was a kid my mom didn’t like me playing D&D, thinking it was an evil game that led to devil worship.

Well, I have only known LYT for a few years, so I don’t know what he was into as a kid other than He-Man, which I don’t have a problem with. I even got him a He-Man cartoon DVD this Christmas. In the years that I have known Luke, I really don’t like his really ugly monster/alien collection. He has some really big and very ugly pieces. Some of them look like things the cat should not have dragged in. He has shelves of the things. I get the creeps whenever I have to go into his office. When I stay over at his house I feel like I should keep one eye open at night – I know they will come alive sometime and I need to be ready.

davelog: Hi Luke’s Mom [Mom-in-law – LYT] , longtime reader, first time writer. I’m a biscuits and gravy fan, and I’m betting you are one too. What national chain do you think makes the best B&G? I’m partial to Wendy’s, personally.
Thanks for the column. It’s a refreshingly different yet oddly appropriate perspective on the things we hold dear.

A person after my own heart. B & G is my all-time love at breakfast. Wendy’s are really good but we don’t have one where I live. So in the fast food chains, Carl’s Jr is really good. I assume that Hardees also has them (East coast vs West coast). At a regular restaurant I say the go to is Carrows. But nothing tops the B&G made at our community association “1st Saturday of the month” breakfast. If you are ever out in Joshua Tree you have to go to Copper Mt. Mesa 1st breakfast. These are pure homemade goodness by Mary Helen and Steve. She makes the biscuits and he the gravy. Now, if you are in a hurry, I can recommend Libby’s canned country sausage gravy and pop-in-the-oven biscuits. Also I add a dash of hot sauce to my gravy – yum.

troi: What’s more common: people who complain about fake geek girls or people who blog about people who complain about fake geek girls?

Well, I would say the complainers rather then the bloggers. Bloggers have to put more time and effort into what they do, whereas the complainers just have to open month and insert foot. I haven’t heard too many complaints about Geek Gals, but that is probably as I raised one and most of her friends are Geeks, so not much complaining going on.

Timely-Tardis-Lego: What is the best home made personal lubricant?

I’m asking to tell a friend and goad them to make a slash fic.

Well, slash fic has been around for a very long time, and became popular with Star Trek Kirk/Spock fan fics. Are you looking for girl/girl or boy/boy fiction? As for the homemade lubricant, good old Vaseline is a great base to start with. Another one is Crisco. Not sure why you need the lubricant to write, but to each his/his or her/her own.

OneMinuteGalactica: If a train leaves the station going east at 45 mph and another leaves the station going southwest at 60 mph, why should I care?

Well, if you are on one of the trains and the tracks intersect someplace, they may run into each other if the dispatcher is asleep. Trains do not run themselves, nor does the engineer totally run the train, although they think they do. The person in charge of the train is the Conductor who takes his orders from the Dispatcher. A great many of the trains on the Western part of the US are run out of Colorado.

So we also need to know: are there any take siding meet instructions out, any slow orders? These are very important as the Dispatcher may tell one of the trains to go into a siding (secondary set of tracks) to meet the other train, or a section of track may have a slow order out as there could be some work going on in the area so the train has to slow down in a certain area. Is one a passenger and the other freight? Passenger trains take priority over freight in the US. Bet you did not know this was so complex.

Sorry, I’m an RR nerd. If you are looking for the answer to this type of age old math question – then who cares? I never saw the point to this in school. With trains it can be really important. Love trains; I even won an contest from Amtrak to name the Coast Starlight when they first opened that route. Also here is an interesting RR term for California train nerds: who knows the meaning of Too long at Waylong? Tune in next week for the answer.

Well, that’s all I have to say this week. Keep the questions flying in. Talk to you all next week if Luke sees fit.

If you’d like to add your questions to the pile for Luke’s mother-in-law, leave them in comments below.