Here's a footnote or two.
Left a can of urethane varnish that is about 4/5 empty, open for the last 3 or 4 days. Still not dry. (NOW you know if I was in between coats on a project and had forgotten to close that can, it would have been rock solid the next day).
Found some cardboard box lids perfect to spill out old finish to dry. Had this half pint can of ancient shellac I had never opened. It was at least 25 years old. Figured this was a good place to start. I barely touched the thing with the paint can opener when the lid exploded off spewing shellac all over me.
That was fun. I guess the take home there is be careful with old cans containing any kind of volatile solvent.
Fortunately I was able to get the shellac off me with rubbing alcohol (emphasis on a lot of rubbing), but I did loose a favorite T-shirt.
Weird. The wood ties in back of my dad's house have been replaced twice in my 34 years of experience at that place. I think local sourcing of timber means that not all wood ties are equal. The biggest benefit of railroad history on my state is the massive rows of mature catalpa when they blossom. I don't know if anyone still makes ties of catalpa.