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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Triple Turbo Cummins kills Camaro ZL1 at Las Vegas

Thanks to Jason Cannon and Links Provided: 
When you trot a 580 horsepower Camaro ZL1 to the drag strip, the odds are usually in your favor. Especially when your opponent is wheeling a Ram pickup. The Ram is about as customized as they come, and the Camaro is mostly stock. So, it’s not unreasonable that the truck leaves the pony car in its wake. However, it’s still impressive as the Ram’s performance in the quarter-mile assured this race was never even close. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bison Transport, Paramount Freight Systems Named Best Fleets to Drive For
March 25, 2014 By Jim Beach and Links provided:

TCA, GRAPEVINE, TX – Bison Transport, Winnipeg, Manitoba, was named the 2014 Best Overall Fleet to Drive for, company drivers, at the Truckload Carriers Association annual meeting March 25 while Paramount Freight System, Ft. Meyers, Fla., was named the 2014 Best Fleet Overall Fleet to Drive For, Owner Operators.
These two fleets were tops in driver and owner-operator survey conducted by the Truckload Carriers Association. Twenty fleets made the top in the survey with Bison and Paramount ranking highest.
The award is based on company driver or owner-operator nominations. Next, nominated fleets must complete a corporate questionnaire that collect information about programs the companies are involved in re: drivers or owner-operators. A corporate interview follows, and finally, a selection of drivers and owner-operators is surveyed about their experiences with the nominated fleet.
Also among the 20 top-ranked fleets this year were: Brian Kurtz Trucking, Breslau, Ontario; Central Oregon Trucking, Redmond, Ore.; D.J. Knoll Transport, Emerald Park, Saskatchewan; Fremont Contract Carriers, Fremont, Neb; FTC Transportation, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Gordon Trucking, Pacific, Wash.; Grammer Industries, Grammer, Ind.; Grand Island Express, Grand Island, Neb.; Halvor Lines, Superior, Wisc.; Kriska Holdings, Prescott, Ontario; Landstar System, Jacksonville, Fla.; Load One, Taylor, Mich.; Motor Carrier Services, Northwood, Ohio; Prime, Inc., Springfield, Mo.; Sue Vinje Trucking, Superior, Wash.; TimeLine Logistics International, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; TransPro Freight Systems, Milton, Ontario and Trimac Transpiration, Calgary, Alberta/Houston, Texas.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Chicago 30-Hour Tie-Up for Buffett’s Trains Slows Coal Freight
Article thanks to and written by Mario Parker and Eliot Caroom Apr 11, 2014 1:16 PM MT Links provided:

Come to the west side of Chicago to find out why a power plant in Michiganis short of coal and a biodiesel maker in Brewster, Minnesota, can’t get enough grain.
The answer is found near Western Avenue, where rail cars from Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the largest U.S. publicly traded ethanol producer, rest idle on the track above the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. A short drive away a burnt orange, yellow and black locomotive from Warren Buffett’s BNSF railway sits on an overpass as motor traffic is snarled below.
They can’t move because increasing oil production from North Dakota’s Bakken field, a record grain crop and unprecedented cold weather overwhelmed the U.S. railroad system. In part because of transport delays, coal inventories were down 26 percent in January from a year ago. A quarter of all U.S. freight rail traffic passes through Chicago, or 37,500 rail cars each day. The trip through the city can take more than 30 hours.
“Utilities are having a tough time getting the coal that they already purchased,” Ted O’Brien, vice president at Doyle Trading Consultants LLC, a Grand Junction, Colorado-based coal analytics company, said in a March 14 interview. “It would be a feeding frenzy if they had the transportation to get it.”

Coal Jumps

Transport snarls are one reason coal on the New York Mercantile Exchange has risen 5.5 percent in the past year to $60.48 a ton as of yesterday. Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal has jumped 26 percent to $13.05 a ton. Power-plant demand for the fuel is forecast to increase 4.9 percent to the highest level since 2011. Utilities had about 132 million tons of thermal coal, used to generate electricity, in inventory in January, the lowest since 2006, data from the Energy Department’s analytical arm show.
Coal producers including the Western Coal Traffic League, whose members are shippers of coal mined west of the Mississippi River, point at inconsistent rail service as the primary culprit and railroads put the blame on Chicago. The group asked on March 24 that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board institute a proceeding to address BNSF’s coal service in the region.
BNSF said in a response to the agency that it plans to spend $5 billion this year on service. “As these resources come on line, service will gradually improve,” it said in a March 25 letter.

Untangling Tie-Ups

The railroad will need the rest of this year to untangle the train tie-ups in the corridor that serves the Bakken field, BNSF Chief Executive Officer Carl Ice said in an April 2 interview. He said the line deployed 300 additional crew members to its northern region and plans to add 500 locomotives and 5,000 rail cars to ease the congestion.
The tie-ups at BNSF will be worked out in time to handle the next harvest and it plans to increase velocity through Chicago, Robert Lease, vice president for service design and performance, said at an STB hearing on rail service yesterday in Washington.
Jeff Wallace, vice president of fuel services at Southern Co. (SO) in Atlanta told the STB March 6 that he surveyed 13 utilities and they said rail service has struggled to respond to demand and that some are running out of coal.
Midwest Energy Resources Company, a subsidiary of DTE Energy Co. (DTE), and responsible for feeding coal to the utility’s power plants in Michigan, has had problems getting rail deliveries from the Powder River Basin, Robert Sarvela, the company’s director of transportation and marketing, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Slow Deliveries

Other commodity producers have voiced similar concerns. Ethanol futures last month reached $3.517 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest level in more than seven years.
“There’s collective sentiment about inefficient turn-around times on rail cars,” said Mark Ruyack, a manager at StarFuels Inc., a Jupiter, Florida-based alternative energy broker, in an April 4 telephone interview.
Minnesota Soybean Processors, a biodiesel company, said that rail service has been so inconsistent that it has had to trim operations in Brewster.
“We’re two to three weeks behind,” said Taryl Enderson, the plant’s general manager in an interview on March 5. “We’re at 75 percent” capacity, he said.
Grain handlers say their business is a casualty of the shale boom. As horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing made the U.S. the world’s biggest shale producer, shipments by rail grew 74 percent in 2013 from 2012, American Association of Railroads data show.
Oil Expansion
“What we’re concerned about is that the oil business is expanding faster than the rail company’s ability to handle it,” Steve Strege, a vice president of the North Dakota Grain Dealers Association, said in a Feb. 12 telephone interview.
Dwell times, a measure of how long loaded railroad cars sit in a railyard, averaged about 26 hours during the first quarter, up from 21 hours during the same period in 2013, AAR data show.
Trains are getting mired in Chicago’s tangle of bottlenecks, said Charles Clowdis, an IHS Global Insight analyst in Lexington, Massachusetts.
“A lot of interchange points, like Chicago, are still a mess,” he said in an interview on March 25. “Coal has come back because of the cold winter, oil by tanker is relatively new. Now all of a sudden you have all these tank cars pulling crude oil and you just can’t get cars.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Mario Parker in Chicago at; Eliot Caroom in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at Philip Revzin

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

TCA panel: paying drivers by the hour a ‘scary’ thought
Story thanks to and Aaron Huff on 
On Tuesday, March 25, a fleet executive panel at the Truckload Carriers Association Annual Convention responded to the possibility of electronic logging devices (ELDs) being a Trojan horse to reform driver pay.

Plaintiff attorneys and state agencies want to use hours-of-service data collected from ELDs to make minimum wage calculations, said panelist Josh England, president and chief financial officer of C.R. England, the nation’s largest refrigerated carrier based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“It’s not accurate to be used for that purpose,” he said, explaining that fleets do not control drivers or approve and disapprove of every hour they work. Mileage-based pay motivates drivers to maximize their driving hours in a compliant fashion. By contrast, hourly pay does not give drivers more available driving time and makes them less motivated to minimize their unproductive “on-duty, non-driving” hours.
“Those hours tend to be inflated and that becomes the basis for minimum wage calculations,” he said. “That’s why we have a production-based system.”
California’s minimum wage law adds another layer of complexity. Companies that use a piece-rate compensation formula have to pay their workers separately for rest periods. Attorneys also argue that mileage-based pay does not comply with the law to cover driver work activities like fueling and detention at shipping and receiving facilities.
“The industry argues that (paying drivers by the mile) is preemptive and full of interpretation,” England said. “When you think about the production impact of paying hourly rather than by the mile that’s a scary thought.”
Driver unions and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are also leading a charge to reform driver pay as reported by CCJ.
“This industry is notorious for being able to move boundaries. Let’s hope that never happens. There are ways to do (hourly pay), but just not ways that you can do economically,” said panelist Clifton Parker, president and general manager of G&P Trucking Company, a 700-truck carrier based in Gaston, S.C.
“Our goal is to get miles on these guys,” said Jerry Moyes, chief executive officer and founder of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation Co., the largest truckload carrier in the nation with 16,000 drivers. “Mileage is a good incentive for the drivers as well as everyone in the company and I think we ought to continue to put our focus on that.”
The panel, moderated by Todd Amen, president and chief executive officer of ATBS, Inc., also discussed the future of the independent contractor model as state agencies and the Internal Revenue Service continue to ratchet up their efforts to re-classify contractors as employees to collect more payroll taxes.
Swift runs about 5,000 owner operators. The biggest challenge today is adopting its model to the rules of various states, Moyes said. England agreed that pressure is coming mostly at the state level to reclassify contractors as employees and mentioned a new law in the state of New York that classifies contractors as employees if they lease their equipment from a related company.
C.R. England has about 1,000 contractors today, he said, and does not plan to grow that segment of its business.
The panel also talked openly about a range of issues such as a focus on driver retention, management strategy, natural gas trucks, lessons learned from the recession and raising fuel taxes.
Todd Amen also asked some personal questions like why Jerry Moyes decided to acquire Swift before the recession using a leveraged buyout. Moyes said that of the $2.7 billion he took on in debt, $500 million was financed at 12.5 percent interest.
“The bad news is that my interest was a million dollars a day. The good news is that it was only five days a week,” Moyes joked. The leveraged buyout put an enormous financial strain on the company, but the lean years toughened Swift and forced changes that were necessary to keep its EBITDA earnings between $400 and $500 million en route to taking the company public in 2011.
Regarding how to fund highway infrastructure, all panel members agreed that raising the fuel tax is the best option and chided politicians for their lack of courage to garner support for the measure.
“I think we have to raise the fuel tax. It’s been probably 40 years since we’ve done it,” Moyes said. “This industry is in a position to pay more fuel taxes in my opinion. Through the fuel surcharge it is going to get passed on and I think that is the only answer.”
“The answer is fuel taxes,” England agreed. “It’s just a matter of politicians getting the will to pass the fuel tax increase. They seem to only be concerned about the next election so that hasn’t happened yet.”

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Is it a Miracle? You Decide!

This is a true account of my wife's aunt, who resides in Sunnyvale, Ca.  If you are not a religious person, you might want to reconsider!  Dan
Originally published 3/19/2012
She passed away on March 20, 2014
Update follows from 4/6/2014

Thanks to;
El Camino Hospital
Shane Dormady, MD
Robert Sinha, MD

Josephine – A Stage 4 Melanoma Survivor
When Josephine was in her mid-80s, she had a suspicious-looking mole on her left arm removed. Lab tests confirmed that Josephine had melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Her doctor removed the mole and the surrounding skin. Because the cancer had not spread to other parts of her body, Josephine didn’t require any additional treatment, so she went back to living her normal life.
A few years later, Josephine went in for a routine mammogram. The doctors found a lump in her breast, which, unfortunately, turned out to be stage IV melanoma, meaning the cancer had spread from her arm to her breast and other areas of her body as well. Stage IV melanoma is notoriously difficult to treat; patients like Josephine typically have only a 15-20% chance of surviving five years or more after diagnosis.
But Josephine did not give up hope. “I was never worried,” says Josephine, who immediately set up an appointment with medical oncologist Shane Dormady, MD, of the El Camino Hospital Cancer Center, to see what her treatment options were.
In March 2011, Josephine began taking temozolomide (Temodar®) pills, a chemotherapy treatment for metastatic melanoma. Although temozolomide has shown some success in temporarily shrinking melanoma, according to the American Cancer Society, the results are short-term, at best.
But Josephine has done amazingly well in the past year; since she started taking temozolomide, her results have been astonishing. A PET scan in the fall of 2011 showed that the only cancer remaining in Josephine’s body was a small spot on her lung, which radiation oncologist Robert Sinha, MD, treated with CyberKnife®, a non-invasive type of targeted radiation. A follow-up PET scan after the CyberKnife treatment showed that the cancer in her lung had completely disappeared as well.
So, today, much to everyone’s surprise, Josephine is entirely cancer-free. Although she cannot predict what the future may hold, she has gone back to living her life, spending time with family and taking water-exercise classes at the YMCA to stay active.
And, in March 2012, Josephine will celebrate her 90th birthday! She has invited Dr. Dormady to join her at the party. “Dr. Dormady has been so good to me,” says Josephine. “He is a great doctor.”
Here’s to hoping Josephine has a wonderful birthday celebration, and many, many more birthdays to come!

Update: 3/28/2014
Below is the message that was sent to all medical staff at El Camino Hospital, on 21 March 2014.
Colleagues, With permission from the family of Josephine Hutchings McCall, we share this story that all of us at ECH should be proud of: “I hope that she will be a chapter in your book of experiences," said Mrs. McCall’s daughter, of her mother who had a tiara lovingly placed on her head. Shortly after meeting Josephine’s family we learned we were in the presence of something rarer than any stone on a tiara; we were serving a WWII female Marine Corps Veteran who was among the first eighteen Women Marines sent to the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point North Carolina. With great honor, Jennipher, the palliative care nurse, pinned an American flag on her blanket and thanked her for her service. Josephine was a composer, a music director, accompanist, music teacher, and volunteer. She also had a daily radio program playing the organ, "Hammondaires with Josephine", in Idaho, during the 1940s. Her son asked if we could arrange for their mother, Josephine, to hear her grandson play one last concert for her. Through conversations with her MD, hospital supervisor, security, and the help of dedicated 3C nurses, Josephine was able to hear her grandson play that concert. The following morning she died very peacefully surrounded by family. Josephine's daughter related she could see a spread of calm wash over her mother as her grandson played for her. She expressed her gratitude for what went into making this happen for her. Sometimes, the best medicine for our patients is not medicine at all, but the compassionate care we provide with our hearts. A special thanks to the following that helped make this happen: The Family of Mrs. Josephine Hutchings McCall, Dr. Dormady, Reverend John Harrison, Jason Alexander, John Foged, Stephanie Artea, Stacy Annuli, RN, Gabby Macebo, RN, Mary Swiner, RN, Sharon Shin, CNA, Jennipher Manganaro, and the Palliative Care Team. This was a rare and lovely opportunity for the care team at ECH to surround the family and patient at end of life with such humanity, kindness, dignity and respect. Thank you. Josephine McCall and family members.