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Saturday, August 31, 2013

I-40 out, I-20 back: Southeast road trip notes

A message from the folks of Anson Co., N.C.
 (Photo: Kevin Jones/CCJ)
Nice piece thanks to Kevin Jones at Link provided below:

If my lovely wife knew, at the end of long road trip, I had parked an hour from home because a form in my notebook said I couldn’t drive anymore, I wouldn’t need to bother stopping the next day

That’s the most obvious conclusion gleaned from a weekend jaunt through the Southeast, an out-and-back run to a family reunion. I drove a peppy sedan, making the 825 miles of each Little Rock-Chesterfield, S.C.-Little Rock leg doable in about 12 hours. Google Maps determined that the road miles were essentially equal, whether I opted to take I-40 across Tennessee or I-20 across the Deep South. So I made a loop of it, determined to see what I could see.
As a trucking journalist, I always try to look at the highway through a professional driver’s eyes, and I figured back-to-back full days behind the wheel might provide more insight than a two-hour hop, skip and jump down the interstate, which is about what we, as journalists, put in behind the wheel of the big-rigs we get to road test.
Granted, I wasn’t dragging 80,000 pounds up and down any hills, and I could pull off at almost any exit, park instantly at a gas station or restaurant and be back on the road as quickly as I wanted.
And I knew, at the end of the second day, I wouldn’t have to string together another 5 or 10 such trips before I could get home, spend the weekend on neglected honey-dos, then get up and do it again.
Still, I made some notes. If you’re a carrier exec, a driver manager, or even someone working in the maintenance shed, I’d encourage you to spend a couple of days in the cab with a driver, making observations of your own. If you’re a professional driver, none of this will be new to you, but feel free to pass along your own road notes.
So, for kicks and grins, here’s my list. (This is from the first weekend in August. Truck traffic happened to be very light. Your mileage may vary.)
Best road sign: Someone in Anson Co., N.C., tired of potholes, is asking the government to “FIX!” the broken pavement. Take note, Congress. There are a lot of votes to be had by funding highways.
Most impressive vehicle: A Pete 379 motorhome. To borrow from Bill Murray in “Stripes,” that was ”one heavily armed recreational vehicle, man!”
Least impressive vehicles: The various tour buses (I counted four) sitting on the side of the road. As a bus driver-turned-trucker once told me: “At least freight don’t complain.”
Most impressive weigh station: Georgia, I-20 at the South Carolina line. (Closed.)
Least impressive weigh station: Arkansas, I-40/I-55, West Memphis. Many real chicken coops in Arkansas look better than this pillbox.
Smoothest segment of interstate: I-20 WB in Georgia, the last few miles before the ‘Bama line. New pavement, and so silky it tickles.
Roughest segment of interstate: I-20 WB in Alabama, after crossing from Georgia. Serious construction has closed the left lane and shifted the right lane onto the shoulder, which has the perpendicular “wake up!” sets of grooves cut into it. If enhanced interrogation techniques had included putting terrorists in the cab of a truck driving here, the CIA would have found bin Laden a lot sooner.
Prettiest segment of interstate: I-40 across the Smokey Mountains, along the Pigeon River crossing from Tennessee into North Carolina.
Least truck-friendly segment of interstate: Same as above. There are longer and steeper pulls out West, but I’d like to know if there’s another section of a major interstate this narrow and winding anywhere else in the country.
Fastest segment of interstate: On this trip, I-20 coming out of Columbia, S.C., to Augusta, Ga. Dozens of cars were doing 90 mph or better. I slipped in with a few, but couldn’t keep up and be comfortable about it.
If the talking GPS starts to laugh: You must be headed into Birmingham, Ala. I-20 is closed, period. But even the messy detour is an improvement.
Usual problems that weren’t: I-40, Little Rock-Memphis. (Rough, with plenty of truck traffic and elephant races, but at least the segment was open the entire way, both directions.) Also, I-20 through Atlanta. (Sunday afternoon meant eight lanes of 80 mph madness, but that beats the typical weekday, multi-mile parking lot.)
Peaceful, easy feeling segment: I-22 (US 78) from Cordova, Ala., to the Mississippi line. Wide and smooth with little traffic, I caught this stretch as the mist started to rise from the densely forested valleys and the low sun burned blood orange, framed by some dark, distant thunderheads—and my playlist shuffled to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It provided a moment of grace that put me in a good place for the last four hours. I’m thinking that if a professional driver can come up with such a moment every day, life on the road isn’t all bad.

Friday, August 30, 2013

No Dignity in Death: Trucker Denied Last Ride Home

Story thanks to Link provided below:
OTR drivers almost never get home. It means that they spend a lot of time away from their families of course, but it also means that when something goes wrong, they may be far, far away. This was the case with driver Raymond White.
It was July 15th when Cathy Rossi, White’s girlfriend, knew something was wrong. White usually called her in the mornings, but she hadn’t heard from him, and couldn’t reach him. She tried calling the company he was driving for, Southern Refrigerated Transport (SRT) to see if they could help.
“I made a couple phone calls that day and they got kind of nasty with me on the phone,” Rossi said. “They never called back. That’s when I found the missing truck driver network on Facebook.”
With help from The Missing Truck Driver Alert Network, a group that utilizes truck drivers on the road to help find their missing fellow drivers, the New Mexico State Troopers were able to find White’s truck 12 hours later using the same information that Rossi gave to SRT. The troopers found that White had died of a heart attack.
Though tragic, the story up to this point is not unheard of. What happens next though clearly shows a huge issue with our industry. SRT, the company that wouldn’t help track down one of their own drivers, refused to transport White’s body or personal belongings without first receiving a cash payment. Though the amount requested wasn’t disclosed, it was beyond what the family could afford.
SRT is by no means a small company. It is part of the Covenant Transportation Group which is made up of six different trucking companies including Covenant Transport and Star Transportation. SRT certainly had the means of transporting White’s remains and his belongings back home whether in their own trucks or by paying to have them returned.
As one user on our forum said, “I understand it’s not the company’s responsibility to get the deceased drivers belongings home, but how about a little human decency??”
Instead, White’s family turned to Trucker Charity Inc., a group that’s dedicated to “fostering the brotherhood of trucking that we so deeply miss.” The Trucker Charity helped White’s friends and family raise $2,000 and helped connect them with multiple truckers who took White’s remains and belongings as extra cargo.
Thanks to Trucker Charity and the three drivers they helped find, 15 days his body was found, his remains were delivered 2,730 miles to his family. Raymond White had been a professional truck driver for 20 years.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to take a heartland Road Trip
Article thanks to Budget Travel and Link provided below:

Smack dab in the middle of America, this leisurely drive across Nebraska's Sandhills region includes peaceful winding rivers just waiting for paddlers, gentle hills, and some of the most interesting folks you'll ever bump into anywhere.
His great-great-grandfather founded the town in the late 1880s. At its pre-WWII peak, the population of Nenzel, Nebraska, reached 125. Today, it’s got all of 13 people. But that hasn’t stopped Neal Nollette, a Roman Catholic priest, from launching an outfitting company, 2 the Ends of the Earth, which runs river trips down a cliff-lined stretch of the Niobrara that’s often short of—well, water.
To bypass that inconvenient truth, Nollette invented the sport of “nyobrafting,” which he defines as navigating a waterway by any method necessary, though in practice it means repeatedly climbing out of your kayak and dragging it across the river’s many sandbars. As Father Neal says, “If you have a little bit of imagination and creativity, you can turn almost anything into a business.”
Welcome to the Sandhills, home to whooping cranes and prairie chickens, cowboys and cattle, plus some of the more ingenious tourism attractions either side of the Mississippi. Like much of the nation, these remote, sparsely settled grasslands—rolling some 19,000 square miles across north central Nebraska and reaching as high as 400 feet—have been hit by economic tough times. 
But the can-do spirit that built this country runs deep in these parts. Ever been to a 300-mile-long yard sale (known as the annual Junk Jaunt)? Or an art show that makes a stop at the Sinclair gas station in Dunning, where hand-crafted pottery shares the shelves with the Hamburger Helper and pickles? In a word: delicious.
Omaha to Burwell
193 miles
“Where the West begins and the East peters out,” reads the restaurant sign my son and I spy in Burwell, home to Nebraska’s Big Rodeo. After a four-hour drive from Omaha, we’re ready for some cowpoke action. At the Northside Bar and Cafe, around the corner from the Dry Creek Western Wear store and saddle shop, a man in a white cowboy hat plays gin rummy with his buddies at a corner table (223 Grand Ave., Burwell, 308/346-5474). 
We’ve dropped by to see the hundreds of photos, posters, and other memorabilia decorating the walls of the pub’s rodeo museum. Perhaps other picture galleries double as a saloon, but surely this is the only one serving bull calf testicles. 
“Last Friday, we sold a whole case,” says Tammy Miller, waitress, bartender, and occasional curator. “Breaded and deep fried.” 
Thankfully, my son is hankering for something sweet. We’re directed to the Sandstone Grill in the old tin-ceilinged Burwell Hotel, where two foodies—sisters who moved here from Seattle and Kansas City—serve a long list of salads (Caesar, Asian, “sweet blue,” etc.) along with Nebraskan classics like sour cream raisin pie, which we order à la mode (416 Grand Ave., Burwell, 308/346-4582).
Sunlight is starting to wane as we reach Calamus Outfitters, near Nebraska’s third-largest swimming hole, Calamus Reservoir. We toss our bags into our rustic lodge room on the grounds of the Switzer Ranch, then hightail it outside for a sunset Jeep tour of 12,000 acres of grazing cattle (83720 Valleyview Ave., Burwell, 308/346-4697).
Lying on the central flyway of some 500,000 cranes and 10 million other migratory water fowl, these are the Sandhills at their prettiest, dipping and rising like a roller coaster, blanketed with bluestems and tall bunchgrasses. 
In spring, you can watch the sharp-tailed grouse strut their stuff during their elaborate predawn mating dance. In summertime, there’s tubing and horseback riding. In the morning when I ask what we can do to help around the ranch, we’re told to saddle up and spend the next several hours rounding up stray cattle.
Burwell to Mullen
112 miles
The late Charles “On the Road” Kuralt counted Highway 2, running alongside the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and a seemingly endless row of black-eyed susans and golden sunflowers, among America’s 10 most beautiful routes. 
We pick it up in Dunning and follow it west through what was once the Pawnee and Sioux tribes’ bison-hunting range. In Mullen, we have a date with Glidden Canoe Rental to go “tanking”—a popular Nebraskan sport that consists of floating down a river in a livestock watering tank. Some tanks come with picnic tables and lawn chairs. Ours is nine feet in diameter, made of galvanized tin, and outfitted with benches. 
Even with paddles, we’re at the Middle Loup River’s mercy. A red-tailed hawk soars overhead as the current crashes us into the bank, tangling us up in fallen branches. Eventually I learn it’s less jarring if I sit upright, not touching the sides of the tank. My son does just the opposite, naturally. Apparently what I call whiplash, he calls fun (Off Highway 2, Mullen, 308/546-2206).
Afterward, we grab a bite at the Rustic Tavern, in Mullen’s scruffy downtown. The kitchen is closed for remodeling, but the cook whips up a daily special in the smoker out back. This evening it’s BBQ brisket and the place is hopping with takers, many in boots and spurs (104 E. 1st St. Mullen, 308/546-2993). 
We order seconds before settling in for the night near Thedford at the Middle Loup River Ranch Guest House. There aren’t always animals, and most of the ranch is about 50 miles away, but what’s in a name? Besides, the two-bedroom place is comfy, all ours, and in the morning our host stops by with gooey cinnamon rolls (Highway 2, between Halsey and Thedford, 402/450-2268).
Mullen to Nenzel
121 miles
North up Highway 83, the Sandhills take on a vast, rugged beauty, dotted with pristine lakes and spring-fed marshes and sweeping wide in every direction. In Valentine, we turn west for Nenzel and our 12-mile nyobrafting trip (402/389-2242). 
It ends up taking all day, including the part where our shuttle van runs out of gas and we somehow land at Father Neal’s brother’s place to see his four-acre vineyard and the new pine-paneled wine-tasting room occupying the ground floor of his house. 
They don’t have a liquor license yet, nor do they have a name for their label. Still, Father Neal and his brother are optimistic that this venture (unlike the family’s erstwhile weekend cowboy cookouts) will soon be raking in the crowds. Watch out, Napa. Tiny Nenzel is on your tail!

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

St. Anthony - the patron saint of lost articles
Great job by the Milwaukee Police department!

TODAY'S GOOD NEWS: Officers assigned to District 2, along with South Investigations detectives, identified and arrested two suspects believed to be responsible for an August 19 burglary at St. Anthony Catholic Church, located at 1711 S. 9th Street.

The suspects took several antique gold and brass candle holders valued by church staff at about $80,000. After relentless follow-up, the officers and detectives found candle holders in a south side home, where the suspect sold them for scrap for $100.

The person who purchased them led the officers to one of the suspects, who was arrested on August 22. The 31-year-old male suspect confessed to detectives that he and another suspect took the candle holders from the church and carried them into a nearby alley, where they smashed the marble off of them to make them fit into a garbage can that they used to take them to a metal buyer they knew.

The suspect helped officers identify a 55-year-old man who was his co-actor. Officers arrested that suspect on August 23 when they found him walking on the sidewalk in the 900 block of W. Lincoln.

The case will be reviewed by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office on Monday, August 26.

Of note, St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost articles.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

5 arrested in Ryder insurance fraud scam

Story thanks to Link provided below:
Five people pleaded guilty to their part in an elaborate insurance fraud scheme that took nearly a year to plan and carry out.

The Plan

6/1/2013 Cindy and David Morgan of Utica, New York, owned a struggling restaurant .  The couple, along with a group of accomplices, hatched a scheme to make some fast money.
On the morning of March 20, 2006, Michael Matrulli rented a Ryder truck and took out a $1 million insurance policy on it.  He drove the truck down Harbor Lock Road.
Matrulli, David Morgan, Joseph Demme and Joseph Dellebra met the morning of the accident to work out the final details.
Cindy Morgan and  Dellebra, who prosecutors say developed the plan, were sitting in a van in front of the Morgan’s restaurant.
Matrulli allegedly drove the Ryder truck head-on into the Morgan’s van.
According to, Morgan told authorities she had been traveling southwest on Harbor Lock Road as Matrulli was heading north and crossed the center line and struck Morgan’s van head-on.
Matrulli was ticketed for failure to “keep right” and Morgan and Dellebra were transported to the hospital.  The responding officer noted that “minor injuries” were sustained, reported.

The Payout

Doctors diagnosed Morgan with bulging disks.  She was declared partially disabled and underwent physical therapy.  Mutual of Omaha paid her $108,000 in disability insurance.
Morgan and Dellebra’s insurance policies covered their medical expenses.
Morgan filed a civil suit against Ryder for her personal injuries.  Ryder agreed to pay Morgan $30,000.
Dellebra also sued Ryder.  In July of 2009, he settled with the company for nearly $700,000.  Dellebra told the court that injuries from the accident prevented him from working and also caused “great mental pain and physical anguish.”
Dellebra allegedly gave $120,000 to Joseph Demme, who introduced Dellebra to the co-conspirators.
In total, five insurance companies were defrauded: Old Republic, Geico, Progressive, Mutual of Omaha and Metropolitan.

The Fallout

The incident was investigated by the FBI and New York State Insurance Fraud Bureau.
The Morgan’s attorney accused Demme of being the “ringleader,” saying he hired Matrulli to drive the truck into the van.
Earlier this year, Cindy Morgan and Dellebra were sentenced in federal court.  Dellebra was sentenced to 30 months in prison and Morgan was sentenced to 27 months.
In addition, Morgan and Dellerba  were ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution.
Morgan’s husband, David, Matrulli and Demme have all pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
The others — David Morgan, Matrulli and Joseph Demme — await sentences from federal court. All have pleaded guilty to various levels of fraud.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Saskatchewan Black Bear Adrenaline At It's Best!

Published on Aug 13, 2012
After checking the Moultrie trail cameras, Hunter and I decided to move to a different site. What we didn't realize was that we were in for one of the craziest and most exciting nights out in the woods hunting black bears. After a big sow comes in a chases another bear up my tree with me in it. We watch as they run one another up and down the trees and finally the giant sow rips the younger one out of a big spruce tree and race past our stand again. As I look up again to the right of the bait I can't believe the size of the monster black bear heading our way. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

GM’s Special Half-Ton Pickups Spotted

A sneak peek at the chassis-cab option for
GM pickups. Photo credit: Chris Doane Automotive

Article thanks to Brittany Johnson at Link provided:

GM is looking to get ahead of the game by offering a new chassis-cab storage bed option to both its 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2014 GMC Sierra 1500. Spy shooter Chris Doane at spotted the Chevy and GMC versions in Michigan yesterday. GM’s addition to the already popular pickups may give them the benefit in the pickup race. These work trucks are in a chassis-cab configuration with a large cargo/storage box on the back. The yellow gas cap signifies E-85 compatibility. The chassis-cab addition may be just what GM needs; this option is sure to be a hit with contractors looking to purchase a Silverado or Sierra, but need the extra storage space. Adding the bed option is sure to meet the special needs of contractors. Those who are looking to update their fleets will have the option sometime later this year.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kenworth betting on cabovers
Article thanks to Jason Cannon and Link provided below:

Kenworth is hoping its latest attempt to carve out a niche in the medium-duty cabover market will do something previous models never did – actually carve out a niche in the medium-duty cabover market.
The company’s first K370 cabover was presented to Coca-Cola Refreshments in the truck maker’s backyard – Bellevue, Wash. – in May of last year. Kenworth has been steadily chugging away at creating a foothold in the cabover segment ever since. 
“We’ve had a couple of (cabover models) in the past, and they were good products,” says Doug Powell, Kenworth’s Medium-Duty Marketing Manager. “But this product is much better.”
Powell says the trucks must first overcome an unjust stigma of being tough to drive with excessive cab noise. His plan to do that was launching an aggressive marketing campaign around the K270 and K370 models, and educating dealers about the benefits of the smaller and powerful trucks. And after 18 months in the market, it’s paying off.
“We probably sold more of the new (model) in the first three months than we did of the last one in two or three years,” Powell says. “We’ve sold more (cabover trucks) in the past six months than we sold in the 12 months before that.”
Powell says Kenworth has made an effort to better train its dealer force on properly spec’ing trucks, which includes the cabover lines. Having that salesforce out actively pushing the product, he adds, is what has began to put the trucks on the road. 
“The initiative is pretty simple,” he says. “To train dealers and sales staff to spec whatever truck (customers) need with the best fitting engine. Not just a heavy truck with a big engine.”
Focusing on what Powell called a “two-cab strategy” for its medium-duty sales, he says customers can opt for the popular aluminum huck-bolted cab on conventional models, or a 2.1-meter wide cab in its cabovers, accommodating up to three people.
Introduced in the fall of 2011 and rolled out the following spring, the Kenworth K270 Class 6 and Kenworth K370 Class 7 cabovers target urban delivery companies requiring a nimble truck with 18- to 26-foot van body size, stake bed, or roll-on/roll-off bed. And the K-Series trucks have found favor in some of the largest cities in the country, where a short truck with large hauling capacity is an enticing way to move freight while navigating crowded streets and tight corners. 
“We’ve sold a ton of them on the eastern seaboard, the northern seaboard,” Powell adds. “It’s doing well where it should – in those markets where it really has the benefits.”
“I t could be a 2,000 to 1,500 (unit) market size,” Powell says of reasonable sales expectations. “That’s still better, or double, what it was 18 months ago.”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What drives Driver Trainers crazy
I've been a truck driver trainer with my company now for over 19 years. I've always considered myself to be so fortunate, not actually having to teach new tractor trailer drivers to drive, as our company hires only experienced “professionals”. Of course there are a wide variety of truck drivers and they all have varying levels of experience, but the people we hire have a safe work and driving history and know how to drive.

I find after doing this so long and training several hundred drivers in our system over the years, my patience wears thin and it seems more frustrating as time goes on and each new driver comes on board. So, as therapy, I have decided to list my pet peeves with new drivers and see if that helps. And, if any of you readers out there are new drivers or have moved to a different company and had to be trained by a trainer, you might want to respond and list your pet peeves about your trainer.

Back in the early 1980’s, I went through the Diesel Driving School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin to get my training. We had an old, grumpy trainer that would ride along in the passenger seat nicknamed Red. Every time I did something wrong behind the wheel, he would punch me on the arm, scaring the crap out of me. But it sure taught me not to make the same mistake again! In my class of 29 students, I graduated ranked number one. In this day and age, probably not a good idea to be punching your students!

My Pet Peeves:
If you are bob-tailing a tractor, why would anyone start in first or second and shift through every gear in the transmission? How long has it been taught that with electronic engines, you should start out in the highest gear that will get the truck rolling without using the throttle. Starting in first or second while bob-tailing or empty is ridiculous, wastes fuel and bounces me back and forth in the passenger seat.

I realize that every truck is different and it takes some time to shift it smoothly. Drivers are not used to having a trainer ride with them and are understandably nervous. If you can’t pick it up right away, try using the clutch! Seems like everyone insists on “floating” the gears, missing shifts and constantly grinding gears, making me cranky. You can shift a lot smoother, until you get more comfortable, by using that left leg.

Loading docks and yards are often congested and can overwhelm drivers that are not used to it. As we enter a yard that my driver is not familiar with, I try and give information on where to drop trailers or which door to back in. All the years of backing experience have taught me that properly positioning your rig before backing is half the battle. If you can position your rig to back straight into a dock instead of jackknifing, it makes for a lot less work and a much safer move. It amazes me at some who do not take a moment to think about where they are going, and how to line up for a backing maneuver.

Drive it like you normally drive! I have been a professional driver for over thirty years and expect a driver I’m riding with to drive like a normal professional person. Crawling around like a grandma and driving 5 or 10 miles per hour below the speed limit to demonstrate that you are a safe driver does not work for me. I know how you will drive after I leave the truck and have witnessed it hundreds of times. We hire drivers with a safe working history and we know you are a safe driver.

We provide map books for every new driver that show routes and directions for every place we normally go. When training a driver, we know the day before where we will be going the next day. Now, I would think that if it were me, going somewhere I haven’t been before, would at least look at the maps the night before. I've had a couple drivers hook their trailers up in the yard, ready to leave and ask me if which direction (north or south) out of Salt Lake! That makes me crazy.

Training new drivers on local routes almost always means an early morning start time. I tell each driver what time we need to meet to pick up the tractor. Now, if I was a new employee, I would make damn sure to not be late during my training period. When I get up at 3:30AM, drive to work and sit twiddling my thumbs, waiting for my trainee to show up, it does not start my day well. In fact, I got so mad one time that I told the guy if he was late getting up again with me, to not bother showing up at all. And he didn't. He only lasted a few weeks.

So, that’s a few of my peeves, anyone is welcome to respond of their pet peeves with trainers!

Friday, August 16, 2013

5 simple steps to a faster computer
Excellent advice from Kim Komando on her website Link provided below. My three year old laptop has been giving me fits lately with it being so slow. I tried decrapifier, clonespy and toolbarcleaner on mine and the speed was much improved!

Kim writes: 
One of the best things about a new computer is the speed. It boots fast, opens programs like a dream and generally doesn't leave you checking your watch.
Of course, the longer you use a computer, the slower it gets.  It's tempting to buy a new computer or call a professional, but I wouldn't just yet. You can get back most of the speed with a few free tricks. They're simple enough for anyone to do, and your wallet will thank you.
Before going on, I'm going to bring up one caveat. If you're using a Windows XP computer, plan to get a new one soon. XP's end of life is coming up on April 8, 2014. It's already lacking newer security features. It will only get less secure once Microsoft stops releasing security updates. Click here to learn more about the future of XP. 
1. Speed up your startup
The most annoying computer slowdown for most people is startup. Even new computers can take a few minutes to start. After years of use, it can seem like hours.
Your computer spends much of that time starting third-party programs. Security software, printer software and driver updaters are just a few examples. The frustrating part is that many of these don't need to run at startup.
Autoruns is a freebie that can help reduce the load. It finds and disables unneeded programs so they don't slow you down. But it won't stop important startup processes, like security software.
Startup Delayer is a good program if you want more control. You can tell what programs to start when. That way, they're not fighting for system resources.
If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you might invest in a solid-state hard drive. These are much faster than conventional hard drives. It can bring your startup times to well under a minute.
SSDs are still small and expensive - a 128 gigabyte SSD costs $110 to $150 - but that's less than a new computer. Before you put down any money, however, read on.
2. Clean the clutter
Another thing that slows down your computer is a cluttered hard drive.
In the past, you had to worry about a full hard drive. Thanks to modern large-capacity drives, filling the space isn't easy.
Still, even coming close can slow down your system. So, if you have less than five gigabytes of free space, it's time to clean.
Use a free disk-visualizing program such as WinDirStat to see what applications and files are taking up the most space. Move space-hogging files you need to an external drive and delete the ones you don't.
Grab Revo Uninstaller to thoroughly remove any programs you don't use anymore. Zap unused trial software and other unwanted bloatware with PC Decrapifier. 
Even if you have plenty of space, clutter can still slow things down. Plenty of programs create temporary files they have to sort through later. Get rid of temporary files with the free program CCleaner.
You might have duplicate music or photo files clogging up your programs. Use a program like CloneSpy or VisiPics to remove them quickly.
3. Pick up the pieces
Files on a hard drive aren't like files in a filing cabinet. On a hard drive, files become fragmented. Bits and pieces of them get scattered around the drive. This increases the time your computer takes to open them.
That's why there are defragmenting programs. These assemble the pieces so they're easier to find.
With Windows Vista, 7 and 8 this isn't such a big deal anymore. They run the built-in defragmenter automatically on a schedule.
To check when it runs, go to Start, or go to the Start Screen in Windows 8. In the search bar, type "defrag" (minus quotes). This will either bring up the defragmenter program or a list where you can select it.
Check when it ran last and when it's scheduled to run. Usually it's set for early morning. If your computer isn't usually on then, change it to a different time. You can also run it manually.
In Windows XP, you'll have to run the defragmenter manually. Open My Computer and right-click on your main drive. Then choose Properties.
Go to the Tools tab and choose Defragment Now, then click Defragment. It will take a while, so sit back and relax.
One exception to defragging is if you have a solid-state hard drive. These work in a different way and don't have this problem. In fact, running a defragmenter on an SSD will shorten its life. Windows 7 and 8 will detect an SSD and turn off defragmenting automatically.
4. Boost your browsing
Your computer runs fast, but loading websites leaves you twiddling your thumbs. What gives?
First, make sure you're getting the Internet speed you paid for. The free service Speedtest will give you the real scoop on your Internet connection.
If you suspect the problem is in your wireless network, you can tweak your router's settings to eliminate hang-ups and bottlenecks. Click here for instructions. 
If your wireless signal is weak or your home has dead spots, try putting your router in a central location. Also, move it away from walls and metal objects. Click here for more tricks to boost your Wi-Fi.
It might turn out that it isn't your connection, but your browser. On Vista or 7, the fix for that could be as simple as upgrading Internet Explorer to version 9 or higher. Do this from Start>>Control Panel>>Windows Update.
On XP, you won't have this option. Instead, ditch IE entirely for the newer, more nimble Firefox or Chrome. Both of these are fast and secure.
Not sure what browser you're using? Visit What Browser Am I Using? to find out.   Getting rid of unneeded browser toolbars, like Babylon, will also speed things up. These often come attached to free software. You can remove these manually in the browser add-on settings, or use a program like Toolbar Cleaner. 
5. Remove pesky viruses
Speaking of unwanted programs, viruses can seriously slow down your system. They might be busy recording everything you do, or sending out spam.
Combat malware with up-to-date security software. AVG and Avast! are two good free options. I also recommend Malwarebytes for manual scanning and removal.
The worst viruses will block you from installing security software. In that case, grab a rescue CD like AVG Rescue CD. This runs outside your operating system so viruses don't have a chance.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

‘How Durable is TrailerTail?’ Watch This Video

Trailer Tail
Article thanks to Tom Berg, senior editor of Link provided:

Makers of trailer aerodynamic improvers are well aware of truckers’ suspicions that the devices will be damaged, sooner or later. That’s why many of the latest ones are made with materials that are flexible and impact resistant.
One is TrailerTail, the folding-panel product that mimics a boat tail to smooth the flow of air off a trailer’s rear end, saving fuel and money. Seeing one traveling down the road or just sitting still, you know that those panels are going to get bashed, and that the wires and springs that do the folding are going to be broken or shake themselves to pieces.
But they don’t, according to fleet officials who use TrailerTails. In a video recently released by the product’s maker, ATDynamics, a half-dozen managers and executives testify that the devices are “durable and reliable,” “require very little maintenance,” and “if the driver forgets to close it when he’s backing into a dock or other stationary object, the tail does collapse on its own.”
The video shows this happening when a TrailerTail hits a wall, where the panels bulge and bend before folding back against the trailer’s doors; as the trailer moves away from the wall, the unscathed panels redeploy. Another scene shows a panel bumping the top of a Jeep; the panel’s lower corner bends inward, sparing itself and the Jeep’s fiberglass top from damage.
There’s a short clip of two men bending and twisting a panel, and another of heavy-handed guy bashing one with a mallet. Again, no harm is done.
Shake-testing at the Bosch Proving Grounds in Indiana is also shown. The wires and springs vibrate slightly, not enough to damage them but sufficient to shrug off snow and ice, ATDynamics’ founder, Andrew Smith, told me a while ago.
The video is convincing and entertaining. View it here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Judge Orders EEOC to Pay Iowa Trucking Company’s $4.7M Legal Bill

Story thanks to Link provided below:
August 8, 2013  A judge has ordered the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to pay an Iowa trucking company $4.7 million in legal costs for bringing frivolous claims during a six-year sexual harassment lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Linda Reade’s judgment for CRST Van Expedited is believed to be the largest-ever fee sanction against EEOC.
EEOC spokeswoman Christine Nazer said Tuesday the agency is “deeply disappointed” in last week’s ruling and considering an appeal.
EEOC sued Cedar Rapids-based CRST in 2007 on behalf of female employees who had allegedly suffered sexual harassment by male drivers and trainers.
CRST paid $50,000 to settle one woman’s claim, but more than 250 others were dismissed. Reade says EEOC brought 153 “unreasonable or groundless” claims and made an unsupported allegation that CRST had a practice of tolerating harassment.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Balistrieri's Milwaukee Mafia Car!

The actual restored car, Gilmore Car Museum in
Hickory Corners, Mi
joanna poe photo

A couple of months ago, I received the following email from a person called Mark. I'll keep his last name private:

"I was reading your blog about Frank, John and Joe Balistrieri.  Great info!!  I have a slight connection to that family.  My grandfather purchased a 1948 Cadillac Limo from John Balistrieri in 1990.  He restored it and kept if for years until he died and I inherited it.  The car currently resides at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. 
I tried to comment on your blog but my company’s security would not let me.  I once wrote a letter to John trying to find out more info on the car but never got a response.  I still have a letter and a bill of sale with the hotel’s company letter head and such.  I never thought to ask my grandfather about the car when he said it was a “mafia” car.  I just thought he was pulling my leg.  Great articles by the way!!  Feel free to email back with any info you may have.
Thanks, Mark"

Mark sent me copies of the title and bill of sale signed by John Balistrieri. The bill of sale was actually written on the Shorecrest Hotel stationary. I was then able to contact a relative of the Balistrieris to ask if he remembered anything about a 1948 Caddy and he wrote the following:

"Yes John (one of Frank Balistrieri's sons) had a Cadillac limo. He would say he used it to go for ice cream, possibly to Kopp's or  Pig 'N Whistle."

joanna poe photo
There have been some attempts to research the car's title history, so far without success. John refuses to answer any mail.

I then ran across this in the writings of Gavin C. Scmitt:
"Small-time hoodlum Jack Enea, 46, (1506 North Jackson Street) was found in a ditch on Plainview Road two miles northwest of Sussex, Waukesha County on Tuesday, November 29, 1955. Enea had been killed between 10:00am and noon. He had seven bullets from a .38 in him, and the last person known to see him alive was cement contractor Walter “Blackie” Brocca (1668 North VanBuren Street). Enea and Brocca had previously operated a tavern at 1932 West St. Paul Avenue."
"An unidentified FBI informant speculated that the killing was ordered by John Alioto at the request of Joseph Sciortino. Sciortino was Enea’s uncle, and owned a bakery on VanBuren Street adjacent to Alioto’s tavern. Allegedly, Enea burglarized the bakery and stole $1400. The informant also believed that a black Cadillac was involved and that at least two killers were used — one was identified as John Aiello. This seems questionable, because in 1947 Peter Sciortino moved the bakery from VanBuren to 1101 East Brady Street, and his father (possibly named Joseph) had returned to Italy. So, for this to be correct, the informant would have to have a) confused Sciortino’s name and b) meant to say that Sciortino used to own a bakery on VanBuren, though the one that was burglarized was on Brady."

Detective Inspector Rudolph Glaser of the Milwaukee Police Department believed that a black Cadillac picked Enea up from 1443 North VanBuren, where his Buick was parked. 1443 was previously (and possibly currently) the address of former boss Sam Ferrara’s tavern. He narrowed the car down to a 1948 or 1949 Cadillac after a witness informed him that the car had fin fenders.

Mark's car in the shade
Now imagine this?
In 1955 John Alioto was the boss of the Milwaukee mob with son-in-law Frank Balistrieri being groomed to take over, which happened in 1961. If John Alioto ordered the hit, could the killers have used his car? Could the Caddy limo then have been handed down to his son-in-law Frank Balistrieri, who then may have passed it on to his own son John? Could the car in the museum be the actual car used in the hit? Of course it's all speculation but 'what if' stories fascinate me.

I then sent the previous information in the following message to Mark:
"Hey Mark, check this out. Do you know what the original color of your car was. This one could have been owned by John Alioto!"

Mark's response was:
"Just a thought, but at night that Maroon can easily be mistaken for black. This is my car in the shade."

Mark has intended to try a title search of previous owners of the car. If I hear anything, I'll keep you posted.

More of my mob related posts:
"Mr. Fancy Pants" Balistrieri - Tracking Milwaulee's most dangerous mobster
Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggerio-The real story of the "wise guy"
The Beef That Didn't Moo - Wisconsin Ties to the Mob
Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men!
Married to the Daughter of a Milwaukee Mob Boss-Our Pediatrician!
The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime
Tale of a Failed Milwaukee Mob Hit!
Lieutenant Uhura (of the Starship "Enterprise") - close encounters with the Chicago and Milwaukee Mob!
Part Two: The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek)
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef - Part 1
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef Processors - Part II