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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Life in the Refrigerated Business

Ralph Moyle’s first truck, on the right, was a 1940 Ford.
 Next to it on the left is the third truck that Ralph

purchased, a 1950 Ford
Article thanks to Kate Harlow and Link provided below:

September, 2013  From a very young age, Ralph Moyle was drawn to trucking. So when given the chance, he didn’t let the lack of a driver’s license – or the fact that he was only 14 years old – stand in his way.
Near the end of World War II, most of the male workforce was overseas in the fight. There was no one left to haul the grapes grown in the local farms around Mattawan, Mich., the 5 to 10 miles to the Welch’s processing plant in town. So 14-year-old Ralph hopped into the seat of his father’s Ford 14-foot straight truck and began a lifelong career in trucking.
Ralphs father had bought the truck intending to get Ralph’s older brothers, Jim and Harry, to drive it (which they did) to help local farmers deliver their grapes, according to Jon Moyle, Ralph’s youngest son.
“Jim, Harry, and a family friend, Frank Farthing, added a Model T truck rear end behind the back axle and installed a bed, and they used this 1-1/2 ton truck to haul 10 tons of grapes.”
Ralph’s company hauled grapes from local farms to Welch’s plants for almost 65 years.
This is the second tractor-trailer Ralph owned, a 1956 C600 Ford with an
open-top trailer. 
This tractor was used to haul grapes,apples, Christmas
trees and pickles. It traveled as far away as Iowa from its home
 in Mattawan, Mich
Growing the company
After serving for two years in the Army during the Korean War, Ralph began pursuing his dream of owning his own trucking company. He went back to driving local produce in 1955 while earning a business degree at Western Michigan University.
By the late 1950s, Ralph’s business had three trucks. He eventually incorporated the business in 1966 as Ralph Moyle Inc., and expanded the company to five trucks in the mid-1970s.
When a local canning plant was sold to Coca-Cola Foods in 1979, Ralph was invited to work with the new company and his business grew quickly. By the end of 1980, he had more than 30 tractors as well as refrigerated, food grade liquid bulk and dry vans.
In the 1990s, Ralph’s sons, Mike and Jon, joined him in running the trucking business, along with a warehousing business that Ralph started. Mike currently serves as the company’s COO, while Jon has the role of CFO.
It’s a plan Ralph wrote about when he was still in college.
“In 1961, several years before he even met my mother, Dad wrote a term paper for a small business class at Western Michigan University describing the business he had developed and steps he hoped to take to foster growth,” Jon says. “In the conclusion to that report, he stated that he hoped one day to turn the business over to his two sons — which is exactly what happened.”
The company today has more than 150 employees. They are a regional carrier that runs primarily in the Midwest, operating in 35 states from Texas to Massachusetts.
The company runs a fairly high trailer-to-tractor ratio (280 trailers to 80 trucks) in order to take advantage of drop trailer programs and minimize drivers’ loading and unloading time. The trailer fleet is a wide mix, with Utility, Wabash and Great Dane the most common.
They run roughly 60% Thermo-King and 40% Carrier refrigeration units. Along with 116 reefers, the company runs 155 dry vans, plus nine stainless food grade tankers.
Food products and containers are the primary specialty, accounting for more than 80% of its freight. Fruit juices (both refrigerated and non-refrigerated) account for the greatest volume, followed by general food products, food containers and pharmaceuticals. The average length of haul last year was 275 miles.
State of the industry
In the recent economic downturn, Ralph Moyle Inc. was not negatively affected to the extremes that many other Michigan trucking companies were.
“Since our primary customers produce food staples, we weren’t affected as severely as many trucking companies, especially Michigan trucking companies who are traditionally automotive-related,” Jon says. “We went from 80 trucks in 2008 down to 77 in 2009, but we’ve been back at 80 most of this year.”
As the economy works to right itself, there are still many other challenges facing the refrigerated trucking business.
Jon says two of the biggest are the impact of environmental regulations relating to transport refrigeration units in California (and their implications for future regulations in other states), and the increase in customer interest in end-to-end temperature records due to federal regulation of food handling.
“In both cases, it’s increasingly difficult for smaller, regional carriers like us to update equipment fast enough to keep pace with regulatory demands,” Jon says. “Financially we’re not in a position to be able to upgrade all of our units at one time, so we have concentrated on developing processes and double checks to make sure our equipment is monitored closely and our drivers are trained well enough to prevent problems, and correct them quickly if they do occur.”
Fuel costs, of course, are a challenge for all fleets, even more so for those running reefers. The company has made aggressive strides on the tractor side of the fuel equation, but not so with their refrigerated units.
“On the reefer unit side, it’s much more difficult because there are fewer ways to increase fuel economy. Maintaining the temperature in the trailer to protect the integrity of the product has to be the number one concern, and fuel economy is a distant second. The best tools we have are just to keep the units in good repair, along with door seals and structural integrity, to try to prevent cold air from escaping.”
Ralph Moyle Inc. also is dealing with the repercussions of the new hours-of-service regulations that went into effect on July 1.
“We’ve had to do a better job of planning dispatches and making sure the drivers are trained to maximize their available hours due to the new rules relating to 34-hour restarts, and it has made life much more difficult for our driver managers,” Jon says.
“We’re almost halfway through implementation of e-logs in our fleet, so we have some good tools at our disposal to help manage it, but it has definitely added one more variable to an equation that already has several.”
Life in the Refrigerated Business - Articles - Fleet Management - Articles -

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cop Laptops to be Shutoff While on the Move in Iowa
Article thanks to Link provided below:

10/9/2013  Those in trucking who want to pull out their hair when they see a law enforcement officer using a laptop computer while going down the road will soon be able to keep from going bald in one state.
Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement division officers are getting a new piece of equipment in patrol vehicles called Arch Angel. This is a combination of hardware and software designated to disable the laptop computer in a law enforcement vehicle when a predetermined speed is reached.
The Iowa DOT MVE is responsible for truck safety in the Hawkeye State, including running weigh stations and performing roadside inspections, among other duties.
The Arch Angel software constantly monitors the speed of the law enforcement vehicle. When that speed reaches or exceeds 15 mph, the software automatically disables or locks the laptop computer, key board, mouse, and touch screen.
While the computer is locked, critical applications continue to run ensuring that the physical location of the officer continues to be sent to other law enforcement officers so situational awareness is maintained. The officer is able to use one keystroke to call for help if necessary. In addition, the officer can view a statewide map showing the location of the emergency they are responding to and the position of other law enforcement officers in the area. Once the vehicle’s speed falls below 15 mph, the computer becomes active.
The Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement anticipates software installation and training will be completed and the system will be in use by Nov. 1.
“Distracted driving can contribute to crashes and other traffic problems, such as sudden stops, departing from your lane, and inconsistent speeds,” said MVE Chief Dave Lorenzen. “As a law enforcement agency, it is our duty to not only enforce laws related to those issues and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The use of law enforcement officers using laptops while driving is a common complaint in trucking because truck drivers are prohibited from such behavior, as well as texting and handheld phone use in most cases, while behind the wheel.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blue Tiger Elite - I give it the ultimate test

Blue Tiger Elite
Nov 23, 2013  Last month I received an email from Jared, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Blue Tiger USA. He offered to send me one of their Blue Tiger Elite “Bluetooth” headsets to try out, put through it’s paces, report back and write about my experiences. I wrote back that I would be glad to test his product, but I would express my honest opinion on my blog. He had no problem with that and as you can read below, I was quite impressed!

Week One
I've had the headset for a week now, using it around the house and in my personal vehicle. Having tried several of the wireless devices the past few years, this one is by far the most comfortable. The ones that fit over the ear lobe have always felt unnatural to me and I could not get used to wearing them for an extended period of time. The Blue Tiger Elite has a headband to wear over your head and a very comfortable padded ear piece that covers the ear, instead of hanging off of it.  Initially, it felt rather tight on my head and Jared reminded me that the band is fully adjustable and you can bend it however you want for a perfectly comfortable fit. I have worn it around the house for hours with no problems. In fact, when I get home I leave my cell phone on the table and either wear the Blue Tiger or if I’m sitting in one place have the headset next to me on the coffee table. I've found it just as easy to pop the headset on and answer a call as having to handle my cell phone! It’s great then to have both hands free and not have to hold a phone in your ear.

This past week I've been in the office, so I’m still waiting to get the unit in a truck to test it. On one day, I was able to use it on a conference call while in an idling tractor doing testing of an on-board computer. The Blue Tiger Elite had excellent clarity through the headset and I could easily control the volume at a comfortable level. I had the ability to turn the volume up to a far greater level than I needed. No one on the other end of the conference call had any problem understanding what I was saying. As I had to be typing on a keyboard while on the call, having my hands free was necessary. The headset was the obvious choice versus placing the cell phone on speaker. I only imagined the difficulty the others would have had hearing me on speaker with that truck engine running.

Week Two
After fully charging the Blue Tiger the week before, I did not plug it in all week and it still seemed to have a full charge. Although it doesn't have an indicator of remaining battery life, it’s likely that all I would need is a once per week charge to keep it up. I suppose if you are a heavy phone user, you would just recharge on a more frequent schedule.

On the second week, I was into a routine. When arriving home, my cell phone would go on the kitchen counter, as I preferred to have the headset with me around the house. Even sitting watching TV and not wearing the Blue Tiger, it was so easy to pop it on to answer a call and have my hands free after.

I didn't drive much this week either but was able to ride along with one of our drivers on a check ride. We were on a local run in a day cab tractor that is about 8 years old and very noisy. Grossing over 100,000 pounds and pulling doubles, the engine was very loud with the exhaust stack over my right shoulder in back of the cab. I made a couple of calls while underway to see how the headset performed. The first call was to my wife and her comment was that she could not even tell I was using a blue-tooth device. My voice sounded as natural to her as if I was just on the cell phone. With other devices I've used, she could always tell and quite often had trouble understanding me. The Blue Tiger Elite has a completely flexible microphone which you can position any way you like, far enough away that you can easily take a drink or eat a snack while wearing it. As far as me hearing her, I had absolutely no problem understanding what she was saying in that very noisy tractor.

Week Three
I was finally able to get some serious tractor road time in using the headset. Our company policy prohibits not only cell phone use while driving but also the use of blue-tooth devices unless parked or in a company lot. I had to ride along and train a new driver on the truck and therefore was able to use the Blue Tiger Elite from the passenger seat. Again, every call was problem free and the headset worked flawlessly.
Blue Tiger Elite

The Ultimate Test
An unfortunate experience during the week gave me the opportunity to give the Blue Tiger the ultimate performance test. If you drive for a living it’s inevitable that sooner or later you are going to have to sit alongside a busy interstate highway with a breakdown waiting for a service truck to come bail you out.

That is exactly what happened to us as we attempted to leave Salt Lake City heading out of town. The intake clamp on the turbo inlet pipe blew out stranding us alongside the interstate during morning rush hour. We first thought we blew a tire as we got out of the truck and looked for the source of the problem. After raising the hood we found the issue was the turbo and as we stood there outside in the rain, I pressed the button on the Blue Tiger to make the call to get some help.

If you've ever stood a few feet off an eight lane interstate during rush hour with cars and trucks blowing past you at 65 plus miles per hour, you know the noise is unreal. I used voice commands to call the office and explain our problem to dispatch. Once again the Blue Tiger Elite performed flawlessly, my phone had no problem understanding my voice commands and dispatch heard me loud and clear and got some help started our way.

This handy headset is by far the best blue-tooth device I have ever used and pretty impressive. In fact, I had given up on using them altogether until I got the chance to try this one. I would highly recommend this product. It's available for about $150.00 You can link over to their website to check out the Elite and their other products, including dash cams and sound pods! Great product Jared!

From the Blue Tiger USA website:
Blue Tiger USA began manufacturing Bluetooth headsets for America’s truck driving community back in 2009.  Since that time, the Blue Tiger name has become one of the most trusted and sought after brands for Bluetooth electronics for people in any industry where communication is key and noisy environments must be overcome.
IT professionals, truck drivers, contractors, road warriors, and many others use Blue Tiger products every day to get the job done and to stay in contact with those that matter most.

*Sponsored post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cool Road Trip to Wisconsin!
Here's an interesting story of a motor home road trip from Utah to Wisconsin for the big game with the BYU Cougars paying a visit to play the mighty Badgers! Game was on Saturday, 11/9/2013. Having been born and raised in Wisconsin and now having lived in Utah for the past 20 years, it's hard to pick a favorite team. We make the same trip every September, usually pulling our fifth wheel trailer and have a blast. Although, they went out of their way to Chicago (that's a place I try to avoid at all cost!). Article thanks to John Clyde and in Salt Lake City, Utah. Link provided below:
Day 1
SOMEWHERE IN WYOMING — The BYU Cougars have a huge match up this week against Gary Andersen's Wisconsin Badgers. This game could very well set the tone for the Cougars in upcoming seasons and much of the success of the 2013 season will rest on this game.
With that said, it was clearly necessary that I tag along with the Cougar Sports Saturday crew to Madison via RV.
The distance between Salt Lake City and Madison is a brisk 1,360.1 miles and travelling that in an airplane just feels like a cheat. So, instead of taking the easy way out, we jumped into an RV with four full-grown men and are on our way.
We have just passed Rock Springs, Wyo., and we are hoping to hit South Dakota before we call it a night. Our planned route will take us through Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota and finally Wisconsin. Truth be told, none of us know much about the area we're headed to. Cougar Sports Saturday (CSS) co-host Dave Noriega and I are from the great state of Utah, CSS co-host Alex Kirry hails from Washington state and CSS producer Jason Shepherd is a Missouri man. What I'm saying is, what should we do along the way?
BYU faces one of their toughest match-ups of the season Saturday against 24 Wisconsin. The Big 10 team is powerful and fast, something the Cougars will find difficult to keep up with. The battle in Camp Randall should be epic and it will be interesting to see Bronco Mendenhall and Gary Andersen face off yet again.
Keep an eye on the blog to see what the crew is up to on the long trip and also to get insights into Saturday's match up along the way.
We wanted to make sure to throw in a side note about the fancy mustaches you see us sporting. Yes, we look like your creepy Uncle Chester, but truth is we're doing it for a cause. It is No Shave November and what many don't know is that the movement is actually an effort to bring more awareness to men's health and cancer prevention. So, this is a reminder friends, take care of yourself and man up by getting checked out.
Day 2
HILL CITY, S.D. — We drove through the night and traversed Wyoming and made it to South Dakota. We decided to set up camp at a KOA near Mount Rushmore so we could wake up in the morning and check out the monument.
Things did not go as planned.
When we arrived in Custer, S.D., the temperature was in the single digits and the winding two-lane road we had to travel to get to the KOA was covered in ice. I'm not with great physics, but I do know that 33-foot RVs from General RV and black ice do not coexist in the most hospitable of relationships.
Jason managed to keep us alive and on the road without much help from Alex who would yelp every few moments, "Too fast!" as Jason broke the ludicrous speed of 20 mph.
Enlarge image
Hill City, S.D. is cold.
We finally made it to the KOA around 3:30 a.m., and we were surprised by how desolate the place looked. It seemed whatever RV pad we wanted was ours for the taking. For some reason I was nominated to find the after-hours registration in the snow and cold, but I did not find the correct paperwork. I did, however, find a sign informing us that the KOA had shut down for the season on Oct. 5. Our planning for this trip was less than stellar.
We decided to drive until we found a place that was level and free of bears and set up for the night. We finally landed in Hill City just outside Rapid City and set up camp on the side of the road around 4 a.m.
We hope to go see Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument soon, contingent on Dave actually waking up.
As we prepare for the Cougars match up on Saturday it becomes more and more apparent how important this game is to BYU's season and their program.

MOUNT RUSHMORE — Mount Rushmore is an iconic symbol of America and for those who have not been there, it is a site to behold. It does seem very out of the way to make the trip worth it, but if it is at all on the way to your final destination, make the detour.
The Cougar Sports Saturday crew ended up staying at the monument for a few hours and even had a chance to chat with a Junior Ranger who had a few nuggets of information to go along with some predictions for Saturday. Check out the video and see what the Junior Ranger had to say.
Speaking of predictions, according to the poll it appears most of you think BYU will win a nail-biter in Madison. The next closest choice was the Cougars losing the game in a heartbreaker.
Enlarge image
We are now on our way to Rapid City, S.D., and then on to Minneapolis.
We plan on checking out the Mall of America and trying out a Juicy Lucy. What else do we need to do while in Minneapolis? Let us know on the comment boards or send hit us up on Twitter: @AlexKirryKSL@DaveNoriega@KSLShep@ClydeKSL.
I also want to give a shout out to Brad Buchholz and his family in Spearfish, S.D., Brad asked us to stop by and say hi and chat some Cougar football with him. We would have loved to, but unfortunately when we passed through Spearhead it was around 2 a.m. and we did not have an Internet connection so we didn't see the email in time. We appreciate the invite and we're sorry we missed you, maybe next time.
SIOUX CITY, S.D. — I'm not 100 percent on how this happened, but in the last two years of doing this trip we managed to spend more time in South Dakota than any other state. There is a magic about this place that just gets a hold of you and just won't let go. Did I say "magic?" Maybe I meant darkness. No, magic. Wait, black magic.
I'm kidding. South Dakota was actually really great, I'm just not sure why we spent so much time in the Rapid City Wal-Mart parking lot. Regardless, we did, and now we are on our way to Minneapolis.
There are a few things I have learned about our great country as we have been traveling over these past two years. Pretty much every state looks about the same when you're driving on its two-lane highways in rural areas, and apparently it takes us two days to traverse South Dakota.
We are edging closer to Madison every hour along with BYU's match up with the Badgers. Before we get there, however, we may have a few surprises in store, including a bit of a detour that will take us to the land of Ed Rooney and Kevin McCallister for a 15-year anniversary. Make sure you keep up on the blog as well as Twitter for updates.
MINNEAPOLIS — We made it. We finally made it to Minneapolis and you know what? It was worth the wait.
We first stopped off at the 5-8 Club and sampled the famous "Juicy Lucy." Basically it's a huge burger stuffed with cheese then cooked. Which means that once it makes it to your table you have a burger filled with molten-hot lava cheese. It's delicious and painful. If you try it, give it a minute to cool down first.
If you've ever tried the "Juicy Lucy" let us know what you think.
From there we slipped into a small food coma and woke up from the blackout in the parking lot of the Mall of America, the largest mall in the world.
We were all pretty excited to see the mall and then we all had the same thought at the same time, "It's a giant mall. What are we going to do at a giant mall?"
It didn't take us long to answer that question. We rode rollercoasters, that's what we o at a giant mall.
Alex managed to not throw up and we were told we were all too big to ride on a rollercoaster together. At first we had a sense of pride, but then we realized we're all in our 30's and that just made us sad.
We also made a stop at Minnesota's largest candy store and took a gander at their huge soda selection. We all took one we thought would be terrible and took a swig. I've posted the different sodas in the poll so make sure to vote on which one sounds the worst.
Day 4
CHICAGO — We made our way to Madison and kept alive an age-old tradition of sleeping in a Walmart parking lot. Man those guys are hospitable.
We actually slept in a little, 10 am. I guess that's relative considering we got to bed around 3 am, but it was nice none-the-less. After we woke up and got our bearings we hopped back into the RV and made our way to Chicago.
First thing we did — Giordano's of course. For those of you who are not familiar with Giordano's it's one of the Windy City's famous deep-dish pizza joints and it's amazing. If you've never had the pleasure of trying one just know that most human beings would be hard pressed to finish the small one.
We did, however, come to Chicago for a reason and that reason was not pizza. I am now sitting in the press box at the United Center watching the Chicago Bulls host the Utah Jazz. Many people don't realize that it's been 15 years since the Jazz and Bulls first met in the NBA Finals and this is our way of celebrating that series. Granted, both teams are at a different place now, especially the Jazz.
As exciting as the United Center and watching the Jazz-Bulls game, it's still just an appetizer to watching the Cougars and Badgers on Saturday. The match up is intriguing and I predict a hard fought battle between two hard-nosed and powerful teams.
With all of our stops and detours we are now pushing 2,000 miles traveled and we're almost to the pinnacle, which is the battle at Camp Randall.
Day 5
MADISON — I am currently sitting in the KSL radio booth at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin. The stadium is huge, holding over 80,000, and you can feel the excitement in the town even though we're hours away from kick off.
As we drove towards the stadium you could tell we were getting close. The University of Wisconsin looks exactly like those college towns you see in movies. Quaint old homes with Wisconsin flags flying on nearly every single porch. Badger fans were already out in their yards prepping for today's game.
As the game draws near there is a serious roadblock sitting in BYU's way that Alex brought up that the rest of us seemed to miss. BYU's offensive line is mismatched against Wisconsin's defensive front.
We saw what a powerful D-line did to an undersized O-line when Stanford took down No. 2 ranked Oregon on Thursday night. While BYU's O-line isn't necessarily undersized, it is less experienced and disciplined than the Badgers strong front seven.
Taysom Hill has proved in the last few weeks that he is an athlete and the future of BYU football, but if his line cannot hold blocks, it doesn't matter how fast and accurate Hill is, he won't have time to make plays.
Maybe BYU's O-line has game planned well and will be ready for a tough physical day; let's hope so.
Final Score:  Wisconsin 27   BYU 17

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Topping 10 mpg: Maximum fuel economy comes when talent, tech unite
Story thanks to Jack Roberts and Link provided below:
Oct 2, 2013  Are we about to pass the 10-mile-per-gallon threshold in long-haul trucking? Owner-operator Henry Albert certainly thinks so.
Albert, owner of Albert Transport out of Mooresville, N.C., is a member of Freightliner Trucks’ Team Run Smart. These are five drivers who each represent a positive aspect of the owner-operator business and lifestyle.
Albert is the “face” of Team Run Smart when it comes to proving and promoting Freightliner’s fuel-efficient heavy trucks to the industry and the public at large. A big part of that involves the new Cascadia Evolution that Freightliner matched with Albert in November.
I rode for two days with Albert. We left CCJ headquarters in Tuscaloosa, Ala., bound for the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. Albert was scheduled to show his highly aerodynamic tractor-trailer combo and spread the word on what he’s learned and how other truckers can apply his lessons in their day-to-day operations.
The whole time, I kept thinking what a shame it was that Albert isn’t a fleet manager: He has the same attention to detail and passion that defines so many of the men and women who keep our nation’s largest fleets rolling day in and day out. Science works — It doesn’t matter if it’s one truck or 1,000.
My goal in riding with Albert was to verify that he was getting 10 mpg in his daily operations. As it turned out, he’s not. He’s actually getting 11 mpg.
Or at least he did on our run to Texas, with a final tally of 11.2 mpg. Pretty impressive, considering our GVWR of about 62,500 pounds.
Sometimes – on a good day, when everything’s going right – Albert’s getting 12 mpg or better. On the other hand, his fuel logs show that some days he drops to the 9-mpg range. His average since he’s had the truck is a solid 9.5 mpg.
A former racecar driver, Albert had to discipline himself to run slow. He’ll still go 70 mph if his business requires it, but most days he’s cruising around 62 mph, letting his integrated Detroit Diesel drivetrain and DT12 transmission do most of the work.
“Just because the speed limit is 70 mph, you don’t have to go that speed,” he told me. “People say it’s unsafe, but it’s not. I settle into the right-hand lane, set my speed and stay there. I’ve adjusted my routes and timetables to meet this new schedule, and it works out very well – especially considering the fuel and money I’m saving.”
Albert said he’s made fuel economy a game. He challenges himself daily to post high numbers. He’s become a keen observer of conditions and, where possible, tailors his day to take them into account. He watches the trees to see if he’s lucky to have a tailwind. Worse than a headwind is a side-gust, hitting the tractor-trailer gap hard and creating an aerodynamic penalty. He tries to avoid wet and hot roads because they add rolling resistance.
While he can’t always work around such conditions, there are other things he can control that most operators don’t consider – such as his mudflaps. He pulled them off the truck and trailer and paired them down with a circular saw to make certain they weren’t protruding into the slipstream.
He plans his rest stops at high elevations. His reasoning: It’s easier to get his rig back up to speed going down a grade as opposed to burning extra fuel trying to accelerate uphill.
Albert knows he’s a little extreme in his fuel economy quest, but he said his habits can be adopted by drivers looking to improve their bottom line – or perhaps win a fleet fuel economy challenge.
“I’m going to drive for 10 hours a day, no matter what,” he said. “If another driver finishes the same 10-hour day and he’s another 60 or 80 miles down the road, great. But what has he really accomplished? And was that extra 60, 70 or 80 miles worth the money that went out his smokestacks? I don’t think so.”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Milwaukee Mob Attorney - A Tale of a Double Life?
Dominic Frinzi

He was Frank Balistrieri's personal lawyer for many years from the 1950's throughout the 70's. I first became aware of him as I was doing research for an earlier post titled The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek). The actress that played Lt. Uhura in the Star Trek series real name was Nichelle Nichols, and was a very talented singer and entertainer. Nichelle was hired to perform for two weeks as the main act at one of Balistrieri's newly refurbished nightclubs (former strip club) in Milwaukee during the 1950's. Nichols was a big hit and brought in a lot of business. Upon seeing this, Balistrieri tried to ensnare and take control of her career for his benefit.
Nichelle was from Illinois and her father was nearly executed by the brother of Al Capone. She was quick to realize that she was working for a mob controlled business and had to get out. After hearing of her father's experiences dealing with the Capone "Outfit" in Chicago, Nichelle knew she couldn't just walk away from the mob and started to devise a plan. After Frank "convinced" her to come back, extend her contract and keep her performing at the club, Balistrieri decided to turn on the charm and the following was published in her book:

"Enter Frankie’s lawyer, Dominic Frinzi or Mr. F. as everyone at the club called him. In his $1000 silk suits, he was slick, suave and cunning as a snake. He tried to buy her with a key to an apartment, fur coat and jewelry, which Nichelle had to continually refuse."

Frinzi grew up in the Milwaukee's Third Ward, and probably knew Balistrieri for most of his life. He had to have known about his mobbed up history and willingly defended him and nearly every Mafia member that got in trouble with the law throughout those years.

As Gavin C. Schmitt wrote in his piece, Milwaukee Mafia, the Balistrieri Years: "Frank Balistrieri held a party at his nightclub, The Scene, on March 20, 1968. Between 100 and 150 people were there, including almost all of the Milwaukee LCN. Two people were noticeably absent: Santo Marino and Al Albana. The party was a fundraiser for mob attorney Dominic Frinzi, who was running for Milwaukee County Judge." 
Also in the same piece: "Frank Balistrieri threw a Christmas party on December 21, 1969 at the Kings IV Tavern (722 North Water Street). Approximately 150 guests were there, including Walter Brocca, Sally Papia, Harry DeAngelo, Albert Albana, Frank Buccieri, Dominic Frinzi, Frank Stelloh, Steve DeSalvo, Benny DiSalvo, Jerry DiMaggio, John Rizzo, William Covelli, Dominic Gullo, Joseph Enea and the majority of the Milwaukee LCN (La Cosa Nostra)."

This guy was Frank's lawyer and had a nickname at Balistrieri's club of Mr. F? I guess the money talks and scumbags walk. At Frank's direction, this fine "upstanding" lawyer (future candidate for governor) tries to sleep with a woman to keep her under Balistrieri's control? Either that or Nichelle Nichols is a liar. The double lives that some of these people led have amazed me. Frinzi died in 2008. Contrast the above with the glowing account  of a "holy man" below!

Opera-loving lawyer ran twice for governor
Dominic H. Frinzi was a man who loved both opera and the law - and who thought nothing of bursting into song while waiting for a verdict at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
William Janz, a former columnist with the Journal Sentinel, told a piece of that story.
With the news that one jury had returned, Frinzi punched his client in the arm, Janz wrote.
"This is the last act of 'Lucia di Lammermoor,' " he declared. "Your fate is decided."
Frinzi was, by all accounts, something of a colorful character. Best known in recent decades as a leader in the local Italian community, he was also a man who twice ran for governor. He was part of a little cadre that legally appropriated the name Atlanta Braves, so the departing team could not use the name in Wisconsin. He loved the sport of harness horse racing. His legal clients included the infamous Ed Gein. 
Frinzi died of heart problems Monday. He was 86.
He grew up in Milwaukee's Third Ward, where his dad ran a butcher shop. He studied to become a priest but left before taking vows.
"My brother and I, we were the first generation in 400 years that didn't go into the meat business," Frinzi said in another story. "My father insisted we have school, and that's why none of us became butchers."
Nor did he become a doctor.
"My father taught me how to butcher, and I was pretty good with a knife. He thought I'd make a terrific doctor," Frinzi said. "But I couldn't afford medical school, so I became a lawyer."
He ended up representing both high-profile clients and countless unknown ones.
Frinzi was first appointed to represent accused serial killer Gein for a competency hearing. Ten years later, he represented him at trial, and Gein was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
In the 1960s, Frinzi represented Frank P. Balistrieri, years later convicted as a local organized crime boss, then facing tax evasion charges. The case continued to make headlines after Frinzi found illegal wiretaps in his law office.
"It was a break-in before Watergate," said son Joseph, explaining that the illegal wiretapping violated the attorney-client privilege in both the Balistrieri case and for other clients.
"My dad sued the FBI and the phone company - and won a settlement," said his son, now with the Milwaukee County family court commissioner's office.
Frinzi worked mainly as a criminal defense attorney, believing that doing so helped to uphold the highest principles of the U.S. Constitution, said friend and fellow attorney Henry Piano.
"He believed in pro bono work," Piano said.
"He represented a lot of people who could not afford an attorney," Joseph Frinzi said. "He always fought for the little guy."
Election bids included runs for governor in 1964 and 1966. A Democrat, he didn't get the nomination in either year.
Last year, Frinzi was elected to a record seventh term as president for the Italian Community Center, also serving as chairman of the Festa Italiana board. He was long the reigning star of the festival's "Golden Age of Opera" tent.
"I have three batons at home, and I conduct and sing at the same time," Frinzi said of opera. "It takes you to another world. It's a joy that never ends."
A board member with the Florentine Opera Company and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, he once appeared in a production of Verdi's "La Traviata" at the Marcus Center. Cast in the role of a servant, he delivered his single line with gusto.
"He told us he got a bigger ovation than some of the opera stars," his son said with a laugh.
For his roles in the Italian community here, the government of Italy awarded Frinzi the rare title of Cavaliere all'Ordine del Merito della Repubblica Italiana, or a Knight of the Order of Merit.
"He was a legitimate character," said Piano, who, with Frinzi's death, will again serve as ICC president. "He didn't beat to anybody else's drum. He spoke out on issues that were important. He wasn't afraid of controversy. And he always spoke from the bottom of his heart."
Other survivors include sons James and Dominic Jr., sister Norma Angeli, brother Romeo, his former wife, Jane, and grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Schmidt & Bartelt Guardalabene & Amato Funeral Home, 10121 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa. Visitation will continue from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesday at Gesu Church, 1145 W. Wisconsin Ave. The funeral service will follow at noon.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

"Birr's Eye View" of Wisconsin's Kelly Lake

This is a guest post from my cousin Rodger Birr's Facebook page. He lives on beautiful Kelly Lake in northern Wisconsin and writes about his experiences living there and has a couple live web cams set up overlooking the lake. You can read more of his interesting posts at the web site links below:

Right out in front of "Birr's Eye View", Shirley patiently sat and shot the attack of what looks like a female eagle after a flock of illusive, ducking and diving coots evading the continuous assaults! Awesome! The coots huddle together (safety in numbers) and would duck-down to avoid being swept away! Shirley thinks the eagle got one.

Right out in front of "Birr's Eye View", Shirley patiently sat and shot the attack of what looks like a female eagle after a flock of illusive, ducking and diving coots evading the continuous assaults! Awesome! The coots huddle together (safety in numbers) and would duck-down to avoid being swept away! Shirley thinks the eagle got one.

An eagle will swoop down and often plunk in the water on top of the coot (rather then plucking it out of the water), sinking its talons in, in hopes to rise up with its catch. However, unlike ospreys, eagles don't have waterproof oily feathers; they have to get out quick, but it's surprising how long they'll be in the water---several seconds.

By the way, ospreys and eagles dislike one-another; they have aerial dogfights; the osprey will try to force the eagle into the water; high in the sky, the eagle will fly upside-down, talons up, fending off the smaller but quicker osprey; quite a sight to watch!

The eagle appears to be a young female because females can get up to a 9' (9-foot!) wingspan; it won't get its white head and white tail for 5 years; males get as large as 6' wingspans.

Here are some photos and videos Shirley took; click on the pics to enlarge and the links below to see all of Shirley's photos and videos. Life on the lake has many surprises and rewards! Roger
 — Eagles on Kelly Lake; seen four together at times.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Packers GM Ted Thompson
Very interesting interview last week with the Green Bay Packers GM thanks to Tom Pelissero and I don't think I've ever seen Ted be this candid. Link provided below:

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ted Thompson doesn't look like a guy who just lost his Pro Bowl quarterback for several weeks in the midst of a playoff push.
It's Friday afternoon in a conference room on the third floor of the Lambeau Field atrium. Thompson, the Green Bay Packers' reticent general manager, has just returned from one of the scouting trips he still takes almost every Tuesday through Friday during the season.
And Thompson, 60, is in an upbeat mood, even while discussing challenges past and present – most notable, Aaron Rodgers' broken collarbone, which has thrust career backup quarterback Seneca Wallace into the lineup for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles and beyond.
In an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Thompson reveals why he never speaks about the possibility of Rodgers getting hurt, the decision to bring in Wallace, the evolution of the scouting process, his future as GM – and yes, Brett Favre.
Q. When you're building your roster from year to year and thinking about the big picture, how much do you take into account the possibility of an injury to Aaron Rodgers?
A. You make sure you have so many of every position, given the limitations of a 53-man roster. But quite frankly, you never think about your better players ever getting hurt. If you think that way, you might jinx it. It might happen. Literally, you don't think about it. It's a place where you never tread.
Q. Do you believe in jinxes?
A. No. But you still never tread. You just don't like to say it.
Q. So, even when you're discussing the backup quarterback position, you're not saying 'if Aaron's hurt …'
A. No. That position's not really like any other position. But when I was here in the '90s and went to Seattle and even here, we've always liked to fool with that second and third quarterback thing, trying to tweak it and find a guy. In a perfect world, you do it like Ron (Wolf, the former Packers GM who gave Thompson his first scoutingjob) – you find a good one, he'd apprentice to Brett for a couple years and then you'd trade him for a second-round pick. Not to treat him like a commodity, but then you go get another one and you do the same thing with him. It sort of worked that way a little bit with Matt Flynn. But it doesn't always work. We've drafted a couple of guys. We've had guys here who never did find it.
Q. When you're playing with that No. 2 QB spot on a playoff-caliber team, are you looking at it through the prism of 'can we win a Super Bowl with this guy' or 'can we win a game with this guy?'
A. I think there are both kinds. There are a few of them that are backups that are available in the off season that you look at and you think, 'This guy could lead us to the Super Bowl.' There's 32 starters (in the NFL). Say he's the 33rd guy – is he going to be able to win you the Super Bowl? I'm not so sure.
Q. That's the thing. Is there any backup quarterback who can lead a team to a Super Bowl with the way the game and league have evolved?
A. I think it would be the unknown guys, if there is one. It would be the Tom Bradys of the world – sitting on the bench, brought up behind a veteran, not much said about him, sixth-round draft pick, plays good in the summertime but never plays during the regular season, and all of a sudden the thing gets turned upside down and he becomes Tom Brady.
Q. With the time you invested in Graham Harrell, and then bringing in Vince Young and ending up with Seneca Wallace days before the opener – can you take me through the timeline of the decisions to change course?
A. I would a little bit, but I'm not going to rate these guys. If something went wrong at the backup quarterback position, it's my fault. It's not somebody else's fault. It's not even one of those quarterbacks' fault. I just didn't get it worked out right.
Q. So, why Seneca Wallace?
A. I had a pretty good comfort level with him. I was in Seattle when we drafted him out there. I know the kind of person and I know his football intelligence. I know he's got good mobility, has confidence as a player.
Q. To what degree, if at all, do you look at the fact that he's 5-16 as a starter in the NFL?
A. Not a lot. I think it's important to be a winner, but you'd have to examine each set of circumstances, and sometimes the odds are stacked against you pretty good.
Q. You're in your ninth season as general manager. How, if at all, has your roster-building philosophy evolved during that time?
A. Not a lot. It's still based on the way Ron Wolf trained us. We're still trying to continue to push the envelope to try to get better all the time. We're still trying to work the bottom part of our roster during the course of our season, as much as you can without disrupting the flow of getting ready to play the game. You can always say, 'we can stick him on special teams' – well, if he doesn't know what he's doing, he's not going to be able to play on special teams. Now you've hurt the team. We're not going to do anything to hurt the team. Roster building – I don't think that ever changes really. You have certain guidelines that Ron taught us – you have to be so tall if you're a corner and that sort of thing, and we stray from time to time. But there's no absolutes in football.
Q. How do you avoid being overly reactionary to circumstances – a backup plan fails at a certain position, which may be a scouting or development failure, as opposed to a philosophical failure?
A. We have a lot of people here that I feel comfortable talking to and examining. We're not going to sugarcoat anything. If we've made a mistake, we've made a mistake. But for the most part, we try to stay steady as you go. Our coaches are good at taking young players and coaching them up and getting them ready to play. They're not overwhelmed by it. They don't get whacked-out, and in some places it might be that way. But it's not that way here, because it's happened to us over and over and over again. We try to get good people, and as soon as they get here, whether they're on the practice squad or whether they're on the regular roster, they have to know they're getting ready to play and maybe start and maybe play the whole game. That's just the mind-set here. It's the only way we can get by.
Q. The fact you won a Super Bowl with 15 guys on injured reserve probably helps. How significant a factor is it in your success that you seem to have a pretty clear plan for dealing with these situations?
A. I think it's absolutely important, because otherwise there's going to be confrontations. There's going to be arguments. This place is set up a certain way, and it was set up that way when Ron was here and it works. I have complete control over personnel, but I don't walk around axing people and telling people to go to hell because I know what I'm doing and they don't. We're all in this together. We're all trying to find the right way to put the pieces together, and there's no book you can go to and find the answer to it. You learn and you grow and you get experience. Hopefully, we're better now than we were three years ago. Hopefully, I'll be better three years from now.
Q. You're 60 years old now. Ron only was GM for nine seasons. Do you intend to be in that seat three years from now?
A. I don't know. I suppose. I don't have any other thing in mind. I joke – it's kind of half-joking – I wouldn't mind being an area scout where you just hit the road, check into your Marriotts and scout people up, and if you happen to catch the game on Sunday in a bar somewhere on a beach, that's cool, too. That'd be a really good scouting job.
Q. Some guys become GMs and lean more toward administrative stuff, don't watch as much film, delegate. What is it about the scouting side do you like enough to keep doing it?
A. I think it's the thrill of the chase – to be able to find a guy. We belong to combines and we get the list of names and we have pre-ratings. Now, we rate them the way we would select them and rate them. But I think it's like in some of those old baseball movies, where you're some baseball scout on the road and you find this guy that nobody ever has known about. That doesn't happen anymore. But you're always looking for that guy. You want to be that person – 'Yeah, that Ted Thompson, he found that guy.'
Q. Occasionally, there might be a Division II guy or something …
A. Sure, yeah. But there's very few secrets in scouting. The teams are too good at it and the scouts on those teams are too good at it.
Q. How much has that changed through time?
A. I'm relatively new at it, being that I started doing this in 1992. I don't go back to the days where they carried their own projectors on the road. But there was a time when I came out of college – 1975 – where two guys from Jackson State University were drafted number (four and six), Walter Payton and Robert Brazile. That would never happen today. All those players are somewhere else. Elvin Bethea, who I played with (on the Houston Oilers in the 1970s and '80s) and went into the Hall of Fame, was from North Carolina AT&T. I think in those days, when you had those predominantly black college players, there was more of that 'let's go find them, let's go dig 'em up.' Now, it's a little bit more corporate. But you still have to make decisions on do you like them or not.
Q. Isn't part of that the college scouting process evolving? Alabama can afford to scout the whole country and get those guys who might have ended up elsewhere 30 or 40 years ago.
A. I think so, yeah. The same pressures that are on us to find players and things like that are on colleges. It's not as easy as it sounds.
Q. The last time we spoke on this floor of the building was the summer of 2008, right as the Brett Favre situation was escalating. Does that remain the toughest thing you've gone through as GM?
A. I think so, because it tore at the fabric of the place – through no fault of anybody. I don't think it was the fault of us. I don't think it was the fault of Brett. It just was one of those car wrecks that you could see coming, but it wasn't like you could dodge. It just happened. That was a shame.
Q. You look at what has happened since – Aaron Rodgers has won an MVP, you've won a Super Bowl, you've been to the playoffs four straight years. As it was happening, was any part of you doubting whether you'd even make it to the other side and see this success?
A. Oh, I don't go around hanging my head about it, but I doubt every day. And I think it's a challenge, and I think it's an opportunity to say, 'OK, let's get past this.' But there's train wrecks all over. And you know there are. You just hope you can dodge them.
Q. Going forward, what are the things you want to accomplish on a daily basis to take this roster, this team, where you want it to go?
A. Just to continue to evolve, continue to do our job, and a lot of that is on the contract side and on the salary cap side. But it's way more than that. It's making sure you make the right decisions on people, and sometimes, people change. Sometimes, it's better for someone to go somewhere else. It doesn't make them a bad guy. It doesn't necessarily make us a bad guy. But you have to make those hard decisions. That's the hardest part, is when you have a player that has played for you and has done a good job for you, but for whatever reason, you think it's time to part ways. That's like telling a family member goodbye.
Q. You don't speak like a guy who's even mulling retirement …
A. No. Not right this second. I just got back from a scouting trip. I'm all invigorated.