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Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Classic Motorcycle Stories

Link to My 1971 Honda 750

Link to My 1983 Honda V65 Magna

Link to My Classic Harley Davidson Story

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

3 reasons to book directly with hotels
Article thanks to Kim Komando at Links provided:

June, 2015  When you're planning a vacation, you have two big expenses: travel and accommodations. I've given you plenty of tips for the best days and sites to find cheap airline tickets, so I'm not going to talk about that today.
Instead, I'm going to talk about reducing the expense of your hotel. You might think I'm going to give you some secret days and special sites to find fantastic deals, but you're in for a surprise.
Your best tactic for booking hotel rooms is actually to book directly with hotels themselves. I know that sounds counterintuitive when you see commercials for Priceline, Expedia and others offering amazing hotel deals, but there are some good reasons.
That isn't to say you can't use comparison sites to find cheap hotel rooms; you just don't want to use them for booking. Let's take a look at the reasons why.
Did you know that most hotels will match a competitor's prices? So, if you go on a hotel comparison site and find a great deal, but you'd rather stay in a different hotel, call up the hotel you want and see if it will price match. It probably will.
If you're considering a Marriott hotel, for example, it has the Look No Further Best Rate Guarantee that will match the lowest price and throw on a 25% discount. That's not too shabby.
Most hotels actually want you to book with them directly because it makes them more money. Third-party booking sites take a cut of their profit. If a hotel can book you directly, it can still give you a discount and make more in the end than if you booked through a third-party site.
You can also find situations where a hotel has rooms it needs to fill, and it will give you a discount to get you in the door. In some cases, you can even use a site like BackBid to get hotels to bid on your business.
Of course, booking directly with hotels isn't just good for them. When you book directly, a hotel might offer you exclusive package deals and include perks that aren't available on third-party sites. That might not save you money, but you get more value for your money. And that's not all.
It turns out that hotels reserve certain blocks of rooms for third-party sites, and those generally aren't the best ones. If you're booking directly, you might find rooms in a better location in the hotel or with better amenities as standard for the same price as the third-party ones.
Also, because you booked with the hotel directly, the hotel might be more inclined to do things like upgrade you if you're celebrating a marriage, anniversary or other special event. As I said, they want to encourage you to book directly in the future.
People who book through third parties are also more likely to be sent somewhere else if the hotel ends up overbooked. So that's something to consider.
Even if a hotel is overbooks, you might still be able to find a room on short notice. Check out theRoomer app to find people selling rooms they can't use. You can even use it to sell a room if you can't get out of your booking.
When you buy a hotel room through a third-party site, you not only limit what a hotel can do in the way of rooms, but also the way of service. For example, if you need to change your room dates or cancel, and you booked through a third party, a hotel can't work with you because it has a locked-in contract with the third party. You have to deal with the third party to change the deal, and that often doesn't work out well.
You might find yourself treated better as a direct booking as well. The staff can see how you booked your room in the computer, after all. So, you might find yourself getting things like a free breakfast or other unexpected perks.
Then there's the dreaded situation where everything about your stay goes to pieces. When you're a direct booking, the hotel can decide to not charge you for your stay or give you a larger discount.
If you're a third-party booking, however, the hotel doesn't have that option. Again, you'll need to try and get your refund from the third-party site.
How did you book your last hotel room? Have you found a difference between booking directly or through third parties? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Direct Drive or Overdrive?
Content below provided by Eaton. Links provided:

Jan, 2015
There’s no single answer to this age-old debate
The long-running debate over which type of transmission – direct drive or overdrive – provides the greatest efficiency is one that’s not easily settled and not likely to go away. Conventional wisdom suggests direct drive transmissions, with their ability to transmit power directly through the main shaft with minimal parasitic losses, should be more efficient – and sometimes that’s true. If only it were so simple.
In reality, there are many variables to consider when deciding whether your fleet will be best served by a direct drive or overdrive transmission.
“Direct drive and overdrive transmissions have existed side by side for some time, but there’s certainly a lot of confusion as to which gives you the greatest efficiency,” says Evan Vijithakumara, Eaton’s global product strategy manager for heavy duty transmissions.
It all depends on the application. Generally speaking, in ideal conditions running on-highway over relatively flat ground, direct drive is the more efficient option. But throw in some hills, higher average road speeds and some off-road requirements and overdrive becomes a better fit.

Direct drive transmissions are well suited to relatively flat on-highway applications.
Eaton advocates the “power of choice” and offers its full line of manual and automated transmissions in both direct drive and overdrive configurations. Vijithakumara warns that while it’s true that a direct drive transmission itself will operate more efficiently in top gear, that doesn’t always translate into greater fuel economy.
“While direct drive can be more efficient as a transmission, that doesn’t guarantee it will be more efficient for the system – the system being the engine, transmission, axle and tire combination,” Vijithakumara explains.
When in top gear, direct drive transmissions do not transmit torque down through the countershaft, so all the power generated by the engine is passed directly through the input shaft into the output shaft. “We consider that a ‘no-mesh’ condition and when you have no loaded gear meshes, the transmission has reduced parasitic loss, resulting in more efficient operation,” according to Vijithakumara.
On the other hand, the higher front box ratios inherent in direct drive transmissions have implications on downstream components that must be considered during the spec’ing process.
“With a direct drive transmission, the torque is passed straight through to the driveline, so an adverse event such as moving from an icy road to dry pavement can transmit a lot of force further downstream through the driveshaft and u-joints, which could be potentially damaging. On an overdrive transmission, you have torque being transmitted through the countershaft gears, so you’re not effectively bypassing the transmission. When a harsh event occurs, the additional backlash and elasticity within the transmission can prevent damage downstream.”

Routes that include harsh environments and hilly terrain are best suited to overdrive transmissions.
Interest in direct drive transmissions has increased in recent years, as fleets explore all available options to increase their efficiency. But the reality is that in North America, high average road speeds and hilly, even mountainous, terrain often make overdrive transmissions a more appropriate solution. It all depends on application and duty cycle, Vijithakumara says.
“I think there is a misperception that a single product can fit all applications,” he adds. “It really depends on what you’re trying to do.”
Overdrive transmissions, with their higher overall ratios, provide greater startability and gradeability, as well as lower transmission sump temperatures in hilly terrain. The contribution this makes towards total vehicle efficiency should not be overlooked. In addition, trucks equipped with overdrive transmissions have more application flexibility which can help with vehicle resale compared a direct drive configuration tailored for a specific route.
Overdrive transmissions also allow for the greater use of downspeeding (cruising at lower engine rpms), which can drive fuel savings. Eaton’s new Fuller Advantage™ Series automated transmission, available as part of the SmartAdvantage Powertrain with the Cummins ISX15, behind the PACCAR MX-13 engine in the APEX package at Peterbilt and the Kenworth T680 Advantage package, and at International paired to the N13 engine, marries the benefits of direct drive transmissions with those offered in an overdrive configuration.  Small-step technology (a 26-percent step between 9th and 10th gear) allows downspeeding in overdrive and efficiency in direct drive that keeps the engine in the “sweet spot” when paired with rear axle ratios in the 2.64 to 3.08 range (depending on tire size and desired cruise speed). This combination of specifications is delivering impressive fuel economy savings versus competitive powertrains.

Small step technology used in the Fuller Advantage series transmissions, as used in the SmartAdvantage Powertrain, keeps the engine in the “sweet spot” to maximize efficiency.
“The Fuller Advantage Series automated transmission is an overdrive which  provides the best of both worlds,” Vijithakumara says of the package that supports both direct drive and overdrive. “It enables the downspeeding capability and robustness you have with an overdrive platform as well as the efficiency of direct drive where it makes sense.”
The Fuller Advantage Series transmissions deliver further gains, thanks to a new Precision Lubrication system that reduces oil churning losses for greater efficiency across all gears.
In recent years, the interplay between the transmission, engine and axles has increased, meaning it’s more important than ever for fleets to take a holistic approach to spec’ing the powertrain as a complete system. “When evaluating transmissions for fit, all parts of the system do factor in,” Vijithakumara shares, and Eaton’s Roadranger network is available to consult with customers on the best configuration available for their application.
“Our Roadrangers assist fleets and dealers with the information they need to help with these decisions,” Vijithakumara says. To tap into their expertise, call 800-826-HELP (4357) or visit
Direct drive and overdrive Eaton transmissions are equally robust and reliable, but to ensure the best performance possible it’s important to consider every aspect of your application, so consult with the experts and then specify accordingly.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Woman Settles Lawsuit Over Cow Attack
An out-of court settlement was recently reached in the case of an Athens couple whose cow allegedly attacked and badly injured an elderly Jackson County woman.
The settlement was noted in a notice of dismissal filed last week in Clarke County Superior Court by the attorney representing Bettie and Elmer Saye.
The civil action sought an unspecified amount of money in compensation for injuries Bettie Saye suffered in the alleged attack three years ago.
It also sought compensation for Elmer Saye, for the “loss of consortium” he experienced as a result of his wife’s injuries.
According to the complaint filed last year, Bettie Saye was walking in her sister’s yard on Mary Collier Road in Jackson County in April 2012 when a cow owned by Athens residents Curtis and Louise Collier
got out of a neighboring pasture and “attacked” her.
“When (Saye) tried to get up, the cow knocked her to the ground a second time,” according to the complaint.
Saye suffered injuries and permanent impairment “from the violent and forceful impact of the livestock and from her subsequent impact with the ground ...,” according to the complaint.
The alleged attack occurred because of the negligence of Curtis Collier, who was “unable to maintain control over his animal” as he attempted to load the cow, according to the complaint. The document does not indicate what the cow was being loaded on to or into when the incident occurred.
Curtis and Louise Collier are both liable “by allowing their animal to be uncontained and run free on the public and private property surrounding” the property where Saye’s sister lived.
Among other things, according to the complaint, Saye suffered a pelvic fracture, an ankle injury, multiple contusions, gastrointestinal disturbances and permanent impairment to her gait.
“Since the time of the attack, (Saye) has experienced great physical pain and suffering and disfigurement from the injuries she sustained,” the complaint notes. “She continues to have pain daily, and she will have pain and impaired mobility for the remainder of her life due to the permanent damage to her gait.”
The woman’s husband, Elmer Saye, is named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit because he suffered loss of consortium from his wife’s inability to perform necessary household duties, “including but not limited to” doing laundry, cleaning and preparing meals.
The lawsuit sought a “sum of money necessary to compensate” Bettie and Elmer Saye for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, the loss of consortium and enjoyment of life, among other reasons.
A Superior Court ordered all parties into mediation, but plaintiff’s attorney Rachel reported back on May 21 that “we are unable to resolve the dispute that exists between us through mediation.”
Grimes last Wednesday filed the notice of dismissal in which it was stated “all issues which could have been raised ... have been fully and finally settled by and between the parties...”
Follow Criminal Justice reporter Joe Johnson at or

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Lesson Learned at a Railroad Crossing
Sometimes, you learn the hard way. As mentioned previously in this blog, in more than 30 years of professional driving, I have gotten three citations in a truck, two for speed and one for an illegal turn. 

The one for the turn came as a result of not paying attention at a rail crossing in 1983. I had been driving professionally for only a couple years, was in rural South Carolina and had made a wrong turn. In an effort to get "squared away", I saw a large lot off to the left at a cross street. There was a railroad track running parallel to the highway, and in my hurry to get turned around, totally missed seeing the no left turn sign. On top of that, I didn’t notice how high the grade was that the track was on! Proceeding into the turn across the tracks, I heard the landing gear of the trailer skidding on the pavement and went hard to the brakes. It was too late and I was high centered across the track! The trailer was loaded and the landing gear raised as high as it could go, I was screwed and there was no way I was getting off that track without help.

Thankfully, there was a little store right there with a payphone (remember those?), so I was able to call the police and get any oncoming trains stopped.  Out comes a South Carolina Sheriff's Deputy and he chewed me out quite a bit before proceeding to write that ticket.  He pointed out to me that the reason for the no left turn sign was the high grade of the track.  Turned out there were no trains scheduled to come through and a tow truck came out and got me off the track.  It was a very embarrassing afternoon!  The situation could have been a lot worse though, we all need to be aware at railroad crossings.  These days, the penalties for DOT regulated drivers are much more severe for railroad crossing violations and your CDL will be at risk.  See the current info from the FMCSA website below.
If I remember correctly, my ticket cost me about $60.00, but in 1983, that wasn’t cheap.
Civil Penalties
Violating the new FMCSA rail crossing rule can result in Federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to operate CMVs onto a rail crossing without having enough room to clear the tracks completely without stopping.


CDL holders convicted of violating State traffic laws concerning the failure to have sufficient space to clear the tracks completely without stopping must be disqualified for at least:
- See more at:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Target On Your Back
Article thanks to Jack Roberts and Links provided: 
The commercials are ridiculous.
At home I instinctively grab the remote and change the channel until they’re over. But at the gym in the evenings, that’s not an option. So I have to watch the advertisements put out by two local lawyers promising “Big Checks!” to wronged individuals all across the great state of Alabama.
These guys are the ambulance-chasing grifters of the legal world and the commercials have the subtlety and charm usually reserved for used-car salesmen. One guy, in his ad, waves around a high-powered rifle (because this is Alabama, I guess). The theme here is that he’ll go “hunting “for the money that you are rightly owed for your pain and suffering. He eventually points the rifle at a deer and pulls the trigger. Then the deer’s head explodes in a spray of hundred dollar bills.
You can’t make this shit up.
But as tacky and stupid as these commercials are, there’s a serious problem with them. Because there is almost always, without fail, an 18-wheeler prominently displayed at some point in the ad.
Usually, an ominous voice asks, “Have you been injured by a BIG TRUCK??” while an air horn blasts in the background for good measure.
These guys are looking for an easy mark. And guess what? You’re that easy mark.
Truck fleets and owner-operators are an ambulance chaser’s wet dream. As I’ve noted before,everybody hates trucks. They’re big. They’re scary. As far as Joe Q. Public is concerned, the guys driving them are probably too irresponsible to handle something that big and poorly trained to boot. When crashes do happen, they’re usually spectacular and grab headlines, reinforcing all the stereotypes I just listed. And best of all: Lawyers know that fleets – big fleets in particular – have money and big, fat insurance policies.
All of which is a dream come true if you’re pitching a BIG CASH PAYOUT to a lawsuit-happy viewing public drunk on the idea of easy money.
It’s unsettling to me to see our industry so blatantly targeted like this. And of course, it’s not fair, at all. There are bad apples in the industry. And accidents do happen. But the vast majority of fleets and drivers on the road today are professionals who place a high degree of importance on safety.
Unfortunately, that message is not reaching the four-wheeling public at large. And, in my opinion, it’s unlikely to get there any time soon.
So, it’s time for a reality check. If you’re a fleet or an owner-operator, you have to understand that Big Check law firms are watching and waiting on you to screw up. And once that happens, they’re going to strike hard and take you for every cent they possibly can.
Your only defense against these guys is a good offense. And that means you have to be proactive.
Everyone hates sitting down and talking with their insurance agent. Personally, I’d rather go have a tooth filled. But, if you’re a fleet exec or an owner-operator, you need to make regular meetings with your insurance agent a normal part of your business routine. At least twice a year, sit down with your agent and get up to speed on what’s happening both nationally and locally on the litigation front. Review your coverage to make sure there are no gaps and that you’re in the best possible shape to deal with a lawsuit should one come your way.
If you’re not already investing in vehicle safety devices, now’s the time to start looking into them. And if you’re already using such devices, consider adding new ones.
This costs money, of course. And that’s a big negative. On the other hand, it looks more and more like many – if not all – of these systems will be government mandated in the next few years. So there’s something to be said for gaining experience with them and getting ahead of the curve now.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that insurance companies and, presumably, Big Check Lawyers, aren’t exactly thrilled by the concept of federally mandated safety systems and increasing levels of vehicle automation
. That says volumes right there. As trucks become safer, their ability to generate insurance income or lawsuits decreases dramatically.
It’s a fact that investing in safety equipment is expensive. But, there are very real returns on that investment in terms of reduced insurance costs and reduced, or non-existent lawsuit payouts.
You can invest in safety. Or you can write checks to lawyers. As I said, it’s not fair to be targeted like that. But that’s the world we live in.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

“Rollin’ Coal” Fine $5,000 If New Pollution Bill Passes

Smokin’ diesel pickups catching attention for street antics; pouring out black smoke could be costly for drivers

Article thanks to Bruce Smith and Links provided:

April, 2015  It looks cool on the dragstrip, but rollin’ coal on the street not so much. At least not to those who enjoy clean air.
Modifying air-pollution (smog) controls, or anything that adversely affects the exhaust output of street-driven vehicles, has been a federal offense for decades.
But there are still those who disregard the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) smog laws and hot-rod their diesel trucks by modifying or removing the DPF and putting in performance tunes for street driving.
The result of such mods is the trucks “roll coal” whenever the driver stands on the throttle.
Those plumes of black smoke pouring out the exhaust that brings smiles to such drivers has caught the ire of Rep. Will Guzzardi from the Illinois General Assembly who is proposing a new air pollution bill that would directly target coal rollers by fining the driver $5,000 for such offense.
Here’s a synopsis of the proposed Illinois bill as introduced:
Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Provides that no person shall retrofit any diesel-powered vehicle with any device, smoke stack, or other equipment that enhances the vehicle’s capacity to emit soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions, or shall purposely release significant quantities of soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions into the air and onto roadways and other vehicles while operating the vehicle. Provides that any person who violates this provision shall be subject to a penalty of not more than $5,000 per violation.
The bill has caught the attention of other states lawmakers as well.
This goes to show that it only takes a few knuckleheads driving around purposely rollin’ coal just to annoy those around them can bring a lot of attention in ways that have far greater reach than they imagine.
I’ve lived in numerous states around the country from Mississippi to Oregon. A couple had zero smog inspection requirements to get your vehicle licensed. Others required a full smog check for both licensing and resale. If any mods were done to the vehicle’s emissions controls, you couldn’t get it licensed until everything was back in compliance.
As one person commented on this topic, “Continue to roll coal and you can expect an emission testing station in your area and an increase in the bloated bureaucracy that runs it. You can expect laws that will prohibit any modification to your vehicle with out government approval.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Trailer Backing For Dummies, 2016 Ford F-150
Slowly but surely, technology is taking the place of a "skilled" driver. I for one am not all that enthused about it! Seems to me, as a professional driver, parking and backing are skills that should be learned and practiced, and I think people should take pride in being able to do it correctly.
Article, photos thanks to and Bruce Smith. Links provided:
May, 2015  More divorces probably begin at the boat ramp than any other place in America. When the husband asks the wife to back the truck down the ramp to launch the boat, things can, and do, get ugly.
Backing up a trailer can be tricky. The truck’s front wheels have to be turned the opposite direction the customer wants the trailer to go. Turn too hard and the trailer can hit the vehicle, or jackknife.
Whether working alone or with a spotter, backing up a trailer can be a tension-filled ordeal.
Now, after a decade of development, Ford has put a control knob on the dash of 2016 F-150sthat takes that drama out of backing trailers.
The Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which was originally shown as a feature on the Ford Atlas Concept, has been added as an option on 2016 F-150 models and works by letting the customer steer the trailer with a control knob while the truck steers its wheels and limits vehicle speed.
To operate Pro Trailer Backup Assist, the customer rotates a knob to indicate how much the system should turn the trailer. The technology automatically steers the truck to turn the trailer the desired amount.
If the driver wants the trailer to back straight, the knob is spring-loaded so that’s its natural “neutral” position. The driver just lets the truck do the work without touching the steering wheel. The truck and trailer back up in a straight line.
The result of the Pro Trailer Backup Assist option is less time required to back up a trailer with improved confidence – it even helps towing experts by reducing time lost to maneuvering mistakes.
“Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a smart solution to save time and increase productivity for our customers,” says Doug Scott, marketing manager, Ford Truck Group. “Instead of struggling to back up their trailer, they can spend more time on the job or enjoying the lake.”
Leveraging advanced camera technology, Ford engineers developed the trailer tracking system strategy and tested it for almost a decade.
Along the way, Ford earned five patents for the technology, with 10 more pending – and will probably save more than a few marriages.