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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Time to Lock and Load?

A couple years ago, after the girls grew up and moved out, we sold our Draper home and downsized to a 55 and older mobile home park here in near Calt Lake City, Ut. We found a nice older double-wide trailer for sale with a huge yard and reasonable lot rent, compared with most other parks. Within the confines of our walled and fenced in community, we’ve been very satisfied with the lifestyle. The neighbors are fantastic and everyone takes care of their property and watches out for each other. The entrance is not gated, but there is only one entry and exit point for motor vehicles and pedestrians.

This past Tuesday night, about 3am in the morning, I was awakened by a very short burst of a high caliber fully automatic weapon firing. It was only about 4 or 5 rounds, boom, boom, etc, but I knew it was gunfire and not firecrackers. I’ve fired an M-16 on full auto when I was in the Army Reserve and knew the difference. It was loud and had to be close to wake me up like that, but we live next to a major east-west street just over the fence. My first thought was “should I call the police?”. I laid there for a bit, listening intently, and figured that maybe some gang-bangers were driving down the road next to our park and just fired out the window for the hell of it. Calling the cops would probably be useless and I drifted off back to sleep. Mary was up front working on her sewing machine, had laid down on the sofa for a nap and never heard it.

I got up in the morning and went to work and after returning home that afternoon Mary told me that she got a call from our next door neighbor about 7:30 am after I was gone. She told Mary that she and her dog were awakened at about 3 am with someone banging on the side of her trailer! That was about the same time I heard the gunshots. She said that she was scared to death and her dog was barking like crazy. I asked Mary if she told her whether she had called the police and she had not. She wanted Mary to keep an eye on her trailer that day after she left for work. I walked around our places and couldn't find any shell casings or bullet holes in anything.

Pretty scary stuff. In my early years back in Milwaukee I was the victim of armed robbery twice and ever since have kept a weapon close at hand. I’m thinking of upgrading my firepower and having it at the ready. The problem with that is, with kids and grand-kids coming over, you have to make sure they don't have access to them, as well as someone who may break into your home while you are out. It's also pretty useless to have a weapon accessible, but have to scramble around for ammo to load while an emergency is happening.

The last couple days, I've been doing some research on products that may be commercially available to solve the problem and have found some things that could be very useful. I don't want to get into specifics for obvious reasons, but you can try doing your own research by using some common sense keywords.You never know what may happen these days, and the police may not be able to come to your aid quickly enough.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bart Starr on schedule to attend Favre ceremony
Thanksgiving night is going to be a special time for all Green Bay Packer fans, as Brett Favre's number will be retired during the Packers/Bears game and Bart Starr scheduled to attend. Article thanks to jsonline and Martin Hendricks. Links provided:

Bart Starr Jr. is keenly aware of the significance of his father's return to Lambeau Field on Thursday as fellow iconic Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre's No. 4 jersey is retired in a halftime ceremony of the Packers-Bears game.
Barring an unforeseen change in his health, Bart Starr Sr. will fly to Green Bay on Wednesday. Exact details of the ceremony and Starr's role are unknown.
"Dad is determined to make it happen," Bart Jr. said Friday afternoon of his 81-year-old father. "At the beginning of the year, I didn't think he had much of a chance to walk out on Lambeau Field for one last time.
"But here we are, and it's going to happen. Nothing is going to stop us now."
Bart Starr Sr., a Hall of Fame quarterback, played for the Packers from 1956-'71.
Starr suffered two strokes, a heart attack and multiple seizures in Sept. 2014. A big part of his recovery has been the focus on his return to Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night.
"It's been the goal; we talk about it every day, and that's what athletes respond to," Bart Jr. said. "He's always lived his life that way."
The Starr family has been inspired by the overwhelming support from Packers fans.
"Letters, cards, emails, texts, phone calls, you name it," Bart Jr. said. "The outpouring has really been inspirational."
Bart Starr Sr. completed his second stem-cell treatment two weeks ago in Mexico, but the family has not discussed the impact of the experimental clinical trial. He underwent his first stem-cell treatment in June and has continued extensive therapy to regain strength, motor skills, speech and memory for the past 14 months.
The elder Starr suffered a significant setback in late August, when he was hospitalized for four days with a viral bronchial infection.
On Starr's trip for his follow-up stem-cell treatment, he had dinner in California with former NFL coach and Packers assistant Steve Mariucci and his wife.
"It was my 60th and I couldn't think of a better way to spend my birthday than with Bart and Cherry Starr," said Mariucci, an NFL Network analyst.
Former Chicago tight end and head coach Mike Ditka offered his perspective.
"To have three Hall of Fame quarterbacks of that caliber play for one team is incredible," Ditka said. "I hope Packer fans know how fortunate they are. Bart Starr. Brett Favre. Aaron Rodgers. Those are three MVP and Super Bowl players, but also great people who represent the game with class. They are the real deal.
"Lambeau Field will be something else on Thanksgiving night."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Indiana Trooper with a Facebook Page

Trooper Builds Relationship with Truckers Through Facebook Page

Article thanks to Deborah Lockridge and Links provided:

Sept, 2015  One state trooper is working to improve trooper-trucker relations through a Facebook page.
"These guys are out here on the road 24/7, so are we. Why not make it a better working relationship?" Brent Hoover, with the Indiana State Police, told
"With the trucking industry there's so many federal regulations and there's so many different ways those regulations can be looked at and scrutinized," Hoover said. "A lot of cases there's very short limited time for both parties to basically step off on the right foot."
"If they do have a question or something they can't pull into a scale house comfortably and ask, say about a bad tire, because they're worried about getting ticketed or placed out of service."
So earlier this year, he created the "Hoover Club" on Facebook. In the "about," section, he says the page is "Teaching the public and trucking individuals what DOT Inspectors do. I want to bridge the gap and create positve [sic] interactions!"
He shows photos and short videos of violations -- worn bushings, fuel leaks, chafing airlines, flat tires, bad tiedown chains, cracked wheels, a loose axle bolt -- plus other items of interest, from pictures of superloads and antique trucks to a short video on how to figure the working load limit for load securement to "did you know" posts. ("Did you know that if your air tank moves more than 1 inch in any direction it falls into the Out of Service Criteria?")
The interactive nature of Facebook allows drivers to comment and ask questions on items and gives Hoover a chance to answer those questions.
What a great way to improve trucker-trooper relations and educate drivers about the important safety rules, to help keep highway safe and CSA scores down. As of this writing, he has 2,600 "likes" and counting. I would love to see more troopers do something like this.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Kenworth Sleeper

Photo: Kenworth

Kenworth 76-inch Mid-Roof Sleepers in Production

Article thanks to Links provided:

Sept, 2015  Kenworth’s new 76-inch mid-roof sleeper for the Kenworth T680 and T880 is now in production, the company announced.
The new sleeper was announced for the T680 and T880 at the Mid-America Trucking Show earlier in the year and was made available as an option in June. The 76-inch mid-roof sleeper is designed for bulk tank, flatbed and other truck operators who prefer a more aerodynamic lower roof, lightweight truck with the comforts of a 76-inch sleeper.
The sleeper offers a weight savings of 100 pounds, according to Kenworth, which allows for more payload capacity. The sleeper has 6 ½ feet of headroom for taller drivers, a liftable lower bunk and side storage towers with space to hang clothes.
The back wall can be configured with an optional upper bunk for team drivers or a back wall sleeper storage unit. Also available are a premium sound system and mount for a flat screen TV.
Both the Kenworth T680 and T880 can now be configured with the 76-inch mid-roof sleeper, 52-inch regional sleeper, or day cab. The T680 also is available with the 76-inch high-roof sleeper.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

New York City Heating Oil Scam

Heating oil companies delivered less fuel than paid for in citywide scam

Article thanks to Rebecca Rosenberg and Links provided:

Nov. 10, 2015  More than three dozen employees from the city’s largest oil companies were busted Tuesday in a scam that ripped off millions of dollars from numerous city agencies including the FDNY and NYPD, authorities said Tuesday.
The crooked oil executives, drivers and dispatchers, 44 in total, are accused of rigging their trucks to shortchange customers, including hospitals, schools and churches then selling the stolen fuel at a reduced price on the black market, said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance at a press conference Tuesday.
“No illicit business or black market can be allowed to operate while honest New Yorkers are working hard to keep their homes warm during colder months,” he said. “It was residents and taxpayers who paid the price and suffered the consequences.”
The indictment alleges that the nine companies including Casanova Fuel Oil, Inc in the Bronx, G&D Heating Oil, Inc in Brooklyn and Century Star in Westchester used various schemes to swindle customers in all five boroughs from Sept of 2006 to Oct of 2015.
Some of the trucks were outfitted with special valves that diverted heating oil to a hose leading to a tank at the back of the truck while the meter falsely registered delivery of the full order.
Another tactic pumped air into tanks instead of oil forcing unwitting customers to pay the full cost of a half-delivered order.
Dispatchers were paid kickbacks to send drivers to easy targets.
The alleged swindlers then took the stolen fuel and sold it to other customers at a reduced price and the profit went right back into the coffers of the greedy companies, authorities said.
The unscrupulous vendors ripped off their customers to the tune of more than $18 million a year including $4 million from city agencies, said Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters.
“That’s real money. Money that could have done something for the people of this City,” he said. “These defendants’ charged actions expose a story of contempt for the people of this City, quite literally, laughing their way to the bank.”
Authorities had captured one truck driver on a phone wiretap bragging about how he’d duped a customer, Peters said.
“Investigators recorded a fuel truck driver mockingly describing how he fooled a building manager into unknowingly shorting his own fuel delivery – by throwing the lever that filled his own tank with air,” he said.
The victims include Third Street Men’s Shelter in the East Village, the Food and Finance High School in Midtown, the 26th Precinct and even the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, where the case is being prosecuted.
The investigation began after a whistleblower reported the widespread scheme to authorities, Vance said.
Investigators began rounding up suspects early Tuesday morning, and they’re expected to be arraigned this afternoon in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Prosecutors charged 29 truck drivers, 3 dispatchers and 12 oil company executives including Fazil Hatim of F&S Distribution, Inc, Winston Lopez of Casanova Fuel Oil, Inc and Irving Lopez of Express Petroleum, Inc.
The indictments were a result of a two-year joint investigation with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the NYPD, the New York City Business Integrity Commission, the New York City Department of Investigation and other agencies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Walmart’s driver pay case the latest barrier of entry in California
Story thanks to and Jeff Crissey. Links provided:

July, 2015  Dating back to 1848 when a carpenter discovered gold in a stream in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California has been a land of opportunity for generations of Americans. The Gold Rush gave way to oil prospecting, followed by birth of the movie industry, aerospace corporations, Silicon Valley and dot-com entrepreneurs. For more than 160 years, the Golden State has reinvented itself time and time again and opened its arms wide to all comers.

When it comes to the trucking industry, however, California may as well have built a fence along its borders. In recent years, the state has legislated, regulated and ruled its way to become the Union’s least-friendly state for fleets. The California Air Resources Board has enacted a number of barriers of entry for truckers, from specific diesel formulations and engine-idling restrictions to the controversial Truck & Bus Regulation that phases out older trucks in an effort to reduce oxides of nitrogen and diesel particular matter emissions.
Last month, running a trucking operation in California became even more difficult when a federal court concluded in a lawsuit vs. Walmart that truck drivers must be paid at least minimum wage for all time worked. According to Senior District Judge Susan Illston, the retail giant’s per-mile and discretionary pay for work such as inspections and paperwork did not comply with the state’s minimum wage law requirements.
“Under California law, the drivers must be paid for all of the time that they were subject to [Walmart]’s control,” Illston wrote in her conclusion, adding that while the retailer exercised control over drivers during federally mandated rest periods, its $42 allocation to drivers per layover averages out to less than paying minimum wage.
In a rebuttal, Walmart argued that drivers are compensated by some duties under specific activity codes. It said that a lack of an activity code for each code component is the same as paying a housekeeper for each house cleaned and that nothing in the Labor Code requires a separate “pay code” for each act that goes into cleaning the house.
“There has been no finding that any Walmart driver has not been paid minimum wage for each hour worked,” said Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove. “We intend to continue to defend the company against the claim,” adding that 90 percent of Walmart drivers have been with the company for more than 10 years and earn between $80,000 and $100,000 annually.
That compensation makes Walmart one of the highest-paying companies in the industry for drivers, roughly 40 percent higher than many for-hire carrier pay rates. If earning $100,000 annually isn’t enough for some drivers, then this industry faces a bigger battle than most realize.
The bottom line for Walmart? The Arkansas-based company could be facing $100 million in back pay for the driver plaintiffs as a result of the court ruling. The bottom line for the rest of the trucking industry? The way you do business in the state of California soon may be changing again – and once again, it’s bad for business.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Are manual transmissions a thing of the past?

Article thanks to Jack Roberts and hardworkingtrucks.comNote: Jack Roberts is equipment editor of Hard Working Truck‘s sister site, CCJ. Links provided:

Changing tastes on shifting gears: Are manual transmissions a thing of the past?

Sept, 2015  Mastering an unsynchronized heavy-duty manual transmission is as much an art as a science. Old-school drivers say they simply don’t feel in complete control of a truck unless it has a manual gearbox.
Even the most ardent automated manual transmission experts admit that on a good day, a highly skilled driver with a manual transmission is equal to the best computer-controlled transmissions in the world in terms of shifting efficiency and fuel economy.
Yet, time appears to be catching up to the manual transmission. Spurred by the pressure to maximize fuel economy and safety and to integrate new drivers into fleet operations quickly and seamlessly, more carriers are spec’ing new truck purchases with automated-manual gearboxes.
OEMs, including Volvo and Freightliner, report steady and impressive take rates on AMTs – now routinely spec’d on more than half the new vehicles that roll off their factory floors.
From a high-level view, the industry trend toward AMTs seems irreversible. But reports of the manual transmission’s demise may be premature.
David Johnson, president and chief instructor at Theodore, Ala.-based Premier Driving Academy, still believes in training students on manuals because, in his opinion, it gives them a better overall feel for the vehicle. Also, he thinks it is vital for drivers to understand the mechanics and physics of up- and down-shifting.
Finally, as a point of pride, he wants to graduate fully trained drivers capable of operating any truck on the road today and – just as importantly from the students’ perspective – able to go after and get any driving job they want.
Still in the majority
“The use of automated manual transmissions is definitely increasing in market share as more companies focus on fuel efficiency, driver recruitment and driver retention,” says Ryan Trzybinski, product strategy manager, commercial powertrain, Eaton. “However, manuals still hold the majority share of transmissions in the NAFTA marketplace, especially in smaller fleets that have a number of quality experienced drivers or owner-operators. They do not need to go to AMTs. Eaton still sees the value of manuals because it provides fleets with a choice when they spec their trucks.”
Eaton also currently is seeing a good number of manuals in bigger fleets that run a combination of transmissions to accommodate a variety of drivers.
“While we see AMTs continuing to increase in share, we definitely think manuals are going to be around for quite some time,” Trzybinski says. “We have a new 10-speed manual, and we definitely see that as a viable option because the cost and simplicity of manual transmissions continues to make them very attractive to a lot of buyers. And the reliability of the constant mesh manual transmission is world-class.”
Stu Russoli, Mack highway and powertrain products marketing manager, says the company sees trends that point to AMTs becoming the dominant transmission in certain segments, but that doesn’t mean conventional manual transmissions will go away completely.
“We believe they will still play a role to support a base price point, and they will also find favor in vocational applications where the ability to have manual control over shifting and clutch engagement is desired,” Russoli says. “Design work on manual transmissions is being done, but I would say it is more of a refinement of a very solid technology to better improve such things as weight and overall durability. There are new materials and processes today that can make some significant improvements in performance and ease of use in the future.”
Jon Morrison, president of Wabco’s North American operations, says his company still sees a place for manual transmissions in the market.
“We don’t think the writing is on the wall for them,” Morrison says. “The adoption of AMT transmissions, however, has expanded to approximately 17 percent of new truck and bus production as of 2014.” Wabco estimates that market penetration of the industry’s AMT solutions will reach one-third of new truck and bus builds by 2019.
All about the driver
Morrison believes the advantages of AMTs for fuel savings and driver retention will continue to drive further market penetration over manual transmissions.
“We also see advantages when an AMT connects to the driveline, engine and braking systems,” he says. “As the increase in and adoption of automated vehicle controls utilizes the AMT to enhance the burgeoning use of autonomous control features on heavy trucks, that trend will continue.”
Also, the learning curve for manual gearboxes can be a daunting one for new drivers. Johnson says that using automated transmissions can be a make-or-break factor for some students who don’t test well.
In limited cases – about 1 in 5 students, he estimates – he’ll let a student who is trained and proficient on a manual but nervous to use one with an examiner sitting in the passenger seat take the commercial driver’s license driving exam with an automatic transmission.
Johnson mentioned a fleet he does business with that recently dropped two competitive driving schools from its “acceptable” list because those schools were sending Class E drivers to them – but the fleet didn’t run any automatics. That’s why he maintains a vested interest in emphasizing manual training at his school.
“Some of the larger fleets have really well-refined training programs that they do in-house,” Trzybinski says. “This is giving drivers the ability to operate both manual and automated transmissions. That, in turn, is making those same operators more attractive to potential employers.”
With AMT skills only, newer drivers may not be as marketable as far as going to a different fleet or switching to another application such as logging or heavy-haul where manuals are more prevalent, he says. “Knowing how to operate a manual transmission is a great skill for a driver to have if they want to make sure they are attractive to a broader market.”
- See more at:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wisconsin's Northwoods: the real gangsters' paradise

Story thanks to Max Gorden, Multimedia Journalist and Links provided:

MINOCQUA (WAOW) - October, 2015

Wise guys like Al Capone and John Dillinger ruled Chicago in the late 1920's and early 30's. These infamous men reaped riches and often left a trail of destruction.
But when these gangsters weren't out and about on the town in Chicago, they were often in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. During the 20's and 30's, the Northwoods area became a playground for those who made their living in Chicago's underworld.
Brothels dotted the area, catering to their gangster clientele.
In Minocqua, the boathouse of BJ's Sporting Goods was once home to a different sort of business. In the 20's and 30's, it was known as "Trixie's Brothel." According to local lore, when Trixie the matriarch died, her body and her jewels were buried on an island on Lake Minocqua.
When Chicago's most infamous weren't hanging out with local call girls, they were relaxing at the Northwoods' numerous resorts, such as Little Bohemia in Manitowish Waters.
"[It was] a place for the gangsters to get away, a place for everyone to get away," Little Bohemia owner Dan Johns Jr. said.
It was at Little Bohemia that John Dillinger and his gang almost met their end one night in April of 1934.
"The gang was inside, having a good time, always suspicious, but not thinking that anything was going to happen at that minute,” Johns said. “And then the FBI shows up."
A shootout ensued, bullets flying through the windows and walls of Little Bohemia – bullet holes that can still be seen by visitors in Little Bohemia's dining room.
"The gang realized that the jig was up,” Johns said. “So they busted out and started running in all different directions."
Dillinger's gang scattered after their shootout with the FBI, but few know the story of what happened after the escape.
Dennis Robertson, the President of Dillman's Bay Resort, owns a piece of history connected with the plight of Dillinger's gang – a cabin used by George “Baby Face” Nelson as he evaded the FBI. Nelson was wanted for his connections to various murders and bank robberies. After two getaway cars failed on him, Nelson trekked 18 miles in a suit and wingtip shoes from Little Bohemia through the woods until he came upon a cabin inhabited by a local family.
"He had three guns with him,” said Robertson. “And he said, 'I'm going to possibly stay here with you for a little while and nobody can leave.' He ended up staying, what we know of, two nights and three days there. And he finally left and went back to Chicago."
The structure that Nelson stayed in is now known as Cabin Five at Dillman's Bay Resort. Though Cabin Five has been expanded and moved since Nelson's stay, visitors still have the opportunity sleep in the room that once housed the notorious gangster.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Saving Money with I’m In Coupons

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I found some great coupons under automotive that helps me with any car projects I may have.  The best part, some of these don’t expire for months.  I was able to set up notifications in the app that’ll allow my phone to send me a notification anytime some of my favorite stores have a new coupon.
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Visit today to start keeping money in your wallet and explore their great app.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post. Daniel S. Bridger’s Trucking Blog was  financially compensated for the post.