SEPTA preps for trolley line track renewal

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) on Sunday will begin a track renewal project on a portion of its Route 15 trolley line.

The project will take place at various points on Girard Avenue in Philadelphia and be completed by Sept. 3.

Some track in the area dates to the 1940s, while other track was installed in the 1950s and 1970s, SEPTA officials said in a press release. The street structure supporting the track has deteriorated due to weather, traffic and age. The agency will excavate and replace about 9,800 track feet and repave the track area.

The new track will result in reduced sound and vibration because the new rail is incased in an insulated rubber boot.

Additionally, the new track components will result in a smoother ride for passengers, SEPTA officials said.


The Dangers of Hedonism

Windows into History

"Hummingbirds or a Dandy Trio" by caricaturist George Cruilshank (1819) “Hummingbirds or a Dandy Trio” by caricaturist George Cruilshank (1819)

Snippets 67Memoirs of a Man of Fashion was published anonymously in three volumes in 1821. The books contain much useful information about the wealthy classes during the early years of the 19th Century. The following anecdote is from the third volume, a cautionary tale that is still relevant today. Subtitled “The Dangers of Dissipation” (which means reckless spending), it serves as a warning about where a hedonistic lifestyle can lead…

Poor Harry Mortimer had outlived his health, his friends, and his respectability, ‘ere he was thirty-six. A fortune, squandered at an early age, had procured him luxuries, and surrounded him with false friends and envious companions. When the gold which attracted these carrion crows, who lived on his substance, was expended, they flew off like birds of prey to a richer victim — to a plumper repast…

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What Began at Occupy Wall Street Is Reverberating in Today’s Democratic Primary

But it’s happening on a different part of the ballot that doesn’t get enough coverage.

t looks to be a big night for the two presidential frontrunners, which leaves next week’s ‘do in Indiana as the last possible chance for anything to shift at that level. But tonight’s action is enlivened because there are a number of critical down-ballot races, especially as regards the Democratic chances of regaining the Senate this fall. In Maryland, Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, both incumbent congresspeople, are locked up in a serious hooley that could go either way, Edwards being the choice of what can loosely be called the Sanders/Warren wing of the party, and a darling of the Netroots. Also in Maryland, there’s an expensive three-way congressional race between a wealthy dilettante, a very promising young Democratic neophyte, and the wife of Chris Matthews. There also is a vigorous primary campaign for mayor of Baltimore.

In Pennsylvania, there’s quite the brawl to run against incumbent Senator Pat Toomey, who is seen as one of the more vulnerable Republican incumbents. Katie McGinty has the White House and most of the Democratic establishment and donor class behind her. She was supposed to walk in. But, at the moment, she’s running behind now-perennial candidate Joe Sestak, a former admiral who has consistently told the Democratic Party hierarchy to go whistle over the past three election cycles. Here, also, is the rare race in which the populist S/W wing is genuinely divided. Sestak is running as an outsider, based almost entirely on the number of famous Democrats he’s alienated, but there’s also the clamorous presence of John Fetterman, the eccentric mayor of Braddock, who is much closer to Sanders on the issues, and is quite the piece of work besides.

“We’ve lost 90 percent of our population and 90 percent of our buildings,” he said. “Ninety percent of our town is in a landfill. So we took a two-pronged approach. We created the first art gallery in the four-town region, with artists’ studios. We did public art installations. And, I don’t know if you consider it arts, exactly, but I consider growing organic vegetables in the shadow of a steel mill an art…”

Can’t argue with that.

Anyway, these elections represent the first serious stirrings at the ballot box of the efforts to reform the Democratic Party that began outside the party structure, in Zuccotti Park and in the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore, and that provided the energy to campaigns like the one that put Warren in the Senate and the one that Sanders has kept rolling throughout the spring. This is not simply the Democratic Party demonstrating its admirably diverse inability to get out of its own way. There is power behind what’s happening here; neither as formidable as it may become, nor particularly well-focused, this power is nonetheless real and its issues and concerns must be addressed. The party must have room for Donna Edwards, Joe Sestak, and John Fetterman, and for their constituents and supporters. Otherwise, a very big opportunity already is lost.

Charles Pierce, Esquire


There Is A Problem With The Chicago Bypass

Norfolk Southern Corp. wouldn’t work with the Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc.‘s (GLBT) proposed freight-rail line that would bypass the congested Chicago area, according to a letter the Class I filed last month with the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

The STB has been accepting comments and holding hearings about the GLBT’s proposal to construct a 278-mile freight-rail route around the Chicago area, which the company has stated would help to speed up freight transportation and provide additional capacity for growing rail traffic.

The rail line would run through parts of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Specifically, the line would extend from LaPorte, Ind., through Illinois to Milton, Wis., and would connect with Class Is.

In a letter dated May 23, NS General Counsel-Commerce John Scheib said that NS officials understand that the purpose of the proposed rail line is to provide Class Is with more efficient rail operations by bypassing the congested Chicago network.

NS doesn’t believe the rail route would work well with its network, however.

“Norfolk Southern has a robust route network with multiple routes into and out of the Chicago are and also owns its own bypass route that runs directly to Kansas City,” Scheib wrote. “For this reason, we are not inclined to think that the proposed Great Lakes Basin route would work well with our system or that we would be a user of the route.”

In addition, Scheib noted for the record that NS does not have a nondisclosure agreement with the proposed railroad, GLBT, its founder Frank Patton or GLBT President Jim Wilson.

“We have not provided them any detail about our current train movements or traffic volumes,” the NS letter stated.

The STB has been accepting comments and holding hearings in the three states as part of a notice of intent to begin preparations for an environmental impact statement.

The NS letter was the only written comment submitted by a Class I to the STB on the proposed rail line. However, a Union Pacific Railroad spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune in March that UP already has determined that it would not move forward with a discussion on GLBT.

Read more on the Chicago Bypass and a 2014 update

Even More About The 1939 Royal Train that Visited the United States

As many of you know, we have a great WebSite on the 1939 Royal Train that visited the United States. Now we have found the Canadian side of the details.

For all the research we have done, we did not know that the pilot train almost missed the grand welcome in Washington because of a Hot Box!

1939 Royal Tour

Ahmad Jamal | Yusef Lateef: Live at the Olympia

Jazz You Too

Jamal and Lateef together and live at the Olympia – the first is already an octogenarian, the second was 91 by the time of the recording – for both, playing is a natural act – they make it extraordinary! This double album reunites them in the second set. The recording becomes historic!

Ahmad Jamal Yusef Lateef Live at the Olympia
Track Listing:
CD1: Autumn Rain; Blue Moon; The Gypsy; Invitation; I Remember Italy; Laura; Morning Mist; This is the Life.
CD2: Exatogi; Masara; Trouble in Mind; Brother Hold Your Light; Blue Moon (reprise); Poinciana.

Personnel: Ahmad Jamal: piano; Reginald Veal: double bass; Herlin Riley: drums; Yusef Lateef: tenor saxophone, flute, vocals.

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IoT is Real and Present

You already know that IoT is a term used to loosely identify items that have been imbued with enough intelligence and communication abilities to send messages across the internet. First of all, this means that these items are not human in the ways we normally think of humans using computers to send information via the Internet. But that doesn’t mean that some of these ‘things’ can’t be humans, or at least humans carrying with devices that do the communicating for them. The connections and the information are triggered by conditions as they change.

That information is transmitted using some kind of message format. It’s likely that the vast majority of those messages will not be in EDI X12 format. Some will exist in proprietary formats created to meet the specific needs of the devices, and I expect a larger portion will use some sort of XML format simply because of the ease of creating the content. But there’s no reason that ‘things’ that are already part of the supply chain and would normally be encoded in X12 format documents could not be produced in exactly the same format and thereby easily incorporated into existing processes.

As one example, consider the various transport functions that could benefit from inclusion in the IoT.

10 Daily Habits That Will Radically Improve Your Life

Platitudes won’t help you. I know, I’ve tried to implement them all. They’re frustrating.

Go for it! Live for today! Stay motivated!

No kidding.

I’m more interested in how we can radically improve our lives.  How can we stay truly motivated? How can we maintain hyper-efficiencies?  How can we stay happy at work? How can we find true fulfillment by cultivating the most attractive aspects of your personality?

Here are ten unexpected things you can do daily to radically improve your life:

1. Don’t obsess over “how” you’ll do something.

Four years ago when I launched my agency Silverback Social, I just did it. I knew that I wanted to create a digital agency that led with social media. I had no idea how I was going to do it.

2. Invest in clothes that fit.  Yes, seriously.

My dress shirts, and suits are all custom made. This isn’t as extravagant as it sounds. You can order custom clothing for about the same cost as off the rack clothes from Banana Republic. You just have to be patient for the clothes to get delivered after you’ve been measured.

3. Meditate

Meditation can reduce stress, improve your concentration and increase happiness. But you don’t have to sell all your worldly possessions and live in a cave to meditate. Meditation can be anything.

When you’re washing your hands today. Slow down and really think about how you’re washing your hands. Feel the sensation of the water. Smell the aroma of the soap. Enjoy it. You’re meditating!

Realize that your thoughts and feeling aren’t you. Acknowledging that you’re having a thought is a powerful way to separate yourself from the thought. I recommend HeadSpace APP to help.

4. Buy a stand up desk.

We’ve all read the news and heard the grumbling of how bad sitting down all day can be for us. It’s worse than smoking etc.  I do think that my new stand up desk can be a healthy alternative.

I’m also smart enough to know that you can overdo anything. US News Health says that there are some ways in which stand up desks can do more harm than good.

The gist? Don’t stand still all day long. Alternate positions throughout the day. Also, some tasks are more well suited for sitting.

5. Shut off electronics for short increments.

I worry about the effect of electronic devices on my children. The best way that I’ve been able to remove this concern is to carve out play time without any devices around. This means that I leave my iPhone behind as well.

My girls are eight and five.  My five year old decided to try golfing with me recently. She loved it. Just the two of us, with my undivided and undistracted presence.

I felt my self reflectively reaching for my iPhone to take photos of her golfing.

6. Get up early.

I hate the morning. Really, I do. So much so that on my wedding day, my brother referenced my inability to wake up to an alarm clock in his best man speech. The crowd erupted in laughter.  Super.

7. Read more.

Reading can help improve problem solving, expand your vocabulary, and even cultivate exposure to different ways of thinking. If you really feel that you don’t have time to read, I recommend you try Audible for a free 30 Day Trial and listen to audiobooks.

8. Live in a different city at least once in your life.

When I was twenty years old,  I studied in Leuven, Belgium, and traveled to 14 different countries. That travel allowed me to grow in ways that I can’t quantify. I was able to find my way around an airport, train station, and bus terminal without incident. I ate different foods, and experienced different religions.

9. Write.

Sharing your thoughts is a powerful connector. Start with a blog, or create on LinkedIn or Medium. I wrote my first blog post and earned $260,000. I also used writing to help me get the attention of new clients, new jobs, and my television career.

Write every day and share what you know. Learn how to write better along the way. If you don’t want to share your thoughts with the world, start a journal.

I began a journal when I was nineteen and traveling through Europe. Now I read my entries to my daughters as bedtime stories.

10. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

I’m an over sharer extraordinaire. To some people it’s an turn off. Guess what? I don’t want to associate with those people. It’s the way I’m wired, and I’m not about to change because it makes you uncomfortable.

I blog about everything from my family, to my friend who was murdered. Vulnerability in life and business cultivates trust.

No pretense, just you –  unfiltered.  Try it. I dare you.


By Chris Dessi

CEO, Silverback Social