“Here I am.” / ”Buyur” … Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi ♥

Semra, Thank you again for great blog. Until you, I only knew one Muslim: the late, great Muhammad Ali!


Allah c.c.


All night, a man called “Allah”
Until his lips were bleeding.
Then the Devil said, “Hey ! Mr Gullible !
How come you’ve been calling all night and never once heard Allah say, “Here, I am” ?
You call out so earnestly and, in reply, what ?
I’ll tell you what. Nothing !
The man suddenly felt empty and abandoned.
Depressed, he threw himself on the ground and fell into a deep sleep.
In a dream, he met Abraham, who asked,
“Why are you regretting praising Allah ?”
The man said, “ I called and called,
But Allah never replied, “Here I am.”
Abraham explained, “Allah has said,
“Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.
All your attempts to reach Me
Are in reality My attempts to reach you.
Your fear and love are a noose to catch Me.
In the…

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Keith Jarrett – Byablue

Jazz You Too

I was given this album by a friend of mine who had it as a birthday present. This was for him a strange album by Keith Jarret – I didn’t like it much myself, although I was a bit more prepared to take some pleasure out of it than my friend. Over the years I learned to fully appreciate it – today I think it is a fabulous album performed by a super band. Clearly I wasn’t ready for it by then! I have seen all the members of the quartet playing live but Keith Jarret – although they were all playing in different formations and different venues.


Bass – Charlie Haden     Drums – Paul Motian

Piano – Keith Jarrett     Tenor Saxophone – Dewey Redman

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LIRR awards major contracts for double-track project

MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has awarded a $59.7 million contract to the Skanska-Posillico II joint venture to design and build 6.1 miles of trackbed between Farmingdale and Deer Park, N.Y.

MTA Long Island Rail Road’s Mineola station on the Main Line
Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The contract also calls for the joint venture to construct 1.3 miles of trackbed between Brentwood and Central Islip, N.Y.

Meanwhile, LIRR awarded a second $44.8 million contract to Ansaldo STS USA Inc. to design and build a new signaling system using computer-based train control software to better coordinate movement when LIRR’s second track is activated. The work includes final design, fabrication, delivery and system integration, and testing of new components associated with new interlockings at Farmingdale, Wyandanch, Deer Park, and Central Islip, and a modified interlocking at Ronkonkoma.

The contract also calls for the testing of transmitters and 28 new wayside huts.

The design-build contracts will “significantly advance” LIRR’s double-track project, which calls for adding a second track along an 18-mile stretch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials said in a press release.

“By using design-build contracts, we can eliminate a host of delays,” said MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast. “When one team handles both design and construction it eliminates the all-too-common disconnect between various phases of a project, and helps move the process along at a more rapid clip.”

The new track is designed to help the commuter railroad provide more frequent off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch in both directions, increase flexibility and reduce delays associated with service disruptions.

The larger project is expected to be completed by 2018’s end.

Oops…wrong date…

Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

I live my life by my Google Calendar. Our family is intermixed together on various Google Accounts to make sure we don’t double book ourselves. However, today I messed up and thought it was Wednesday May 4. Today is Tuesday May 3.

Well, I didn’t mess up on the day…I thought I was meeting my cousin John for lunch today but I’m actually meeting him tomorrow.

So, I’m sitting in the correct restaurant at the right time; but on the wrong day. Silly me.

I might have to pull out my Adult Coloring Book and just fill in some pretty pictures of apples and oranges. Coloring relaxes me and fulfills my meager life with vibrant colors. Sort of fulfill my life through drink and good comfort food.

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Amtrak turned 45 last month. Here’s an opinion why American passenger trains are so bad.

Amtrak turns 45 today, leaving many people wondering how is it that a rich and powerful country that was a pioneer in railroad adoption in the 19th century has such terrible passenger trains today.

The United States is a big country, with lots of trains in it. So you can really think of this big generic question as composed of three separate questions with separate answers. One question, of urgent interest to media and political elites in New York and Washington, is why Northeast Corridor passenger rail service is so much slower than the first-rate systems found in France, Spain, China, and Japan. The second question, which will have bedeviled anyone who’s ever been a tourist in Europe, is why passenger rail outside of the Northeast Corridor is so unimaginably awful. Last but by no means least, there’s the question of why the richest and most powerful empire the world has ever known can’t build itself a first-rate, truly high-speed national rail network along Chinese lines.

These questions are often lumped together under the hazy notion that American trains are bad.

1) Why doesn’t the Northeast have a true high-speed rail?

Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor — which runs between Washington, DC, and Boston with notable intermediary stops in Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New Haven, and Providence — is by no means a world-class passenger rail system. But it’s at least okay. And it’s popular enough as a means of intercity transportation that its name even stands in as a name for the region.

 Bill Rankin

It makes sense for this region to be a passenger rail standout. Compared with Japan or most European countries, the United States is a low-density and not-very-urbanized country. But the metropolitan areas connected by Amtrak’s Acela service are an exception. The corridor contains about as many people as Spain and is much more densely settled.

Even better, a straight line drawn from DC to Boston essentially passes right through Philadelphia and New York, making the area ideal for train service.

Given the favorable geography, it is both understandable that this area features America’s best intercity rail and baffling that the best we can do falls so far short of the best available in the world.

To a substantial extent, the Northeast turns out to be a victim of its own success. This portion of the country is so well-suited to passenger rail that its rail network was built out in the mid-19th century. Patterns of development were shaped by the route of the railroads, which, unfortunately, are not built to the standard of 21st-century speeds. Yet because the area is already rich and densely settled, it would be extremely costly to build out a whole new set of straighter, faster tracks.

Amtrak has an official proposal to upgrade the region for true high-speed rail, but the price tag is $117 billion and many observers fear cost overruns.

A more realistic idea would be for the Northeast Corridor to undertake a series of cheaper incremental improvements that, in total, could drastically improve speeds. Transit blogger Alon Levy outlined such a plan several years ago, including a mix of construction projections, operational changes, and new equipment. There are, naturally, impediments of various kinds to implementing these ideas. But the big issue is structural.

The way Amtrak is currently set up, there’s no real incentive to undertake incremental improvements. The Northeast Corridor already generates an operating profit, which simply defrays losses elsewhere in the system. Making it run better doesn’t generate any wins for the people who would have to do the work, and would plausibly just lead Congress to reduce subsidies. If the NEC were spun off as an independent entity — perhaps even a private company — then it could internalize the gains from improved service and seek private financing to make cost-effective investments.

2) Why are trains outside of the Northeast so unbelievably awful?

A fundamentally different question is why — with limited exceptions —passenger rail off the Northeast Corridor is so incredibly awful. It’s not just that these services aren’t the best in the world and don’t deploy the most cutting-edge technology available. They are often truly abysmal, with travel times worse than what was possible 100 years ago.

For example, if you want to go from Washington, DC, to Pittsburgh 250 miles away, you are looking at either a four-hour car trip or a seven-hour-and-43-minute Amtrak ride. What’s more, there’s only one train per day that makes the trip, departing DC a bit after four and arriving in Pittsburgh a bit before midnight. Of course, with the train so slow that there’s no practical case for using it, there’s little point in scheduling more trips. Megabus offers a slightly faster journey with two trips per day and charges $10 to $15, while Amtrak’s fares start at $50.

 (Fagan & Vasallo)

This is not, it turns out, primarily a question of either incompetence or underinvestment. Instead the issue is that the dismal failure of US passenger rail is in large part the flip side of the success of US freight rail. America’s railroads ship a dramatically larger share of total goods than their European peers. And this is no coincidence. Outside of the Northeast Corridor, the railroad infrastructure is generally owned by freight companies — Amtrak is just piggybacking on the spare capacity.

That means the technology isn’t optimized for passenger rail needs. But it also means passenger train scheduling needs to take a back seat to freight priorities.

3) Why don’t we build a state-of-the-art high-speed rail network?

But this is all legacy rail. If you look at the fastest, best passenger train systems in the world — the ones in places like China, France, Japan, and Spain — they’re not doing a good job of managing 19th-century infrastructure; they’re building brand-new, state-of-the-art high-speed rail infrastructure. To many people the question is: Why not us?

And the answer is that it would be very expensive, and it’s almost nobody’s first choice about what to do with the money.

How expensive? The truth is, nobody knows. At its most ambitious, the Obama administration asked for $53 billion on top of the $11 billion in stimulus funding for passenger rail. But that’s clearly not enough for any kind of national system. Amtrak, you’ll recall, said it needs more than $100 billion to do true high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor alone. The rail skeptics at the Cato Institute extrapolated from what California is spending on its high-speed rail project to conclude that a full system price tag could be around $1 trillion.

Since California has above-average construction costs, that’s almost certainly too high. It’s also not the case that we couldn’t afford to drop hundreds of billions on new passenger rail infrastructure over the next two or three decades. That’s about what the United States spent invading Iraq, and a high-speed rail network would be more useful than that.

The real problem is that even among the set of people who are interested in the idea of a multibillion-dollar transportation infrastructure investment, intercity passenger rail just isn’t that compelling a priority. Even if you just restrict your attention to train lovers, it’s hard to make the case for intercity over regular urban transit. Amtrak proudly brags about the 11.4 million passengers who plowed the rails between DC and Boston in 2013. But America’s 10th most popular rail transit system — Miami’s not particularly useful or extensive two-line Metrorail system — hosted over 20 million trips last year. Cleveland’s single 19-mile heavy rail route carried more passengers than Amtrak’s second most popular line. Under the circumstances, new urban transit seems much more likely to be heavily used than new intercity trains.

What is true is that faster trains could offer a green alternative to plane flights between close-together cities — Seattle and Portland or Dallas and Houston, for example.

 Environmental Protection Agency

But even though plane flights are very polluting, they only add up to a modest 2.2 percent or so of total American carbon emissions. And of course for many journeys — Phoenix to Boston or Houston to Seattle — trains aren’t a very plausible substitute anyway. So from an environmental perspective, too, massive rail expansion just doesn’t look like a particularly compelling priority.

Updated by on May 1, 2016

The Changing Face of Supply Chain Software Platforms

In a recent article, I talked about how supply chain operating networks are finally beginning to emerge, and how that will change what supply chain software platforms look like in a few years. There is another development that will also change what our supply chain platforms look like, the emergence of innovative new supply chain risk management solutions. The control towers, the visibility layer that will become integral to next generation supply chain platforms, will come to include these advanced risk management capabilities.

SCM Platform with SC Operating Network

Supply Chain Control Tower Layer Will Include Robust Risk Management Capabilities

Foreign direct investments have increased 25-fold since 1980. Dramatic increases in sourcing from low cost nations, supported by IT technologies, have internationalized supply chains. The internationalization of business increases exposure to a wide variety of global risks. Companies are vulnerable even if they have no immediate presence in the geography where the risk arises. The resilience of any individual business depends heavily on the resilience of its suppliers and key trading partners, whose supply chains can span many countries.

Major suppliers of SCM solutions have lagged in understanding emerging next generation supply chain risk management solutions that logically should be included in a global visibility cockpit. The two new entrants to the market offering revolutionary new solutions are riskmethods and Elementum. Both riskmethods and Elementum were identified as Rising Stars in our recently published Supply Chain Visibility and Collaboration market study. Both companies are still small, but have the potential to grow very fast. In both cases, the solutions they are offering will be difficult to copy.

An advanced supply chain control tower will always contain information that goes beyond what is in internal enterprise applications. The Internet of Things buzz is leading to more focus on how GPS, social media, and internet data (like online newspaper articles) can be used, mashed up, layered over a company’s supply chain network map, combined with existing data (like EDI event notifications), and result in far more timely and meaningful warnings about a wide variety of supply chain risks that have historically been poorly monitored.

riskmethods, for example, works by continuously monitoring risks identified across more than 300,000 online and social media sources. After using riskmethods, one customer found two bankruptcies that its other risk management tools absolutely did not report on in a timely manner, but which riskmethods picked up almost instantaneously. In one case, a supplier had been mired in litigation for over a decade. While this company’s financial metrics looked strong, they lost the law suit and filed for bankruptcy.  riskmethod’s customer knew right away that this supplier had lost the suit and began alternative sourcing.

Leading SCM suppliers need to recognize that to be able to offer a supply chain operating network, the visibility cockpit that sits on top of other networks, they will need to offer advanced risk management capabilities. Offering an advanced supply chain risk management solution, like those offered by risk methods and Elementum, is perhaps best achieved by partnership or acquisition.

These are not solutions that can easily be built by a company using Platform as a Service and Information as a Service tools. The risk alerts are monitored by humans at these two vendors. The people involved mark all risks as real or as false positives. Than the risk management engines use machine learning to improve their alerting capabilities. The fact that Elementum and riskmethods are engaged in these activities for many customers allows them to accelerate the machine learning in a way in which an individual company could not match.

Further, most major supply chain software companies believe they are in the business of developing software, not managed services. With that viewpoint, these vendors would not be interested in hiring personnel to staff the risk management cockpit that is critical to making these solutions work.

by Steve Banker