How Military &
Government Specs Live Forever
The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails)
is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because
that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English
expatriates. Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines
were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge
Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways
used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel
Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other
spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the
spacing of the old wheel ruts.
So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by
Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And
the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their
wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by
Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The United States standard railroad
gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification (Military Spec) for an
Imperial Roman army war chariot.MilSpecs and Bureaucracies live forever.
So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with
it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just
wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.
A Story To Live By
by Ann Wells (Los Angeles Times)
Courtesy of my friend Arlene
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and
lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip.
This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was
exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an
astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Jan bought this the first time
we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a
Well, I guess this is the occasion." He took the slip from me and put it on the bed
with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft
material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever
save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."
I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him
and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about
them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's
family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I
thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.
I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and
dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the
weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in
committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor,
not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.
I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special
event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I
wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I
can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of
groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in
hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going
"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my
vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it
now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here
for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and
a few close friends. She might have called a few former
friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have
gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing -- I'll never know.
It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were
limited. Angry because I put off seeing good Friends whom I was going to get in touch with
-- someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write -- one
of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how
much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything
that would add laughter and luster to our lives.
And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every
minute, every breath truly is...a gift from God.
Truths About Life That Little Children Have Learned
* No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.
* When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair.
* If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.
* Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.
* You can't trust dogs to watch your food.
* Reading what people write on desks can teach you a lot.
* Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
* Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a tic tac.
* Never hold a dustbuster and a cat at the same time.
* School lunches stick to the wall.
* You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
* Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
* The best place to be when you are sad is in Grandma's lap.
You can make a
From the Orlando NTC "Navigator", by LCDR Tom Cook, NTC Command
Once there was a man walking down a deserted Mexican beach at sunset.
As he walked along, he began to see another man in the distance. As he got
closer, he noticed the man was picking up
starfish that had been washed ashore and, one at a time, he was throwing them back into
the water. When the man asked what he was doing, he said, "I'm throwing these
starfish back into the ocean. You see, it's low tide right now and all of these
starfish have been washed up onto the beach. If I don't throw them back, they'll die
from lack of oxygen." "I understand," replied the visitor, "but
there must be hundreds of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly get to all of
them. And this is happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down the coast.
Can't you see that you really cannot make a difference?" The man smiled, bent
down and picked up yet another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied,
"Made a difference to that one." Our lives do influence others...for good
or bad. Even small insignificant acts set in motion great things. An
encouraging word. A cold soda. The first, "Good Morning!" A
strong handshake. Your every act or attitude will make a difference to just
one! ...In everything set them an example by doing what is good ...show
The Trouble Tree
The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just
finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work,
his electric saw quit and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start.
While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to
meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small
tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door he
underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he
hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.
Afterward, he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the
better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having
troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my
wife and children. So I just hang them up
on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up
again." Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning
to pick 'em up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.
WHAT IMPACT DO YOU MAKE?
Just a reminder of who we are and what we can do. Thought you might enjoy.
It is long, but worth reading.
Jean Thompson stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in
the fall and told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils
and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And
that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row,
was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn't play well with the
other children, that his clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. And
Teddy was unpleasant. It got to the point during the first few months that she would
actually take delight in
marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then marking the F at the top
of the paper biggest of all.
Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy him, either. At the
school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's records and put
Teddy's off until last. When she opened his file, she was in for a surprise. His
first-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is
a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good
manners...he is a joy to be around."
His second-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student well-liked by his
classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home
must be a struggle."
His third-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy continues to work hard but his mother's death
has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much
interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."
Teddy's fourth-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much
interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.
He is tardy and could become a problem."
By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem but Christmas was coming fast. It was all
she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and
she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard. Her children brought her
presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy's, which was clumsily
wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a scissored grocery bag.
Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the
children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones
missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne. She stifled the
children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and
dabbing some of the perfume behind the other wrist.
Teddy Stoddard stayed behind just long enough to say, "Mrs.Thompson, today you
smelled just like my mom used to." After the children left she cried for at least an
On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and speaking. Instead, she
began to teach children. Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all
called "Teddy." As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The
more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. On days there would be an
important test, Mrs.Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he
had become one of the smartest children in the class and...well, he had also become the
"pet" of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the
A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the
teachers he'd had in elementary school, she was his favorite.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had
finished high school, third in his class, and she was still his favorite teacher of all
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at
times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would graduate from college with the
highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after
he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter
explained that she was still his favorite teacher but that now his name was a little
longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.
The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring.
Teddy said he'd met this girl and was to be married. He explained that his father
had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering...well, if Mrs. Thompson
might agree to
sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom. And guess what, she wore that
bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.
And I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like ... well, just like the way
Teddy remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together.
THE MORAL: You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another's
life by your actions or lack of action. Consider this fact in your venture thru life.
Lesson in Life
A while back I was reading about an expert on the subject of time management. One day
this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used
an illustration those students will never forget.As this man stood in front of the group
of high-powered overachievers, he said, "Okay, time for a quiz."
Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front
of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at
a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked,
"Is this jar full?"
Everyone in the class said, "Yes."
Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of
gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work
themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?"
By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered.
"Good!" he replied.
He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the
sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more
he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"
"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!"
Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to
the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your
schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!"
"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this
illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them
in at all."
What are the 'big rocks' in your life?
A project that YOU want to accomplish?
Time with your loved ones?
Your faith, your education, your finances?
Teaching or mentoring others?
Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first
or you'll never get them in at all. ---
So, tonight or in the morning when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself
this question: What are the 'big rocks' in my life or business? Then, put those in your
A pause for reflection - Anyone can stand by you when you are right but a Friend will
stand by you even when you are wrong....
A simple friend identifies himself when he calls.
A real friend doesn't have to.
A simple friend opens a conversations with a full news bulletin on his life.
A real friend says, "What's new with you?"
A simple friend thinks the problems you whine about are recent.
A real friend says, "You've been whining about the same thing for 14
years.Get off your duff and do something about it."
A simple friend has never seen you cry.
A real friend has shoulders soggy from your tears.
A simple friend doesn't know your parents' first names.
A real friend has their phone numbers in his address book.
A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.
A real friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to help you clean.
A simple friend hates it when you call after he has gone to bed.
A real friend asks you why you took so long to call.
A simple friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.
A real friend seeks to help your with your problems.
A simple friend wonders about your romantic history.
A real friend could blackmail you with it.
A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.
A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.
A simple friend thinks the friendship is over when you have an argument.
A real friend knows that it's not a friendship until after you've had a fight.
A simple friend expects you to always be there for them.
A real friend expects to always be there for you!
From your true friend.
Pass this on to anyone you care about...if you get it back you have found your true
Friends Through the Years
1. In kindergarten your idea of a good friend was the person who let you have the red
crayon when all that was left was the ugly black one.
2. In first grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went to the bathroom
with you and held your hand as you walked through the scary halls.
3. In second grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you stand up to
the class bully.
4. In third grade your idea of a good friend was the person who shared their lunch with
you when you forgot yours on the bus.
5. In fourth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who was willing to switch
square dancing partners in gym so you wouldn't have to be stuck do-si-do-ing with Nasty
Nicky or Smelly Susan.
6. In fifth grade your idea of a friend was the person who saved a seat on the back of
the bus for you.
7. In sixth grade your idea of a friend was the person who went up to Nick or Susan,
your new crush, and asked them to dance with you, so that if they said no you wouldn't
have to be embarrassed.
8. In seventh grade your idea of a friend was the person who let you copy the social
studies homework from the night before that you had forgotten about.
9. In eighth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pack up
your stuffed animals and old baseball cards so that your room would be a "high
schooler's" room, but didn't laugh at you when you finished and broke out into tears.
10. In ninth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went with you to that
"cool" party thrown by a senior so you wouldn't wind up being the only freshman
11. In tenth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who changed their schedule
so you would have someone to sit with at lunch.
12. In eleventh grade your idea of a good friend was the person who gave you rides in
their new car, convinced your parents that you shouldn't be grounded, consoled you when
you broke up with Nick or Susan, and found you a date to the prom.
13. In twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pick out
a college, assured you that you would get into that college; helped you deal with your
parents who were having a hard time adjusting to the idea of letting you go...
14. At graduation your idea of a good friend was the person who was crying on the
inside but managed the biggest smile one could give as they congratulated you.
15. The summer after twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who gave
you a reason to get out of the house when you just couldn't deal with your parents,
assured you that now that you and Nick or you and Susan were back together you could make
it through anything, helped you pack up for college and just silently hugged you as you
looked through blurry eyes at 18 years of memories you were leaving behind, and finally on
those last days of childhood, went out of their way to come over and send you off with a
hug, a lot of memories, reassurance that you would make it in college as well as you had
these past 18 years, and most importantly sent you off to college knowing you were loved.
16. Now, your idea of a good friend is still the person who gives you the better of the
two choices, holds your hand when you're scared, helps you fight off those who try to take
advantage of you, thinks of you at times when you are not there, reminds you of what you
have forgotten, helps you put the past behind you but understands when you need to hold on
to it a little longer, stays with you so that you have confidence, goes out of their way
to make time for you, helps you clear up your mistakes, helps you deal with pressure from
others, smiles for you when they are sad, helps you become a better person, and, most
important, loves you!
Pass this on to those friends of the past, those of the future... and those you have
met along the way... It seems that friends become more significant as we grow older! =)