Betcha there was probably a lot of moaning on the part of truckers when Transcontinental Refrigerated Lines of Pittston, Pa., set up a satellite-based tracking system to keep tabs on the whereabouts of its trucks (and drivers?). But at least one ``knight of the road'' is glad they did. Transport Topics reported that one of the company's drivers who has diabetes had fainted at a truckstop. But his director of operations found the driver with the system and sent for help.
The driver was quoted as saying: ``I no longer think of mobile communications as `Big Brother'-I think of it as a lifesaver.''
Some words of caution are in order here, however. If this system ever becomes widespread on passenger vehicles, there'll be no hiding from your mate.
Titan Wheel International owner and, last we heard, still a GOP presidential contender, Morry Taylor, recently sent 35-pound tractor tires to 27 media big shots.
In an accompanying poster-sized letter, Morry explained his philosophy behind the mailing: ``This tire is an emblem, a product of my American workers. I have sent it to you as a token of my belief that the next president should be someone with experience in manufacturing and world trade. Unlike the other Republican presidential candidates whose specialty is talk, my job is making tires and wheels.''
He also invited recipients of his mailer to visit his tire plant in Des Moines.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer showed his (spare?) tire on the air. Wonder where the rest of them will end up.
Ohio jumped on the mandated clean air bandwagon in January when state-wide centralized vehicle emissions testing became de rigueur.
Unfortunately, mucho glitches in the system operated by Envirotest had some accursed, cursing motorists waiting in line for up to five-that's right, five-hours.
The newsletter of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE) recently noted that aggravated motorists at Envirotest check sites in Colorado have gotten into fist fights and punched and scratched Envirotest employees.
In at least one case an employee ended up in the hospital, and during a fight an employee broke off a car door.
And they say working for the U.S. Postal Service is a hazardous job.
Here's something to ponder: David Cole, director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the University of Michigan, says the average transaction price of a domestic vehicle in 2005 is forecast to be about $22,000. And that figure does not take into account inflation, meaning the vehicle will probably cost even more.
Rest assured that tires likely will still cost the same as now-or less. Remember the tire dealers' 11th Commandment: ``Thou shalt not make a profit.''
In his report on the Internet in the Feb. 15 issue of TIRE BUSINESS, reporter Greg Kennedy described how tire manufacturers-and even some independent dealers-are logging on to peddle their wares and provide info about their businesses.
What he didn't mention was that there are, according to the New York Times, more than a dozen virtual cemeteries on the World Wide Web. Sites like the Garden of Remembrance on ``Deathnet,'' where you can have a loved one's obituary or ``in memoriam'' notice cultivated forever-for a slick ten bucks a year.
Don't pay your annual maintenance fee? Cyberdeath. To paraphrase Bond. James Bond: You only die twice.
With the Net all the rage, we got a kick out of some thoroughly outdated quotes about computers and other stuff, recently regurgitated in CIO magazine:
``Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.''-from a 1949 Popular Mechanics issue.
``But what. . . is it good for?''-attributed to an IBM advanced computing systems division engineer, commenting in 1968 on the microchip.
``I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.''-attributed in 1943 to Thomas Watson, IBM chairman.
``There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.''-attributed in 1977 to Ken Olsen, Digital Equipment Corp. president, chairman and founder.
``Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?''-Harry M. Warner, founder of Warner Bros. Studio, said it in 1927.
Talk about all dressed up and no place to ride. . . it happened to Wes Stephenson, who with his brother and father run eight highly successful Big O Tires Inc. dealerships in Las Vegas. For the second year, Big O's annual dealer convention was held there Feb. 11-14.
A meeting-ending Buyer's Fair drawing was for prizes that included stereo systems, TVs and Walkmans (is that Walkmen?), plus one really big Hog. Harley-Davidson motorcycle, that is.
Among the more than a dozen dealers vying for the bike, Wes was so confident he'd be the one riding off into the sunset, he came on stage, put on his leather vest, riding gloves, bandana, shades and helmet. Quite the sight was he.
According to the drawing's rules, the finalists could trade between themselves the sealed envelopes containing their prize. So Wes swapped his with Pete Martinez, owner of a Big O store in Albuquerque, N.M.
You guessed it. Pete won the Harley. Barely able to contain his excitement, he exclaimed: ``It's the first time I've won anything worthwhile.'' (A photo of Pete and his new toy is on the front page.)
As for Wes, our advice is: walk, man.
Wes ``The Wild One'' Stephenson
Tire Business photo by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk