A sugary fruit with Lord’s name- Ramphal

My Life

While travelling in Maharashtra, I was amazed to see a fruit called ‘Ramphal’ while we were in the verge  of exploring Daulatabad fort, Aurangabad. Since I never heard of it. I was bit curious to know more about it. So I flooded that vendor with many questions related to this fruit.
Me: “what is this fruit?”
Vendor:“Sir  ji this is Ramphal. Don’t you know?”
Me: “What is the main season for ramphal ?”
Vendor:“during March – May”
Me:“How does it taste?”
Vendor:“It is sweet just like Sitaphal (Custard Apple). You should taste it and know it by yourselves.”
Me: “How to differentiate between ripe and unripe fruit?”
Vendor:“If the fruit is pale green or hard to touch and have shiny green skin then it is in unripe state. The  ripe fruits are heavy and soft to touch. The ripe fruits are very sweet.”Ramaphal Annona  reticulata (2)
Since we’ve…

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Wheels On Steel AND The Driving Boom Is Over

Conventional rail looks as if it has won the battle to provide the US with a high speed train service.

The Central Japan Railway Company is bidding for a contract to provide a Maglev – ultra high speed – service initially between Baltimore and Washington DC.

Ultimately it would like to see the 311 mph trains –which float above a single magnetic rail – ply between New York and Washington.

But thus far the Department of Transportation and Amtrak, which runs existing services on the route, remains sceptical despite hints that the Japanese Government will put up some of the money.

In the north east corridor, the line between Boston and Washington, the Americans have gone for conventional 220 mph trains, which will be good news for manufacturers like Siemens, which has already picked up a slice of the high speed market in America.

An announcement on who has won that contract will be made next year.

Siemens, the German manufacturer, has already picked up the contract build locomotives for the Illinois service, with the engines being built in Sacramento, California.

Nippon Sharyo has won the contract to build the passenger cars, with construction taking place in Illinois.

In California, the high speed rail authority has asked train manufacturers to express an interest in the work.

It has specified that it wants trains capable of running at more than 200 mph.

This has already attracted approaches from 10 companies including two from China, CSR, the country’s top locomotive maker and Tangshan Railway.

The Chinese have been carrying out extensive safety reviews following one of the worst accidents in the history of high speed rail, when 40 people were killed at Wenzhou in July 2011.


The Federal Highway Administration has very quietly acknowledged that the driving boom is over.

After many years of aggressively and inaccurately claiming that Americans would likely begin a new era of rapid driving growth, the agency’s more recent forecast finally recognizes that the protracted post-World War II era has given way to a different paradigm.

The new vision of the future suggests that driving per capita will essentially remain flat in the future. The benchmark is important because excessively high estimates of future driving volume get used to justify wasteful spending on new and wider highways. In the face of scarce transportation funds, overestimates of future driving translate into too little attention paid to repairing the roads we already have and too little investment in other modes of travel.

The forecast is a big step forward from the FHWA’s past record of chronically aggressive driving forecasts. Most recently, in February 2014 the U.S. DOT released its 2013 “Conditions and Performance Report” to Congress, which estimated that total vehicle miles (VMT) will increase between 1.36 percent to 1.85 percent each year through 2030. This raised some eyebrows because total annual VMT hasn’t increased by even as much as 1 percent in any year since 2004.

Comparing the 20-year estimates of the “Conditions and Performance Report” issued at the beginning of 2014 to the new 20-year estimates shows the agency has cut its forecasted growth rate by between 24 percent to 44 percent.

The new report’s 30-year estimates predict even less rapid growth in driving, forecasting that total driving miles will increase only 0.75 percent annually from 2012 to 2042. With population growth estimated to average 0.7 percent each year, this leaves per-person driving miles essentially flat. “This represents a significant slowdown from the growth in total VMT experienced over the past 30 years, which averaged 2.08% annually,” says the report.

The expectation of VMT growth hinges on the expectation of rapid growth in freight travel. When looking only at cars and pickup trucks, as opposed to larger vehicles, the agency’s baseline expectation is for total driving miles to grow only 0.67 percent annually – slower than the projected population growth rate over 30 years. If so, then the average number of miles Americans travel in their commutes, taking recreational trips and running errands by car would stagnate in the decades ahead.

The study released by the Federal Highway Administration and finalized last May has not been publicized, and assumes that gas prices would decline significantly from their earlier peak.

The Smart State Transportation Initiative (with assistance from Frontier Group) reported earlier last year that the Department of Transportation had issued 61 driving forecasts in a row that overshot their mark. Until now, there had not been a major reconsideration of past methods, which have chiefly depended on aggregating forecasts issued by states that are seeking federal funding for highway expansion projects.

As a result of the decline in driving since 2004, Americans currently drive about half a trillion fewer miles per year than they would have if the post-War driving boom had continued. Some of the reduction in recent years may be due to possibilities afforded by new technology and the distinct preferences of the rising millennial generation — factors that are not included in any of the FHWA’s forecasts.

Some states, like Washington and Maryland, have begun to ratchet down their forecasts of future VMT.

Ideally, U.S. DOT would officially supplant its previous forecast and feature this important shift in press releases, blogs, speeches, and other communications. The shift should be a major focus of the department’s 30-year visioning process.

For U.S. DOT to embrace a future less dominated by driving, it first must recognize when change has occurred and that a different trajectory is possible. Quiet and incremental as the current changes may be, they represent a profound step in the right direction.


Find out about accomplishments and Fair Promise



Skeeter Megia

In dreams, doors symbolise new openings.  To me, this is always a welcome opportunity. 



Opportunities – So, as my friends and I were scouring a Makati mall last week, we stumbled upon Basic House that was on sale.  They had items put up for discounts ranging from 50%-70% off.  I spotted this coat and almost passed up on it.  Good thing my friends insisted that I try it on first, otherwise I would have missed out on a good one, and 70% off at that!  Lesson learned, never pass up on anything without even trying it out first.

IMG_1108 I love the fabric and the details of this coat. I think it’s very unique and stylish

Talking about doors, openings and opportunities, I found this huge double doors (as shown in the pictures above) as I was making my way along the beautiful pebble stone streets of Intramuros.  No question, I felt compelled…

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Adirondack Ore Run on the New York Central Called For High Class Railroading



Been a lot of recent discussions in New York Central Forums on Benson Mines. It is in the Adirondacks but on the New York Central it was connected to the St. Lawrence Division between Watertown and Syracuse.

Pictures (FANTASTIC) above are from the old NY Central Headlights magazine and REALLY tell a story.

There was a daily train BP-1 from Benson Mines to Youngstown, Ohio. It was blocked
1. Cleveland ore
2. P&LE (except ore)
3. LaBelle ore (south of Youngstown somewhere)
4. Aliquippa ore
5. Pittsburgh ore.

It picked up at Deferiets which was a paper mill. It also handled P&LE traffic from Watertown, Rochester, Batavia, Buffalo and Ashtabula.

Car supply was from the normal flow of hoppers through Dewitt yard. That was a bit of a problem. Many hoppers were inspected at DeWitt to find enough with the tight doors needed for ore service. Many cars suitable for…

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End of Railway Post Offices

 In a web article entitled “The Post Office Role in U.S. Development: The Railway Mail Service” (see: The Post Office and the History of Railroad Mail Service  the author states: “Following passage of the Transportation Act of 1958, mail-carrying passenger trains declined rapidly. By 1965, only 190 trains carried mail; by 1970, the railroads carried virtually no First-Class Mail. On April 30, 1971, the Post Office Department terminated seven of the eight remaining routes. The lone, surviving railroad post office ran between New York and Washington, D.C., and made its last run on June 30, 1977.”
Head End equipment, in the heyday of passenger service, was a big part of the railroad\’s operations. Head end included Railway Express Agency and the post office\’s RPOs (Railway Post Offices).

Logistics and IT – Made For Each Other

Logistics companies are generally highly distributed. It’s the nature of the business to be in multiple locations, even if some of those locations are mobile or even not directly part of the company. UTi Worldwide is an example of a company that has found a way to expand to 230 locations and still manage its business.

Part of the issue with logistics is that their responsibility extends across multiple customers and multiple locations. And a highly performing 3PL maintains visibility into not only its locations but also the orders it is managing for its customers. Increasingly, 3PLs are looking more like network operations centers (NOCs) with dashboards that show what is where, and alerts that warn when things are not happening as expected. And the network has become the centerpiece of the system, connecting the branch locations together into a single entity.

UTi has connected its 230 locations spread across 59 countries by using a technology known as a converged infrastructure that not only links the locations, but centralizes the data from each location into a standardized data center.

My Favorite Song: City of New Orleans; New Twist: Johnny Cash


Twilight of American Rail Travel” means different things to different people. To me, it meant the period in the 1960’s until Amtrak when passenger service went downhill. More specifically, it was the “Empire Corridor” running along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers to New York City. Before the “twilight”, well maintained, well patronized New York Central trains ran this route. When Amtrak began in 1971, service was sloppy, not as well patronized, and equipment was very “worn”.

My favorite song is “City of New Orleans” written by Steve Goodman and sung by Arlo Guthrie. It talks about the same period, but on the Illinois Central Railroad. Lots of similarities!

Found a Johnny Cash video of the song we thought you might enjoy.

“Riding on the City of New Orleans, Illinois Central Monday morning rail Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders,”

Yes, rode on train like that too. Although lot…

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