Honey, Are You Sure We’re Going the Right Way?

(top) How we used to pinpoint our location was with a push pin, marker, crayin, etc. (second from top) How we do it now. GPS satellites cost billions of dollars more than a push pin but, these days, both are at our finger tips. (left column) Maps aren’t totally out of style. (or are they?) What people are doing with maps these days: Umbrella graphics, paper dress art, a guy in Germany is selling crumpled maps in a bag of major world cities (haha…), incredible paper sculpture art and of course…wrapping paper. (right column) Go to Google Maps, put in 3611 Detroit Ave Cleveland, Ohio 44113. Those satellites will triangulate the location of Kowalski Heat Treating. Then you can go from maps to satellite view and keep zooming in to my location in 3D and finally the street view. Technology is simply and literally out of this world.


When we were kids, Mom and Dad were really superheros.  They’d think nothing of packing up the car, loading in the kids, and heading off for our end of the summer vacation.  I can remember Mom fussing with the road maps, trying to follow the red line they drew on the maps.  Of course, Dad at the wheel, we’d occasionally hear “are you sure this is the way”? By the time my baby brother and sister were 21 years old, they had actually visited all 50 states on family vacations!  It was nothing for us to go on cross country trips of exploration and wonder!  Thinking back, I can say that I have been blessed to have been able to visit 38 states across this incredibly beautiful country that is filled with caring and generous people along with being able to sample amazing food!  Today, we are blessed with amazing GPS technology, in our cars, on our phones, or stuck to the windshield.  We can preprogram the routes, and then listen to a nice lady tell us where to turn, or even suggest shortcuts.  So, with my investigative curiosity peaked, I dove in to learn more, and of course, share with you. Enjoy, and thanks to howthingswork.com and Wikipedia for the extended history lesson.

  1. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a network of about 30 satellites orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 20,000 km. The system was originally developed by the US government for military navigation but now anyone with a GPS device, be it a SatNav, mobile phone or handheld GPS unit, can receive the radio signals that the satellites broadcast.
  2. The GPS system does not require the user to transmit any data, and it operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception, though these technologies can enhance the usefulness of the GPS positioning information. The GPS system provides critical positioning capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.
  3. Wherever you are on the planet, at least four GPS satellites are ‘visible’ at any time. Each one transmits information about its position and the current time at regular intervals. These signals, travelling at the speed of light, are intercepted by your GPS receiver, which calculates how far away each satellite is based on how long it took for the messages to arrive. Once it has information on how far away at least three satellites are, your GPS receiver can pinpoint your location using a process called trilateration.
  4. The technology works this way – Imagine you are standing somewhere on Earth with three satellites in the sky above you. If you know how far away you are from satellite A, and do the same for satellites B and C, you can work out your location by seeing where the three circles intersect. This is just what your GPS receiver does, although it uses overlapping spheres rather than circles. The more satellites there are above the horizon the more accurately your GPS unit can determine where you are.
  5. GPS satellites have atomic clocks on board to keep accurate time. General and Special Relativity however predict that differences will appear between these clocks and an identical clock on Earth. General Relativity predicts that time will appear to run slower under stronger gravitational pull – the clocks on board the satellites will therefore seem to run faster than a clock on Earth.  Furthermore, Special Relativity predicts that because the satellites’ clocks are moving relative to a clock on Earth, they will appear to run slower.  The whole GPS network makes allowances for these effects –  proof that Relativity has a real impact.

This animated GIF is from a fabulous learning site for kids 14 and under called MOCOMI. Check it out HERE. It’s great for adults (parents, teachers…) who want to help kids understand the world around them.


  1. The GPS project was launched in the United States in 1973 to overcome the limitations of previous navigation systems, integrating ideas from several predecessors, including a number of classified engineering design studies from the 1960s. The S. Department of Defensedeveloped the system, which originally used 24 satellites for use by the United States military and became fully operational in 1995. It was allowed for civilian use in the 1980s. Roger L. Easton of the Naval Research Laboratory, Ivan A. Getting of The Aerospace Corporation, and Bradford Parkinson of the Applied Physics Laboratory are credited with inventing it.
  2. The design of GPS is based partly on similar ground-based radio-navigation systems, such as LORAN and the Decca Navigator, developed in the early 1940s and used by the British Royal Navy during World War II. Friedwardt Winterberg proposed a test of general relativity — detecting time slowing in a strong gravitational field using accurate atomic clocks placed in orbit inside artificial satellites.
  3. When the Soviet Union launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, two American physicists, William Guier and George Weiffenbach, at Johns Hopkins’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), decided to monitor Sputnik’s radio transmissions. Within hours they realized that, because of the Doppler effect, they could pinpoint where the satellite was along its orbit. The Director of the APL gave them access to their UNIVAC to do the heavy calculations required.
  4. The next spring, Frank McClure, the deputy director of the APL, asked Guier and Weiffenbach to investigate the inverse problem — pinpointing the user’s location, given that of the satellite. (At the time, the Navy was developing the submarine-launched Polaris missile, which required them to know the submarine’s location.) This led them and APL to develop the TRANSIT system
  5. The first satellite navigation system, TRANSIT, used by the United States Navy, was successfully tested in 1960. It used a constellation of five satellites and could provide a navigational fix approximately once per hour. In 1967, the U.S. Navy developed the Timation satellite, which proved the feasibility of placing accurate clocks in space, a technology required by GPS.
  6. In the 1970s, the ground-based OMEGA navigation system, based on phase comparison of signal transmission from pairs of stations, became the first worldwide radio navigation system. Limitations of these systems drove the need for a more universal navigation solution with greater accuracy.
  7. During the Cold War arms race, the nuclear threat to the existence of the United States was the one need that did justify this cost in the view of the United States Congress. This deterrent effect is why GPS was funded. It is also the reason for the ultra-secrecy at that time. The nuclear triad consisted of the United States Navy’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) along with United States Air Force (USAF) strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Considered vital to the nuclear deterrence posture, accurate determination of the SLBM launch position was a force multiplier. Precise navigation would enable United States ballistic missile submarines to get an accurate fix of their positions before they launched their SLBMs.
  8. The USAF, with two thirds of the nuclear triad, also had requirements for a more accurate and reliable navigation system. The Navy and Air Force were developing their own technologies in parallel to solve what was essentially the same problem.
  9. To increase the survivability of ICBMs, there was a proposal to use mobile launch platforms (comparable to the Russian SS-24 and SS-25) and so the need to fix the launch position had similarity to the SLBM situation.
  10. In 1960, the Air Force proposed a radio-navigation system called MOSAIC (Mobile System for Accurate ICBM Control) that was essentially a 3-D LORAN. A follow-on study, Project 57, was worked in 1963 and it was “in this study that the GPS concept was born.” That same year, the concept was pursued as Project 621B, which had “many of the attributes that you now see in GPS” and promised increased accuracy for Air Force bombers as well as ICBMs.
  11. Another important predecessor to GPS came from a different branch of the United States military. In 1964, the United States Army orbited its first Sequential Collation of Range (SECOR) satellite used for geodetic surveying. The SECOR system included three ground-based transmitters from known locations that would send signals to the satellite transponder in orbit. A fourth ground-based station, at an undetermined position, could then use those signals to fix its location precisely. The last SECOR satellite was launched in 1969.
  12. With these parallel developments in the 1960s, it was realized that a superior system could be developed by synthesizing the best technologies from 621B, Transit, Timation, and SECOR in a multi-service program. During Labor Day weekend in 1973, a meeting of about twelve military officers at the Pentagon discussed the creation of a Defense Navigation Satellite System (DNSS). It was at this meeting that the real synthesis that became GPS was created. Later that year, the DNSS program was named Navstar, or Navigation System Using Timing and Ranging. With the individual satellites being associated with the name Navstar (as with the predecessors Transit and Timation), a more fully encompassing name was used to identify the constellation of Navstar satellites.
  13. The effects of the ionosphere on radio transmission through the ionosphere was investigated within a geophysics laboratory of Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory. Located at Hanscom Air Force Base, outside Boston, the lab was renamed the Air Force Geophysical Research Lab (AFGRL) in 1974. AFGRL developed the Klobuchar Model for computing ionospheric corrections to GPS location. Of note is work done by Australian Space Scientist Elizabeth Essex-Cohen at AFGRL, concerned with the curving of the path of radio waves traversing the ionosphere from NavSTAR satellites.
  14. After Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a Boeing 747 carrying 269 people, was shot down in 1983 after straying into the USSR’s prohibited airspace, in the vicinity of Sakhalin and Moneron Islands, President Ronald Reagan issued a directive making GPS freely available for civilian use, once it was sufficiently developed, as a common good. The first Block II satellite was launched on February 14, 1989, and the 24th satellite was launched in 1994.
  15. Since its deployment, the U.S. has implemented several improvements to the GPS service including new signals for civil use and increased accuracy and integrity for all users, all the while maintaining compatibility with existing GPS equipment. Modernization of the satellite system has been an ongoing initiative by the U.S. Department of Defense through a series of satellite acquisitions to meet the growing needs of the military, civilians, and the commercial market.

If you have any “fun” map or GPS stories, be sure to send ‘em to me at skowalski@khtheat.com.


“What’s Happening???”

(top) A diagram of “What’s Happening”. (middle) The path across the country, kind of a lunar road trip; (bottom l to r) Partial Solar Eclipse from Indonesia in March 2016;  Total Solar Eclipse from the Faroe Islands on March 20, 2015.

A winged dragon eating the sun, demon wolves howling in the darkness, winter constellations appearing in summertime and warriors shooting flaming arrows into the sky – what? Like you, I am fascinated by Monday’s coming Solar Eclipse and just had to write about it, mixing in a little science, a little astronomy and a whole bunch of folklore.  Enjoy!  And thanks to the Farmer’s Almanac for the insights and history lesson. (almanac.com)

  1. To the naked eye, the sky is an inverted bowl hosting thousands of glowing points and two disks. The points—stars and planets—exhibit no size because of their immense distance from Earth. But why does the moon and sun appear exactly the same size? The Sun is 400 times larger than the Moon but also 400 times farther from Earth than the Moon. These facts allow the Moon to fit perfectly over the Sun’s face to create a total eclipse. Yet, it’s not so big that it blocks out the Sun’s dramatic hot-pink corona or atmosphere and not so small that it leaves the Sun’s blinding gas surface (photosphere) uncovered. This bizarre alignment does not hold for any other planet.
  2. The perfect lineup of the Sun and Moon to form a total solar eclipse does not happen often—just once every 360 years, on average, for any one point on Earth. The S.mainland is currently experiencing its longest totality drought in history. The last total solar eclipse occurred on February 26, 1979, over northwestern states and south central Canada.
  3. If you are in the right place, a solar eclipse creates darkness in daytime along a 140-mile-wide ribbon of Earth. The brightest stars come out in midday but not as you might presume: During totality, they appear in seasonal reverse. In summer, the winter constellations emerge; during a winter solar totality, summer’s stars appear.
  4. An uncommon mind-set takes over people when the Sun, Moon, and your spot on Earth form a perfectly straight line in space. Many observers shout and babble. Some weep. Afterward, everyone proclaims it to be the greatest spectacle they have ever beheld. Many are speechless. Even animals exhibit odd behavior, such as falling strangely silent.
  5. During the 10 minutes before and after totality, when the Sun is more than 80 percent eclipsed and its light arrives only from its edge, or limb, earthly colors turn richer and more saturated, while shadows become stark and oddly crisp—as if a different type of star is illuminating Earth.
  6. As the Moon slides over the Sun, not only is light blocked in the ribbon of space, but solar heat is, too. The steady drop in temperature usually results in a haunting eclipse wind.
  7. At 1 minute before and after totality, all white and light-color ground surfaces underfoot (sidewalks, sand, the like) suddenly exhibit shimmering shadow bands everywhere. (Think of black lines on the bottom of a swimming pool that appear to wiggle.) This eerie phenomenon can make your hair stand on end, yet it cannot be captured on film.
  8. For many, a total solar eclipse generated fear. After all, the Sun is a constant in our lives—and integral to our well-being. We truly couldn’t live without the Sun’s light. Ancient peoples thought that the world would come to an end or a great evil would follow. Myths often involved a beast trying to destroy the Sun with the fate of Earth hanging in the balance—or, a Sun-god becoming angry, sad, or sick.
  9. Fear led Chippewa people to shoot flaming arrows into the sky to try to rekindle the Sun. Tribes in Peru did the same for a different reason; they hoped to scare off a beast that was attacking the Sun.
  10. Native people in Colombia shouted to the heavens, promising to work hard and mend their ways. Some worked their gardens and other projects especially hard during the eclipse to prove it.
  11. In Norse culture, an evil enchanter, Loki, was put into chains by the gods. Loki got revenge by creating wolflike giants, one of which swallowed the Sun—thereby causing an eclipse.
  12. In India, the demon spirit Rahu steals and consumes the nectar of immortality but is beheaded before he can swallow it. His immortal head flies into the heavens. The Sun and Moon had alerted the gods to his theft, so he takes revenge on them: When Rahu swallows an orb, we have an eclipse—but the orb returns to view because Rahu has no body! Also, many believed that when an eclipse occurs, a dragon is trying to seize the two orbs. People immerse themselves in rivers up to their neck, imploring the Sun and Moon to defend them against the dragon.
  13. Similarly, in China, Mongolia, and Siberia, beheaded mythical characters chase and consume the Sun and Moon—and we experience eclipses. In Indonesia and Polynesia, Rahu consumes the Sun—but burns his tongue doing so and spits it out!
  14. In Transylvanian folklore, an eclipse stems from the angry Sun turning away and covering herself with darkness, in response to men’s bad behavior.
  15. Many cultures thought that the Sun was in a fight with its lover, the Moon! To the Australian Aborigines, the Sun was seen as a woman who carries a torch. The Moon, by contrast, was regarded as male. Because of the association of the lunar cycle with the female menstrual cycle, the Moon was linked with fertility. A solar eclipse was interpreted as the Moon-man uniting with the Sun-woman.
  16. In German mythology, the hot female Sun and cold male Moon were married. The Sun ruled the day, and the sleepy Moon ruled the night. Seeking companionship, the Moon was drawn to his bride and they came together—thus, a solar eclipse.
  17. West Africans of Benin switch the gender roles of the Sun and Moon and suggest that the orbs are very busy, but when they do get together, they turn off the light for privacy.
  18. In Tahitian myth, the orbs are lovers who join up, providing an eclipse, but get lost in the intimate moment and create stars to light their return to normalcy.
  19. The fog or dew or other precipitation resulting from an eclipse was considered dangerous. The Japanese thought that poison would drop from the sky and covered their wells.
  20. In Transylvania, they believed that eclipses could cause plague. Alaskan natives believed that the moisture and dew could cause sickness; dishes were turned upside down and affected utensils were washed.
  21. As recently as 2010, during the near annular eclipse out of fear, people stayed home. Few were on the streets, restaurants and hotels saw a dip in business and most schools closed when students did not show up.
  22. In Cambodia, in 1995, instead of screaming and banging during a solar eclipse, soldiers shot into the air to scare the mythic dragon from the sky. It was reported that the only scattered casualties were from the bullets.
  23. The human response that stands out the most is related to pregnancy … Many ancient people worried that an eclipse caused pregnancy issues such as blindness, cleft lips, and birthmarks.
  24. Pregnant women are sometimes warned to stay inside, not eat, not carry sharp objects, and not eat cooked food from prior to the eclipse.
  25. Some say that the baby superstitions date from the Aztecs, who believed that a celestial beast was biting the Sun—and the same thing would happen to a baby if the pregnant mother watched.
  26. Eclipses did not incite fear in at least one group – Bohemia’s miners, they believed that the event portended good luck in finding gold.
  27. Some North American Indian tribes believed that an eclipse was simply nature’s way of “checking in” with the sky, perhaps a sort of cleaning house. The Sun and the Moon temporarily leave their places in the sky to see if things are going all right on our planet Earth.

Remember, do not look directly at the eclipse – real, lasting eye damage can occur!





Recognizing Merit

Running a business is quite a challenge these days.  As the boss of many people from all different backgrounds, experiences and situations, I never ‘really’ know what each day will bring us. Like many of you, my team and I have our ups and downs, But, every once in a while, someone does something really extraordinary – serving a customer, fixing an issue out on the floor, doing that extra little thing or solving one of your PIA (Pain In The @#$) Jobs.  When I can, I like to recognize that merit right on the spot. Watching the news this week, there was a story about the Purple Heart, established by George Washington 235 years ago this week.  It gave me pause, to think about the brave men and women who have served, and continue to serve,  keeping our country safe and secure.  May God bless all our service men and women who sacrificed so dearly for our amazing country, and thanks, once again to Wikipedia for the history and insights into this award.  God’s speed.

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“It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it”

(clockwise from lower left) Dick Clark was at the center of it all for decades; Dick in position on his show; Every male in the 50’s had to have an Ace comb in his back pocket; Dick Clark was a master at promotion; A show pass; Guys in suits and girls in dresses, that’s how it was done; Late 50’s boggie on afternoon TV; John Travolta Sept. 15, 1976; The start of Michael Jackson’s many appearances; Dick Clark’s typical sign off.  


Ever have one of those days, when everything is clicking, and you just wanna dance?  I do, thanks to the awesome work of my gang here at KHT.  It’s an absolute blast for me to walk around the different plants, checking on your PIA (Pain in the @#$) Jobs, and chatting with the crews.  With all the doors open, the sun shining in and the weather so nice, I find myself ‘dancin’ from building to building as we solve our customer’s problems. (yes, this really happens!)  When we were kids, we had tons of fun music we listened to and danced to (my sisters and brothers also could really dance along with Dad and Mom). On the weekends, when not out playing, we occasionally turned on American Bandstand to hear the latest hits, marveling at the kids swingin’ to the beat. Now, as I have gotten older, Jackie and my girls continue to “teach” me the latest moves.  In all fairness, I do have my favorite dance moves and while writing this post I can see them all shaking their heads!  Tomorrow marks the 60th anniversary of Dick Clark’s debut on ABC television.  As we all know, Dick went on to be a huge radio and television voice for decades – rock, blues, disco and soul music.  Special thanks to Wikipedia for the insights and little known history of AB.


  1. American Bandstand (AB) first premiered in late March 1950 as Bandstand on Philadelphia television station WFIL-TV Channel 6 (now WPVI-TV), as a replacement for a weekday movie that had shown predominantly British films. Hosted by Bob Horn as a television adjunct to his radio show of the same name, Bandstand mainly featured short musical films with occasional studio guests.
  2. After a few years, Horn was disenchanted with the program, and wanted to have the show changed to a dance program, with teenagers dancing along on camera as the records played, based on The 950 Club, hosted by Joe Grady and Ed Hurst.
  3. In spring of 1956, the ABC television network asked their O&O’s and affiliates for programming suggestions to fill their coveted 3:30pm time slot. Dick Clark, active with the show, decided to pitch it to ABC president Thomas W. Moore, and after some badgering the show was picked up nationally, officially becoming American Bandstand on August 5, 1957.
  4. A typical show included popular music, dancing teens and a small studio audience.  Clark interviewing teenagers about their opinions of the songs being played, most memorably through the “Rate-a-Record” segment. During the segment, two audience members each ranked two records on a scale of 35 to 98, after which the two opinions were averaged by Clark, who then asked the audience members to justify their scores. The segment gave rise, perhaps apocryphally, to the phrase “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.  Featured artists typically performed their current hits by lip-syncing to the released version of the song.
  5. The program was broadcast live, weekday afternoons and, by 1959, the show had a national audience of 20 million. In the fall of 1961, ABC truncated American Bandstand’s airtime from 90 to 60 minutes, then even further as a daily half-hour program in September 1962.  Beginning in early 1963, all five shows for the upcoming week were videotaped the preceding Saturday, allowing Clark to produce and host a series of concert tours around the success of American Bandstand.] On September 7, 1963, the program was moved from its weekday slot and began airing weekly every Saturday afternoon, restored to an hour, until 1989.
  6. From the late 1950s and most of the 1960s, Clark’s on-camera sidekick was announcer Charlie O’Donnell, who later went on to announce Wheel of Fortune and other programs hosted or produced by Clark, such as The $100,000 Pyramid.
  7. Production of the show moved from Philadelphia to the ABC Television Center in Los Angeles (now known as The Prospect Studios) on February 8, 1964, which coincidentally was the same weekend that WFIL-TV moved from 46th and Market to their then-new facility on City Line Avenue. The program was permanently in color from September 9, 1967. The typical production schedule consisted of videotaping three shows on a Saturday and three shows on a Sunday, every six weeks.
  8. Bandstand originally used “High Society” by Artie Shaw as its theme song, but by the time the show went national, it had been replaced by various arrangements of Charles Albertine’s “Bandstand Boogie,” including Larry Elgart’s big-band recording remembered by viewers of the daily version. From 1969 to 1974, “Bandstand Theme,” a synthesized rock instrumental written by Mike Curb, opened each show. From 1974 to 1977, there was a newer, orchestral disco version of “Bandstand Boogie,” arranged and performed by Joe Porter, played during the opening and closing credits.
  9. From 1977 to the end of its ABC run in 1987, the show opened and closed with Barry Manilow’s rendition of “Bandstand Boogie,” which he originally recorded for his 1975 album Tryin’ to Get the Feeling. The Manilow version was replaced by an updated instrumental arrangement of “Bandstand Boogie” when Bandstand went into syndication, arranged by David Russo.  From 1974 to the end of the ABC run in 1987, Bandstand featured another instrumental at its mid-show break: Billy Preston’s synth hit “Space Race.”
  10. As Bandstand moved towards the 1980s, the ratings began to decline. Many factors were involved in this, particularly the launch of MTV and other music programs on television. The increase in competition hurt Bandstand and the variety of options for music on TV decreased its relevance.
  11. The other reason ratings declined was that American Bandstand was pre-empted on many occasions by televised college football games, which expanded greatly in number in the wake of a court-ordered deregulation in 1984).
  12. Making matters worse, for the 1986–87 season, ABC reduced Bandstand from a full hour to 30 minutes; at Clark’s request, the final ABC episode (with Laura Branigan performing “Shattered Glass”) aired on September 5, 1987. Two weeks later, Bandstand moved to first-run syndication, restored to its former hour length.
  13. After a ten-month hiatus, Bandstand moved to USA Network with comedian David Hirsch taking over hosting duties. In another format shift, it was shot outdoors at Universal Studios Hollywood. Clark remained as executive producer. After 26 weeks, it was cancelled, and its final show (with The Cover Girls performing “My Heart Skips a Beat” and “We Can’t Go Wrong”) aired on October 7, 1989.
  14. In 2002, Dick Clark hosted a special 50th anniversary edition. Michael Jackson, a frequent Bandstand guest, performed “Dangerous” and The Village People performed their legendary song, “YMCA” for a live audience in Pasadena, California. Other performers including Brandy, members of KISS, Dennis Quaid and his band The Sharks, Cher, and Stevie Wonder.
  15. In 2004, Dick Clark, with the help of Ryan Seacrest, announced plans to revive the show in time for the 2005 season; although this did not occur (due in part to Clark suffering a severe stroke in late 2004), one segment of the revived Bandstand—a national dance contest—eventually became the series So You Think You Can Dance.
  16. The show’s popularity helped Dick Clark become an American media mogul and inspired similar long-running music programs, such as Soul Train and Top of the Pops. Clark eventually assumed ownership of the program through his Dick Clark Productions company.
  17. American Bandstand played a crucial role in introducing Americans to such famous artists as Prince, Jackson 5, Sonny and Cher, Aerosmith, and John Lydon’s PiL—all of whom made their American TV debuts on the show.  American Bandstand on radio and tv became ritual for many teenagers throughout the nation. The Top 40 hits that everyone heard were matched with fun routines performed by relatable teenagers. It became a staple in homes and heavily influenced American society culturally, musically, and socially. It also was a prototype for musical television properties including cable channel MTV and Fox’s reality-competition show American Idol.

The original Bandstand Boogie by Les Elgart, listen HERE.
Words were added by Barry Manilow in 1975, listen HERE.