What Goes Up…

The Stock Markets. Some people were born to make investments. Full disclosure: I was not one of them. So, it’s worth finding someone you like, who gets it and has a pretty good record of making money grow. But sometimes it doesn’t grow. Instead, it goes into the toilet. (technical jargon) Ever heard of Enron? So, let’s say you’ve made some shrewd investments. What are you going to do with all that extra cash? Buy your dear mother a new house? Definitely!!  Then invest a little in precious metals. Maybe buy a great big boat. And use that boat to get to the island you bought for your wife’s birthday that’s shaped like a heart. Yeah, that’s the move!  But don’t forget, it’s only money. 

Hey gang.  Hope you enjoyed a great holiday break, gave and received many gifts, ate lots of goodies, enjoyed your family and had a few days to relax.  I know I did, and now it’s back to my favorite thing of all – a new year filled with solving your PIA (Pain in The @%$) Jobs!  So many things to be thankful for.  Over the holiday break, like you, I kept reading about the amazing year we just experienced in the financial investment market.  After a really tough drop in the Spring we’re seeing record breaking levels beyond our expectations, – and for now, it just continues to roll.  I did a little digging and put together a simple guide to the history and overview of the major markets – nothing heavy here, some basics, along with some fun stock trivia I thought you’d find interesting.  Enjoy, and thanks to Sofi.com, Wikipedia, Investopedia, and US News and World Report. While reading, be sure to click on this classic.

– A stock exchange or stock market is a physical or digital place where investors can buy and sell stock, or shares, in publicly traded companies. The price of each share is driven by supply and demand.
– Stock markets now exist in most countries, but the first appeared in 17th century Amsterdam.
– Though there were some proto exchanges dating back to the middle ages, the first modern stock trading has its birth on the high seas. The Dutch East India Company was the first publicly traded company and the first to be listed on an official stock exchange. The company sent expeditions to Asia to bring back trade goods to Europe.
– Not all of these expeditions returned, which was a lot of risk for one entity to bear. So, the company would sell shares to investors to reduce any one person’s liability should the ship be seized by pirates or lost in a storm. This form of trade spread across Europe into France and Britain who gave charters to their own East India companies.
– The first stocks were bought and sold on slips of paper inside coffee shops. In England, the success of the British East India Company was so great that other companies wanted in. The South Seas Company (SSC) received a charter from the king and started selling shares. The sale of these shares made the SSC a fortune before their ships ever left the harbor. At this time, there was no government regulation and when these companies failed to pay dividends on their shares, the first stock bubble burst. As a result, the British government banned stock trading until 1825.
– Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, America was getting into the game. The first stock exchange in the U.S. was formed in Philadelphia in 1790. This was two years before the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which would grow to be the Philadelphia exchange’s much larger cousin.
– From the beginning, the NYSE made its home on Wall Street in lower Manhattan, first under a buttonwood tree and eventually in its current digs at 11 Wall Street.  Though other exchanges existed across the country, none rivaled the NYSE in size and power—that is, until 1971 and the creation of the Nasdaq.
– Unlike the NYSE, which was a physical stock exchange, the Nasdaq allowed investors to buy and sell stocks on a network of computers, a system that was faster and more transparent than in-person trading.
– The NYSE is still the largest stock exchange in the world. Yet, there are now exchanges in major cities across the globe trading domestic and international stocks. You’ve likely heard of many of them, including the London and Tokyo Stock exchanges. The Euronext Stock exchange represents the European Union, and there are large exchanges in China, Australia, India and South Africa among others.
– When you read about the stock market you may encounter names like the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). These are stock market indexes, which help describe the performance of a market as a whole or a specific piece of the market.

The S&P 500, for example, lists the 500 largest US publicly traded stocks. It’s a market-cap-weighted index so larger companies represent larger proportions of the index.
Founded in 1896 by Charles Dow and Edward Jones, the DJIA is a price-weighted average, meaning stocks influence the index in proportion to their price per share.  Learn more here

The DJIA keeps track of 30 large, publicly traded, US-based stocks. It was designed as a proxy for the overall economy. So, when you hear a news anchor say that markets were “up” or “down” on a given day they are likely referring to the DJIA.  Learn more here  

– Speaking of markets being up or down, stocks and the market can fluctuate on any given day. The US stock market has historically gone through larger market cycles in which the market expands and shrinks over the course of weeks or even years.
– As an investor, you can buy shares of companies that are traded on the stock exchanges through a stockbroker or you can buy shares directly from online websites like Robinhood.  (be careful though, as this can lead to bad, emotional decisions – that’s why most investors work with brokers)
– There are a number of metrics that you can use to help you determine whether a stock is a good fit for you.

P/E, or the price to earnings ratio, takes a company’s total dollar value divided by its earnings, giving investors an idea of how relatively cheap or expensive a stock is.

Average return shows you how much stocks are likely to grow over time. And stock yield gives you a sense of how much you will receive in dividends compared with a stock’s price.

– For the most part, experts tell us investing in the stock market should be considered a longer-term prospect. Wisdom holds that the longer you hold your stock, the more able you are to ride out the market’s natural periods of ups and downs.  Timing the stock market, trying to predict when stocks will rise and fall and buying according to those predictions is generally not recommended for the average “Joe” or “Jane”.  Here’s a list of top performing stocks over the past 30 years.  Important Disclaimer:  This list does not in any way represent the opinions or recommendations of KHT – it’s from an article I found online published by US News and World Report dated Dec 21, 2020.

•••  Please remember, I’m a very good heat treating guy – but a lousy investment advisor!! ••• 

Here are some top stock returns over the past 30 years:

Amazon.com (ticker: AMZN)
Perhaps the least surprising stock on this list is e-commerce and cloud services leader Amazon. The company went public in May 1997. Since that time, Amazon and its stock have gone on a historic run. Over the years, Amazon has pivoted from a niche online bookstore to a $1.6 trillion online marketplace juggernaut. In the 23-plus years since its initial public offering, Amazon has generated a total return of 212,922%, more than any other stock in the past 30 years. In fact, $10,000 invested in AMZN stock back in 1997 would now be worth $21.3 million.

Monster Beverage Corp. (MNST)
Monster Beverage has been an under-the-radar home run investment since its August 1995 IPO. In 25 years, Monster has generated a total return of 212,468%, second only to Amazon. In 2015, Monster struck a deal with Coca-Cola (KO) in which Coca-Cola took a 19% ownership stake in Monster in return for Coca-Cola becoming Monster’s primary global distributor. Since its IPO, Monster shares have generated an average annual return of 35.4%. A $10,000 stake in MNST stock in 1995 would now be worth more than $21.2 million.

Jack Henry & Associates (JKHY)
Jack Henry & Associates is one of the earliest fintech companies, offering technology solutions and payment processing services to its customers in the financial sector. Jack Henry & Associates went public in November 1985 and has generated a cumulative return of 212,322% for shareholders. The company’s 29.1% annualized return since 1990 is the highest among stocks that have been around for at least 30 years. The stock is showing no signs of slowing down, generating about a 500% total return in the past decade. A $10,000 investment in JKHY stock in 1990 would now be worth about $21.2 million.

Cerner Corp. (CERN)
Cerner is one of the largest public health care information technology companies. Cerner went public way back in December 1986 and has generated a 142,419% return for investors over the past 30 years. Cerner was an early mover in automating health care processes, a transition that is still taking place. Since 1990, Cerner has generated an average annual return of 27.4% for shareholders. Unfortunately, Cerner’s growth has slowed, and the stock is up just about 10% overall in the past three years. Still, $10,000 invested in CERN stock 30 years ago would now be worth $14.2 million.

Best Buy Co. (BBY)
Given consumer electronics retailers like Circuit City and Radio Shack have been crushed by Amazon and other online competitors, the fact that Best Buy is among the 10 best-performing stocks of the past 30 years is a testament to the company’s resiliency and adaptability. When Best Buy went public in 1987, the company was selling cassette tapes and VCRs. Today, Best Buy is selling smartphones and tablets. Since 1990, Best Buy has generated a total return of 108,511%, or about 26.2% annually. A $10,000 investment in BBY stock in 1990 would now be worth $10.9 million.

Ross Stores (ROST)
Like Best Buy, Ross Stores’ apparel retail competitors like Forever 21 and J.C. Penney have been crushed by Amazon. But while other retailers are fighting to survive, Ross has thrived. The company went public in August 1985. In the past 30 years, its stock has generated a total return of 81,286%, or about 25% annually. Unfortunately, Ross shares have been flat in 2020 and have significantly lagged the S&P 500 due to economic shutdowns. Despite the disappointing year-to-date performance, a $10,000 investment in ROST stock in 1990 would now be worth $8.1 million.

Kansas City Southern (KSU)
Twenty years into the 21st century, it may be extremely surprising to learn that one of the 10 best stocks of the past 30 years has been a railroad company. Kansas City Southern was founded in 1887 and went public in November 1962. In 2020, trains are still the most cost-effective way to haul large freight loads across the country. In the past 30 years, shares of Kansas City Southern have generated a total return of 78,464%. A $10,000 investment in KSU stock back in 1990 would now be worth $7.8 million.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH)
UnitedHealth is one of the biggest U.S. health insurance providers. United went public in October 1991 and has generated a total return of 63,395% for investors over the past 29 years. That gain works out to an averaged annual return of 24.8%. UnitedHealth was even added to the prestigious Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2012. UnitedHealth shares are still going strong, as the stock has more than doubled the total return of the S&P 500 since 2015. A $10,000 investment in UNH stock back in 1990 would now be worth $6.3 million.

Altria Group (MO)
Global tobacco giant Altria may be another surprise top market performer of the past 30 years. The company went public in July 1985. Despite major public relations and regulatory pressures on the tobacco industry in recent years, Altria shares have gained 61,599% overall in the past three decades, with a 23.9% average annual return. Today, Altria’s revenue growth has slowed to a crawl. The stock is down about 14% in 2020, but Altria still pays a sizable 8% dividend. A $10,000 investment in MO stock in 1990 would now be worth $6.2 million.

Idexx Laboratories (IDXX)
Idexx Laboratories produces health care diagnostics and veterinary equipment for both pet animals and livestock. The company went public in 1991 and has generated a total return of 50,022%, an average annual gain of 23.5% over 29 years. Unlike other stocks that have slowed in recent years, Idexx has caught fire. In the past five years, Idexx has generated a total return of about 580%. A $10,000 investment in IDXX stock in 1991 would now be worth $5 million.

Other hot performing stocks to follow:
Tesla (TSLA), Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL).



Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!



Happy New Year



Wishing You All The Joy of a Happy & Healthy New Year!
~ Your Friends at Kowalski Heat Treating ~

Download “Steve’s Feel Better New Year Recipes” and feel good all year long!


A Christmas Star?


Yep, this is a special Monday post for all that I think you will really enjoy!  As the story in the Christian Gospel of Matthew goes, a bright star rose after the birth of Jesus Christ that the wise men then followed to find him. Was it a comet? A supernova? Could it have been something special with the planets?  Beginning tonight, just after sundown there will be a “great conjunction” (a conjunction is an apparent passing of two or more celestial bodies while a great conjunction refers only to Jupiter and Saturn converging). Be sure to find someplace to view this special once in a lifetime event – we think it’s worth watching!

  • Jupiter and Saturn tangle in a great conjunction—as seen from Earth—every 19.85 Earth years. It’s a natural symptom of Jupiter (taking 11.86 years to orbit the Sun) and Saturn (29.4 years to orbit the Sun), which naturally means they will sometimes appear to pass each other in our night sky from our point of view (despite actually being many millions of miles distant from each other).  Amazingly, the event occurs in the same part of the sky every 800 years or so.
  • The two planets will appear to be a mere 0.1º from each other. That’s about the width of a toothpick held at arm’s length according to Sky & Telescope magazine.
  • It will be the closest great conjunction since July 16, 1623 and the first to be easily observable since March 4, 1226.
  • One of the longest-running theories about the Bethlehem Star goes all the way back to Johannes Kepler, a key figure of the scientific revolution in the 17th century and the first to correctly explain the motion of the planets.
  • “Kepler thought that the star of Bethlehem was a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn,” said Nigel Henbest, author of Philip’s 2021 Stargazing Month-by-Month Guide to the Night Sky in Britain & Ireland. “Here we are two millennia later, and a similar conjunction is about to happen within four days of Christmas Day … maybe a new Messiah is about to be born!”
  • According to Kepler’s calculations made in 1603 (during a year he observed a great conjunction), a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the year 7 BC. Why “triple?” As Jupiter laps Saturn in the Solar System the two planets align with the Sun for a moment, but from our faster-moving planet’s point of view the planets actually appear to go backwards for some weeks. It’s purely about perspective, but this retrograde motion can cause two or, in the case of the year 7 BC, three conjunctions in the same year. The last triple great conjunction occurred in 1980 and the next one is in 2239.
  • Were Jupiter and Saturn mistaken for a single star? Perhaps great conjunctions were considered omens, like comets. Either way, this week’s closest approach of Jupiter and Saturn in the telescopic age is a historic event that you must take a look at. All this week and next—but particularly TONIGHT —cast your eyes to the southwestern skies 45 minutes after sunset wherever you are and you’ll see two distant worlds become one.

Perhaps it’s a blessing to us all in these most difficult times.
Wishing you good tidings, clear skies and wide eyes always.

A Unique Year for a Special Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Floats and balloons and fun, oh, my!!!

I hope you enjoyed your augmented Thanksgiving yesterday with loved ones and also had a chance to see some of the parade.  As a kid, my brothers and sisters always found time to turn on the Macy’s parade and to see the balloons, bands, movie stars and of course Santa.  Mom used to say that Santa is now watching us until Christmas Day, so we have to be extra good.  My favorite of course was the giant balloons. We used to laugh at the people singing as you could tell they were just mouthing along with the words.  I was always amazed at how the folks didn’t just blow away while trying to hold onto the balloons. I had the opportunity after Jackie and I were married to march in a parade as a huge balloon “holder person” in Toledo.  I have to say there is definitely a system involved especially when there is a walkway over the street that the balloon has to get under!  My girls have grown up watching parts of the parade in between family football games and getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner.  I did some digging and found cool information about the parade and its origins.  Relax and enjoy your extended weekend. Special thanks to Wikipedia for the info.

  • The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, the world’s largest parade, is presented by the U.S. based department store chain Macy’s. The parade started on November 27, 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States with America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit (with both parades being four years younger than Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade). The three-hour parade is held in Manhattan, ending outside Macy’s Herald Square, and takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving Day.
  • In 1924, store employees marched to Macy’s Herald Square, the flagship store on 34th Street, dressed in vibrant costumes. There were floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that first parade, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square and was enthroned on the Macy’s balcony at the 34th Street store entrance, where he was then crowned “King of the Kiddies”. With an audience of over 250,000 people, the parade was such a success that Macy’s declared it would become an annual event, despite media reports only barely covering the first parade.
  • The Macy’s parade was enough of a success to push Ragamuffin Day, the typical children’s Thanksgiving Day activity from 1870 into the 1920s, into obscurity. Ragamuffin Day featured children going around and performing a primitive version of trick-or-treating, a practice that by the 1920s had come to annoy most adults. The public backlash against such begging in the 1930s, at a time when most Americans were themselves struggling in the midst of the Great Depression, led to promotion of alternatives, including Macy’s parade.
  • Anthony “Tony” Frederick Sarg loved to work with marionettes from an early age. After moving to London to start his own marionette business, Sarg moved to New York City to perform with his puppets on the street. Macy’s heard about Sarg’s talents and asked him to design a window display of a parade for the store.

  • The balloons were introduced in 1928, replacing live zoo animals.  Sarg’s large animal-shaped balloons were produced by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio. That year there was no procedure to deflate the balloons so they were simply released. In 1928 five of the larger balloons were designed and filled with helium to rise above 2,000 feet and slowly deflate for whomever was lucky enough to capture the contestants in Macy’s “balloon race” and return them for a reward of $100 (equivalent to more than $1,500 with inflation as of 2020) – this lasted until 1932.
  • Through the 1930s, the Parade continued to grow, with crowds of over one million people lining the parade route in 1933. The first Mickey Mouse balloon entered the parade in 1934. The annual festivities were broadcast on local radio stations in New York City from 1932 to 1941, and resumed in 1945, running through 1951.
  • The parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944 as a result of World War II, because rubber and helium were needed for the war effort.  The parade resumed in 1945, and became known nationwide shortly afterward, having been prominently featured in the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street, which included footage of the 1946 festivities. The event was first broadcast on network television in 1948
  • The balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade have had several varieties. The oldest is the novelty balloon class, consisting of smaller balloons ranging widely in size and handled by between one and thirty people (the smallest balloons are shaped like human heads and fit on the heads of the handlers). The larger and more popular class is the character balloons, primarily consisting of licensed pop-culture characters; each of these is handled by exactly 90 people. From 2005 to 2012, a third balloon class, the “Blue Sky Gallery”, transformed the works of contemporary artists into full-size balloons; after a five-year hiatus, the Blue Sky Gallery returned in 2018.
  • In addition to the well-known balloons and floats, the Parade also features live music and other performances. College and high school marching bands from across the country participate in the parade, and the television broadcasts feature performances by established and up-and-coming singers and bands. The Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall are a classic performance as well, having performed annually since 1957, as the last pre-parade act to perform and their performance was followed by a commercial break, as are cheerleaders and dancers chosen by the National Cheerleaders Association from various high schools across the country. The parade concludes with the arrival of Santa Claus to ring in the Christmas and holiday season
  • On the NBC telecast the marching bands perform live music. Most “live” performances by musicals and individual artists lip sync to the studio, soundtrack or cast recordings of their songs.  Although rare, recent parade broadcasts have featured at least one live performance with no use of recorded vocals.  Cast members from a number of Broadway shows perform either in the parade, or immediately preceding the parade in front of Macy’s and before The Rockettes’ performance
  • For the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in 2011, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade invited family members from Tuesday’s Children, a family service organization that has made a long-term commitment to those directly impacted by the attacks and terrorism around the world, to cut the ribbon at the start of the parade.
  • More than 44 million people typically watch the parade on television on an annual basis. It was first televised locally in New York City in 1939 as an experimental broadcast on NBC’s W2XBS (forerunner of today’s WNBC).  The parade began its network television appearances on CBS in 1948, the year that major, regular television network programming began.  NBC has been the official broadcaster of the event since 1953, though CBS (which has a studio in Times Square) also carries unauthorized coverage under the title The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS
  • Since 2003, the parade has been broadcast simultaneously in Spanish on the sister network of NBCUniversal (Telemundo) hosted by María Celeste Arrarás from 2003-2006. The parade won nine Emmy Awards for outstanding achievements in special event coverage since 1979.
  • Other American cities also have parades held on Thanksgiving, none of which are run by Macy’s. The nation’s oldest Thanksgiving parade (the Gimbels parade, which has had many sponsors over the years, and is now known as the 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade) was first held in Philadelphia in 1920. Other cities with parades on the holiday include the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago, Illinois and parades in Plymouth, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; Houston, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; and Fountain Hills, Arizona.
  • The 2018 parade was the coldest to date with the temperature at 19 °F.  The warmest was in 1933 at 69 °F. The 2006 parade was the wettest with 1.72″ (49 mm) of rain.
  • In August 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, Macy’s stated that it planned to change the format of the parade in accordance with New York health orders. The parade is being produced as a “television-only special presentation” over a two-day period, with 75% fewer participants and social distancing enforced. The event will not include college and high school marching bands nor any participant under 18 years of age. Balloons will be tethered to a “specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles” rather than carried by handlers, and the full parade route will not be used — with all activity limited to the Herald Square area.





Me, too.
As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))  
Have fun!!



Nostalgia or the Future

I admit, I’ll eat anything. And these babies are no exception. Never met a frozen dinner I didn’t like.

Growing up my Mom was simply amazing.  18 kids (yep that’s right) all needed to be fed, bathed, clothed, schooled, nurtured and loved. Never complaining – just a constant outpouring of “Mom love.”  I was reading an article the other day, and it sent me back to one of my favorite Mom treats as a kid …TV dinners.  Those amazing inventions of meat, gravy, veggies and dessert, all organized into a foil plate.  Every once in a while, as a treat, we got to use our folding TV tables, (remember those great inventions) and watch our favorite shows while eating dinner!  I can remember later on having those thin rectangular boxes stacked up in the freezer with the name displayed (having to turn my head sideways to read which one of them I wanted next!) And I have to admit it – to this day, I still love the taste of them – the standard pre-packed Swanson specials, like turkey and stuffing, along with the multitude of frozen goodies we can find at the grocery store.  With the advances in freezers, packaging and processing, there are so many things we can find in the frozen food aisle – including international foods.  Special thanks to Smithsonian and Wikipedia for the info and YouTube for the video.  Enjoy the trip down memory lane for those of you who can relate – and shoot me a message as to your personal favorite.  YUM!!

  • In 1925, the Brooklyn-born entrepreneur Clarence Birdseye invented a machine for freezing packaged fish that would revolutionize the storage and preparation of food. Maxson Food Systems of Long Island used Birdseye’s technology, the double-belt freezer, to sell the first complete frozen dinners to airlines in 1945.
  • Plans to offer those meals in supermarkets were canceled after the death of the company’s founder, William L. Maxson. Ultimately, it was the Swanson company that transformed how Americans ate dinner – and it all came about, the story goes, because of Thanksgiving turkey.
  • According to the most widely accepted account, a Swanson salesman named Gerry Thomas conceived the company’s frozen dinners in late 1953 when he saw that the company had 260 tons of frozen turkey left over after Thanksgiving, sitting in ten refrigerated railroad cars. (The train’s refrigeration worked only when the cars were moving, so Swanson had the trains travel back and forth between its Nebraska headquarters and the East Coast “until panicked executives could figure out what to do”). Thomas had the idea to add other holiday staples such as cornbread stuffing and sweet potatoes, and to serve them alongside the bird in frozen, partitioned aluminum trays designed to be heated in the oven.
  • Betty Cronin, Swanson’s bacteriologist, helped the meals succeed with her research into how to heat the meat and vegetables at the same time while killing any food-borne germs.  Her history is a bit different – saying that Gilbert and Clarke Swanson, sons of company founder Carl Swanson, came up with the idea for the frozen-meal-on-a-tray. Whoever provided the spark, this new American convenience was a commercial triumph.
  • In 1954, the first full year of production, Swanson sold ten million trays. Banquet Foods and Morton Frozen Foods soon brought out their own offerings, winning over more and more middle-class households across the country.  Initially called “Strato-Plates,” America was introduced to its “TV dinner” at a time when the concept was guaranteed to be lucrative: As millions of women entered the workforce in the early 1950s, Mom was no longer always at home to cook elaborate meals—but now the question of what to eat for dinner had a prepared answer.
  • Frustrated, some men wrote angry letters to the Swanson company complaining about the loss of home-cooked meals. But for most, TV dinners were just the ticket. Pop them in the oven, and 25 minutes later, you could have a full supper while enjoying the new national pastime: television.  The top shows in ’55 were The $64,000 Question, I Love Lucy and The Ed Sullivan Show… (can you remember the name of the mouse puppet on the show?)
  • In 1950, only 9 percent of U.S. households had television sets—but by 1955, the number had risen to more than 64 percent, and by 1960, to more than 87 percent. Swanson took full advantage of this trend, with TV advertisements that depicted elegant, modern women serving these novel meals to their families, or enjoying one themselves. “The best fried chicken I know comes with a TV dinner,” Barbra Streisand told the New Yorker in 1962.
  • By the 1970s, competition among the frozen food giants spurred some menu innovation, including such questionable options as Swanson’s take on a “Polynesian Style Dinner,” which doesn’t resemble any meal you will see in Polynesia. Tastemakers, of course, sniffed, like the New York Times food critic who observed that TV dinner consumers had no taste, but later found another niche audience in dieters, who were glad for the built-in portion control.
  • With the help of Pittsburg Steelers “Mean Joe Green”, Hungry Man dinners were introduced – for those with larger appetites – (made me smile J)
  • The next big breakthrough came in 1986, with the Campbell Soup Company’s invention of microwave-safe trays, which cut meal preparation to mere minutes. Convenience food was now too convenient for some diners, as one columnist lamented: “Progress is wonderful, but I will still miss those steaming, crinkly aluminum TV trays.”
  • The production process of TV dinners is highly automated and undergoes three major steps – food preparation, tray loading, and freezing. During food preparation, vegetables and fruits are usually placed on a movable belt and washed, then are placed into a container to be steamed or boiled for 1–3 minutes. This process is referred to as blanching and is used as a method to destroy enzymes in the food that can cause chemical changes negatively affecting overall flavor and color of the fruit and vegetables. As for meats, prior to cooking, they are trimmed of fat and cut into proper sizes. Fish is usually cleaned and cut into fillets, and poultry is usually washed thoroughly and dressed.
  • Meats are then seasoned, placed on trays, and are cooked in an oven for a predetermined amount of time. After all the food is ready to be packaged, it is sent to the filling lines. The food is placed in its compartments as the trays pass under numerous filling machines; to ensure that every packaged dinner gets an equal amount of food, the filling devices are strictly regulated.
  • The food undergoes a process of cryogenic freezing with liquid nitrogen. After the food is placed on the conveyor belt, it is sprayed with liquid nitrogen that boils on contact with the freezing food. This method of flash-freezing fresh foods is used to retain natural quality of the food. When the food is chilled through cryogenic freezing, small ice crystals are formed throughout the food that, in theory, can preserve the food indefinitely if stored safely.
  • Cryogenic freezing is widely used as it is a method for rapid freezing, requires almost no dehydration, excludes oxygen thus decreasing oxidative spoilage, and causes less damage to individual freezing pieces. Due to the fact that the cost of operating cryogenic freezing is high, it is commonly used for high-value food products such as TV dinners, which is a $4.5 billion industry a year that is continuing to grow with the constant introduction of new technology.
  • Following this, the dinners are either covered with aluminum foil or paper, and the product is tightly packed with a partial vacuum created to ensure no evaporation takes place that can cause the food to dry out. Then the packaged dinners are placed in a refrigerated storage facility, transported by refrigerated truck, and stored in the grocer’s freezer. TV dinners prepared with the aforementioned steps—that is, frozen and packaged properly—can remain in near-perfect condition for a long time, so long as they are stored at -18 °C during shipping and storage.
  • This past year, approximately 130 million Americans consumed a TV dinner.
  • With restaurants closed during Covid-19, Americans are again snapping up frozen meals, spending nearly 50 percent more on them in April 2020 over April 2019, says the American Frozen Food Institute. Specialty stores like Williams Sonoma now stock gourmet TV dinners. Ipsa Provisions, a high-end frozen-food company launched this past February in New York, specializes in “artisanal frozen dishes for a civilized meal any night of the week”—a slogan right out of the 1950s. Restaurants from Detroit to Colorado Springs to Los Angeles are offering frozen versions of their dishes for carryout, a practice that some experts predict will continue beyond the pandemic.

VIDEO: Make your own TV dinner! 
Swanson 1958 commercial. Wow!



Me, too.
As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))  
Have fun!!


Dads (and Granddads)

You want to know something? It’s fun being a dad!!!  And a granddad!!!!!!
Happy Father’s Day, dads!


This Sunday marks a special day on the calendar – Father’s Day.  For me, it’s filled with current and past memories of my Dad growing up, not just his wisdom helping me transition into the business through his leadership and counsel but also the absolute wonderfully crazy times I had with Dad growing up.  Then the joy of having 4 incredible daughters of my own to help raise and now the thrill of being a “grandpa”.  Dads are special people throughout – caring, protective and loving – but also clumsy (I can’t braid hair to save my life!), silly and patient.

As I read this list below, there are lots of items that bring back so many wonderful memories of both having a great Dad and the joy in being able to help raise four fantastic daughters who love both Marvel movies and Hallmark!  Sports and the Arts!  Plus food, all kinds of great food!  The fact that my children are all within 15 minutes of Jackie and I is so fantastic! Needless to say I could go on for a long time.

Simply put, being a Dad is an incredible joy and blessing!

To all the dads and granddads out there, we salute you.  Enjoy your day and your loved ones.  Here a list of great “dad” attributes – I’m sure you can easily add to the list

Why Dads Are AWESOME – (thanks mom365.com for the insights)

1. Dads are Rough and Tumble – play wrestling, running around like maniacs, or tossing their little ones high into the air, dads tend to be the parent less afraid of pushing the limits. It can make some moms cringe to see just how far dads and their kids can go, but we always know that everyone is having fun and will (probably!) be OK in the end. Some mild roughhousing may teach your kids to be resilient and brave – and as Mom reminds us – “it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt”

2. Two Words: Dad Jokes – Dads are kings of corny jokes. Even though we groan and roll our eyes, you know we love it. Keep on being awesome, dads.

3. Dads are Great Coaches – whether they’re coaching the whole team or just offering some one-on-one advice on how to play the game, dads are amazing at sharing their love of the game. Football, baseball, and soccer are their usual fare, but we’ve known lots of dads who help with ballet and cheerleading, too. We know it’s a little bit love of the sport, but mostly it’s love for their kids.

4. He’s a Fierce Protector – there’s a reason that boys are terrified of meeting their love interest’s dad; dads are protective and unafraid of instilling fear in anyone they think might wrong their child. From chasing away the bogeyman to making sure nobody picks on you at the playground, it’s always comforting to know that dad has your back.

5.  Dads Hide Emotions – there is no sound more amazing than your baby’s heartbeat. Moms can hear the whoosh of the Doppler running over her belly until finally you find it–the fast, rhythmic beat of life from inside. It’s expected that moms-to-be find themselves overwhelmed with emotion the first time they hear it, so don’t be afraid to cry–it really is a miracle.

6. Dads Get Creative at Mealtime – when dad is in charge during dinnertime it can get creative. You know the kids will get fed—but some dads will think outside of the box for meals. Buttered bread and pickles, cereal over ice cream, carrot sticks in peanut butter, or sandwiches stuffed high with every ingredient in the house, dads are great at making dinner an adventure.

7. They’re Gracious Gift-Receivers – every dad eventually receives the dreaded ugly neck-tie. And what does he do? He puts that bad boy on and he rocks it. He rocks it because he loves his kids and isn’t afraid to show it—even if the tie is really, truly, awful. And that’s why we love you.

8. Dads are the Best Nap-Buddies – we all have pictures of our little ones napping with daddy. It’s hard to deny that seeing a dad napping with his mini-me is about the cutest thing in the world. You can see that your little dude knows that dad is the most comfortable sleep surface around, and that’s why you let them rest, no matter how badly you wish you were the one napping instead.

9. They Love to Share Their Hobbies – all dads look forward to the day their kids can carry on the tradition. Dads love to have a common interest with their child. It doesn’t matter so much what his hobby is—the day that he can finally share his expertise and have a little buddy join along is a good day for any dad.  Fishing, sports, hiking, cooking, antique cars – the list is endless.

10. Dads Teach us Discipline – whether it’s quite time in church, saying our “please and thank yous” or just helping someone in need, Dads set the example, and then reinforce it.  Their patience and consistence sets the bar, and shows us where to draw the line.

11. Dads Know About Tools – this one’s a real blessing if you’ve got a fix-it leaning guy. Sure, moms can fix a toy, change a doorknob, or get a crib together, but do they really want to? Dads love to show off their building skills, even if it’s the smallest job ever. It’s fun to see him working hard, plus it sets a good example for kids that you should fix something that’s broken instead of throwing it away. Dads are especially fearless when it comes to get under the sink to fix the drain – that’s when the adventure begins.  Especially once I start yelling that this is a stupid design!!  Just ask my ladies!

12. What Happens with Dad Stays with Dad – Dad doesn’t mind a little mischief and he knows that sometimes it’s really okay to not tell mom (as long as it isn’t important or too hazardous). Having fun secrets with dad doesn’t make mom the bad guy – but sharing some wild times on the down-low helps strengthen the bond that he shares with his kids. Who can forget the visits to Hot Dog Inn before dinner!

13. And Grandpas get to break ALL THE RULES!  Being a Grandpa is a really special time – holding the babies and promising them the world – and no rules apply – skip the restricted diets, spoil them with gifts and just get down on the floor and play – (harder getting up these days).

Love You Dad – thanks for EVERYTHING!!




Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!




Slowly I Turned, Step by Step…

(top) What-the-??? Who turned off the water?? Read on and find out. (row 2) Free flowing Niagra Falls.  (row 3) Thousands of tourists come every year to see this natural wonder.  (row 4) Many, many daredevils have tested the falls. Here, Daredevil Nik Wallenda makes his historic tightrope walk across the Horseshoe Falls on June 15, 2012. Zeesh!!  (row 5 left)  There’s daredevil Karel Soucek with his barrel before going over the Horseshoe falls in 1984.  (row 5 right)  There’s Karel being fished out of the river after going over the falls. (row 6 left) There’s Karel being wheeled out of the hospital after surgery. (row 6 right)  And there’s Karel a year later, after a barrel drop at the Astrodome in Houston, TX.in 1985.  R.I.P. Dear Karel Soucek.  (row 7 left)  Skylon Tower observation decks. (row 7 right) Getting up close to these incredible falls. (row 8 left) Niagra Falls is one of the greatest places for a memorable family vacation.  (row 8 right)  Apparently you can go zip-lining across the falls now. Yikes!!  (row 9) This looks like the place to stay on your visit. Remember to ask for a room facing the falls, though. (bottom)  A wonderful oil painting by American artist Thomas Cole in 1830 titled “Distant View of Niagara Falls”.  Looks like a couple of native Americans in the foreground. Probably Iroquois.

As we plan our summer breaks, I have great memories of Mom and Dad loading up the car, piling in the kids and heading off on adventures. One of my favorites is the trips we took to Niagara Falls. My lovely wife is from the Buffalo area and could never really understand my infatuation with “THE FALLS”   My memories of the Maid of The Mist ride, overlooks by the falls, and visiting Canada round out “going to see the Falls” – (I can still taste the fudge and feel the roar of the water). One year Jackie and I took our very young girls for a visit and as we walked into the hotel room, the wall facing the falls was floor to ceiling glass!  You felt like you were going to fall in. The girls dropped to their knees and crawled over to the window!  They still laugh about it to this day. This year marks the 50th anniversary of when engineers constructed a temporary dam at the mouth of the Niagara River to shut off the water flow and clear out the bedrock that had fallen at the foot of the falls (talk about a PIA Job!). Here’s some fun trivia about the project and the Falls.  Enjoy, and thanks Smithsonian and streetdirectory.com for the info.

  1. Niagara Falls has seen plenty of dramatic stunts over the centuries, ever since a local hotel owner sent a condemned ship with a “cargo of ferocious animals” over the falls in 1827 (only the goose survived the plunge).  But no feat has attracted more visitors than a scientific survey conducted in 1969, the year the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers actually turned off the American Falls.
  2. The engineers wanted to find a way to remove the unseemly boulders that had piled up at its base since 1931, cutting the height of the falls in half. The first weekend after the “dewatering,” about 100,000 people showed up to see this natural wonder without its liquid veil.
  3. It is estimated more than 250,000 tons of shale and dolomite sit at the base of the Falls.  To turn off the water, dump trucks pushed nearly 30,000 tons of earth across a 600-foot-wide opening in the river.  Instead of trying to divert all the water around to the Horseshoe Falls, engineers used the International Control Dam to redirect more than 59,000 gallons per second in to the nearby hydroelectric plants.
  4. The amount of electricity the power plants at Niagara Falls have the capacity to output is close to 4.9 million kilowatts – enough to power 3.8 million homes. On the US side, plants have a capacity of roughly 2.7 million Kilowatts, while the Canadian side’s combined capacity is close to 2.2 million kilowatts.
  5. With the river down to a trickle, a sprinkler system was installed to keep the rock face wet and prevent heat and wind damage.  After six months of study, engineers decided to keep the rocks at the base in place.
  6. The 1969 dewatering was another aesthetic intervention, but the engineers decided, surprisingly, to leave the fallen boulders alone. “Recent emphasis on environmental values has raised questions about changing natural conditions even for demonstrated natural and measurable social benefits,” they wrote in their final report.
  7. The falls—American Falls, Horseshoe Falls and the small Bridal Veil Falls—formed some 12,000 years ago, when water from Lake Erie carved a channel to Lake Ontario (see map).
  8. The name Niagara came from “Onguiaahra,” as the area was known in the language of the Iroquois people who settled there originally.
  9. After the French explorer Samuel de Champlain described the falls in 1604, word of the magnificent sight spread through Europe. A visit to Niagara Falls was practically a religious experience for many – two famous visitors stated:
    “When I felt how near to my Creator I was standing,” Charles Dickens wrote in 1842, “the first effect, and the enduring one—instant lasting—of the tremendous spectacle, was Peace.”
    Alexis de Tocqueville described a “profound and terrifying obscurity” on his visit in 1831, but he also recognized that the falls were not as invincible as they seemed. “Hasten,” Tocqueville urged a friend in a letter, or “your Niagara will have been spoiled for you.”
  10. In 1894, King C. Gillette, the future razor magnate, predicted Niagara Falls could become part of a city called Metropolis with 60 million people. A few years later, Nikola Tesla designed one of the first hydroelectric plants near the Falls. He saw it as a high point in human history: “It signifies the subjugation of natural forces to the service of man.”
  11. One and a half million gallons of water flow through the Niagara River (it’s not really a river, but a strait) every second – or one cubic mile every week and helps drains 255,000 square miles of mid-continental North America.  The water starts off in North America, coming from streams and rivers that empty into 5 out of the 6 Great Lakes; Michigan, Superior, Huron, St. Clair and Erie. These lakes drain a large part of North America, flowing down through the Great Lakes basin from West to East. The entire volume of water in those lakes is enough to cover the whole of North America in about 3.5ft (1 meter) of water.
  12. The drop from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario is 330 feet depending on seasonal water levels. The water depth of the lower rapids is 45 – 60 feet, with currents of up to 30 m.p.h. The famous whirlpool at the bottom of the Falls is 126 feet deep at the water level and spins around in a counterclockwise direction.
  13. Seven people have gone over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel. Four lived, three died.  Only two living things have been actually seen to go over the Falls safely without special protection – a dog over the American Falls in the 1800’s and a boy over the Horseshoe Falls in 1960.
  14. Five large boats and innumerable small ones have gone over the Falls, many with people in them.  A free swimmer has never conquered the lower rapids
  15. Niagara Falls today is the result of the push and pull of exploitation and preservation. The Free Niagara Movement successfully lobbied to create a park around the site in the 1880s, but the changes continued. In 1950, the United States and Canada decided to divert 50 percent of the water from Niagara Falls through underwater tunnels to hydroelectric turbines during peak tourist hours.
  16. At night, the water flow over the falls is cut in half again. Engineers manipulate the flow using 18 gates upstream. The engineers who built the diversion tunnels also made several modifications to the actual falls, excavated both edges of the Horseshoe Falls to create a visually pleasing crest.
  17. At some point, the United States and Canada will face the same dilemma again: Do they intervene to maintain the falls or let natural processes unfold? Even with the decreased rate of deterioration, the falls regress a little every year. In about 15,000 years, the cliff edge will reach a riverbed of soft shale—and then Nature will upstage any human efforts. Niagara Falls will crumble and irrevocably disappear.


Fun links:

Three Stooges!!
Fun music and video of the falls.
Relaxing Nature: Niagara Falls.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

(row one left) The 1918 patent drawing for Cleveland engineer James Hoge’s traffic signal he invented in 1914 that said “stop” and “move.” (row one center) America’s first electric traffic light made its debut at the intersection of E. 105th and Euclid in Cleveland, Ohio on August 5th, 1914. (row one right) In 1923, another Clevelander, Garrett Morgan patented the electric automatic traffic signal which he later sold to General Electric for a whopping $4,000. For perspective, a new Ford in 1920 cost $265 and a loaf of bread cost nine cents. (row two) 1920, at W. 25th Street & the entrance to the Detroit Superior Bridge. Yea, a traffic light there would be a good idea. (row three left) The traffic light might become useless old technology if all the vehicles on the road are self-driving. Here’s VW’s concept of a self-driving car. (row three right) The Smart Car’s autonomous EV just has seats. No steering wheel, accelerator or brakes. (row four left) Jaguar’s self-driving car concept. (row four right) Apple’s self-driving car concept. Kind of looks like their computer mouse. (row five) And by 2030 I’ll have a fleet of these Mercedes self-driving trucks to deliver your PIA (Pain In The @%$) Jobs! Oh, yeah.

The other day I was out for one of my leisurely morning runs, zipping around downtown while most of you were getting ready to be stuck in your cars waiting in traffic (yep, I’m an early bird).  What a difference running at this time of year – while still a bit chilly from the breeze off the lake, I really enjoy the spring sights and smells – flowers in bloom, bright green grass and tiny leaves beginning to pop, and just the positive vibe one gets now that spring has peaked above the horizon here on the north coast.  Heading back to the plant, I came across an intersection, and had to make a “runners” (and walkers) decision – do I push the button (do that silly jog in place thing while looking at my imaginary running time) and wait for the light or try and make it across the street… now at 5 AM you know which course of action I took! It got me to thinking about traffic lights, and how someone solved a PIA (Pain In the @%$) Job back in their day (and still do today).  I did some digging, and found two of our favorite Cleveland engineers, James Hoge, who is credited with testing, patenting and rolling out the first traffic light, some 100 years ago this year and Garret Morgan, who is credited with the three light approach we still use today.  Special thanks to Wikipedia, Washington Post, CityLab, Smithsonian and US Patent office for info and images.  Enjoy, and as Mom always says, “remember to always look both ways before crossing.”

  • Arriving home from a dinner party in 1913, the oil magnate George Harbaugh turned on to Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue, one of Cleveland’s busiest streets, jam packed with automobiles, horse-drawn carriages, bicyclists, trolleys and pedestrians, all believing THEY had the right of way.  Harbaugh didn’t see the streetcar until it smashed into his roadster.
  • In the same year, over 4,000 people were killed in automobile accidents, as Henry Ford, supported by many parts suppliers in the “rustbelt” region, started rolling Model T’s off the assembly line.  The nation’s roads were originally designed to manage people, horses, and trolleys – but not fast-moving cars.
  • A Cleveland engineer named James Hoge had a solution.  Borrowing the red and green signal lights used by railroads and tapping into the electricity used by the streetcar trolley lines, Hoge created the first “municipal traffic control system” – a precursor to the ubiquitous stoplight we still use today.
  • Receiving credit for the “first electric traffic signal” Hoge’s system was based on his design (installed in Cleveland on the corner of Euclid and 105th Street in 1914 and patented 100 years ago in 1918). The traffic signal used the alternating illuminated words “stop” and “move” installed on a single post on each of the four corners of an intersection. The system was wired such that police and fire departments could adjust the rhythm of the lights in case of an emergency.  Said the City’s Public Safety Director at the time, “The public is pleased with the operation, as it makes for greater safety, speeds up traffic, and largely controls pedestrians in their movement across the streets”.
  • The history of managing “crossings” is quite interesting.  In 1860, a British railway manager, John Peake Knight, suggested adapting a railroad method for controlling traffic. Railroads used a semaphore system (still used today) with small arms extending from a pole to indicate whether a train could pass or not. In Knight’s adaptation, semaphores would signal “stop” and “go” during the day, and at night red and green lights would be used. Gas lamps would illuminate the sign at night. A police officer would be stationed next to the signals to operate them.
  • The world’s first traffic “signal” was installed on Dec. 9, 1868, at the intersection of Bridge Street and Great George Street in the London borough of Westminster, near the Houses of Parliament and the Westminster Bridge, according to the BBC. It was a success and Knight predicted more would be installed.  Only one month later, a police officer controlling the signal was badly injured when a leak in a gas main caused one of the lights to explode in his face. (the project was declared a public health hazard and immediately dropped).
  • The first electric traffic light using red and green lights is credited to Lester Farnsworth Wire, a police officer in Salt Lake City, Utah. Wire’s traffic signal resembled a four-sided bird-house mounted on a tall pole. It was placed in the middle of an intersection and was powered by overhead trolley wires. A police officer had to manually switch the direction of the lights.
  • In 1920, William Potts, a Detroit police officer, developed several automatic traffic light systems, including the first three-color signal, which added a yellow “caution” light.
  • In 1923, another Clevelander, Garrett Morgan patented an electric automatic traffic signal. Morgan was the first African-American to own a car in Cleveland (he also invented the gas mask). Morgan’s design used a T-shaped pole unit with three positions. Besides “Stop” and “Go,” the system also first stopped traffic in all directions to give drivers time to stop or get through the intersection. A benefit of Morgan’s design was that it could be produced inexpensively, thus increasing the number of signals that could be installed. (Morgan later sold the rights to his traffic signal to General Electric for $40,000).
  • Pedestrian signals began to be included on traffic signals in the 1930s, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. A “Walk/Don’t Walk” signal was first tested in New York in 1934. Its design used an upright palm to indicate “Stop.”
  • In 1919, a Cleveland teacher, focused on teaching the “new rules of the road”, invented a game to teach children how to recognize traffic signals, and today, kids still play the game on their front lawn … (remember playing “red light, green light”??).  Red, yellow and green imagery is still used on flashcards, lunch room monitoring lights, and even the soccer pitch – (ever get a “yellow or red” card?).
  • Interestingly, during 1920s, there was fierce competition over the legitimate use of streets. Irritated drivers, convinced of the supremacy of the automobile’s claim to the streets, coined an epithet: “jay walker.” A jay at the time was an unsophisticated person; “jay,” the Oxford English Dictionary suggests, was a common insult in American slang.  To jaywalk was to cross the street in an unsafe way, the way a country dweller unfamiliar with city traffic might. The term was also controversial. The New York Times called the term “jaywalker” shameful and “highly shocking.” It rang of a pejorative class term, one used by wealthier drivers to refer to the carless.
  • In spite of initial reluctance to use the term, it stuck, particularly due to advertised anti-jaywalking shame campaigns and the interests of the auto industry. In an April 1920 social campaign in San Francisco, pedestrians were taken off the streets — to the amusement of the onlookers — and lectured in mock courtrooms on the perils of jaywalking. Behind the scenes, the shame tactics were backed by auto interests, like Ford. The Packard Motor Car Co., for instance, entered what would become a prize-winning float in a 1922 Detroit safety parade; the float was a mock tombstone, with an epitaph that read “Erected to the Memory of Mr. J. Walker: He Stepped from the Curb Without Looking.”  People were shamed into crossing at the intersection … fast-forward today – authorities in Shenzhen, China, have set up artificial intelligence-powered CCTV cameras to scan the faces of those who jaywalk at major intersections and display their identities on large public LED screens for all to see.  If that isn’t punishment enough, plans are now in place to link the current system with cellular technology, so offenders will also be sent a text message with a dollar fine as soon as they are caught crossing the road against traffic lights.)
  • John S. Allen, an American inventor, filed one of the earliest patents in 1947 for a dedicated pedestrian traffic signal. Allen’s design had the pedestrian signal mounted at curb level. Allen also proposed that the signals could contain advertisements. In his application, he explained that the words “Stop” and “Go” could be followed by the word “for,” which in turn would be followed by a brand name (gotta love advertising thinkers!)
  • With self-driving cars becoming more of a reality, many improvements to traffic signals (there are about 2 million in use in the US today) are considering the new and upcoming technologies. Researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab published a scenario where traffic signals are essentially nonexistent. In this potential future, all autonomous cars are in communication with each other in what is known as a “slot-based” intersection in which cars, instead of stopping, automatically adjust their speed to pass through the intersection while maintaining safe distances for other vehicles. This system is flexible and can also be designed to take pedestrians and bicyclists into account. This certainly reminds me of those Blade Runner films!
  • Another innovation called Surtrac out of Pittsburg is from a company called Rapid Flow Technologies. In pilot tests underway since 2012, the traffic signals use artificial intelligence to adapt to changing traffic conditions. The company says travel times have been reduced by more than 25 percent and wait times at red lights down an average of about 40 percent decreasing emissions. The system takes into account second-by-second real-time conditions and is scalable to larger areas since each intersection makes its own decisions instead of a single, central system.
  • Drivers traveling the Alameda corridor in Albuquerque, NM are finding their commute time reduced on average 5 to 6 minutes shorter in each direction thanks to the completion of the second phase of the Alameda Boulevard Adaptive Signal Project. Using cameras and “a bit of artificial intelligence,” the cameras monitor the traffic and read real-time traffic patterns, and then adjust the traffic lights accordingly. The goal is to keep traffic moving so motorists spend less time sitting at red lights and more time driving through the green lights.
  • Auto makers and regulators believe self-driving vehicles have the potential to be so transformative, once driverless cars are on the roads in large numbers, experts believe there will be no need at all for traffic lights, as cars will communicate with one another and intuitively know what’s a safe speed to travel based on traffic and road conditions. Human errors such as failing to stop at a stop sign or mistakenly driving through a red light will become nonissues. According to Brandon Schoettle, a researcher at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute who studies autonomous driving, “Self-driving vehicles are constantly monitoring the roads, and they’re never confused, or distracted.  There are, of course, a huge number of unknowns,” says Schoettle, who predicts it could be a decade before self-driving vehicles are available for sale and an additional 20 to 30 years before most drivers own them.
  • It remains to be seen whether the safety benefits will pan out as expected and when they will begin. Researchers say it depends on how quickly driverless technology evolves, how long it takes the public to embrace self-driving cars and what happens in when we actually take away the crossing systems, especially when autonomous cars and those driven by humans are sharing the roads. We certainly can’t forget about the bikes or Jaywalkers!  Finally, I still want to be able to drive my car!

We’ll be back Monday inventing new ways to deliver all of your PIA (Pain In the @%$) Jobs™

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.



(middle image) The Anatomy of a Rocket: see explanation below. (all other still images) Fireworks are soooo great!! (bottom image via giphy.com) A short animated gif from drone footage. The full video can be seen HERE.


The Fourth of July weekend for me is one of the highlights of the summer.  Not only do I get to see family and friends, and eat tons of my favorite foods (dogs, burgers, salads, watermelon, chips, cupcakes, ribs, grilled chicken, potatoes, beans, corn on the cob – I could go on…), but I get to watch awesome fireworks displays.  When we were kids, Mom and Dad used to pack us all up in the car (we had 18 in the family remember) and drive over to Clague Park. I have such great memories of laying on a blanket and watching the light and sound shows.

So, here are two treats for you – some fireworks trivia and a list of some of the best fireworks shows in greater Cleveland.  Enjoy, and special thanks to explainthatstuff.com and fireworksinohio.com.

  • A firework is essentially a missile designed to explode in a very controlled way, with bangs and bursts of brightly colored light. The word “firework” comes from the Greek word pyrotechnics, which means, very appropriately, “fire art” or “fire skill.

The Anatomy of a Rocket

Fireworks can be quite complex and different types (rockets, Catherine wheels, lady fingers and so on) work in different ways. Simply speaking, though, aerial fireworks (ones designed to fire up into the sky) have five main parts.

  1. Stick (“tail”): The first thing you notice is a long wooden or plastic stick protruding from the bottom that ensures the firework shoots in a straight line. That’s important for two reasons. First, so that fireworks go where you intend to and don’t fly in a random direction (which can ruin your whole day!) and second, because it helps display organizers to position firework effects with accuracy and precision. Some fireworks now have hinged plastic sticks so they can be sold in smaller and more compact boxes.
  2. Fuse: This is the part that starts the main part of the firework (the charge) burning and ignites other, smaller fuses that make the interesting, colorful parts of the firework (the effects) explode some time later. In a basic firework, the main fuse consists of a piece of paper or fabric that you light with a match or cigarette lighter. In a complex public firework display, fuses are lit by electrical contacts known as wirebridge fuseheads. When the firework technician pushes a button, an electric current flows along a wire into the fusehead, making it burn briefly so it ignites the main fuse. Unlike manual ignition, electrical ignition can be done at a considerable distance, so it’s much safer.
  3. Charge (“motor”): The charge is a relatively crude explosive designed to blast a firework up into the sky, sometimes a distance of several hundred meters (1000ft or so) at a speed of up to several hundred km/miles per hour (as fast as a jet fighter)! It’s usually made up of tightly packed, coarse explosive gunpowder (also known as black powder). Traditionally, gunpowder used in fireworks was made of 75 percent potassium nitrate (also called saltpeter) mixed with 15 percent charcoal and 10 percent sulfur; modern fireworks sometimes use other mixtures (such as sulfurless powder with extra potassium nitrate) or other chemicals instead. Note that the charge simply sends the firework high into the air and clear of any spectators; it doesn’t make the spectacular explosions you can actually see.
  4. Effect: This is the part of the firework that makes the amazing display once the firework is safely high in the air. A single firework will have either one effect or multiple effects, packed into separate compartments, firing off in sequence, ignited by a relatively slow-burning, time-delay fuse working its way upward and ignited by the main fuse. Though essentially just explosives, the effects are quite different from the main charge. Each one is made up of more loosely packed, finer explosive material often fashioned into separate “stars,” which make up the small, individual, colorful explosions from a larger firework. Depending on how each effect is made and packed, it can either create a single explosion of stars very quickly or shoot off a large number of mini fireworks in different directions, causing a series of smaller explosions in a breathtaking, predetermined sequence.
  5. Head: This is the general name for the top part of the firework containing the effect or effects (collectively known as the payload—much like the load in a space rocket). Sometimes the head has a pointed “nose cone” to make the firework faster and more aerodynamic and improve the chance of it going in a straight line, though many fireworks simply have a blunt end.

  • An exploding firework is essentially a number of chemical reactions happening simultaneously or in rapid sequence. When you add some heat, you provide enough activation energy (the energy that kick-starts a chemical reaction) to make solid chemical compounds packed inside the firework combust (burn) with oxygen in the air and convert themselves into other chemicals, releasing smoke and exhaust gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen in the process.
  • Fireworks get their color from metal compounds (also known as metal salts) packed inside. You probably know that if you burn metals in a hot flame (such as a Bunsen burner in a school laboratory), they glow with very intense colors— that’s exactly what’s happening in fireworks. Different metal compounds give different colors. Sodium compounds give yellow and orange, copper and barium salts give green or blue, and calcium or strontium make red.
  • The solid chemicals packed into the cardboard case don’t simply rearrange themselves into other chemicals: some of the chemical energy locked inside them is converted into four other kinds of energy (heat, light, sound, and the kinetic energy of movement).
  • According to a basic law of physics called the conservation of energy (one of the most important and fundamental scientific laws governing how the universe works), the total chemical energy packed into the firework before it ignites must be the same as the total remaining in it after it explodes, plus the energy released as light, heat, sound, and movement.
  • Physics also explains why a firework shoots into the air. The charge is little more than a missile. As it burns, the firework is powered by action-and-reaction (also known as Newton’s third law of motion) in exactly the same way as a space rocket or jet engine. When the powder packed into the charge burns, it gives off hot exhaust gases that fire backward. The force of the exhaust gases firing backward is like the blast coming out from a rocket engine and creates an equal and opposite “reaction” force that sends the firework shooting forward up into the air.
  • Ever notice how fireworks most always make symmetrical explosions? If one part of the firework goes left, another part goes to the right. You never see a firework sending all its stars to the left or a bigger series of explosions to the left than to the right: the explosion is always perfectly symmetrical. Why is that? It’s because of another basic law of physics called the conservation of momentum: the momentum of a firework (the amount of “stuff moving” in each direction, if you like) must be the same before and after an explosion, so explosions to the left must be exactly balanced by explosions to the right.
  • Surprise and variety are the key to any good firework display: if all the fireworks were exactly the same, people would quickly get bored. Although all fireworks essentially work the same way—combining the power of a missile with the glory of burning metallic compounds—there are lots of different types: Rockets or skyrockets produce the most spectacular displays high in the air; Catherine wheels and pinwheels work closer to the ground, with a number of small fireworks mounted around the edge of a wooden or cardboard disk and make it spin around as they fire off; Roman candles blow out a series of small fiery explosions from a cylinder every so often; Firecrackers are fireworks designed to produce sound rather than light and they’re often incorporated into the upper effects of rockets.
  • We think of fireworks as entertainment, but the same technology has more practical uses. Flares used by military forces and at sea work in almost exactly the same way, though instead of using metallic compounds made from elements such as sodium, they use brighter and more visible compounds based on magnesium and they’re designed to burn for much longer. Even in an age of satellite navigation and radar, most ships still carry flares as a backup method of signaling distress.
  • Chinese people believed to have made explosive rockets in the 6th century CE during the Sung dynasty (960–1279CE).
  • Arabian world acquires rocket technology from the Chinese around 7th century. During the mid 13th century, English monk and pioneering scientist Roger Bacon experiments with the composition and manufacture of gunpowder.
  • Rockets similar to fireworks are used during an invasion of China by Mongolian forces in 1279.
  • The Mongols introduced firework technology to Europe and it spreads during the Middle Ages. Fireworks are produced in Italy around 1540 and spread to England, France, and other European countries the following century.
  • Guy Fawkes attempts to blow up the English houses of parliament on Nov 5, 1605 with gunpowder buried in the cellar, giving rise to the popular British custom of huge public firework displays on November 5 each year.
  • The custom of using fireworks for elaborate celebrations gains popularity in Europe in the 17th century. Prompted century by the need to produce ever more spectacular displays, firework manufacturers introduce new chemicals and more sophisticated ways of packaging them.
  • Fireworks become popular in the United States during the 19th century, initially as a way of celebrating Independence Day on July 4th.
  • 20th century: American scientists Robert Hutchings Goddard swaps the solid fuel in fireworks for a liquid fuel system, pioneering modern space rocket technology that ultimately lands men on the Moon in 1969.


Greater Cleveland Fireworks Shows

July 1 – Mayfield Fourth of July

July 1&2 – Brecksville Home Days

July 2 – Warrensville Heights Fireworks & North Olmstead Boom

July 3 – Independence 4th of July & Bratenahl Fourth of July

July 4 – Lakewood, Bay Village, and Solon Independence Day, Berea, Strongsville, Westlake

July 6,7,8 – Broadview Heights Home Days on the Green

July 8 – Fairview Park Summerfest & Orrville Fire In the Sky

July 9 – Brook Park Home Days


Also, let’s be sure to honor our country again this 4th – our vets, our speech, and our way of life.  Say a prayer for those who came before us and thank them for their commitment to freedom, leadership, friendship and the great US of A.