Friday, March 30, 2012

The significance of a horse’s behind...

Does the expression, “We’ve always done it that way!” ring any bells? The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That is an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that is the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads. Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that is the gauge they used. Why did “they” use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools used for building wagons, which used the same wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts in the roads...
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they all had the same wheel spacing. Therefore, the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.
Bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s rear came up with it, you may be exactly right. This is because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses.
Now, the twist to the story…
There is an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses’ behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.
Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.
So, a major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s rear.
-Borrowed, author unknown

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It doesn't matter how much material wealth you have, unless you're successful as a human being, you're not truly successful.

Monday, March 26, 2012

If you are not happy while working, there is either something wrong with you or the work you have chosen. Figure it out as soon as you can and make the appropriate change. Is it your work? Or your attitude towards it?  Work should not seem like work at all if things are working harmoniously. Life is too short to be miserable that much of the time.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Don't get trapped into chasing and maintaining a lifestyle. The lifestyle thing, the money thing, the white-house-with-a-picket-fence thing. All materialistic games that people play are such a rat race that you'll lose your dream in no time flat... Lifestyle is a killer. Lifestyle will masquerade as your dream realized. Soon, the lifestyle will seem more important than the dream. Appearances, comforts and keeping up with the Joneses is not the road to a fulfilling future." -Milton Katselas

Sound words, in my opinion. -J.O.

Friday, March 16, 2012

You can read all the spiritual/self-help books you want. You can go to religious services from now till doom's day. You can talk high and mighty till you can speak no more; but until you take ACTION and ACT the part, none of that means a thing.

About Me

My photo

Jim Olson is a ranch-raised cowboy, author and entrepreneur. Growing up on the high plains of eastern New Mexico he learned to ride young colts, tend to cattle and drive heavy farm equipment at an early age. 

Jim spent a few years competing in the calf roping event at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association level, qualifying for the circuit finals a few times. He lives on and operates a ranch near Stanfield, Arizona, once a part of John Wayne’s Red River Ranch, and also owns Western Trading Post, dealing in Cowboy and Indian collectibles. 

These great life experiences Jim now uses in his writing career. He writes stories about interesting and extraordinary people of the west including short stories of both fiction and nonfiction. He has a monthly column titled “Cowboy Heroes,” published by several Southwestern and national magazines. Jim has written three books and is working on other projects as well. He can be reached via the web: 


PetAlive Effective Remedies for Your Pet