Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Civics and news media literacy seem to have dropped from a basic education. In my day, we were required to learn enough about local, state, national and world history to understand current events and to continue learning through life.
For example, I learned about the history of Watertown, NY, my hometown — the birthplace of the late CIA director Allen W, Dulles, Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, retired USAF Lt. Gen. Jack Woodward and others — from its establishment in 1800 to the development of its industries. I watched its decline before I left home for work in Albany in 1973 and saw it when I returned for visits. Urban renewal was delayed for years after clearing an 8.7-acre parcel in 1967.
The prefab concrete shopping center ultimately built on the parcel soon failed — a shopping center on I-81 drained downtown and killed it. An infusion of a billion dollars and development for the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum and in the city expanded the streets in the city but didn't improve it much. A comparison to Washington, D.C., would be unfair, but I hope Watertown recovers and thrives with foresighted planning and innovative governance. Other cities, larger and smaller, have found ways to do that.
I learned some state history in seventh grade and more when I toured the New York State Capitol, worked in the massive building as a political science intern, took a UAlbany history course on the Capitol and immersed myself in antebellum history as I researched the intersection of newspapers and politics in Albany for a master's thesis.
In eighth-grade American history class, we were required to read the New York Times (student subscriptions) and clip a story a day, summarize it and relate it to American history and paste it on a page in a looseleaf notebook. I started typing mine, and the teacher, who had been a sergeant in the women's Marine Corps, said that once I started typing it, I would have to continue typing it. I still have that notebook, 42 years later.
For a bachelor's degree in political science, I minored in American history, but I should have studied world history and ancient history more. I still can do that, even auditing courses at the fine universities and colleges in the Washington area. Nowadays, universities and colleges allow seniors and other adults to audit these courses because they don't need the credits or the degrees.
Our education in public or private schools was intended to spur us into lifelong learning. Too many of our politicians, candidates, governing officials — even callers to C-SPAN and the political call-in shows — show a lack of understanding of critical thinking and history.
As actor William Bendix would say on the television show, "The Life of Riley" — "What a revolting development this is!" Will Rogers lassoed plenty of material for his radio and television commentary from newspapers, radio and television.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Golden Quill Editorial Services has begun its return engagement on social media! We offer experienced editing, research, proofreading, writing, photography and more. The website under development is www.GoldenQuillEditorial.biz, and we’re on Twitter @GoldenQuillEditorial and @byliner. Please note that we are not affiliated with Byliner.com in any of its forms!

Let’s talk about your needs and opportunities after you review the profile at
InkedIn.com/in/byliner/ —

Best wishes,

Stephen H. Goldstein
Arlington. Va.

Friday, September 22, 2017

After 11 years as a copy editor at Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper covering trucking and freight transportation published since 1936, I offer decades of experience in editing and writing full time on staff for print and online publication, with some commercial and noncommercial broadcast experience.

Transport Topics revamped its website, www.ttnews.com, changed the job descriptions of the four copy editors to content managers, trained us briefly to edit stories for the revamped website and separated two of us.

With a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public affairs, I have edited staff-written and wire stories for publication in print and online; edited a book manuscript for the World Bank and an author's published memoir; researched legislation and constituent inquiries and wrote press releases for a state legislator; researched legislation and edited the writings of the director of a university research center; and researched historical background for an author's novel

I set up this blog years ago as an experiment, and I've posted my writings and highlighted the writings of others. It's time for me to use this blog more effectively.

Thursday, April 03, 2014


Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper covering trucking and freight transportation, published a feature story on the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System. in 1956, President Eisenhower signed the legislation to create the network later named for him.

As a temporary colonel in the Army Tank Corp., Eisenhower was on the 1919 military convoy from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco and learned firsthand of the serious need to improve the nation's roads. He later saw the German autobahn after World War II and began promoting the need to improve the nation's roads for defense purposes, moving troops and equipment where needed.

His great-grandson, Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, was on the 50th anniversary convoy from San Francisco to Washington in 2006. The 2006 trip was far easier than the 1919 convoy.

SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2006

Side Comment

I would like to say thank you to those who left comments after reading my Web Log. Some of the stories have touched me. Please keep writing. Thank you again.

Merrill Eisenhower Atwater

Abilene to Davenport Iowa

After we left Abilene we headed to the Kansas City Speedway for a victory lap. I was in the 1951 Hudson when we drove around the track. It was a sight to see; there were cars that stretched all the round the 1.5 mile of track with Tim McGraw playing in the background.

Soon after we parked the cars and headed for a pit stop. There were a few speakers with Mary Peters being the keynote and my favorite. She is such a great speaker that without much effort she can get the crowd to roll with laughter. She is a really exciting person. Soon after lunch we left for Davenport, Iowa and our swing route group rejoined the convoy.



Day five of the Convoy
The Swing Route

Today was by far the most exciting day during the convoy celebration. The drive today was long but it started out right. Wake up call was 5 .am. This is never fun. But, good things happened from the start traveling from Cheyenne to Denver then Abilene, Kansas. At 6 a.m. I climbed into my first 18 wheeler with the Highway Watch guys Ralph and Dave (Ralph if you read this don’t get a big head you just have a better name that Dave does, because Ralph it is my father’s name).

The trip took a different view when looking at the road from this massive tractor trailer. It gave me a larger perspective riding with Dave and Ralph asking question about what it was like driving a truck and living on the Highway. I know now riding with these two men that a trucker’s life is a hard one. I now have a deeper respect of truckers and the trials they go through.

When we got to Denver we drove in to the Forney Transportation Museum. We arrived early and I got a chance to walk through the museum before the program got started. The museum was wonderful and it has one of the largest displays of classic cars, trains, and horse drawn buggies. My favorite was a large coal powered train that you could walk through. I never realized how difficulty driving one of the old trains was.

Denver has great meaning to the Eisenhower family. My great-grandmother lived there and was married there to my great-grandfather. Her mother’s house was used as a summer White House during Ike’s time in D.C. After my tour of the museum was over, it was time to make a few remarks at the press conference before getting back on the convoy. The Lt. Governor spoke elegantly and was just as elegant in person. After her speech Dan McNichol spoke and then it was my turn. Soon after we left for Abilene.

Kansas was a different ball game all together. There were 11 different overpasses on which people were waiting to greet us. They lined the overpasses with banners and American flags to welcome us throughout the state, as we were escorted by the Kansas National Guard. This was a heartwarming experience that could never be replaced. When we arrived in Abilene it got better, bands were playing and people were greeting us like we were a part of the family. This was one of the most remarkable moments in my life. Soon after Dan and I were asked to say a few words. I have never felt so proud in all of my days on this earth: knowing that these people were here to remember my great-grandfather, Dwight David Eisenhower.


Day 3 of the convoy.
Travel free day.

It was a slow day. We started with breakfast at 8:15a.m., with the three D’s: Dan, Dana, and David. We took a left and pulled through town trying to find a quick bite to eat. It was Sunday in Salt Lake City and everything looked closed. So, we drove to the Capital Building and saw four cyclists and asked them where we could get something to eat. Nick looked like the leader of the group. He was in the dressed brightest spandex with the top being a bright yellow and red. He told Dana and Dan (they were in the front seat of the Hudson), that his uncle owned a place and to put it on his tab. So far on this trip, this is the kindest thing anyone has done for me.

The diner that we went to was called Ogie’s Café and it was a really amazing place. It had people from all walks of life there. The food was great, large portions of towering hash browns and fluffy eggs that were like air. After trying to eat all of it I felt that I was going to explode. So if you are ever in Salt Lake City and you ever make it to Ogie’s Café ask for George (Ogie) and tell them to put it on Nicks tab.

SUNDAY, JUNE 18, 2006

Day 2 Reno to Salt Lake City

Really tired, up at 5:00 a.m. again just like the day before. Breakfast meeting at 6:00 a.m., service was really slow did not get a chance to eat all of my food because we sat for at least 30 minutes before we got our food.

The trip to Salt Lake City was one of the most challenging of the original convoy. They were lost in the Great Salt Lake plains for two days with nobody knowing where they were. A good example of what the troops were going through during the 1919 convoy in the Great Salt Lake flats was noted in the Daily log of the convoy.

"Last 6 miles was natural desert trail of alkali dust and fine sand up to 2' deep with numerous chuck holes. No rain for 18 weeks and traction exceedingly difficult. In places chasses of trucks grounded on road surface leaving wheels free, making jacking up and digging out necessary. Sage brush was cut from desert to fill in wheel ruts, as this was the only material available. Five Class B's had trouble with petcocks, cylinder head gaskets, connecting rod bearings, valves and brakes." Aug. 20th

Our trip it was a lot easer for us. We crossed Interstate 15 from Reno to Salt Lake City. For half the trip I was riding in the 1951 Hudson. So far this has been the most exciting part of the convoy drive. The Hudson is painted gold with a brown plaid interior. It has the original motor and no AC! It gave me a different view of the convoy and made me understand that we are lucky to have the highway system. Dan was driving and at a rest stop we saw a sign that we were in a place that had no water for 40 miles. Think about that. All of the people that traveled to get to Salt Lake City during the 1919 convoy experienced this. It is amazing that Salt Lake is even a City.

We traveled on for a total of 9 hours making it to Salt Lake City just in time for a reception that took place in a great park were Brigham Young decided that this was the spot for his city to be placed. This park had a great view of the city it overlooked. During the dinner Senator Bob Bennett made remarks about the I-15 construction and the difference it made throughout his life. Senator Bennett was an amazing speaker.


On the road at 6:15 am in order to make it to Lincoln Park, (this was the ending spot of the 1919 convoy when they crossed the San Francisco Bay on two ferry boats.) Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta was the keynote speaker. He talked about the importance of the Highway systems over the last 50 years and illustrated the importance of the next 50 years. Andrew Firestone also was a speaker and discussed the relationship that his great-grandfather had with my great-grandfather Dwight David Eisenhower. Then it was time to depart from Lincoln Park to move onto Reno at 9:30. One of my favored things was the view of the city from Lincoln Park. I have never seen anything like it in my life. It was nice!

On the way to Reno is when all of the excitement really happened in the 1919 convoy. They had many problems moving to Carson City in Nevada. This is from the Daily Log of the First Transcontinental Motor Convoy that was filed by the United States Government after the original San Francisco trip:
"Aug.30: Departed Fallon, 6:30 a.m. Followed direct road to Carson City, via the Lahontan Dam. Heavy trucks had some difficulty in getting through soft sand holes about 2 miles west of camp. Five or more trucks were chained together and men not driving helped by pushing." On that day they only made 66 miles in 20 hrs.
It was not as hard on the trucks and the drivers this time. We made it through Reno with a huge state trooper and police escort to the National Automobile Museum in downtown Reno. Along the way we did run into a few problems when Dan McNichol's 1951 Hudson car had mechanical difficulties and had to be towed to Reno.

The Automobile Museum was huge with over 200 different cars. It was a really exciting place with my favorite car on display: a red 1965 mustang and it was amazing. After a speaking program where Nevada Senator William Raggio spoke we had lunch.


First Post!

This is the first in a series of posts from the road on the Interstate 50th Anniversary convoy. We'll be departing San Francisco Friday, June 16th and arriving in Washington DC on June 29th. Should be fun!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dabbling in this blogging thing

Hats off to the bloggers who make it work for them and their readers, but I do wonder whether most people who jumped on the blogging bandwagon have moved on. As you can see, I haven't done much with this blog, but maybe I haven't had strong enough reasons to post. This blog was a good place to "publish" my two automobile test drives, with photos, but I should explore more ways to make this blog work. Helpful suggestions welcome.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Hibernating too long

However I do it, I must find a way to use this blog effectively. Others are doing well with their blogs, at least in content if not financially. Suggestions welcome.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Test drive: 2008 Ford Fusion SEL

Photographs: Stephen H. Goldstein
© 2008 and forward

The Ford Fusion SEL, shown (top) on L'Enfant Promenade and in front of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington , D.C. , offers a comfortable ride for the family or for a business trip.


By Stephen H. Goldstein
Golden Quill Editorial Services
© 2008 and forward/All Rights Reserved

The Ford Fusion SEL, the top trim line for 2008, provides a roomy, comfortable and peppy ride for a family of five or for a business trip. Sedate even with the optional Sport Appearance package, however, it will not be confused with a Mustang.

The 5-speed manual transmission moves the 4,233-pound car with ease, even with a 2.3-liter inline 4-cylinder engine and 140 horsepower and even in the rolling hills of Western Maryland . Despite good sound-dampening and the windows up, a passenger still will notice wind, engine and tire noise but less so than in smaller models.

The tested car, with front-wheel drive and optional 18-inch wheels and tires, averaged better than 28 miles per gallon between tankfuls of 87-octane gasoline. The EPA estimates are listed at 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

A 182-horsepower, DOHC V-6 Duratec engine is available, and the EPA estimated mileage is only slightly lower, at 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. On the available all-wheel drive V-6 Fusion SE and SEL, the mileage dips further to 17 and 25 mpg.

The 2010 Fusion, Ford says, will upgrade the engines to a 2.5-liter Duratec inline 4-cylinder engine with 175 horsepower, a 3.0-liter V-6 with 201 horsepower and a 3.5-liter V-6 with 263 horsepower for the Sport model. Ford expects its heavy investment in advancing its powertrain technologies will replace its engines by 2010 with improved performance and fuel-economy.

Ford says Fusion is its “first fully digital car, designed, engineered and tested using the most advanced technology available for precision and quality.” The digital technology shows mostly in the data center and the sound system.

The digital data center near the gauges on the tested car shows almost 500 miles to empty on fill-up for a 17.5-gallon tank, based on an average of 28 mpg. Over almost 600 miles, the tested Fusion matched that average at the gas pump.

The midsize Fusion fits in the Ford lineup where the enlarged Taurus had been. The roominess for most adults includes the back seat, unless a tall passenger pushes the front seat back far enough. The tested car features leather seats, with separate heat controls for the front buckets. The trunk, at 15.8 cubic feet, is spacious by comparison with other midsize cars.

Passenger safety rides with comfort in the Fusion. The car rates a 5-star government rating for driver and passengers in a frontal crash and for the front seat in a side crash. The government rating drops to four stars for the rear seat in a side crash and a single-vehicle rollover crash.

The SEL includes upgraded electronic accessories: eight-speaker stereo AM/FM radio with six-disc CD changer (loaded singly through one slot) and Sirius satellite radio, an auxiliary input jack for an MP3 player and a USB port for a storage device in the large center console, which stores the CDs.

The radio has 10 button presets, providing 30 presets for the three optional Sirius bands, 20 for the two FM bands and 10 for the AM band. The Microsoft-developed SYNC system offers a voice-activated, hands-free connection to a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, iPod, PDA, MP3 or other digital music player. Controls for the sound system and cruise control in the leather-wrapped steering wheel make driving safer than reaching for the center dashboard.

Even with all of these features, others have criticized the dashboard’s silver plastic accents, but the whole effect doesn’t cheapen the car’s appearance as much as it does in other cars, even Ford models. Like other Ford models, the high trunk line on the Fusion hides tailgating vehicles but not as much as in smaller models.

The larger speedometer and tachometer gauges and the smaller gas and engine temperature gauges, gray-trimmed black in a black background, are understated and not digital. In night lights, the needles are red and the numerals are blue.

A stylish, round and small analog clock sits in the center of the dash, below the vents and above the sound controls. The center rearview mirror darkens with headlights from the rear, and the side mirrors are heated. Tandem map lights flank the mirror, but there’s no roof light or rear-seat lights.

A button on the lower dashboard changes the “ambient mood lighting,” for some reason in six colors, for the floor and the dual cupholder in the center console. It’s also a $295 option.
The Fusion indeed shows Ford’s attention to quality engineering and production and upgrades responding to drivers’ interests.

2008 Ford Fusion SEL
Vehicle class: 4-door sedan.
Power: 2.3L, L4 DOHC engine.
Mileage: 20 city / 29 highway.
Where built: Hermosillo, Mexico .
Base price: $19,785.

Test drive review: 2008 Ford Focus

Photos by
Alan P. Goldstein/
© 2008 and forward


By Stephen H. Goldstein
Golden Quill Editorial Services
© 2008 and forward All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON — Drivers have been keeping their cars for more years and more miles — 100,000 miles, 200,000 miles, even 300,000 miles — mostly to save the money to buy a new or low-miles “certified” used car. However, car makers, trying to boost sales in a hard-bitten economy, have added many features to new cars to attract electronically connected buyers.

Since radios were first installed in dashboards in the early 1930s, cars have added electronics previously left at home: Stereo radios with cassette, 8-track tape and CD players, cell phones, satellite radio and now: a synchronized voice-activated communications and entertainment system — developed by Microsoft and Ford — that connects the passenger to a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, an MP3 player, an iPod, Zune, Sirius satellite radio and more.

The Ford Focus upscale and “sporty” SES, for example, has many of the comforts of a luxury automobile at a fraction of the price, especially to compare the features on a $16,000 car more than a decade ago and what options that money adds today.

The 2008 Focus introduced the 2-door coupe, replacing the ZX hatchback and station wagon. For 2009, Ford has added the SEL model to the SES, the midlevel SE and the basic S model. Each upgrade in trim level adds features as standard equipment that are options below. In 2008, the spread between the S and SES trim levels was about $2,000, from about $14,000 to $16,000.

Ford updated the Focus, introduced in the 1999 model year, with larger but still compact vehicles through the years. The freshening apparently didn’t excite some auto enthusiasts, however, but Ford’s announced plans to bring the European version of the Focus to the United States in 2010 did rev them up.

From the outside, the Ford Focus still looks like a subcompact car, although larger than its ancestors from earlier in the decade. In the driver’s seat, it looks and feels more like a crossover trying to blend car with SUV. The shape of the car — low in front and higher in back — reduces wind drag but not enough of the wind noise. The high back end hides tailgaters behind. At least, the tailgater seems to be closer than it may be. Other cars have the same problem.

Standard equipment includes P215/50 tires on 16-inch alloy wheels, which improve the ride but don’t muffle the road noise yet enough, and front and rear independent suspension. The car includes six air bags: the two in the front, side air bags deployed from the leather seats and head curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers.

It has dual power-adjustable — and heated — outside rearview mirrors; a color-matching rear spoiler; fog lamps; air conditioning and heater; an inside rear-view mirror that darkens electronically when headlights hit it from behind; AM/FM stereo radio with single CD and MP3 player; an auxiliary audio input jack an electronic message center that shows the odometer, two trip meters, a bar-graph display of gas mileage in motion; average mpg and estimated miles to Empty (more than 400 miles at fill-up).

Optional equipment includes a power moonroof, heated leather bucket seats, anti-lock brakes (drums in back, disc in front), traction control, a 6-CD/MP3 “audiophile” system and Sirius satellite radio with 30 station presets added to 20 for FM and 10 for AM. The SYNC system also works with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, even downloading its phone directory, and it will read cell phone text messages through the stereo system.

Dashboard controls and buttons take a little time to become familiar, but as usual, the manual explains their functions and features. Redundant controls on the steering wheel for the sound systems and cruise control improve safety while driving. The headlights and fog lights have only manual controls and do not turn on or off automatically.

The center rearview mirror darkens with headlights behind. The dashboard below it features a hooded readout in the center for the radio frequencies and volume and the SYNC display. The instrumentation behind the steering wheel lights up in blue and red accents on gray/white gauges. The logically designed controls for radio and SYNC, heat and air conditioning are in the center of the dashboard, although the manual explains how to use the various functions.

Some critics have cited the plastic vents and dashboard treatments. The silver coating does wear off in time. However, federal fleet mileage requirements have pushed carmakers to use lighter materials — more plastic — to save weight.

The 140-hp (at 6,000 rpm) inline 4-cylinder engine handles the hills quite well, noticeably better than a 100-hp engine in a similar compact, even with a 5-speed manual transmission. California regulations limit the horsepower to 130 for a low-emission vehicle. At posted highway speeds, the engine in the tested car turned at 2,500 to 2,800 rpm, which helps the gas mileage. The manual 5-speed shifts smoothly and offers good acceleration.

The visibility in the Focus is somewhat limited for backing into and out of parking spaces, mainly because of the large, solid headrests. On the open road, visibility is fine, with larger mirrors than in other cars and the side windows.

The back seat, usually a tight fit in many coupes, is spacious in the Focus but difficult to enter and exit, even for an average-size person. The hooks for hanging dry cleaning, for example, are back far enough that some people would have to step into the back to reach them. The large trunk includes a safety latch for someone trapped inside to escape.

In its digital readouts, the tested car averaged more than 31 mpg between fill-ups of the 13-gallon tank. With the gas receipts, the tested car approached 33 mpg for combined highway and local driving.

The Ford Focus SES, nicely outfitted, comfortable and sporty, can make 700 miles in a week roll by almost without notice.

Data Box:2008 Ford Focus SES
Vehicle class: 2-door coupe.
Power: 2.0L, L4 DOHC engine.
Mileage: 24 city / 35 highway.
Where built: Wayne, Mich.
Base price: $16,475.

Stephen H. Goldstein, senior editor for Golden Quill Editorial Services, has been a print and broadcast journalist since high school graduation — and in print even earlier.