Shipping_containers_at_ClydeIt’s hard to imagine a world without container ships. These ships make it possible for us to request and send products all over the world. How do you think that Chinese- made pair of jeans go to you? Container ships are a feat of engineering and the backbone to our modern economy. The container aboard these ships are able to seamlessly be transported to the ship by semi-trucks, loaded on the ship, and taken off to be transported by truck to their destination. There is no need to unload the contents as in the old days.

Before containerization was invented, items were transported in packages and placed aboard ships. It was a painstaking, time consuming process. Containers can hold up to 64,000 lbs of cargo each. Thanks to the invention of containers, the shipping time for cargo was reduced by 84% and costs went down 35%. By 2001, almost 90% of dry cargo was shipped in a container.

Shipping containers are built to hold heavy material, withstand the salty ocean air, and last a long time. They are usually made of steel, but can also be made of aluminum, fiberglass, or even wood. The invention of the container was not met with open arms. Many trade unions for dock workers balked at the idea. They believed this invention would cause massive job losses. Many companies involved in ports and railways were worried about the huge costs involved in developing infrastructure to handle these new containers.

Containers can now be loaded and unloaded from a ship in a few hours. The sturdy containers also allow for less breakage while the ship is underway. There is also less theft. Container ships now make up about 14% of the world’s fleet based on tonnage. Despite improvements in efficiency, about 2,000-10,000 containers are lost at sea each year. This costs companies about $370 million dollars. This is due to storms, or even ships sinking. Shipping by container is still the best way to go for many companies around the world. You can thank this containerization innovation next time you purchase an item made overseas.


Even if you haven’t had the chance to visit Paris, you already know about the Eiffel Tower. It is one of the world’s most iconic structures aside from the Statue of Liberty and a few others. Named after its creator Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The image below comes from the Eiffel Tower’s website and gives key figures regarding the structure.

  • The tower was only intended to last 20 years but was saved due to the scientific experiments it was used for
  • The tower served as a military radio post in 1903
  • The first public radio programme was broadcast in 1925 from the tower
  • Almost 250 million people have visited since it opened in 1889
  • 120 antennas are atop the structure
  • The country with the greatest percent of visitors (besides France) is Italy followed by Spain and the US
  • The Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure for 40 years until the Chrysler Building was completed
  • Every 7 years, 50 tons of paint are added to the tower to protect it from rust
  • The temperature can alter the height of the tower by up to 6 inches
  • The French nickname is La dame de fer meaning the iron lady
  • The tower weighs over 10,000 tons and is made of iron


UnknownNumismatists (coin collectors) likely have a few half dollars stashed away in their collection. Since 2002, the half dollar has only been minted for collection purposes.  This was due to a large inventory and lack of demand. These coins are no accepted in vending machines, slot machines, or other coin operated machines. Once supply levels of the coin drop, more will be minted. If you were lucky enough to find one in circulation you probably held onto it. Many magicians prefer the half dollar due to the coins weight and size.


During their prime, half dollars were used quite often. Many casinos accepted them, especially for games requiring a 50 cent ante like blackjack. The rise of silver in the 1960s caused a problem for the US Mint. The price of silver would have exceeded the value of the coins (dimes and quarters). In 1965, the composition of the coin changed to copper and cupro-nickel. The Kennedy half dollar, though, still contained silver. The percentage of silver in this 50 cent piece dropped from 90% to 40%.

Rise of the Quarter

As silver continued to rise, many people hoarded half dollars containing 90% silver. A roll of these coins would net around 7 ounces of silver. Eventually there were so few in circulation that businesses became used to it. The quarter soon became the highest value coin. Soon enough, banks and cash drawers stopped stocking the half dollar. Coin operated machines like payphones and vending machines did not make slots big enough to accept half dollars.

Half Dollars Today

Today the half dollar is virtually out of circulation. You would be hard pressed to find a place that accepted them or that issued them. It is mainly for the collector that the coin has been minted. If you have an interest in coins, the U.S. mint allows you to purchase modern day half dollars.

2015-ford-f-150-photo-564664-s-986x603-626x382It seems we have discussed the use of steel in automobiles in a number of blogs over the last several months. First steel is going to be replaced by aluminum, then an article retracts that idea saying steel is around to stay. I suppose it will always depend on the vehicle but Ford recently announced the final steel-bodied F-150 rolled off the line at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant last month. 

According to, Ford’s Kansas City facility will continue to manufacture steel-bodied F-150s until the end of the year, the line in Dearborn is being dismantled to make room for the new tooling and equipment required to produce aluminum-bodied trucks for the 2015 model year.


The Dearborn plant will be closed until mid-September, putting about 3,000 workers on temporary layoff. Employees will be called back in tiers, with two crews returning on September 21 and a third on October 20. Starting initially with preproduction models, the plant is scheduled to return to full speed before January.

According to experts, the company’s decision to switch its venerated pickup truck to aluminum is not without risk. Ford sold 63,240 F-150s in the U.S. in July, the last full month of production before the $359-million switchover began. In order to keep the cash flowing, Ford needs to expedite the switch but without sacrificing quality.

Read the full article here


UnknownOur modern infrastructure is possible thanks to steel. You may not realize it, but most everything we use today is comprised of steel. In the early days of transportation we relied on steel for the railroads. Now our cars, trucks, buses, and ships are made using steel. 
Electricity comes to our house through steel power lines and the power plants creating this energy are also made of the material. Our military relies on steel for battleships and aircraft carriers. 
Our homes contain tons of steel items. Most of our appliances have steel in them like fridges, ovens, and laundry machines. Forks, knives, spoons can also be made of steel. Even our food can come packaged in steel cans. group-stainless-steel-kitchen-items-13989128
Next time you’re at the hospital or doctor’s office, take a look around. Most of the surgical instruments used today are made of top quality steel. 

Steel is all around us!

10443310_672801599463694_4872253459980714572_nDid you know Americans use 100 million steel cans each day? That’s according to During that same day, more than 67 million cans are recycled by steel companies throughout North America. 

You may not realize it but we rely on steel packaging for our food to be durable. In fact, it may surprise you that you probably use at least one steel can ever day. While people call them tin cans, metal cans or aluminum cans, most food cans are truly made of steel. 

Steel cans package a variety of products including fruits, vegetables, soups, sauces, meats, juice, pet food, cleaning products, shoe polish, paint and coffee. But, steel cans are also good for recycling. 

More steel is recycled each year than paper, pastil aluminum and glass combined. When steel is recycled, it conserves energy, natural resources as well as making the process more financially sustainable. 

Read more about recycling steel and why it starts with you in the home below: 

How do you prepare steel cans for recycling? 
Once steel cans are used, make sure there is no remaining food in the can by rinsing it out. Place the steel lid inside the can as well since both can be recycled. If your community recycling program accepts empty steel aerosol cans or empty steel paint cans, they should accept these cans as recyclable materials as well. (Check your local recycling program about steel with the Steel Recycling Locator.) Just make sure the container is empty.

How do communities collect steel cans for recycling programs? 
Through curbside collection, drop-off sites or multi-material buyback recycling centers. In some communities, household refuse may be sent to a resource recovery facility (or waste-to-energy facility), where steel cans are automatically removed for recycling by magnets. This means that the steel cans are magnetically separated and recycled even when they’re placed in the trash. However, not every city has this type of service so it’s encouraged to place your steel household products in the recycling bin every time.

Where else might steel containers be collected for recycling? 
Anywhere they are used. On-site recycling programs may be established at restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and many other establishments that have foodservice facilities.

What happens to steel cans after they are collected? 
A recycling truck takes the steel cans and other materials from the curbside, drop-off site or buyback center and hauls them to a material recovery facility (MRF). At the MRF, the steel cans are magnetically separated from the other recyclables, crushed into large cubes called bales, and then shipped to steel mills or foundries for recycling. The steel cans are then combined with other steel scrap from other recycling locations, taken to a steel mill and melted in a furnace to make new steel for many new steel products which can include automobiles, appliances, construction materials or another container.

While many packaging materials have to be “downcycled” into lesser products, steel can be continuously recycled into any common steel product without a loss of quality.

What other steel products are recycled? 
Many steel products are recycled every day. Steel from appliancesautomobilesand construction materials is routinely recycled. Each year, more than 80 percent of the steel the domestic industry produces is recycled. That’s a lot of steel!

What does it mean to “buy recycled?” 
The term “buy recycled” refers to ways that you can help keep steel’s infinite life cycle a continual loop through buying products that are made of recycled materials. All steel contains a minimum of 25% recycled material so when you buy a steel product, whether it’s a paper clip, an appliance or a steel-framed home, you can be sure you’re “buying recycled.”

What are the benefits of recycling steel? 
Recycling steel helps save landfill space while providing a valuable scrap resource to the steel industry. Using old steel to make new steel also preserves natural resources and energy. For every ton of steel recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved. And in a year, the steel industry conserves the equivalent energy to power about 18 million homes for 12 months or enough to provide the city of Los Angeles power for roughly eight years.