Needham Rotary Club

Tuesday:     October 8, 2013

Location: Needham Sheraton


Pledge of Allegiance: Glen Davis

Song:  God Bless America; Led By: Karen Wetmore

Prayer: Led by Darrell Minnich


  • Ted reported on Alejandro, the 4 year old from Guatemala who is here for open heart surgery; a Guatemalan family from Lincoln has agreed to provide housing; surgery will be next Monday.
  • Greg Cronin still needs help with music program re-scheduled for January 25, 2014 especially with the web site; he is looking for music groups particularly from Needham area.
  • Bill Paulson reported dictionary distribution went very well. See the picture with the Newsletter, and the 'Story' on our web site.
  • Kathy Whitney reminded us of the Beth Israel Deaconess hospital Dream Big-Great Gatsby Gala on November 2 at Patriot Place; if anyone can make a donation for the silent please let Louise or Kathy know.
  • Kathy also spoke about the business directory being published by the Needham Business Association.  NBA members get a discount for an ad.  If you are interested, please contact Kathy or Louise.
  • Ken reminded us of the 3 Foundation events coming up later this month.
  • Bill Paulson read us Marian Cronin’s updated blog from Francs.  She is having a wonderful time and doing very well with her French. 
  • Bill also told us that Pedro is going great at Needham High School-all the girls love him.
  • Glen Davis read the letter from Youth Services thanking us for our support of single parents.


  •    Dan Minnich, Darrell’s son and today’s speaker
  •    Lynn McOwen
  •    Dave Good, Bank of America
  •    Marty Lindeman (prospective member)
  •    Chaz Eberly, visiting Rotarian from Wash. State.

Happy $$$:    Happy for beautiful weather; love to Lois; grandson teaching me power point tomorrow; great harvest fair; excellent interest in dog park at harvest fair; great weekend in New Hampshire and all the help received for 4 year old Alejandro from Guatemala here for open heart   surgery; happy first grandson due today; happy for dictionaries; welcome visitors; mother’s good health; happy to have 30 attendees today.


50:50:  Person: Bill Paulson; Pot: $120; jack of diamond.  No winner this week-9 of hearts chosen


Birthdays: none


Guest Speaker:  Daniel Minnich spoke of Waypoint Adventure.  They help disadvantage youth through the power of adventure.  Located in Newton they serve the local area; started 3 1/2 years ago and run adventure programs to anyone with disabilities. See their web site at:;


Next Meeting:  Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at Sheraton Needham

Joke of the Day: Appropriate to the times in which we live?

This is all you need to know to become an Engineer. You’ll love the logic here.       


The U.S. Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

     Why was that gauge used?   Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates designed the U.S. 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’s the gauge they used.

     Why did ’they’ use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that 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 (including England) for their legions. Those 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 Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore, the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. In other words, bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification, procedure, or process, and wonder,

'What horse's ass came up with this?', you  may be exactly  right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.


Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, you will notice that there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank.  These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit larger, 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, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.  


The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle 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  ass.


And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important!


Now you know, Horses' Asses control almost everything ...

Explains a whole lot of stuff doesn't it?