Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Untimely Demise of My New Computer

My computer has contracted a virus that has disabled Internet Explorer as well as many other options and programs that would allow me to remove the virus. It is still running at the moment so I am salvaging my files as I am not sure I will ever be able to fix this. My anti virus program no longer see's any viruses (initially it picked up over 50 intrusions) but somehow internet explorer is running invisibly and I am unable to use explorer for anything. I can't find any useful info on the internet. All I can do is wait for someone to have the same problem, come up with a solution and post it somewhere. Then I have to get to another computer, and transfer whatever software I need to mine and try to fix it. This is frustrating beyond belief. My new computer has been rendered useless and I am back to begging and borrowing again. I am trying not to be extremely angry and bitter and frustrated. I guess I'll get more reading done.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Quote-of-the-Day Challenge!

WRITE DOWN THE FOLLOWING...

1. your name
2. a noun
3. a verb (present tense / ending in 's')
4. a plural noun
5. an adverb (ending in 'ly')
6. an adjective
7. another noun

PICK YOUR WORDS BEFORE READING BELOW!



COMPLETE YOUR QUOTE OF THE DAY BY PLUGGING IN THE WORDS YOU CHOSE ABOVE.

[your name] - "A [noun] that [verb]s [plural noun] is [adverb] a [adjective] [another noun]."

NOW LEAVE A COMMENT AND TELL ME WHAT YOU CAME UP WITH!

Clare Whiting - "A kiss that speaks volumes is rarely a first edition."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peter Drucker - "The best way to predict the future is to create it."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ok, i wanna go home now.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

sequacious: having a sequence; following

Friday, December 05, 2008

It's The Little Things...

Today started well. Slept soundly, woke up at a good time, showered, ate, got on the road at a good time, made good time all the way to Portland...and then the little things started.

No parking at the Troutdale yard (abandoned 2 attempts), finally parked illegally in a lot that used to be legal to park in (it's a long story - let's skip it), next I went from the yard to my delivery (one of those don't be early but don't be late either drops) and upon my arrival discovered that for the last four days I had been forgetting that 22:00 hours means 10pm, not 11pm. Thus, thinking I was arriving 30 minutes early, I actually arrived 30 minutes late. Next, the dock door which was assigned to me was taken for some reason and I spent the next 15 minutes running between  the guard shack, the receiving office and my truck, as well as circling a very small crowded (with lots of big trucks rushing to and fro barely missing one another) dock area trying get into an open dock door before someone else did. Next, upon opening my trailer doors to prepare for docking, it is apparent that several pallets have fallen over in transit and a very large amount of freight is clearly damaged (meaning instead of going to the yard and dropping of an empty trailor after this, I get to make a bunch of phone calls, send a few forms, take the damaged freight back to the already over crowded Troutdale yard and hope there is some one there that can help me get it out of the trailer so I can drop an empty trailer and got to bed). I also discovered that I have been logging the wrong trailer number in my logbook for at least 4 days if not longer (this means I have to re-write all of those logs). I don't even want to look to see if it's more at this point. I'll do it later. This all happening while in the back of my mind I am remembering that  I am also in trouble for 12 over-speed (going over 65mph regardless of local speed limit) warnings that I just heard about yesterday.

My stress level is a little high at the moment, but I am trying to keep it under control. I just wasn't ready for all this at once. I am really not doing that bad. I have to remind myself of that. All of these are things that just happen sometimes. True I  could have double checked my paperwork and my ETA times to make sure, and I may now have this as a reminder to do that more thoroughly in the future. i don't know what I could've done about the damaged freight. Drive more gracefully? I dunno. I think that one is on the people who loaded the darn thing. (big sigh) I guess we'll see. Maybe I'll have some free damaged Gatoraide on my hands when this is over.

I am still looking forward to my day off in Portland but as seems to happen so often, work stuff is starting to encroach on my day off. For one thing I will probably get out of here pretty late. This place is notoriously slow. For  another, I just discovered I have a pile of paperwork to sort through, correct, and re-write, for another I have to drive my truck to a shop in town tomorrow for service and maybe pick it up tomorrow night as well. My precious hours of leisure in one of my favorite cities are slipping through my fingers like sand. Time  is like that I guess (another big sigh). Well we'll see where this all goes.

(Later)
Things turned out ok. No damaged goods. I think I am just tired more than anything. Going to bed.

Marie Curie - "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

B. F. Skinner - "Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Names I Like (Updated)

Apple
Archer
Arné* (f)
Betty
Charlotte "Charlie"
Darwin*
Dayton* (f)
Edwin
Edward
Edmond
Lee
Lexie
Luxie
Mae
Miah
Sebastian
Sidney (f)
Thurston
Thatcher
River
Royal
Ruth*
 
*recent additions
 

Combinations I Like

Apple Archer (f/m)
Apple Mae (f)
Charlotte Bleu (f)
Edwin Archer (m)
Mae Bleu (f)
River Lee (f)
Sebastian Royal (m)
Thurston Royal (m)

 

Monday, December 01, 2008

Fun With Mud.

Imagine trying to walk in a field several inches deep in runny peanut butter. Not the chunky kind either. We're talkin' extra creamy oily runny peanut butter. Got the picture? Ok now imagine trying to drive in said peanut butter. Now imagine (if you can) trying to drive a 15 ton 18 wheeler in said peanut butter. You may even imagine that such a vehicle might get stuck in such a substance. Of coarse once stuck, the only alternatives are either putting tire chains on (meaning that you will now not only be walking, but also kneeling, and perhaps even laying in this substance), or asking your company to pay for a very expensive "wench-out" from a local heavy-duty towing service. Having done the later a couple times in my early days here at Interstate, I opted for putting chains on. I figured, what the heck; playing in mud was fun as a kid - why not now?

Yep. You guessed it. This is not just a hypothetical situation. The peanut butter to which I referred is none other than good ol' Indianapolis, Indiana mud. Never mind how I got myself into it to begin with, let's pick up at the part where I am getting out of my truck to play in the mud (I really like calling it runny peanut butter; "mud" just doesn't do justice to the actual consistency of the stuff, so where ever I type "mud" just think "runny peanut butter").  As I took the first step into the mud it became apparent that if I did not fasten my shoes on more tightly I would very soon lose them. The mud sucked at my feet making a funny "sclop! sclop!" sound as I...walked? Trudged? No...ah, what the heck - as I "sclopped" to my chain rack to retrieve my tire chains. The mud caked to my shoes as well so my feet looked like giant clods. As I tried to work the chains around the tires, my knees sinking in the oozing sludge, it became apparent that the tires had sunk too far for the chains to fit around the tires. The textbook answer to this scenario is to dig space around the tired so the tire chains can fit tightly around the tire. Right. Dig. No problem. Just like digging melting ice-cream. Or hot fudge. That's a good one; try digging a hole in a bowl of hot fudge sometime. See how far you get. Well, needless to say this stuff wasn't hot (in fact it was beginning to snow at this point) and my chains weren't exactly putting themselves on so I improvised and managed to find a way to temporarily fasten the chains. Then I climbed back into my truck and tried out my solution.

Two feet. Not bad. Only 68 feet to go. Of coarse now, having climbed back into my truck caked in mud, my driving area (seat, floor, brake pedal, throttle pedal, door) was (and still is) pretty much caked in mud as well. Well, I'll worry about that later. I went to check on my chains, noticing very quickly that my temporary fix turned out more temporary than I had intended and my chains had now not only slipped off of my tires but had wrapped themselves around the axle like some  gigantic poorly made chocolate pretzel (another food metaphor? I must be hungry...) I believe it was at this point, while I was trying to extricate my slimy mud-caked tire chains, that some concerned citizen passing by pointed out to me that once I got out of the mud I would undoubtedly be tracking mud all over this otherwise clean street and that I had better clean it up or the neighboring property owners would have something to say about it. To which I - as politely as I could  - smiled and nodded and continued with my work. I kept wondering after that if the person had just failed to notice that I was covered nearly head to toe in mud, or didn't care, or perhaps assumed I was enjoying myself (at the expense of their, until now, clean and tidy street).

After getting my chains free I had to step back and re-assess the situation. I decided I needed a new strategy, but what? I sclopped around my truck a bit examining the situation from different angles, guessing at whether or not a second attempt at putting chains on would be a.) effective and b.) worth the effort. I eventually concluded that it would be neither and got on the phone to my fleet manager to request a wench-out, but as I sat in my driver seat talking on the phone I gently rocked the truck back in the forth (as I had done earlier) to see if I could sort of wiggle the truck out.

At the first slight attempt the truck immediately moved another four feet and then stuck again. I told my phone contact I'd call them back. Here was a solution that I had written off too soon. It took another 15 minutes or more of additional wiggling as well as wedging various things under the tires for better traction (I looked for the concerned citizen but he was unavailable and probably would have made poor traction anyway) but after some time and effort I managed free myself from the mire and park the truck on the street.

Deciding it best to make at least an effort at PR on the behalf of Interstate, I took my fleet managers card and gave it to the property manager of the closest property and then went of my merry muddy way.

The moral to this story? Mud can be fun, provided there are no other stressful elements introduced into the equation, such as physical discomfort, hunger, fatigue, poor health, extreme weather, an eminent deadline, or mortal peril. When all is said and done, I have a bit of a muddy mess in my truck now, but it is confined mostly to my driving area  and should be relatively easy to clean up once it dries. This hasn't ruined my day or even my night and I am thankful for that. Well, I better run along. Happy trails, until I write again!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Infrequent Updates

My apologies readers. I have no excuse. I just haven't been updating my blog. I have been distracted by other things to play with on the internet.

So what's happened lately? Well, I have paid of almost all my debt. My two biggest outstanding loans are now paid in full and I am hacking away at one remaining smaller debt. ETA for debt free living, January 1, 2009. Next two financial goals are saving and building credit.

Meanwhile my truck driving lifestyle has become much more comfortable over the past few months. My spending allowance is a bit more generous (but still modest) and I have added several comforts to my mobile apartment (the one here behind my driver seat) including custom made bedding (thanks to my Grandma who helped and guided me in my first sewing project), an new and improved on-board dispatch computer (courtesy of Interstate), an upgraded stereo system (with a subwoofer under the driver seat), a portable DVD player, and of coarse my new  Eee PC laptop computer (it's so cute!). I also added wall-to-wall carpeting to my living space, as well as a couch bolster thing that my mom and grandma also helped me make.

I have to say that the one thing that has not improved has been my social life. It has gotten a slight boost from getting a new laptop and being able to socialize online, but there really is nothing like seeing people in person. Also, I have been staying out on the road for longer runs - two months or more at a time instead of just three weeks. This has helped my work experience to be so much more positive not to mention increasing my overall income, but even though I can spend up to a week off when I get home, I feel myself drifting from friends and family. A few I have managed to stay in touch with, and I find myself more motivated than ever to make the effort - which is nice, since a few of us Shackelfords are not great at keeping in touch, and I feel am now much better at it than I was before - but still, there are people I used to see everyday that I am now lucky if I  talk to once every couple months and that makes me sad. Not that I feel anyone has abandoned me, it's just that some people just aren't real good at keeping in touch.

That being said, on the other hand I must say that I have been seeing more of some people than I would have otherwise like my brother John and his family, and my dear cousins and friends in the Northwest, not to mention (now being motivated) family and friends I have re-connected with back home.

People are the most important thing in the world to me. I wish I had more time to get to know more people and spend more time with the people I already know. Time. That's another thing I have become more aware of. Time in itself is nothing. It's what wee do with our time that is worth so much. And for me it is now time to sleep. Till next time! Adios.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mae West - "I like restraint, if it doesn't go too far."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dreams and Goals

In no particular order:

  • Publish a compilation of independent  desert musicians
  • Open a cafe / venue / art-space in the desert
  • Have my own music studio again
  • Start a collective / record label (publish compilations, split EPs and Vinyl LPs
  • Finish writing my book and publish it
  • Write and publish several other books
  • Write, direct, produce, star in and/or compose the sound track for a feature length independent film
  • Travel in a complete circle all the way around the world (flying as little as possible)
  • Travel on a steam-ship from New York to London
  • Walk on Mars
  • See Antarctica (very briefly)
  • See the Sahara
  • Sail on the Mediterranean
  • Meet someone worth falling in love with
  • Finish all of my unfinished recordings
  • Be an obscure indie icon
  • Teach Philosophy, English, and/or music
  • Climb El Capitan
  • Be in a band again
  • Own a house (preferably in Fullerton or some similar town)
  • Drive an El Camino
  • Meet the President
  • See Washington DC
  • Help people by opening a psychology / psychiatry / physical therapy clinic
  • maybe have a kid or two
  • maybe adopt a kid or two
  • Live for a very very very long time...maybe forever
  • and go to bed soon because I am very sleeeeeeepy....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feeling Better. Back on the Road.

I am back in business, and headed right back to Tacoma. Again. Eastward please!! Not north, not south, and definitely not west. EAST. East where the flat states are. East where thousands of miles of road stretch out before me. East! East! East! So that when it's time to go home, I will cover a thousand more miles (at least!) coming back! Or you could just send me to New Mexico. That would work too. Especially with winter coming. Yeah, on second thought just run me between California and Texas for the next 4 months and I will be pretty content. Oh well. We'll see what really happens.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sudden Illness; Go Back 2 Spaces!

(Moan) Oh man. I don't feel so good. I was going through Weed, CA on the way to Orland, CA (which was on the way to the first of 3 drops) when a gurgling in my stomach alerted me to the sudden need to pull over and find a restroom forthwith. Luckily one of my usual stopping places was close at hand and I narrowly avoided a rather messy disaster. 50 miles later I was not so lucky. Same occurrence, but this time 15 miles from the yard at Orland. Too far. I didn't make it. I'm sorry to even make you read about this. I'm sure all of you my dear readers are right now saying "Eeeeeeew!" but this is one of the harsh realities of trucking.

Earlier today - in fact for the last few days - I have not been feeling my best, and today I was especially headachy, even a little dizzy just a few hours ago, which made me a little suspicious, but I shrugged it off until that episode 15 miles from where I am now. That confirmed my suspicion that maybe I was better to pass this load on than try to make it in my current condition. Actually my current condition is slightly better. I am at Orland now wiith a restroom close at hand and a full nights rest ahead of me. I did have to give up this load but I got most of the miles off it already anyway. I do feel bad for the dispatchers, CSR, planners, etc. that have to scramble to get the load delivered now, not to mention the driver that has to do 3 stops on a load with practically no miles left on it, but there really was no feasible way for me to do this. I'd need a HASMAT team to clean my truck when I got there. Plus with having to stop, and the headache and the dizziness. Just no good. Bad news bears. Anyhow  I hope to be feeling better tomorrow but I'm not going to push it. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Restless! Restless!

My new computer is a blessing and a curse. I thought it would be harmless to put a game on there. Bad idea. I need to cleanse my new computer of all the time-eating elements that I have added since I picked it up. Another day wasted away while I clicked here and clicked there. I'm just glad I don't have any deadlines tomorrow. I can take it slow and spend all day driving with the windows down.
I'm also way behind on my paperwork and I am finally doing laundry. It's gonna be a long night but at the end I will be glad to have taken care of all the things that have been neglected over this past week. I'm going to put the computer away for a while and catch up on everything else. Then maybe I can come back to it and do the cleansing. Cast out the computer demons that keep possessing me each time I open the cursed thing. Keep it basic. Keep it simple. It's a tool, not a portal by which to live some alternate reality. This reality is just fine, thanks. Things it is good for; Writing. Music. Communication. Managing time and finances. Getting information quickly. Things it is not good for; pure recreation, finding romance, learning new devious computer skills (hacking) just for the fun of it, etc. etc. etc. I really need to use it as a tool and a tool only. Otherwise it will consume me. I think I have just been so long without a computer that I have forgotten how to control myself and how to stay off the darn thing. Plus I guess I was really excited to get a new computer. Whew! Anyways, I'm taking a break.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Back to the road

And I'm off again into the wide countryside. After taking a week off I'm having a little trouble re-adjusting back to driving mode. Plus there have been some changes in my truck.  I brought my winter clothes etc. with me this time and they installed a new computer and scanner in my truck so I have less room than I did before. It's a little weird but I'll adjust. Anyways, I really need to be rolling instead of blogging. More later.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Home Again!

I am Home!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!
Whew! Okay (composing myself) It's been a long run. I started on September 3rd and just got back today, October 27th. I usually don't stay out that long but this was a very rewarding experience and until I find a reason not ro, I think I might stick to doing longer trips like this one. I can consolidate my home time, make more $, save more $, and just generally take things at a more steady comfortable pace. So where did I go? Geeze, let's see if I can remember...From California to Virginia, then to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, back and forth between those two a bit, Tennessee, back to California, then to Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, back to Washington, South Dakota, Nebraska, and then back to California. I'm not sure I got that all right - it seems like I'm forgetting some parts but it's pretty close. Now that I will have my lap top I will be able to update the map so you can see where I am going and so on. cool, huh?
Alright I am tired and I kinda smell so I am going to take a shower and go ro bed. Talk to you later!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Evan Esar - "Statistician: A man who believes figures don't lie, but admits that under analysis some of them won't stand up either."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My fleet manager just told me i am doing "fabulous"yay!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Oh, San Antonio. It has been too long.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Life is good. I feel like I'm on top of the world :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Extra Long Haul

Things are going very well. I'm puttin' away miles like nobody's business. Averaging somewhere around 2,500 miles a week, I am getting ahead fast, financially. Seeing as I'm sort of on a roll and don't have any commitments until November, I've decided to stay on the road through the month of October rather than taking the "obligatory" home time each 21 days. It will be the longest stint I've done so far - 2 entire months. I have been feeling pretty good despite a little cold I picked up on my way from Oklahoma to California. I am beating it off though. I treated myself to a night at a motel 6 last night and even splourged for a pizza delivery to make it the perfect mid-stint vacation. Tomorrow morning I a will be back at it with a load headd for Springfield, Missouri. By the time I get there I will have covered almost 5,000 miles in just over 1 week. Not bad. Not bad at all. I am glad I am getting alot of miles in before winter. Winter tends to slow things down a bit. Blizzards and whatnot. Plus I am hoping to be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas which will slow me down a bit.
To my friends and family in the northwest; I feel I owe you an explanation. I have not forsaken you but as I am discovering that less home time = more miles which = more pay, I am finding myself homesick for California more and more. The familiar sights sounds and smells keep calling me back there, but my love for the northwest has not diminished. I hope to visit again soon.
To all my friends who haven't heard from me, I will be in touch more regularly soon - I just ordered my new laptop and should be able to pick it up next time I swing by home (end of October). So, hooray for the new laptop! I miss you all and hope to see you again soon.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lebanon, TN

Welcome back to Lebanon, TN. It's been a while since I've beento the Lebanon Yard and it worked out that this was the best place for me to do a 34 hour reset (see Federal DOT regulations). The weather is nice and I managed to get my laundry done already so there's not much else to do now but just hang out. Yup. Hangin out. Just hangin. Oh yeah. Lovin' the hanging out.
Ok, so I am really bored right now. So much so that a 2 hour conversation in the laundry room with another driver about her metaphysical experiences was actually kinda fun. I don't really know of anything very entertaining to do near here, but I'm trying not to spend money anyway so I guess it's for the best. I am kinda burned out on cell phone chess (but John, if you are reading this, Queen's Knight to C3), and I'm just not in a reading mood at the moment. I don't feel like getting my bike down (it's strapped to the back of my truck cab) and there's no where to really walk to. The internet here is also very restricted. I had to bypass the firewall just to check my myspace messages.
(sigh)
I will probably end up grabbin' a comfy chair in the drivers' lounge and watch TV with everyone else. Meh. Oh well. Every day can't be an epoch adventure. I'm off to claim a few yards of cushy black leather reclining comfort. Adios.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gettin' Better All The Time

Well, despite the lull in freight I am feelin' pretty darn good. Hey! I'm 30 now! Y'know, I am actually feelin' good about that too! Anyways, I have not been able to update my blog regularly since I broke my laptop, so sorry! I will be on the road for a while bur please gimmie a call! I get some email on my phone too, so that works as well. See ya!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Faces (#002): Wish You Were Here



This is my common, "trying to look as happy as I think I feel but failing miserably" face. It probably didn't help that I was deleriously tired and a little buzzed from the gigantore sized beer I had at the steakhouse. This particular occurance of the T.T.L.A.H.A.I.T.I.F.B.F.M. face occurs while I was recovering from a little emotional break down I had on the road. Sometimes the stress just gets to you even when you don't know it.

Faces (#001): Breaking Poimt



I decided to keep a sort of log of what I look like in different moods. Why I even felt like taking a picture of myself at this moment I don't quite remember. Anyhow for the record this expression means I am under a tremendous amount of stress and if one more thing goes wrong I am going to totally lose it. Which I did. Moments later.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Finally! Heading west out of texas! Woo!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Where I've been lately...

Once again my laptop is out-of-order. This means updates will be spotty at best and the map on my blog will not necessarily be up to date. Luckily, I can still send photos with my phone, so people can have some idea of where I am at. Some email is being forwarded to my phone as well but I had to narrow it down to my top 20 most recent contacts as I was being inundated with bulk mail etc. Please feel free to give me a call if you are wondering why you haven't heard from me. It's been a stressful run these last few weeks, but I am not giving up. Thanks to everyone who has been there for me to talk to and especially to my mom who has helped me out of several (understatement) binds. Hope to hear from y'all soon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

TV Commercial

misoneism: The hatred or distrust of new things or ideas.
 
From Italian misoneismo (after Cesare Lombroso), from Greek μισος ("'hatred'") + νεος ("'new'").

Nostalgia

I was looking back through some old posts and came across a few things that gave me that warm fuzzy feeling we call nostalgia. Not that I prefer the past to the present. definitely not. I could hear the cry for help in my old posts that was screaming "Get me the hell out of this office!!" but there were plenty of blissful moments. Here are some highlights:

This is a picture of my room within just a couple months of moving into my apartment on Bird Lane. I had started out living in the master bedroom using the Ikea bed and furniture I got when I was married. That didn't last. The room was too big, too empty, too stark and didn't feel like a space that was meant to be lived in. So I switched to the smaller bedroom, ditched the furniture, and filled it with musical instruments. The white christmas lights were a nice touch too.



I also came across this list:
20 of my favorite things in no particular order.

  1. Seeing live bands that play swirling tremlulous atmospheric music that you can feel with your whole body
  2. Going to random new places with friends purely for the sake of the adventure
  3. Sitting in a comfy chair with a warm beverage on a cold day and reading a sprawling fantasy/adventure novel
  4. Writing to friends
  5. Getting letters/emails from friends
  6. Sharing music with friends
  7. Playing board games with friends
  8. Cooking/Entertaining for friends
  9. Laying down in my room and lazily making music with my guitar
  10. The sound of soft or tremelo guitar on my old 1970's amp
  11. Chocolate chip cookies (right out of the oven when they're still hot and gewy)
  12. Home-made nachos and mexican beer
  13. The sound of shoegazer/indie music on vinyl (especially starflyer 59 or radiohead)
  14. Something unexpexted and outlandishly/mischeviously funny
  15. Making mix tapes/CD's and mailing them to people
  16. Pen pals
  17. A really strange and unpredictable fantasy-fiction book or movie
  18. Watching silent films but choosing my own music music for the soundtrack
  19. Paintings with feel and color and texture that portray an emotion or something else that's elusive and abstract
  20. Talking with people who I can trust and be honest with, and being trusted and having people feel comfortable being honest with me.

The list still holds true today. Perhaps even more so. Here's to brighter days. May they be long and many.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Change of Plans

Well, looks like I am not going to Russia (Russia, OH - USA). I got as far as Amarillo, TX and swapped loads with another driver that needed to get home. The good news is, not only will this new load add extra miles to my paycheck this week (almost 800 extra miles), but it is also heading me towards one of my favorite places - Portland, OR. Oh, sweet land of bridges and local breweries, I look forward to drinking of your sweet (or sometimes bitter, or very hoppy) necter. I expect to roll into town sometime on Monday, probably spend the night, and head out the next morning, but who knows; I may get to stay longer! Anywho. See ya soon P-landers!

John Wooden - "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Treatise On Being Eccentric

Being "lonely" is for emo kids, teenagers, and Bobby Vinton. Way too cliche. I need to think of something more original to be. Hmmm. Nothing too dramatic, and it can't be anything that would normally inspire sympathy because that would just be pathetic. Although it would be just as easy to err in the other direction and be the sort of "brave" melancholy hero who suffers silently but soldiers on anyway. That is both horribly cliche and pathetic at the same time, not to mention kinda masochistic and sick-in-the-head. Maybe I could just be eccentric? That has the advantage of at the very least being interesting, but the downside of one's company being potentially socially undesirable. Hmmm, everything has it's price I guess, and I can think of other advantages of being eccentric. If one is eccentric, though often one's immediate presence is not necessarily desired (other than for sheer entertainment), one does often become the topic of conversation, and if one succeeds in being eccentric enough, the topic of local or even broader legend, perhaps even fame. It can also be a useful...gimmick? no, let's say character trait...in promoting ones music, writings, or works of art. Very useful. But in order to avoid being unoriginal in eccentricity, it must be both believable (if not authentic), and at the same time possibly explainable as being something else entirely that has only been mistaken for eccentricity. The rational explanation, of coarse, will be invariably abandoned (due to it being way too boring) but it is important that it be there to give credibility to the eccentricity of the person. It also helps if there are multiple vague rumors as to how one came to be eccentric, none of which must be confirmable and preferably all of which should have contradictory alternate theories (also based on rumors).
It is very important that these eccentricities also be on the light/entertaining side of things rather than the dark/cryptic side. Dark/Cryptic has the disadvantage of being exceedingly socially undesirable as well as potentially disturbing and creepy (e.g. Edgar Allen Poe). In other words no one will ever want to talk to you much less hang out with you. In addition, being mysterious (contradictory to common thinking) is not socially desirable because one must always be mysterious and therefore distant; revealing the mystery immediately dissolves anyone's attraction or interest. There must be a balance in eccentricity so that one's eccentric nature is bizarre enough that people want to witness the eccentricities first hand (i.e. in person), and yet no so bizarre that once witnessed, creates a desire to be free of ones presence as quickly as possible. Thus light and entertaining while simultaneously strange and interesting.
The ideal kind of eccentricity is one that could so compliment one's natural character (and perhaps someone else's natural character) that long term relationships could be formed and reasonably maintained. It may be necessary, however to have periods of extreme eccentricity, in order to maintain the general interest in one's self and therefore encourage social interaction in larger circles.
If one happens to be somewhat naturally inclined towards solitude, so much the better as this both helps the allusion of eccentricity, and helps lessen the weight of common side effects. Also, in order to be a happy eccentric, one must not be to concerned with the criticism of others as being controversial is often an important part of being eccentric (e.g. Woody Allen). Take comfort in knowing that for your critics, you are fulfilling a basic need in their life, and for your cult following you are a hero if not a genius.
Well, time is short so In closing this reflection, I will leave you with my new mantra,
All spoons are hollowed, even when the fork has no point.
Till next week, goodnight.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Eat well and carry a small mint." - Jeremy McCool

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I am rolling again. Sorry I haven't updated for a while. Haven't had the internet. I don't have time for a full update so I'll make this quick:
 
1. I am feeling 100% better! No more sick blah-ness, yay!
2. I did not have to resign from Interstate - I returned to work after just a few days off.
3. I got my same truck back - it was not re-assigned
4. I managed to get all my stuff back into my truck (finally!)
5. I am back on the road working again. yay!
 
Most notable here is the re-uniting of my laptop with it's power cable. Not real useful without it. Thanks to my family and friends that helped me check my email via telephone. Please erase my username and password from your brain's memory, thank you.
I will try to do a more thorough post as soon as I have time. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Adventures

Never a dull moment. Having picked up some sort of virus somewhere between Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, I have become increasingly ill over the past week. Finally after criss-crossing my way to Eden, North Carolina (which is the awesome quaint town that's a bugger to get to) I finally got my load going home (Palm Springs, CA this time) a straight shot down I-40 from North Carolina to California. After being set back by some technical problems with the trailer, I was running behind so I pulled an all-night shift from Arkansas to New Mexico (the stars over Texas and New Mexico at night are amazing by the way), but by the time I crossed the border into New Mexico I was becoming seriously ill. Sinus, nose, throat, lungs, ears - the works. My ears and been building and releasing pressure as I went up and down the hills, but eventually my right ear stopped draining and started just building pressure. By the time I was 50 miles from Albuquerque the pain became unbearable and was accompanied by increasing vertigo. Vertigo sucks when your standing still, it's even worse when trying to drive a several ton truck. Despite my determination to get this load done on time with no further complications, I couldn't ignore the danger any longer. I made the call and told my dispatch I was looking for an Urgent Care facility. I ended up going to the ER at a local hospital in Albuquerque. Several hours later I was diagnosed with a respiratory virus, a sinus infection, and vertigo and given some prescriptions along with instructions not to drive until checked out by my home doctor. Don't drive. Sure. No problem. Uhhhh....so how exactly do I get to my home physician if I can't drive? My fleet manager shared my frustration (probably adding some of her own) and the office people went to work trying to figure this one out. Meanwhile a husband-wife team with the same company who happened to be in Albuquerque rescued the load and took it on to California while I hung out waiting for the verdict from the office. And then it came. Now, this sounded weird to me at first too, so bear with me.
Since I have not accrued enough sick / disability leave, and since the doctor did not indicate how long I would be out of the driver seat, the company has suggested the following: I am to resign my position at the company (to be re-instated as soon as I get a Doctor's approval), move out of my truck (imagine moving out of a very small apartment), they will give me some money to help get me home, and then I can recover, get the doctor's OK, and be re-hired. Weird, huh? but it kinda makes since. Obviously there were a ton of other questions and considerations that had to be sorted out, but it looks like tomorrow morning I will be packing up and headed home minus my truck for a little unpaid sick leave. In a lot of ways this is frustrating beyond measure and I keep rehearsing the events to see if i could have done something different, but in the end I made the best call I could. A dizzy truck driver is not a good thing. In some ways though this is a welcome break. This last three weeks has been pretty stressful and rough and this arrangement came with a verbal assurance that the company valued me as an employee and wanted me to stay, so that at least was a relief to hear after being on the edge of my seat for the last three weeks because of my previous screw ups. I look forward to a quick recovery and a better time of it in the future, but as always, we'll see what happens and deal with it as it does.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Faces (#003): Sleep deprivation does funny things to men.



36 hours straight. Wow. I think I was had just gotten my second (or maybe third or fourth) wind here. Yikes.

Monday, April 07, 2008

An interesting Fact.

In 1896 there were only four cars registered in all the United States. Two of them collided with each other in St. Louis.

Truck Driving and the Economy

Look around you. Seriously, do it right now. Everything you see was moved by a truck driver at some point. Your food. Your clothes. The wallpaper. The carpet. The materials that make up the room you are sitting in. That fake tree over there. Even the real ones lining the boulevard outside. The drapes. Your car. Everything. It was all moved somewhere for your convenience by truck drivers. How many trucks are out there on the road doing this? Hundreds? Thousands? Try 15.5 million.[1] Here's a quote from one statistic site:

A typical tractor-trailer raises about $40,000 a year in federal/provincial taxes and fees.Trucks make "just-in-time" delivery possible - no other mode of delivery can match the service provided by the trucking industry. Over 269,000 commercial trucks cross the Manitoba-US border each year. In 1998, $6.06 billion of Manitoba's exports are to the United States. In 1998, $7.45 billion of Manitoba's imports are from the United States. 80% of Manitoba's merchandise trade with the United States is shipped by truck.Canada and the United States trade $300 billion in goods and services every year. More than 66% of the goods travel by truck.Each year trucks cross the Canada-US border over 10 million times. (that's one trip every three seconds).For-hire trucking directly and indirectly contributes $890 million of Manitoba's GDP.

Also, the trucking industry accounts for 12.8% of all the fuel purchased in the U.S. That means 12.8% of the fuel industry's income is guaranteed. America can't operate without it. Right now our economy is hurting. People are buying less. Things are being shipped less. And shipping is becoming more expensive. Why? In 2002 the average price for fuel was $1.26 per gallon. By 2004, two years later, it was still only $1.58 per gallon.[3] The next year, 2005, Diesel fuel shot up to $3.15 per gallon. [3] It more that doubled in less than 1 year. Each penny increase in diesel costs the trucking industry $381 million over a full year. [4]Here's another interesting statistic: on average, every time oil prices go up 10 percent, 150,000 Americans lose their jobs. [5] Prices are still high and going higher. The average profit margin for the trucking industry is 4.8% [6] while the average profit margin for the oil industry is 8.2% [7] Trucking is the foundation for America's economy. The industry provides over 9 million jobs [8] and makes even more possible by moving needed goods and materials across the country. About 88% of Truckers and warehouse workers are non-union. About 10% of all truckers are independent or "Owner Operators." The rising fuel prices are especially hurting these guys. How can self employed workers unite to create better working conditions? Something, either alternative fuel or energy, or controls on oil companies price increases, I don't really know, but something has got to give. Maybe biodiesel is the answer? At the moment biodiesel is not significantly cheaper than petrodiesel but a more widespread use of biodiesel would certainly lower the demand for petrodiesel. Also, owner-operators could conceivably produce their own - the only problem being the extremely large quantity they would need to produce, and having it available where they needed it when they needed it. It seems to me, the only thing that can really save independent drivers is for them to unite and work together for a solution. I think biodiesel has a lot of potential for being that solution but truckers would need to unite and work together to make it happen. Until then, I would encourage biodiesel sellers to target independent truck drivers as potential customers and encourage independant drivers to use it over petrodiesel whenever possible. Thus endeth my political rant.

SIDE NOTE:
Just to make things more complicated, there is a serious drawback to biodiesel when it comes to environmental effects and third-world living conditions. Though I still support biodiesel, I think it is important to be aware of these issues and try to work for solutions to these problems as we further develop methods of biodiesel use and production. For details, see this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel#Environmental_concerns

Friday, March 28, 2008

John Ruskin - "Labour without joy is base. Labour without sorrow is base. Sorrow without labour is base. Joy without labour is base."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I forgot to tell you about Santa Fe...

Day 137
I have to apologize to those of you following my adventures for the lapse last week. I was having so much fun that I forgot that my internet bill was due and lost my truck-stop internet service and was thus sadly unable to post. Actually it didn't even occur to me until I was on my way to Flagstaff, AZ. Anyhow, here's a recap...

Point A-B: Tacoma, WA to Salt Lake City, UT
As discussed in previous posts, I was pulled into Tacoma for some remedial training. Luckily they were very understanding about the whole thing. Once I explained the situation and they witnessed some of my driving first hand, all doubts were put to rest and I was released to go back out on the road. This time though, I was armed with the hard learned lessons of the last 3-4 weeks, along with alot of new information from talking to the trainers and my Fleet Manager, Tracy (who totally rocks). The area I was especially eager to improve in was trip planning. There are so many unexpected things that can (and do) happen on any trip, that having a flexible but very thorough plan is crucial, as is executing that plan. Lots of good questions were met with lots of good answers. In addition to this aresenal of knowledge, I was also armed with what has proved to be one of my most valuable tools yet - a GPS navigation system. Halellujah! Thank you Mom & Nelson for letting me borrow it. My new favorite words are "recalculating route." This tool allows me to instantly adjust to unexpected situations like closed roads, truck restricted roads, missing an exit or turn, etc. Before, any of those situations quickly became a crisis as I scramble to try to find a place to stop the truck (which is an adventure all its own) figure out where I am and come up with a new route to get me where I need to go. I still use Qualcom (company on-board computer), my Motor Carrier's Atlas, and Microsoft Steets & Trips to plan my routes, but the GPS unit has improved how I execute them by 100x.
The third advantage I have had over this last leg was the weather. Absolutely beautiful. I was too busy savoring it to even take any pictures.
Point B-C: Salt Lake City, UT to Gallup, NM
On all my previous cross-country trips, I never considered state highways (the little red lines on the map) as viable routes. I always stuck to the interstates. This was the first trip where I had some significant miles to cover on state highways, and it completely changed the way I think about them. If a picture could have captured what I saw on this leg, I would have taken more. Unbelievable. If you are ever passing within 100 miles of this area, take the time to see Canyonlands, UT.
Canyonlands, UT
Soooo beautiful. I also made some new friends on this leg. Richard and Scott are a couple kids from Orange County (recently living in Salt Lake City) who were traveling the country with a couple of guitars, some camping gear, and two really big back packs. It was fun and refreshing to meet some like minds on the road.
Scott, Me, Richard
Point C-D: Gallup, Albequerque, & Santa Fe, NM
Getting back to work, my final delivery on this load was at a construction site. This made things a little tricky as the address didn't officially exist yet, and the roads into the site were somewhat less than ideal (i.e. unpaved). In addition, there was some disagreement between my company and the person recieving the load as to whether this was to be a "live unload" (they unload the trailer while I wait) or a "dropped trailer" (I unhook the trailer and go). Aparently these guys lost one of our trailers. Anyways, I ended up dropping the trailer and bobtailing (i.e. no trailer) to Albequerque, NM to pick up an empty trailer etc. etc.
Point D-E Santa Fe, NM to Flagstaff, AZ
More beautiful weather. I am also very proud of myself for making good use of my time on this run. The extra knowledge and the GPS unit have really been paying off. I spent the night in Arizona parked next to a Taco Bell off route 66. Watched as the sun set behind silouhetted statues of dinosaurs. Sunsets in Arizona are truly glorious. Picked up a load in Flagstaff. Purina dog food. That concrete tower with the Purina chex logo is hard to miss from I-40.
Point E-F: Flagstaff, AZ to Red Bluff, CA
Easy driving and beautiful weather all the way to California.
I never thought I would love Barstow so much. It is a trucker's paradise when it comes to fast food within walking distance of your truck. I splurged and got some Panda Express and an ice-cream cone. I gotta reward myself occasionally. Makes keeping a tight budget worth it.
Next day out of Barstow, CA, more beautiful easy driving. Windows down. Stereo cranked. Man. This is why I love this job.
Footnote: there was a little incident in Bakersfield at a fuel stop involving the DOT bumper of my trailer and the front bumper of a Peterbilt truck. Luckily the driver was really nice about it and we joked a little as we both filled out our respective paperwork for the incident. Man. I hope this doesn't put me back in training.
Summary
So there you have it. It's been a great week, and I can only hope the next few days will go as smoothly!

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Distance

Day 127
It's lonely time again. Just one of the things I go through being on the road all the time. All part of the territory. It also is a good reminder to me that I need to find another line of work as soon as I get ahead again financially. The adventure has been worth it but this is not the life style for me. It puts a strain on relationships, making some hard an others just not even realisticly possible. I was reminded of that today. Sobering. I need to sink some roots again when this is done. Get my life back. This is no way to live. It can be fun, and rewarding, memorable, great for telling stories, pretty good for the finances, but it's hell on my social life. I knew it would be, but it's one thing to sort of "know" ahead of time, and to really "know" by experiencing it present tense. I am not sure about Portland either. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Portland. But I miss home. I miss my friends. I miss familiar places that I know better than any other. I guess though, absence makes the hearrt grow fonder. At least in some cases. I'd be lying to say I wasn't a lttle down, but don't worry dear reader. I have hope for the future, and I know I will feel better tomorrow. It's just one of those things.

Friday, February 29, 2008

California Home Time Checklist

So let's see...
See the ocean (check...Huntington Beach and Newport Beach - I know, they're basically the same beach...)
See friends (check...though I did miss some people...)
See family (check...not everyone was in town)
Eat at hole-in-wall mexican food place (check)
Breathe desert air (check...though I didn't get to see Joshua Tree this time - next time...)
See Fullerton....arrrgh. Not this time. Soooo close. I passed it on the freeway a couple times but I was trying to get somewhere. I shoulda' stopped and just got some coffee or something. Just long enough to stroll down Harbor Blvd between Chapman and Commonwealth...or at least Wilshire and Commonwealth. The old Fox theatre was even showing Casablanca tonight. Rats.
See Los Angeles? (sigh) just not enough time. Oh well. Next time. One day for Fullerton and the beaches I missed, and one day for LA. Or maybe breakfast in Fullerton, a day cruising up Pacific Coast Highway from Laguna Beach to Huntington, then catch a show in LA with some friends and eat at some place like Bright Spot or something. Ah, man. I think I just laid out the perfect day. Well, almost. I didn't manage to squeeze in a library or a bookstore or record store. Hmm. Oh well.
 
Anyhow, it was a good visit. I got to see my brother and my friends in Palm Springs. It was fun. I started by going to Newport Beach with my friends Jeremy and Heather McCool. That was fun. I also got to see Jeremy's parents on the way there. I've known that family since I was 19 or 20. They are very dear to me. Next morning I drove to hunting ton Beach. My brother Ben and his lady Kareen took me to a Mexican food place across the street from their apartment (which is a block from the ocean) and I spent some more time hanging out at the pad looking at pictures and chatting. Kareen alos baked me some amazing chewy chocolate chip cookies to take with me. They were still chewy the next day. No idea how she does it. She said she didn't know either. Later that night in Palm Springs, Nicole and her roommate took me out to dinner and drinks at this place I'd always wanted to in Palm Springs. We shared a pizza with thin slices of pear and gorgonzola cheese, a stuffed artichoke, mussels in this incredible sauce, a gormet pot-pie, a really good cesar salad, and escargot. AmA-ZING! Good food. Severeal beers. good times. Then we hung out at their house and played Wii while I had a very well made gin & tonic. Cassidy made me an amazing mix CD which included a 2 page track list with a paragraph for each song explaining why it was on the mix. I loved it. It is currently the mix CD to beat for those of you that are making mix CDs for me...and are competitive about making mix CDs...anyways, I was also gifted with several cannisters of tea and a cute card of granny climbing out of her doileyed and laced ridden semi-truck. Cute. Me after another 50 years of truck driving...and a sex change...I woke up the next morning with a bit of a headache (must've been the Wii). Spent the rest of the time at my Mom's. Recharge time. Got to see my dog Bounder too. Still a dog. Still smells. Still constantly getting in trouble. Oh well. He's really my mom's dog anyway. Aaaaand that brings me here. Back in the truck, now with the addition of a cozy rug (more like wall-to-wall carpet in this space) and my DVD collection (which I forgot last time). Ready to roll. Better call it a night, I gotta roll out tomorrow. Goodnight!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Coming Home

Day 116
No matter how much I love the northwest, going back to California will always feel like coming home. The feeling of going home after being away for so long is one the sweetest sensations. Home. I forget how much I love a place until I find out I get to go back. I want to see the ocean. Huntington, Balboa, Laguna....I want to see Joshua Tree, and breath the desert air, I want to see Fullerton, my home town, the city I was born in, I want to see Los Angeles, eat at some hole in the wall greasey mexican food place downtown. I miss my friends, and my family and I want to see them too. Two days to do all of this. Technically I get four, but my arrival day counts as one, another day will be needed for maintenance, repairs, restocking, and cleaning up my truck, leaving only two real days of off time. Two days after being out for 21 days. *sigh*
I have to admit that I still love my job. It's rough alot of the time, but mostly because I am still learning. It is an adventure every day. Sometimes good, sometimes, not-so-good, but always an adventure.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Perspective

Day 111
In my frustration, I tend to forget about all the beautiful things I see every day. I guess I pay for the bliss of spending all day driving across the country in short spurts of intense frustration. The majority of the time I spend on the road is wonderful. I have time to reflect, time to take in the scenery, all kinds of good music to listen to, time to come up with ideas for songs, or characters and plot twists for my writings, I even get to see family I otherwise might have never visited, at least not with any frequency, and every day is an adventure...I really do enjoy my work. I am a little ashamed that I spend more space on my blogs talking about the bad parts than I do the good parts. I will try to balance things better in the future. In the mean time, for samples of the good parts, see my pictures!

Carrie Fisher - "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You know what I'd like to do with this iron bar here?

Day 108
So here's roughly what happened. First of all, I got lost in this city in Massachusetts. It's not that I messed up my directions, or didn't follow them properly, it's that a. the map did not indicate that I would be driving through the heart of downtown of an old New England city, b. these cities were not built with cars (much less big trucks) in mind, c. the intersection were such that it was unclear whether I was going straight or turning, d. the streets were not clearly marked, e. the besides the main drag virually all other streets were restricted (either because they were too narrow or had low clearance bridges), f, there was nowhere to stop to get my bearings that would not be obstructing traffic. Until I saw that parking lot. Sure it was covered in snow and a little tight but I'd gotten out of tighter spots before and I really needed to stop. This would be my third time stopping to get my bearings since getting off the freeway but at least I wouldn't be blocking traffic and I was getting frustrated and needed to chill out for a minute. Well, skip ahead a few minutes to where (after some difficulty) I manage to get into the parking lot...and get stuck in the snow. Not just snow, snow on top of water on top of ice. My feet are now soaked, it's getting dark, I am only four miles from my destination, and I don't like the look of the nieghborhood. My efforts to get "unstuck" have been in vein so I make the call to roadcall to get me out. "Hmmmm..." says roadcall, "it's going to be very expensive to get a tow in that area...did you try putting chains on?" Not being sure whether putting chains on in a downtown area was something I ought to do, I had not. Big sigh. "I don't think I can get them on, but I'kk give it a shot...:" the snow is wedged high up around the tires and frozen. I wrestle with the chains for a few minutes and give up. I really don't like the look of this neighborhood, and would prefer to spend less time out of my truck and more time inside waiting for a tow. I express my concerns to roadcall. "Well, it's going to be $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to get a tow out there...try moving the snow out of the way..." At this point I am WAY beyond frustrated. Move the snow out of the way?! Why don't you @#&$! move the @#$%&! snow out of the #&$%@! way!!! (I did not actually say this to roadcall. I did scream it aloud in the privacy of my truck where no one was there to hear me though...) I had tried to move the snow but may have been increasing distracted by the people loitering in my vicinity in this not-very-well-lit part of town in a city which I had never been in before. I fumed for a few minutes in my truck. They really weren't going to help me. Panick set in. I sent a frantic message to my fleet manager (now the night manager - my regular FM had gone home for the day) explaining that I felt unsafe getting out of my truck here and roadcall was not helping. I was not happy with the reply. "Try to get the chains on..." I was losing it quickly now. I had fantasys of creative uses I could have for the iron reach bar as I got it out of my truck and tried the chains again. There was the idea of quiting. Walking out. Yeah. Brilliant. Walk away from your job...in the middle of friggin Massachusetts in some city you can't even remember the name of...it's only 3,000 miles home, what am I gonna do, walk? Take a bus? I try to collect myself enough to give a genuine effort to getting the chains on. They were not going to help me with this one. I am on my own. If they bail on me in this situation, what other situations might they leave me out to dry in? Getting the chains on seems impossible. The ice around the tires won't move even when I try digging it out with my hands. Finally, using some chain extenders I manage to barely get them on one side. They'll be loose as soon as I move (if I can move) but it's the best i can do under the circumstances. The truck moves...and there are alot of banging/chain rattling noises that accompany the movement, but before I can do anything about it, several things have happened. First, the several red lights I have never seen before light up on my dashboard accompanied by an ear piercing BEEEEEEEP!! Second, I can no longer hear any noises from the chains, third, I am stuck again somehow only this time I have managed to pull the front of my truck into traffic. Hmmmm. Let's see what my friends in the office have to say. By some miracle they have now become very helpful and are sending a truck. I express that I am not feeling very talkative and end the phone call after giving the necessary information. if I can avoid pissing anyone off, the situation (and my job) may be salvagable. Currently the only thing endangering my job is my intense desire to leave it. I realize that this may pass after a hot shower and a good nights sleep. I'd settle for just sleep. Tow truck arrives, I get unstuck, no one can locate the chains I used, I make the delivery, and go to bed. Next morning I wake up still a little aggravated about the previous night, but with a much clearer head and no desire to leave my job. My regular manager calls and of coarse wants to hear the story. As it turns out this episode, by some standard procedure of the company, makes me eligable for more training. "We're pulling you off the road, probably just for a day - for some more training. Either in Tacoma, WA or Tenessee..." Tenessee it is, apparently, unless I am delivered by some miracle. Nothing against Tenessee...just....I feel more understood in Washington. And more training. On what? Chaining? Navigation? Anger management? The later would probably be the most useful of the three. Well, we'll see what happens. I am trying to keep a good attitude about it, but it's hard when something this discouraging happens. Oh yeah, home time? Feb. 25th in Fontana, CA? Uh....probably not. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Michael Crichton - "I am certain there is too much certainy in the world."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pointed East But My Heart's Facing West

Day 104
Things are going well. Leaving Portland was a little harder than I expected, (my first real dose of lonliness on the road) but I am doing much better now, especially once I got back into the rythm of things and remembered to call a few friends every day. That helps alot. I just have to remember to not always bug the same person. Time management is still hard. Is it better to use my full 11 hour day and drive all night, or is it better to stop at 5 hours so I can start early the next day and drive my 11 hours in the day time? I am trying to keep regular driving hours this trip but road conditions and closures plus being sick and needing more sleep have really messed up my schedule. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I had wanted to send something to all my friends on Valentines Day but it looks like that may not be possible now since I am still playing catch-up with some of my bills/debts. Sorry guys. I'll still try to call as many people as I can. By the way, I am sort of VERY available to talk almost any time so feel free to call me. If you don't have my number, email me and I'll get it to ya. Anyways. Time for bed and dreaming of the Northwest.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Not Here

Day 100

It's risky getting personal in blogs. It feels like not closing your curtains at night. But here goes.
I felt the biggest downside to being a truck driver tonight. Not being there for the poeple I care about. I thought that it would mean that I just wouldn't have a social life, that maybe I wouldn't make new friends. Not true. I have made new friends. But what kind of friend am I if I am never around? Can I really have a relationship with someone when I am never there? What about more serious relationships? How many nights of sleeping alone can someone take? It breaks my heart to think that I can't be counted on because I am never around. I want to be there for the people I care about. I hope I don't have to do this for very long.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

IMG_0504


Day 95

Where should I start...
I have been through blizzards, gotten stuck in residential dead end streets, had the cover of my mirror blown off in a storm, etc. etc. I will try to fill in about all this soon. For now, duty calls. Check this post again later for the full story.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Good Idea / Bad Idea #002

Day 73

Good Idea.
Parking at a designated rest area to rest for the night.
a rest area near Lake Shasta

Bad Idea.
Parking in a snow drift on the side of the road to rest for the night.
near Weed, CA rest area

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This is my favorite adventure so far. Mainly because it had a happy ending - there was no damage to my truck (though I do need another reach bar), I wasn't issued any citations, and I was able to get back on the road in time to stay on schedule. I actually slept pretty well there too. Nice and quiet. I had an amazing view of Mt. Shasta the next morning too. Everyone that helped me out was really nice and understanding. In fact, when I mentioned how dumb I felt to the tow truck driver, he showed me a stack of work orders he'd already filled that morning for other driver's who had done the exact thing I had. I felt alot better.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

If You Fell Down Yesterday, Stand Up Today

Day 72

Yesterday I had my first load assignment. I had three pickup appointments all 2 hours apart. I should have known and humbly declined the load as soon as I saw that, but I wanted to impress my Fleet Manager so I gave it a shot. It's not that I am unwilling, I just don't have the skills it takes to pull it off yet.
1st problem: Planning. I accepted the load around midnight and then stayed up 3 more hours planning it, fueling, and otherwise getting ready. So I ended up ready for bed around 3am for a load scheduled to pick up at 8am. And then of course I couldn't get to sleep, so around 5am I started driving.
Truck Driver Fact: Drivers are allowed (by Federal Law inforced by the Department Of Transportation) to drive 10 hours per day within a 14 hour period. So if I started driving by 5am, no matter how many hours I drove I would need to park it no later than 7pm.
I arrived at the stop, found a place to park and tried to go to sleep again. By 8am I had still not been able to go to sleep. I considered calling in and telling my FM but I realized there was no way anyone else could replace me in time to make the appointments. I had already committed. I was getting ready to do 3 stops on zero sleep. Not good.
2nd problem: The Unexpected. 8am I was at the receiver's door ringing the doorbell. No answer. No one showed for 30 minutes. Finally when the receiver showed up they informed me that they would not be able to open up until the manager arrived which would be around 9am. 9am...plus one hour loading, plus one hour drive time, makes 11am...my next appointment was for 10am. Time to call my FM.
3rd problem: Poor Communication. Apparently at some point I was reassigned to a different FM and no one told me about it. No one told my old FM either so the next few hours was spent figuring out who my FM was and communicating with them. Lots of repition going on.
3rd problem: More Unxpected. Everone is here, I'm ready to dock the truck...but who's van is that parked in the dock? Can someone move it please? The receiver dooesn't have the keys. The Manager doesn't have the keys. No one knows who has the keys. After another hour or so the receiver comes out and informs me that the van cannot be moved as know one can locate the keys, so I should go ahead to my next stop. The stop I should have been at about 20 mintues ago.
4th problem: Beurocratic Lag. I made the call to my FM (both of them) who were at that point getting closer to figuring out who was who, and I was informed that I had to wait for another department to approve the cancelled appointment before I could procede to the next stop. So I waited. Another hour passed before I finally received approval and left.
5th problem: Poor Planning again: I had the directions all figured out on my lap top but kept having to reach over and scroll down the screen to try to read the next turn. Not good. Missed my turn, and ended up in a dead end ally. It took me about 15 minutes to get out. The 2nd stop was pretty ueventful. I hardly remember it because of what happened next. I missed another turn on the way to the 3rd drop and went about 20 miles before realizing I'd missed it. Once I did figure it out and turn around and finally arrive, I encountered the worst problem I would have all day.
6th problem: The Ally Dock From Hell.
Trucker Fact: Backing a truck is generally done by approaching the dock on your left side so that you can look in your left (driverside) mirrors and see what your trailer is doing. Approaching a dock on your right (passengerside) is called "blindside" backing and is considered unproffessional, dangerous, and just wrong. Unfortunately, the people who design docks are not truck drivers.
First of all the alley in front of the dock was about a lane and a half wide. Maybe 20 feet. My trailer alone in 53 feet. The people designing the dock had enough since to put it at a diagonal from the alley. The only trouble is that means the alley is on one side of the dock, and the buidling is on the other...you can only approach it one way. Looking back there is a technique I could have used but I don't think the alley was wide enough for even that to work. There was a dumpster at the end of the alley that kept me from pulling far enough forward to set it up correctly. Anyhow, I spent 2 hours wiggling that truck into the dock. by the time I was done with that pickup it was 5:30pm.
7th problem: It's 5:30. Do the math. You'll figure it out.
8th problem: Paperwork. My paperwork and communications with the office were a mess all day. I need to completely re-think how I am doing things and get it right.
I am hoping for better today. It shouldn't be that hard but I gotta get moving. I must live by the words of HG Wells: "If you fell down yesterday, stand up today."
 

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Importance of Idling...and Fuel.

Day 71
Here's something you probably didn't know...
When trucker's park it for the night and go back into the sleeper cab they usually leave the truck's engine running (called "idling") so that they still have heat/air conditioning and electricity. In some areas where it is illegal to idle (like California) some truck stops have "shore power" - basically a socket they can plug their truck into so that they can have heat and power without idling their truck.
Besides being illegal in some states, idling also uses fuel, thus no fuel no idle, no heat/power. Fuel is very expensive - my truck can hold almost 300 gallons, and it burns at a rate of 6-8 miles per gallon. The company pays for fuel by providing drivers with a fuel purchasing card which is activated once you are dispatched.
So here's the story:
I am a new driver. I have my truck, I have my fuel card, and I am waiting to be dispatched. Still waiting. Meanwhile I have been idling my truck for heat & power. Two days ago I had a quarter tank. Now I have none. Since I haven't been dispatched, my fuel card is inactive. No fuel, no idle, no heat or power. But wait! The company yard has shore power! I run to the shop and borrow an extension chord. I finally manage to get it to reach from the socket to my truck (I am parked just barely close enough) and now I am all plugged in, I crank on the heat and...cold air. Still cold. Even as I type. Cold. I have power, but for some reason no heat. I asked another driver and he said something about "playing with the thermostat" which I have done (I think?) but still nothing. I will have too sort it out later. I'm tired and at least I have an electric blanket (which I am now really glad I got) but the thing maxes out at 35 degrees. That just doesn't seem right. Maybe they meant Celcius. Anyways it feels a little warmer than 35 but not as warm as I would like. Good thing I have lots of blankets. Brrrrrr. Frigggin' fuel card. Sheesh.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

My New Home

Day 70
Day before yesterday I moved in to my new home - a one bedroom / no bathroom Columbia class Freightliner truck! Actually its more like a studio than a one bedroom. Luckily it came with a refridgerator so I can start saving money on food right away. It has two bunks, a closet, pantry, and a place to set my laptop. The stereo leaves a little something to be desired but I can upgrade when I get it to Fontana, CA. I also need to do something about the decor. Everything is econo/plastic-grey. Now, I can't paint, but maybe some pictures? Brightly colored drapes? The lighting kinda sucks at the moment too - I need to get on of those battery powered touch lights for my "desk" area. I thought about christmas lights, but I would have to be constantly unpluging them to save electricity whenever I shut my truck off. Draining my truck's battery is a constant concern singe I don't have a APU (Auxilary Power Unit). I'm still not sure what my fridge does when the truck is shut down. Either it shuts off, or it drains the battery. Both would be bad, but I'd rather it just shut off. As far as I know you can't exactly "jump start" a truck like this.
Maybe I should get a potted plant for my truck? I thought about gold fish too. Easier to take care of than a larger animal. We'll see.
For now I am sitting in the yard in Tacoma, WA waiting for my first load. Any time now my "Qualcom" (computer which links to the home office) will beep with a message telling me I have a load (hopefully going towards Fontana, CA). Meanwhile I am hanging out fixing/cleaning up my truck and playing on the internet. Wish me luck!