Tuesday, October 2, 2007

One result of thinking while driving . . .

My, how time flies! Hello, everyone! I thought since it's been a month, it should be time to write in the blog. Lots of things have been happening in the Orange truck we call Lori.

A word of explanation before I begin in earnest: this entry will likely also bleed over into some personal journaling, but I'll cover the trucking stuff first, and then will warn you before I venture off into more personal thoughts and journaling. Then you can decide if you want to continue reading or not. I hope you do.

“Roll on, big wheels, roll on!”. Those words are adapted from a cool Alabama song called “Roll on”.

Last time we joined our heroes (isn't everyone the hero of their own story?), the wheels were not rolling. They were waiting.

The only thing drivers do more than drive is wait. Wait for a load. Wait to be loaded. Wait to be unloaded. Wait in construction. Wait in bad weather. Wait for payday {laughing}. Wait while the truck is being repaired.

We had picked up a load on a Friday down in Laredo that had to be up in St. Charles, Missouri, for a live unload at noon on Monday. (That would have been September 10th, if you are keeping track.) It didn't make sense to go all the way to St. Charles two days early; we could have gone to the Schneider OC (Operating Center) northeast of St. Louis, but we would have been no better off. So we opted to stop in St. Robert, Missouri, just off I-44, and wait out the time there until Monday morning.

Terry spent that time mostly watching football, watching movies, and catching up on sleep. I spent time on the computer, reading, watching some TV and also sleeping quite a bit. Terry also made a run to Walmart to get some things that he needed.

Monday morning came and we drove the rest of the way to St. Charles. We got there early (but only a couple of hours instead of a couple of days). I went in to find out which door we would be assigned to back into on the dock, and the guy in the office didn't have our load number scheduled. He said our load wasn't scheduled until Wednesday! What!?! We've already had this load as deadweight for almost 3 days, and now we still can't get it unloaded!?!?

It was really funny; at worst, we would have been told to drop the load somewhere so it could be relayed by someone else on Wednesday. But, after a couple of phone calls (“have your people call my people and we'll do lunch”), we were able to get unloaded as we were originally told we would be. There was just a mixup when various folks were talking to one another (and I'll bet there was no lunch, either).

I'm going to fast-forward through time a little bit and simply list the places we've gone since the last entry. Hold on to your hats.

St. Charles, MO --> Kansas City, MO --> Portland, OR --> Sumner, WA --> Portland, OR --> Clackamas, OR --> South Gate (LA), CA --> Wurtsboro, NY --> New Milford, CT --> Newport, MI --> Grand Rapids, MI --> Laredo, TX (yay! Texas! My fave place in the world!) --> Pharr, TX --> Olive Branch, MS --> W. Memphis, AR --> Ogden, UT --> Fontana, CA --> W. Memphis, AR --> Dallas, TX --> Grapevine, TX --> Stuarts Draft, VA --> Chesapeake, VA --> West Jefferson, OH --> Hilliard, OH --> Mt. Pleasant, IA --> Wisconsin Rapids, WI --> Carthage, MO --> Logan, UT (we are at this very moment as I write this on our way to Logan, traveling with 40,000 pounds of cheese (that's a lot of pictures to smile for) through the mountains of beautiful Wyoming with gusting winds of over 65 mph) --> then back to Carthage, MO --> then to De Pere, WI.

In the 3 weeks and 3 days since the last blog entry in going to all those places, we've have driven over 19,000 miles. It still amazes me how many places and how many miles we go in a very short time. And that time includes some downtown (3 days) when we had to attend Winter training, put the truck in the shop, and Terry had to have some things done.

Some notes about the last 3 weeks.

  • We have managed recently to make it to all of the remaining lower 48 states that we hadn't been through yet except North Dakota. These included Oregon and Minnesota. Not too bad for six months on the road to have been to 47 states and Canada. Pretty cool if you ask me – I think I have the very best job in the world! Go ahead and envy me.
  • The place in New York that we went to (Wurtsboro) was a beautiful little village (maybe they would call it a hamlet up there in New England) in western New York, not far across the Pennsylvania line. After we delivered our load there, we took time to just walk around the little town (we didn't have a trailer so it was easy to park the truck) and we found a great little pub and grill (Benny's) where we had a nice meal, and Terry got to watch some of a football game.
  • Have you ever had a problem with your car, or washing machine, or another appliance, but it disappears as soon as you have a repairman take a look at it? The car clangs, bangs, hiccups, and sputters for weeks. When you finally take it in to the shop, it runs as if it just drove off the factory floor. Well, we've both felt like something wasn't quite right with the brakes on our nearly-new (it's a 2007 model) truck since shortly after we started driving it. It stops – it's not as simple as that. It just feels and sounds funny. It's nothing I can put a finger on. But we've told several maintenance folks at several Schneider OC's; they always either ignore us or look at it and tell us everything's okay. Hmmm. I don't know what's up, but everything's not okay.
  • The drive from Laredo to Pharr, Texas, down US 83 towards Brownsville and McAllen is beautiful. Most of the way on that road, you can literally look over to the southwest and look into Mexico. And, for all practical purposes, as far as language and culture is concerned, that area resembles Mexico in a beautiful way (not the least of which is that there are plenty of beautiful women to smile at and acknowledge, and think about later – ah, Heidi, you are everywhere at all times, are you not?).
  • Last Sunday, when we were on our way to Hilliard, Ohio, with our load, we got a phone call from someone at Schneider who coordinates loads for a dedicated account (the drivers who work on a dedicated account only work with that customer, and usually deliver to the same places all the time; Terry worked on Schneider's Family Dollar account before we started teaming.) for a frozen foods company. She wanted to know if we would be willing to help them out because some of their regular drivers were sick (or maybe one of their regular teams more precisely). Very tight schedules but the runs would be all drop-and-hook (no live loads or unloads) and we'd get plenty of miles. She told us some of the places we'd go: Wisconsin, Missouri, Utah. Of course we'll go; you had us at “Utah”. Or anywhere out west. So, that's what we're doing now, probably through the end of this week.

Well, that pretty much catches you up on what's been going on with the Lonesome Dove Xpress the past few weeks.

We'll have a short intermission so that those of you who wish to leave at this point may do so without disturbing others. House lights, please. (My eyes look in vain for Heidi – she was here only moments ago in this entry, I would swear it! But she is gone faster than a wisp of smoke taken on a whisper of wind. * sigh * )

{cool music from Norah Jones and Blueground Undergrass plays for your enjoyment}

Are you still here? Great! The rest of this entry will mostly be personal, not directly related to trucking. What I've written here (as always, but especially now) are my own opinions, and have nothing to do with Terry or his own views. I'm sure he'd appreciate it if you kept that in mind, especially if I write something that upsets you (and I hope I do; I hope, if you bother to read this part, that something I write challenges you to think, challenge yourself, come outside the confines of your boundaries).

Ready or not, here we go!

Last lecture of a dying man: Randy Pausch. If you were sick and knew you had about a month to live, what would you do? How would you react? That's exactly the situation that Dr. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie-Mellon University found himself in.

Amazing story of courage and what's really important – at least to this one man.

This first link is to a short summary of the speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a60ATArNEcQ

Here's a link to the entire speech (about 2 hours total): http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=362421849901825950&hl=en

Do you use Youtube a lot? If you use Youtube, Googlevideo, or other similar sites to watch streaming video very often, you've probably wondered how you could save those videos to your computer. The answer (at least one that I've found that I like) is a program called Atube Catcher. Download it here:

Just for fun: “What old people do for fun” video. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8735889757702013026&q=what+old+people+do+for+fun&total=1184&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

“Never talk about religion or politics.” Except when it's your blog and you can talk about whatever you want. You could have left during the earlier intermission. * laughing *

I confess: I'm a political junkie. I have been since high school when my political belief system was being formed. I even got to work for my senator (Sam Nunn) when I was in high school. There are several things to write about under this general heading.

Rudy! What were you thinking?!?! Recently, the major Republican candidates for President spoke to the NRA, a group most people acknowledge is important to be on friendly terms with as a possible Republican nominee. Rudy Giuliani was one of the ones who spoke.

Rudy already scares many conservative Republicans because of his past statements on various social issues. He really needed to make a good impression with this already-dubious crowd. During his speech, his cell phone rings! His cell phone rings! He answers. It's his wife. He talks to her, interrupting his speech to do so.

I like Rudy, and have been leaning toward supporting him over the other Republican candidates for months now (the only other possible person I've considered supporting is John McCain of those I think are electable to begin with; many of the Republican candidates are nice guys who stand for many things I agree with, but they are not, in my opinion, electable for any number of reasons.), but this gives me pause.

Link to one version (among many) story here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,297649,00.html

Hillary will be the Democratic nominee and she may win the election. Here's why. First of all, in my opinion, unless something truly dramatic and unforeseeable happens, Hillary is already the de-facto Democratic nominee. The formalities still have to be gone through, but in the end, she is the only credible candidate for the Democrats.

Barack is nice – but he needs to be in the Senate a little longer, in my opinion. He caused a splash when he first entered (much like the idiot known as Howard Dean), but it's for all practical purposes died down already.

John Edwards is a joke. Please. Do any Dems even take him seriously?

Is there any other Democratic candidate who could seriously contend for the nomination, much less the Presidency?

Why I think Hillary might win. First of all, let's get this out of the way: Hillary is one of the shrewdest, most intelligent, and ambitious people in the country today. To dismiss her or not take her seriously is to almost certainly spell defeat for anyone who does so.

Hillary is also one of the most divisive personalities in any public arena today. Even within her own party.

She has the advantage of many loyal supporters, access to sufficient financial resources, and the expertise of the most gifted politician of the baby-boomer generation in her husband, Bill. (Whatever you think of him personally, or his politics, I think Bill Clinton is the most naturally gifted politician certainly since Ronald Reagan. As an advisor, Karl Rove is probably in the same league, but I'm talking about just the politician as a man or woman.)

The reason I think Hillary might win has more to do with the Republicans than anything else. In this upcoming 2008 election year, several things are happening at once:

  • You have a very unpopular President and a very unpopular war. Even those who were passionate supporters of George Bush and, in particular, the war in Iraq, have waned in their support, for whatever reason. At best, except for a few loyalists, most people are ambivalent towards both Bush and Iraq right now; perhaps weary is the better word.
  • The so-called “Religious Right” is losing its influence and is unfocused for 2008. This is a two-part development. For over 20 years, beginning in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan (some would date it from the beginning of the Moral Majority in 1976), politically active conservatives (mostly Christians and mostly evangelicals) have grown in power and influence in the Republican party at large. This has had the practical effect of making the support of this group (who vote more actively than some other groups of Republicans) necessary to win the Republican nomination, and, by extension, the Presidency.
           Last year, some conservative Republicans not part of the “religious right”, voiced some dissent about the extent to which the religious conservatives had “hijacked” the party away from its traditional base of the party (those who are economically conservative, but not necessarily socially or religiously conservative).
          The most prominent example of this was an editorial written by former Texas congressman, Dick Armey. Link here: http://www.freedomworks.org/informed/issues_template.php?issue_id=2731
          In addition to a split between some parts of the Republican base that used to be allies, there is the fact that there is no single candidate in the Republican field (I should say “electable” candidate) to whom the majority of conservative religious voters have cast their alliegiance. And, in my opinion, this development, coupled with the split in the base, could equal a victory for Hillary.
          If people are not passionate and committed to something, they are not going to vote. Just look at the last congressional elections for the practical effect of this.
          I don't see anything or anyone on the horizon to change these things before the elections of 2008.
         Can you say “President Hillary Clinton”?

Political resources I like. Like I said, I love politics. Here are some blogs and a web site that I love – there are many more; these are just off the top of my head.

Real Clear Politics: in my opinion, the best web site for political junkies; has a conservative slant:

Ann Althouse blog: she's a law professor (formerly at University of Wisconsin in Madison, but she recently moved to Brooklyn and I never kept up with what that was all about), but writes about her political opinions a good deal. One of my fave blogs. http://althouse.blogspot.com/

Betsy Newmark's blog: Betsy is a teacher of AP Government and History in Durham, North Carolina. Always interesting. Definitely a conservative perspective. http://betsyspage.blogspot.com

Michael Barone: a writer for U.S. News and World Report, and a regular contributor on Fox News, his perspectives are always enlightening and many times challenging. Great read. http://www.usnews.com/blogs/barone/

Meagan McCardle: writes about economics (from a mostly Libertarian perspective) and other things; always interesting. The comments on her blog are almost as interesting as the original entries. http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/

Now, on to other things . . .

R.I.P. Robert Jordan. Robert Jordan, author of the best-selling fantasy series, “The Wheel of Time”, recently passed away after a long bout with illness. I was very sorry to hear about his death. His series is my favorite modern fantasy series by far. It has spanned 11 books so far, and the last one is still to be published (sometime in 2009 I think I read somewhere). Excellent series I'd recommend if you like fantasy. More info here: http://www.dragonmount.com/

Speaking of fantasy and science fiction . . . If you like fantasy and/or science fiction, I'd also recommend the Order and Chaos series by L.E.Modessitt. Wonderful stuff. Link to a good fansite here: http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Rampart/9679/

Also, fantasy, anything by David and Leigh Eddings. Especially the Belgariad and Mallorean books.

Dark fantasy: try the first six novels by Stephen R. Donaldson – the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series. Very thought-provoking.

Science fiction: anything by Isaac Asimov (esp. the Foundation series) and Robert Heinlein (Stranger In a Strange Land should be read by every sci-fi fan – you grok?). Scores of other great writers that don't come to mind at the moment. For Christian sci-fi/fantasy, try anything by Stephen R. Lawhead. Excellent stuff.

Books I'm reading or have read recently. No energy to comment right now. I winding down as far as my energy goes, but this stuff is on my mind, so it demands expression, I suppose. Just a list:
Lonesome Dove and Roads (Larry McMurtry); The Outsider (Colin Wilson); Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut); Lisey's Story (Stephen King); False Memory (Dean Koontz). Others too numerous to remember; I'm a voracious reader. Ask anyone who really knows me.

Tornado in Eustis, Florida, where I used to live. For ten years when I was married, I lived in Eustis, Florida, about 30 miles northwest of Orlando. Almost two weeks ago, a good friend of ours (Terry and me), Van Freeman, called and told us about a tornado that went through Eustis. I hadn't heard anything about it, so I called Charlotte (my ex-wife) and made sure she and her family there were okay. She told me she was fine, and the house we had bought just six months before we separated was not damaged very much. But the tornado went right down that street, and most of the houses right around hers were destroyed or damaged a great deal. Link to the story for those interested: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/lake/orl-eustisstorygallery,0,6188558.storygallery

I'm tired and that's all I can write for now – if you have made it this far, I admire your perseverance.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin'!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Allen so far your stay with us is a great one (you only been here 30 min) :). It's great to see you again.