Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Is My Life


I took the picture of this plaque at the The Blue Gate Restaurant in Shipshewana, Indiana. It's often how I feel, but now I think I'm actually going to start saying it out loud.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
The Power Of LIberty
2 YEARS AGO:
A Day At The Park
3 YEARS AGO:
A Body Temperature Of 98.6 – The Only Requirement To Work At McDonald’s
4 YEARS AGO:
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
5 YEARS AGO: Homeless Shelter
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Captivating

I am mesmerized by that face. I dare you to look away from those eyes; I can't. It's utterly beautiful. And it belongs to a nine-year-old little girl. Her name is Mäda Primavesi and she was painted by Gustav Klimt in 1912.

From the
Metropolitan Museum of Art site:

Mäda Primavesi was the daughter of the banker and industrialist Otto Primavesi, one of the financial backers of the Wiener Werkstätte, and the actress Eugenia Primavesi (née Butschek), whom Klimt painted in 1913. Young Mäda’s portrait was executed in 1912. A series of preliminary pencil sketches, now in public and private collections, show that as the composition evolved, the artist experimented with alternative poses and background motifs. Ultimately, he selected an open, painterly treatment that contrasts with the highly stylized designs adapted for the backgrounds of his fin-de-siècle portraits. The lighthearted, decorative motifs seem particularly appropriate to a nine-year-old sitter.

Here is the full painting:

Read more about the painting, Klimt's pencil drawings from the Albertina's collection and see photos of the Mäda with her father and sisters in About Mäda, written by Katherine Baetjer, Curator, European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
Not That He’s Insensitive Or Anything
2 YEARS AGO:
Ode To Milk
3 YEARS AGO:
Eddie On The Rocks Friday
4 YEARS AGO:
The Unintentional Beating Of A Red State Child
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Gave The Tattooed Beehive A Chance And I Liked It!

Holy-freakin'-I-obviously-live-under-a-rock! How did I not know about Amy Winehouse???

I mean, I know who she is, but I didn't know any of her music. The only thing I knew was her Rehab song. That, coupled with her drug, alcohol and personal problems made me think she was a total loser and that it wouldn't be possible for me to like anything she had to sing.

Boy, was I wrong! On a recent Glee episode, Santana sang "Back to Black", an Amy Winehouse tune. I had never heard it. And I was in LOVE. This is Amy singing it:

I immediately went to iTunes and bought two of her albums; Frank (love “Stronger Than Me”, “You Sent Me Flying” and “In My Bed”) and Back to Black(love “Back to Black” and “Tears Dry On Their Own”). I can't get enough of listening to them. I think I love every song. You can listen to snippets on those iTunes pages and if you want to see more videos, check them out HERE.

"Discovering" this artist (when obviously everyone else in the world knew who she was!) was a real eye-opener to me and reminded me to not judge a book by its cover; or it's tabloid coverage!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
A Diet Coke With A Squeeze Of iPod, Please
2 YEARS AGO:
Eddie In The Creepy Sailor Mask Friday
3 YEARS AGO:
No Wonder Sailors Came Up With A Special Knot
4 YEARS AGO:
Bridge To The Gate Of Heaven
5 YEARS AGO:
Summer Staples
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

FANtastic

I bought a few new fans while in Chinatown this week. The last time I bought one, I was in Pisa, Italy and although it was October, it was too warm for me. It was cheap and plastic (and probably made in China), but at 4 Euros, I didn't expect it to last very long.

This time, I got three sizes. The large one is about 11" long, the medium one about 8" long and the little one about 6" long. The big one creates such a breeze, it's like having servants with palm fronds fanning me, and the little one fits perfectly in my purse, which means I will always have a cool breeze no matter where I may be.

I learned at my Aunt's funeral this week, that I was cursed with the family's "hot" gene. Apparently, I haven't been the only one bitching about the heat all these years. Right now, as I type this from my hotel room, it's about 58 degrees in here. Ed is under a fluffy duvet and I'm sitting at the desk in a pair of sweats and a tank top.

The quality of these fans is beautiful. The bigger ones are made with thick, sturdy wood and the fan portion is made from a canvas-like material. The little one in primarily wood, with silky material making up the top pink portion. And look at the pretty detail...There were so many choices, it was hard to decide, which is obviously why I got three of them. I just hope the Asian lettering doesn't spell out something completely offensive or worse, something that makes me look ridiculous while I'm fanning myself.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
You Won’t See These Giant Feet In A Museum
2 YEARS AGO:
Semantically Speaking
3 YEARS AGO:
He Fought The Ed And The Ed Won
4 YEARS AGO:
Electric Fence
5 YEARS AGO:
You’re Such A Pansy!!
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't Hate On Me On This Lovely Golden Day

This is such a happy song. "Livin' my life like it's golden" might just have to be my new motto:

I like this one because her voice is so strong, although I might have to step out and say that the Glee version, done by the Mercedes Jones character, really gives it a run for its money. Don't hate on me for saying that!




And this one is is just fantastic. Who doesn't love this song? Listen. And then have a lovely day!





~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
See You At The Curb
2 YEARS AGO:
A Blaze Of Crotch Sniffing And Licky Kisses
3 YEARS AGO:
Going To Market
4 YEARS AGO:
Lazy Sunday
5 YEARS AGO:
Can Someone Define Their Purpose??
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rolls-Royces, Sun Kings and Teardrops

This week, we finally made it to the Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsman from Italy to New Yorkshow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I was beyond excited! The museum allows you to pay whatever you want to get in. They make "suggestions" (an adult entry is suggested at $20 per person), because the actual cost to provide what they do to the public, costs about $45 per person, but you can still pay what you'd like.

When we got there, we were fully willing to pay the suggested $20 per person, but the girl at the desk charged us the student rate; $10 per person. Sweet. Then, because Ed paid with his American Express card (we're on a point gathering spree, paying for everything we can with the card just to rack up points), we were given the audio guide to the museum for free. Yay! We learned, on our visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC that the audio tour is SO worth the money, so we were thrilled.



This is the entrance to the area where the show was being held. Notice the "No Cameras" sign to the right. Notice also how I snuck pictures. And the museum staff were like sentries on a wall; they were watching like hawks. These were taken with my iPhone because it was easier to conceal than my regular camera, so forgive the quality.
The first luthier featured in the show was John D’Angelico. He's the one who made the guitar my grandfather had and was the one I was most excited to see. The guitars in this case were made by D'Angelico; the one on the right was owned by Chet Atkins. D'Angelico's were sought after by musicians. Atkins compared his D'Angelico to owning a Rolls-Royce.
This display was one of my favorite. Mostly because it showed photos of John D'Angelico and Jimmy D'Aquisto, his apprentice. I love the fourth photo, which shows D'Aquisto on the left and D'Angelico on the right, standing in front of D'Angelico's shop at 40 Kenmare Street (which, by the way, we drove by....number 40 no longer exists at that location). The workbench below is original, from D'Angelico's shop, later passed on to D'Aquisto when he bought the shop.
There were so many beautiful pieces in the show; lutes, violins, guitars, mandolins, a harp guitar. Many from the 16th, 17th and 18th century. You can see select objects from the show here. Pretty amazing stuff.

The second luthier featured in the show was James D’Aquisto. One of the highlights of the show for me, was a short minute and a half video that was playing on a continuous loop, showing Jimmy D'Aquisto building a guitar. The precision, the many steps, the sheer skill and natural talent that it took to make it was evident in less then the two minutes it took to run from start to finish. He said of D'Angelico, and this is verbatim from the video clip, "As a teacher, you know, he'd show you something and he'd say, 'This is how I do it, you can do it either my way or your own way, but it better come out as good or better than I do it.' I guess I molded to actually the way that he would have wanted me to be."

His mentor taught him well, as the gallery held some of the most beautiful guitars built in the traditional style of D'Angelico, but also some more modern creations, which were introduced in D'Aquisto's later years of guitar building. Part of the D'Aquisto gallery included these blue guitars. The description of how these guitars came about is: In the late eighties and early nineties, a very different type of collector was evolving. One of the great collectors of that time was Scott Chinery, who commissioned many instruments from James D'Aquisto, but one of them he required to be blue. He asked D'Aquisto to do anything he wanted, as long as it was an eighteen-inch body and it was blue. After D'Aquisto died in 1995, Chinery found twenty-two luthiers and challenged each of them to build a blue guitar, as a sort of tribute to Jimmy D'Aquisto and his work. The entire collection was published in a book by Scott Chinery and also exbited at the Smithsonian Instituion.

For a little more about the Blue Guitars, check out these videos on YouTube. Watch Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The last luthier in the show is John Monteleone. He is the only one of the three featured who is still alive. I've had the pleasure of having a brief correspondence with him and he was extremely helpful in filling in some blanks regarding the guitar that my grandfather had.

The guitar below is said to be the most famous guitar by John Monteleone. It's called the Sun King and has been on the cover of Guitar Maker magazine and in the Classic Guitars 2004 Calendar. One of my favorite displays in the show were the Teardrops: In 1957 the musician Pete Girardi, who played in a group called The Teardrops, commissioned John D’Angelico to build a guitar that would be unique to his act. The resulting “Teardrop” has all the decorative appointments of a New Yorker model guitar plus a large protruding fin on the lower right corner. The one-of-a-kind instrument became a much sought-after collector’s piece and an icon of guitar building. The collector Scott Chinery acquired the instrument and in 1993 challenged James D’Aquisto to do his own interpretation of the famous form. D’Aquisto’s instrument has all the features of his Solo model along with the protruding fin. In 2007 Monteleone was presented with a commission to build his own interpretation of the “Teardrop.” His instrument has his signature scroll body, balancing the fin of the guitar.

In this photo, from left to right, are the teardrop guitars made by John D'Angelico, James D'Aquisto and John Monteleone.

This exhibition is the only time that all three “Teardrops” have been together. Beautiful, aren't they?

I felt really specialy knowing that I was seeing these guitars at the only time they were all in the same place; it was a culmination of the finest luthiers of my time. I don't really get to many exhibits, of any kind really, but I would like to make it a point to do more of this in the future. Based on the feeling I had looking at these instruments, I understand why people love to go to museums and like to look at items they're interested in. It's fascinating. It gives insight to those who came before us. It opens your eyes. These three guitars were the last ones you saw before exiting the exhibit hall and it was a perfect closing display.

I left there feeling connected; to my Italian heritage, to people who create magic and memories with their music and to my grandfather. I felt how I thought he must have when he bought his guitar, held it in his hands, played it. Elated. He had no idea he was holding in his hands the work of a master. A future Guitar Hero.

I envisioned him walking out of D'Anglico's shop that day, February 27, 1954, and walking into his home with his newest acquisition. Thinking about how the two-hundred dollars he paid for both the guitar and the case. Wondering if he made the right decision. If it was worth the money.

It was.

Through the creation brought forth by John D'Angelico's hands, my grandfather made a lot of people happy playing that guitar. He left a treasure trove of memories and a legacy of music.

To hear performances using the instruments from this exhibit, click here. And if you want to see the show, there's still time. It runs through July 4, 2011.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
Less Is More
2 YEARS AGO:
A Look At An Oil Baron’s Lookout
3 YEARS AGO:
Spring In The Maritimes
4 YEARS AGO:
Envisioning A Huge BLT Sandwich
5 YEARS AGO:
Eddie’s New Passion Friday
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Feeling Great About Hands And Breasts (Even If They're Drooping)

I pre-ordered it from Amazon and it's already arrived at the house, but I haven't read it yet. But only because I haven't been home to get it!

The book in the photo above, I Feel Great about My Hands: And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging, is a compilation of essays by 41 women about well, aging. I'm not over fifty and I refuse to believe I'm actually aging, even though there are pesky daily reminders, but the reason I bought the book is because my friend Marlaina was asked to contribute to it and I wanted to support her writing.

Her essay, How My Drooping Breasts Led to a Truck-Driving Life of Adventure, is among what I've been told are wonderful, witty and interesting depictions of life over fifty. My mother is currently reading it, which was the idea when I had it mailed to her house, knowing I wouldn't be home to receive it.

I look forward to reading the other women's contributions, but Marlaina's writing style is extremely enjoyable to me, so I really can't wait to get to her essay in the book. If you'd like to get to know Marlaina, consider getting lost in the interesting, descriptive posts in her blog, which chronicles her Life With No Fixed Address.

You'll not only feel great about your hands, but you'll feel great that you filled your mind with something worth your time, which is not always something one can say when they make their way around the internet universe.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
It Pays To Blog About Life On The Road
2 YEARS AGO:
Bringing A Little Tropical And Some Pretty In Pink To The Trucking World
3 YEARS AGO:
My Kind Of Festival
4 YEARS AGO:
Happy Memorial Day
5 YEARS AGO:
Closing The Age Gap
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crossing The Park To 5th Avenue

Following a cab through Central Park, on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art...

To go see the Guitar Heroes show...


Post about the show coming soon!




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
All Work, All Play
2 YEARS AGO:
Was My Mother Hot, Or What???
3 YEARS AGO:
The Fiddleheads Of Maine
4 YEARS AGO:
Fifteen Dollar. We Make Nail Nice. No Probrem.
5 YEARS AGO:
Road Testing The Girl
6 YEARS AGO:
Ed Time

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Mixing Of The Bitter And The Sweet



Last night we arrived back in Maryland in the wee hours of the morning. After we dropped our trailer, we parked in our spot and just fell into bed. It was almost three in the morning. The air-conditioner in the sleeper was on the fritz and as I drifted off, I thought it felt cool, but then it slowly starting spitting out piss warm air. It was a miserable nights' sleep for me. Ed said he felt like he was a kid again in Texas. I felt like I was suffocating.

When we got up this morning, we learned that the load we were supposed to take out on Tuesday wouldn't be ready until Wednesday. My mind started to work - we have been wanting to see the Guitar Heroes show for months, which we had been planning for but were just waiting for the right time and then (and I know this is not going to come out right), I got word that my Aunt died and the wake was being held in the Bronx. Tonight. So we sprang into action; we were going to the wake and we were going to the Guitar Heroes show. Somehow, we'd make it happen.

First thing we did was rent a car. Then hit Target. Then I went to Payless to get a pair of shoes, because I didn't have appropriate footwear for the wake (there was no way I was wearing the heels I wore to the truck show VIP event since I couldn't walk for two days after it was over). And I couldn't walk into a wake, in the Bronx, in front of my very stylish cousins, in flip-flops, so I got these cute ballet flats. At $14.99, they were a steal.The hardest task - appropriate clothing - was now taken care of, next we had to pick up the rental car. Once that was done, I packed our bags; computers, cameras, power cords, clothes, extra batteries, GPS, money for tolls, etc., and then I made sure the truck was ready to be left alone for a few days before we took it back to the gated area where we park. A quick stop at McDonald's for an icy cold Diet Coke, and we'd be on our way. It was a three and a half hour drive and I knew by the time we got further north, at the hour we'd be approaching, we were going to hit traffic.

Almost four hours later, we arrived at our hotel near the George Washington bridge. It was only ten miles to the funeral home in the Bronx from the hotel, so we quickly checked in, took showers and changed. By the time we left the hotel, the traffic was a little heavier and the short drive to the funeral home wound up taking a half hour; we go there an hour before the service ended. Whew!

We were greeted by my family, introduced to some of their close friends and people who knew my Aunt Jennie, and then milled around talking with the family. Aunt Jennie, if it can be said about someone who just passed, looked great. The photos my cousins chose for the collage they created, brought back so many great memories. We talked a lot about her cooking, her famous meatballs and how she wasn't sick a day in her life. It is rumored that she never even had a headache.

After, we went back to my Aunt Rose's house and hung out, ate, talked, laughed and generally covered everything. It had been a long time since I'd seen everyone. Ed said I monopolized the conversation (like it was a surprise to him) but afterwards when I apologized for talking so much, everyone said it was no problem. Which, if it were anyone else, I'd think they were lying, but my family is so great, so genuinely real, that I believed every word.

Tomorrow we head into the city for the guitar show, and then dinner in Little Italy - we're kinda lame in that respect. There are just so many choices, and on such short notice I was not prepared to hunt for a restaurant. Overall, the trip up to New York seemed to be working out pretty well which was great, since once we get back to Baltimore, we'll be full steam ahead for another round trip to Seattle and back.

Things just have a way of working out, it seems. And amidst the sadness of Auntie passing away, was the opportunity to go to a show that highlights not only a guitar that my grandfather owned, but also showcases the man who made it, seems to say to me that that's just how life is supposed to be.

A mix of bitter and sweet.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
A Great Start To A Weekend In New York
2 YEARS AGO:
Sing Sing Singin’ The Incarceration Blues
3 YEARS AGO:
Flame Sandwich
4 YEARS AGO:
Contradiction
5 YEARS AGO:
Every Eight To Twelve Seconds
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Last Great Italian

Yesterday, my Aunt Jennie died. She was 98 years old, would have been 99 in June. She wasn't sick. Just expired of old age.

Aunt Jennie was always a fixture in my life as a child. The sister of my paternal grandmother, she and Uncle Lawrence (her husband) lived with Grandma and Grandpa, downstairs from us, in the family duplex. She was there when my father was born, she was there when my brother and I were born, and she was around when my brother and cousins had children. Technically, since she's my father's Aunt, I guess she's really my "great" Aunt. We all just called her Auntie.


My most vivid memories of her always include food; Auntie frying meatballs in the kitchen, Auntie helping Grandma bring out the many courses of food during dinners at their house, Auntie and Uncle making gnocchi from scratch at our kitchen table, as they're doing in the photo above.

After my parents divorced, time with my father's side of the family was greatly reduced. Not for any particular reason other than it was often geographically impossible to be together; we were in Arizona, they were in New York. The years between visits were many, but any future visits seemed as if no time had passed at all.

Aunt Jennie was the last of the great Italians. The end of an era. She outlived everyone in her age group, and also my father and my father's brother, Uncle Al. I wish I spent more time getting to know her, about her life as a young girl, how she lived so peacefully with her husband, sister, and brother-in-law in the same house. They even vacationed together (photo below). I wonder if there was a secret to getting along so well. If so, I wish I knew what it was...I could certainly use it every now and then.


(Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Jennie, Uncle Lawrence)


All that is left now, are memories, told through stories, pictures and recipes. These special people, this wonderful family of mine, will never really die. They've made such an impact on everyone around them, it's not possible for them to ever be gone. And I'm so lucky to be of this wonderful Italian stock.

A part of the last great Italians.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Alien Ribs Of The North


For the last month and a half, we've been running back and forth across the northern portion of the country, taking us through Fargo, North Dakota twice a week. This is only significant because one of our favorites restaurants, Space Aliens Grill & Bar is there. It's located right across from the Petro truckstop, which means plenty of truck parking!

There's only one reason we stop; the ribs. They're the most delicious morsels I've ever wrapped my lips around. OK, that sounds a little suggestive, but it's not really far from the truth...I'd pass up a roll in the hay for these ribs!

You're probably thinking, "Ribs? In Fargo??" Yes, Fargo. According to their menu, they've been judged America's Best Ribs at the National Bar-B-Que Convention Cook-off in Memphis, Tennessee. And if you can win a ribs contest in Memphis, you know you have something special. They're slowly smoked in BBQ smokers using apple and hickory wood and come with your choice of side.

I was thrilled that we got through there precisely at the dinner hour. I couldn't have wished for a better meal, or a better way to fuel my body to keep on driving throughout the night.

If you're ever in Fargo (or any of their other locations), be sure to stop in! The south no longer has this market cornered!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
White’s Bastard Cousin
2 YEARS AGO:
Jake
3 YEARS AGO:
I Might Have To be Put In Restraints For Our Next Conversation
4 YEARS AGO:
People Who Are Happy To Help You Drown In Debt
5 YEARS AGO:
I, I, I
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Investing In Your Investment - Part Two

(Synthetic Oil, Air Dog Fuel Preporator, Eco-Pur Oil Filter, Superior Seat, Fleet Air Filter, Evans Coolant, Fluidampr)


Yesterday, I gave you the first eight items in a list of modifications/additions we've made to our equipment to help us get the most out of our investment. Several of them have already made a significant difference in our bottom line; notably the Super Wide Tires and the Aluminum Wheels, which have reduced our fuel consumption.

Of the following, only one (the seats) might be considered cosmetic, but from where I sit I feel it's a crucial item, as it's essential to cradle my tush in comfort. After all, that's where I spend the majority of my time when I'm working, right?

So here we go...

Synthetic Oil
$147.00 for six gallons
Synthetic lubricants can be manufactured using chemically modified petroleum components rather than whole crude oil; they can also be synthesized from other raw materials. Two of the advantages of synthetic oil are longer drain intervals and less wear on the engine. This oil has moly, which bonds to the metal, eliminating wear in the engine by creating a protective barrier between moving parts.

Air Dog Fuel Preporator II
$1,000.00
The Fuel Preporator II seperates and removes the entrained air from the fuel supply to the engine, for maximum fuel efficiency, peak performance and reduced exhaust emissions. It also saves the fuel injectors by sending pure, clean fuel directly into them.

OPS Eco-Pur Oil Filter
$550.00
The Eco-Pur Evaporator filter removes liquid contaminants that create acid, oxidation, sludge and dilute oil. It filters particulates down to three microns, meaning it does a helluva better job than a standard flow filter, which only removes particulates in the 15-40 micron range. And nobody wants particulates in their oil. Eww!

Fleet Air Filter
$324.00
This is a lifetime filter, made of foam instead of paper. It never has to be replaced, which is already a savings, and pays for itself in little over a year. By investing a bit of elbow grease (the filter needs to be cleaned every 50,000 miles), you can save yourself about $2,000.00 over the life of your truck.

Evans Waterless Engine Coolant
$500.00 for 10 gallons
Created by Jack Evans, a competition racing engine builder, this coolant technology does the job by eliminating the use of water. Its efficiency is considerably superior to conventional coolants. There's a lot more technical mumbo-jumbo about boiling points, viscosity and vaporization if you're interested, but you'll have to check
this page if you want those details. Ed is happy because he doesn't have to worry about changing the coolant, having the system flushed and falling prey to internal engine pitting, and I like it because I can climb hills in the middle of the desert, in the summertime, without having to heed those pesky "Turn off a/c to prevent overheating" signs!

Fluidampr
$600.00
These dampers are manufactured using viscous silicone fluids to shear harmful harmonic vibrations from gas and diesel engines. Viscous dampers never have to be tuned or rebuilt, and in performance applications will never wear out. For more details, read
this.

Superior Seats
$1,536.00 each
Initially, we were going to buy the Bose seats, which would have set us back $12,000.00 for the pair. But after we
tested them out at the MATS, we decided their special "ride system technology" just wasn't worth the money when the actual seats weren't all that comfortable. And, they only came in one color; a black and grey combination. That just wasn't going to work with my beige and taupe color scheme, so we decided to go back to Superior Seating (where we had initially seen the seats we wanted) and buy our seats there. We chose the Luxor model in the Monterey Leather. We pick them up this week!

Donvel Ride Control Systems
$1,000.00
In 1985, Donvel's founder was challenged by a fellow driver to "do something about the way these trucks handle in the front end." With a machinist background and over two million miles of driving experience, he accepted the challenge. His success in solving that initial problem led him to create a unique air control system for Class 6, 7 and 8 trucks. The Donvel Ride Control System consists of two products, available seperately or as a package. First is the Steer Axle Stabilizer kit that reduces excess bounce and rock. Second is the DVI Motion Controls for the existing air springs on your cab/sleeper, seat, drive axles and trailer axles that also reduce excess bounce and rock. We have the Steer Axle Stabilizer kit and the DVI Motion Controls for the sleeper. Ahhhhh....

I hope you will give some thought to these products when considering how to modify your your equipment to get the most out of it. Part of being an owner-operator, in addition to keeping an eye on your bottom line, is doing whatever you can to make the most profit possible. It's been said that you have to spend money to make money, which as you can see in this case, is true. But if you're able to save a few dollars, few hundred dollars, or a few thousand dollars, by investing in upgrades or modifications, better that the profit be in your pocket than someone else's.

If you have any questions on how these items are actually performing on our truck, which runs 150,000 miles a year, don't be shy about emailing. I will be sure to pester Ed for all the details to get you the best answer I can!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
Here’s Your Sign
2 YEARS AGO:
A Mini And Me
3 YEARS AGO:
Wild In Tennessee
4 YEARS AGO:
Isn’t There A Third Evil?
5 YEARS AGO:
What The Hell Is This??
6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Investing In Your Investment - Part One



(Road King Shock, Femco Valve, Aluminum Wheel, Crude Oil Container, Quick Disconnect, Tire Pressure Monitor)


Eighteen-wheelers don't come cheap. A new conventional sleeper truck starts around $110,000.00. Used, you can probably pick one up for less than $20,000.00; to get started as an owner-operator, that's a pretty good deal. Trucks with custom sleepers like ours are a little pricier. And then you have to consider the trailer; depending on the type you plan to pull, they can run anywhere from $30,000.00 for a standard van trailer (or cheaper, if you go with a used one), into the six-figure range for a specialized setup.

As an owner-operator, the tractor you choose to drive and the trailer you choose to pull, are going to be the way you make your money. You're going to want to keep those investments in the best shape possible, maintaining and/or improving their condition whether you decide to keep them for ten years or trade it in in two.

Ed is obsessed with keeping our equipment in good shape. He is fanatical about oil changes, greases what needs to be greased, and adds whatever doo-dad he can find that will give us the best fuel mileage possible. The less money we give to Exxon, the more we get to keep for ourselves.

In the last year, these are some of the modifications/additions we've already made on or have purchased for our truck:

Super Wide Tires
$1,050.00 each (We have 10 tires total)
When one tire takes the place of two, it already feels like a bargain! These tires have superior traction, less rolling resistance, and are significantly lighter. With the addition of these tires alone, we have realized a .5 mile per gallon fuel savings. When Ed is driving, I can swear I see dollar signs in his eyes!

Tire Pressure Monitoring System
$750.00 (for 10 wheels)
This system allows you to check each tire's air pressure with the press of a button! It alerts you to low as well as high tire pressures and will show the location and current pressure of any problem tire. It's in constant monitoring mode and will signal an alarm if there's a problem.

Digital Video Recorder System with Cameras
$260.00 for DVR and four cameras
This system is an invaluable security tool. We have four camera on our truck; one facing forward out the front windshield, one on each side of the tractor facing the rear, and one on the back of the trailer, facing the rear. It records twenty-four hours a day and holds thirty days' worth of video before recording over itself. Thankfully, we haven't had any security issues, but it did catch
my deer collision as it happened!

Quick Disconnect Air Lines
$21.00 each, four total
This pneumatic quick connect coupling allows you to remove your air lines and eliminates the need for gladhands; they also don't come loose, which is something that's known to happen with traditional glad hands. And believe me, you'd know if it happened! For more information, see the spec sheet
HERE.

Alcoa All Aluminum Wheels
$611.00 each, 10 total
Aluminum wheels are great! They're lightweight, they don't rust, and if you get the Dura-Bright ones like we have, you don't have to polish them to keep 'em shiny!

Femco Quick Drain Oil Pan Drain Valve
$164.00
This item takes the place of a traditional plug, which means you won't have to remove the drain plug, resulting in a cleaner oil change operation. It's easy to install and fits most standard oil pans.

Crude Control Oil Drain Container
$75.45
In simpler terms, this is a vessel for used oil. We bought this so Ed could do his own oil changes and have a place to store the oil until we are able to find a facility to properly dispose of it. It's got a large pour spout, heavy duty casters for transport, a side carry handle, is constructed of heavy duty plastic and made in the USA.

Road King Shocks
$1,740.00 for six shocks
If you have discerned anything about me through my writing, you know I like creature comforts. Nothing makes creature comforts more comfortable than a smooth ride; something not always attainable in a heavy-duty commercial vehicle. Then along came the RoadKing shocks. Described as the "Ultimate in Ride Comfort and Control", RoadKing shocks are more than just shock absorbers. And they will last the life of your truck; as the only factory rebuildable shocks on the market, they can be rebuilt every three-hundred to four-hundred thousand miles; up to three times in the lifetime of the shock. They offer ten times the damping force of a regular shock and you will not need to purchase any additional suspension aftermarket enhacements. They are also designed, developed and manufactured in the USA.

This is only a partial list; see
part two here.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
A Tank Full Of Freightliners
2 YEARS AGO: The Sad, Sad Future Of Our Young People
3 YEARS AGO: Sighting The American Idiots
4 YEARS AGO: Orbiting Out Of Control
5 YEARS AGO: Passing Through Life
6 YEARS AGO: Texas Pride?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You Can All Stop Complaining Now

The actual fuel pump read $999.99 (yes, that's true!) but we get a discount, so we only had to pay the figure above.

What a deal!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
This Puss Doesn’t Have Boots
2 YEARS AGO:
Milling, Spinning And Bleating
3 YEARS AGO:
What Happens When You Have Too Much Time To Think
4 YEARS AGO:
Eddie Rides A Polar Bear Friday
5 YEARS AGO:
Lite Brite, Making Things With Light
6 YEARS AGO:
Texas Pride?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Snuggling On Hold


And we're off! Last night was our last official night of snuggling; I took this picture with my iPhone early this morning, while Ed was still asleep - can you tell by the profiles which one of us is Italian?? Our load is finally ready and we're on our way, which means no more sleeping in the same bed. For the next fifty hours one of us will be sleeping while the other one drives; I won't be spooning again until we hit the Seattle area.

Ed put our new shocks on the truck yesterday, which I hope will greatly improve our ride; they supposedly offer ten times the damping force of a regular shock. I think damping is supposed to be good. If so, I want lots of it. I finished the other blog post I was working on, which actually had to do with the stuff we've been doing on our truck, one of those things being the shocks. It's a two part post that lists all the items we've added to our truck to enhance its performance. You can read Part One
here.

My brother called me today to find out if I would be home for the July 4th weekend, as he's throwing his annual BBQ. I hate not being able to give an answer, but since we've been on this dedicated run for the last month, we haven't been anywhere near home. He's got a kick-ass pool and puts out a fantastic spread, so I'd love to be there, but the answer right now will just have to be "we'll see". It's kind of a sucky answer, I know.

Other than that, there's not much else to tell. My audiobooks are queued up and ready to go. I am in the middle of A Thousand Splendid Suns right now, with The Spider's House on the back burner. It's a good thing we're making some dough on these trips, because my Audible.com purchases are getting a little out of hand.

I know this because I have a Wish List. And it's getting longer by the week.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
Confessions
2 YEARS AGO:
There’s Nothing Like The Humor Of A New Yorker
3 YEARS AGO:
Anne’s Land And Beyond
4 YEARS AGO:
Butter Me Up
5 YEARS AGO:
Master Backer Or Master Bater?
6 YEARS AGO:
Not By The Hair Of My Chinny, Chin, Chin!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another Day In The Trucking Life


Well, the weekend has come and gone, it's almost six o'clock in the evening, Eastern time, and I'm sitting in some parking lot, looking out the window while Ed does more stuff to the truck. I wish I could tell you what was going on, but I have no clue. All I know is that we spent the better part of the last two hours, driving around looking for a particular part he needed. I shouldn't have to tell you at this point, that our load wasn't ready. Which is okay by me, as I don't mind the wait too much.

I don't know where we are are, I haven't eaten lunch, and I spent way too much time on the phone this morning with my best friend talking about nothing. I have an article to write (deadline is four days away) and need to put together a few posts for the other website I write for. I have notes for that one all laid out, just haven't pieced it together yet. You think I'd have been doing that while I was sitting around the nice, quiet hotel room. But nooooo, I used that time to get lost in the internet and watch HBO.

This run we're on has been pretty fantastic; the money is great, but it's the driving part I really like. As I mentioned before, I really love the route. There is a small, 200-mile portion of the trip I dislike (from Spokane, WA to Cle Elum, WA - the eastern part of Washington state), but I usually try to convince Ed to time the driving so by the time we get there, I'll be asleep and won't have to see it.

As I look at the kitchen/living room/bedroom area of my truck, which is currently stacked with four cases of synthetic motor oil and a large box containing new shocks for the truck, I wonder what's for dinner.

I have a busy, busy night planned; "Dancing With The Stars" and the season premier of "Castle".

Busy, busy, indeed.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
Ed Prepares For The Italy Trip
2 YEARS AGO:
Strolling Along The Atlantic
3 YEARS AGO:
Eddie Chatting It Up Friday
4 YEARS AGO:
The ABC’s Of Me
5 YEARS AGO:
After The Storm
6 YEARS AGO:
The Essence Of Me

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

We checked out of the hotel this morning because our load was supposed to be ready late this afternoon, but as I expected, it wasn't; the pick up time has now been moved to tomorrow. I have no faith in it being ready tomorrow either, but we'll see. Really, I should start laying bets on this. If only there were a way to make money doing that.

Ed ran a few errands and took care of some stuff on the truck, then we hit the diner for lunch, and eventually settled in at Barnes and Noble for a few hours in the afternoon. I had lots of magazines to catch up on, and there were two books I read about this week that I wanted to check out.

After getting my fill of the bookstore, it was time to go back to the truck. While I was inside, a storm had rolled in; thunder, lightening, dark clouds and rain. I was wearing flip-flops, so I wasn't so happy about the rain part. I hate getting my feet wet.

But then Ed came to my rescue, when he went to get the truck and came back to pick me up. It seemed to be the thing to do since I was standing outside, under the awning, with two other girls whose boys also went to get the car while they waited out of the rain.

Once in the truck, we headed to Bertucci's for dinner. I wasn't very hungry because I had a latte while I was in the bookstore, so I passed on an appetizer and dessert and only had an entree. I wound up taking more than half of it home. Lunch tomorrow!

We'll spend the rest of the evening watching movies and working/playing on our computers before hitting the hay earlier than we normally would since we might be going back to work.

In the meantime, I'm predicting that I'll be writing again tomorrow from this very spot. See you then!




Saturday, May 14, 2011

I've Got A Crush On You

I have been listening to Frank Sinatra since I was in the womb. Between him and Barbra Streisand, I was born with a forty-year-old's taste in music. On this day in 1998, we lost the phenomenal talent that was 'Ol Blue Eyes, when he died of a heart attack at eighty-two years of age.

According to History.com, Francis Albert Sinatra emerged from an Italian-American family in Hoboken, New Jersey, to become the first modern superstar of popular music, with an entertainment career that spanned more than five decades. In addition to his great musical success, Sinatra also appeared in 58 films. By the late 1950s, Sinatra had become the epitome of show-business success and glamorous, rough-edged masculinity; he even headed up his own entourage, known as the Rat Pack, which included Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.

My step-father Frank, was a huge fan of Sinatra. In our restaurant, the only music played in the dining room was that of Frank Sinatra. We had an eight-track tape player on the shelf in the bar, and every waitress and waiter in the place knew touching those tapes, or God forbid, putting something else in to play, was tantamount to handing in your two weeks' notice. Even though they knew they'd be out of there in less than two days, were they to risk it. When Frank Sinatra sang "My Way", he was singing my step-father's theme song.

Every single one of us had a catalog of Frank Sinatra songs in our head, and we knew every lyric. We had favorites. And we hummed and even sang along mindlessly while going about our work. It was somewhat of an hypnotization; by the end of one mere summer of waiting tables, it was difficult to remember what life was like before Frank Sinatra. It was hard to walk away not liking the Chairman of the Board.

There are too many songs to list, but I thought I'd share some of my favorites:

New York, New York
Come Fly With Me
Summer Wind
Fly Me To The Moon
I've Got A Crush On You
My Way
It Was A Very Good Year
That's Life
My Kind Of Town
The Good Life
Night And Day
You Make Me Feel So Young

Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I think my step-father has every Frank Sinatra album every made. And I have a good amount of his songs on my iPod. My two favorite albums are Duets and Duets 2. And from that album, here are the two people I mentioned in the beginning of this post, singing "I've Got A Crush On You", which is on the first Duets album:



For me, it doesn't get any better than Sinatra and Streisand. Well, unless of course, they threw Johnny Mathis into the mix. That would require me to pour myself a scotch on the rocks and sit on my harvest gold velour couch (no, that's not me in the picture) while I stare at the wood paneling and think about how life couldn't be better than in that very moment.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
The D’Angelo Bros. Outfit The Navy
2 YEARS AGO:
One Day A Revered Indian Chief, The Next Day Wagon Train Eye Candy
3 YEARS AGO:
Not Exactly The Best Way To Reach Out To Your Community
4 YEARS AGO:
Carny At The Junction
5 YEARS AGO:
Mother Superior
6 YEARS AGO:
Great Expectations

Friday, May 13, 2011

Weekend Retreat


After delivering our load this morning, breakfast at Dunkin', a quick run to complete some errands, and about two hours at the laundromat tackling my mountain of laundry, we finally made it to the hotel (lobby photo courtesy of the Hilton website). Ed picked the place; to say I am pleased with the accomodations would be an understatement. Good job, baby!

The bed in the room is super cushy, and there's a sitting area on the other side of the room. The couch is where Ed will plant himself, feet up on the coffee table, and I will man the luxuriously large desk, computer laid out in front of me, coffee at one elbow, newspaper at the other. There's a stocked coffee/tea area, a microwave and a fridge. Plus, there's room service and a restaurant in the lobby.

This is where I'll spend the next few days, in air conditioning with just a few tasks on my "to-do" list. As much as I love the cocoon nature of my truck, with everything I need within arms length, I do like to get out once in a while. And since we haven't been able to get home for a few weeks due to this run, this hotel is the next best thing.

If you need me, send an email, because I don't think I'm going to answer the phone.

On another note, the May issue of Healthy Trucking Magazine is now out - look for it in truckstops nationwide. For those who don't frequent truckstops, click
HERE to read my latest article!





Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Guitar Hero

There is a show going on right now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York called Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsman From Italy to New York which I plan on attending in the next few weeks.

They are featuring a luthier I've known about since a child. One who had meaning in my life before I knew what meaning was. One who had made an impact on me even though he died several years before I was born. That luthier was John D'Angelico. And the reason I know his name, and his story, is because my grandfather owned one of his incredible guitars.


In the photo above, you'll see my grandfather playing his D'Angelico. He bought this guitar directly from D'Angelico's shop at 40 Kenmare Street on New York's Lower East Side, at the very edge of Little Italy. It's a 1949 Excel Cutaway model, made by John D'Angelico himself. A man revered in the guitar world. A man who is universally regarded as the finest archtop guitar builder that ever lived. And my grandfather met him. Owned a guitar built by his very hands. And played it; for me.

In the photo below, you'll see me in a spot I was often found; not far from my grandfather's elbow. I loved being with him; from when I was a toddler, all the way up until he passed away in my early twenties; watching him tinker on cars, working on his trainboard, playing his guitar. It was from him that I learned to play my very first guitar chords. He was my guitar hero. My grandfather also met Jimmy D'Aquisto, John D'Angelico's apprentice. Eventually, D'Aquisto bought the business from D'Angelico and continued the tradition of making fine guitars. D'Angelico and D'Aquisto are generally regarded as the two greatest archtop guitar makers of the 20th century.

A third man, John Monteleone, will also be featured in the show. A great guy who gave me a lot of information about the guitar my grandfather owned, was also a friend and student of Jimmy D'Aquisto, and today is a highly respected guitar maker himself. I look forward to seeing the work of these three men, in addition to the history of the other pieces that will be featured in the show.

I don't know exactly when I'll be able to get into the city, but when I do, I'll write more about the experience. And I think I might take these photos with me in case I run into any real enthusiasts; I imagine it'd be quite the icebreaker should I be standing next to someone famous, who just happened to be admiring the same guitar I was!

I think this will be a great opportunity for me to learn more about guitars and guitar making, something I'd like to pass along to my nephew, who at 12 years old, is four years into his guitar playing. Someday, when his appreciation for music and his instrument mature, he'll be able to look at these pictures and know where he got the guitar gene from.

To get more information on the exhibit, click HERE.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
The Competition Is Getting Fierce
2 YEARS AGO:
A Little Smooch Makes Everything Taste Better
3 YEARS AGO:
The Greatest Spectacle In Racing
4 YEARS AGO:
Jalapenos Basking In The California Sunshine
5 YEARS AGO:
Millions Of Miles Of Knowledge
6 YEARS AGO:
Midnight Snack

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Luxor-ious Seating

A few months ago, I wrote about the fancy schmancy seats we were planning on buying for the truck. They're made by Bose, the same people who make the fancy schmancy speakers, headphones, sound systems. They are $6,000.00 each. I was completely convinced they were worth it and Ed was seriously considering buying them.

Until I sat in them. Granted, their "road simulation" display was impressive. The bumps and ruts that you'd feel on a normal road were essentially eliminated by the patented hydraulic "ride system" of the base. Which is great. If you were sitting on the base. But you have to sit on the actual seat on the base, which is where my problem came in.

The seat itself was uncomfortable to me. And it only came in one color scheme; black and gray. That color doesn't work for me, as our interior is of the taupe/beige/camel variety. We talked to them about ordering the seat in a different color, since a seat company makes the actual seat, not them. We also asked to have a different seat altogether put on their base. Neither of those options were available to us.

I actually felt bad taking up so much of their time. I had pretty much decided I didn't want them the minute I sat on the seat, before the simulator even started moving. We went back the next day to try it out again. The hard sell was on. One guy really annoyed me; he was just like the smarmy car salesman that keeps telling you how much better your life will be with their car; they follow you around, try to make what they think are enticing offers. I had asked them, since we were buying two seats, if we could get a deal. He said, "I'll see what I can do." What they "did" was offer us any Bose item, sound system, headphones, etc. up to $400 total. Wooooow. What a deal. After a little pow-wow, Ed and I decided not to get the seats. Instead, we settled on the Luxor seats (see photo above - we got them in taupe leather to match our interior) we had seen two years ago, made by Superior Seating. Our friends had them in their truck and they were extremely comfortable. And they were much cheaper; $1,500.00 a seat instead of $6,000.00 each. We are supposed to pick them up this week. And I can't wait, because the 5,500 miles we're doing each week is starting to wear out my big fat ass.

Our friends, who went to the truck show with us, did buy the Bose seat; just one, for the driver's side. They're having it installed this week. I'm very interested to see how they like it. In the meantime, I have to figure out what I'm going to do with the $9,000.00 we saved.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO:
Sharing A Moment
2 YEARS AGO:
When Sunny Gets Blue
3 YEARS AGO:
Putting The Friendly Back In The Skies
4 YEARS AGO:
White Squall
5 YEARS AGO:
Free As A Bird
6 YEARS AGO:
The Heat Is On