Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Window On New Mexico

Taken on Interstate 40 in New Mexico, just after a rainstorm. Everything was illuminated by the bright light of the setting sun.

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My Man Makes A Mad Meal
2010: Less Is Not More In All Cases
2009: Grain Gone By
2008: The Absolute Beauty Of It
2007: Not Only Did He Pray, He Posed
2006: Camera Phone Coolness
2005: Life Is A Salt Shaker

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ladder 11 To The Rescue

We were two miles away from our pickup location in Texas, when an ambulance and fire truck passed me with lights flashing and sirens blaring. There went my excellent trip time - I was due to arrive four minutes after the hour, but now I was going to be late. Traffic was backed up for several lights, slowly moving in the left lane, as people navigated around the disabled car in the center lane.

Hopefully, no one was hurt, but when I see this I always wonder what was going on to have caused the accident. It's the middle of July, a bright sunny day, no precipitation, in a 40 mph zone. What the hell??

I attribute 95% of the accidents I see to stupidity. Either you're not paying attention, you're driving too fast, you're weaving in and out of traffic to get one car length ahead when you reach the light, you're texting, talking on the phone, beating your kid, you're a young punk, or you're an old geezer. Although, old geezer doesn't fall under stupidity, but young punk likely does. Texting, talking on the phone, speeding, and weaving in and out of traffic are classic young punk behaviors.

In most cases, even if the offensive driving doesn't cause an accident, I can tell before even seeing their face, if a person is an asshole driver or not. I can tell by your car OR by what your car is doing. It doesn't take much to peg the person who's going to cut over three lanes to get off an exit, or who's going to cut in front of you, inches from your bumper, just to slam on the brakes in front of you, happy they beat you to the light. People in pick-up trucks, Hummers and some types of SUVs are usually assholes (and the worst offenders). People in a big ass Buick, Lincoln Town Car or Mercedes Benz are usually old.

Worst case scenario is that the reckless driver kills someone. Next worst case scenario is that the reckless driver badly injures someone. Next, but least of the worst cases is that the reckless driver kills or injures himself. That seems to almost never happen - I can tick off five major traffic accidents that I know of where the driver lived, but many others died. Primarily because the drivers were assholes - drunk, speeding, or otherwise. If none of these things happen, it's a much better day, but I'm still annoyed at the fact that I have to be inconvenienced because someone else wasn't doing what they were supposed to be doing.

Every day out here on the road is truly a crap shoot. We put our lives in danger as soon as we start moving this vehicle. And many times, what might happen to us is at the hands of a strainger. You might say that anyone who drives, be it a truck, car, RV, motorcycle, etc. is in the same position. You would be right. But their exposure to danger is greatly reduced because they're not traveling the same distances we are.

We drive over 150,000 miles a year, in every weather condition you can think of, and in every corner of this country - from rural farm areas to congested city streets. Truck drivers are consistently ranked in the Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs lists, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more truck drivers die on the job than any other vocation.

So if you're driving along, do your best not to be an asshole on the road. Try to keep your life, my life and other lives out of danger. Mkay?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: It’s Got Lipstick Written All Over It
2010: Liquid Crack
2009: For All The World To See
2008: Studio Blue
2007: Eddie Tests His Spine Friday
2006: Almost Twenty
2005: Thinking

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Window Shopping In The East Village

I'm not really sure what they're selling in this store, but it seems to be the place to go if Teletubbies, skeletons and mutant babies are your thing. You really can find anything in New York!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Waiting For Someone To Service Me
2010: Rockin’ Rockaholic Haul
2009: Just Don’t Call Me Late For Dinner
2008: In This Case, R & R Means Recumbent And Recuperation
2007: Posthumously Famous In The World Of Cheap Lodging
2006: What Better Reason To Dine Out?
2005: Hudson Valley Summer

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Juicy Driving Treat

You know it's a slow content day when I have to post a blurry picture of watermelon chunks.

But I do LOVE me some watermelon in the summertime. This has been a standard midday (or morning, or evening) snack for us. We go through watermelon like it's going out of style. There's not much space to store a watermelon for long in the truck - my fridge isn't that big and you can't have it rolling around in the sleeper as you careen off exit ramps. OK, maybe careen isn't exactly the word I was looking for...

What I'm trying to say is that we eat this quickly. We usually buy a watermelon a week, in addition to bananas, strawberries, raspberries, cherries (regular and my favorite, Rainier), apples, peaches. The trick is buying just the right amount - if we buy too little, we're jonesin' for a fix, if we buy too much, we wind up throwing away rotten fruit.

And since the tomato is technically a fruit, I should let you in on my mother's simple but fantastic Tomato Salad.

You can get the recipe HERE.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: Reckless In Rome
2010: Back And Forth, Back And Forth, Back And Forth…
2009: Eddie Enters A Copper Mine Friday
2008: Oshkosh B’Gosh
2007: Queen Of The 21st Century
2006: Sketchbook
2005: A Queen’s Life

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why Fig Newtons Will Always Be On my Shopping List

Ed and I have really been trying to eat better for the past two months. Not that we don't already eat well - hell, I'm doing the cooking, after all - we're just trying to watch our calorie intake.

I'm not a big cookie eater, but Ed is, and I haven't been buying any because they're really not good for the food plan. But this week I broke down and bought some Fig Newtons, because technically they're more fruit than cookie, right? They also happen to be one of Ed's favorites. When he reached for the package one night after dinner, I said "Hey, give me two of those, please."

He just looked at me and raised an eyebrow. "You know Fig Newtons are a gateway cookie, right?" he said.

"What??" I said.

"Yep. They're a gateway cookie. You start with a Fig Newton and before you know it, you're elbow deep in whipped cream, chocolate syrup and maraschino cherries...."

Here I thought I was just trying to eat healthy and plan low calorie desserts, but Ed's mind seemed to be going somewhere completely different; his plan seemed to fall more into the "burn calories" category.

Hmmm...I suppose that can be considered exercise the same way a Fig Newton can be considered a healthy cookie.

"I'll have two more of those, please."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: Losing The Wallet At Your Convenience
Bridge Over Troubled Roadway
2009: If Only The Streets Were Truly Paved With Gold
2008: She Reigns Supreme
2007: A Match Made In Heaven
2006: Proof
2005: Caped Crusaders

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hats Off To Tits And Ass

My sister-in-law's father Ken is a master knitter - he could put anyone's grandmother to shame. He recently made a hat modeled after Edith's from the movie Despicable Me, which I gave to a friend of mine but before I did, had Ed try it on for good measure.

Well just today, Ken stopped by my mother's house and dropped off two hats he made for Ed and I. She sent me a picture of them. I like the colors of the one for Ed, but I'm not sure about the pink for me. I like pink, but I think the baby pink might be a little too sweet for me.

I told my mother what I thought about the color and she said, "Oh, no. I think the pink would look great on you with your dark hair and fair skin. I can just see you wearing it when you walk into the T & A."

"It's not "The T & A" Mom, that means tits and ass. It's the TA, which is what everyone calls the Travel Centers of America truck stops."

"Oh," said said laughing. "And here I thought I was being so good, getting the name of it right."

"Well, I'm sure there are plenty of people who will like your name for it better."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Approaching Chi-Town
2010: Paneful Outlook
2009: Gray County Silhouette
2008: This Little Piggy Went To Market
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: The Heat Bog
2005: Five

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Truckin' With Ed

Stop the presses!! Breaking news!! Hear ye!! Hear ye!!

I'm just popping by to inform all my wonderful readers that my handsome beau - with whom I celebrate
eight years today - has started his own blog! He's actually been at it since 2008, but has never posted very often. It looks like that's about to change.

Titled Truckin' Ed, he'll be using his blog to write posts about the variety of loads we haul, issues we face in the trucking industry, and whatever else strikes his fancy. I don't think he plans on doing a daily thing, but he is going to make a concentrated effort to regularly document the actual "work" side of our work day, with lots of pictures and eventually video.

So please
head over to his blog and give him a warm welcome to the blogosphere!

Don't worry, he'll still be a fixture around here. He now has a link in the side bar, he'll occassionaly
write guest posts for me, and he will always be the "star" of his very own category.

Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging, Eddie!

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Way Better Than Seven Years In Tibet
2010: His Charm And Understated Humor Is Totally Contagious
2009: The Creature Comforts Of Home
2008: Checklist
2007: Happy As A Clam
2006: Two Things
2005: Good For Licking

Friday, July 20, 2012


I haven't done a meme in a long time - this one was discovered while looking for information on health and wellness so I figured, what the hell? So here you go - more than you probably ever wanted to know about me.

Were you born early, late or right on time?

I was born about eight days after my due date. But surprisingly, that's the only time I've ever been late.

Have you had chicken pox?
Yes. I don't remember the age, but it was before age 11.

Are you allergic to bees?
Not that I'm aware of, but it would be a good thing to know since we've 
hauled them and been party to killing them. It's been a verrrry long time since I've been bitten by one, but I do know that I hate flying insects and freak out a little when they're near me.

How about strawberries?
Well, there was a time when I thought I was allergic to berries, but then I had a string of allergic reactions that didn't seem to have anything to do with berries. One time, while visiting my cousin in Florida, I had an allergic reaction that turned me from a beautiful swan into a 
hideous creature in a matter of an hour or so. This was not my first experience with huge swollen eyes, horribly distorted facial features and other above the neck swelling problems, but it was the first one I got on camera. Now, I eat berries of any kind with abandon and haven't had an allergic episode in years. But I still carry an Epi-Pen in the truck, just in case.

Hereditary illness?
Nope, none, nada. Healthy as a horse. I have my 
Aunt Jennie’s genes for sure. I'll probably live to be a freakin' hundred.

Have you ever been in a car accident?
Yes. One in my late teens, on the way to the mall with my brother. It was my first encounter with a big rig - I slid right under the back of it, crushing the ICC bumper like it was made of aluminum foil. He was broken down, dead stopped in the right lane. I was unaware of how icy it was, and when I turned the wheel to change lanes, I couldn't. We slid right into him. And another time, I was sitting at a light and someone rear-ended me, pushing me through the intersection. They hit me with such force, they broke my seat. Never did catch them - they drove off and left me there.

How much do you smoke?
I have never smoked and I think it's a disgusting habit. I don't understand why someone would intentionally inhale putrid puffs of smoke into their pink little lungs.

How much do you drink?
I don't drink. Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say I rarely drink. I might have a drink 3-4 times a year. It doesn't appeal to me at all.

Is your cholesterol normal?
As far as I know - at least the last time I checked!

Have you ever run a marathon?
Are you fucking high? I wouldn't run a marathon if there were a million dollars waiting at the finish line. You know a marathon is 26.2 miles, right?

How many x-rays have you had (not including the dentist)?
Too many to remember.

Have you ever had surgery?
Nope. And I'd like to keep it that way. Although I won't rule out plastic surgery - you just never know.

Do you watch what you eat?
I watch everything - as it leaves my hand and goes into my mouth. Hah! I'm such a comedian. Actually, Ed and I have been eating much better the last few months, but I'm not a Nazi about what I eat. I like pretty much everything, from all the healthy stuff (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken, lean meats, etc.) to the stuff that can last through the apocalypse (Twinkies, for example).

When was the last time you worked out?
On purpose? Probably sometime in 2006, and I'm pretty sure it was against my will.

What is your ideal weight?
I don't have a specific number in mind, but closer to what I was in my twenties. I'm 5'8 and although I'm bigger than what the charts say I "should" be, I feel pretty comfortable at that size.

What is your current weight?
Seriously? I'll tell you when I get back down to a respectable fighting weight.

How old was the oldest living relative in your immediate family?

Veggies or Fruit?
Vegetables - I think I can do more culinarily with them.

Low-carb or High-carb?
Living without carbs is INSANE. There is no force on earth that could rip a carb from my daily diet, so I'd have to go with high-carb on this one. I'd rather be fat for the rest of my life than go without a potato or piece of Italian bread.

How do you want to die?
With a Dunkin' Donuts iced latte in one hand, a Devil Dog in the other kicked back in the lazy boy, my favorite movie playing on the tube and friends, family or my sweet Eddie by my side.

Or, during a nap.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: They Claim To Have The Best Sky

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Not Just A Coach, But A Cheerleader Of Joy!

Essence is defined as, "the intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something; the most important ingredient; the crucial element; the inherent, unchanging nature of a thing or class of things; an extract that has the fundamental properties of a substance in a concentrated form; a perfume or scent; something that exists, especially in a spiritual or incorporeal entity."

And you know who has it? (Well, besides me, of course.)

My friend Lisa Bruchac. And now she's helping other people
find their essence too.

I've known Lisa for over 20 years, and although we've followed different paths in life and spent many years apart doing our own thing, we reconnected a few years ago. And she's exactly the same person I knew in high school. Well, sort of.

Same in the sense that she's loving, funny, compassionate, intelligent, insightful, kind and truly full of joy. And although she's grown as a person, everything she already is and everything she always was, has clearly been enhanced by
her journey of self-discovery. If it's possible to have improved what was already there, it seems she's done it. Her light shines with such force, you'll be bathed in its glow, even through the phone lines.

Her new venture as a Life Coach is so perfectly suited for her personality. She's a great listener, she's perceptive, she's open to receive information and respond thoughtfully, and she really cares. You can feel it.

Having someone guide you, to help you find answers you've been searching for, to uncover what your "purpose in life" is, to aid in discovering who you are or how you were meant to live, is an invaluable gift. And Lisa has it. Sometimes it just takes another person to give you what you need to find your joy. As she mentions on her website, that's your only "job" - to feel and share joy.

She's not just some do-gooder-hippie-dippie-I-think-I-wanna-help-people-cause-I-want-a-happy-world-ooh-look-there's-a-rainbow type of person (although she likely does want a happy world!). She's got credentials, yo! She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology, and among other certifications, she's also a Certified Mind/Body Health and Wellness Coach.

I think we all know someone who might be lost. Someone who can answer some or all of these questions. So if you do know someone - or if that someone is you - who needs a little coaching in their life, consider taking the plunge to Find Your True Essence with Lisa.

She believes so much in what she's doing, she's offering a FREE 30-minute session to see if you'll click, if she's someone you feel a connection with, if you think you will feel comfortable putting your "life" in her able, coaching hands. If she can find thirty minutes for you, you can certainly find thirty minutes for yourself.

As motivational speaker Anthony Robbins has said, "Why live an ordinary life when you can live an extraordinary one?"

You owe it to yourself to find that answer. It only takes one click.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kind Of Like A Virtual Celebrity Bodyguard

We're on the road about 300 days a year; because of that, we conduct a lot of business and day-to-day activities via the Internet. Taking care of banking, paying credit cards, buying gifts, paying for and downloading books, trading stocks, buying and selling on Ebay, transferring money between bank accounts, and most importantly, receiving direct deposits to pay us for the loads we haul. In addition to that, we do a whole lot of general surfing, emailing and other online centric stuff.It goes without saying that the security of our internet connections are of utmost importance. For most people in general, but specifically for us drivers out here on the road, you need to have a good resource for Internet Security to protect you from any harm that may come your way via hackers, viruses, spyware, and even pesky spam. You surely don't need your computer to crash or information to be stolen, especially when you're in the vulnerable position of being away from home. Not only is a software crash a good reason to crawl into your sleeper bunk and cry for days (that's what I would be doing if I lost anything important), but it's likely to be a catalyst for buying a good protection system.

We have our own Wi-Fi system in our truck, purchased through our wireless service provider and snaked through a router that Ed set up, so we can access it with all of our devices. Not all drivers have this kind of setup in their trucks, a lot of them use the Wi-Fi services provided by truck stops or other businesses. We don't have a need to use the ones at truck stops, but we will sometimes use Wi-Fi in places like Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, or any number of the hotels we stay at. And although I am not a full-on geek, I know those places are not as safe as you might think they are, especially if you don't take all the precautions you could to protect yourself.

The best protection is not to do anything over these Wi-Fi airwaves that use your most personal information, but as this Red Tape Chronicles article on indicates, you might start out innocently reading the news online and before you know it, you're moving around your investments through your broker website because you read something in an article just minutes before. Recipe for disaster.

Ed backs up our computers regularly and other than one incident a few months ago (where we didn't back up and I lost two months' worth of stuff), we've never had any issues. We have excellent internet security in place and make sure we always keep it up to date. In order to get the full benefit of all the features your protection system offers, you must download and install any updates they make you aware of. You can't expect to be protected if you don't do your best to employ all of the tools at your disposal.

In my opinion, taking a few minutes to make sure you're virtually protected, even while you sleep, is a lot better than being followed 24/7 by a 6-foot-3, 320-pound bruiser in a three-piece suit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Things Are Going Swimmingly

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Hodgepodge Of Fun

I have to tell you, I'm totally lovin' my iPad. I can surf, read, email, take pictures, and waste oodles of time sliding my fingers across its silky screen, quiet as a church mouse, connected to the world from literally anywhere I happen to be. And the apps, as you'd imagine, are endless.

Here are some of my current favorites:
Flipboard: I was turned on to this by my friend Marlaina's husband, and I'm totally diggin' it. It's an aggregator of sorts, bringing together news from different sources. You can choose which subjects you'd like to read about, and then you just do as the name states...flip.
Flixster: What I've been looking for all these years - a place to watch movie trailers. I've always loved the previews in the movie theater and have joked that I'd pay to see the movie time equivalent of just movie trailers. My wish has been granted. I can now see most movie trailers in the comfort of my own home. For free.
Epicurious: Need a dinner meal idea? Have ingredients on hand but no idea what to prepare? Want a certain type of food but need a recipe? Oh, Epicurious has it. Thousands of recipes from sources such as Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazine; high caliber chefs like Jamie Oliver and Jacques Pépin ; and books like Adam Perry's Charred and Scruffed. There's an option for filtering recipes in different categories and even for only showing you ones with photos, which is an absolute must for me.
PicCollage: A fun way to make a collage of pictures you've taken or ones you've saved on your iPad. You can add text and graphics too, and if you need more choices, there's a pay option for that version of the app. I say see what you can do with the free choices - you'll be surprised the cute stuff you can come up with! See my creation above.
Newsstand: I can read magazines, in full color, right on my iPad. Some of them I already get at home, but if they offer a free online version for print subscribers, I'm all over it. And Ed's dad even let me access his Smithsonian Magazine print subscription information, so I'm able to read that on my iPad also. Now that's one great magazine.
Peterson Birds of North America: I'm a bird watcher. I know, I know. HUGE dork, right? But seriously, when you see so many birds - in different states, regions or even towns - you start to wonder. What are they? Where are they going? Do they live here all the time or are they just "wintering" in this area? It's kind of cool, and the app has a way that you can keep track of when and where you saw certain birds. I likey.
Leafsnap: This is sort of like the bird app, except with this one you just photograph a leaf, and Leafsnap can help you identify it. How cool is that? We see so many plants and trees in our travels and often I don't know what they are. This'll come in handy just in case I find myself trekking through poison ivy. Stop laughing.
The Collection: Brought to you by the New York Times, this app allows me to view and read about all the fashion, jewelry and cosmetics that I'll never be able to afford (all at once, anyway!). It's a beautiful app and I love it.

Canva:  Another great app for creating.  Lots of templates, lots of fun options. You might also want to follow them on Instagram. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Very Gradual Climb

We left California last week and eventually made our way through Las Vegas, Arizona and Utah. Here are a few pictures from the trip from the desert floor to the high desert, climbing a little over 750 feet in elevation.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wrappers Delight

On our way out of California, we stopped at Chipotle for lunch, which is where I saw this decal on the glass divider in front of the area where the staff makes your food. So clever.

We're on our way across the country with an oversized load, but will only be able to cover a few states over the weekend because we're waiting on the rest of our permits. We didn't get them all on Friday and we can't move without them.

Ed feels a little blackjack coming on, so we'll probably stop in Las Vegas to quell that urge, and I think I'll try my hand at losing more money at the slots. I only seem to win big in Reno, which I've always said has very loose slots, and when I looked up to see if it was actually a fact or just my imagination,
I found this.

Guess I'm not crazy after all. Whew!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Breaking The Spell
2010: It Never Ends
2009: 275 Square Miles Of Brilliance
2008: Four Standards, One Newbie
2007: Semantics
2006: 36 Hours Of Hell On Earth
2005: 11:11:11

Friday, July 13, 2012

It Can Only Mean One Thing

The sun setting in California. To me, it means only one thing - it'll be only a few hours before we get the hell out of this truck-hating state - as soon as the sun rises we'll be on our way.

It won't be soon enough.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It’s Like Cheers, Where Everybody Knows Your Name. OK, So It’s More Like Where Just One Guy Knows Your Face.
2010: Social NOTworking
2009: Scattergories
2008: Time Isn’t The Only Thing That Flies When You’re Having Fun
2007: Anything I Want
2006: Burglar And Idiot Proof
2005: Virginia Is For Lovers

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Know You're Getting Old When You Start Carrying Your Own Sugar

I was at Dunkin' Donuts the other day ordering an iced latte. As I was searching through my wallet - the beautiful little leather pouch I purchased in Florence, Italy - for my money and my Dunkin' Frequent Visits Rewards card, a handful of Splenda packets spilled out onto the counter.

"Oh, my grandma carries Splenda in her wallet!", said the fledgling behind the counter.

I smiled a stiff, I-hate-you-and-want-to-strangle-you-with-my-purse-strap smile, handed her my money, thanked her, and left.

Holy shit, if that didn't make me feel old. What's next, tissues up my sleeves??

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
America Runs On Dunkin’
2010: Los Links!!
2009: Here Kitty Kitty Kitty
2008: Intense Eddie Friday
2007: It’s An iPod, Not A wePod
2006: Doing The Wade
2005: It’s A Numbers Game

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Art Of The Merge (And Other Simple Courtesies Of The Road)

I’ve always been a pretty good driver, even in the early years. OK, so I might have had a teensy bit of a lead foot when I was in my early twenties, but I was still good. As a truck driver though, my senses are always on high alert and I find myself following every little rule to the letter. I never speed, I obey all signs, and have learned to just shake my head at the nonsense I see on the road - before I blog about it, of course!
(Photo by my best friend, Vicki Unti)
One of my biggest pet peeves while driving is people who don’t know how to merge. When you’re in a truck, traveling at 60 miles an hour, seeing someone approach you on the right side, at a snail’s pace is not just frustrating, it’s a bit unnerving. So as a favor to all the other drivers who share the road with me (big rigs, four wheelers and crazy motorcyclists), I bring you my Ten Tips For Courteous Driving…

1. This Is Not A Juggling Contest
When you’re driving, you should be concentrating on driving. Of course, we all know the dangers of texting and talking on the phone while driving; the former you shouldn’t EVER do, the latter only with a hands-free device. Lighting cigarettes, eating food, disciplining your children, putting on makeup, are other examples of what may take your attention from the task at hand. Which is? That’s right, driving. Very good.

2. It’s Not A Suggestion
The speed limit signs aren’t there to teach you math. They are there for you to obey. And just because it says 75, doesn’t really mean you have to do 75. As a rule, unless posted otherwise, I drive 58-60 mph. In a big rig, there’s really no reason to go any faster. Also, it’s kinda scary, 80,000 pounds whizzing down the highway. So obey the signs, please. It’s smarter. It’s safer. And it’s the law.

3. I Think The Two Second Rule Only Applies To Dropped Food
If you drop a tasty morsel on the floor, most people will feel comfortable eating it if it was only MIA for two seconds. But when driving a commercial motor vehicle the rule is, “When driving below 40 mph, you should leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length.” For me, at 75 feet long, that means at least 8 seconds between my rig and the car in front of me. If I’m doing over 40 mph, I add another second. In adverse weather conditions, I double that following distance. All drivers should take this into consideration. I regularly see cars tailgating, and I regularly see cars rear-end other cars. As for my vehicle, if I can’t see you in my mirrors, or you can't see me in my mirrors, you’re too close to the rear end of my trailer. As Yosemite Sam says, "Back Off!".

4. Learn To Move Like A Ballerina
Ballerinas are not only known for their pointe shoes, but also for their grace. It would be nice if drivers on our highways and byways would work a little of this grace into their driving. For instance…when entering the highway, otherwise known as “the merge”, please try to do it without hindering the speed of others. YOU are entering OUR turf, if you will; those of us already on the highway. We were there first, you’re the newcomer. So when you’re merging, decide before you meander down the often too short on-ramp, what your plan of action is going to be. Then proceed quickly. And like a ballerina – do it with grace.

5. You May Only Pass Go And Collect $200 If You Do It On The Left
The left lane is for passing. The middle and right lane are for driving. If you’re in the middle or right lane, it’s likely that you’re driving. If you’re in the left lane, you’re probably passing. When on a highway, the left lane is used for passing. In hallways, grocery stores and sidewalks, the right side is for general travel, the left lane is for passing. Oh, by the way…have I mentioned that the LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING? Uh, yeah.

6. Make Your Intentions Known
I’m not a mind reader. I don’t have a crystal ball. And I can’t contact spirits from beyond. It’s also pretty safe to say that I’m not going to be able to guess which way you’re headed unless you give me some sort of signal. Blinkers, hand signals, turn indicators…those will all work. When you’re changing lanes, getting off an exit, or making a turn into the In-N-Out Burger parking lot, please signal. And if you don’t mind, can you please do it several hundred feet in advance?

7. Its Meaning Transcends Continents
Red means stop. In Kansas, Canada and Casablanca. The whole silly little “Red Means Stop” thing is pretty universal. Pay attention to four-way stops, blinking lights and the taillights of other vehicles. And remember, a “California Roll” is sushi.

8. They’re People, People!
When you see a real, live PERSON standing at a crosswalk, they have the right-of-way. If they even look like they’re getting ready to step into traffic, you MUST stop. Please pay attention and approach crosswalks and intersections, especially in cities and residential areas, with the utmost caution. Children often dart out, the elderly don’t always hear very well and teenagers…well, they’re teenagers – it’s likely they don’t even know you exist. Give ‘em all the right-of-way.

9. Don’t Block The Box
Speaking of intersections, it brings to mind a sign you’ll see all over New York City – Don’t Block The Box. Meaning, do not block the intersections. If you’re in a big truck, make sure you can get all the way through the intersection before stopping. And if you’re in a car, make sure you stay behind the white line painted in front of you at many intersections - it's there for a reason. Have you ever had a truck trying to make a turn come really close to the hood of your car? Well, if you were behind the white line, you wouldn't have been in our way and we wouldn't have to maneuver around you, or worse (for you), make you back up. In addition, don’t keep creeping forward, only to wind up getting stuck in the middle of the intersection. Blocking an intersection is dangerous, often illegal, and always impedes the flow of traffic.

10. Toodle-on’t
When you have the urge to send someone a little “toodle-oo” with your horn, you should consider to toodle-on’t instead. A quick honk of the horn to alert someone who may have drifted into your lane is acceptable, but leaning on the horn is not. Your horn also shouldn’t be used to express your frustration; too many incidents of road rage have escalated from a mere horn honk. Honking may startle new or elderly drivers, it may distract someone’s attention and create a dangerous situation, and regardless of what you think, horn honking has NEVER cleared a traffic jam.

So next time you’re out and about, extend a few simple courtesies while on the road. You might even want to throw in a smile and a little wave. You’ll be surprised at how far it’ll get you!

Live Adventurously and stay safe!

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2011: Montana Fluff
2010: Stop The Presses!
2009: Fiesta Ed Friday
2008: Crotchety Old Woman
2007: One Side Of A Coin
2006: Why Oh Why
2005: Sign Of The Times

Monday, July 09, 2012

It's Even Better Than Having A "Plan B"

Last weekend when our friends got here, one of the first things they needed to do was find out where the sound of hissing air was coming from. They noticed it a few hours before they got to our house and were worried that it was one of their airbags. Or worse. If it was something serious, they might have had to put the truck in the shop and miss the load they were scheduled to pick up. And since they had plans that were built upon where that load was taking them, having a truck in the shop just wasn't going to cut it.
Once they got settled in at the house, Ed and MacGyver popped the hood of the truck and put their heads together to find the culprit. Turns out, it was the steering axle airbag on the passenger side; an easy fix, since MacGyver already had the part.

Marlaina was telling me that when they first bought their truck, a Volvo, they were advised by another driver to always carry a spare airbag because that particular part was hard to find, and rather than having to wait for a part to arrive (likely in the middle of nowhere) before the truck could be fixed, all they'd need to do is whip out their extra airbag and take it to a nearby shop for repair. And that's exactly what happened here - Ed took MacGyver to the shop we use and they had everything done within a few hours.

Redundancy typically has a negative connotation - no one wants to be described as being wordy in an unnecessary way, or as the British use the term, "no longer needed". It's bad enough that you'd be losing your job, but how much would it suck to be told you're being made redundant?!? For this post though, that particular issue of redundancy is not what I'm referring to, I'll be looking at it from more of a mechanical standpoint. And although it's not redundancy in the classic engineering sense, it's close enough for me to use as an example.

In engineering, redundancy is the "duplication of critical components or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability of the system, usually in the case of a backup or fail-safe". MacGyver is a big fan of covering all bases - he
's the one who'll tell you how to make sure you have two sets of everything on hand, backups of your backups, and spare parts out the wazoo.
Backing up your computer files is a familiar form of redundancy. All of your information, backed up in the event of the worst case scenario - complete and total computer meltdown. In MacGyver's case, he has several external drives, backing up each other, giving him peace of mind that he won't be without what he needs for very long. As long as he can access his A, B, C, or D drives , he's still in business!

In trucking, redundancy is paramount - it's used on a regular basis to keep your operation up and running - and most importantly, safe.

A great way to illustrate what's called passive redundancy, as it applies to trucking, is in the use of securement devices. When hauling a piece of freight on our flatbed, having backups in the way it's secured ensures that should one of the securement components fail, there are others that will take up the slack. A perfect example of this is the use of both straps and chains. Should a strap break, the chain will still hold the item in place. If a binder pops loose from the chain, the strap will make sure nothing shifts. It's what they call the margin of safety.
Another example, which we employ on a regular basis, is the use of a generator for power. In our truck, if the batteries get low when we're running the components inside the sleeper, the generator, when set to auto, will kick in and run everything while at the same time recharging the batteries. Once the batteries are charged, the generator will shut off and go back to using the power they provided to the batteries.

One final example - fuel and oil filters. We have three fuel filters and three oil filters in our engine. They work together to filter particles through the system, but should one of them fail or get clogged, the others will take care of filtering particles until the damaged one can be replaced.
Personally, I'd much prefer knowing that there's a backup parachute somewhere to catch me if I need it. No sane skydiver would jump out of a plane without theirs.

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Who Says Truckers Don’t Have Nice Legs?
2010: Boy, Have Times Changed!
2009: I’ll Have A Short Stack With A Million Scrambled Eggs On The Side Please
2008: It Came At A Perfect Time
2007: Experimenting With Scrotum
2006: Can Anyone Spare A Roll Of Pennies?
2005: Matching Purse And Flip Flops??