Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Patriotic Blooms

We made a quick stop at the Petro in Kingsland, Georgia and while Ed ran into the store, I noticed the flower pots at the end of each fuel island.

Flower pots!  With bright, colorful flowers.  They were plastic - my mother would fully approve - but they were still flowers.  And it was really nice to see each fuel island blooming with a burst of color. 

Thanks, Petro!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Someone's Going Home With This

2013: Hey Cutie!
2012: I’ll Have To Pry It From Her Dead, Cold Fingers
2011: Straight Talk
2010: Who Knew There Were Things To Do Other Than Eating Pie?
2009: 157 Years Of Light
2008: Call Me. We Have Telephones In Nebraska Now.
2007: Reach For The Sky
2006: Sorry, no post on this day.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cutting Through The Rain To Get To The Sunshine State

We haven't hit as much rain as the people in Texas and Oklahoma have been experiencing, but we did go through a few torrential downpours.  We are deadheading 790 miles to pick up our next load so we can get to Florida for the Million Miler event next week.

They're holding it this year at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando.  The hotel has a nice pool and a lazy river, so I might spend some time there - Ed wants to float the lazy river - and they're adjacent to the Waldorf Astoria which has some great restaurants and a spa.  We may spend some time there too.

There is no way you'll catch me in any of the Disney parks in July, on a holiday weekend, when kids are out of school.  I can't think of a worse hell.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2014: Ed Drove A Million Miles To Get Here

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Power On The Potomac

This is the Morgantown Generating Station, located on the banks of the Potomac River in Newburg, Maryland.  It is a coal-fired power station that supplies large amounts of electrical power to the Washington DC metropolitan area.  It is capable of powering 1.2 million homes.

These pictures were taken from the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge which is part of U.S. Route 301.  The bridge is located at a dramatic bend in the river and marks the line between the Lower and Upper Potomac River Estuary.  It's the only Potomac crossing below Washington DC and was opened in 1940.
According to RiverExplorer.com, at approximately at this point in the river, there was a famous ferry that ran from Morgantown, Md. to Mathias Point in Virginia, as early as 1705.

The ferry was part of the shortest route between the capitals of Maryland and Virginia and served as a principal link in the journeys of many early Americans including George Washington, George Mason, and other founding fathers.  Nearby is also the site of one of the river crossings by John Wilkes Booth after his assassination
 of Abraham Lincoln.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Ma And Pa Kettle Lived Here
2013: "License, Registration and Insurance Card, Please"
2012: Welcome To Hell
2011: When She Passes Each One She Passes Goes Ahhhh
2010: The Key To Being Funny
2009: Wishes Really Do Come True
2008: Eddie Plays It Safe Friday
2007: What Road?
2006: I’m STILL Looking To Get Me Some Good BBQ
2005: Say Cheese!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Love

photo source: CNN
Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage rights nationwide, a landmark victory for gay rights.  Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote, "No longer may this liberty be denied.  No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.  In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were."

I've always joked that "the gays" loved me. They do.  I have a lot of gay friends. And I love them. I also love that they now have the same right as I do to make their love for their someone special official. No matter where they live.

Like these two guys did, who've been together for 54 years.  FIFTY FOUR.  For anyone to say that their love is different, or perverse, or going to be the demise of a nation, has more than a few screws loose.  These guys have been living their lives for 54 years, together, loving each other, unbeknownst to you, and it didn't affect your life one little smidge. Did it? No.

It doesn't affect you.  And it doesn't affect me.

A lot of people think being gay and gays getting married is wrong because the bible says it's wrong.  Really?  Well, since they're going to pull out the Old Testament scripture, you know what else the OT says you're not supposed to do?  Lots.  Eat bacon. Or shellfish.  Wear clothing of mixed fabric. Cut your hair. Shave your beard. Get tattoos. Hold a grudge. Drink wine. Work on Sunday.

Wait, there's more.  Divorce.  Getting remarried after divorce.  Premarital sex.  Lusting after someone.  Wearing sexy clothing or flashy jewelry. Gossip. Cheating (or even thinking about cheating). Having a child out of wedlock. Eating too much (gluttony). Using birth control. Wearing the clothing of the opposite sex (what, no boyfriend tees? button downs? flannel shirts? jeans?). Oppressing the poor and vulnerable.  And that's New Testament stuff.

Wow.  We're in a shitload of trouble.  In fact, every single person I know is going to the fiery depths of hell according to this.  And let's not even get started on Caitlyn Jenner. See, here's the thing - you can't really judge others because they sin differently than you. And although we all do it - I'm super-judgmental regarding just about everything - some of us don't agree that laws should be made to prevent someone from enjoying something just because you don't.

Well, except for the gun thing and the pedophile thing.  There's no reason for the average person to own a gun (other countries get by just fine without armed citizens) and there's certainly no excuse for doing anything inappropriate with a child.  Those people have a special kind of hell in store for them and there absolutely should be laws and punishments for anyone who even thinks about it.

But let's get back to the gay thing.  Most of the opposition is coming from religious, conservative, Republican, bible-thumping people. Don't skewer me, those are the facts. Almost every person who's spoken out has made some connection to religion or God or the bible.  And there are people who think this Supreme Court decision means the end of times.  Can I just say how ridiculous that is?  I mean, it's actually laughable. I seriously cannot fathom how a person not only thinks it, but then lets the thought fall out of their mouth. It tells me they're so removed from reality that they think what they're saying has merit. They don't have to agree with it, but calling for the end of times?  C'mon.

There's a long list of predictions for things that are supposed to end the world as we know it. They have never and will never come true.  These predictions date back to...well, let's just say Jesus was probably sitting at the kitchen table having a cup of coffee and reading about the end times from his copy of Chiseled Stone Tablet Daily.  

But let's look at something that's not so rooted in radical religious thought.  Someone online said that the country will fall apart if marriage equality gets passed, and that no country who has sanctioned gay relationships has ever remained intact.


Well, except for these countries:

The Netherlands (2001)

Belgium (2003)

Canada (2005)

Spain (2005)

South Africa (2006)

Norway (2009)

Sweden (2009)

Argentina (2010)

Iceland (2010)

Portugal (2010)

Denmark (2012)

Brazil (2013)

England and Wales (2013)

France (2013)

New Zealand (2013)

Uruguay (2013)

Luxembourg (2014)

Finland (2014)

Scotland (2014)

Ireland (2015)  

Tell me again how these countries are falling apart?

And then tell me why the United States is behind all industrialized countries (and even some less developed countries) when it comes to things that are important - peace, quality of life, education, literacy, reading, science, math, linguistic diversity, global competitiveness, freedom of the press, health care. 
Yet we lead with murder rates, oil consumption, gun deaths, teen pregnancy, and incarcerated persons, among other crap you don't want to be first in.   

We can't even get it right with the food we eat - the United States has no federal laws banning GMO use, yet "more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union have significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs".

We have climate-change deniers.  People who aren't even scientists just spoutin' their scientific opinions.

Shit, we can't even get internet that's faster than other countries.

Perhaps the anti-black, anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim, anti-healthcare, anti-public transportation, anti-everything, including the anti-gay sentiment, has to do with America's "willful embrace and exaltation of ignorance...evidenced all around us". Clearly, lack of knowledge and information is preventing critical growth in some people.

We're not going to fall apart because we give equal rights to the citizens of our country.

Your life isn't going to change ONE SINGLE IOTA because a few gay people get married.

Use your brain.  Think critically.  And stop letting the bible, your mother, or your grandpappy's voice in your ear tell you what's right and wrong. Have some common sense. You don't have to like it.  You don't have to agree with it.  There's tons of shit I don't like or agree with, which if you're a regular reader you already know.

This decision doesn't take away any of your rights.  NONE.

It just makes the lives of others a little more beautiful.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Unfuzzed

2013: I Think We May Be Following A Derecho. Or Is It An Izquierda?
2012: This One Time, At Summer Camp…
2011: Into The Wild
2010: It Was Clear The Moment You Opened Your Mouth
2009: Eddie Captures A Sunset Friday
2008: Pelicans Enjoying Their Rule Of The Lake
2007: Bigfoot
2006: There Is A Reason People Try To Repress Certain Childhood Memories
2005: Painted Ladies

Thursday, June 25, 2015

From I Love Lucy To The Lily Of The Valley

Approaching Chautauqua Lake in Western New York State.
After leaving Westfield, on our way to Virginia, we traveled through Jamestown, New York. In addition to having a beautiful lake in the area, the first Wegmans we ever visited, and a great little parking spot that puts us in the middle of the action but not in the middle of the public eye (because we know how finicky people are when they see trucks parked all willy-nilly), Jamestown also has a connection to one of the most famous women in TV history.

Lucille Ball.

She was born in Jamestown.

Lucy's birthplace houses a museum and an annual comedy festival in honor of TV's wackiest redhead. 

This building, on the southern end of town, features the world's largest I Love Lucy mural. It depicts an image of Lucy, Ethel, Desi, and Fred as they cross the George Washington Bridge on their way to California.  The episode was called "California, Here We Come."

It's at 34 West Harrison Street - we were traveling South on Washington Street to get to State Route 60 - and it was visible on the left side just as we crossed the Chadakoin River.

We've been to Jamestown a few times now but have still not visited the museum.  And no, we haven't seen that hideous sculpture either. One of these days I'll take a tour of all things Lucy to pay homage to the woman that brought us Vitameatavegamin (a skit that I actually memorized and performed in middle school).

We eventually left New York and crossed into Pennsylvania for a scenic drive through the Allegheny National Forest. Along the way we drove through Ridgway - a place that was once "the home of the Gilded Age lumber barons", and whose historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 - where I was able to snap a quick picture of the Elk County Courthouse, completed in 1880.  

This next home is also located in what Ridgway calles their Lily of the Valley Historic District. I photographed it because I just love all the stone.  It is the the 1890s Hyde House, one of the few stone buildings still in existence.

According to
Living Places, Harry R. Hyde (1872-1954) was a leading local lumberman who served as president of the Elk County National Bank and the Russel Snow Plow Company, who were producers of plows used to clear snow from railroad tracks.  In the Historic District document it says that he and his brother George erected this house for their widowed mother, Elizabeth.

I really love when we're able to get off the interstate and travel through small towns across the country. My favorite part of the entire U.S. is the Northeast, so to be able to get through New York and Pennsylvania these past few days has been a real treat.  

And, although I love winter, I kinda think the best time to see these towns nestled in the mountains is during the time of year when the trees are lush and the lawns are green.

Next up, the Cumberland and Shenandoah Valleys of the Appalachian Mountains. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: We Were Ear!!

2013: This Disturb's Me 
2012: Not Sure The Money Will Follow
2011: Trucking Al Fresco
2010: 3000 Miles To Squidland
2009: It Could Be Africa If It Weren’t For The Schlitterhahn
2008: How To Ace A Job Interview
2007: Diver Down
2006: Day Tripping
2005: Nipple Rock

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Don't Try This At Home

This video was recently published to a trucking website. Watch it - try to ignore the incessant barking at the end, I know it's annoying.

This scenario is not at all unusual for us to encounter on the road.  In fact, the very same thing happened to me.  
It was a Saturday night in Montana.  I was driving, Ed was sleeping. It was dark and raining.

A pickup truck merged onto the interstate and I'm guessing thought I didn't get out of his way fast enough because rather than falling in behind me when the on-ramp ended, he rode the shoulder next to me and then pulled in front of me.

As soon as I saw him on the shoulder, I moved over into the left lane. Then he moved into the left lane in front of me.  
I slowed down to put some distance between us and moved back into the right lane. Then he moved back into the right lane.

Left lane. Right lane. Left lane. Right lane.

I tried to stay back away from him but he kept slowing down, decreasing the distance between us.  He slowed, I slowed.  He eventually had me down to 30 miles per hour and wouldn't let me pass.  I called 911 and described to the operator what was happening, but while I was on the phone with her, the guy exited the interstate.  She told me she'd dispatch the call locally. A few minutes later, I got a call from a Montana State Trooper.

I repeated the story to him, told him where he exited, gave him a description of the vehicle but told him because of the dark and rain, I couldn't get a plate number.  I didn't want to get that close to him.

The trooper told me I did the right thing staying back from him, but that he couldn't get to me because he was 30 miles away at a Cowboy Cookout in Lolo.

This really does happen far too often. Cars cutting us off.  Crossing three lanes of traffic to get off an exit. Driving too fast in snow and ice. Thinking they're going to teach us a lesson by braking hard in front of us. They don't realize how unsafe their actions are both for themselves and others around them.  And, like this guy, it could cause them to drive home with $600 in tickets.

Pass this post on to your friends. Post the link to it on your Facebook page. Tweet it. We need to raise awareness in every way possible.

Thank you, and drive safely!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: This Place Is For The Birds

2013: Get Your Travel On
2012: An Art Deco Tower In The Panhandle
2011: Traffic Might Just Have Saved My Life
2010: Joining The Ranks
2009: The Daily Rant Goes Farther East Than Ever Before
2008: What He Does When I’m Sleeping
2007: Now You Don’t Have To Go To The Ghetto To Get Crack
2006: Satchel Pitches A Great Question
2005: A Night In Yakima

Monday, June 22, 2015

Along The Shores Of The Unpredictable Cat

New York isn't all about the east coast, you know. And New York City isn't its only attraction. There are so many beautiful places in my home state, and even I have yet to see them all. This weekend we were in Western New York, in a town that sits on the shore of Lake Erie.  

Our first stop was Westfield, located in America's Grape Country, the oldest and largest grape growing region in the United States outside of California, and the largest Concord grape growing region in the world.

You're familiar with Concord grapes - they're the ones used in Welch's Grape Juice and Welch's Grape Jelly - two staples of any American kid's childhood.  The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches of my youth were made only with this brand and flavor of jelly, and it's still my choice today.
Overlooking Portland Harbor is the Barcelona Lighthouse.  It was built in 1829 to help guide sailors on Lake Erie. It has the distinction of being the first natural gas powered lighthouse in the world.  
Directly behind the lighthouse is Lake Erie, the fourth largest of the five Great Lakes of North America. It's said to have gotten its name from the Iroquoian tribe that lived in the area but there's also some speculation that its the other way around, and that the tribe got its name from the lake. Either way, they called it Erige - which means cat - because of the lake's unpredictable and sometimes violent nature.  
That may have been the way the Native Americans saw it, but the only cat I saw was a serene beauty, basking under the gorgeous June sky.   

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: I Think I Saw A Nimbostratus
2013: Ed Breaking Bad In The Lap Pool
2012: View From The Bridge
2011: Small Place, Big Flavor
2010: La Vita รจ Bella
2009: He Looks Much Better Here Than On The Penny
2008: One Of The Few Places In Iowa NOT Under Water
2007: We Need A Manager On Register Three Please!
2006: Mobile Misses
2005: Idaho?? YOU Da Ho!!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Links To Food Dominate This Post

photo:  CORE architects
I'm not a Hello Kitty fan per se, but I'd definitely be happy to fly on this delightful looking craft

Taking pictures is one of my favorite things to do on vacation.  Am I really reading that I won't be able to use them here on my blog, or to make money from them?

Buddha Bowl?  Never heard of it.  But I'll tell you right now, I wouldn't need to be on a diet to eat one of them.  They look absolutely delicious!

Their style sense is clearly handed down from their mother.  I'd love to see more young girls dressing like Sasha and Malia.

Cheesecake in bite-sized portions?  Yes, please.

Gnocchi is possibly my most favorite food.  And paired with asparagus, fresh peas, and morels?  To die for.

Even if you don't have time, you can make something tasty.  Can you tell I'm hungry?
source:  bon appetit
My father used to make his own version of the Calabrian Chili Oil.  Except he just called it "hot peppers in oil".

Green living in Canada.  I love the one in the first photo.  See more of that one here.

Crispy broccoli and crispy artichokes?  I'm definitely hitting the produce aisle this weekend.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: 30 Miles To Spokane

2013: Truck And Sky
2012: Not Despicable At All
2011: Slice Of Summer
2010: Time Suck
2009: The Spirit Of Sharing
2008: Sailor Boy Friday
2007: Cozy Dining
2006: It’s All About Me
2005: Alien Land   

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Good Deeds Of Summer

Loading in Alabama, with 30,000 pounds of machinery headed for New York.

A few clunks on the trailer during the loading process caused me to open the back door to check on Ed.  The rush of heat that smacked me in the face almost made me forget why I went out there in the first place.

I felt so bad for all the guys working in the heat and humidity (although they're probably used to it), that I cut up a bunch of cold, juicy watermelon, packed the chunks into red Solo cups with a plastic fork for easy eating, and went back outside to hand them out to the six guys working in the heat.

Then I quickly retreated back to my air-conditioned oasis.

Good deed of the day?  Check.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: The Mountain Was Out

2013: Small Town Bullshit. Big City Nothing.
2012: She’s Political Coming And Going And Doesn’t Even Know It
2011: Old As She Was, She Still Missed Her Daddy Sometimes
2010: Crafty Little Bugger
2009: Beauty For A Buck
2008: What My Thoughts Sound Like When Left Uncensored And Ultimately, Formed Into Words
2007: New York Style
2006: I.H.O.P.G.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

140 Characters Just Doesn't Cut It

I came across a video yesterday that was making the rounds on Facebook. As I was watching it, the very first thought that came to mind - after the incredulous "Whaaatttt???" that came out of my mouth - was, "At least he has a licensed CDL holder in the seat next to him."

That thought stemmed from the recent ruling the FMCSA made regarding Utah-based carrier C.R. England, exempting them from federal rules that require a commercial driver's license holder to be seated next to a driver holding only a commercial learner's permit, while the CLP holder is operating a commercial vehicle.

For those of you who don't understand what this means, it's similar to not letting your 15-year-old with a learner's permit, out of your sight while they're driving.  The regs state, "The CDL holder must at all times be physically present in the front seat of the vehicle next to the CLP (commercial learner's permit) holder, and must have the CLP holder under observation and direct supervision."

The reason for this is so the CLP holder doesn't meet his friends at the Dairy Queen and do smokey burnouts in the parking lot.  Wait, that's your 15-year-old.  Seriously though, the reason for this should be so obvious that if you don't see it, you really need to consider having your head examined.

I'll be the first one to tell you that driving a truck is like driving a big car, but I'll also tell you that driving a car for 23 years before I drove a truck, didn't fully prepare me for operating an 18-wheeler. And I'm an awesome driver.

I learned how to drive in New York and was tackling New York City and the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) before I was out of my teens.  I drove in snow and ice. I snaked through country back roads to escape the traffic caused by Sullivan County bungalow dwellers. I traveled I-95 just to go to a concert out of state. Ask any trucker what I-95 is like in that area - many of them refuse to even service the Northeast.  They're that scared of the traffic. And the congestion. And hell, maybe even the people.

I frequently traveled almost two hours from the Catskill Mountains to visit my family in Westchester County, Yonkers, Long Island, and The Bronx. I traversed the George Washington Bridge (both levels!) and maneuvered along the Major Deegan with the precision of a synchronized swimmer. I drove people to the airport, for Chrissake! Newark, La Guardia, and JFK. I was good.  Yet with all the spectacular driving I did, I still needed Ed in the seat next to me when I left trucking school and got behind the wheel of our rig.    

So upon hearing of the ridiculous decision the FMCSA made (WTF were they thinking?) because C.R. England asked nicely (pretty please, with a cherry on top?), I did what any annoyed social media participant would do.

I tweeted.

I should have included the FMCSA in this first tweet, but I didn't.  Because duh, I was making fun of C.R. England and the drivers they were planning to cut loose on the highways.  The fetuses of trucking.

This was their response to that tweet.

So I gave them a link to refresh their memory.

And in their smug "there's always 2 sides and I'm including a smiley face" response, they linked to this.  
An article which includes a paragraph pointing to exactly where their request stems from. Their bank accounts.

It stated, "The carrier complained that it was too expensive to get new drivers back to their local DMVs to pick up their CDLs, impairing their ability to train and hire new drivers.  This despite the fact that Google Finance reports C.R. England's revenues for 2014 as just shy of $3 Billion with after-tax earning of over $200 million."

Too expensive?  You did see the $3 BILLION dollar part, right?  You think in the $200 MILLION they get to keep out of that $3 BILLION, they can find money for a round-trip plane ticket for the driver who's going to help them make their next $200 million?

Their petition read, "Either we send the driver to their home state by bus or airplane, at C.R. England's expense, and hope that the CLP holder obtains the final CDL and returns to C.R. England, or C.R. England must incur double the cost for about half of the production by sending them to their home state on one of our trucks."  

What bullshit.  So because it's going to cut into their millions and billions, they're willing to let an inexperienced driver - granted, with a licensed CDL holder somewhere in the truck with them - take a trip back to their home state without adequate supervision while they're behind the wheel?

Remember up there when I said I needed Ed sitting next to me?  That's because stuff happens.  And sometimes you don't even have a chance to yell, "Wake up! I have a question."  You need a second set of eyes.  Because you honestly don't know what the hell you're doing.  You just took a test a 5th grader can pass, and have maybe driven around a parking lot for a few weeks.  Or taken the big journey a few miles on an interstate.  Or, learned how not to run over a sign when your trailer is tracking behind you around a turn.

It's a weird experience because in your mind you're saying, "What the hell?  I know how to drive.  Why is this so hard?"  Your shoulders and arms hurt from gripping the wheel. Your foot may or may not be able to press the clutch all the way to the floor. You forget what all the buttons on the dash do. Or even where they are. You can have 10 or 13 or 18 gears.  With a splitter.

I'm a badass.  Cool as a cucumber.  I learned how to parallel park a 1970 Cadillac Coupe de Ville in New York before I got out of high school.  But when I first started driving a truck, there were definitely times I felt flustered.  Even after trucking school and 180 plus hours of training.

But these folks want to send their students home to get their CDLs. That's nice. They want to both save money and give their students a chance to see what it feels like to "earn money" on a run. Buh. Hull. Shit. All they want is for that driver to start making money for them as soon as they can. They aren't really concerned about what might happen in between.

Really, the trainer is a babysitter of sorts.  A chaperone, a guard.  They're there to make sure the student doesn't get away before the company can get their money's worth. The company is afraid the student will change their mind, or go work for another company back home, and they'll have lost money on their training.  So the trainer provides insurance that the student comes back.

They want to send a team (student and trainer) on the road to the home state of the new driver to pick up their official state-issued CDL. I don't have a problem with that.  I do have a problem with the fact that they're going to let a brand new driver, with 17 days of training, onto the highways of America, by themselves, with essentially a learner's permit, and no one in the seat next to them for any immediate questions that may come up.

But they had an answer for that, too.

Of course there's no data.  Because they don't COLLECT that kind of data.  Maybe they should.  Maybe, at each crash site, they should note how much experience the driver - the gal with three months, the team with 10 years, the six-month-hey!-I-was-just-made-a-driver-trainer! guy, the 35-year veteran, the multi-million-miler - had with their trainer when they got out of trucking school.  Then we'd be able to more accurately pinpoint whether or not a present and readily available trainer, watching their every move, matters in those crucial first weeks.  Veteran drivers will tell you right off the bat that more and better training does matter.

You know, if these people - the ones who run companies like C.R. England, the lawmakers, the FMCSA in this horrible judgement call they made - had to choose a doctor to do well, anything on them, I'm willing to bet they'd want the guy who's been doing triple bypass surgeries for 10 years and not the guy with three months experience.  And I'm sure saying, "Don't worry, the lead surgeon will be in the building while your surgery is being performed." would offer little comfort.

I looked up C.R. England's crash stats, and with my untrained eye decided that they should probably think twice before sending inexperienced drivers out on the road without supervision.  And I told them so.

I knew what their response was going to be, and I wish I could have included in my 140-character tweet, "I know what you're going to say next...they're not unqualified."  Because bam! There it was.  So predictable.

They've proven they don't need any more training??

It's interesting that C.R. England thinks their students don't need more training. After 17 days, they think their students are ready to hit the road.  By themselves, in the front seat, operating an 80,000 pound vehicle, while their co-driver/trainer/voice-of-reason takes a nap in the sleeper.

It's interesting because in 2011, when Dan England, the chairman & president of C.R. England, was the vice chairman of the ATA (American Trucking Associations), he thought Congress needed to "raise the bar" for new companies entering the industry by requiring them to successfully complete training and an examination  (whatever that means) before being permitted to operate. And they should also be subject to a safety audit six months in, not the 18 months later that was standard at that time.
Grammatically incorrect photo courtesy of crengland.com
Waaiiiittt a minute.  So new "companies" should undergo extensive training before they're allowed to operate, but students can just drive willy-nilly to go pick up their laminated CDL?

Look, I don't have time to read all this crap and comb through the double-speak deciding the safest way to operate a truck, but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that 17 days isn't enough time to prepare anyone to drive an 18-wheeler five miles, let alone 500 miles.

And a monkey could pass the written exams.  Hell, you can study for the exam and take practice tests ONLINE.  They're almost identical to the state exams at your home DMV, multiple choice.  And depending which state you're in, the number of answers you're allowed to miss and still get your CDL varies.

So, anyway, after this last tweet I had to remind them that all the other drivers they trained - who presumably passed both the written and practical portions of their exams, and had proven they didn't need any more training - were the very same drivers involved in the 707 crashes their company self-reported to the FMCSA.

Of those 707 crashes, 22 people died.  Meaning, they're dead.  No life left.

The report covers 24 months.  The 24 months prior to today's date.  So in 24 months, they had 707 crashes.  Of those crashes, 503 resulted in a tow, 182 resulted in injury, and 22 resulted in death.

Do you know how many crashes that is, per week, for that two year period?  Lemme tell you.

6.79 crashes per week.

That's almost ONE PER DAY.

So you could say, if you wanted to spread that out over the past two years, that a C.R. England driver has crashed EVERY SINGLE DAY.

They're smart people.  They know where to find this information.  Fortunately, some of this data is also available to the public, so I dug up the info and sent them a link.  Totally sweet of me, right?

I obviously wasn't making a clear point. 

I beg to differ.  The report has everything to do with the topic.  Because the topic is SAFETY.  And it's not safe if people are dying.

This was their next comment.

Ooooooh, burn.  They used the note "from the report itself" to prove their drivers are blameless.  Clever.

You can't have 707 crashes in two years - one per day - with 22 fatalities, and not think your drivers may have contributed in some manner.  I know the media, and the public, often get it wrong when it comes to placing blame for who is at fault in collisions between trucks and passenger vehicles.  I've written about that, too.  But have a little common sense.

Not that they'll give a hoot, but I didn't really appreciate the fact that they were implying that their drivers - you know, the ones involved in the 707 crashes that were reported in "the report" that has nothing to do with the topic - weren't in part, responsible for some of those crashes.

Then they used a word I suppose they thought a truck driver might not know - turbid.  It's not a word commonly used, but I do read a lot and I play Scrabble.

I initially replied to the tweet but when I re-read my response, my sarcasm didn't come across exactly as I had intended, and it didn't make sense because they sent a two-part tweet and I had sent my response before the second half of their sentence came in, so I deleted it.

But I do like their very sincere "Sorry you feel other wise."

The thing about this exemption decision is that it sets a ball in motion.  If C.R. England got the exemption, why not every other carrier?  I'm sure all the big carriers can write their own driver-shortage, potential-revenue-busting letters, crying poverty with a million dollar chicken under each arm.

The fact that the FMCSA was bamboozled by C.R. England's request - even though they received strong opposition - is beyond comprehension.  This is the same FMCSA that's always touting safety, right? Well, 92% of people responding to England's request thought it was a bad idea.  Apparently that didn't matter.

C.R. England is older than dirt. They've been around for a looong time.  And they've got their fingers in a lot of trucking pies. They got what they wanted.  For now.  There are still people working to reverse this decision, and I certainly hope it gains momentum.

And if truckers could get their heads out of their asses for one minute, they'd realize that these giant trucking companies amass huge profits on the backs of their labor, and then turn around and try to make the industry less safe with the power they've gained, which in turn hurts all of us.  

It puts us and the industry into a perpetual downward spiral, eroding its core, and causing many of us - who love what we do - to reconsider being on the roads in a country we help run, because you never know who might be driving next to you.

Just remember, there are people like this and this and this and this and this, and even this asshole, being turned out of these schools everyday and then set loose on the road.

C.R. England's exemption may be the cause of your next run being your last one.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2014: Wyoming In June
2013: I Will Not Be Decaffeinated
2012: Sweeeeeeet
2011: Summer On The Farm
2010: This Should Be The Next “New Parent” Handbook
2009: Would You Like A Little Screech To Go With Your Whine?
2008: Jane’s Anatomy
2007: Plus People Are Here To Stay
2006: Baiting The Hook
2005: Purgatory