Friday, October 30, 2015

Zero Tolerance

This sign was seen in Columbus, Ohio, behind the hotel where we were staying. It's in an area with a lot of truck traffic, and on a street a truck has to access in order to service the businesses there.

We're used to being restricted in so many places, that the truck with the circle is probably enough for us to get the point, but if you're going to print up an actual sign to tell me to stay out, at least be grammatically correct about it.

What bugs me the most about signs like this - and I've written about it in the past - is how no one notices.  Or cares enough after they notice to take it down and fix it.

A blob of white paint over the apostrophe would do it, and that's just enough effort to keep my head from exploding.

I'm sure if I were to read through my 3,800+ posts, I'd probably find a grammatical mistake or two that would give me an immediate tic, but like Lynne Truss, I'm really in the zero tolerance camp when it comes to this kind of stuff.

I don't have an editor, so if you come across any mistakes, let me know. You may save me from having a stroke.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Twenty Minutes On The Water

2013: 1960s First Aid
2012: Far From The Soaking Of The East
2010: Lucky To Be A Woman
2009: I Feel Like A Thief
2008: Emulating The Brazilian Bombshell
2007: HMMWVs
2006: She’s Still Learning
2005: Woof

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Trucks Bring It, Give Them A Place To Park

I'm not sure about the hiding, but I'm pretty sure there's a lot of napping going on here.
Yeah, so this happened yesterday, an article published in The Morning Call - a daily newspaper based in Allentown, Pennsylvania - about how the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board wants to steer more people into trucking jobs.


Why you ask?

Because just in the last month, The Morning Call, who seems to publish an inordinate amount of articles about truck traffic, ran several pieces about how they needed to get trucks OUT of their Pennsylvania towns. Here are just three:

On October 5th, this piece was published, talking about Upper Macungie Township's continuing attempt to keep truck traffic off certain roads in their township.

Then there was this article, on October 17th, telling us that a trucking ban in Lower Nazareth is being considered because of all the "napping truckers".

And finally, this article, on October 23rd, talks about how tractor-trailers are creating a "truckload of problems" in the Lehigh Valley, the area where all the concerned municipalities are located.

I'm thinking Sarah Wojcik, Anthony Salamone, Kevin Duffy, and Margie Peterson should get together and have a meeting. Sarah talks about a township that has restricted trucks from several roads leading to and from areas where trucking facilities and distribution centers are located, Anthony is reporting on how Lehigh Valley wants trucking jobs in their communities, Kevin is reporting that Lehigh Valley officials are looking into ways to deter truckers from parking where they shouldn't be (because they're doing nefarious things like "napping and sleeping"), and Margie is writing about how tractor-trailers are bringing a truckload of problems to the area.

See how clever she was with that play on words there? Truckload of problems. Ha! You're killing me here.

I find it even more fascinating that among all of this writing about banning trucks, John Lamirand, a research specialist with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. plainly said, "If you bought it, it's likely a trucker brought it to you."  Well, no shit. 

Knowing that, I'm kinda thinking the whining about the truck traffic should be nothing more than a mere whisper. 

Such conflict they seem to be dealing with.  They want these big warehouses and distribution centers in the Lehigh Valley, which provide them with jobs and revenue for their communities - from companies like True Value Hardware, WalMart, Crayola, Bimbo Bakery, Ocean Spray, Amazon, Target, FedEx, Uline, NestlĂ©, Walgreens, Coca-Cola, BMW, Curtiss-Wright, and Kraft Foods to name a few - they just don't want the icky trucks that come along with them. They've even attracted Primark, an Irish clothing retailer, who recently decided to open their first U.S. distribution center in Bethlehem.

The 700-acre Lehigh Valley Industrial Park - one of the many in the area - seems happy to have so many tenants. In fact, the Lehigh Valley, in general, is proud to be "one of the fastest growing regions in the country" for logistics and distribution companies.

I understand the concern for safety and the need for truck routes (wouldn't it be great if there were TRUCK ONLY routes?), and it seems some of these communities are working on options for this, but when you 
start saying things like "ban" and "restrict big rigs", and talk about how truckers are "hiding" and  "napping" (Heavens!) between hauls to and from the locations they service, you're not making any friends in the trucking community.  In fact, you're just pissing off the very people who, in part, make it possible for you to have those jobs and revenue.

By the way, a roundabout to control traffic isn't the best option when it's also a route that will be used by trucks. Have you ever tried to get a vehicle over 70 feet long to go in a neat circle, around plants and decorative rocks and pretty pavers? Not gonna happen.

Perhaps these communities should have considered - before their eyes got as big as saucers with greed over jobs and revenue (tax and otherwise) - that approving the construction of warehouses in their communities would bring, oh my God, trucks. Who did they think would be picking up and delivering these goods, fairies? 

If it weren't for trucks and truckers, they wouldn't have anyone to transport what these distribution centers distribute. If they want the jobs and revenue generated by these companies, they'll just have to deal with what comes along with it. 

And if they're really concerned about truckers napping behind an Applebee's, why not use some of the money their towns are collecting from all of the warehouses and distribution centers in the area, to create a dedicated parking lot for drivers servicing those centers? We can definitely be lured by a nice open lot, on a truck route, that provides us with a safe place to sleep or park before our next pickup or delivery.

Go ahead, build us a lot. We'll use it. Available, exclusive parking is one of the easiest ways to make a trucker's day.

We're easy like that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Good Morning Kansas
2013: What A Caricature!
2012: Shopping Among The Farmers
Tango Hotel Alpha November Kilo Sierra, Charlie Company!
2010: It Always Pays To Take The Full Coverage Insurance Option On Your Rental Vehicle
It’s Here! It’s Here!
U.S. Route 287
Room 328
This Could Be The Day You Have A Date With Destiny
Go See It

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thirty Minutes To The Ultimate Comfort Dessert

I'm on another stint of trying to eat better and it's been going pretty well. In the last two months I've lost nine pounds. During this time, when I'm in the mood for dessert, I usually make a dessert "pudding" by mixing Greek yogurt with unsweetened cocoa powder and a couple of Splenda packets. If I have strawberries, I cut up a few of those and throw them in, then garnish it with a tablespoon of slivered almonds. It's really pretty good. Ed's not a fan of the Greek yogurt so I'll do something else for him.

Last night, I was jonesin' for a little dessert but since I haven't done a food shop in a while I don't have Greek yogurt 
or berries in the truck. I was stuck. I opened the pantry and stared into it for ten minutes hoping something would appear. And something did.  An idea.

It might not be the best idea, because it involved carbs and I've been limiting those, but I looked at what I had and realized I had the basic ingredients to make rice pudding. And I loooove rice pudding. It's an uncomplicated dessert that's comforting and delicious. The only problem was that the rice pudding I usually make is my Aunt Ronni's Rice Pudding, which takes too long to make. It's thick and amazingly creamy, but I'd need at least an hour. I didn't have an hour. And, I didn't really need a whole pot of rice pudding. I just wanted a little treat. One cup for me, one cup for Ed.

So I winged it.

I didn't have a recipe, so I just put together what I thought would work for a small batch. It turned out absolutely delicious. I always have Uncle's Bens Ready Rice in the truck - it takes 90 seconds to heat in the microwave and comes in many different flavors - and happened to have a package of Original Long Grain left.

So here it is, rice pudding in less than thirty minutes:

Salena's 30-Minute Rice Pudding

1 package Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, Original Long Grain

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1. Beat the egg and set it aside.

2. Combine rice, cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan. Using medium to high heat, let the mixture boil for about 15 minutes. Keep stirring because you don't want it to stick or burn on the bottom of the pot. It will start to thicken at this point.

3. Once you see the mixture getting thicker, add the egg and continue to stir quickly so the egg doesn't set.  You don't want scrambled eggs in your rice pudding. Once you see the egg start to dissipate and become part of the mixture, put the heat on low and let it continue to thicken.

4. It'll start to set up nicely after you've added the egg. This whole process should take another 15 minutes. Once you're satisfied with the texture, take the pot off the heat.

6. Spoon rice pudding into dessert cups, top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. You can serve hot or cold.

7.  Enjoy!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Sweeping Views

2013: Some Mothers Find Time To REALLY Play With Their Kids
2012: Even At 9,000 Feet Above Sea Level, He's Still A Handsome Devil!
2011: Perfecting The Paillard

2010: This Beautiful Place
2009: If I Had A Horn, I’d Toot It. I Do Have A Blog Though.
2008: We Are THAT Good
2007: Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures
2006: Alabama’s Greatest Showplace
2005: Half Nekkid Thursday Virgin

Monday, October 26, 2015

How To Get On The Do Not Call List

My mother, like most people, gets her fair share of telemarketing calls. Lucky for her, half the time she can't hear what they're saying. Or, if they call during her shows, she doesn't answer, letting the machine pick up instead.

But recently, at different times during the day, she's answered the phone and kept getting a woman telemarketer on the other end who asks for Barbara. The call always goes the same way.

"Hello, Barbara?" the telemarketer starts off, with that friendly-I'm-acting-like-I-know-you voice.

"No, I'm sorry, you have the wrong number." my mother says, and hangs up.

She called again. "Hello, Barbara?"

"No, you have the wrong number." My mother hung up.

She called again and again and again.

The most recent call came this week. 

"Hello, Barbara?" she said.

"No, this isn't Barbara." my mother said.

"Oh. Well, while I have you on the phone..." the woman said, and went into her spiel, telling my mother about whatever it was she was selling.

My mother stopped her and said, "This is the fifth time you've called me, even though I told you to take me off your call list. You know this isn't Barbara." 

The woman was silent. 

"Not only did you call me again, you keep calling me Barbara. I am not Barbara. You know it and I know it, and calling here asking for someone else only to rattle off your script makes you a liar. So not only are you annoying me, you're also a liar. And I don't want you to call here again."

And she hung up.

The guys who were painting her house stopped mid-brush stroke and just stared at her. They've known her a long time and have done work in the house before so felt free to express their thoughts. And they thought what she did was great. She blamed it on being tired, hungry, and irritable. They said, "Everyone should do that."

I say she had a lot of shit built up and that was just the day she lost it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Gazing At The Stargazers

2013: Oh, How We Love Our La-Z-Boys
2012: The Road To Luminosity
Old School Meets New School
2010: There For The Climbing…If You’re So Inclined
2009: I Need A Thing That Ain’t No Big Thing
2008: Race To The Head
2007: Eddie Fresh From A Nap Friday
2006: Forever Yours
2005: Blur

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I'm Supposed To Call Who?

Yesterday I got an early morning reminder text from a friend.

Since we're in different time zones, the text came in to me at 6:27 am. At that time, I had only had four hours of sleep since I drove the night before, and barely managed to tap out a response.

With one eye open, still snuggled under the covers, in the fog of the early morning, feeling so tired I was delirious and really couldn't think straight, I also sent myself an email to remind me to make the call.

When I woke up a couple of hours later, I checked my phone and this is the email I found in my in-box.

I'm pretty sure the subject line is supposed to say "Call Lawyer", but I have no idea what the hell "Call laundtonat for chocolamd." means. It sounds like it could be something semi-delicious, but I can't be sure.

Sleep deprived texting is almost as bad as drunk dialing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Morning Coffee

2013: When The Awkward Silence Comes BEFORE The Conversation
2012: Relax And Enjoy The Ride
Goats Make Good Pizza…And You Don’t Even Get Onion Breath From It
2010: When Medieval Equals Pretty
2009: A Great Celebration Of Abundance
2008: Dormers Of Sweetgrass
2007: Old Power
2006: At Your Service
2005: Clothing Identification 101

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lining Up For The Pony Ride

I seriously have too much time on my hands. And apparently nothing else to write about today.

While Ed was working on my computer today, I spied these four lonely lemons sitting in the counter in the truck. He completely ignores me when he's engrossed in any kind of computer gadgetry, so he didn't notice me sticking candy eyes onto the lemons.

When I was done, I said to him, "I don't like they way these guys are looking at me."

Without looking up, he said, "What guys?"

"These guys."

He finally raised his head, looked over, and cracked up laughing.

The phrase on the photo comes from Ed calling me a "one-trick pony" because I make so many versions of lemon chicken.

Whatever. He eats anything I put in front of him, no matter how many lemons I've squeezed on it.

Even when it's not chicken.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Keep It Movin' People

2013: Salt For Miles
2012: I Attended Without An Entourage
It’s All Greek To Me
2010: Italy On A Shoestring
2009: What The Elle???
2008: Weird And Random
2007: California Burning With Need
2006: Walking Into Another World
2005: Fall Into Winter

Friday, October 23, 2015

He Really Is A Carpenter

Photo: Google Images
The rain in Arizona has been non-stop and my mother's roof is leaking. She emailed my brother Michael to ask him what she should do about it.

He replied, "I talked to Jesus, and he's coming over to do an estimate."

She said when she read the first few words of that first line of his email, her heart was aflutter, thinking that Michael prayed to Jesus about it.

She didn't realize that Jesus is my brother's Mexican roofing contractor.

Only my mother.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Constant Surveillance

2013: Not Even Good Enough To Make My Top 100 Pictures Of Fall List
2012: Exactly
2011: A Little Grease More Often Is Better
2010: Scenes From Florence
2009: Eddie Palm Sketch Friday
2008: Moabulous
2007: Ready To Draw The Future
2006: Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish, Two Fish.
2005: Beautiful Enough To Lick

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fall Into The Holidays

Photo:  Restoration Hardware
This is pretty impressive.  I've always thought cabbies knew the ins and outs of cities like no one else, but in London, the cabbies actually train for years memorizing routes and streets. They call what they learn The Knowledge.

Very Well Fit's Recipe Nutrition Calculator will help you determine how many calories are in some of your favorite recipes.  It's a great tool for knowing how many calories are in what you're cooking - then you'll know how many hours on the treadmill you're going to have to log to work it off.

I can't even remember the last time I had a candy apple. We didn't really make them as kids - candy or caramel - but I do know I've had one. And these look amazing.

All the middle children can stop whining now.

Cake to have with coffee?  Hungarian cake?  Hungarian Coffee Cake?  Yes, please!

A Fall Bucket List, right here for your reading pleasure.

What's your favorite position?  Sleeping position, you perv.

I love Restoration Hardware. I could live in that store.

My cousin got eyelash extensions. I am totally jealous. I'm putting this on my "To Do" list.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: You've Been Warned

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mangiare All'aperto, Trucker Style

Over the weekend we found ourselves, along with four other trucks, arriving in Moultrie, Georgia to pick up a load going to the Atlanta Airport. 

Our freight? These cute little short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft, being shipped from Maule Air, the world-renowned manufacturer of STOL airplanes. 

Maule Air is family owned and has been around for over 74 years. Founded in 1941 by Belford D. Maule - who started designing aircraft in the 1930s when he was 19 years old - the company first produced tailwheels and fabric testers. They moved on to design work in 1953, and in 1957 aircraft production began with the Bee-Dee M-4. The company manufactured and delivered 2,500 aircraft in its first 50 years of business.

Here is our craft, strapped to an aluminum skid, ready to be placed on the truck.

The matriarch of Maule Air, June Maule, was still at the helm of the company until her death in 2009 at the age of 92!  I discovered this article and learned that she was inducted into the Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame, established in 1992 to honor women who have made significant contributions to aviation as record setters, pioneers, or innovators.

How awesome is that?

The logistics team (the guy standing on the trailer and the woman standing on the ground next to him in the photo below) were there for every step of the loading process. They took pictures and made sure everything went off without a hitch. It was one of the smoothest and quickest loading times I've ever seen.
I'd also like to note that this customer bought lunch for all of us! That's NEVER happened at any customer, ever, in the 11 years I've been on the road. What a pleasant surprise!

Once on the trailer, Ed strapped down the plane, which required the straps to go over the skid the aircraft was secured to rather than over the aircraft itself. Any pressure on the aircraft body could damage it.

STOL aircraft have short runway requirements for takeoffs and landings. They're good in areas where the runways are challenging - in high altitudes, covered in ice, dirt strips, patches of grass, or even on water (when used with floats).  They are often used for bush planes, sightseeing trips, personal enjoyment, or necessity, like in the communities of northern Canada or Alaska that are only accessible by plane.

You can see some performance videos here.

The company was even featured on one of our favorite shows, How It's Made.

Here, Marlaina takes a close-up look at the plane.
Below, you can see Marlaina and MacGyver's truck in the background getting ready to be loaded. Once Ed was finished strapping the freight, he slid the curtain back in place and pulled forward to get out of their way.
The planes needed to be at the airport to be loaded onto another plane (much bigger of course!) so they could begin their journey across the Atlantic. They decided to load the planes on Sunday so we'd all be ready to go first thing Monday.

First thing turned out to be five o'clock in the morning. Which meant I had to get up at four to get ready, and then make ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches for everyone. Ed and MacGyver are very cranky in the morning if they don't have food and coffee.

It also meant we'd all be spending the night on the air strip in front of the hangars, since there were no truck stops or parking facilities nearby.

So...what better time to have a dinner party than when you're stuck at an air field for the night?

There were five trucks and seven drivers - Marlaina and MacGyver, Ed and I, Bob, Ali, and Vladimir. I had originally planned dinner just for the four of us, as I always do when we're together, but how could I leave out the three other drivers knowing they'd be dining on fast food or microwave meals while we'd be eating my homemade deliciousness?

So we set up a little al fresco dining area.

The boys dragged over a picnic table, positioned the trucks around it to shield us from the wind, and strung colorful Christmas lights above the table. The glow from the string of lights and the running lights on the truck created the perfect outdoor dining atmosphere.
I thought it was pretty spectacular. I've fed people from my truck before - 10 truckers at Port Hueneme a few years ago, watermelon for the guys working in the relentless heat, and our friends from Life With No Fixed Address whenever we get the chance to meet up, like last night when we live-streamed the Canadian elections to our TV - and I enjoy every minute of it.

Dining at the air strip reminded me of a restaurant my father took me to over 20 years ago at a small, local airport in New York. It was called C.A.V.U. - Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited - an aviation term.  Seems like the place is still around, operating under a different name now, but I thought about it when I was telling a family member about my little dinner party.  

I made a Mixed Green Salad with assorted dressings, Rosemary Pork Chops, Couscous, Roasted Cauliflower, and SautĂ©ed Green Beans. We had a little "beverage bar" set up with ice cubes and filtered water, and a bottle each of Coke and Diet Coke that was leftover from lunch.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, the conversation was pleasant, and I don't think these drivers will forget this impromptu get together on the edge of an airstrip.  
This might be our new normal for outside dining, in agreeable weather of course. We already carry an extra chair for MacGyver (since we only have seating for three in the truck), who's to say we can't also get a folding table? Ed's going to have an aneurysm with all the extra crap I want to keep in the storage boxes.

But hey, if you're gonna truck, you may as well do it in style. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Released To The Press

2013: In A Time When Gentlemen And Ladies Actually Existed
2012: The Great Affair 
2011: The Gaping Void Says It All
2010: Under The Tuscan Sun Within 3,000 Year Old Walls
2009: Dragged Back, Kicking And Screaming
2008: Seniors Maintain Law And Order By Way Of A Fluke Discovery
2007: Lisa Lavie Is The Angel Here
2006: Fight The Moth
2005: Abandoned But Not Forgotten

Monday, October 19, 2015

Win In A Complex World

After waiting for 10 hours (TEN!!) in the marshalling yard several miles away, we were finally directed into the bowels of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
We were picking up a flight simulator for TRU Simulation + Training. By the time we got there, everything was crated up and ready to go.
The convention exhibit being packed up was the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition, the largest defense-related forum in the country, whose show motto was "Win in a Complex World".

Banners hanging in the convention hall and labeling on the crates depicted many of the contractors who cater to the government - Lockheed Martin, KBR, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, General Dynamics and more.

Although the show was mostly broken down when we arrived, there were still a few displays on the floor too large to be crated - like this one from Bell Helicopter - waiting to be shipped.
Our friends picked up a smaller helicopter from the show - they were ushered into the convention center before us, so we didn't see which one they got, but I know it wasn't this big.

It's always interesting to see the different trade show products, and to be able to get a close-up look at products or machines like this that we'd normally only see from the ground, looking up.

This is the kind of stuff that makes what we do so interesting. I like it because it's different, the boys like it because they're gaga about this kind of stuff.

Ed abides by the "look, but don't touch" rule, so I knew he wouldn't be climbing into the helicopter's cockpit, but it was pretty tempting.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Farm To Belly

2013: It's The Weekend. Kick Back And Relax.
2012: With Pleasure
2011: It’s Exhausting Imagining You In These Pants
2010: Florentine Youth
2009: What’s In A Name?
2008: Farming The Wind
2007: Eddie In The Big Little City Friday
2006: Photograph It If You Think You May Never See It Again
2005: Why???

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Look Away, Look Away, Look Away, Dixieland

A field of cotton in the Southern Rivers area of southwest Georgia.


"Such was Georgia's preeminence in world cotton production at the turn of the 20th century that the international market price was set at the Cotton Exchange in Savannah. And the huge plantations of southwest Georgia were major players in the engine driving the state's economic prosperity. For more than 100 years from the first time it was planted in Georgia in 1733 until the beginning of the Civil War, cotton was the most commercially successful crop in the state."

Today, Georgia is the second largest cotton producing state in the union - Texas is the first - and Georgia farmers planted 1.38 million acres of cotton in 2014.

The Fabric of Our Lives.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Denial For Sale In New Mexico

2013: Friday Night Fright
2012: Ten Things For October
Jane’s Addiction
2010: Isolated Iesolana
2009: WWJD?
2008: Where The Angels Arrive And Depart
2007: Diamonds In The Deep Blue
2006: Everyone Is Doing It
2005: En-Gulfed Coast

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Clouds In The State Of The Large Creek

The skies were overcast all the way from Ohio until just north of Florida. I love stormy cloudy days like these. Crisp, cool Fall air and something other than relentless sunshine.  I need this much more often than I get it.

So glad to be heading back up North after our jaunt to Florida.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Yellow Trees, Big Sky

2013: The Negotiation
2012: Going Au Naturel
2011: A Great Idea
The Real Deal
This Should Keep You Buy For A While
Plenty Of Room For The Ladies
2007: It All Began With The Cheese
Zig Zag Wisconsin Color
2005: Made In China