Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Reading

I did a post a few days ago about automated trucks, and in it referenced an article written by this book's author, Steve Viscelli.

I recently purchased his book and look forward to seeing exactly what kind of information this author gathered from his six months on the road.

The book jacket blurb summary says:

"Long-haul trucks have been described as sweatshops on wheels.  The typical long-haul trucker works the equivalent of two full-time jobs, often for little more than minimum wage.  But it wasn't always this way.  Trucking used to be one of the best working-class jobs in the United States.  The Big Rig explains how this massive degradation in the quality of work has occurred, and how companies achieve a compliant and dedicated workforce despite it.  Drawing on more than 100 in-depth interviews and years of extensive observation, including six months training and working as a long-haul trucker, Viscelli explains in detail how labor is recruited, trained, and used in the industry.  He then shows how inexperienced workers are convinced to lease a truck and to work as independent contractors.  He explains how deregulation and collective action by employers transformed trucking's labor markets - once dominated by the largest and most powerful union in US history - into an important example of the costs of contemporary labor markets for workers and the general public."

I suspect, from his Atlantic article and from the little bit I've read so far, that his emphasis is going to be on the outright company drivers, and operators in a lease-purchase deal. Which essentially means, still company drivers.  They get screwed because they are there for the screwing.  They take a shitty lease deal and expect to make money from it.  If you're an operator in a lease-purchase deal, you're getting screwed so hard, you're probably numb from it.  You're not exactly "independent".

I am surprised to find out that in the ten years it took him to research the book, he only found and interviewed two women drivers.  From what I can see thumbing through the book, since I haven't actually read much of it yet, he dedicates only a few pages to this one particular woman, Cathy. Her main take on her time in the industry seems to be the sexual harassment she endured.

I've been out here twelve years, and although I'm not a solo driver, I have walked around truck stops alone, I have done laundry alone, I have walked to the bathroom alone, and I have interacted with customers.  I agree with Cathy about the filth on the CB - although I don't hear much of it because we never use it - the guys are vile and disgusting and say things they'd never say to a human being's face, but I have never once in person felt harassed or demeaned.

My experience has been different. I've have had drivers hit on me, I've had drivers tell me I'm beautiful, I've had drivers give me the thumbs up when they see me pulling past them, I've even had drivers come to my rescue (once when my airlines popped off during a tight turn in a parking lot - Ed was sleeping).  I felt "cool" and admired.  I don't know if that's what was going on in the minds of those men, but that's what I felt.

And maybe that's the difference between me and someone like this Cathy chick - I engaged these drivers, I looked them in the eye, I made conversation.  I was not meek, I did not walk and talk like a person who can be easily victimized.  I showed confidence.

But this book isn't about the women in the industry, it's about drivers.  Over 100 who've been interviewed for the book.  You'll hear their take in their words.  

So, we'll see what this book has in store.  It's nice to have an outsider assess the industry in what so far seems to be an intelligent, informed way.

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Music = Sheer Joy

2014: Bean There, Done That
2013: Capital Letters Indeed
2012: Look For The Sign
2011: This Is My Life
2010: The Power Of Liberty
2009: A Day At The Park
2008: A Body Temperature Of 98.6 – The Only Requirement To Work AT McDonald’s
2007: Laughter Is The Best Medicine
2006: Homeless Shelter
2005: Sorry, no post for this day. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Office Hours

This is the office at my brother's shop, the home of Carpenter Avenue Classics.

He built it from a vintage trailer, which he then installed inside the building.

It's very cool in person and the interior is even more amazing the exterior.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: Baking In The Evening Sun
2014: Sundown Heaven Town
2013: Hold The Vodka
2012: Forging America In The Holy Land Of Steel
2011: Captivating
2010: Not That He’s Insensitive Or Anything
2009: Ode To Milk
2008: Eddie On The Rocks Friday
2007: The Unintentional Beating Of A Red State Child
2006: Sorry, no post for this day.
2005: Sorry, no post for this day.

Friday, May 27, 2016

She's Dressed In A Tuxedo

First picture of our new truck, the day after she arrived home.
So, we did it.  We bought a pickup truck!

A brand new, fully-loaded, Ford F-150 XLT SuperCab.

Ed is beyond excited.

It drives like a car, very smooth, has a great sound system, powerful 3.5 liter Eco-Boost V6 engine, a special-ordered 36-gallon fuel tank, power everything, back-up cameras, twin turbos (whatever that means), and among all the other bells and whistles, can tow 12,000 pounds.

Now Ed is searching for something to tow - boat, fifth-wheel, utility trailer, etc.

The color is Tuxedo Black, which is a metallic black just like our big rig.  So now we have the big truck and the little truck.

I need cowboy boots.

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Turn Of The Century

2014: The Passing Strange
2013: One Pan Eddie: Five Steps To Paradise
2012: Crossing The Hackensack
2011: Don’t Hate On Me On This Lovely Golden Day
2010: See You At The Curb
2009: A Blaze Of Crotch Sniffing And Licky Kisses
2008: Going To Market
2007: Lazy Sunday
2006: Can Someone Define Their Purpose??
2005: Sorry, no post for this day.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Throw Back (Way Back!) Thursday

Last weekend I came across some pictures of our old truck.  Look at that 'ol Freightshaker!

I miss it but don't miss it, if you know what I mean.

What we have now is awesome, but this is where my life on the road started.  Me and Eddie, cozying up in a 48" sleeper. 

Great memories!

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West Texas Depot

2014: Plymouth Trawler
2013: Miles Of Sky And Some Reading Material
2012: Calling All Questions
2011: Rolls-Royces, Sun Kings and Teardrops
2010: Less Is More
2009: A Look At An Oil Baron’s Lookout
2008: Spring In The Maritimes
2007: Evisioning A Huge BLT Sandwich
2006: Eddie’s New Passion Friday
2005: Sorry, no post for this day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Truck, Please Take Me To...

Self-driving cars are all over the news.  Ed's been talking about the Tesla and it's auto-pilot autonomous option for months.  We will see these cars in our lifetime.  And I think amid the excitement, is a little fear.  Cars without drivers?  Well, not really without, just technologically without.  

Self-driving trucks are also making headlines.  Daimler tested a self-driving truck last year in Nevada, and this year a convoy of self-driving made a trip across several European countries.

If you think people are afraid of autonomous cars....holy crap, they're in for a rude awakening when they know the truck next to them is cruisin' all on its own.  In fact, Otto engineers think automated trucks may be on the highways before the cars, considering the cost of self-driving automobiles to consumers.

This is a hot topic in the trucking community.  People have long talked about how truck driving has gone from "...one of the best blue-collar jobs in the U.S. to an industry one economist said consisted of sweatshops on wheels" and now the future of drivers is at stake.

Not to mention the jobs of those connected to the trucking industry, which according to the American Trucking Associations is 1 in every 15 workers in the country.  It may have more devastating effect, at least initially, than one imagines.

It's at once exciting and a little scary, as no one wants to lose a job, but I see tons of other opportunities that can crop up with these changes.  Of course, I say that with a cavalier attitude because I'm pretty hopeful my truck driving career will be winding down when all of this self-driving technology comes to fruition.  But, we'll see, won't we?

In the meantime, here's a little Q & A I did at the request of Driver Solutions website.  

Now I have to go nap, because today I have to drive our truck if anyone expects this freight to be delivered.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: It's What's For Dinner
2014: The House Was Nice, But The Tree Was Amazing
2013: Doubling The Gold In Wyoming
2012: Down Louisiana Way, Where The Blue Dog Resides
2011: Crossing The Park To 5th Avenue
2010: All Work, All Play
2009: Was My Mother Hot, Or What???
2008: The Fiddleheads Of Maine
2007: Fifteen Dollar. We Make Nail Nice. No Probrem.
2006: Road Testing The Girl
2005: Ed Time

Monday, May 23, 2016

Go Further

We've been new car shopping.  Well, SUV shopping, mostly.

We've looked at Toyota, Nissan, Dodge, Lincoln, Ford, GMC, and Chevy.

Today we changed our course and went to look at a pickup truck.

Ugh.  A pickup truck.  I'm so not a pickup truck kind of girl.

Oh, maybe in my meet-a-hot-cowboy-with-a-million-dollar-cattle-ranch-and-get-married-to-him fantasy, but not in reality.  I know I drive an 18-wheeler, but in real life, in my everyday car driving life, a pickup is just so unrefined.

Although, I have to be honest.  I was surprised.  They're actually quite nice inside.  And roomy.

So much freakin' room!  I can actually sit in the back of a crew cab and not bang my knees on the front seat. 

And they're luxuriously equipped, with all the bells and whistles.

I'm leaning toward the Ford F-150 Platinum.

I'm not sold on them yet, but I am considering the option.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Eff Your Beauty Standards

Photo: Instagram/@tessholliday

She's stunningly beautiful. Her fiance Nick is hot. She's a working model, signed with MiLK Model Management, a major modeling agency in London.  She's been on the cover of People and LA Weekly, interviewed on the Today show, and featured in Vogue Italia.

Vogue, people!

She has 1.2 million Instagram followers, 1.5 million followers on Facebook, and 57.2 thousand followers on Twitter

Her name is Tess Holliday.

And she's obese.

She has coined the phrase, "Eff your beauty standards" to combat the idea that you have to be thin to be beautiful.  Clearly, that's not the case.  And certainly not for Vogue Italia, since they named her one of the top six plus-size models in the world.

Ed and I are still attempting to eat better and move more, which has been renewed to support my mother - a Type 2 diabetic - who started a plant-based diet a few weeks ago. I'm a little annoyed that I have to work at this, some days preferring to stay fat and revel in my beauty and confidence, because the general belief (not subscribed to by Tess) is that losing weight will improve one's overall well-being.  I'm just not exactly thrilled with it this week.

So, I thought I'd share Tess with you before I shared the links to the following weight loss, dieting, and exercise crap, not all of which are in favor of those three things.

Can high intensity exercise help you lose weight? 

If dieting doesn't work, what does? 

The obesity epidemic map. 

How to lose weight and keep it off.

Why do Americans still believe bad science that suggest "fat" means "unhealthy"?

Why you shouldn't exercise to lose weight.  

Skinny women also get diabetes.

To feel better, eat less.

And in case anyone's interested, I haven't had Dunkin' Donuts since January.

But I reallly want it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This Steak Caused A Buzz

2014: There Was Gold Everywhere
2013: Two Telephone Poles And A Cloud
2012: I’ve Yet To Make Lemonade
2011: Alien Ribs Of The North
2010: White’s Bastard Cousin
2009: Jake
2008: I Might Have To Be Put In Restraints For Our Next Conversation
2007: People Who Are Happy To Help You Drown In Debt
2006: I, I, I
2005: Sorry, no post for this day.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Summer Fun!

School is out.  Let the fun of summer begin!  This is my best friend Vicki's daughter Mina (top) and her friend Kennedy.

Oh, to be on the verge of sixteen again.

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Hudson Glow

2014: What Lies Behind The Gates And Beneath The Gilding
2013: Super Smooth Ride
2012: Handling Meat For Over 144 Years
2011: Investing In Your Investment – Part Two

Here’s Your Sign

2009: A Mini And Me
2008: Wild In Tennessee
2007: Isn’t There A Third Evil?
2006: What The Hell Is This??
2005: Sorry, no post for this day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Butter Sculptures And Luxury Camping All In The Same Post

Photo:  AutoCamp Airstream camping site in Santa Barbara
Butter sculpture goes way beyond midwestern state fairs.

The world's hottest and coldest places.  I know where I'm going.

I know I'm old because I don't "get" a lot of things anymore.  Shade is one of them.

Your kitchen can never be clean enough.

Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) talks about her husband's sudden death in UC Berkeley's commencement speech.

Oh, sweet Italy.

If you're in New York, you have to go test these cookie places.  And report back immediately!  (And send me a box if you're so inclined!)

This is great - name the TV show with one clue.  I got 15 out of 26.

If you have an extra $7,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a chair to read to three kids at once.

The Met Gala is a great place to see some amazing fashion.  This guy agrees, and attempts to hilariously recreate the looks.  

A luxury Airstream camping experience?  Yes, please.  

Sometimes, when you just don't like someone's face, your instincts may be telling you something very important.

Failing isn't the end of the world.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eye See You, Orlando

2014: Handmade Import
2013: So Serene, Even Serial Killers Would Be Drawn To It
2012: Time To Lounge
2011: You Can All Stop Complaining Now
2010: This Puss Doesn’t Have Bots
2009: Milling, Spinning And Bleating
2008: What Happens When You Have Too Much Time To Think
2007: Eddie Rides A Polar Bear Friday
2006: Lite Brite, Making Things With Light
2005: Texas Pride?

Monday, May 16, 2016

On Shaky Ground

Do you know which state in the Lower 48 has the most earthquake activity?

Most of you will probably say California, right?

That makes sense considering we always hear about "The Big One" hitting and shearing off the western side of the nation.  But you'd be wrong.

In actuality, the top state for seismic activity is Oklahoma.

That's right, Oklahoma.  The Sooner State.

I found this out this week during a podcast I was listening to, while driving through Texas, on my way to Oklahoma.

Out of all 50 states, only Alaska experiences more quakes than Oklahoma.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), from 1978 to 2008, Oklahoma averaged one to three quakes per year of magnitude 3.0 or greater.

In 2009, that number went up to 20.

In 2012, there were 36 earthquakes.

In 2013, they had 109.

In 2014, the number more than quintupled to 585 quakes.

Last year, 2015, Oklahoma experienced 907 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater.

And as of March of this year, they've experienced over 160 quakes.

That's a LOT of shaking.

The numbers are actually in the thousands for regular 'ol earthquakes, but only those 3.0 or greater seem to be where the concern starts.  In January of this year they had two larger quakes, one of them a magnitude 4.8.  And back in 2011, a 5.7 quake damaged 200 buildings.

A 3.0 is considered small (movement wise) on the Richter Scale, but each level is 10 times stronger then the previous level, so 3.0 to 4.8 seems like a significant jump.

The reason the earth is moving so much in Oklahoma?

Underground wells used for the wastewater produced as a result of the natural gas and oil wells.

As you might expect, the oil and gas industry has downplayed the occurrence of quakes and have only complied to changes under duress.  And the politicians in the state have been slow to respond to the problem, which is no surprise considering one in five Oklahomans are employed by the industry and many of the politicians (like Governor Mary Fallin) receive thousands of dollars in contributions from them.

"Although critics contend that earthquakes have caused millions of dollars of damage, Oklahoma’s political leaders have long been reluctant to impose restrictions on an industry that dominates the state’s economy. Until last spring, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, maintained that the cause of the tremors was unclear, and the state Legislature refused to consider legislation addressing the issue."

I guess people who live there are used to it, although those whose houses have been damaged aren't too thrilled about just having to deal with it for the good of the industry that keeps the state afloat.

The reporting of these quakes has been going on for many years, but I had never heard anything about it until I heard the podcast.  My only concern driving through the state had always been tornadoes.

Now I have to worry about being shaken off the interstate.  

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Harnessing The Power Of The Wind

2014: Listen And Learn
2013: Escape From Texas
2012: Like Cattle In A Penn
2011: Another Day In The Trucking Life
2010: Ed Prepares For The Italy Trip
2009: Strolling Along The Atlantic
2008: Eddie Chatting It Up Friday
2007: The ABC’s Of Me
2006: After The Storm
2005: The Essence Of Me