Saturday, March 31, 2018

Moonrise Kingdom

Ed took his bike up to Mt. Lemmon this week and got a shot of the moon rising as the sun was setting.  

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Vintage Johnny

2016: Sunny
2015: After All Others
2014: This Red Giant Is Also A Star
2013: Turn And Burn
2012: The Landscape Just Runs All Together After A While
2011: Flippin’ Swag
2010: Warm Fuzzies
2009: I’ll Get You My Pretty
2008: The Kind Of Misunderstanding That Can Never Fully Be Explained
2007: Let The Adventure Begin
2006: Coming Soon
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Inch By Inch Design

Doing some measuring and planning for our front yard landscaping design.  We have a loooooong way to go to change this nightmare into something like this, or this, or this.

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2017: Flashback To French Blooms
2016: Crooking Its Bright Red Finger
2015: This Is Why
2014: Fill'er Up!
2013: Texas! Texas! Margaret...
2012: He Forgets He Lives With A Maven
2011: Does Anyone Notice The Shoes Of A “Very Important Person”?
2010: Do You Think Raquel Owns A Dog And Gets Enough Potassium?
2009: No Need To Do Anything Drastic; There Will Always Be Re-Runs
2008: Beautifully Retro
2007: Ready, Set, Go!!
2006: Giving New Meaning To An Ambulance Chaser
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Milk Until The Cows Come Home

A Jersey cow greets you as you pull up to the Southwest Dairy Farmers Museum in Sulphur Springs, Texas.

FYI: Here in America there are two types of milk cows that are used "most" of the time for milk, Holsteins, and Jerseys.  Holsteins are the black and white cows and are used because they give a lot of milk. Jerseys are the brown cows and give less milk but more cream.

The museum showcases the importance of the dairy industry's past, present, and future and is funded by the dairy checkoff program, thus all of its programs and functions are made possible by dairy farmers. The museum, which consists of a 10,000-square-foot facility, serves as the headquarters for the many activities sponsored by the Southwest Dairy Farmers.

The museum's exhibits include the life of a dairy farm before electricity came to rural areas and demonstrations on separating cream, the first stem in dairy production. Visitors may also enjoy a lunch and ice cream at the museum M-F, from 9 am until 4 pm. 

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2017: Very Off-Site Parking
2016: Hot Cargo
2015: The 43rd Annual Mid-America Trucking Show Comes To A Close
2014: Heading On Down The Highway Until Next Year
2013: Thirteen Ten Clinton
2012: Better Than Team Drivers
2011: The Three Musketeers Make Dinner Plans
2010: Try To Find A Parking Space For This
2009: If The Life Expectancy Of A White Male Is Over Seventy Five Years, You Have Plenty Of Time When You're Ten
2008: Sweet Suite Sugarland
2007: The Superbowl Of Moving
2006: Catching Flies
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Direct Route To Hope

There's been a lot of rain across the country and we got caught up in several downpours this week, explaining why most of my photos have gloomy clouds and overcast skies in them. 

One of our recent runs took us to Hope, Arkansas where I was able to get this drive-by shot of President Bill Clinton's first childhood home.  He was born in August 1946, less than a mile away at Julia Chester Hospital (which was demolished in 1950) and lived in this house, his grandparent's home, for the first four years of his life.  After that, his family moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas where he lived until he finished high school.

We didn't have a chance to tour the house this time, but I'm always happy to see where historical sites in the country are located so I can plan for another time when we're in the area. 

The town of Hope wasn't what I expected as I was imagining small-town Mayberry - which it probably was back in the forties - but seeing the area where such an accomplished, beloved, and famous person came from, is always extremely interesting to me.

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2016: Right Only At The Big Yellow Tree
2015: High Shine Pete
2014: A Big Thumbs Up On Day Two
2013: The Hospital Survives Another Week
2012: More Distracting Than Texting While Driving
2011: The Aftermath
2010: More Than Halfway To A World Record
2009: If You Need Your Hump Fixed, This Is The Place
2008: The Flight, The Hotel, The Walk, And The Sleep Deprivation
2007: A Lot Of Beauty, A Little Citrus, And A Mini Moo
2006: Shorn
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Water Where The West Begins

This water tower in Fort Worth isn't one of the most interesting, but traveling through the country we see some unique water towers. 

Most have the names of towns on them, others are painted with the local sports team logo and slogan.  There's a red and white one just south of Cincinnati, along Interstate 71 in Florence, Kentucky that says "Florence, Y'all!" on the side.

I love this non-functioning one in Groom, Texas and I liked this one in Gaffney, South Carolina so much I took another picture of it.  

This one, which is definitely not a functioning water tower, still remains my favorite.  Isn't it beautiful?

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You're Welcome

2016: Shopping Trip
2015: Straight Up Show Truck
2014: One Line Sums Up The Entire Show
2013: Howz About Them Howitzers?
2012: I’ll Hobble On My Walker To Visit
2011: In The Still Of The Night
2010: The Final Count
2009: Eddie My Little Ex-Marine Friday
2008: Delayed By Lipgloss During A Period Of Elevated Security: A Travel Debacle Ensues
2007: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
2006: Your Cat Is In My Garden
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

This Little Guy Eats Like A Bird

I've gotten a bit behind in addition to last week being a bit slow here at The Rant, so here's a picture of a bird in my yard.

Have a great week!

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Vibrant And Vitamin Packed
2016: In The Thicket
2015: Live It
2014: Blizzard To The East, Clear Skies To The West
2013: The Discriminating House Hunter
2012: Oh, Sweet Cream Cheesus
2011: Pit Stop
2010: Sorry, no post for this day.
2009: A Peek Behind The Sacred Pantry Door
2008: Thistle Or Thatle
2007: Big, Rich, And Free
2006: Look, Honey! A Grist Mill.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Next Five

Yesterday in my post titled 10 Things To Know Before Starting A Trucking Company - A Primer I listed the first five things you needed to know before starting a trucking company.  Here are the next five:

10 Things To Know Before Starting A Trucking Company - A Primer (continued)
By Salena Lettera

6.   Do you need special clearances or endorsements added to your license?
Many drivers will need a Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement and possibly a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) to transport certain freight or access shipping ports or military installations.  Those are both available through the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to those two credentials,
other endorsements may be needed to pull certain trailer types - tankers, doubles and triples, etc. – you can inquire at your local motor vehicle department regarding those.  These all cost money that usually comes out of your own pocket but these special additions are typically good for two to five years depending on your state and the type of endorsement you get, and often provide advantages to you over other drivers when being considered to haul certain kinds of freight.

Although it’s wise to get the manual from your state to study and review,
these practice tests are helpful because the operation of the vehicle and the information needed for the endorsements are generally similar.  I’ve used them many times finding the repetition helps to solidify the information in my mind.

7.   What kind of business license, permits, regulatory documentation, insurance, etc. do you need? And what about complying with electronic logging device (ELD) regulations?
Registering your business with your state is one of the first steps you can take in making your company official.  Trucking is a federally regulated industry and whether you’re intra-state or inter-state, there are some requirements you’ll have to meet for both.  The links below will allow you to access the information you need to get started in these areas.

Get your U.S. DOT Number and your Motor Carrier (MC) Operating Authority Number through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Go to the IRS website to find out about filing your Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) Return.

Check the FMCSA website for Electronic Logging Devices information.

In addition to all of this, you’ll need insurance for your business – liability, bobtail, cargo, etc. – making sure to check minimums and get enough to cover cargo damage.  There are several companies that deal primarily with the trucking industry and they can help you get started with determining what fits your operation.

8.   Do you want to be an independent contractor leased on to a large carrier or do you want to do everything yourself?
Many owner-operators lease on with a large carrier who will handle everything from finding customers, to doing most of what’s listed above in #7.  This leaves you to drive, maintain your vehicle, and prepare and pay your taxes.  Leasing your equipment on to a company means they’ll take a small percentage of what the load pays, which is often worth it, especially when you’re first starting out and learning the ropes of being independent.  Other drivers handle everything themselves, using load boards such as GetLoaded or DAT to find loads, which they book themselves and then deal with payment on their own or through a factoring company.  You will need to do your research on this to determine what will be the best path for you.

9.   Do you have money or credit to fund the equipment you’ll need, in addition to a small stas to get you through the first 6 months.
Start-up expenses include equipment purchases, licensing and regulatory fees, insurance, maintenance costs, employee pay, etc.  Start-up and operating expenses are a big concern when creating any business, but in trucking, some of the equipment can cost as much as an average person makes in a year.  Sometimes, even as much as one would pay for a house, so you have to be realistic about what you can afford from the outset and what you can keep going.  If you don’t have this kind of money lying around, you’re going to want to look into financing for what you need.  Do this homework early in the process.

10.  Are you a member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)?
If not, join today!  The OOIDA is a North American international trade organization dedicated to the interests of truck drivers.  As a member of OOIDA, you will be supporting the only organization that represents the nation’s small business truckers.  OOIDA fights for your rights.  They are your voice.  They are your advocates.  They represent us to the lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and let them know how truckers feel about what’s happening in our industry.  Since 1973, the year OOIDA was founded, they’ve been fighting for the rights of professional truckers and continue their mission to this day.  In addition to being on top of policies and regulations that affect our industry, they offer truck insurance, health and life benefits, retirement plans, rebate and discount programs, education and business tools, classes, and more.  It’s a vital part of our industry, and well worth the $45 per year for the membership.  They’ll even send you a free monthly magazine!  

These ten steps are just a guide to get you started, but they should push you in the right direction.  As with any endeavor, it’s best to gather as much information as you can and move forward with some kind of plan.  If you’re already driving a truck, you have some of that information already, which will make the transition to owning your own business that much easier.

Surf the net, stop at truck stops to pick up industry magazines, and don’t be afraid to send emails to people like me who work in and write about the industry.  What I’ve found being in this business, is that drivers are willing to share information, whether they help you themselves or point you in the direction you need to go to find the answer to your questions.
This is very much within your reach.  I wish you the best of luck!

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Vintage Ed

2016: Elixir
2015: March Woods
2014: What A Guy Will Do To Get Out Of Watching Girl TV
2013: Up And Over The Green Mountains Of Vermont
2012: Perhaps She’s A Closet Road Warrior
2011: Fifty-Five Years And Counting
2010: Humor That Needs A Humidifier
2009: Eddie Is He Wearing Trousers?? Friday
2008: Soon To Be Yummy Snack Food
2007: This Is What I’ve Been Doing Lately
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Shopping For A New Career

Truck shopping at the MATS.
Here's a piece I submitted last month for an online site.  Thought you all might be interested in the information.  I've split it into two parts for two reasons - one, I get an extra blog post out of it, and two, your eyes won't bleed from all the reading.  Enjoy!

10 Things To Know Before Starting A Trucking Company - A Primer
By Salena Lettera

Merriam-Webster defines PRIMER (in this usage, pronounced “primmer”) as a “small book for teaching children to read, a small introductory book on a subject, or a short informative piece of writing”.  This article falls under the last part of the definition - a short informative piece of writing to outline the most basic things to know before starting a trucking company.

When most people in our industry say they’re going to “start a trucking company”, they usually mean they want to become an owner-operator.  An owner-operator is just what it sounds like, a person who owns and operates the truck in their company.  It’s typically a one-man operation and that person is considered a self-employed trucking company owner.

As owner-operators driving a custom rig, my husband and I have often been on the receiving end of people asking us how they can get started in trucking and do what we do.  It’s not hard, but it’s not easy either.  There’s a lot of research involved and even more questions to ask – of others and yourself.

Since these questions usually come from company drivers wishing to strike out on their own, either by becoming an owner-operator or starting a company themselves to employ other drivers, they typically need to answer the same questions and be given the same general business start-up advice.  For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to assume the reader already possesses a commercial driver’s license (CDL).  If you do not have a CDL, you need to research the steps to do that.  Start here at the FMCSA’s page answering the question “How do I get a Commercial Driver’s License?”

As with any business, every topic you research will branch off in many directions, with more research needed to gather information and more questions rising up that will need answering.  Just keep going.  The more you know, the more prepared you will be.   The following is a brief list of questions to get answers to before thinking about starting a trucking business.

1.  First of all, what kind of freight do you want to haul?
Some drivers haul anything and everything that works with their trailer type, while others specialize and do the same freight on a regular run.  You will want to have an idea of what kind of freight you’ll be hauling before you go out and purchase equipment.  There are many trailer types to choose from – van, refrigerated, flatbed, RGN (removable gooseneck), step-deck, tanker, etc. – and which one you’ll use will be determined by the type of freight you expect to haul.  There are also many tractor types available, too, so you’ll want to narrow it down to the one that meets the specifications of your operation.

2.   Once you’ve determined the kind of freight you’ll be hauling, you will need to buy the equipment necessary to move that freight.
While in the process of determining your equipment needs, you’ll want to figure out where you’re going to operate because some trucks are better suited for long haul operations than others and because these trucks and trailers are not cheap, you’ll want to get something that will work initially, then take you into the future if you plan to branch out.  Equipment usually means a tractor and trailer.  Tractors can range from $30,000 for a used tractor to $250,000 for a custom sleeper truck.  Trailers can range from $10,000 to $120,000 depending on what kind of freight you’ll be hauling.

This is where you’ll be doing a bulk of your research. Go online, find some trucking forums, ask questions.  Go to truck stops if you can and talk to drivers you see hauling the kind of freight you’re interested in.  Stop by truck and trailer dealerships and find out what they’re offering and pick up spec sheets to become more knowledgeable.  And if you can, hit one of the major truck shows – the 
MATS or GATS are great places to start – where you’ll find the best gathering of all things related to the industry.  Trust me, you’ll leave with a goodie bag full of information!

3.   What business structure will you have?
The best business structure choice will depend on your personal situation.  Read through the definitions of the available legal business structures, then decide which one is best suited for your business needs.  The simplest, with the least amount of paperwork, is the sole proprietorship, but you will need to do your homework before deciding which works best. has a great article titled Determining The Best Legal Structure For Your Business to get you started.

4.   How will you handle maintenance and repairs?
Repairs can be one of the biggest money drains on your business.  It’s not difficult to blow through savings if you’re hit with a big repair.  Although your trailer may need an occasional repair, the big money repairs are usually done on the tractor.  Good maintenance is a must when you’re running the show and maintaining your equipment should be a priority.  It will cost you money, sure, but in the long run if you keep up with regular maintenance and take care of small issues before they become big, breakdowns and repairs come less frequently.  Truck stops across the nation offer shops to help you keep up along the way, but if you have a local shop you come to trust, even better.  If you’re mechanically inclined you can save a lot of money by doing your own maintenance and repair work.

See Part Two HERE.  

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2017: Just The Facts
2016: Blue And Crabby
2015: Drive Less, Make More
2014: While You Were Sleeping
2013: Between Brattleboro And Bennington
2012: Man At Work
2011: Under A Rock
2010: Practicing For Retirement
2009: Truckers Are So Sensitive
2008: Light Sweet Crude
2007: A Antiquing Conundrum
2006: How Can You Not Love This Face?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Perfecting The Most Important Facial Feature

Kim Kardashian and her perfect brows (photo credit:
If you've ever seen Kim Kardashian - or any of the Kardashian women, you know how stunning a perfect eyebrow can be.  Sure, they have round-the-clock makeup artists, but regular people can have brows that are "on fleek" too, you know.

I've been researching microblading.  It doesn't sound like anything that has to do with eyebrows.  It sounds like a medical procedure.  Actually, it sounds painful.  But after combing through Pinterest, and Google Images, and even found a place in my city that does it.

My concern is having eyebrows that look like they belong on a 20-year-old instead of a 50-year-old.  But then I found this and decided if they look that good on an old lady who had no brows to start with, they'd probably look good on me.  

I've always been complimented on my eyebrows and for the most part, have been blessed with a pretty decent shape.  But as I get older, I noticed some thinning and as is often the case when you age, the ends get shorter.  I help the shape with some light penciling and brow powder.  But that's a pain in the ass, and one sweaty afternoon can cause my meticulously drawn brows to be wiped off with the swipe of a hand.

So, I've put this on my list of things to do this year. Because
 great eyebrows are of great importance.  I have a lot of things on my to do/wish list, so if it happens, and it's a success, I'll make sure to post a photo.  In the meantime, if anyone has any horror stories they'd like to share, now's the time to do it.

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2016: Abandoned In New Mexico
2015: We Entered Through The Big Mouth
2014: Getting Ready For The Really Big Shooooo
2013: You'll Know You're Getting Close When You See The Zebra
2012: You Can’t Go Wrong At ShopRite
2011: When The Feelings Get Too Strong For Words
2010: Looking For Loads In All The Wrong Places
2009: CTRL Freak
2008: 1. Cut String 2. Walk
2007: Amish Down The Lane
2006: The Competition Is Stiff
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!