Rough week for Ms Mags

2009 September 29
by Hedon

If you read yesterday’s post, you might have noticed that there was lots of talk about our day at the zoo with Chaos and LittleOne.

"Elephants! Or babies! Or both!"

"Elephants! Or babies! Or both!"

You might also have noticed that what you did not read was any mention of Maggie. That would be because puppies aren’t generally welcome at the zoo. And spastic dogs that go crazy with the barking every time they see a strange animal are really really not welcome at the zoo. So Ms Mags had to stay home.

But spastic puppies that freak out when they are left alone and rip your house apart are really really not in favor with the Hags, so Maggie spent the day at the vet. Thursday, when Stace and I spent the afternoon over at her Mom’s, we had left Maggie at home in her crate. But that was only for a couple of hours. We obviously couldn’t leave her in a crate all day Friday. So we called the vet. They do boarding for a small fee and have a pretty decent place to play and stuff so we thought she would be happier there. We were wrong.

According to the ladies at the vet, Maggie barked from the moment we dropped her off until Stace showed up to pick her up Saturday morning. From what we understand, she didn’t even stop barking long enough to eat or sleep. Sigh. When she got home she had completely lost her voice and didn’t get it back for two days. It’s still a little hoarse today.

When she finally got in the house and had explored everywhere to make sure all was as she had left it, Maggie decided to flop down in the recliner with Stace to take a nap. She was so worn out that she couldn’t jump into the chair. Ordinarily that jump is nothing to her, but Saturday all she could do was make little tiny bouncing motions and look up at Stace with a “little help?” expression on her face.

I think she would have slept around the clock Saturday, but that was the day that Gerta, the lady who cleans our house, came. Gerta’s visits are always so exciting that Maggie couldn’t sleep even though she desperately needed to catch some shut eye. We had other company on Sunday and the excitement of loading the truck on Monday so she never did get the chance to catch up on her beauty sleep before we hit the road.

We left the house at 18:00 last night and I don’t think Maggie has been awake 10 minutes at a stretch since we pulled out of the driveway. I figure she’ll be all caught up and ready to cause trouble sometime Thursday or so… just about the time we’re exhausted from running non-stop. Gotta love how that all works out.

Hometime high point

2009 September 28
by Hedon

Now we have no internet at home. Well… I guess I shouldn’t say that we have no internet at home because I was able to log on at one point at 24K which I guess technically is internet service… but let’s be honest I’m not going to be online if the best I can do is 24K dial-up. On the bright side  –  oh my goodness  –  do I have a lot to tell about this last home-time. There was laughter. There was drama. There was a life and death struggle against the forces of fate or whatever. There were new socks. So much to tell.

But the high point of the week for me had to be:

LittleOne off to see the elephants

LittleOne off to see the elephants

Our trip to major-nearby-city to spend the day with LittleOne and Chaos. Stace had to go get her fingerprints taken so she can renew her HazMat endorsement when she renews her license next month so we did that then spent the rest of Friday hanging out with the grand kid… and the kid, of course.

Went to the zoo and had a lot of fun. I’m not sure which was a bigger hit: riding the train, riding the carousel, or seeing the elephants. I feel certain that LittleOne told us though since she “talked” constantly.  Unfortunately she is at that stage where — much like most rappers — you can only make out about one word out of twenty.

LittleOne wasn’t too sure about trying the merry-go-round at first, but once I got her up there and the thing started moving she was all over it. I feel fairly sure that she would have been just as happy to spend the rest of the day just switching from animal to animal every time it stopped. We rode four or five times and never got off the thing, but then they closed it down for the day so we had to go look at some animals.

Two thumbs up for the carousel

Two thumbs up for the carousel

As it turned out, by the time we had taken several round-trips on the train, as many whirls on the carousel, and sneaked outside the main gate to smoke, we really only had time to explore one area and stop by the gift-shop before they closed. We sat right outside the gate smoking and looking at the map while trying to decide which area to visit.

The biggest hit from the train  –  based strictly on how many times LittleOne squealed and pointed while yelling “baby” excitedly  –  had been any toddler or infant in a stroller, but we couldn’t very well just follow young children around the zoo the rest of the afternoon. Since it had been the second biggest hit from the train, we decided to head off to the elephant enclosure. The elephants were a big hit. Not as big as children in strollers or anything, but she seemed pretty excited nonetheless.

It's all about the elephants

It's all about the elephants

After hanging out gawking at the elephants for a while it was time to stop by the gift shop and hit the road aka if Grandma Hedon doesn’t get a cigarette soon Fernando is going to go ballistic all up in here and scare all the animals. So off toward the gate we marched. The clear winner in the gift shop was a little elephant backpack which was only about eight million percent over-priced so it was all good and everyone left happy troopers. Sleepy… but happy.

I was kinda jealous of LittleOne after the zoo, but I couldn't nap cause I was driving

I was kinda jealous of LittleOne after the zoo, but I couldn't nap cause I was driving

Trucking is Beautiful 2

2009 September 23
by Hedon

Oh look… floaty fluffy clouds… maybe trucking is magical…

Magical mystical view out my office window

Magical mystical view out my office window

Trucking is beautiful

2009 September 22

Since I have recently realized that I tend to take pictures of the skeezy side of trucking, I’m starting a new campaign to grab pics of the more attractive aspects of the job. Pictures that will make you sit back in your nice comfy arm chair and long to hit the open road. Things like rainbows and fairies and butterflies and magical beanstalks and such. Now you might think that it is rare you come across fairies and magical beanstalks and the like in trucking, and you would be right. BUT what you’re not taking into account is that I have PhotoShop and I know how to use it.

Take the following photo for example, it starts out as simply an ordinary picture of the geese you will often see wandering around an industrial park. But… run it through PhotoShop and slap a watercolor filter on it and you have a whimsical pic that should make any profession appealing… even trucking.

This is going to be so easy…

Industrial parks are beautiful.

Industrial parks are beautiful. Trucking is magical.

Going home too soon

2009 September 21
by Stace

So, we’re supposed to be going home in the next few days. You know what that means — the weigh in. I am most definitely not looking forward to it.

While I’ve been pretty good at holding down the carbs because of the damnable diabetes, the calorie-counting has been going … well … hey, I’ve spent a lot of time tired, and hanging around skeezy motel rooms, and I’ve been bored, and, and, and … I can’t think of any more excuses. Crap. I suck.

Every day I give myself a good talking-to, swearing I will once again scrupulously count all the perfidious calories I consume, and I will, I say I WILL keep that count below 1500. And every day, I stop counting after lunch. This is not to say that I’ve been going on some mad 3,000 calorie a day spree. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll focus on the positive. At least I didn’t eat 5,265 calories today. Hoorah for me!

Sad.

This is what the real shits is about dieting. When you’re following all the rules and losing weight, you’re a genius, you walk around thinking that this time you’re really going to do it, you are a freak of self-control so wondrous you could join the X-men (name: Dietronica).

When you are not following all the rules and feel pretty sure that stepping on the scale won’t be the power boost Dietronica needs to survive, everything goes in the crapper.

Well, I’ll know soon enough what I have wrought over the past five weeks. I don’t remember the last time I dreaded going home. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever dreaded going home.

Damn, I hate getting my comeuppance!

Classic literature

2009 September 19
by Hedon

I’ve been reading the wonderful novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas. You might recognize the name Dumas as he also wrote “The Three Musketeers” and “The Man in the Iron Mask” along with a whole heavy stack of other works. I was planning on writing a review of “The Count of Monte Cristo” later, but tonight I got to thinking that I have never really written much concerning Classic Literature in general.

Look at any list of the hundred greatest novels of all time, and you will likely note that some of the works listed have stood the test of time. I mean seriously stood the test of time… like they are several centuries old. It doesn’t seem likely that the vast majority of the books hitting book shelves this year will still be read and cherished in the year 2200.

But that’s not half as long as a book like “Don Quixote” by de Cervantes has been around. “Don Quixote Book One” was published in 1605. Just think about that. When you laugh about Sancho Panza being tossed in the air from a blanket you are laughing at the same silly jokes that someone laughed at who was reading the book before the first permanent English colony was even founded in America.

“Moll Flanders” by Daniel Defoe was published in 1722 shortly after the success of his novel “Robinson Crusoe” and I defy anyone to read Moll’s story and not laugh themselves into a fit at times. “Tom Jones” by Henry Fielding, published in 1749, is another novel not-to-be-missed if you enjoy a great tale. There are too many others to list.

I guess my point is that there is a reason that these classic books have stood the test of time. They are great works of art. They are the Sistine Chapels of the literary world and you cheat yourself if you ignore them. The characters are universal and the plot is often timeless. Many of the stories are ones that you have already enjoyed without being aware of it. I just realized today that the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” is loosely based on “The Count of Monte Cristo” of all things. Who knew?

I think one of the main reasons that people tend to shy away from the older classics is the language. There is no denying that the language can take a little practice before it becomes second nature. But it’s well worth the effort. In the interests of encouraging your interest in the classics, I thought I would post an example of the utterly different way of speaking that older novels often employ:

My friend, my dear friend, what can this moment issue forth? I know not what to judge from your visage. I tremble. I positively tremble when I look upon your stern countenance as that unhappy man entered upon the scene of our repast.

Which in today’s language translates into:

Dude! What’s with the weird expression? You’re freaking me out!

See that’s not so hard, huh? I promise that after you have read a couple of the older books the language will become much easier to deal with and after a while you will begin to enjoy the subtle word play that old-timey authors used so often.

All of this is not to say that you will universally love every classic. Stace and I both hated “The Scarlett Letter” for example, and I was convinced by the loud moans and sighs that Stace was secretly considering running us into an embankment to end the torture of “Moby Dick.” I think the secret is to keep looking if you start out with a book that doesn’t grab you. Then when you find a book you enjoy read more of that author’s major works.

I guess my feeling on literature is… well most modern books are like a Quarter Pounder Value Meal. And you all know that I am firmly of the opinion that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with a Quarter Pounder Value Meal… as a matter of fact I wish I were eating one right now. But the classics are like a four course meal at a five star restaurant. A little weird and intimidating at first but once you figure out when to use which fork something you will never want to do without.

Some personal favs I especially recommend:

“Don Quixote”  –  I LOVED this book. I laughed so hard I drove off on the shoulder several times. Stace was more luke-warm to it. She said she had trouble laughing at the poor mentally ill dude wandering around the countryside getting beat up by villagers. The language is a little tough at first, but worth the effort.

“Cousin Bette”  –  We both loved this one. Hard to put down and not what one might expect. Also quite funny.

“The Count of Monte Cristo”  –  Again, we both loved it. A rip-roaring adventure tale of love, betrayal, revenge and redemption. For some reason it made me think of the movie “Dangerous Liaisons” but I’m not sure exactly why.

“Moll Flanders”  –  Very funny and quite bawdy especially considering the time period in which it was published.

Any of Thomas Hardy’s books. Not funny, but extremely good reads. His books will always catch you off-guard and shock you at one point or another. Great author.

“Bleak House” or “Great Expectations” or “David Copperfield” by Dickens. I love Dickens. I will admit that he can ramble on a bit — it’s obvious that most of his books were originally published as serials and that he was paid by the word. But that aside he is a great author and has created some timeless characters that would entertain anyone. “David Copperfield” would probably be the easiest to start out with.

“Old Father Goriot”  –  Heartbreaking… simply heartbreaking.

Obviously anything by Jane Austen, but especially “Pride and Prejudice” (aka Bridgett Jone’s Diary), “Emma” (aka the movie Clueless), or “Persuasion”

Ok… I was reading back over this post and can’t help but draw the conclusion that I might sound like some hoity-toity dickhead. That’s really the last thing I was going for — all I was trying to say is that the classics are awesome and I know you would like at least some of them. Even if you hated them in High School lit class, try giving the old masters another chance. Because really… what did you know about life at 16 or 17? Now you have so much more knowledge of the world that at least some of them are sure to speak to you.

Picture imperfect

2009 September 14
by Stace

Overheard in the truck

Hedon is sitting in the driver’s seat, working on her logbook. Stace is in the bunk, reading.

Hedon: Oh my god! That was nearly a catastrophe!

Stace: What?

Hedon: I thought I’d messed up my logbook. Stupid watch!

Stace considers this for a moment, wondering what leaps Fernando has made here, and why, exactly, Hedon’s watch should have anything to do with her logbook.

Stace: Did your watch stop or something?

Hedon: No. It’s this stupid time zone thing.

Stace: Oh.

Hedon: And my stupid big old fat wrist.

Stace: I’m not really following you … uh …

Hedon sighs, as if she’s got something better to do than explaining the obvious.

Hedon: When I got this stupid watch, I saw that you can set it with two different time zones. I used the central time zone, of course, for one, and then decided I’d set the other one for east coast. I don’t really know why I picked east. I can just add an hour like I’ve always done, but it’s a shame not to use the extra time zone, since it is a cool feature of the watch that I should take advantage of.

Stace: And …

Hedon: I thought about using something really cool, like setting it for France time, or Japan time, or Russia or whatever. But I couldn’t pick one. I couldn’t decide which would be best — to be driving along and think, “I wonder what time it is Botswana” or “I wonder what time it is in Australia.” So after a few days …

Stace: For god’s sake, just get to it already.

Hedon: Okay okay. Since I couldn’t pick, after a few days I just set it on east coast time, so I wouldn’t waste the feature. There’s this little button on the side of the watch that you push to switch between time zones, and because I have this big stupid old fat wrist, my fat’s always pushing that little button and switching the time zones on me without me knowing.

Stace: …

Hedon (exasperated): So I go to write in my logbook, check the time, and almost put down the wrong time, because of my big fat stupid humongous wrist. Stupid wrist! Stupid watch!

Stace: Ohhh, so that’s why the other night you told me it was 7 o’clock when it was really 6 o’clock.

Hedon: Yeah.

Stace: No problem. Just change the setting on the second time zone to central time, and you won’t have to worry about it changing on you.

Hedon: I can’t. I don’t remember how to change it.

Stace: Bummer. So this is going to be like that annoying chime that goes off every hour, isn’t it? Never-ending because you don’t know how to make it stop?

Hedon: I can’t believe I’ve hit a point in my life where I can’t even figure out a watch. Stupid watch!

Stace: Did you save the directions that came with it?

Hedon: Yeah.

Stace: Great! When we get home, you can fix both problems …

Hedon: Oh, I’ve got the instructions. I put them in the camera case.

Stace: Then why the hell have I had to listen to that watch of yours chime in every hour for the past week if you’ve got the damned instructions?

Hedon: They’re in the camera case.

Stace: Yeah, I know that now. You’re acting like they’re strapped on the roof of the trailer back there, and not sitting on a shelf literally within arm’s reach of where you’re sitting.

Hedon grumbles, then: The instructions are diabolical. I can’t figure them out.

Stace: …

Hedon: I’m serious. There are no words! It’s all in pictures. And they make no sense at all. Not a word on there. When did people quit giving instructions in words?!

Stace: …

Hedon: I don’t know how I can be expected to figure it out. You don’t know. You haven’t seen it. It’s just evil. What’s wrong with these people! Stupid instruction pictures!

Stace: So … let me get this straight. You can’t follow the directions to fix your watch because the instructions are just pictures.

Hedon: Oh yeah, sound all superior, but I’m telling you, you haven’t seen them. They’re crazy.

Stace: But you obviously had it figured out at some point, since you managed to set the watch in the first place.

Hedon: I’m not sure about that. I think I may have just been pushing buttons and it happened. Or maybe I was in some kind of uber-picture-reader zone at the time. Whatever, I can’t figure it out now.

Hedon glares down at the watch on her wrist.

Hedon: None of this would be a problem if it weren’t for my stupid fat wrist.

A long silence stretches between them. It lasts a good two minutes. Finally …

Stace: I’m sorry, but I seem to have nothing to say to that. It’s like the absurdity of it has overwhelmed my system or …

Hedon: Brain freeze?

Stace: Something like that. Sorry.

Hedon: That’s okay. Go back to your book.

Stace: I think I will. Thanks.

A few more quiet minutes follow, with Hedon returning to her logbook, and Stace staring vacantly at her Kindle.

Stace: It’s not working. I can’t read.

Hedon: Huh?

Stace: It’s like when your brain gets stuck on a song that you don’t know all the words to, so it just loops around and around in your head until you go nuts. That’s what I’m doing right now; it’s just not a song. It’s this whole … picture thing.

Hedon: Don’t worry about it. It’ll go away. Think about how we’re gonna eat BBQ later. That’ll get your mind off it.

Stace mumbles a bit then returns to staring at her book. Hedon writes on her logbook, as her watch chimes 7 p.m.

Time for the atheist

2009 September 13
by Stace

We’ve been writing on this blog for over a year, and I have yet to discuss much about being an atheist, other than saying I am one. There have been multiple times when I started posts about it, such as after I finished reading Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” last year. But, oh, I don’t know. I seemed to run out of steam, because really, there’s just so very much to say.

I thought I’d give it another stab today, and see how it goes. How about a look back.

It’s simple. I am an atheist. I lack belief in any sort of deity or other type of supernatural being. I cannot prove or disprove the existence of these entities, therefore, I have no cause to believe. So I don’t.

I don’t think I ever have believed, not really. At some point when I was a child, God and Jesus fell along with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. There was no lightning moment, no critical event or thought that triggered my lack of belief. I simply stopped believing.

Saying I stopped is rather misleading, since I don’t actually recall thinking much about God or Jesus or Mary or any of the things I was taught in Bible school. Santa Claus was far more real to me, what with those presents appearing under the Christmas tree every year.

I remember my paternal grandmother told me that rain was the tears of angels. I gave it plenty of thought, though I couldn’t have been more than seven years old at the time. Why should the angels cry? And how, exactly, did my grandmother know this? It made no sense to me.

I remember being creeped out at the thought that there were people, or some sorts of beings, up in heaven watching me all the time (more creepy than Santa Claus checking in to see if I had been bad or good; why that should be, I don’t know). I remember singing “Jesus Loves Me” with other children in our church (Methodist, by the way, a very laid-back church). I remember vacation Bible school and making paperweights and other crafts, all with the loving Jesus theme.

Only empathy can truly restrain. People who have none, we call evil. People who have an abundance, we call saints.

The rest of us live somewhere in between.

Then I just remember not believing any of it. And I didn’t go to church anymore.

My father was an atheist. He likely influenced me, though not as much as one might think. My father may not have believed in the Christian god, but he believed in all sorts of other supernatural events, beings, whatever.

An example. It was the 70s, and there was much talk about the “Missing Link” in regards to the chain of evolution of modern humans (before the discovery of Lucy, and the plethora of early hominids in the chain today). My father believed that in ancient times, a spaceship crash-landed on earth. The people on board were unable to fix their craft or find a way to communicate with their off-world fellows. Eventually, they settled in to live here, and being horny aliens, they had sex with the nearest relatives they could find on the planet — apes. The offspring of these dalliances became modern human beings.

Ancient aliens, my father believed, were the missing link.

Seemed pretty nutty to me. As nutty as angels crying rain. So, when I say that my father probably influenced me, the statement must be qualified. I would say the way he influenced me most was that he was an example that it was okay not to believe in gods. No one else could have done it. He was the only atheist I knew, or would know, for the entirety of my youth, until I went to college.

All of this aside, I still wanted to believe in something. Buddhism, fortune telling, Oija boards, Tarot cards, spirits, Wicca, etc. — I toyed with these from time to time. Ultimately, I couldn’t believe in any of it.

Why can’t I believe? The shortest answer would be that it makes no sense to me, that such things are in opposition to my sense of reason. The long answer … well … those would merely be personal proofs, which can have little meaning to anyone but myself.

I have been asked by theists if I don’t believe in God, then what do I believe and how do I know what’s right, or what’s wrong? What questions these are. My answers have changed over the years. Today, it is the following:

I believe that the scientific method is an ingenious system for understanding the mechanics of our universe, far more useful than any other system devised by humankind. It puts all religions to shame in its ability to better our lives in purely concrete ways. Its fault, like so many others, is that it can be manipulated. With the careful scrutiny of inbuilt requirements of repetition, however, it can’t be manipulated for long. I find its logic exquisite. But it cannot ultimately decide what is right, or what is wrong; it can only inform those decisions.

I believe that empathy is the most powerful tool humans possess in regards to morality. With this tool we do not need anyone or any system to tell us right from wrong. We already know. Whether we choose or do not choose to use empathy to guide our actions is independent from law. Humans will do as they wish, regardless of threat of punishment, worldly or otherworldly. Only empathy can truly restrain. People who have none, we call evil. People who have an abundance, we call saints. The rest of us live somewhere in between.

That’s my answer. It has taken me over 40 years to find it. And I’m satisfied with it … for now.

As I child, I didn’t think in these terms. I only knew what made sense to me, and what didn’t. It was natural to me and required no arguments or discussions of biblical passages or proofs. It was what it was.

And today, after countless hours of thought, it still is basically what it was. It’s comfortable. Though it wasn’t always, particularly in my young adulthood, back when I was stupid enough to think I had all the answers for everyone. But that’s another story for another time.

Like I said, there’s so much to say.

All good things must end

2009 September 11

Nothing lasts forever and our vacation is no exception. We talked to the Freightliner earlier this evening and they said that our truck should be finished in the morning. Kinda mixed feelings cause on the one hand we are ready to get our truck back and hit the road, but on the other hand boy this sure has been a nice place to spend some time.

In seven days we never did have a maid knock on the door and bug us. Ok… so I had to go down to the front desk and bring back towels and toilet paper a couple of times, but I can live with that. I do wish that since we paid a $25 deposit for the towels we could have been allowed to have more than one at a time. Stace is wondering if we will have to vacuum the room when we check out. I hope not.

They didn’t have any post cards but I snapped a few pictures that I hope captured the feeling of the place:

Do yourself a favor

2009 September 10
by Hedon

Ok… I don’t usually do this. Well I never do this. Especially since she’s already on our list of favorite blogs, but I’ve got to give a big old heads up about the best humor blog on the internet. If you have even a little tiny bit of interest in politics, do yourself a favor and go check out Blanca DeBree’s Blog. You’ll find priceless nuggets like:

“…However there is another state’s right we Republicans are pretty fond of. Ironically it is one, which Michael Steele would probably not be too keen on. But since Mikey opened up the door, I think it is high time that we undo a terrible injustice and let states decide for themselves whether or not people like me can own people like Michael Steele…”  — It’s State’s Rights, Baby

~~~~~~~~~~

“But she is still right. Homeless should be all disheveled living in refrigerator boxes and completely destitute without any connection to the outside world with no hope of ever leaving the streets for a better life. That is what compassionate conservatism is all about.” — The Homeless are too Damn Rich to be Homeless

~~~~~~~~~~

“There will be time for celebration when have effectively killed healthcare–reform or otherwise–by convincing inbred, racist, retarded hillbillies that healthcare will mean the government will have death squads coming into their snake handling churches and dragging them off to resettlement and reeducation camps.  We have a lot of work ahead of us to trick the Greatest Generation into killing their grandchildren’s futures.  We need to keep the Palins and Hannitys going at full steam to convince those without healthcare, that healthcare is bad.” — The Liberal Lion Dies

~~~~~~~~~~

“These brave souls who are shielding their children are the same brave souls who are refusing to fill out the 2010 Census, because it will be used to round them up when the FEMA camps are built next to Area 51 right down the street from the largest Big Foot herd.  Sure, the most conservative areas of the country will lose funding, representation, and prestige, but it is a small price to pay for freedom.” — Barack Obama to Indoctrinate our Children

Register now. Register often*

2009 September 9
by Hedon

I was checking out the admin options on the reCaptcha thing and as it turns out I can set it so that no one who is actually registered on the site has to do it anymore. So if you would like to avoid having to fill out the reCaptcha thing you need to go over to the little thing on the bottom of the sidebar and register.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how that actually works so it may be a big pain in the butt and not worth the effort. On the other hand, it may be painless and save you from a ton of hassle filling out the reCaptcha thing every time you comment — who can say?

I can inform you that, sadly, registering will probably not make you eligible for drawings for cash or exciting prizes.  Unless we decide to have a drawing for a wonderful all-expenses-paid trip to a lovely motel we know of in Memphis. Although that probably wouldn’t be a good thing to win now that I think about it. Maybe we shouldn’t punish anyone with that.

But on the bright side we won’t be selling your email address to anyone so that’s a good thing, right?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Just kidding — only register once.

Our skeezy motel

2009 September 9
by Hedon

This motel we’re staying in is like the cheapest motel in the world. We rented it for the whole week so at that extra special weekly trucker rate it comes out to just under $28 per night for two adults and a dog.

Uninvited motel guest

Uninvited motel guest

But they did have a lot of weird charges. For example we had to pay quite a few different deposits when we checked in:

$5 remote control deposit
$5 ashtray deposit
$25 dog deposit
$20 linens deposit
$14 unfluffy pillow deposit
$10 excessive television channels deposit
$15 streaky mirror surface deposit
$12 weird frig smells deposit
$20 environmental light bulbs deposit
$15 clean toilet seat deposit
$20 faucet knobs deposit
$10 A/C filter deposit

And I’m pretty sure they’re going to charge us $25 for the Unregistered Guest we found in the corner of the room this evening. Oh I grabbed it immediately and escorted it right outside but we’re still probably going to get nailed at checkout time. Sigh. Might as well streak up the mirrors and put stinky things in the frig.

What a blow

2009 September 8
by Hedon

I had a devastating realization last night.

You know how I have long been demanding the jet-packs we were promised when we were kids? I mean we were supposed to be leaving the house every morning, strapping on our jet-packs and flying off to work or school or whatever. I’m quite sure that in the early seventies we were all certain that this would be a common place thing by 2000 but by 2010 at the very latest.

So mostly I have spent the last 40 years waiting patiently for my damned jet-pack. Well until the past few years when I have started to get more vocal about demanding what we were promised. Demanding to know where my damned jet-pack was. I was thinking about it again last night while I was thinking how fun it would be to fly around over Memphis in the middle of the night.

That’s when the awful truth hit me. Even if they finally get off their lazy asses and get around to inventing jet-packs we won’t be able to use them. Think about it. The whole point of the jet-pack is that they are a couple of jets of some sort that are located on some sort of backpack arrangement. Then you have a couple of arms that come around your sides to the front which is where the controls are located. But here’s the problem. All that exhaust and hot whatever-the-hell that is going to shoot out the bottom of the jets to provide the upward thrust is going to come shooting out right toward your ass. And it’s likely going to be all flames and stuff.

That has got to hurt. And if you have one of those great big butts like I do, you’ll probably stop up the opening or something and never even be able to get off the ground. Man that sucks! I was seriously hoping to jet over to pick up some more BBQ if they had recently invented jet-packs without my knowing it and a traveling jet-pack salesman happened to stop by the motel with a model for sale later this afternoon.

Now it wouldn’t even matter if he did stop by with a recently invented jet-pack available for immediate possession. Still couldn’t fly around in the middle of the night. Stupid thermodynamics. Stupid Newton. Stupid physics. Wonder how that flying vampire thing all the authors are writing about really works?

Today’s your day, peon

2009 September 7
by Stace

So, it’s Labor Day. I actually have the day off, which is odd. Anyway, what’s there to say about Labor Day?

I don’t know much about this holiday. I assume it is a celebration day for all us worker peons out here. Labor Day, being in the fall, probably has its roots in oldtime harvest festivals.

If I believed in reincarnation, I figure I was probably a peasant in a former life, say in the Middle Ages. Around this time of year I’d be harvesting crops (me, my husband, and our 15 children and 55 grandchildren — fecundity is what I was all about). We’d all be serfs, bound to the land and our lord, the obnoxious guy who lives in a castle about two days journey from our quaint-if-you-don’t-mind-a-little-diphtheria village.

We’d be slaving away in the fields, and I would likely be bitching about how half of our crop would be going to the lord. I’d be thinking about how if we’d all just stick together and refuse to give up so much of our hard-earned food, then Mr. High and Mighty would have no choice but to cave in to our demands.

All that thinking and grousing would put a damper on the night’s harvest fete, so like a good peasant, I’d drink a half dozen pints of barley ale and quickly join the party.

I’d do this year after year, until I died at age 45. Then I’d be reborn as a different serf. Rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat, so on and so forth, until you find me now, in 2009, a serf, yet again, and still bitching about The Man.

This is one of the main reasons why I can’t get into reincarnation: it’s too dull, pointless and hopeless.

I suppose I could imagine a past life in which I was some fabulously wealthy and powerful Earl or something, but that’s ridiculously depressing. Look at what a come-down I’ve had! I’d be like those sad men who were football stars in high school but in middle age become used car salesmen who rehash their glory days every morning at the local greasy spoon. Ugh. Depressing.

Yes, I would have Nirvana to look forward to at some distant point in the future … some extremely distant point in the future. It’s not good enough, though, because I don’t have the patience.

Therefore, no reincarnation for me. Doing this shit once is more than plenty.

I’m annoyed. It’s because I’ve been following the news too much of late. I’m giving it up again, but before I do, here’s a prediction:

The Republicans will continue to play their role as the evil dark lords leading their slavering masses of spoon-fed pod-people into battle against the poor, benighted and well-meaning Democrats who want nothing more than to help the needy and protect the innocent (like the non-wealthy people, and the trees, and the air, and the critters, and so forth).

The Democrats would like to do more to help others, but those terrible Republicans just won’t listen to reason and halt their diabolical ways. The Democrats have to cave to many of the Republicans’ demands, because … well, they haven’t said, though it’s clear that being the overwhelming majority isn’t enough to stop the Repubs. Damn those evil Republicans! And oh, those sad, sad helpless Democrats. <insert hand-wringing here>

Or you could look at it like this:

The Democrats will continue to play their roles as closet socialists, plotting to undermine the very capitalistic fabric of our great nation, causing all right-minded individuals to back the brave Republicans who dare to go against the majority and fight the good fight against evil Marxists.

Oh, the righteous Republicans can’t stop those twisted, anti-working-man Democrats from taking over corporations and banks, no matter how hard the gallant Repubs try, but they sure as hell will not stop fighting until they defeat the notion of affordable health care for everyone. The line has to be drawn somewhere, right? By God!

Ugh … I’m sick of it all. Same old play, and mostly all the same old players. It’s like reincarnation: dull, pointless and hopeless.

I’m bored. Enough already. Just make with the screwing and knock off all the antics.

I may simply be a peon, but I know where all my hard-earned crops are going. The same place they’ve always gone. Now, where’s the booze? It’s my fuckin’ day already. Hurrah! Labor Day!

All aboard!

2009 September 6
by Hedon

It’s not exactly Rosie’s Big Gay Cruise Ship, but we’ve decided to consider our current situation as a vacation… yeah that’s it… it’s all a great big vacation. Wooo Hooo! Now you might think that being stuck in a cheap crappy motel in Laredo for a week with no internet doesn’t sound much like a vacation, but it could be worse.

Like let’s say maybe when you finally get your truck back from the shop in Laredo and you head off to New Jersey with your load but you only make it as far as Memphis before your truck is completely a giant paper-weight again and headed into the shop and it’s some damned Holiday or other and the only motel you can find that will accept dogs and has a smoking room that you can afford is even cheaper and crappier than the motel in Laredo and you go ahead and take the room for a week cause the truck can’t possibly be fixed before next Wednesday at the earliest… well when you look at it like that it’s almost identical to a cruise around the Caribbean. We’re so excited. A week in Memphis! I’ve got to go get postcards for everyone back home.

Besides being somewhat cheaper than Rosie’s Big Old Dyke Dinghy, our vacation has things you just can’t get in a cabin on a cruise ship. For example, you are probably never going to glance out your porthole on board ship and see an extremely drunk — extremely dirty — bum leaning his full smelly body against your window. We would have completely missed the fun of watching his cheek slowly skid down the filthy window as he gracefully dropped into a prone position on our doorstep. I mean how is an on-board casino supposed to compare with that for entertainment value?

Also, I know that cruise ships are supposed to have some awesome meals prepared by world-class chefs, but we had both a Pizza Hut and a Dominos that delivered to the motel in Laredo and a Popeyes just a couple of blocks up the road. I mean honestly. AND here in our new Memphis digs we actually found a world famous joint called Corky’s Ribs & BBQ Memphis and since I insisted on keeping the truck until Tuesday when they would actually be there to work on it, I was able to go fetch us up some ribs and such. The diets aren’t exactly flying along as well as they have been, but then we are on vacation so that’s to be expected I suppose. At least Stace isn’t cheating on the carb front which would be bad for the diabetes, so that’s cool.

Another similarity between Rosie’s Fairy Ferry and our vacation is the constant noise. I mean on a ship you’ve got the fog horn, announcements of events, the sea birds, the waves crashing against the hull and of course the noisy revelers having a good time all adding to the pleasant sounds of your holiday. We too have noisy party-goers adding their high-spirited hijinks to the melody of our vacation. And the police sirens. Lots and lots of police sirens. It’s just a non-stop vacation-like party here in Memphis.

It was even better in Laredo where we had someone from housekeeping knock on the door every 45 minutes for several hours every morning. The first morning it started around 0800 when Stace and I had been asleep for about 5 hours. I got up, got dressed, and answered the door. The little lady standing there asked if we wanted housekeeping. I said, “No, thank you” and went back to sleep. This happened seven times the first morning. There was no “Do not disturb” sign or clearly we would have had it out there on the door. The second morning… well… I think we all want to be polite and friendly at all times… but honestly… Stace and I are seriously night people… when the first knock came at 0845… I just stayed in bed and yelled, “No!” The lady yelled back, “HOUSEKEEPING” so I was forced to yell back, “GO AWAY!” They only came by four or five times that morning so that was an improvement I guess. The third morning they only came three or four times. If we had been there a few more days we might have made the concept of night-owl-type people understood by the entire housekeeping staff of hideous Laredo motel. Damned time constraints.

Another thing that people who book a week on Rosie’s Butch Barge look forward to is the chance to become familiar with exotic cultures and meet people they never would have met during their ordinary work-a-day life. We have that on our vacation, too. Earlier today I met a lady who had an overwhelming need to find a yellow pair of socks. She was looking everywhere for those damned elusive yellow socks. I never did find out what she needed the socks for, but I imagine it was for some deeply religious time-honored ritual designed to appease the gods of squeaky shopping cart wheels. Or something like that. I wish I had had a pair of yellow socks cause I would have put them on the sidewalk outside our window just so she would be all happy when she found them. Maybe if I go to Wal-Mart tomorrow I’ll pick up a pair. Wonder if she would prefer crew or tube?

That makes me think of yet another exciting thing people seem to get all worked up about while on vacation… shopping. We haven’t really had any shopping opportunities, but then it’s not like we would be shopping on Rosie’s Femme Frigate either. Let’s face it, Stace and I hate shopping. If we were on Rosie’s Super Sapphic Steamer I would be doing the exact same thing I have been doing for the past week — playing a computer game that Stace recently bought called “Diablo II: Lord of Destruction” which is a seriously kick-ass quest type game.

I am currently stomping through the game as “NeoHedon” an uber-barbarian with double kick-ass broad swords and a wicked two-fisted attack spell which only costs two mana points and means that I swing both swords at once. I’m telling you I am uber-studly. So don’t listen to Stace if she comes on here later and says that I look like I’m prancing around on my tiptoes as I stride fearlessly across the landscape. And sure there for a while I did appear to be wearing a dark blue skirt… but I traded that in at the armour seller’s tent so now I have a studly suit of glowing chain mail armour that not only provides kick-ass defense points but also increases how far I can see while exploring the caves hunting for treasure. Oh and sure my helmet was a little fruity there for a while but now I have a kick-ass jaw-bone helmet made from some fierce animal that increases my poison resistance and raises my mana by 10 points. The point here is that regardless of what Stace might say I am now an UBER-BARBARIAN-STUD and have spent the past few days happily wandering through the land kicking monster ass and restoring peace and light to the downtrodden peasants.

Doesn’t much matter if it’s on Rosie’s Tranny Tug or at the cheapest skeezy motel in Memphis… I love me some vacation.

Slave drivers

2009 August 29

Gads, TWMNBN must be seriously going on a rampage of rate-undercutting to have drummed up so much excess freight in the last month or so. They are killing us! And that’s why we haven’t been blogging of late.

It was so bad the other day, after such a tremendous amount of boobery that we both thought if we had our fingers on the presidential red button we would be fighting one another over who got the honor of pushing it, that I actually was extremely bitchy to Uriah and other incompetents at TWNMBN.

I am, in general, very polite to these people, even when they are driving me the nuttiest, simply because my mother taught me you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And I’ve found this to be good advice. Sometimes, though, you’ve just gotta whip out the cruet, pull off the fancy top with your teeth, and madly fling around the sour stuff.

After spending over 15 hours on some jacked-up load that didn’t pay us what we spent at Subway for lunch, they wanted to jerk us around even more by making us drop the trailer we had just spent five hours trying to get loaded (but which would eventually bring us 1300 fairly leisurely miles) at a yard, so we could do another endless empty trailer hunt and then pick up a crappy 125 mile load for them, rapidly followed by another load of 1000 miles at timed-transit. Not a good thing to do to women who have had only four hours of sleep in 36 hours.

I don’t really remember all I said to Uriah, which is probably just as well. I do remember that at the end of the one-sided conversation, I told him that in four hours, the truck would be parked and we would be asleep, no matter what they decided to do about their crap loads. He buckled. Or I thought he did.

He just passed the buck. In five minutes we had a call from a load planner trying to sweet talk us into doing what they wanted, giving us some sob story about how they don’t have the teams to run the timed-transit haz-mat loads, and blah blah blah, whine whine whine. We were doing enough of our own whining and sure as hell didn’t need any of his.

By this point, it was Hedon on the phone (what with me looking near apoplexy at this point), and she pulled out the coup-de-grace — “Sorry, dude, but we don’t have the hours to run those loads.”

The truth is, we really didn’t have enough hours. But … well … there are ways around things … uh … things that could have been done to enable us to squeeze out enough hours from our log books to have made it happen. We had no intention of doing any of those things.

I’m sick of TWMNBN burning our hours with solo and local runs and yet expecting us to keep going 24/7. If you’re gonna run us like that, then we’ve got to have time to sleep with the truck shut down. Period. Cause there ain’t no way I’ve found to get any sleep while your co-driver is bouncing around the pits of Chicago and being loaded and unloaded and stopping and going and banging and door slamming for 10 straight hours. So TWMNBN can suck it.

We wound up keeping the leisurely load, because no one at TWMNBN can overpower the “not enough hours” weapon. The load allowed us to sleep twice, and has brought us here, to Laredo.

It is here where Hedon pulled out our second coup-de-grace (yeah, yeah, I know, you can’t have two coups-de-grace — I’m not even sure you can pluralize it — ech — whatever).  What was I saying? Oh yeah, the second coup-de-grace —  the truck needs work. We’ve had “check engine” lights for a few days, and what sounds like a loose belt or possibly something wrong with a pulley for weeks, so we decided we’d get this work done in Laredo, since we really hadn’t completely recovered from all the earlier boobery of the previous eight days.

And that’s when we went to the local Freightliner shop and (play triumphant choir music here), discovered they aren’t open on Saturday or Sunday. We will have to wait here in Laredo until Monday! Hurrah! Time off! Too sweet.

You know, back in the old days when I worked a normal office job, 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, I looked forward to weekends. But I never really appreciated them the way I should have. Getting two whole days off out here on the road is such a rare occurrence, that when it happens, I’m as excited as if I’d gotten a week’s paid vacation to Bermuda.

Not that I’ve been to Bermuda, so I can’t say exactly, but Bermuda is my best guess, since it’s hot and I don’t like being hot, and tourists spend a lot of time on the beach, and I’m too fat to be frolicking about in public in a bathing suit without serious psychological repercussions for my fellow beachgoers, so therefore Bermuda would be a nice change of scenery but I would spend most of my time in the cool a/c of my hotel room, lying around on my bed watching television and harassing room service. So, yeah, I’m about as excited as I would be if I got a paid vacation to Bermuda. Which is pretty damned excited … but not as excited as I’d be with say, a paid vacation to Florence, Italy.

I hope I get to go to Italy someday. Maybe I’ll daydream about that for a bit — and I can do that, because I’m not tired, or pissed off, or being tossed around the truck over city streets. I can do that because I have two whole days off. This is where a little vinegar will get ya.

Ashton Kutcher’s Health Care Plan

2009 August 20

We caught an episode of Bill Maher’s HBO show “Real Time” this last week while we were home. Ashton Kutcher was on the panel discussing Obama’s health care plan and made a comment that he didn’t want to pay for some guy’s triple-bypass because he wanted his “fried Snickers bar” or something to that effect. So of course fat people around the web are fairly up in arms about his smart-assed attitude. But I think he brings up an interesting argument.

While many extremely obese people, such as myself, are in quite good health, I think we will probably all agree that obesity can eventually cause tons of health care problems. I can see why thin people might not want their tax dollars being used to pay for an obese person’s health challenges. They view obesity as a high-risk situation that should be excluded from coverage under any national health care plan. I think they have a valid point.

This got me thinking about some of the other high-risk behaviors or situations that should probably be excluded in the interest of fairness and justice. I made a list of just a few of them:

Business Persons and Salespersons

More and more studies are showing the devastating results of stress on a person’s health. So it would seem only logical to give a good hard look at our nation’s business leaders before we decide to include them in the plan. I don’t see why those of us who take a more laid-back approach to our work life should have to pay for the triple-bypass of some hardcore type-A personality who is constantly stressed about whether his new movie (or other project) will be finished on time.

College Athletes

Or really any athlete. Athletes are always getting injured. A torn ACL here and dislocated shoulder there — it’s a constant stream of injuries. Why should we have to pay for that? I’m not out there running up and down the court putting my joints in danger, so why should I have to pay for your selfishness? I’m not saying you shouldn’t play sports, I’m just saying you should acknowledge that athletes often get injured, so playing sports is a choice you are making which puts your health at risk. And as we’ve already established, society shouldn’t be required to pay for health care when a person knowingly puts their own health at risk.

Weekend Warriors

There should obviously be a ban on anyone who: rides a motorcycle, skateboards, goes skiing either water or snow, surfs, hang glides, bungee jumps, goes rock climbing, rides ATVs, hikes or camps in areas that are known to have dangerous snakes or other wildlife, floats rivers with fast moving currents, attends little league games and sits by the dugouts in the area most often hit by wild foul balls, sets off fireworks, cooks over open fires, plays lawn darts, goes hunting, shoots target practice, or plays golf in a storm. I think it goes without saying that all of these people are willingly engaging in activities that are known to be dangerous. I’m sure they wouldn’t expect you and I to have to foot the bill of a health care plan that would cover the potentially dangerous choices they are making of their own free will.

Young Drivers

Young drivers are notoriously dangerous on the roadways. They’re always having wrecks which can lead to massive health care bills. As far as that goes, maybe we shouldn’t cover anyone who has had a wreck in the past five years. If you have already shown that you have poor driving habits that have caused one wreck, you may be more likely to be involved in a future wreck that will require a significant amount of medical care to recover from completely. I’m an excellent driver and don’t see why I should have to pay for the risks related to your poor driving skills. So no young drivers and no drivers who have had a car wreck in the previous five years. That should protect society’s interests nicely.

Beer Drinkers

Or really anybody who drinks any alcoholic beverages at any time. Again, we are talking about a very risky behavior that people engage in despite the obvious dangers. On the surface it’s clear — hard-core drunks are completely screwing up their bodies and will eventually need health care — probably liver related — every bit as much as the damned obese. But even occasional drinkers are putting themselves at risk. How many times have a few drinks at the local bar been followed by the famous last words, “Woooeeee! Hey, Billy Bob, look at this here…” yelled just before a tipsy Cletus tried to slide down the roof of his house and land on the wood pile? Even casual drinking would seem to make people much more likely to require expensive health care at some point. I don’t drink. Why should I pay for their vice?

Stupid People

As the Darwin Awards have so clearly shown us over time, stupid people are much more likely to have horrible injuries caused by… well… being stupid… than the rest of us are. If Cletus can’t see into the bottom of his fuel tank and uses a Bic lighter held over the opening to illuminate the situation… Bless his sad stupid heart that’s a damned shame, but I don’t see why we should have to pay for his health care. Perhaps we should base a cut-off of around 103 IQ points so that we’re not having to pay for all the stupid stunts that are getting pulled every day out there. Because really why should we have to pay for their risky behavior?

Cops, Firemen, Military, Fishermen, Truckers, Hookers, Coal Miners, Lumberjacks, Drug Dealers

Sorry guys and gals, but lord knows you have made some very risky choices in your life. In fact you almost seem to have gone out of your way to engage in behaviors that will likely require medical attention at some point. Wish we could help with that, but as a society we have decided that we will not indulge risk-taking ways by providing health care coverage to people who knowingly put their health in danger. Maybe you should consider a different career if you want to be covered.

Smokers

Worse than Hitler. No need to go further.

Old People Who Retire

Studies have shown that old monks and nuns who never retire live much longer and are much more mentally acute than old people who retire and start going downhill once they get the gold watch. It seems obvious that retiring is a dangerous practice that puts old people at risk. I’m not saying we shouldn’t cover old people in the health care plan, I’m just saying if they insist on retiring they are willingly putting themselves at greater risk of health problems related to aging and therefore should not be covered. As long as they keep working, they should keep their health care. Also, they should probably be required to prove that they spend 15 minutes of every day doing logic puzzles or some other brain exercises to keep their brain healthy and avoid mental decline.

All People Who Don’t Spend 30 Minutes Per Day Exercising

Studies have shown that we all need to exercise to be physically fit. Even thin people. In fact, a recent study found that obese people who exercise 30 minutes per day are generally in better over-all health than thin people who don’t exercise at all. So pretty much everyone should be required to prove they exercise 30 minutes a day in a boring, safe, non-sporting-type method of exercise if they want to be covered by the new health plan. Because, really, it’s not enough to be thin if you want my cash for your health care needs. If you want to be healthy you have to hit the gym. And we’re all about only covering those who choose to be healthy, right?

Really when you look at it logically I think Ashton had an excellent point on providing cost breaks to people who make healthy choices. This whole health care plan they are debating would be a lot more cost effective if we simply refuse to cover any people who make poor health choices. I bet it wouldn’t cost much at all then.

Five more weeks

2009 August 17
by Stace

Another five weeks have passed. Of course, the first thing we did when we got home was check our weights. I lost another 8 pounds, which brings me up to 33 total pounds lost. And Hedon has now lost 28 pounds total. We are satisfied.

Also, while I was home, my doctor finally took the A1C. In three months, I went from an A1C of 10 down to 7.3. I am also satisfied with that. Doc says the next mark we’re seeking is 6.5.

So, all in all, not too bad a deal. Except my doctor put me on two more meds. TWO MORE MEDS! For god’s sake. Yeah, yeah, they’re the three months for $10 kind you get at Wal-Mart pharmacy. But still. I now have to remember my diabetes meds twice a day, some stupid ace inhibitor once a day, and a cholesterol med once a day. Good grief. What am I? 80?

I’ll put up with this medicate-me-to-death business for now. But not forever. Now I really, really, really want to lose a bunch more weight so I can get off some of this stuff. I’m actually even considering knocking off the rib steaks. Wonder how long I can go without eating red meat? Hmmm. Probably not too long, for all my posturing.

Well anyway, at least I don’t have to go back to the doctor for another three months. That’s a relief. I was getting pretty sick and tired of having to go to the doctor every single home time.

Speaking of home time, we got home last Wednesday and had to head back out today, Monday. It’s a day less than we normally get. TWMNBN has been getting all finicky and bitchy about that extra day we always take. Damn it. That’s why we’re already back on the road again. ::::sigh::::

I don’t know why I’m disgusted, really, since my major activity while at home is marathon television watching. I don’t get any television on the road, but when I’m home, I more than make up for it. The reason why I shouldn’t be disgusted to be leaving so soon is because my satellite system has given out. I’ve got nothing. Nada. And I don’t get enough time at home to do anything about it. ::::double sigh::::

Maggie’s happy about being back on the road. She usually is. At home, she has to be uber vigilant, eyeballing the windows at all times to make sure nothing trespasses on our lawn, like a leaf. Because of this, she misses out on lots of nap time. We weren’t back in the truck 15 minutes before she was curled beside me on the bed, sacked out.

So off we go again. First to pick up in Kansas City, then off to Boise, Idaho. Maggie will probably sleep straight through it all. And me, I’ll be busy taking all my damned meds. Hmph.

Something I don’t do

2009 August 12
by Stace

I did something tonight that I usually don’t do — I emailed both my state senators and my U.S. congressman. About health care … President Obama’s health care plan.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been reading, with increasing dismay, the articles about how the right has been mobilizing its legions of ignorant masses to appear at Democratic town hall meetings, etc., and shout and loudly re-spew all the fabrications and outright lies which they have been fed by the likes of his Royal Assness Rush Limbaugh and his corporate-shill pals.

Normally, I don’t much care what these unfortunate fools do with their spare time, as long as they aren’t hanging around near me. However, this latest article about their antics had me concerned that they might, eventually, be successful in convincing us that “Americans” don’t want health care reform. It is this which prompted me to actually write notes to my senators and congressman, two of whom are Republicans, so I probably needn’t have even bothered with them. I wrote anyway.

I told them I support national health care reform and President Obama’s health care plan.

This statement, technically speaking, is not entirely true. I want actual nationalized health care, not this plan which funnels our money through the insurance corporations’ greedy maws. However, I’m not ever, ever, ever going to get what I actually want. I think that’s been sufficiently proven by now. Therefore, I am finally willing to settle. I’ll take Obama’s plan. It’s far better than nothing.

And nothing is what we’ll continue getting if we let these rabble-rousers on the right have their way yet again. They will say, “Yeah, we need reform, but not this reform — let us think about it some more and we’ll get back to you.” Which is basically the same thing I’ve been hearing the majority of my adult life. And they just keep talking and talking and promising and promising, and nothing ever happens, nothing ever changes. Which is, of course, their actual plan for health care.

I’m sick and tired of it. I’m now willing to take what is far less than perfect, rather than be left with nothing.

Many years ago, I knew some folks at a company whose owner had decided to give the company to the employees rather than sell it. The infighting began almost immediately, with the whole fracas escalating in record time to claims and counterclaims of favoritism, falseness, etc., between the employees over how much a percentage everyone would get. It was ugly and finally, got so ugly, the owner rescinded her offer and eventually sold the company. Because of their greed over who got what, all the employees got nothing.

This health care debate is basically the same scenario. Fighting, finger pointing, yelling over who will get what, how this side won’t get enough, and this side will get too much, and these people over here shouldn’t get anything. If we let these arguments take over, we will indeed, like the employees mentioned above, get nothing.

I currently have health insurance. It’s decent enough, though I have no illusions that it would see me through a really major illness. Still, I have it. This hasn’t always been true. Most of my adult life, I couldn’t afford insurance. So I gambled. Like some 50 million Americans are currently doing, many of whom are dying or living half-lives because they lost the bet.

I’m fed up with a lifetime of nothing, and I’d hate to see us get exactly that because a small group of numbnuts think they can influence an entire nation. It’s time for us to get something, even something that’s far from what I wanted. That’s Pres. Obama’s plan. I’ll take it. Please.

On a side note — If I read of one more senior citizen screeching about how “we” can’t afford to pay for this plan, the same senior citizen who is currently covered by Medicare, I think the overload of their sheer, oblivious hypocrisy may cause me to have a cerebral meltdown. And I bet my insurance doesn’t cover that. Death panel, indeed.

Literary crisis

2009 August 10

We are having a little crisis here in the Hagmobile. Stace is reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas and I am reading “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. Both are audio downloads from Audible that we have on the iPod… so I guess technically we’re listening to them but you know what I mean.

“The Count of Monte Cristo” was written by the same French dude who wrote “The Three Musketeers” and “Twenty Years After” — both of which we also have. Stace says “The Count of Monte Cristo” is a story of betrayal and revenge. There’s lots of action and it’s completely engrossing. She says it’s one of the better books she’s read in a while and insists that I will love it. She’s usually right about that sort of thing.

“The Pillars of the Earth” was written by the same guy who wrote “Eye of the Needle” and “Lie Down with Lions” along with several other spy thrillers. I always liked Follett’s other works, but I have to say that “Pillars of the Earth” is spectacular. It really is a must-read/listen book. It is all about the building of a cathedral in a small market town sometime around 1140 in England. I know it may not sound like much, but I am finding it hard to put down. It has all of Follett’s usual mastery of tension and pacing, but adds an incredible richness that I don’t remember his other books having. Granted, it has been decades since I read his spy books so I may be slighting them unintentionally. Anyway, the cast of characters in Pillars is huge and diverse. The plot is sweeping and will at times:

  • piss you off
  • make your heart skip a beat from the tension and make you wish desperately that the guy reading it would read faster for god’s sake
  • make you pound your fist on the steering wheel and burst out with something like “oh yeah! that’s what I’m talking about!” or some such
  • break your heart

All this and I’m only about a third of the way through the book. In fact both books are very long. This is part of what’s causing the crisis here in the truck. Let me explain… traditionally whoever is driving gets the iPod. Obviously because the non-driving Hag can find lots of other things to entertain themselves while the driving Hag is pretty limited in entertainment choices. This typically works pretty well. In part because usually one of us is reading a book that we’re only luke-warm about and often that could be said for both of us at the same time. This makes it easy when one of us is at a pivatol point in their book for the other one to hand off the iPod for some extra listening time.

Right now though… well both of us are completely swept up in our respective books. So yesterday when we stopped to get something to eat at Panera’s I took the iPod with me into the service plaza and only paused it long enough to place our order. Same thing just a bit ago when I was picking up breakfast at the IHOP. It’s not just me though. After breakfast — just a few minutes ago — Stace said, “Oh good are you going to write a post? Then you won’t be needing the iPod will you?” And grabbed it up and carted it back to the bunk with a wily smile.

I think the worst sign though is what happened last night. We had been driving a short little 700 mile FedEx run into Chicago. Stace had driven first as she usually does, and I took the second leg. I started driving somewhere in Ohio and before I knew it I was easing into Chicago. This is what started running through my head:

How can we already be in Chicago? I haven’t driven that long at all. What’s going on here? Seriously! I’ve only been driving a couple of hours. Is Stace cheating? She is isn’t she?! She’s hogging all the miles! She must have driven way past half way. I don’t know who she thinks she’s kidding with that… hogging all the driving… why does she get to drive all the miles? How can we already be there? How am I supposed to go to sleep without finding out what happened to Jack? Look at her back there in the bunk acting all innocent… acting like she didn’t drive like 500 miles and only leave me 200 to go. Well I’m not putting up with that crap… I’m going to drive all the miles tomorrow so I can listen to my book. Two can play that game, Missy…

You can see the problem. Maybe we should get a second iPod. Or one of us should stop and read a crappy book. Or TWMNBN should give us more miles for the next few days. Or something.

Top 10 cheat list

2009 August 8
by Stace

I’ve been on this diet for three extremely long months now, and it has begun to wear me down. I’m fairly resigned to the carb-counting because of the diabetes; it’s the calorie-counting that is annoying me.

I haven’t been, this past month, as perfectly conscientious on the calorie-counting as I had been the previous two months. I’d say about half the time I’ve been hitting the goal of 1,400-1,500 a day, and the other half going up as high as 2,000. I’m supposed to be home in the next three or four days. No telling what the scales will report (though I feel positive I haven’t gained anything).

While I hope I’ve lost some more weight, I don’t anticipate a large number this time. I’m thinking it will be 5-10 pounds. And really, that’s okay. I mean, I’m not in some big hurry. This is the rest of my life I’m dealing with here, and if I have hungry days where I can’t keep the calories low, then so be it. Or maybe I’m just trying to justify the cheating. Ha!

Anyway, the cheat urges were bound to hit me eventually, and this month has been big. Here are my top 10 cheat urges, and level of success resisting said urges:

1. Ben and Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie and Cinnamon Ice Cream. Have you ever had this stuff? It is to die for, and this is coming from me, a woman who has always felt that any ice cream which is not chocolate is a waste of time. I can eat a whole container of this stuff without even thinking about it, and I mean the big container, not that tiny pointless one. Resistance success level: 100% (before you get all proud of me, I must confess that this cheat item is nearly impossible to find on the road, so it’s not like it’s been waved in front of me and I steadfastly demurred).

2. Ben and Jerry’s Creme Brulee Ice Cream. There should accent marks over some of those vowels, but I don’t know how to do that, so imagine they are there. My god. This creme brulee ice cream is so deliciously wonderful I can’t describe it. I had a dream, the other night, that I was eating some of it, and was in such ecstasy that I woke up. Resistance success level: 100% (same caveat as #1).

3. Ice cream, period. Hey, it’s summer, and in the past, over 90% of my annual ice cream consumption occurred in the summer, hence all these crazy ice cream urges. Resistance success level: 100% (no caveat on this one, since you can find ice cream just about everywhere out here. When I get home, I’m finding some sugar-free ice cream and completely having my way with it).

4. Double cheeseburger. I do love me a double cheeseburger, though I know I should stay away. The calories are enormous, the saturated fat off the charts, and the buns are always white bread. Still … (imagine some whining here) … they are so very yummy. Especially if you add bacon. Of course, everything is better with bacon. Ice cream is probably better with bacon, though I have no actual proof of that. Resistance success level: 90% (I’ve given in twice, both times at Wendy’s. Still a good resistance percentage, though, when you consider I obsess about double cheeseburgers every day).

5. Biscuits and gravy. Because of the diabetes, I will likely never, ever, get to have biscuits and gravy again, or at least, not in any quantity that would make it worthwhile. And this makes me oh so very sad. Biscuits and gravy and I have loved one another for over 40 years. Though we can no longer be together, I still think of B&G every single day. ::::sniff::: Resistance success level: 100%.

6. French fries. I find it odd that I’ve been having cheat urges over french fries. Before starting this diet, I was pretty sick of french fries, and didn’t eat them very often. I think this urge is all about wanting something simply because I can’t have it. I hate it when I do that. Damn me. Resistance success level: 100%.

7. Giant rib steak. I love red meat. All of this trying to avoid red meat is seriously taking a toll on me. I want a gigantic 20 ounce rib steak sitting helplessly on a platter, with no way to defend itself from my flashing fork and knife. Yumm. Resistance success level: 0% (basically, if I can find a decent rib steak, I’ve been eating it. I’d be eating one right now if there was a steakhouse nearby).

8. Buffalo wings. With ranch dressing. Mmmm. Love it. Hate the calories, though. Resistance success level: 90% (I had them once, in Boise, after successfully passing my physical — bad to be celebrating with food, I know).

9. Pizza. This is another cheat urge that I find odd. I haven’t been crazy about pizza for years, but apparently, put me on a diet and I’m suddenly a pizza fiend. Resistance success level: 60-70% (had pizza a few times, but only ate the crispy edge of the crust in consideration of the diabetes).

10. Chicken fried steak. If it’s done right, it’s scrumptious. I spent a good ten minutes the other night, while driving, fantasizing about my favorite chicken fried steak, all lusciously crispy under creamy white gravy, with a big pile of mashed potatoes on the side, also blanketed with cream gravy. Ohhh myyy. I can’t think about this anymore. Resistance success level: 100%.

That’s 10. I’ve also had urges for red beans and rice, chicken and dumplings, spaghetti, lasagna, enchiladas, nachos, etc. … really, if it’s carby or high calorie, I’ve likely fantasized about it at some point in the last month.

Looking over my list, I guess I haven’t been too bad, really. Considering. Heh.

Lady Who is a What?

2009 August 7
by Hedon

So I was wandering around the www today and discovered to my stunned disbelief that some person named Lady Gaga appears to be an hermaphrodite. From what I can tell, out there in the great internet there is a picture or a video or something showing this Gaga person packing a little more than one might expect in the nether regions given the name “Lady Gaga.”

Now first of all I have absolutely nothing against hermaphrodites… well except that the word itself is long and hard to spell but that’s not really their fault. Secondly, I have no idea who this Lady Gaga is or what she is famous for or why people would care either way if she is playing for both teams at once. So why am I even bringing it up? Because I want to know what the hell kind of name is “Lady Gaga?” I mean seriously? What… was “Princess Poopy-Pants” already taken?

I am so not hip anymore. If I ever was hip that is… damn now that I think back on it I don’t think I ever was. Hip probably isn’t even the word I should be using. Actual hip people won’t even know what I’m talking about. They’ll be all like… “Oh that’s so sad something seems to be wrong with her hips.” To which some other extremely cool person will respond, “Really? I heard it was her knees.” Then some third in-crowd hipster will say, “I saw the pictures online where she’s an hermaphrodite. So she’s an hermaphrodite with bad knees and hips?” And it will all spiral out of control. At least it would if I were famous enough for anyone to care about my hips, knees or naughty bits. (I just said naughty bits there cause that always cracks Stace up. I think I’ll say it again… naughty bits)

But none of this meandering about my position in society solves the main problem: Is Lady Gaga a hermaphrodite? And if she is… what does that mean? Does it change society as we know it? Think about all the little testosterone filled teen aged boys who have lusted after her. Are they going to suddenly be more understanding of different sexual orientations now that they have to admit to themselves they’ve been lusting after a woman with her own package? Or will this make them even more likely to beat the crap out of the slightly Nelly guy in gym class just to prove they are still red-blooded American males? I don’t know. They probably don’t either. If I were forced to choose the most likely outcome, I would have to come down on the side of mindless violence.

Another possible change to our whole society that might hinge on Lady Gaga’s naughty bits (heh heh) is the appalling lack of flavor of a Subway Veggie Delight sandwich. Oh sure that whole thought may mostly be based on the fact that I just finished eating half of one, but we can’t be positive — it could be a legitimate concern. So if Lady Gaga turns out to be a hermaphrodite… I think they should add some sort of new veggie to the Subway menu in honor of her. I’m not sure what since they already have cucumbers and that would have been the obvious choice. Ugh! It’s hopeless. I can’t think of a way to help the Veggie Delight even if based on the playground equipment of a flash in the pan celebrity.

So I guess this brings us to the ultimate question which is not “is Lady Gaga a hermaphrodite?” or even “What the hell kind of name is ‘Lady Gaga’ anyway?” The ultimate question is obviously “If the dispatchers at TWMNBN are really as stupid as they appear to be, how do they get to work in the morning?” I know that’s what we were all wondering as we stared at the picture of a Packing-Gaga standing next to that sweet motorcycle.

I mean do they have some sort of Dispatcher-Phone-Chain that they call every morning? Does one dispatcher-herder call name after name on the list and read off the prepared card:

Hello, Mike. It’s Betty Lou. Your supervisor at TWMNBN. You know… I call you every single morning and have for the past six years. That’s right! I was the one who told you it was Christmas morning and you didn’t have to go in to work so you could go back to bed. Anyway… are you getting dressed? You know we have work today. Those stupid lazy drivers aren’t going to harass themselves, you know. Are you eating breakfast? Oh good. Did you remember to take the poptart out of the package this time before putting it in the toaster? Good job, Mike!

What about clothes? Are you all dressed? That means pants, too, Mr. Mike. Yes, I’m serious. Ok so you need to get around because the short bus will be there soon to pick you up and bring you to work. No… just stand at the end of your driveway and the bus will get you. You need to be waiting at the end of your driveway though. Don’t wander aimlessly down the street like yesterday. It took forever for the bus driver to find you and get you to work so a few of your drivers had several peaceful hours yesterday morning and you know we can’t have that.

Ok well I’ll talk to you when you get to work. Oh, yes I did get the picture that you colored for me. Yes it sure was a big truck. You did real good staying in the lines, too. Maybe during naptime today you can draw another one. I’ll see you later, Mike.

Is that what it all comes down to? A pop-star’s picture on the internet with her bits peeking out which immediately leads us to consider both the nasty taste of a Veggie Sandwich and the Utter Stupidity of the employees at TWMNBN? It looks like it. And how are my knees and hips? Who can say? So many questions that may never be answered. What a wide mysterious wonderful world. No matter what naughty bits you happen to be working with.

My office window

2009 August 4
by Hedon

Sometimes I really like my job. I especially enjoy the view out my office window. These were taken headed east on Highway 58 in California. I know it’s all caused by pollution, but it sure is pretty.

Look at those colors

Look at those colors

Great shots ahead, to the sides and in the mirror

Great shots ahead, to the sides and in the mirror

Just went on forever

Just went on forever

Happy Birthday, YoungOne

2009 August 2
by Hedon
Everyone everywhere rejoices

Everyone everywhere rejoices

You made it to 22!  Hope you have a wonderful day!   Looking forward to seeing you next week!  Love you!

And yet another miracle

2009 July 31

Today was the big day. DOT physical time. Three months of stress all coming down on this big day.

I passed! Got a one year certification. I never thought I’d be so happy to get a one year cert. I never thought I’d be so happy to keep my job.

It’s crazy. I feel like it will take some time to sink in that it’s over for now, and that I’ve got a whole year to make it all as perfect as it can be.

It was no biggie that I didn’t have an A1C. And they didn’t even test my BG. They did, of course, see that there was no sugar in my urine sample, so I guess that must have sufficed. The only problem was with my blood pressure.

The nurse, when she took my BP, shook her head at me. She said something like, “It’s too high.”

I said, “How high?”

She said, “141 over 69.”

I said, “But that’s good enough for a one year cert, right?”

She said, “Not anymore. They’ve raised the standards.”

I said, “Huh? But … but … what about three months? I could still get three months, right?”

She said, “Maybe,” but looked like she actually meant no. “Maybe three or six months.”

I said, “You mean, that could be it? No certification? I’m out of a job?”

She shrugged.

So I didn’t say anything else, for two reasons. One, I was in shock. And two, I was like, six months? I didn’t even know there was a six month cert.

I reeled through the rest of the nonsense, then while waiting on the doctor to come in to do his part, I just sat on that stupid table, completely overwhelmed. All this worrying over the diabetes, and it’s going to be my blood pressure that does me in? I wanted to lay down on that table and cry.

The doctor finally came in and started doing his thing. Some questions, breathe in, breathe out, whacking the knee with the reflex hammer thing, poke, poke. I said as little as possible, thinking to myself that I would wait until the end of the exam to begin begging for a reprieve. I wished he weren’t such a reserved fellow.

At long last, the doctor told me that he was sorry, but the top number of the blood pressure has to be below 140, and mine was 141. As a result, he could only give me a one year certification. I burst into stupid, ridiculous tears right there on the spot.

He was, as you might expect, a bit taken aback by this crazy display, but he relaxed somewhat when I explained that I thought he was going to deny me a card.

I tried to lighten things up by saying, “I bet it’s not every day that you have big old truckers in your exam rooms bursting into tears.” Yeah, well, he wasn’t up for that. Whatever. I had my card. And I was out of there.

Only later, when I was calmer, did I wish that I had taken a moment on my way out to give that nurse the evil eye. New standards. Six month certification. All bunk. Maybe she likes messing with people. Or maybe she’s just an idiot. Who knows. It still would have been worthy of an evil eye.

And so ends the story of my miracle. I’m going to sleep better tonight, thanks to these two latest miracles, than I have in months. Ahhh. I can’t wait.

The miracle

2009 July 30
by Hedon

When last we left our decrepit heroes it was a bright sunny morning in Jersey City. Thanks to having been to that shipper once before they had known which dock they would be hitting and had parked right in front of it to sleep. When the dock guys pounded on the door all they would have to do was open the trailer doors and slide back about four feet. They had both had a good night’s sleep for a change and were ready to face the day and whatever came their way. They had no idea what was in store for them…

Another TWMNBN truck showed up to get loaded. After hitting a dock, the driver wandered over to bum a cigarette off of me. Being in a particularly good mood, I gave him a pack and we started chatting. The conversation hit all the usual bases such as, “How do you like TWMNBN?” and “Are you guys getting plenty of miles?” and whatnot. Eventually the conversation rolled around (as it often does) to “So how do you like those new Cascadias?”

Well… as you can imagine if you’ve been here for any length of time at all… I had quite a bit to say on that front. I told him that we had come to TWMNBN because we wanted a Volvo and we were not at all pleased to be in the Cascadia. It has far less storage room, it’s much louder than the Volvo, and worst of all it is much harder to sleep in while rolling. He smiled kinda goofy and said, “You know how to fix that don’t you?” I assumed he was speaking in the abstract so I answered something like, “Drive it off a cliff?” At which point he said, “No, I’m serious… you know there’s a way to smooth out the ride, right?” He was serious.

I’m going to have to stop right here for a second so you can take a moment to insert your own personal version of angels on high singing and rejoicing. Go ahead and savor the moment.

Ok… when I realized he was serious I was immediately all over that like… well… like something on something else. I asked him how you did it and he said come on back here and look and I will show you exactly what you need to do. Oh happy day. As soon as we got home in about two weeks I was immediately going to make a couple of… uhh… modifications to our truck. I could hardly wait. But I couldn’t just stand there listening to angel choirs all day because our load was ready and we needed to start rolling west. I thanked new BFF guy lavishly and we headed out.

~~~~~~~~~~

When we got to the receiver in Minnesota, they had the delivery appointment right before ours. New BFF guy walked over and said, “I was thinking that if you want we could hang around after we deliver and I could fix your truck for you. It probably won’t take thirty minutes.”

To which I naturally replied, “Uhh… yes, please.”

AND THEN — OH MY GOD — HE FIXED OUR SUSPENSION!!!!!

I’m serious — the truck rides a ton better. I even slept in Minnesota on I-35 and I haven’t been able to sleep on I-35 since we lost the Volvo. It’s like a little baby miracle. Kinda like finding Jesus in your potato salad or something… only better. I think we may have mentioned before how very precious sleep can be out here if you’re running hard. Getting plenty of sleep can literally change your outlook on the whole universe and not getting any sleep can turn you into a raving bitch in short order. Oh, happy day… to sleep again… perchance to dream.

So as a public service — and especially for all those other TWMNBN drivers out there — I decided that I would post exactly what he did to our truck to fix the ride. But we’re going to have to have some sort of standard disclaimer. I mean you know this is serious crap we’re talking about here. So please really think about it before clicking “I agree” to find out what he did:

I agree that I am a grown-assed adult who is perfectly capable of using my own brain to make my own decisions and then I’m more than happy to live with the consequences of those decisions. Besides I’ve been hanging out around here for a while and it’s obvious to me that you two often have only the most vague — one might even say juvenile — grasp of the theory, science or mechanics of a thing so why on earth would I blindly follow anything you have to say? Just give me the low-down on what he did and I’ll make up my own mind for my own truck.

I do not agree that I should have to think for myself and I certainly shouldn’t have to make my own decisions. In fact, I don’t want to have to make any decisions at all. I just wish someone would tell me what to think, do and say. As for living with the consequences of my decisions… can you say “bail out?”

Go ahead and take your time... we'll wait... it's a big decision

Go ahead and take your time... we'll wait... it's a big decision

The Problem

So as it turns out the problem with our suspension was the airbags. I don’t know if those of you who are driving a Cascadia right now have ever kicked (gently) your drive-axle airbags or not, but ours were hard as rocks. I mean they had no give whatsoever. Same thing with the airbags on the back of our sleeper. Really if you think about it that explains a lot. I mean try filling your air seat completely with air and then drive down the road. No give at all so you feel each little thud and skitter of the road.

The Fix

So the part that determines how full the airbags fill is very easy to locate. We’ll call it the control arm for lack of any actual knowledge as to what it might actually be called by people who know what they’re talking about. Here’s a pic highlighting it’s location on the drives:

Don't mind all the 5th wheel grease that has been scraped off the 5th wheel

Don't mind all the 5th wheel grease that has been scraped off the 5th wheel

So here’s how I think this control arm thing works. I think it’s kinda like the thing in the back of the toilet that cuts the water off once the tank is full. When you dump your airbags and then refill them they raise the frame and take the slack out of the control arm’s housing. They keep filling until there is some sort of pressure exerted as the control arm is lifted to it’s maximum height. Then the flow of air stops. Well… you know how if you have a toilet that’s running… and you get in the tank back there… and you bend that arm that holds the floaty thing… and suddenly the water shuts off sooner and your problem is solved… I’m just saying. You’ll notice in this pic that our control arm is now bent. Bet yours isn’t. Well, unless you already knew about this whole thing in which case — what the hell — I thought we were friends!

So what he did was:

  1. Dump the airbags and then refill them to get a true and accurate measurement.
  2. Measure from the ground to a spot on the frame at the back of the truck by the license plate area. Remember that number.
  3. Dump the airbags again and remove the control arm thing while they are slack.
  4. Use vice-grips and a hammer to GENTLY put some bend into the control arm. You are only looking for about an inch less in height at the rear of the frame so you don’t need much bend at all. Much better to do too little than too much because if you get it too bent your airbags won’t fill up completely and your drives are going to skitter like they do right after you’ve dropped a heavy trailer. Then you are seriously screwed. Go slowly.
  5. Reinstall control arm and refill airbags.
  6. Celebrate life with a happy dance… nekkid or clothed your choice. If filled airbags are still rock hard you might need to do it again. Ours now have a very slight give to them when full.

The sleeper control arm was even easier. He just took it off, bent it and slapped it back on the truck. Again it didn’t take much bend at all to get the results. I’ve got pictures so you can see the location of the arm and how ours looks now:

Like little fluffy pillows of happiness, aren't they?

Like little fluffy pillows of happiness, aren't they?

Close up of new and improved bent control arm

Close up of new and improved bent control arm

I assume that it goes without saying that your company would in all likelihood frown on you taking parts off the truck, bending them and slapping them back on. I would go so far as to suggest that at least at TWMNBN it is probably a firing offense if they ever notice it. Ok… it is almost certainly a firing offense. But then what isn’t? Hell writing this blog post is also a firing offense. So fire me already… at least I’m going to get some decent sleep while rolling until you do.

New BFF guy and I were talking about why TWMNBN might have the airbags set so stiff that they weren’t even being engaged except on the most severe bumps and this is what we came up with… to save money. I mean think about it. If those airbags are set so hard that they almost never actually get used then they don’t get any wear and tear on them, do they? Just one more piece of equipment that TWMNBN doesn’t have to worry about replacing or maintaining and who cares that the drivers are suffering with a ride that is significantly rougher than it needs to be? I know it sounds almost too evil an explanation to really consider, but we are talking about TWMNBN. Have you been reading around here at all? It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if that were the reason. But then maybe it’s not and I’m giving them more credit for evilness than they actually deserve. Doesn’t much matter anymore to me though. Maybe I’ll dream about all the different possible explanations the next time we’re running a timed-transit load and I’m in the bunk sleeping like a baby.  :)

There but for the grace of something…

2009 July 29

Over the weekend we delivered to one of our favorite… well… my favorite places. Do you remember the shipper we delivered to before in Newark, NJ?  Yeah you’re thinking of the right place. It was the one with all the crack-hos and pimps. Anyway we delivered there again this weekend. Boy have they cleaned that joint up. The main docks that used to be all blocked off by empty trailers are now wide open, in use and easy to hit. It didn’t take me five minutes to hit the dock and go back to sleep. 8-)

After a while they came pounding on the door to tell us we were unloaded. I got up, pulled away from the dock, and went out to shut the trailer doors. Just got the trailer doors shut, got back in the truck and pulled out onto the street to park for a while when the rain started pouring. That was a close one. Not much to do so I just sat there and played with the camera while it rained. Oh and stared longingly at the Popeye’s across the street. We love their chicken, but obviously can’t have it very often anymore. So I just shot pics and gazed at the Popeye’s. I put some of the pics I took up over on the Pics Page if you want to see them. I ate the chicken but that part comes later.

Anyway, when it finally quit raining I waited for all the flooding in the streets to go down and headed straight to Popeye’s. Stace doesn’t much like the idea of me being out of the truck in that neighborhood, but she is willing to bend her rule for chicken unlike for the McDonalds that is located right next to the receiver. So I took just enough cash to get our chicken and to hand out to the panhandlers and headed across the street. Sure enough, I had barely placed our order before two ladies hit me up at almost the same time for enough cash to get something to eat.

They both seemed to be junkies, but I could have been mistaken about that. Not that I really care. I think pretty much everyone should get the stick out of their butts when it comes to addicts. Here’s how I look at it… I am currently addicted to: Diet Coke, cigarettes, and Atomic Fire Balls. At various times in the past I have been addicted to chocolate, Tetris, pot, Taco Bell’s burrito supreme, Outback Steakhouse’s porterhouse (actually that one may be ongoing), logic puzzles, and Indigo Girls cds just to name the first few things that popped into my head.

Most everybody has things they either are now or have been addicted to in the past. I know this is true because nothing else explains “American Idol” or “The Real Housewives of Orange County” or the crazy crazy success of Ben&Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. I’m not saying that Chunky Monkey isn’t an extremely fine ice cream, my point is that virtually everyone has been addicted to something at some point.

So I think it would really behoove us all to lighten up on the addicts. Because here’s the plain truth… you got lucky while they didn’t. It’s just that simple. I know for a fact that if I hadn’t gotten incredibly lucky when I was young I would  –  or at least could  –  right now be a pitiable crack-ho asking some stranger for some cash to buy dinner which I then wouldn’t buy cause I really need the money for a fix. Do you know what saved me?

I was never offered any real drugs by someone I trusted. Oh Stace and I were offered drugs like LSD, crack, and meth or whatnot in college but always by skeezy-looking losers that I wouldn’t have trusted as far as I could have thrown them. That made it all too easy to turn them down and ended up saving my ass. So many people get hooked the very first time they try these drugs and I’m sure I would have been one of them. Simply put… I got lucky. These poor women with the desperate eyes standing in front of me in the Popeye’s didn’t. How can you not feel pity for them?

So I handed out the cash until my chicken was ready and then headed back to the truck with my bounty. It was excellent and I had just finished eating and was in a damned fine mood when a lady walked up to the truck asking for some change to go buy a chicken leg. She was incredibly thin and walked kinda hunched over. I gave her a $5 and she asked if she could also have a drag off my cigarette. So I also gave her a pack of smokes and a lighter. Her face lit up and after much thanking and blessing she headed straight to the Popeye’s and actually bought some food. She sat over on the wet grass at the edge of their lot and ate her supper.

About an hour later, she came back over by the truck just to say thank you for the meal. Then she started talking about how she was homeless and didn’t like asking for help but didn’t know what else to do. She told us how we should be extra careful if people walked up to the truck and talked about how scared she was to sleep in that area of town because there was some man killing women around there and the police didn’t care. She told me all about how last weekend a woman that she called Smelly Shelly had been found dead. Her body was found a couple of blocks over in the yard of one of the big project apartments and her head had been found in the McDonald’s dumpster about an eighth of a mile behind us down the street. Three weeks before that a girl named Tammy had been found about a mile up the street in front of us. She said that was why she was very scared to be around people after dark.

I asked her where she slept at night and she said she had a little hole she had made in the foundation of one of the buildings that butted up against the receiver we had just delivered to earlier. She said as soon as it started getting dark she slipped off to her hole and stayed there until morning. She smiled up at me and told me that it wasn’t so bad — at least it was warm and dry.

It was all so heartbreaking. I wished I could do something real for her… something that might make a real difference in her life. But I knew there was nothing I could do. So we just kept chatting. When it started getting dark and she showed signs of wanting to leave I gave her another pack of cigarettes and a $20 and wished her good luck. Then I just had to sit there in my fancy-pants $100,000 home on wheels and watch her shuffle off into the shadows. How do you not have pity on her? Especially when you realize that except for dumb-luck that could be you? I hope to see her again next time we deliver there but I’m not counting on it. I still find myself thinking about her though and wondering if she is ok. The really sad truth is that it’s only a matter of time before the streets catch up to her. Sigh.

There wasn’t a lot of time to sit around and be bummed out that night. For obvious reasons we had to get the hell out of there now that it was growing dark. Our next load was picking up over in Jersey City and I knew we could sleep at the shipper. I also knew that the shipper was a high-security facility so we would be ok sleeping there overnight. Just as we were getting ready to head out I noticed there was a huge plume of smoke rising from a fire just a couple of miles in front of us. I shot a couple of pictures but it was already dark so they only came out so-so. Then we headed over to the shipper and shut it down for the night.

In my next post we will see how I went from the depths of despair during the evening in Newark to the heights of joy the next morning in Jersey City. All because of talking to another TWMNBN driver who was getting loaded at the same joint. You won’t believe what he told us. It could be one of the greatest things I ever heard in my life… or at least in the past few years.

Taking stock

2009 July 28
by Hedon

It’s half way through our working month so I figured this would be a good time to take stock of the Fit for Life Diet situation. I’ve been doing it for two weeks now in the truck so I figure that’s more than long enough to get an idea if it’s going to work or not. I actually have quite a few observations about the whole thing:

The Fruit

As I think I mentioned before, one of the major rules of the Fit for Life plan is that you only eat fruit in the morning. Preferably fresh fruit. Clearly I wasn’t going to be able to carry all that much fresh fruit in the truck because of space issues and also because it would go bad before I could eat it all. So last month when I was shopping to load the truck for this month I bought a bunch of canned fruit. I made sure they were all no-sugar-added and went for a good variety of stuff.

What I found out this month is that I may have liked canned mixed fruit cocktail when I was a kid but that ship has apparently sailed. Ugh. The grapes were slimy, the pears gritty, and the last can I forced down didn’t even have the damn little cherry half in it. Also, mandarin oranges are not an eat-a-whole-can-by-themselves sort of food. Sigh. The pineapple was very good but I only bought a few cans of it because I thought I would prefer variety. Not so much.

The “Hit the truckstop salad bar with a to-go order container and wipe them out of whatever fresh fruit they happen to have on hand plan” has actually worked fairly well. I did it a couple of times a got a good haul each time. Enough for a couple of days. Problem is that we’ve been running a lot of timed-transit loads and who wants to spend thirty minutes of your precious time raiding a salad bar? Also, the cashiers do tend to look at you funny when you fill your entire container with watermelon chunks. And I’m pretty sure it is the most expensive watermelon in the known universe, too, so it’s not like I want that to become an everyday thing.

I remember in the hazy distant past when I used to buy donuts... sigh.

I remember in the hazy distant past when I used to buy donuts... sigh.

Today we had about 12 hours off between loads so I determined to take our empty trailer over to the shipper, drop it and bobtail to find a grocery store to restock my fresh fruit supply. I managed to buy just a ton of fresh fruit that will last me at least a week and I bought some canned too for when that runs out. If I have fresh fruit around, I’m much more likely to eat larger quantities which is a good thing on this plan. When I restocked my canned fruit supply, all I got was pineapple and peaches. At least I know I like them.

Subway

Last month Subway had become a staple of ours even though we’ve never really been big fans before. It leaped forward in the rankings of fast food that we hoped to find at our next fuel stop for a couple of reasons. First, Stace can get a sandwich on whole wheat with lots of veggies, turkey breast or something, and minimal carbs. That’s a good thing. Second, if we each get foot longs we can’t possibly eat the whole thing anymore so the other half goes straight in the cooler to be eaten later. Always nice to have something around that you can eat in the middle of your driving shift. So amazingly the Subway thing was working out better than we might have expected.

Here’s the problem… because of crazy Fit for Life voodoo-science stuff, I can’t have meat and bread at the same meal anymore. This really screws up sandwiches. But I have been faithful to the spirit of the thing and therefore ordering the foot-long Veggie Delight on whole wheat bread. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this before, but the Veggie Delight is not terribly delightful. I know our cousins across the pond seem to go crazy over cucumber sandwiches, but I guess I’m just too low-rent to hop onboard the cuke express.

I’ve tried several different things, but I just can’t get my mind around a sandwich that is basically just bread, cheese and veggies. I’ve tried thinking of it as a fancy-pants grilled cheese sandwich that happens to have a pile of veggies on it. No dice. Since I enjoy eating a big salad with a good crusty piece of bread, I’ve tried thinking of it as basically just a salad with the bread conveniently attached. Nope. I’ve even tried thinking of it as a turkey sandwich with lots of veggies and telling myself I just can’t taste the turkey thanks to all the smoking over the years. No matter what I try… sigh… there’s still that little shudder when I get ready to take a bite and Fernando screams with every bite that a veggie sandwich is just “icky” along with various other stupid crap, of course.

So the Subway thing isn’t going too well for me right now. I guess I’ll just have to keep working on it. If you all have any ideas on how to make a veggie sandwich appealing I’d appreciate them. I should point out that it’s not really that it tastes bad — it tastes pretty much like what you might expect. It’s just the idea that’s causing all the problems.

The Water

Hahahaha! I am so not drinking any water to speak of. I know. I know. I was doing so good there for a few days, too. But I don’t think I’ve ever fully explained how much I love Diet Coke. I’m going to have to get back on the wagon, though. I’ll probably start tomorrow… or the next day.

The Exercise?

Hahahah!  Oh my lord, you guys crack me up! You didn’t really think I was suddenly going to start power walking or dancing to the oldies in the parking lot or something, did you? It’s still pretty much limited to taking Maggie out to play and now that it’s so hot everywhere we’ve been lately even that has to be done in the middle of the night. Not that Ms Mags seems to mind much. It gives her more time to nap.

Speaking of Maggie, earlier tonight Stace was asleep on her bunk and I was in the driver’s seat working on the new theme when suddenly I thought ‘what do you suppose Maggie is up to?’ cause it had been quite a while since she had been up in the front with me. I slipped through the curtain into the back and this is what greeted me:

Thank goodness she didn't drool on my pillow!

Thank goodness she didn't drool on my pillow!

Love to watch her squirm around to get exactly where she wants to be under the covers. She always works it until the covers come up just below her front legs. At least the dog has everything all figured out. Wish I did. Oh well… there may be lots of set-backs this month but the important thing is that I am (mostly) following the spirit of the plan and doing the best I can. Guess that’s better than nothing. Won’t know if I’m actually accomplishing anything weight-wise until we go home. I think I may have lost some though cause I was washing my hands in a truck stop bathroom and looked in the mirror and it seemed to me that my face looked all saggy. That’s a good sign, right? Right?

Already here

2009 July 27
by Stace

I finished listening to Aldus Huxley’s “Brave New World” today. You may be thinking to yourself, “Didn’t you read that back in high school?” Nope, not me. I went to high school in a place where a book like this could never be assigned. It has sexual promiscuity in it, and talks a lot about birth control. :::GASP::: No teacher would have dared to assign it.

Now, thanks to a sale at Audible.com, I picked up this missed classic on the cheap … and you know how I love picking up stuff on the cheap. Especially if it’s a classic.

So … “Brave New World.” What’d I think of this dystopia? Well, maybe in 1931 when Huxley wrote it, it was science fiction. Today, it’s reality, in any way that matters — in America, at any rate. I see little point in expanding this, since I’m sure I’ve made my opinions on American popular culture well known by now (in case you’re new here, I’ll just summarize by saying that I feel great contempt for it, in all its shallow, ignorant and deluded glory).

Enough of that.

I’ve been reading other sci-fi on the Kindle, namely two books in a series by Stephen Baxter, “Manifold: Time” and “Manifold: Space.” I’ve bought the third book, “Manifold: Origins,” but haven’t finished it yet.

These books are hard sci-fi, not to be confused with other, somehow softer, in a Charmin bath tissue kind of way, sci-fi. Hard sci-fi is based on real (aka “hard”) science, actual current theories of what we believe is truly possible. Compare this with, for instance , oh, I don’t know, Anne McCaffrey. She has a whole series of sci-fi novels with a unicorn girl and another where telepaths fling ships around space. Fun, yes, if you’re in the mood for it. Hard sci-fi, no.

These Baxter books were pretty much what I expect when I read hard sci-fi. Characterization is lousy. Nothing but a handful of archetypes tossed in the mix because, well, it’s hard to write about people in the future if there’s no actual people in it (or sentient life, whatever). But this is okay. It’s to be expected. These writers are into science, not people.

What makes up for it is that you get a look at the possibilities, of what the current thinking is about the future, without having to read any of those mind-bogglingly dull articles in real, honest-to-god scientific journals. You ever been over at Google Scholar? Egads. I can barely follow the synopses, let alone the actual articles.

That a writer is happy to do all that work for you, then rephrase it in language you have some small hope which you might grasp, I say is pretty awesome. Characterization be damned.

In “Manifold: Time,” I learned about the “Carter catastrophe,” the Feynman radio,” and vacuum decay, among other things. In “Manifold: Space” I learned about different types of spacecraft drives, the “Fermi paradox” and what happens when two neutron stars collide.

Okay, so if you ask me about these things next week, I probably won’t remember any of it, but right now … I’m golden.

It’s sad, really, that no matter how hard I try, I still can’t get my head around some really basic concepts in physics. Take the following as an example:

If you are traveling in a space ship at a high enough fraction of the speed of light, time will undergo some weirdness where it will move much slower than time for those people you left behind on Earth. The closer you approach the speed of light, the more pronounced this effect becomes. For instance what felt like, and was, a three-year trip for you, was a 30-year span of time on Earth. This has something or the other to do with Einstein’s theory of relativity, I guess.

Here’s the thing. I get the general idea, but I just can’t wrap my head around it. I get it, but I don’t GET IT, you know? How can time slow down like that? I once read an article where bends in time were explained using an analogy with some bug walking around the rim of a bowl, and if the bug … oh, hell, I don’t remember. I didn’t get it. I guess I’m too concrete a thinker to really find an innate understanding here.

Still, I enjoy dabbling in it every once in a while, and if I spend half the novel scratching my head and going, “Huh?” well, at least I managed to grasp the other half. That’s the beauty of hard sci-fi, compared to something non-fiction, like “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. About a fourth of the way in, I gave up on it. Nothing was sticking.

Wish I had some kind of nifty plan in mind, when I started this post, on how to tie it all together when I was finished blathering. Hmm … thinking … thinking … nope. I’ve got nothing. You’d think this was astrophysics.

Embarrass this. Embarrass that.

2009 July 24
by Hedon

Here’s the story which you can read in it’s entirety at Yahoo:

PATNA, India (Reuters) – Farmers in an eastern Indian state have asked their unmarried daughters to plow parched fields naked in a bid to embarrass the weather gods to bring some badly needed monsoon rain, officials said on Thursday.

Witnesses said the naked girls in Bihar state plowed the fields and chanted ancient hymns after sunset to invoke the gods. They said elderly village women helped the girls drag the plows.

“They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains,” Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar’s remote Banke Bazaar town.

I had no idea that would work. Now I’m thinking about all the situations I could be fixing just by being naked…

Hedon and Stace show up at a West Memphis truck stop at about 01:00 and there are no parking spots. Stace reluctantly prepares to drive on but Hedon has a plan. Stripping off all her clothes, Hedon jumps out of the truck and starts dancing around the parking lot nekkid in an effort to embarrass the parking space gods into creating an open parking spot that is easy to hit. Several drivers see Hedon, assume the rapture has happened and this is obviously the signal for the start of Satan’s reign on earth, and roar out of the parking lot. Hedon smugly parks in a great spot next to the building.

Hedon goes into yet another Subway to get some lunch. The Subway is no longer offering the Tuscan Chicken which had become Stace’s favorite. Hedon tries to order it anyway. They insist they don’t have it. Hedon sighs and prepares to force the issue by embarrassing the Subway sandwich gods with the naked dance of the fresh sandwich toppings. Halfway through the dance the police show up and Hedon is escorted off the premises. Hedon is thrilled because she didn’t want Subway anyway and now there’s nothing to be done about it.

The Hags get yet another crappy preplan over the DriverTech. Hedon promptly sheds the clothes, grabs the phone, and takes a video of herself dancing the “omg if your eyes were to fall out from watching this dance you would quit sending us such crappy loads” dance. The dance is then e-mailed to Uriah not only causing his eyes to fall out, but also causing the entire TWMNBN computer system to crash to a halt.

Finally home, Stace wants Hedon to sweep the dead leaves off the deck and straighten up the grill area. No longer a novice at this god-embarrassing thing, Hedon rips off the clothes quickly and starts doing the traditional “don’t make me do yard work” dance around the living-room to embarrass the white-trash-front-lawn gods. Stace laughs so hard she forgets what she was saying. Hedon goes back to watching tv.

Hedon can’t think of anything to post on her blog. She feels she is going to have to make an effort to embarrass the writer’s block gods…

Quick PSA

2009 July 24
by Hedon

Just a quick little PSA to all the truckers out there… but specifically to the stupid stupid woman driving the purple Prime Freightliner eastbound on I-40 in New Mexico this afternoon… you know who you are, you stupid stupid bitch.

If you are driving 55 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour speed zone…

And if you are going to make yourself a sandwich or turn the tv channel or work on your log book or give yourself a manicure or whatever the hell while you are driving down the road 55 mph…

And if you are going to drift about 18 inches across the center line while an innocent trucker is trying to pass you…

And the biggest if of all — if you barely avoid a crash because said innocent bystander trucker who was passing you takes the tiny left shoulder and then has to keep going onto the dirt strip next to the highway all the while laying on the air-horn trying to get you to pull your stupid head out of your stupid ass and get back in your own damn lane…

If all those things should happen… don’t smile and wave when the trucker you just ran off onto the dirt gets up even with you. Smiling and waving is for people who don’t want to force you off the road on the next curve.

Sell this

2009 July 22

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere on here before that I like billboards. Sure, sometimes they’re just boring ads for insurance salesman, but even then, you can check out the salesman’s picture and decide if he/she has a trustworthy face. Insurance and real estate agents love putting their pictures on their billboards. Few of them look trustworthy.

There are all sorts of different billboards, advertising just about any business you can imagine, including religious groups, those groups being overwhelmingly Christian. Someone might think that with my being an atheist, I’d find these Christian ads annoying. Incorrect. They are some of my favorites on the road.

I particularly enjoy the ones warning in giant red letters: “REPENT NOW OR BURN IN HELL.”  I can imagine just what type of church went to the bother of renting the billboard for the posting of such a message. And I wonder … who, while driving down the road innocently going about their business, read that particular billboard, and instantly had a revelation of their imminent passage to hell, immediately sending them racing to the nearest church to become a born-again Christian. Anybody? Someone? Somewhere? Ever happen?

Then there are the churches that take a softer approach, with billboards claiming “Jesus loves you,” and some bible verse mentioned underneath. Yes, it’s kinder and gentler, but who, having been in America longer than 10 minutes, does not know that Jesus loves them? And that bible verse. It’s like some kind of secret Mason handshake, a Christian private nod to one another. I mean, who else is going to bother to know what that verse is? I admit to a certain curiosity, but never enough to actually send me off to look it up.

I like the billboards that list the 10 commandments. They help me remember them, and knowing this sort of thing can come in handy when playing a trivia game or some such. I wish they’d list the seven deadly sins, too, since I can usually only remember three or four of them.

This past Monday, I saw a new billboard, I think in Oklahoma. It went something like this, in giganto letters: “WANTED — TEAM DRIVERS, Jesus and You.” At first, I didn’t get it. I can be slow on the uptake with some of these witty Christian messages. Then, ohhh, I see. They want truckers to team up with Jesus. Good one.

I think it’s only fair to say that this message is preaching to the choir, folks. The vast majority of truckers, no matter the foul language, the pill popping and the boobie ogling, are Christians. Anyway …

I got to thinking about that billboard. They seriously got it all wrong. I would never want to drive team with Jesus.

He’d drive me nuts. Whenever dispatch would be screwing us around, Jesus would never complain, or demand a better load, nor would he let me do it. He’d just ramble on about turning the other cheek, and be all like, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” and somesuch. We’d get every crap load TWMNBN had to offer.

It would be impossible to get Jesus to leave truck stops. He’d be all busy ministering to the prostitutes and healing the panhandlers. I’d complain about how our crummy load needs to deliver in three hours, and we’d better move it, and how are we supposed to make any money if he’s going to spend all day at the truck stop hanging out with lot lizards. Jesus would just quietly explain how time means nothing in heaven, and how it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel, blah blah, eye of a needle, blah blah. We’d never get anywhere.

There are only two things I can think of that would be good concerning having Jesus as my co-driver. One is that he can magically multiply food, though this may only apply to fish and bread. If so, then it wouldn’t be of much help to me since with the diabetes, I can’t eat all that much bread, and I don’t like fish. He can also turn water into wine. I might need that one, what with spending so much time hanging around truck stops and being flat broke.

The other benefit to having Jesus as my co-driver would be if I am driving, have skidded out on a slick road and am in danger of having a wreck. It is at this point that I can sing (as closely to Carrie Underwood as possible), “Jesus, take the wheel!” And he’ll pop out of the bunk and do it, miraculously saving us both with his awesome skid control talent. That part would be pretty great.

Still, the benefits don’t outweigh the downsides. The only religious figure I can think of who would be a worse co-driver than Jesus would be Buddha. He’d never let us go anywhere, period, because of all the bugs you slaughter while driving.

If I’ve got to throw Hedon aside and take a Christian deity as my co-driver, I’d much prefer it to be God. God could just say the load had been delivered, without our actually doing anything, and it would be so, because God said it. He could seriously make my job all sorts of easy. Even if we did decide to drive, just to get our jollies or something, it would be way cool to see what vengeance God would wreak when some jerk driver cut him off.

There are downsides, naturally. God is cranky and temperamental, flying off the handle over the least infraction of his seemingly random rules. He can make outrageous demands that everyone else be perfect, while he himself does as he pleases, smiting or disappearing at will. He often makes promises he later decides not to keep.

And sure, he contradicts himself more than a flaky housewife in a 1950s TV series. He’s obsessed with penises (circumsize this, circumsize that). And he will never, never explain himself or why he does what he does, being all smug with the “I move in mysterious ways” crap. Typical man.

But really, when you compare all that with never having to do a moment’s work as long as I live, I think I could put up with the tantrums and naughtiness.

Maybe I should drop a line to the kind folks who put up the “Team drivers wanted” billboard. They’ve got it all wrong.

All that hate in your heart

2009 July 20
by Hedon

When we got the info for this load that we’re on now, it was dispatched at 66.33 miles per hour. I don’t know if we’ve ever mentioned it our not, but our truck only goes 65 mph — that’s top speed. Yesterday, when we received the load info, I sent a message to our weekend dispatcher (aka trained monkey in diaper) pointing out that we couldn’t possibly make delivery on-time. He shot back, “You’ve got until the 21st to deliver.” Sigh. I had to shoot another message explaining the math:

Load picks up at 08:00 tomorrow morning and it’s a live load so it probably won’t be ready to roll until 10:00. It’s 1,900 miles from Mississippi to delivery in California and we have two fuel stops which will probably take about an hour . You all have given us 30 hours for trip. Even if we ignore the fuel stops that’s 1,900 miles divided by 30 hours which equals a dispatch speed of 66 mph which we can’t do as our truck’s top speed is — as I’m sure you know — 65 mph. We will need a new appointment time.

When faced with that rather reasonable explanation, he simply messaged back, “Oh, 10/4. I’ll let someone in customer service know.” But did we have any faith whatsoever that he would actually let anyone in customer service  –  or elsewhere for that matter  –  know that we wouldn’t be able to deliver on-time? No we did not. We simply wanted it noted in the record (on our drivertech) that we had informed them when we first got the load that the delivery appointment was impossible. Mission accomplished. We went back to playing with the blog header.

Skip forward to this morning. We arrived at the shipper to pickup our load about 45 minutes before our appointment. First you had to stop at the security gate and check in with the guard then walk over to the shipping office to find out where to go from there. I walked into the shipping office and stood around waiting to take my turn with the old boy at the desk. This is how it all went down after that:

Old shipping guy #1:  And what can I do for you this fine morning, young lady?

Hedon:  I’m here to pick up a load for TWMNBN for an 08:00 appointment.

Old shipping guy #1:  An eight o’clock appointment, you say.

Hedon:  Yes Sir, at least that’s what they told me.

Old shipping guy #1:  Well let’s see what we’ve got here. (shuffling through papers and mumbling ‘eight o’clock’ under his breath)

Hedon:  …

Old shipping guy #2:  Do you know where the load is going?

Hedon:  Supposed to be headed to DuPont in ‘JoeBlowVille’ California.

Old shipping guy #1 (finally pulling one set of bills aside):  Did they give you a pick-up number?

Hedon:  395847888341

Old shipping guy #1:  Hmm…  no… give it to me again.

Hedon:  395847888341

Old shipping guy #1:  Nope, that’s not a good pick-up number.

Hedon (sighing):  Ok, well I’ll have to go ask them to double check it and come back when I’ve got another one.

Suddenly both old shipping guys burst into storms of laughter. They sat at their little desks holding their sides and laughing until tears were rolling down their cheeks. Finally old shipping guy #1 managed to pull himself together enough to speak.

Old shipping guy #1:  Nah… we were just messing with you, Driver. Your pick-up number is good.

Hedon (with a very confused look on face and in a doubtful tone of voice): Oh… uh… ok.

Old shipping guy #1:  Usually when we say their pick-up numbers aren’t any good TWMNBN drivers start cussing their company and throwing a big hissy fit.

Old shipping guy #2:  Or crying. Remember that big old boy a couple of weeks ago who busted out crying like a little girl?

Old shipping guy #1:  Yeah, but I like it better when they start cussing and jumping up and down and yelling about how much they hate TWMNBN.

Old shipping guy #2:  And what idiots TWMNBN are.

Old shipping guy #1:  And how they’d like to drive to ‘HellOnEarthUSA’ to TWMNBN headquarters and drive their truck over ‘SpawnOfSatan’ personally.

Old shipping guy #2:  That’s just too fun when they get all worked up like that.

Old shipping guy #1 (pushing my bills across the desk for me to sign):  Yeah… (sigh) good stuff. Anyway, you must be one of the only TWMNBN drivers to come in here who don’t hate them yet. Good for you, honey. All that hate in your heart will make you old and wrinkled.

Hedon (pushing signed bills back to him):  Oh… I try not to hate anybody.

Old shipping guy #1:  That’s real good, honey. You just keep looking on the bright side of life. You need to go on out to dock 12 and they’ll get you all loaded up.

Hedon (extra-bright smile):  I’ll do that. Thanks.

After we were loaded, I shot a message to Uriah letting him know we were loaded and once again pointing out that we could not deliver on-time and would need a new delivery appointment.

After about 45 minutes, he messaged back, “Why?”

Sigh.

So what did we learn today? Well first we learned that there seems to be quite a few drivers out here who hate TWMNBN if the hissy fits and stomping and cussing are any indication of the current state of affairs. Second, we learned that hate in your heart gives you wrinkles. Third, if you’re a big old boy who’s clearly having a bad day don’t burst into tears when your pick-up number isn’t good cause it makes you stand out and not in a good way. Fourth, we certainly learned to look real closely at the shipper’s eyes when they tell you your pick-up number is no good — which happens about once a week — cause they may just be jerking you around. Finally we learned that when necessary I am way better at hiding my true feelings than I ever thought.

I’m thinking maybe I should consider an acting career if this trucking thing doesn’t work out.

Some days, the heart’s not in it

2009 July 18
by Stace

Stace and Hedon have stupidly allowed themselves to be trapped at a company terminal. Because they were unprepared to be trapped, they have limited choices of food available to them until tomorrow afternoon.

Hedon: I checked in the lounge. Domino’s and a Chinese food place will deliver here.

Stace: Hmm. Not good. The Chinese food could be really sucky, and Domino’s, well, it’s not the best choice for us.

Hedon: Yeah. I don’t see what else we could do though.

Stace: We do have some of those Nutri-System entrees in the cabinet. We could eat those.

Hedon stares blankly at Stace. Then both begin to laugh uproariously at once.

Hedon (after getting her breath back): Good one.

Stace: Thought you’d like it.

Hedon: So … Domino’s tonight and Chinese tomorrow?

Stace: Yep. Nothing to be done about it. We’ve got to eat, and we’re trapped here.

Hedon: What do you want?

Stace: Oh, get me some of their hot wings. I can pick off the skins and just eat the meat.

Hedon: Is that it?

Stace: And a small supreme thin crust. I’ll eat the toppings. What are you gonna get?

Hedon: Small veggie pizza. And I’d better get a salad. You want a salad?

Stace (sighs): All right. Get me a damned salad. A simple side salad. Not one of those huge ones. I think I might puke if I have to eat a big one.

Hedon calls Domino’s and places the order.

Hedon (speaking into phone): Yep, that’ll do it. Oh wait, we also need two salads. We don’t need dressing … huh? … really? … you don’t? …

Hedon turns to Stace with an expression of glee.

Hedon: Oh my god. They don’t have any salads!

Stace (clapping): Hurrah!

Hedon: I know! Hurrah!

Stace: Nothing to be done about it.

Hedon: Nope nothing.

Hedon (speaking into phone again): So, uh, sorry about that. Um, yeah, so, what I said before, that’ll be all then. Thanks! For not having salads! Hahahahaha.

Hedon hangs up and turns to Stace.

Hedon: I think that woman thinks I’m insane.

Stace: It’s all the salad we’ve been eating. It’s known to cause mental illness in fast food junkies. Good thing they didn’t have any, or think how much worse we would be.

Hedon: All I know is, nothing to be done about it.

Stace: Absolutely nothing.

Olive oil virgin

2009 July 17
by Hedon

It occurs to me that I seriously should have made an Italian friend years ago. If I had we probably could have avoided the unfortunate olive oil incident. You see when we heard a few years ago how good for you olive oil was supposed to be I decided we should start using it. I marched off to the grocery store and stood in the oil aisle gazing slack-jawed at all the choices.

I knew that we needed to start with something mild what with never having used it much before and with Stace not being a real huge fan of the olive. Finally I found what appeared to be the perfect choice: Extra Virgin First Press Olive Oil. I was thinking hmmm… when it comes to olive oil we are ‘extra virgin’ so that should be perfect, right? Isn’t that the usual usage of the phrase… “I was raised in the Ozarks by really boring parents so I’ve never really cooked with you before… please be gentle with me, Olive Oil.”

No!

That is not how it works in the olive oil world. Being virgins in the olive oil world and then starting out with extra virgin first press olive oil is somewhat like a shy inexperienced girl of fifteen heading out on her first date and ending up later that night at a BDSM club wearing nipple clamps and drooling around a ball gag while some big guy named Bull whips her rear end with an English riding crop.

It clearly wasn’t the way to go. If only I had known Salena back then all that shock and dismay and drooling could have been avoided.

And 13 more makes 25

2009 July 14
by Stace

I realized as I went to write this post that, once again, I didn’t write anything while at home. There is a simple reason for this: at home we have a dial-up connection. And it’s not even decent dial-up. I’m convinced that the local internet provider has hired kids to run, physically, the data from their office to our house, hence the maddeningly slow connection speed.

I don’t have the patience for being on the internet while at home. A simple attempt to get online results in a heinous spill of foul language that makes even Maggie wince in horror.

Hedon manages to put up with the dial-up, though. I’m convinced it’s due somehow to Fernando, who likely entertains Hedon with replays of favorite scenes from “G.I. Jane” while she waits 10 minutes for the results of a simple Google search.

We could go DSL, I suppose, but I can’t justify the price considering how little time we spend at home. And the broadband gizmo we use in the truck can’t get a signal in our valley, so that’s no good. Basically, to save everyone’s sanity, I avoid the internet at all costs while I’m at home.

And that is why it took me so long to write and say –

Yippee! In the last five weeks, I lost 13 more pounds! And that makes 25 total pounds lost. Not too shabby.

I’m actually very surprised. When I arrived home, I didn’t feel like I had lost any more weight. It was a shock to see that 13 pounds were gone. It’s encouraging, since I was definitely low on enthusiasm at the time. Seeing results really helps to keep you going.

My diet is actually fairly simple. I keep calories at 1400 to 1500 a day. I count carbs, and allow myself 45 at lunch and dinner, and 15 at breakfast and for any snacks I might eat. I try to keep any fats as healthy as possible (like with olive oil), limit red meat, only eat whole grains, have lots of salads and vegetables, do what I can to reduce sodium intake (which is extremely difficult out here on the road), and try to get in a dairy choice when I can.

In general, I’m just trying to form eating habits I can live with for the rest of my life. I will say, though, that I have been a bit extreme of late in the limiting of carbs, rarely eating even close to my limit of 45 at the two main meals. I have the D.O.T. physical coming up at the end of this month, and I’m getting a bit panicky.

My blood sugar numbers are good during the day, usually at 95-115 prior to meals and about 130-145 after meals. The problem is my fasting level. It is always, always, no matter what I do, in the 130 to 150 range. I discussed this with my doctor last week, but he doesn’t want to increase my medication (only the dose I take before bedtime), until he can get a new A1C, which he can’t do until my next time home, when a good three months will have passed since I was diagnosed and began treatment. So … sigh.

He is pleased with my progress so far, but I’m still worried about the fasting numbers. It’s this D.O.T. physical coming up. I know it’s all going to come down to luck of the draw — a doctor who’s a hardass, a moderate, or an I-don’t-give-damn-just-hand-over-the-money type. I believe I can win over a moderate, but a hardass, who knows. And what if they do an A1C? It’s still pretty early for that. My A1C when diagnosed was 10, for God’s sake, and that was only two months ago.

I’ve considered going all Atkins over this, and dropping the carbs to the point that I completely deplete my carb store, and go into ketosis. I’ve got serious reservations about that, though, since I’m not sure how the doctor doing my physical would respond when they see I’m in ketosis, which they would discover with the urine sample we have to give. I don’t even know if it would much help my fasting levels anyway. Seems like it would, what with my carb store being depleted, but hell, I don’t know.

Well … I’m doing my best to contain my agitation and worry over all this. It’s just not easy to do when your job is hanging in the balance. But like Hedon reminds me, even if the worst case scenario were to happen and I lost my job (which is likely since I’m extremely doubtful TWMNBN will give me leave for more time to get a better A1C), it’s not the end of the world. And it’s true. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would suck … seriously, seriously suck.

Okay, enough angst-ing. I can only do what I can do. And I feel like I’ve done a good job so far. I just need to quit worrying about what I can’t control and let what’s going to happen just happen. Now, if I repeat that to myself a million times between now and the end of the month, maybe I’ll still be sane come the end of the month.

Meanwhile, 25 pounds! Hurrah!

Long live the “Fit for Life” plan

2009 July 13
by Hedon

We got home last Monday afternoon and naturally I had to get on the scale within 5 minutes of walking in the door. I mean seriously what were the odds that I was going to be able to wait until the next morning? I was just proud of myself that I remembered last month and vowed to not hold a grudge or get all crazy smack-down on the scale no matter what it said. As an added reminder to not take the number too seriously, I even kept my shoes on as I hopped up on the scale.

“372″ Are you serious?! I mean a whole month of grilled chicken breasts and not one pound lost? You lying little punk, you are so headed straight for the river if you don’t have a serious change of heart by tomorrow morning. Fair warning, punk. Then, thanks to my obvious mental superiority over the scale, I put it completely out of my mind until the next morning.

That moment of reckoning came soon enough. I girded on my battle gear (boxers) and trotted up the hall to the mist-covered field of engagement at the crack of noon the next morning. Stepped up and waited while the little digital display whirled. “367″ Are you serious? I mean come on… 5 damn pounds… in four damn weeks?! Grilled chicken breasts. Steamed veggies. Huge salads. Carrot sticks for god’s sake  –  carrot sticks! 5 pounds?! I was a little peeved. Yeah, I think peeved would best describe it.

Then the love of my life had yet another in her long string of brilliant ideas. She decided that what we had been doing wasn’t going to work for me and we should try a different approach. I mean let’s be honest… I’m not going to count calories. I’m just not going to do it. Oh I start out ok, but after a couple of weeks it just gets mind-numbing and hideous and I slide into “oh that’s probably about 1,200 calories today” based on pulling numbers out of my ass I guess.

When faced with the five-pounds-in-four-weeks evidence of sub-standard-calorie-counting on my part, Stace came up with a great game plan. She suggested I go back to the “Fit for Life” plan which is the only diet plan that has ever worked for me in the past. Hurrah! I switched plans first thing Tuesday morning.

Ahh… good old “Fit for Life” plan… I’ve got to be honest and say that the science the plan is based on seems to me to be kinda voodoo crazy, but I know for a fact that it works for my body. It didn’t work at all for Stace that time we both tried it, but my body reacted like a house on fire. It has been more than a decade since I read the book, but I’ll try to describe some of the main rules of the plan for you. I’m sure there are a lot of little fiddley nit-picky rules that I’m forgetting, but here are the main points as I remember them:

  1. When you get up you eat nothing but fruit for about four hours. Fresh fruit if at all possible. The reasoning for this is that fruit eaten on an empty stomach zooms through your system, gives you lots of energy, and exits the works in short order. I believe he said fruit leaves your stomach in about twenty minutes so he was all for eating as much fruit as you wanted all morning long. I can do that. I like most fruits. Stace hated this part cause she’s not a big fan of the fruit.
  2. For lunch you can eat any quantity and any combination of veggies. If that isn’t going to cut it for you then add some sort of carb like maybe a piece of bread or a potato or something. You can eat any sized carb something, but the veggie portion of your lunch has to be 70% of the meal.
  3. For supper you have a choice to make. The veggies are still going to be 70% of the meal, but now for the 30% portion you can choose between another carb or a protein depending on what you’re in the mood for. Again, you can eat whatever you want. If you want to eat an 18 ounce t-bone that’s cool… course you’d have to eat a mixing bowl full of salad to cover the required 70/30 ratio but that’s your choice. I call it “piper-paying” but that’s just me. :)
  4. Try to avoid chemicals. Tend toward minimally processed foods. Try to use real foods like butter instead of margarine and such. Avoid salt. Avoid diet coke. Blah blah blah. If in doubt about some food or menu choice try to channel a tree-hugging earth-loving vegan lesbian type person.

The important thing to remember is that you never eat carbs and proteins at the same meal. The carb/protein portion of any meal should never be more than 30% with the rest of the meal being veggies. And you only eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach. So if it’s been at least five hours since you last ate you can have any quantity of fruit as a snack at any time.

Do you see what I’m saying here? No calorie counting. No futzing. No fiddling. Seriously easy rules. Perfect for me. And I once lost 29 pounds on this plan in 30 days. Unfortunately then I woke up one morning and forgot I was on the diet and didn’t remember for three days so by then I had kinda blown it and didn’t get back on the wagon again but that’s not the point here. The point is that I was excited to give it a whirl again. So I started with a bang on Tuesday.

This morning I decided to do a quick spot check of results over the last five days. Stepped up on the scale first thing and waited on the whirling display. “359″ Are you KIDDING ME?!! Eight pounds in five days?! That’s what I’m talking about! So in one month of half-hearted calorie counting I lost five pounds but in five days of crazy-science “Fit for Life” plan living I was never once hungry and lost eight pounds. Well that just kicks ass. I love crazy voodo made-up faulty-logic science.

I think I’m going to like this new routine.

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

2009 July 9
by Hedon

Hedon’s edit: If you are coming to this post because you went to Google and searched “It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to” then I’m pretty sure you are looking for the song that was first released in 1963 by Leslie Gore. The song is actually titled “It’s my party” but she does say somewhere in there that it’s a birthday party that she’s having when that danged Judy prances in wearing Johnny’s ring. She’d probably be better off without him anyway, but he comes back and all is well in the follow-up hit “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” Anyway, hope this helps. Have a good one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Luckily I don’t want to. Cry, that is. Well maybe a sniffle or two. Nah, I’m just kidding. I’m totally cool with being 44 and all. At least I think I am. Wait… self-diagnostic moment… yeah, I’m cool with it.

Oh sure the body is falling apart, but it’s been heading downhill for so long that it’s kinda turned into an exciting adventure. Will there be a new ache or pain this week? Or, oh my, what about a weird new skin blotch — that would be exciting.

As exciting as the body’s ongoing ride-on-rails into the depths of decrepitness is, the brain is unfortunately still firing on all cylinders. Oh yeah, Fernando is still smokin hot. Let’s just examine what he’s come up with in the past year:

Finally figured out the old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Now you have to understand that this saying was created back in the day long before I hit the scene. So while the meaning was probably instantly obvious to those old-timey ladies who did sewing and such, I am of the Star Trek generation. So I always thought they were talking about somehow making some sort of alteration in the Space-Time Continuum. I always wondered if you did somehow manage to make “a stitch” in the time-stream of the Universe what were you going to save nine of? Nine minutes? Nine years? Nine months? Nine alternate realities? Nine possible past existences?

Oh it was all such a mystery. Then one day a couple of months ago I looked down at this purple t-shirt I have that has a rip in the sleeve. It started out as a tiny little hole but by this point it was a massive rip. Fernando actually said, “Damn I should have sewn that up when it was still small” and the sounds of angels singing started right above my head.  A stitch — in time — saves nine stitches later. Ohhhh… I get it now. Good job, dude.

Then there was the time when I thought…. nope that’s pretty much the only brain breakthrough I’ve had this year. Gosh upon reflection that seems kinda sad. Nah… not really. I’m cool with that. I’d say my 44th year was quite a success. Can’t wait to see what crazy new ideas pop up this year. I hope it’s something like “blue is a color” or “ice cream is creamy yet icy” or something equally profound.

One month and counting

2009 July 7
by Hedon

Ok you guys… time to put your heads together and come up with an amazing idea for me. I have been trying and trying but I’ve got nothing. It’s like Fernando is on vacation in Horse Cave, KY or something. What we need here is an AWESOME birthday present for a little stinker who is turning two in exactly one month. Money is not much of an object. Noise level is no object at all – sorry Chaos.  Awesomeness is definitely required.

She already has a little ride-on train thing that makes lots of noise and has lots of twiddly numbers and alphabet bits and knobs.  She’s too young for a real bike. They don’t have room for a swing set right now. I was thinking about a little tiny swimming pool, but she’s not really into the water yet.

She also has one of those little Baby Einstein books that read a story to her if she wants it to. Of course she will get lots of books — that goes without saying — but that’s not intended to be the main thing. But what is intended to be the main thing… that’s the question.

I have every confidence in you people. So in the interest of charity hit me with your best second-birthday gift ideas. I don’t want to be the sucky, lame old grand-butch who gets her a pair of socks or something.

Screwing everything up

2009 July 5
by Hedon

Just a quick post to let y’all know that we’re upgrading our WordPress version and switching to a new theme. It’s probably going to be a mess around here — I mean more than usual even. Please reduce your speed through the construction zone. Better yet chose an alternate route.

“The Sims 3″ is released

2009 July 5
by Hedon

I think most of you know that Stace and I are crazy about video/computer games. We have played countless games in almost every genre. When “The Sims” first came out, we jumped all over it and spent many happy evenings guiding our little sims through their lives… or torturing them as the mood struck. So when Stace told me that “The Sims 3″ had been released I was all ears. Then she sent me a link of a review of the game. Man that there was some funny funny stuff. I liked the review so much I decided to post it here. If you’ve ever played Sims you know what he’s talking about:

I sing freedom’s song – God help me

2009 July 4
by Stace

Another holiday, another holiday post. Just doing my part, people.

Since it’s the 4th of July, you’d think the “Star Spangled Banner” would be annoyingly repeating itself in my brain, assuming one must have a bit of a song annoyingly repeating itself in one’s brain at all times. If my grey matter is anything to go by, that assumption would be correct.

It’s not the “Star Spangled Banner” which has been torturing me the past couple of days, however. It is “America,” also known as “My Country Tis of Thee.” You know the one; it’s got the same tune as the Brit national anthem, “God Save the Queen” (or King, as the case may be).

I have found this song to be extraordinarily bothersome as a stuck-in-a-brain-loop song. Okay, it’s not as maddening as say any 70s song with the word “boogie” in the title. It’s a close second though. And I should at minimum be grateful the stuck-song-du-jour isn’t something like, “Red, White and Blue Boogie Woogie Shoes.” Still, gratitude seems to be escaping me at the moment.

To break the song loop, I have found it sometimes helps to look up the complete lyrics to the song and study them. My theory as to why this works: my brain has locked onto some bit of a particular song and repeats it endlessly in an attempt to decipher what the rest of that song may be (which helps to explain, also, why commercial jingles are regular offenders, what with not having a “rest” to them at all). I have no proof whatsoever that my theory is correct. But I’m a desperate woman when faced with endless days of the chorus to “Achy Breaky Heart.” I’ll take what I can get.

The song

So, in an attempt to banish “America” from my patriotically looped brain, here are the lyrics:

1

My country, ’tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty,

Of thee I sing;

Land where my fathers died,

Land of the pilgrims’ pride,

From every mountainside

Let freedom ring!

2

My native country, thee,

Land of the noble free,

Thy name I love;

I love thy rocks and rills,

Thy woods and templed hills;

My heart with rapture thrills,

Like that above.

3

Let music swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees

Sweet freedom’s song;

Let mortal tongues awake;

Let all that breathe partake;

Let rocks their silence break,

The sound prolong.

4

Our father’s God to Thee,

Author of liberty,

To Thee we sing.

Long may our land be bright,

With freedom’s holy light,

Protect us by Thy might,

Great God our King.

According to Wikipedia, Samuel Smith wrote these lyrics in about 30 minutes (which is just a smidge over one minute spent on each line of verse). Looking at the above, I’d say that shouldn’t come as any big surprise.

Verse number one

Yeah, this is the one I knew and have been repeating. It’s all pretty self-evident. Smith seemed to have a thing for mountains, though if I were to write of freedom ringing from anything, I’d probably choose a church tower, or something else relatively tall that has a bell in it, so that the ringing might actually be possible.

Verse number two

What’s a rill? Had to look that up. It’s a stream. So, land of rocks and streams. I’ve gotta admit, I like me a rocky stream. And I like woods and hills (though I have no desire whatsoever to go hiking through them, not that Smith suggests this — I’m just saying).

Much as I like rocks, streams, woods and hills, I can’t really claim my heart has thrilled with rapture over them. Through no fault of my own, I naturally reserve rapture for things like triple chocolate cake, air conditioning on a hot day, and my big old Temp-ur-pedic mattress.

As for that nonsensical last line of verse, I’m not going to bother trying to figure out what Smith meant by it.  He was clearly stuck to find a rhyme for “love” and simply did what he had to do, what with his tea getting cold and all, and him needing to move things along.

Verse number three

Now it’s music which is ringing, and from the trees no less. I assume, going by the last two lines, that the wind and trees and people will maintain the song of liberty as long as possible, then the rocks will take over and carry on until they, too, have lost their pebbly breath.

I presume, at this point in time, the wind will begin the cycle anew, so as to never let the song of liberty die out, but Smith isn’t clear on this point. He probably would have explained it, but the cucumber sandwiches on the tea tray were looking tasty, and the bread was getting stale.

I am, unfortunately, going to have to mention that the lakes, rivers, oceans and other bodies of water have not joined in singing the song of liberty, perhaps abstaining for personal reasons. Or maybe water is fascist. That’s probably it. The animals and insects aren’t singing, either, and we all know what giant fascists they are.

Verse number four

You had to know this was going to happen. At some point or another, God would have to be rolled out to verify the greatness of liberty. And that freedom is holy. And that God protects us.

Okey-dokey. I’ve got to say that if I believed in a god or gods, I would certainly want them on my side, and hope that he/she/they liked my country. And yet … suddenly claiming that we (the wind, the trees, the people and the rocks) are singing sweet freedom’s song to God. Hmm. I don’t know.

Gods like songs to be about them, not other stuff. I’m pretty sure that the Christian eternity consists of singing God’s praises forever. I’m not so sure that He’d like the folks planet-side to wander around singing about freedom to Him, rather than about Him, Himself and He. You really don’t want to piss off deities, so Smith might have been well-served to rethink this last line. But then what do I know? I’m no god.

Phew! All done. Time for tea! Hoorah!

Back to the point

It took me longer to discuss the song than it did for Smith to write it. But that’s not the point. The point is — has the damnable song now slipped the tracks of my brain loop? Let me see … wait for it … you know it’s coming … no … maybe … yes … oh sweet blessed relief. It is gone. Wait … what is that … no … I said no, dammit … hellfire and damnation … don’t give me … ohhh noooo … it’s morphed into …

“Boogie Nights.”

My life sucks.

Hope you all dance with the boogie get down, on this 4th of July, cause boogie nights are always the best in town.

Sometimes I list movies

2009 July 2
by Hedon

Rassles over at Sometimes I Make Lists had a really good post to her sisters concerning (in part) a person’s top ten favorite movies list. I won’t really spend much time touching on the get-the-stick-out-of-your-ass-and-lighten-up-for-god’s-sake angle of her post because I think we all know that particular sentiment goes without saying around here so it stands to reason that I agree with her completely.

I was just thinking that she is right in that your top ten favorite movies list does say a lot about you. If one of your top ten is Police Academy 5… well huh. I’m not saying we’re not gonna be friends anymore, but clearly our senses of humor are going to have difficulty meeting on common ground. I’m just saying.

I thought a lot about it and put together my top ten favorite movie list. At least it’s my list for today. Ask me next month and I may have an entirely different list. Here’s mine:

1. The BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Yes, I know it’s actually a six hour mini-series but I don’t care it’s my favorite and it’s my list.

2. Bound  – Jennifer Tilley, that other chick, and that guy from all the mob movies in a brilliant debut piece of work from the Wachowski Brothers. Film Noir. Beautiful plotting. Beautiful filming. Expert pacing. Tension. Drama. Jennifer Tilley in a slinky little black dress. Brilliant movie.

3. G I Jane –   Demi Moore goes off to be the first female to attempt Navy SEALS training. Who can forget a ragged, bloody Demi yelling, “Suck my dick” at the top of her lungs? Stace says this is my version of a man’s Top Gun by which she means that I sit around in my boxers watching it and secretly thinking, “I could do that” while eating nachos on the couch. I probably could do it too… if I had the time that is… and maybe a few weeks to work out before hand. :)

4. Fried Green Tomatoes –   Kathy Bates just kicks ass  —  I love her in anything. And Jessica Tandy… seriously?! I love that movie right there. I’ve read the book and they did an excellent job of adapting it to the screen.

5. Cold Comfort Farm –   This is one deuced funny movie. It’s one of my favorite comedies of all time. “I know you did, but did it see you?” Good stuff.

6. The Usual Suspects –   One of my very favorite movies. Obviously. This one makes you wish you could delete memories so you would be able to watch it again and again as if it were the first time you ever saw it.

7. The Color Purple –   Well… what can I say? Seen it a million times and yet the next time I watch it when that Shug starts singing “God is trying to tell you something” and marching toward that church I am still probably going to get choked up and have a sudden attack of “allergy eyes” or something.

8. Dangerous Liaisons –   Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Swoozie Kurtz, and Uma Thurman. Seriously. Wonderful movie in all respects. If you’ve ever seen the movie and understand the time period at all you will never forget that scene with Glenn Close sitting at her dressing table. That shot of her is truly haunting.

9. The Lion in Winter –   I just love Katherine Hepburn. I was torn on this spot between this and Philadelphia Story cause she kicks ass in just about anything but especially those two films. But I ended up giving the nod to The Lion in Winter in part because once you add in Peter O’Toole and Anthony Hopkins you’ve got a winner on your hands. The story is great and the mood and setting and cinematography of the piece is pretty damned cool, too.

10. The Piano –   Truly stunning visuals. Superb cast including Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, and Sam Neill. Won virtually every award offered somewhere or another. I could watch this movie a hundred times and still not feel like I had completely absorbed all the symbolism in the cinematography. I know that sounds a little fancy-pants arty-farty and all but it really is a stunning visual movie. As for the plot, I’m not sure many men get this one. I know Roger Ebert loved the film but at one point he called it a great love story. I mean honestly… a love story?! It is a spectacular film… it is not a love story.

Honorable Mentions: Silence of the Lambs, Boys on the Side, Philadelphia Story, Big, Young Frankenstein, Tea with Mussolini, Misery, Requiem for a Dream, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal, Armageddon, Belle Époque, All of Me, Enchanted April, A Room with a View, Amadeaus, The Mission, and The Matrix trilogy.

So in no particular order (and if you read Rassles post you’ll know that’s not true :) ) what are your top ten favorite movies of all time?

To death I say

2009 July 1
by Hedon

Ugh! They are working us to death! To death I say!

I guess it’s a good thing in the abstract, but in the up close and personal it’s not so cool.  We are not 7,000 miles a week sort of women.  Haven’t had anything to post because our brains have been in the drive-sleep-drive cycle (stupor) for days.  I did finally get the rest of our pictures uploaded during the past week so there are some new pictures pages. If you click on “Pics” in the upper right you will see some links listing some of the new pages. When you click on them you should be able to start a slide show.  Let me know if it doesn’t work for y’all cause I’ve not been able to test it on different platforms yet.

On a bright note, I’ve been listening to Vanity Fair which is excellent.  That Becky is a piece of work but I still like her better than Little-Miss-Perfect-What’s-Her-Name who is supposed to be the hero I think.  I recommend the book if you haven’t read it, and I know Stace liked it as well.  So I guess that’s officially two thumbs up for yet another piece of classic British Literature.  Go figure. We’re just rebels that way.

On another bright note all this running is certainly helping the truck fund. Which is good cause I was thinking we were going to have to follow this guy’s example and start some sort of part time enterprise to save money for the truck:

Working for yourself never looked so good

Working for yourself never looked so good

The family farm

2009 June 26

Some of the comments over on that post Stace wrote about the “Congress-created Dust Bowl” signs have made me think about the government handing out subsidies — whether water-related or otherwise – to farmers, ranchers, loggers and well really everybody. I don’t agree at all with subsidies.

I think it’s a damned shame if you can’t make a living off the farm or whatever, but I don’t for the life of me understand why I should be handing you cash through government hand-outs to help out. If you can’t make a living at what you’re doing you should probably look around for something else to do.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m born and bred in the Ozarks and farming is definitely a part of my family. I have nothing but respect for the job they do as I would rather do just about anything than farm. I like living in a rural setting, but actually farming for a living strikes me as only slightly less mind-numbingly boring than say… watching paint dry for a living.

First you have to look at the fact that most farming subsidies are rammed through the government by the clever use of the “American Family Farm” crisis and fashioned as the only way to save our historic way of life. The fact that most of the cash made available seems to be handed out to big corporate farms is almost never mentioned. Because really who wants to go out of their way to save big corporate farms, anyway? Well except for the big corporate farmers and the politicians they buy that is.

Second you have to really think about this save-the-family-farm business. I suppose I could quote a line from Pride and Prejudice here when I admit that, “I’m not romantic, you know. I never was.” But frankly, I don’t know why we need to go out of our way to save the family farm. If the family farm isn’t capable of making it then maybe its time has passed. And, while I like farmers just fine, I don’t know what makes them any more worthy of being saved than say the family buggy-whip makers or the family candle makers that we as a society allowed to fade into history years ago.

I understand that the farmers think they should be saved and that a subsidy is a good idea. Why wouldn’t they? They desperately want to hang onto their way of life. But that way of life doesn’t seem to be working out. I would desperately like to sit at home in my boxers and live off writing blog posts every day. But since the BlogHer ads are only bringing in about $12.38 per month and Congress has yet to enact a Blathery-Blog-Post-Writer’s subsidy… I have to subsidize my dream of living off my blathery wits on my own… with a job. Surely the farmer can get an outside job if needed to make ends meet if they are really committed to staying on the farm.

The whole thing smacks of socialism to me. I thought we were all worked up and scared to death that President Obama was going to make us a socialist state… have any of those people who were so horrified at the idea looked around at what has been going on in this country for years and years? It’s certainly not just farmers getting subsidies. Trucking companies get them if they will provide schooling to disadvantaged newbies. I know there for a while the scuttlebutt about a couple of the biggest newbie trucking companies who had schools was that they made as much from government handouts related to the schools as they did hauling freight. Seriously? What the hell? No wonder they can bid to haul freight for rates so low that owner operators can’t compete.

What do you all think? Am I wrong on this idea? Do I have things turned around in my head? I just think all subsidies should end immediately. To big and small alike. Quit giving the big corporations federal handouts of any kind. That would go a long way toward leveling the playing field. Then let everyone compete as best they can. If whatever you’re doing doesn’t work out then you need to look into something else. Sorry.

Unless they want to enact a Blathery-Blogger subsidy of some sort. That would be ok I guess. :)

And Michael makes three

2009 June 25
by Stace

First, Ed McMahon died on Tuesday. Second, Farrah Fawcett died Thursday morning. Then third, Michael Jackson died Thursday afternoon. Three icons of my youth, gone in three days.

My memories of Ed McMahon are sparse since he and Johnny were on the air past my bedtime for most of my young age. When I could stay up later, I rarely watched “The Tonight Show,” but tuned in later on NBC for David Letterman.

Still, you could not be alive in this country and not know who Ed McMahon was. I think I mostly knew him from the Publisher’s Clearing House commercials. Haven’t we all fantasized about Ed showing up at our house with a giant sweepstakes check? Oh well. Maybe that was just me. I even bought a few magazine subscriptions once, thinking that would increase my odds of winning. Ah, youth.

Farrah. Now there was an icon. I never thought she was the most beautiful of Charlie’s Angels; that title went to Jaclyn Smith, in my opinion (Hedon believes the title belongs to Kate Jackson). Farrah had the famous hair and the poster, though, and I hesitate to even imagine how many nights she and her clingy swimming suit appeared in the dampened dreams of teenage boys. Okay, probably there were more than just teenage boys, but I don’t want to go there, either.

I watched “Charlie’s Angels” as a child, and don’t remember much about Farrah’s character. She wasn’t on there very long, was she, before going off on her own? I certainly remember all the brouhaha surrounding her role in the TV movie “The Burning Bed.” I thought it was silly the way people were all agog that Farrah “allowed” them to make her look less than beautiful in her role of an abused wife. It must have been barrier-breaking in some way, I assume, to create such a furor of surprise and admiration. I clearly was too far out of the loop to get it. And too young.

And that brings us to Michael. MTV and music videos were born in my teenage years, and by the time I was in college, Michael Jackson was the emperor of MTV. I remember all of us in the dorm huddling around the television in the lounge, clamoring for the premier airing of the “Thriller” video. It was everything we had hoped it would be, and more.

I had a poster of Michael on the wall of my dorm room, the one from “Off the Wall” where he’s wearing the yellow sweater. I didn’t dream of him, but I did think him beautiful.

We all moonwalked, if we could. We knew every word to every song on the “Thriller” album, except for some of the words to “Billy Jean” since they were deliberately obscured in places, something Michael loved to do. We all debated the ethics of Billy Jean falsely accusing Michael of being the father of her child. We all wanted to wear one glove, but most of us did not succumb to that need (myself included, thankfully). We were all appalled and aghast when Michael was burned during the filming of that Pepsi commercial.

Michael is a huge part of my memories of my freshman year in college. Oh yes, we had Madonna, too. But for the girls in particular, it was all about Michael. We were frustrated by his desire for privacy. Had there been a 24-hour Michael Jackson channel, we probably would have watched it until falling into a coma from lack of sleep.

By the time “Bad” appeared on the scene, I’d moved away from pop music for the most part. I couldn’t get away from news about him, though. Who he dated. Who he married. Where he went. What he bought. What he did. It’s no wonder he fought so long and so hard for a modicum of privacy. I eventually tuned it all out.

Michael returned to my attention in later years because of his repeated visits to the plastic surgeon, and the allegations that he was a child molester. I thought it was sad that he had spoiled his looks, and wondered what madness underlay his need for physical change. And I refused to believe he had been molesting children. It would have to be proven to me.

I thought.

Then, years later, I watched that interview Michael had with that British guy. While it wasn’t proof, Michael admitted to sleeping in the same beds with these children, among other strange things, and I found these disclosures disturbing enough to open considerable doubt. I’m still unsure.

I know that many people in the days to come will want to ignore the allegations of child molestation, and say we should focus instead on the musical artist that was Michael Jackson. They want to keep the musical master separate from the man himself. I’m not sure one can actually do that. Van Gogh was a master of painting, and the fact that he was insane enough to whack off his earlobe as a gift to a prostitute is part of who he was as an artist, not just who he was as a man. The human is his/her art, and vice versa.

I want to just remember the beautiful Michael in that poster which hung on the closet door in my dorm room. But what I want is impossible. Will he forever be an enigma?

Three icons. Gone. Ed, Farrah and Michael. May you all rest in peace.

Don’t need no stinking fresh air

2009 June 23

The following article is why you should keep your windows rolled up. If this had happened to me, I would have had a coronary.

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Turkey lands in manure truck’s cab, causing crash

OSWEGATCHIE, N.Y. – A wild turkey landed inside the cab of a manure-hauling tractor trailer, startling the driver and sending the truck rolling into a ditch off a northern New York roadState police said Scott Fisher, 38, was traveling in St. Lawrence County near the Canadian border when the turkey flew in through an open window.

As Fisher tried to shoo the bird out of the cab, the truck ran off the road and hit several fence posts and autility pole before rolling onto its side in a ditch.

Fisher wasn’t hurt in the accident Monday.

Police say the turkey escaped, leaving behind some of its feathers.

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Nope, no need for fresh air, and not just because you’re driving a manure truck.

This story was from the AP on Yahoo.

Trucking poetry in motion

2009 June 19

We picked up a load the other day in downtown San Antonio. Now this was a very scurvy-looking neighborhood with tiny little streets and weird twistings of the roads so that it had taken us an incredibly long time to even get to our shipper. It was one of those “I can see the building but I have no idea how to get the truck from here to there because all the alleys leading to the building are too narrow to turn the truck into” sort of affairs. But we had finally made it and with a huge sigh of relief we entered the shipper’s gate and hit the dock.

While sitting there waiting, I noticed another truck driving up the same alley we had ended up using. Feeling some sort of weird brotherhoodly feelings for the guy, I was thinking “I feel your pain, dude” when I realized what he was actually getting ready to do. Good god! Are you kidding me?! I captured it all on film cause that driver was just as impressive as hell.

Look at this:

Someone has obviously lost their minds

Someone has obviously lost their minds

He came up the little alley right in front of the chain link fence at the edge of my shipper’s lot. He came from left to right.  In this picture his truck is mostly in an even narrower alley that ran perpendicular. You’ll notice the right arrow is pointing to one of the office guys who had walked out to speak to the driver. The office guy is standing right at the edge of the alley where the deep ditch in the abandoned lot was. Arrow on the left is pointing out the fire hydrant because I wasn’t sure you would be able to make it out through the fence.

Wow! Are you kidding me?

Wow! Are you kidding me?

Here he goes blind-siding into that dock from that little tiny alley. He has almost no forward room at all and has to avoid the fire hydrant, the bridge itself and the massive ditch at the edge of the alley. You’ll notice on the far left that several of the office-folk came out onto the dock to watch the show. I imagine it’s always entertaining to watch drivers try to hit their dock since the dock was actually the right size for a box van or a pup at most.

Nothing like a tight fit

Nothing like a tight fit

Ok… just how in the hell impressive is that?! His tractor was so close to that bridge support he couldn’t even open the driver’s side door. And it didn’t even take him all that long considering everything.

Someone always has to be a critic

Someone always has to be a critic

I figure one office guy is telling the other office guy, “I don’t know why these drivers are always bitching about our dock. Why back in the 40s when I drove a truck for a few weeks I could have hit this dock in half the time. Granted, my trailer was only 22 feet long, but what’s an extra 31 feet of trailer anyway? They’re all just a bunch of spoiled babies if you ask me.”

Oh well, Driver, they may not have been impressed but I was impressed as hell for what that’s worth. Good on you! Hope I’m that good when I’m an old coot who’s been driving twenty years.

San Antonio sights

2009 June 19

Here’s the view from our shipper’s dock in San Antonio. This is actually what I was staring at when the action in the following post started. Cool old abandoned building, huh? At least I hope it’s abandoned.

Cool old abandoned building in San Antonio

Cool old abandoned building in San Antonio

Come on now

2009 June 17
by Stace

Okay, read this first. It’s from the AFP, and posted on Yahoo here.

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Clones of 9/11 hero dog unveiled in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Five clones of a search and rescue dog which helped locate people trapped in the rubble of the 9/11 attacks were formally presented to their ancestor’s former handler.

James Symington, a former Canadian police officer, choked back tears as he formally took possession of the five descendants of his beloved German shepherd named Trakr, who died in April.

Symington was presented with Trakr’s offspring after winning a competition organized by California firm BioArts International — the “Golden Clone Giveaway” — to find the world’s most “cloneworthy” dog.

Symington said he hopes the puppies — Trust, Valor, Prodigy, Solace and Deja Vu — will go on to follow in Trakr’s footsteps.

“We’re here to celebrate that Trakr’s legacy lives on in these five beautiful puppies,” he told reporters. “If they have the same attributes Trakr did, then hopefully they’ll develop into world class search and rescue dogs.”

Symington and Trakr arrived at the site of the World Trade Center collapse, commonly referred to as Ground Zero, on September 12, 2001 and were one of the first K9 search and rescue teams on the scene.

After working nearly non-stop for 48 hours, Trakr located the last human survivor found in the rubble of the twin towers.

“Trakr was an extraordinary search and rescue dog. His work at Ground Zero was the culmination of his career,” Symington said.

BioArts International, which says it offers the world’s first commercial dog cloning service, partnered with South Korea’s SooAm Biotech Research Foundation to clone Trakr under the direction of scientist Hwang Woo-Suk.

BioArts International chief executive Lou Hawthorne said canine cloning would remain beyond the reach of ordinary pet lovers, with cloned dogs costing an average 144,000 dollars each.

Hawthorne defended the right of people to clone their dogs instead of obtaining new pets from rescue shelters.

“I think 99 percent of the time people should get their pets from shelters,” he told AFP.

“But can we agree though that one percent of the time if you have a one in a million dog and you have the money to pay for it, you should be able to go to either a breeder or a cloner?”

Symington said that one member of his new litter — Trust — was an exact replica of Trakr.

“The physical similarities are uncanny,” he told AFP. “He’s the spitting image of the Trakr that I first met in 1995. He has exactly the same markings, the way he moves, everything. Very alert, very intelligent and intuitive.

“I respect that cloning’s not for everyone. But there are few dogs that are born with extraordinary abilities and Trakr was one of those dogs,” he said.

“I look forward to the day that these puppies can follow in Trakr’s footsteps and play an important role in other rescues, like Trakr did.”

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Not really wanting to get into the whole cloning issue at this moment. Here’s the part I’d like to highlight for your consideration:

“I think 99 percent of the time people should get their pets from shelters,” he told AFP.

“But can we agree though that one percent of the time if you have a one in a million dog and you have the money to pay for it, you should be able to go to either a breeder or a cloner?”

First, I’d just like to say, I’m pretty sure that most, if not all of us dog owners think our dog is one in a million. Second, where does he pull these figures from? 99 percent versus 1 percent. How ridiculous. Thirdly, $144,000? Be still my heart. Back to the haves vs. have nots discussion of yesterday.

I’m not opposed to cloning, but I am opposed to someone trying to defend it in such an arbitrary and strange way. We got Maggie from a small breeder, and I don’t feel any need to defend why we didn’t get a dog from a shelter. There were plenty of reasons, all of them our own. Maybe the cloning people are just trying to defend themselves because of all the public heat the Obamas took when they got their dog. Who knows.

But what a silly argument. 99 percent. 1 percent. Really now.