30 December 2011

Day 364 (Vacation Can't Be Over Yet?!)

Today has been yet another lazy day. Yesterday wasn't supposed to be lazy, but either allergies kicked in, or Tikvah and I started to feel the onset of a cold. therefore what we wanted to get done yesterday (working on the bathroom), was not done. We didn't work on the bathroom today because Tikvah had already made plans to go to Little Rock with her friend Helen... a "girl's day out" sort of thing.

I also went to SuddenLink to get an issue with our DVR taken care of. It took a while (to include a visit from the technician), but it's now taken care of... I hope. I'm getting some of my vinyl records converted over to my iTunes library, and at the same time I'm also proofing some dough for homemade Pita Bread, from a recipe I got from a blog post by my friend, Lauri Rottmayer. When I read that post the other day, it stuck with me. So much so, I went out and got some more flour (as I was out) so I could try it.

Pictures to come later.

Strategically placed alongside coffee.

29 December 2011

Day 363 (It's Nice To Be On Vacation)

Today has been fairly uneventful. My wife, Tikvah, and I did a little bit of running around to include talking to a Social Worker and Parole Officer (I will fill you in on that, in detail, on a later date). We went to a store in the downtown area where we live where she put a Vanity on layaway. Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat. Nothing special nor exciting... except for the fact that our day started (and will end as well) with coffee. Although I did capture a pretty nice photo, which I know my fellow fans of The Doctor will like:

When you live in a small town - but have a big city upbringing - it may be nice at first, but then you start longing for the city again, something you're accustomed to. A small town is nice, but in this area of Arkansas, it tends to take a toll on you. I long for the city, more so for conversations that don't revolve around hunting, fishing, and NASCAR.

28 December 2011

Day 362 (Just A Few Days Left Of The Year... And Vacation)

Today has been another one of those lazy days. Got up this morning, enjoyed some coffee with my wife, and basically did nothing. Last night, the meal I made turned out splendid. Everything was delicious: lamb, latkes, Israeli Salad, and of course, the Challah Bread.

It was wonderful to be home for a good portion of Hanukkah, but like all good things, it, too, must come to an end. Even though the Festival Of Lights may be over, I still have a few days left of vacation. Not to mention that last night, Tikvah had the chance to light up all the candles in all of her Hannukia menorahs. 

Tomorrow, I think our plans will be to work on the bathroom... which should be interesting, considering I am far from the handyman type. In fact, I just may post the end results here (providing I'm not too terribly embarrassed at my lack of skills).

27 December 2011

Day 360 (Chanukah, Day 8 - The Last Night)

This is the final night of Chanukah. I am working on our dinner: roasted lamb, latkes, and, of course, Challah bread. Today has been fairly productive. My youngest son, Nathan, and I got a haircut, I picked up coffee and lunch for myself and my wife, Tikvah, and Nathan and I went to Arby's to get his check, as well as deposit it in the bank. The weather has been rather unusual. Not only has there not been any snow, but the temperatures have been that for t-shirts and shorts. Weather like this depresses me. In December I expect to be, at the very least, a little bundled up. In fact, the weather is warm enough where I may start off the lamb roast on the grill. Regardless of the weather, at least I have my beautiful wife's company!

Since tonight is the final candle lighting for Chanukah, I'll post one more video to celebrate the miracle known as the Festival Of Lights. This one by Matthew Paul Miller, a.k.a. Matisyahu. Again, I hope you (if you are one of us that celebrate this Festival) have had a joyous and festive Chanukah!

26 December 2011

Day 359 (My First Official Vacation Day; Chanukah, Day 7)

As of now, I am officially on vacation. I don't really have any special plans, nor any destination. What I do have, however, are records to convert to iTunes... a lot of records. I doubt that I'll even get half of them converted, but I'll try to get a good chunk done. We have been basically kicking back and watching tv... as a matter of fact, we are currently watching the Being Human marathon. The SyFy channel is having the marathon to gear up for the new season premier in mid-January. Tomorrow I will be making dinner for the last night of Chanukah. Dinner will consist of a nice lamb roast, latkes, and (of course) Challah bread.

On this, the 7th night of Chanukah, I want to share a video that is not only a good song, but from somebody I know personally. Bruce Burger, a.k.a. Rebbe Soul has put out some very good music, and this song is certainly good for spinning a dradle and eating gelt. Enjoy, and Happy Chanukah!!

25 December 2011

Day 358 (It Felt nice To Sleep In; Chanukah, Day 6)

Slept in this morning until about 0900-ish. It was nice and quiet this morning, and my wife Tikvah and I were the only ones awake. Though last night we had a surprise. As I mentioned yesterday, we went over to have dinner with some friends, Brett & Helen. For the record, considering Helen had never made latkes (potato pancakes). hummus, and baklava before... she did quite well! All was delicious... to the point where even though we were full, I just wanted "one more bite". On the way home (in fact we were about 5-6 minutes from getting there), we had received a phone call from our security company that they had an alert of a security breach. Tikvah and I suspected what it may have been, so we told the security company there was no need to dispatch a call to the police. When we arrived home, our hunches were correct... our son, Sean-Patrick had come home for a visit.

It turned out to be a nice surprise.

May you all continue to have a blessed and joyous Chanukah!!

Chanukah Jewish Rock of Ages - Official Hanukkah Song (Video)

Courtesy of aish.com

24 December 2011

Day 357 (A Chanukah Sabbath, Day 5)

Today has been a peaceful and lovely day. Last night my wife relented and let me open my Chanukah gifts, which turned out to be quite awesome. The big one (that she saved for last) was the recent re-issue of a Miles Davis album:

Today itself was very relaxing. Since tonight we will be having dinner with friends, it was requested that I make some Challah bread, so I've been working on that - in between watching episodes of the NCIS marathon. Since today continues in the joy and remembrance of the miracle of Chanukah, I am going to post a video, which I found to be quite hilarious. So as I close, enjoy this video of Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert:

Happy Chanukah everyone!!

23 December 2011

Day 356 (Starting Vacation Early; Chanukah, 4th Day)

This morning brought my departure from the Tyson facility in Union City, TN (sounds better than, "this morning I left from Tyson", ya think?). I performed my required load checks along the way, all the while listening to Live Frogs by Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade on my iPod. Before I made it West Memphis, AR I received a message for a deadhead order. I then called Monica, my Fleet Manager, to inquire about said order. When she answered, we exchanged the usual pleasantries before I asked her where the deadhead order was sending me (since I was unable to read the message while driving... plus it's not too safe). She told me it was sending me home. "But I still have a few more days out" I replied, to which she answered, "true, but there's no freight to haul." So basically, I'm going on vacation a couple days early.

I topped off the fuel in Russellville, AR before dropping the trailer at Tyson. Since there were no empty trailers at the Tyson facility (actually, there were no trailers - period), I was instructed to go next door and get an empty trailer from the cold storage facility. Loaded trailer dropped; hooked up to empty trailer; now I'm getting ready to scan all my paperwork in, make a stop at Starbucks in Conway (on the way home) then to home... for Sabbath, and for Chanukah!

To those who may observe: Happy Chanukah!!

22 December 2011

Day 355 (Another Load Done; Chanukah, Day 3)

Last night I picked up the load from the Tyson plant in Nashville, AR, then I shut down and began my 10 hour break. Said break expired at around 1030 this morning, so having done my pre-trip - and coffee in hand - I started a long day to Union City, TN. Making a fuel stop in Benton, AR, as well as the required load checks (first one within 50 miles of loading, then every 150 miles after that), I arrived in Union City at 1830. This afternoon I was pre-planned on my next load. Fortunately, I will be re-loading here in Union City heading to Russellville, AR. As with yesterday, I'll head out in the morning. It's supposed to be due at 1500, but we'll have to wait and see how the unloading process goes first before I predict my time of arrival in Russellville. The computer program utilized by my employer has already predicted that the delivery may be late, due to my hours.

Today is the 3rd night of Chanukah. I wanted to post another video link, but seeing as Union City is still only on the Edge network (and I'm already past my deadline) I just don't have the patience to wait for a video to load so I can watch it. So forgive my lack of content vis a vis video links to commemorate this joyous holiday, both from yesterday and today. I'll try to make it up to you tomorrow.

Have a joy-filled and Happy Chanukah!!

21 December 2011

Day 354 (A Tyson Load To Tennessee)

I unloaded this afternoon in Rogers, AR and I am finally done with that load. I did, however, get pre-planned on another load, since I still have a few days before I go on vacation. This one picks up in Nashville, AR and is scheduled to deliver in Union City, TN at noon tomorrow, but knowing this particular Tyson facility, they won't even load me until about 2300 tonight. Therefore, once I get loaded, I'll just get a parking spot on their lot and begin my 10 hour break.

While I was in Rogers, there was another truck driver also delivering there. Him and I had gotten into a spirited discussion on religion... one that he initiated. After the first few minutes, I gathered that he was - more or less - anti-religion, and expressing his distain for the "ignorant masses", as well as their willingness to follow because it's "tradition." Though after about 20 minutes, I think I proved to him that I was rather the worthy intellectual adversary... mainly for the fact that his demeanor and attitude changed from one of bitterness to that which was more respectful - both to the dialogue at hand, and to the debater (though I would never claim to be a master of it). I hope that I proved to him that I am one of those that doesn't follow the beliefs of the status quo, but instead form my own system of beliefs based on what I have studied and not on what I have heard (or been told). I am a follower of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus The Messiah), but I don't observe, nor celebrate, Christmas & Easter.

We may run into each other again someday. When we do, I expect the discussion to be just as lively.

Happy Chanukah - Day 2!!

20 December 2011

Day 353 (Westward Bound To Rogers On The First Night Of Chanukah)

I arrived at the customer (in Calhoun, GA) last night and loaded this morning, with product going to Rogers, AR. The trouble is I didn't get out of there until 1000 (CT) and it's due for delivery at 1000 tomorrow. Looking at the map, there were one of three ways to go. The route I chose is longer, but it's mainly interstate, whereas the other two covered some ground on U.S. highways and two-lane state roads - either way would have taken about the same amount of time. Needless to say, I'll be getting to Rogers later than 1000 tomorrow.

With sunset approaching, tonight will see the start of Chanukah. Therefore the festivities will go on for - in the words of Adam Sandler - "eight crazy nights." Naturally, no mention of Chanukah would be complete unless I added a link to Mr. Sandler's now classic (and still epically funny) "Chanukah Song" video. So for all my brothers & sisters in Judaism - Happy Hanukkah! May you all be blessed!!

19 December 2011

Day 352 (Loading Tomorrow)

I unloaded today, just after lunch, in Chattanooga, TN, after which I made mt way down to Resaca, GA, just 40 or so miles south of Chattanooga, and just a few miles north of where I load at in the morning in Calhoun, GA. I'm always fortunate when I go to a customer's facility that allows overnight parking. I prefer that for two reasons: A) I don't have to deal with the morning traffic, and, B) it allows me some extra time to try finding the customer's location, which will always revert back to point A. I called the broker concerning this next load, and whether or not I could load it today. Unfortunately the customer won't have the product ready until early in the morning. Therefore that only means that tomorrow could be a long day, since this load is due in Rogers, AR at 1000 on Wednesday.

I like what I do, especially in our current tumultuous economy. That's not to be confused with enjoying what I do. It's a way to support my family. As former pro football player/WWE Superstar Bill Goldberg once said, "if you're not smiling when you go into work every day, then you're in the wrong place." He has a point. There are other things I'd rather be doing, but it always comes down to one essential thing: capital, a.k.a. finances. I would much rather travel the country while playing in a band, or working as an independent DJ (using turntables, also referred to as "old school"), but I'm not. I'm just a truck driver. A vocation that receives much disdain from the general public without so much as the consideration that if it weren't for us, then how would those same people that hold contempt for us get their groceries, clothing, gas, etc. All of these things are transported by truck. We are the mediator between the producers and the retailers. All factors augment one another, and with even one factor missing, the process comes to a screeching halt. Yet producers, retailers, fuel sources continually raise prices, but if the trucking industry stops their operations in protest of rising fuel costs - and no increase in shipping rates - we, as the drivers, are held liable as performing an "act of terrorism".

Something to think about while having a cup of coffee.

18 December 2011

Day 351 (I Now Have A Re-Start)

I am currently still in Oak Grove, KY, have just gone through my reading from Daily Dose Of Torah on this week's Torah portion. I have yet to leave, mainly because I'm feeling very relaxed (a.k.a. a bit lazy). I will be heading out a little later to finish this trip to Chattanooga, TN. Though I'm not due to deliver until tomorrow afternoon at 1300 (ET), I'll get there tonight so I don't have to endure the hassles common among the weekday traffic. Once I do get this load finished, I'll head down to Calhoun, GA to wait until Tuesday to pick up my next load. That load (which we attained through a broker) will take me to Rogers, AR to be delivered on Wednesday morning.

What will happen after that is still unknown at this juncture. I still have until The 26th before I have to be home for my vacation. I don't think we will be going anywhere for this vacation, but we will be celebrating Hanukkah... and my wife, Tikvah, will have a "to do" list waiting for me. To be quite honest, my expertise of "home improvement" is like that of Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor: once I'm done, we need a professional to fix my "home improvement". Eventually I'll get the hang of it.

I say: when all else fails - drink more coffee.

17 December 2011

Day 350 (A Full Day In "Lively" Oak Grove, KY)

Today was spent mainly in my truck, parked at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Oak Grove, KY, just walking distance from the Ft. Campbell Army base (which has the only Starbucks - which I cannot go to because it's on a military base). This has been a wonderful - and peaceful - Sabbath day. I have been in the truck most of the day doing my Torah study for the week, though I have been able to keep up with the daily reading throughout the week. As I mentioned yesterday, to shut down and completely rest for the Sabbath is a luxury I'm not often afforded being a truck driver, so I take full advantage of it whenever possible.

I was thinking of leaving out tomorrow to head to Chattanooga, TN, but since I'm not expected for delivery until 1300 on Monday, I may just leave out that morning (I'm only 200 miles from the customer), deliver that afternoon, then head to Calhoun, GA to load on Tuesday morning. The only setback about being here (apart from not being able to gain access to the Starbucks) is the incessant fluctuation of cell signal between 3G and Edge networks. But there really is no absolute need to be on the internet... so for now, I'll overlook that minor flaw.

On another note, a few days ago I opined on the blog about whether I would continue my daily offerings on this blog. I haven't had much feedback on the subject (to be quite honest, I've had none), but I have decided to go another year. The reason being, I've rather become accustomed to posting on a daily basis. If I were to just "pull the plug", as it were, I would probably not know what to do with the gap... or my thoughts, for that matter. I may not have very many people whom I can count among my readership, but I do enjoy posting every day, actually. I may not garner the type of following that I see of other acquaintances/fellow bloggers, but I guess I'm content with that... for now. In the mean time I'll just continue to post my thoughts/ramblings/rants and see just what - if anything - comes out of it.

Now it's time for some more coffee.

16 December 2011

Day 349 (Finally, A Rest Period)

I was up at 0200 this morning (again) to try and make some headway on this load, unsure of whether it still needed to get there today, or if it could wait until Monday. Fortunately it has been scheduled for 1300 (ET) on Monday. This is good news for me, since now I can slow down a bit... and get some rest. Getting up at 0200 is not an easy task if you're not used to it, as I am not. When I pulled out my percolator pot to brew up some coffee, it even said to me, "At this hour?! Surely you can't be serious!", to which I replied, "I am serious... and don't call me 'Shirley'!" Yes, some strange things - and conversations - happen at those early hours (and you thought inanimate objects only come to life in movies like Toy Story). I've also been given a pre-plan for next week, which picks up Tuesday in Georgia and delivers Wednesday morning in Rogers, AR; I'll be back to a little bit of hard running before my vacation starts the following week.

Since I'm now delivering Monday afternoon, I've decided to shut down in Oak Grove, KY (about 45 minutes west of Nashville, TN), get a re-start on my logbook... and enjoy a completely work-free Sabbath... a luxury I don't often get in this job. I did discover that there is a Starbucks within walking distance from here, but it looks as though it's on the Ft. Campbell Army base. At least I can enjoy the Anniversary Blend I have here on the truck, but no grande triple Marble Mocha Machiatto for me... yet.

15 December 2011

Day 348 (Another Long Day Tomorrow)

I was up at 0200 this morning, and it looks like it's going to be that way tomorrow as well. I was originally pre-planned to pick up a load in Batavia, IL to deliver by 1000 tomorrow in Little Rock, AR, but that one was cancelled. After waiting for 1 1/2 hours (while my logbook clock was ticking away) I finally got another load, this one picking up in Janesville, WI... although this one also will be a rough one. I made it up here to Janesville and loaded the trailer, but this is where I will be staying, since I'm out of hours. The CSR is showing this load delivers tomorrow in Chattanooga, TN at 1700 (1600 CT), and at 700 miles - that's NOT going to happen. However, the broker that our CSR booked the load through said I could deliver this either tomorrow at the prescribed time, or Monday.

I would prefer to have delivered this tomorrow, but it looks as though I'm stuck with this until Monday... all because somebody doesn't know how to figure a driver's hours in conjunction with the miles on the load.

At least I had some good coffee this morning, and plan to repeat the process tomorrow morning.

14 December 2011

Day 347 (Pushing On To The Chicago Area)

I was up at 0430 this morning, in order to get the Tyson load, then on to our company terminal in North Little Rock, AR to drop Randy off. I took care of some business while I was there, not really wanting to stick around too long as this load is already going to be late... and I don't like to be late. Not only that, but I also wanted to make the best use of my time (especially since my logbook is rather scant on hours). As it is I will have to get up at around 0200 in the morning to get on the road.

Since I'm at a rest area it looks like I'll be making coffee in the morning before I head out. Tomorrow could be a long day, but I'll try to make the best out of it... when life hands you lemons, wait around a bit, then you can have what you need for a nice fruit salad.

13 December 2011

Day 346 (Farewell, Randy)

This has been a long day. Leaving from Posotum, IL this morning and making it to Searcy, AR before their 1600 cutoff time. While we were there, I went to see an old acquaintance, Mark. Mark and I used to work together - indirectly, of course - back when I drove for another trucking company. During that time, Mark was a Customer Service Representative (CSR), one who made regular contact with the customers we hauled for, and one who would assign loads to trucks in his area. There were a few times when I was in Mark's area when he needed a "favor" (a.k.a. a load in urgent need of rapid delivery). Mark is now the supervisor over the Traffic Department at Land O Frost, so he's done well for himself.

Before we left Searcy, Randy said he needed to talk to me about something, which I had an idea of what it may be. He decided that perhaps being a truck driver isn't the job for him. He explained to me why he came to that decision: he saw that there are quite a few customers we deal with that aren't as efficient as they could be. His is a very legitimate point, one that I agree with... but I've learned to "improvise, adapt, overcome" (a valuable trait I've kept with me since my Marine Corps days). I sincerely believe that whatever Randy chooses to do from here, he will perform well at. I've seen that he has drive and focus, two keys things essential for success in any field. Be well and be blessed, Randy... you did well!

12 December 2011

Day 345 (Farewell, Wisconsin... Until Next Time)

Randy and I were unloaded this morning and headed to the Pilot truck stop just a few miles away. When we arrived there, we topped off the fuel, then found a parking spot. Shortly thereafter we were dispatched. Originally we were going to pick up a load of Tootsie Rolls in Chicago, with a drop in Danville, IL, then finish off tomorrow afternoon in Memphis. While in line to get the trailer washed out at the truck wash, the load cancelled. We didn't wait too long before we were dispatched on another load. Before we left the truck stop, I (of course) made a Starbucks run.

This new load picks up in Lansing, IL, which is just on the south end of the Chicago area. It delivers tomorrow, by 1600, in Searcy, AR. We are running a little low on our hours, so I don't suspect we will be running too hard... unless we get a re-start in sometime soon. Now I don't foresee that happening yet, as I just received a pre-plan. Our next load will have us going to Russellville, AR and taking a Tyson load back up to the Chicago area.

Thus is the continuing saga of a truck driver's life...

Pass the coffee and no one will get hurt!

11 December 2011

Day 344 (Wisconsin... On The Final Stretch)

Last night we shut down in a service plaza on the Ohio Turnpike, about 35 miles east of Toledo (the hometown of M*A*S*H character Cpl. Klinger). I had us park there for the night because, a) there may not have been any parking places at the Flying J, and, b) the service plaza had both a Starbucks and an Einstein Bros. Bagels... which I had both for breakfast. From Einstein Bros. I ordered a Lox & Bagel:

Once we left the service plaza, Randy drove us to the Flying J to top off the fuel, and to get a shower... and to wash a few dishes I had dirtied preparing what we will have for dinner tonight. We made a stop in Merrillville, IN so I could pick up a few things (more milk being one of them) at Meijer, then finish this trip. At present, we are less than 130 miles from the customer, and Randy gets his first taste of driving through Chicago, though I don't expect it will be that bad... but tomorrow, well that's another story.

10 December 2011

Day 343 (On Our Way To Wisconsin,,, Finally)

Yesterday, we (Randy and I) arrived at the customer to load (in Smithfield, VA) at 1046 (ET). Though our appointment to load wasn't until 2200, I had hoped they would load us early... they didn't. As many other truck drivers know, meat packing facilities, whether it be beef or pork (this one being the latter), are not what one could consider a "pinnacle of efficiency", and we are, basically, at their mercy. By the time we had finally gotten the trailer loaded - and waited for our paperwork to get processed/printed - it was nearly 0230 (ET) before we went to bed. Needless to say, my plan to get to Wisconsin sometime tonight and get a re-start on our logbook has officially been aborted (i.e. it's not going to happen).

We left out this morning at about 0730 (CT), and Randy got some experience driving through some of the backroads of Virginia, West Virginia, and a little of Maryland. As we travel along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I figure we will be shutting down on the Ohio Turnpike somewhere... probably near the Cleveland area. We will be stopping tomorrow outside of Toledo to top off the fuel and get a shower... perhaps even stop at a Meijer in Indiana. All in all, it was still a pleasant Sabbath... all things considered.

There is a picture a snapped along Virginia S.R. 10 this morning, of a town that I don't think is a preferred vacation spot for many of us in the Jewish faith:

09 December 2011

Day 342 (Uneventful, Unproductive Day - Thank You Smithfield)

This morning Randy and I unloaded at the customer in Sandston, VA. When we arrived there last night, I discovered that not only do they not allow for overnight parking, (they had their gates locked) but once you go in, you're committed to parking on the (measly excuse for a) shoulder as there is no place to turn around... I guess that's what you expect from a facility that is government run. Once we were empty, I tried calling the broker concerning this Wisconsin load, but they hadn't come into their offices yet (They are based in Utah). Once they did, the lady told me that an appointment hadn't been set up yet (just for the record, the brokerage, England Logistics, is a subsidiary of the trucking company, C. R. England), but she would call me as soon as it was lined out.

Normally I wouldn't give my cell number to a broker, as is our company policy when dealing with brokers, but it was early... I hadn't had coffee yet... and I forget to set my iPhone to block the caller i.d. (as I said, I hadn't had coffee yet). As it turned out, the young lady called back a little later and told me the appointment was set for 2200 tonight. I went ahead and drove down there (Smithfield, VA) in the hopes of getting loaded early. I arrived at 1046 (ET) and have yet to get put in a door - it is now 1746 (ET). Whenever we do get loaded (which will be late), I think I'll just have us park here,and leave in the morning (so much for getting a re-start in Wisconsin).

That's ok... I won't be doing any driving... it's the Sabbath.

08 December 2011

Day 341 (The Final Stretch To Virginia)

Randy and I only made it as far as Leavenworth, IN last night, which is short of where I wanted to be. The delay having been caused by having (what started out as) simple work done on the truck. As we make our way through West Virginia, I'm looking at the distance still yet to be covered and, by the way it's looking, I will have to take over the driving before too long to ensure we make it to the customer tonight. I'll probably have him pull off in the service plaza at Beckley and switch over... not to mention make a sandwich (I have some really good pastrami just waiting to be eaten), and grab some Starbucks (I foresee a grande triple Marble Mocha Machiatto in the near future).

I spoke with the broker of my next load which will be going up to Wisconsin for Monday. We both enjoyed a little chuckle when she lamented that she's waiting on another driver to call, who is picking up a load for them today, and here I am calling about a load I'm picking up tomorrow. I guess that's what helps me to stand out from other drivers: the fact that I plan ahead and take care of the details early on. It also helps to be driven by excellence.

Coffee anyone?

07 December 2011

Day 340 (A Slight Delay, But Still On Track... So Far)

Randy and I left Olathe, KS this morning at 0800 and began this trip heading to Sandston, VA. On the way, one of the turn signal lights stopped working, so we went to the terminal in Madison, IL (just outside St. Louis) to have it taken care of. We had planned on stopping there anyway, first to top off the fuel at the Pilot just south of the terminal, and also to get a shower. After the shower, Randy and I - along with another driver in the company - made a run to Starbucks (as if that's at all surprising). Dan (the other driver) works in the flatbed division, whom I haven't seen in a few weeks, is always a character to hang out with. We chatted about whatever came to mind on the trip. He, like myself, is prior military (though he was in the Army, but I won't hold that against him), but he is someone I can look up to... literally... he comes in at 6' 8".

The shop at the terminal fixed the light, but also updated the program in the engine's computer. The delay occurred when they were running the updates and/or diagnostics, when the final one failed to do what it was supposed to do... whatever that is. The mechanic tried closing the system and starting over, but to no avail. He finally called the nearby Freightliner shop and eventually had to reboot the system, then that last item did whatever it was supposed to do... whatever that is. We are now underway finishing our day, and trying to cover as many miles as we can before our 14 hour clock expires for the day.

At least I had Starbucks - twice... one which I got from one of their locations, and the other which I made this morning in my percolator with the ground coffee I purchased from a Starbucks (in Wisconsin, to be exact).

06 December 2011

Day 339 (Almost to Kansas, Then To Virginia)

Yesterday was less than enjoyable, at least as far as work goes. After I finished unloading in Searcy, AR, I met up with Randy at our North Little Rock. We got together, I ran him to Walmart (a place I despise) to get a few groceries, then to Starbucks (of course). We chatted a bit then made our way to Pine Bluff, AR to get our load from Tyson. Things went pretty smoothly until I scaled it out at the truck stop, about 2 miles away. The bills were showing that I was hauling just under 42,000 lbs, yet when I weighed it, I was over my legal gross weight limits (80,000).

I explained to the loader that there had to be more weight than what the bills were showing, and told him I have hauled a load that was just under 46,000 lbs - with a full tank of fuel - and was still NOT over gross. Either way, they removed a pallet, got me under the gross weight limits, and I was gone. However, due to running short on hours on my logbook, I shut down in Conway, AR... since that was the last place where I could have found a place to park.

After we fueled in Collins, MO, I had Randy take over the driving, so he can get his skills improved. The weather is getting cooler (about 25° in Collins), which is just what I've been waiting for. We've already been pre-planned to pick up our next load in Olathe, KS (the same Tyson facility this load is going to) and delivering on Friday in Sanderson, VA... wherever that is.

05 December 2011

Day 338 (New Student, Another Adventure)

I left out this morning at about 1030 and made my way to Searcy, AR (about 40 miles north of Little Rock) for my delivery. After yesterday, I was beginning to think Arkansas has become a rainforest state with all the rain (it even continued quite a bit today, as well). With a cup of home brewed coffee in hand, I was ready to face the day. After I'm done unloading here, I'll head to our terminal in North Little Rock to meet up with my next student, Randy. I also plan on taking care of my laundry. From what I gather so far, Randy is a retired police officer from the West Memphis, AR area. With that in mind, he's probably in his early 50's... but I'll give you more details about him later.

Our first load together will pick up in Pine Bluff, AR and take us to Olathe, KS. I'll be going on vacation at the end of the month, so - as I understand it - Randy, too, will be on a vacation, of sorts. He will be on my truck for two weeks, then at home while I'm on vacation, then we will re-join up in January and finish his training... and depending on how he does these next two weeks will determine whether he needs just one more week, or two. Being as I have never had a student more than 3 1/2 weeks (one was 4 weeks, but that was beyond either of our control), I don't foresee a problem (I can be a bit of a taskmaster when I need to be).

It was difficult to leave home (as it usually is), but the time I spent there was nothing short of very enjoyable. By the way, the Pico de Gallo I made last night... yeah, I brought it with me:

04 December 2011

Day 337 (Another Lazy Day)

Weather-wise, this has been a pretty bleak day. Considering I have spent the entire day with my family, that in itself has made the whole day brighter. After service, Tikvah made an incredible baked chicken breasts for our midday dinner... along with some of her incredible potato salad. I played some Battlefield 3 on Nathan's X-Box. Tikvah and I took a little nap (which is almost a ritual for Sundays).

Once this blog gets posted, I will then go in the kitchen and make some Pico de Gallo, which will be a nice condiment for our tortilla chips while we watch a little "tellie" (on tonight's schedule: Pan Am - since it wasn't on the past 2 weeks, it BETTER be on), and later on have more coffee with the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, that Tikvah made earlier.

Yeah, it's going to be that kind of a chillaxin' evening!

03 December 2011

Day 336 (Home Until Monday)

Today turned out to be a good day. I left from Hayti, MO this morning and made it home a little after 1400. Since I don't deliver until Monday afternoon, I figured it's better to spend the time at home than in the truck. When I made it home, my wife and I went to Kroger and picked up a few things (I will be making some Pico De Gallo tomorrow) for our coffee and for dinner. I made my (as my family puts it) "famous" hamburgers, and Tikvah made her potato salad.

While we were making our respective food items, we also listened to some tunes "on wax" - i.e., Duran Duran Rio and Depeche Mode Black Celebration. As you can see, it's been a peaceful and relaxing end to the Sabbath.

02 December 2011

Day 335 (A Stop At Home On My Way To Searcy, AR)

I unloaded just around lunch time in Richwood, KY. Once I finished there, I made my way to Cincinnati to pick up my next load - Morton Salt. I was pre-planned on that load, and - to be quite honest - the process took longer than it should have, due to the fact that the broker didn't have everything lined out as they should have. It all worked out pretty well, though. On my way back through Kentucky, I made a stop in Florence, not only for some Starbucks, but also to have a bowl of Matzoh Ball Soup at Izzy's (if you recall, I dedicated an entire post to them several months back... I would post the link here, but unfortunately 3G is being very slow today).

It was good to see John at Izzy's again. The last (albeit, the first) time I saw him, was when he made my Izzy's 110 Reuben - which, by the way, was enough to feed myself and 4 other people, by the time it was completely consumed.

This load isn't due for delivery until 1330 Monday, so I think I will be taking a detour and spending a little bit of time at home. As for my next student (Randy), him and I will be getting together next week. He has some business that he need to tend to on Monday, and, even though I don't like doing this, we will be together for two weeks, then I go on vacation (and he'll go home), then we will resume his training in January. More to come on that later. As Sabbath approaches, I bid you all a good evening... may you all be blessed!

01 December 2011

Day 334 (Going To Kentucky; A New Student)

I made the delivery in Hanover Park, IL this morning, then ended up waiting... but not for long. I did, however, get hit with a couple glitches. Originally I was to pick up in Milwaukee, WI and take that product to St. Louis, MO for tomorrow, but when I stopped for fuel (about 25-30 miles from the customer) I received a message to stay there - the load had cancelled. I waited a little while longer, then was dispatched on another load (from the same broker) which picks up in Burlington, WI (about 30 south of where I was) and delivers tomorrow in Richwood, KY... just south of Cincinnati, OH.

Yesterday I was informed that I am scheduled to pick up a new student (Randy from Marion, AR, which, as you may remember from the other day's post, is just north of West Memphis, AR). Delivering tomorrow in Richwood, KY could put a bit of a pinch on Randy's training, as it will delay my picking him up. I'll not worry about it too much, I know that HaShem has it all under control. I am hoping, though, if I do pick up Randy, that I get another load heading up to the northwest. He will then get some good mountain training... and possibly some snow training, as well.

30 November 2011

Day 333 (Tonight, Chicago Area; Tomorrow, Who Knows)

I left this morning from a small truck stop just north of Marion, AR. I made a couple quick stops along the way, then topped off the fuel in Effingham, IL - where I also made a trip to Starbucks.

In just a little over 30 days, I've realized, I will have fulfilled my challenge of blogging every day for a year. At this point, I'm really not sure where I will go next. Whether I continue blogging every day, or move on to something else, remains to be seen. Hopefully I can get a little input. I'm sure that I've had a few posts that were less than interesting, but (at this particular point) I don't know what I would do if I do end the blog... I have rather come to enjoy posting each day - even when I go on my occasional rant. I should come up with a firm decision within the next 32 days.

29 November 2011

Day 332 (Heading Up North - A Little)

Last night, by the time Tyson finished loading my trailer, I had only an hour left to drive. I decided to park at their facility for the night, mainly because I was unfamiliar with the first 75 miles of the route, and didn't know where I would have been able to park. It was also snowing, so I just sat there watching it fall. I made a stop on the way here to Russellville, AR (of course, at Starbucks), stretching my legs in Conway, AR.

I was given a pre-plan, which has me picking up at the same Tyson facility I'm delivering to. Fortunately, it had already been loaded, so I'm able to cover some ground tonight, then finish off tomorrow what's left. This load has me going to Hanover Park, IL - in the Chicago area - for Thursday morning. Probably by tomorrow afternoon I'll know where I will be going next. In just a few weeks, I'll take my first vacation with this company. We may not go anywhere, but at least I'll be home for the last few days of Chanukah.

28 November 2011

Day 331 (Back On The Road Until Chanukah)

I left out this morning and was dispatched just before noon. The load I am hauling picks up here in Dexter, MO and delivers tomorrow in Russellville, AR (though I would much prefer to avoid these Tyson loads). It was a very nice weekend at home. Spent some good time with my wife and youngest son. It was just the 3 of us for Thanksgiving, as my 18 year old son was unable to make it down. My youngest, Nathan, is pretty happy that my drums are set up in his room... we even had a mini jam session a few nights ago. My wife, Tikvah, and I were discussing earlier today, and I may take my vacation later in December. I may not be home for all of Chanukah, but I will be home for most of it. Probably after the first of the year, I may begin doing some upgrades on the set (replacing heads, etc.) though it could take a while before it's all complete.

Since I was told it will be a few hours before they even start loading me, I think I will take a nap. However, if Tyson isn't on the ball (and this facility rarely is), then this load won't be getting to Russellville by 0800.

At least I have some coffee from home.

27 November 2011

Day 330 (Relaxing Day, Caught Up On TWD)

This has been a very relaxing day. I thought it was rather cool that AMC had a marathon showing all the episodes (leading up to the season finale) of The Walking Dead. So today was spent getting caught up on those episodes (spoiler alert: they finally found Sophia). The bad thing is, now I have to wait until February for the next season.

On another note, for lunch today my awesome wife, Tikvah, made a most excellent pot pie, using the leftover turkey. Needless to say, there were NO leftovers. Tikvah had a craving a little later (and once she mentioned it, I then had the craving) for hot wings, so I ran over to Dollar General and grabbed a couple boxes. I cooked them up and had them ready by the time tonight's new "mid-season" finale came on. All in all, it was a good evening.

Oh yeah... there was also coffee today, too.

26 November 2011

Day 329 (A Wet Day, A Peaceful Sabbath)

Today was fairly peaceful, fairly lazy. A quiet Sabbath, spent some time in Torah. It's rained a bit, off and on, throughout the day. For dinner we had some leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal... and it still tasted good (by the way, my wife makes some incredible Sweet Potato Casserole). Tomorrow will be my last day at home. It's been nice being able to get home a few extra days earlier, but it's always so difficult to head back out on the road come Monday.

All three of us are presently watching Hell On Wheels on AMC. I've heard of the show, but only just now get to watch it. Tomorrow, however, The Walking Dead and Leverage will be on... both of which I haven't been able to see for a while. My youngest son, Nathan, had recorded the past few weeks of The Walking Dead on the DVR, but it went on the fritz, and since we exchanged the receiver, we lost all that was recorded.


25 November 2011

Day 328 (A Day In Little Rock)

Today, Tikvah and I took a trip to Little Rock, about an hour and a half from our home, just to hang out and do stuff (for the record, we did not subject ourselves to the Black Friday madness - though the crowds that were out for that purpose were unavoidable). We did, however, make a stop for coffee at Starbucks. Our meal consisted of using the Outback gift card our oldest son gave us for an anniversary gift, which (in my opinion) was slightly above mediocre at best. It was a long day, stopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Guitar Center, Old Navy, and Target... just to name a few of our stops.

We also drove by the location where the Occupy Little Rock movement has set up their dwellings (a.k.a. tents). It was a pretty mild day, weather wise, and the traffic wasn't as insane as I would have expected. We are at home now, tomorrow is the Sabbath. I hope the evening finds you in good spirits, and recovering nicely from the self-imposed tryptophan-induced coma that many of us sentenced ourselves to yesterday. Actually, I may partake of the leftovers shortly.

24 November 2011

Day 327 (Thanksgiving Day)

This morning My wife and I got up and went to one of the local congregations to help out with their Thanksgiving meal (i.e. serving the meals, delivering to elderly). I left there about noon to head home and begin making our turkey. When Tikvah came home (around 1400) she made the green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and baked apples & cinnamon. The turkey turned out pretty good; rubbed with olive oil and seasonings, and sprinkled with granulated garlic and lemon pepper, then I put it in the pan with a 1/2 bottle of liquid smoke. Once it was all done Tikvah, Nathan and myself ate... Tikvah and I washed it down with a glass of Pomegranate wine. Yes it was delicious!

23 November 2011

Day 326 (What A Busy Day)

Well, today turned out to be a bit of a busy day. I did some running around with Tikvah, my wife, and was able to get the paperwork (from the load I delivered in Springfield, MO yesterday) faxed to my employer. Receipts were mailed off, Tikvah got her check, and I picked up my drums, which are now taking up residency in my youngest son, Nathan's, room:

After all that was accomplished, we even stopped by Sonic (I was craving the Chicago Dogs) for lunch. Went home, where Nathan helped me set the drums up... then we had a little jam session with one of the songs he wrote. Tikvah and I just got back a little while ago for the laundromat, since our washer decided to call it quits. Now we are getting ready to chill out to a movie (probably Heartbreak Ridge) and drink some coffee. Tomorrow will be a busy day; before we make our own dinner, we will be helping at one of the local congregations to prepare and serve meals to those who may be less fortunate. I think that's one thing I can be truly thankful for: that I can bring a little joy and happiness to others. In this time where there are many who are struggling financially just to make ends meet, to show them that there are others who are willing to serve them, to relieve them of their worries and burdens - if even for just a couple hours - that's more gratifying than the mere words that we speak to say what we are thankful for. 

Just food for thought (no pun intended).

Day 325 (Apologies For Posting Late)

I sincerely apologize to all my readers (however few they may be), but as I type this out, I am sitting at home. Doyle and I unloaded this afternoon in Springfield, MO, after which we were told to go home (of course, not before making a stop at Starbucks prior to heading home). In fact, one of the instructors from the training center (for the company to which whom I am employed) called me yesterday and told me to release Doyle to go home for the weekend. Come Monday, he will have to be at our North Little Rock terminal to take his final evaluation test, then get his own truck assigned to him.

I do not doubt that he will do well. When he took his "maiden voyage" through the snow in Wyoming 1 1/2 weeks ago, I noticed he may have been very nervous, but that meant he was also be very cautious - a positive sign. He did well driving through snow, and he successfully made it through the mountainous regions of Wyoming and Oregon. He's still young enough to where he will be driving for some time to come. May he be blessed!

21 November 2011

Day 324 (A Very Weird Dream)

Some say that weird dreams come depending on what you had eaten before bed. I don't know how true that is this, but the elves did a number on me last night, if that's the case. In my dream, though I don't remember much of it, I recall being in a large open field, filled with people. It seemed as though it was either a gathering for a Presidential Address being broadcast on a giant Jumbotron television, or a live rally. I do recall Obama, in his speech, was saying to the American people that Muslims were nothing to be afraid of and they were truly peaceful people. I'm sure we actually heard this before, but then there was a twist in what was going on.

Suddenly I am hearing this very same thing coming from Christian pastors... even from the ones I know personally. Sure, this, too, is happening in real life (except for the part about when it's coming from pastors I know personally), but in the dream, I recall getting a deep feeling in my gut that there was something very wrong happening. People around me were buying what was being fed to us, but I had the feeling doom was getting ready to fall upon us... at any moment! Almost as if I could literally sense those trying to bring violent harm upon us were waiting in the wings, and will pounce upon us all any moment, while everyone around me were celebrating what will happen to them.

What say you?

20 November 2011

Day 323 (On The Final Leg Of This Trip)

Doyle and I started from Warrenton, MO this morning (just west of the St. Louis area), awaking to a temperature in the low 40's. He did his pre-trip and topped off the fuel, then we left with only 399 miles to cover today. We could have left sooner that 1215, but I felt like sleeping in this morning. We did, however, go into Denny's for breakfast. I ordered the Cheese & Veggie Omelet, which I ended up getting for free. As I was enjoying the food, I get about half way through the omelet when a piece of ham fell out. For those that know me personally, know I'm Jewish... therefore, I don't eat ham! When I brought it to the attention of our waitress (and before you ask, I was very courteous & respectful when addressing this issue), she apologized and said she would inform the manager. Two minutes later, the manager - showing the signs that he was doubling as a cook (i.e. perspiration on his forehead) during the brunch rush - came out and also apologized.

He told me he would make another omelet meal, for the inconvenience that had been caused (since I would not be able to eat another omelet, he put it in a "to go" box), AND did not charge me for the food. The L-rd does bless in all types of ways indeed.

It will only be a few more days before I will be bringing Doyle back to our terminal in North Little Rock for him to take his final evaluation test, then get assigned his own truck. This will probably happen this coming Wednesday, when I will also be heading home. Thanksgiving at home is always a blessing in itself. We will also be having a fourth guest at our table: our son, Sean-Patrick. He told me he will be home for a few days, then back up to Missouri, where he is trying to make some headway as a musician... and I must say, he is quite the guitar player.

Since it's raining right now, it's probably as good a time as any for Starbucks. Come to think of it, ANY day is a good time for Starbucks.

19 November 2011

Day 322 (It Is Getting A Bit Chilly)

Last night, Doyle made it to Big Springs, NE, covering a total of 613 miles yesterday (that number holding a special significance for those of us in the Jewish faith) - his biggest day yet. Today has been a very pleasant - albeit chilly - Sabbath. There has been no snow, but it has been a bit windy, which, of course, only increases the "bite" of the lower temperature:

I'm hoping we can make it to the terminal in Madison, IL before we shut down for the night, as that will give us less than 500 miles to finish off tomorrow. As we drive through northwestern Missouri, the skies look to be in a mildly temperamental mood, as if it wants to snow, but is still unsure of the prospect, yet is not yet relenting in its refusal to allow for the sun to come out and play a little longer. I think we shall make a stop just outside of Kansas City, MO at a Super Target, Starbucks will be just what is needed to eradicate this aftertaste of Pilot coffee that is still lingering.

18 November 2011

Day 321 (Where Will We Shut Down? Perhaps Nebraska)

We left the rest area in Brigham City, UT at 0715 (CT) this morning, stopped in Ogden,UT to top off the fuel, then one more stop in Riverdale, UT - about 15 minutes away - to pay a visit to the local Starbucks. Once we left from there, the only stops we made was for Doyle to do his load checks. We just left from the Petro truck stop in Laramie, WY where rid ourselves of the after effects of the aforementioned Starbucks. Doyle drove through a little snow in Evanston, WY (just a few miles from the Utah state line). There wasn't much, just a flurry, though The Weather Channel is predicting about a 70% chance there this afternoon. When we were on our way to Oregon, Doyle drove though the snow in that same area (last Saturday), where it was coming down pretty good. He did pretty good, though I could tell he was nervous. More precisely, he was more nervous than a pregnant nun in the Vatican.

The weather, temperature-wise, has been fairly mild (in my opinion, though Doyle would disagree), probably low to mid 40's, and the flurry in Evanston - plus what was already on the ground - has been the only snow we have seen. At the rate we are going, we will be shutting down in Nebraska... I'm just not sure exactly where.

Today also happens to be a special day, for today are the birthdays of both my wife and my youngest son (yes, 17 years ago today, she delivered a little boy on her birthday). I'll never forget her words, after getting the epidural put in, when she commented on the occasion: "This is a present only I can open". So to my son, Nathan: Happy Birthday, Champ... now clean the garage (just kidding!)! To my wife, Tikvah: Happy Birthday, my angel... you look as beautiful today as you did the day we met! I hope you both have a blessed day... and a joyous Sabbath!

17 November 2011

Day 320 (Getting A Re-Start In Utah)

Last night we made it to Brigham City, UT, where we shut down for the night. This morning when we got up, I noticed that we each had only 11 hours left on our logbooks, and we were picking up no hours tomorrow. I contacted Monica (my Fleet Manager) and Brent (the Broker), to let them know of this. My initial thought was to stay here in the rest area and get a 34 hour re-start, which was confirmed when Monica thought the very same thing. Brent told me that he would set up a delivery time for Sunday night.

It was unfortunate that I didn't have Doyle go to a truck stop. I mainly based my decision on past experiences, where if you get to a truck stop after a certain time, there's a chance you won't find a parking spot. Granted, the economy isn't what it used to be, and there are many trucking companies that have gone out of business, but I haven't been up in this region often enough to gauge accurately the traffic and parking availability within the truck stops. Therefore, we are settling for staying in this rest area until tomorrow morning.

At least we will be able to get some coffee at Starbucks tomorrow.

16 November 2011

Day 319 (Onward And Eastward)

So far this has been a long day. Last night Doyle and I shut down at a rest area just west of Hines, OR, right on U.S. 20. In fact, we were the only vehicle parked in the rest area. This morning as we finished the trip to Jerome, ID (where we are now, getting the trailer loaded), there was one area that had gotten as low as 14°... very brisk, indeed.

As I mentioned yesterday, this load will be going to Lebanon, TN. There has been no appointment date & time set yet, but I think it will be on Monday morning. In the process of getting here, we ran into a few snags: fuel was not really needed, but when picking up a load that's 43,000 lbs, it's a good idea to top off the tanks to make sure your gross & axle weights will be legal; there was also the matter of getting the trailer washed out, which is not really a problem unless there's a line - which there was. It all worked out; the fuel is topped off, and the trailer is washed out. The only thing left to do after getting this trailer loaded is to scale this out. Then we will be on our way to Lebanon, TN.

... and to get coffee.

15 November 2011

Day 318 (Farewell, Oregon)

Doyle and I made our two drops in Portland, OR this morning, then finished out this load in Eugene. While we made our way there (we were actually just a few miles north of Eugene), we were pre-planned on our next load. This load will have be a good run (a.k.a. good miles).We will pick up tomorrow by 1200 (MT) in Jerome, ID - about 500 miles from Eugene - then we will deliver it, probably on Monday, in Lebanon, TN. The weather in Oregon has been pretty mild, a bit rainy, and crisp, cool temperatures.

When we got into Eugene, we actually missed our turn (6th Ave.), so I had Doyle go one block, to 7th Ave, to make our turnaround. As we made our way around the block, we passed a park that appeared to be more of a campsite. It didn't take us long to figure out that the park was the "tent city" for the "Occupy Eugene" protesters. One thing I've noticed about these protesters of the "Occupy" movement, is they don't seem to want a hand up, but a hand out. The same people who are unemployed, yet if the manager of a fast food joint walked up to them and offered them a job that they could start the next day, would probably expect a starting wage of $15 an hour. In these economic times, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up.

For example, when I first began driving a truck (in the mid to late 90's). my starting pay was 25 cents/mile. That may not sound like much, but when you consider that a truck driver covers several hundred miles per day, it adds up. I did my job the best way I knew how. But - as I tell my students today - whether you were with a trainer for 3 weeks or 3 months, you could never cover every possible scenario you may encounter out on the road... NEVER. However, if you persevere - and work hard - your pay will increase. As of right now, when I'm not training a student, I make 40 cents/mile... with a student: 44 cents/mile - for ALL miles covered. 25 cents to 40 cents is a nice jump. The thing is I worked hard over the years: making pick ups & deliveries on time, being professional and courteous... even looking professional. I may not be wealthy, but I am blessed to have a job, and able to pay the bills. I haven't asked for a handout, and I don't expect to get something for nothing. I am driven by excellence. I've applied myself to provide for my family.

It's time for these protesters to wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that those organizations that are "donating" to their "cause" see those protesters as nothing more than useful idiots... dread-headed, mindless fiddles being played by socialist orchestrators who could even care less if a protester dies from pneumonia brought on by living in a tent at a park - as long as their ideologies have the fodder for which they can gain further political posturing. {*deep breath*}

14 November 2011

Day 317 (One Day, And 3 More Deliveries To Go)

This morning Doyle and I began the first of our two day deliveries, starting in Milwaukie, OR, then down to Woodburn. Our third drop was supposed to be in Beaverton, but as we were leaving the second drop, we get a message that it was being changed. Instead of going to Beaverton, we delivered it, instead, to Portland. I won't bore you with the details, but somewhere, somebody failed to pass on the information. The customer that we delivered to had moved this weekend into their new facility. We ended up being late, but the customer was very cool with it. Tomorrow our first drop will be about a 1/2 block from where we were this afternoon.

Since there is no truck parking permitted by the customer, we came over to the truck stops about 4 miles away. Which means we will be getting up about 0630 (CT) in the morning for a 0530 (PT) appointment. This afternoon, however, I received a message that my truck was due a service. Since I'm nowhere close to one of our terminals, we are authorized to get a service done at any T/A Service Center... which just happened to be where we are. Perhaps after we are done with that, it would be a good time for a movie.

... or two.

By the way, I apologize about getting the blog up past my 1630 deadline... I got lazy. I hope you'll forgive me>

13 November 2011

Day 316 (Almost To Portland)

Doyle and I are making our way on the final stretch of this trip. The fact that you are reading this now means that he has made it safely down Deadman Pass (a.k.a. Old Emigrant Hill a.k.a. "Cabbage"). Yesterday, he drove through snow in western Wyoming for his first time in a truck. He has been doing pretty good, and has shown improvement in several areas that he lacked confidence in. The weather out here in Oregon has been pretty mild; chilly with a breeze.

A couple of days ago, Doyle pulled out his laptop and had me watch How I Met Your Mother, which, up until then, I had never seen. I found it to be quite funny. We viewed it online using his Verizon MyFi internet card. The thing I noticed was there was some problems with the buffering - even though the transmitter was showing a full signal. When the advertisements would come on, the buffering would also lag. Yet, when the advert for Verizon would play... flawless! "America's fastest 4G network? I hardly think so!

Before we left from Mountain Home, ID this morning, we got some coffee from the Pilot we parked at, though I made mine a bit more tolerable than usual, simply by filling my cup 1/3 the way with their Columbian blend, and the other 2/3 with instant hot coco (you know, from the automated "cappuccino" machine). It may not be Starbucks, but it did the trick!

12 November 2011

Day 315 (I'd Like Some Feedback On This Idea)

Yesterday Doyle and I left out of Olathe, KS and made it as far as Laramie, WY when we shut down, the final leg (Big Spring, NE to Laramie, WY) having been driven by me. Today we continue the trip west. It's been a beautiful Sabbath, and Doyle has been getting some good experience in: driving through mountains and driving through snow. He's done pretty good thus far... we're still alive and not hospitalized, so that's a good sign.

Driving through Wyoming has always been enjoyable, though it does remind me of an idea I came up with several years ago, but can't see it through to fruition, as I have neither the contacts, nor the resources. The idea is fairly simple, yet complex, and it addresses several social issues. Wyoming is an expanse of a state, with a LOT of open space. Why not utilize that space? First stage would address the homeless issue we have. Find out, of all the homeless people we have, who wants a second chance at life (a.k.a. re-entering society).

Those that either have a background in the construction industry, or would be interested, could actually be key to get the multi-staged project going (they would, hence, be part of the first stage). Put them in temporary lodging (cleaned up, clothes, etc.) and begin their training/employment. They would then be relocated to a new town called Second Chance,Wyoming, where they would temporarily reside in mobile homes, while they begin the construction of housing developments. In the meantime, get contracts & future locations for businesses, from convenience stores/gas stations, grocery store, bank, etc. (possibly even a refinery or distribution center). The entire town wouldn't be built at once, just establish the foundation. The next group of homeless would then occupy the lodgings that were vacated by the initial group, receiving the necessary training to fill the positions of the businesses being built (while the initial group is undergoing the construction of said businesses, upon the completion of the housing developments).

As I said... simple, yet complex. The construction wouldn't be all at once, nor would the former homeless get their permanent home for free (I won't get into the financial details just yet). The point is that we could reduce the statistics for homelessness, provide jobs, and build up the economy (because if you build Second Chance, WY right next to the interstate, like I-80, travelers and truck drivers will be stopping in).

That's just a basic idea... what do YOU think?

11 November 2011

Day 314 (This Will Be A Busy Weekend)

Wednesday Doyle and I made our round trip run from Olathe, KS to Hutchinson, KS and back. The pre-plan we had gotten wasn't finished loading until early this morning, so we stayed at Tyson until about 0830 this morning, and got a restart on our logbooks. This load will have us (or more accurately, Doyle) busy for the weekend. It has a total of 6 drops, all within the Portland, OR area, delivering on Monday and Tuesday.

The good thing is Doyle will get some good mountain training in on the way, since we will be going through Wyoming, Utah, and (of course) Oregon. Another good thing is I may get to see an old friend... possibly two. The first, Shaun, is and old childhood friend whom I grew up with in South Florida; the other, Brad, is a fellow Marine whom I haven't seen since '93, when I received my Honorable Discharge from the Corps. When I got out, I moved to Arkansas (what was I thinking?), and Brad moved back to Portland. I won't say Brad and I were the best of friends, but I do hold a great deal of respect for him, especially since he received a Silver Star during Desert Storm.

This load is fairly light, less than 24,000 pounds, which has the advantage in that the mountains won't be as big of a problem... the disadvantage, however, is that it won't create as much traction as if I were 15,000 lbs heavier going through the snow (if we do, that is). I'm not worried, though, for HaShem my G-d is with me... and this is (nearly) the Sabbath. May you all be blessed! On this day, should you cross paths with a military veteran... be sure to thank him, or her, for their service!

All gave some,
Some gave ALL

10 November 2011

Day 313 (Happy Birthday Marines! We STILL Look Good For 236 Years Old!)

Today is a special day... a very special day. Today I step away from my usual banter relating to truck driving, training, etc. For today I reflect upon a subject that has become part of who I was, who I am today, and whom I will always be: a Marine. Today, as many know, is the Marine Corps birthday. To the common citizen, it's just another day worthy of some sort of recognition... but to those of us who have served in the Marine Corps, it has become the very fiber of our individual - and collective - identity. While going through boot camp, the history of the Marine Corps was drilled into us.

A history that is ripe with tradition, and rich with honor and integrity. Considering the humble beginnings since its foundation in Tun Tavern in 1775, it's no wonder we hold ourselves within a tightly knit brotherhood... we were established in the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia, PA. We have the heroes that have shaped our very image, from LtGen Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller to SgtMaj Daniel Joseph "Dan" Daly to (even most recently) Sgt Dakota L. Meyer,  as well as the battles that have forged our place in American - and world - history, such as the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Belleau Wood.  The things we learned in boot camp, the experiences we shared in training, and the unbreakable bonds we made in battle will forever make us unique in the civilian world.

My wife shared this video with me recently. Watching it only stoked the flames of pride and honor within me that I hold the most revered and respected title of U. S. Marine. This video was made by the great people at The Warrior Song (whom also granted me the permission to post the video) and were able to capture the very essence of a Marine within a 6 minute music video.

Happy Birthday, my brothers and sisters!!

The U.S. Marine
No greater friend,
No worse enemy

09 November 2011

Day 312 (Wandering Through Kansas)

This morning Doyle and I left from Olathe, KS (doing a drop and hook) and headed to South Hutchinson, KS - where we are now - to deliver. Once the trailer is unloaded here, Tyson will re-load it, then we will head back to Olathe. The weather is a lot better today than what we drove through yesterday, which was mainly rain, but there was some snow thrown in for good measure. Today it's sunny and cool, with a little bit of a breeze blowing. Although it is rather torturous being here at this Tyson facility, as the air is permeated with the smell of freshly grilled chicken... I wonder if, being as I am now hungry, this can fall under the category of "cruel and unusual punishment."

We are due back in Olathe by 2100 tonight, but that all depends on the efficiency with which our trailer is re-loaded. Hopefully by later on this afternoon we will find out what our next load will be and where it will bring us (I'm still hoping for a Tulsa, OK to Woodinville, WA/Burnaby, BC run). I think on the way back to Olathe, I'll have us stop at a Starbucks... this Pilot coffee can only be tolerated for so long (and, yes, it can be tolerated as long as I drown its putrid taste with enough cream).

Before I forget, tomorrow I will be posting in honor of the Marine Corps' birthday... hope you all enjoy it!

Carpe Java - Seize the coffee!

08 November 2011

Day 311 (On Our Way To The Kansas City Area)

As I had predicted yesterday, we had no pre-plan, so once we got unloaded we parked at the customer's facility for the night. This morning, however, not only did we get a load (which picked up in Cherokee, IA, about 60 miles south), but were also put on a double pre-plan. This load is a plant-to-plant Tyson load, as are the next two, which delivers in Olathe, KS (just south of Kansas City).

Our next two are more like an extended shuttle run. The first one picks up in the morning, right there in Olathe, and goes to South Hutchison, KS, where we will pick up from there and go back to Olathe... which is about 400 miles round trip. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any coffee to consume... at least none worthy enough of human consumption (yes, a reference to Pilot). We did, however, grab a bite to eat at Taco John's (which was in the Pilot that we fueled),which was not too bad. Neither of us have had Taco John's before. Nothing to totally rave about, but not bad.

I still thing coffee is in order.

(p.s. The reason this has been posted much past my 1630 deadline, is due to lack of cell signal. My apologies.)

07 November 2011

Day 310 (What A Trip This Has Been)

Yesterday Doyle got some pretty good training, as our route took us through some curvy areas. I didn't put him through anything too harsh, but what he did have, he handled pretty good. Between Conway and Harrison, AR, there is a stretch of U.S. 65 that is a little crooked, just enough to keep a student focused. Once we made it through there, I had us make a stop at on of the Price Cutter stores in Springfield, MO. I needed to replenish my supply of Coca Cola (a 4-pack of 24 oz. bottles for $1.67), plus they also have a Starbucks in the store, so I paid them a visit, as well.

Since the customer in Pine Bluff took so long to get us loaded, we didn't get as far as I wanted, which was at least to the north side of Kansas City, MO. Instead, we only made it as far as Collins, MO, about 145 miles short. The weather today has been a bit overcast, but cool. At this present time (though there is about 3 hours left of the work day for the Operations Dept., so that may change) there is not a pre-plan for us. I called Monica earlier, just to touch bases with her. If there is no pre-plan by the time we get unloaded (which could be about 1900), to head somewhere that we can park for the night... but not too far away.

I'll think we'll have time to make another Starbucks run before we unload.

I also hope to see some snow - SOON!

06 November 2011

Day 309 (On The Way To Iowa... Maybe I'll See Kevin Costner)

Doyle and I left out ay around 0815 after getting the trailer washed out, and made our way to Pine Bluff, AR. When I spoke to the broker Friday about this load, he said that the product was going to be run on Sunday, and should be ready by about 0300 this morning. It wasn't. Not only was it not ready, the customer hadn't even run it yet. We finally got loaded, then scaled the truck, and just got underway about 30 minutes ago. The good thing is we have until 2000 tomorrow night to get there.

Being a truck driver isn't what some would expect. On any given day, I can run anywhere from 450-600 miles. In the case of today - because the product wasn't ready - that has cut into our driving time. Tyson is a constant offender of this (this, however, was not a Tyson load. Many have the perception that our commerce could probably serve better without truck drivers. Think about this: Without truck drivers, how would groceries get to the stores, cars to the dealerships, or gas to the gas stations? Sure all of these things could get there by rail, but how many hundreds of miles of additional track would have to be laid for that to happen? How drastically would that hinder commerce if there are railroad tracks and railcars at EVERY grocery store, gas station, and mall?

Just food for thought.

05 November 2011

Day 308 (Tomorrow We Head For Iowa)

It's been a nice peaceful Sabbath with cool weather all day. Tomorrow, however, we will be picking our load up in Pine Bluff, IA and take it to Sibley, IA. It was unfortunate that I couldn't get home for this re-start, but things like this happen this way sometimes. The L-rd works it out in the end for His purpose and glory.

Earlier, my wife, Tikvah, posted a video on my wall (Facebook) which she found. I have since re-posted it - and since it is Marine Corps based - I will do so again. This coming Thursday I plan on posting a link for that video on this blog, in honor of the Marine Corps birthday. Sure it's a teaser for you, but all I can say is... it will be worth the wait!

04 November 2011

Day 307 (Getting A Re-Start... But Not At Home)

First of all, please accept my apology for getting this posted past my deadline of 1630. I've been tied up with various things and lost track of time.

Yesterday, Doyle drove us from Midway, FL (just west of Tallahassee) all the way to West Memphis, AR - a total of 554 miles... not bad for a newcomer to trucking. When we arrived at West Memphis, I topped off the fuel and took over to bring us into the North Little Rock terminal, where we shut down. This morning, we took care of our personal effects (to include laundry). I had the truck brought into the shop to fix an air leak, and, as it turned out, I also had to sit in a few classes to ensure my training was up to date. After all that, I checked out the company vehicle and went to Pier 1 Imports to pick up a birthday gift for my Tikvah. She told me about a purse that she wanted, so now she has it... just not in her possession just yet:

After that was taken care of, I was finally able to make my run to Starbucks. Once I returned to the terminal, I found out that we were dispatched on our next load. However, it doesn't pick up until Sunday in Pine Bluff, AR (about 40 miles south of here) and delivers Monday in Sibley, IA, up in the northwest corner of the state. Sadly, I'll be here for the weekend, since I live about 90 miles in the opposite direction of where I load. Doyle, however, I allowed to go home (he has a ride going there)... at least until tomorrow night. I live north of him, but I didn't ride with him because, a) I didn't want to impose on him, and, b) my wife thought it best not to be home this weekend her "aunt" is visiting. Tomorrow will then be a quiet and serene Sabbath.

May you all be blessed!

03 November 2011

Day 306 (Heading Back To Arkansas)

Yesterday, after the publishing of the blog post, Doyle and I made a visit to a Super Target (yes, I got Starbucks), after which we fueled up in Wildwood, FL, then continued our journey - with an empty trailer - to our North Little Rock terminal. Since the company doesn't have a customer base in Florida (yet), we were told to head back that way, into an area where we do have a good customer base. We shut down in a rest area just west of Tallahassee. It was dry & clear when we started this morning, but have run into rain just before getting into Montgomery, AL.

We may not find out until tomorrow morning where we will load next (though I am hoping we continue deadheading all the way to Tulsa). I presently have a roast cooking in the crock pot (hint: a 3 pound roast with a citrus/savory rub as well as a little jerk & Tex-Mex Chipotle seasonings, 1/2 bottle of Mesquite flavored Liquid Smoke, 4 garlic cloves, shallots, 2 packages of powdered brown gravy mix, and baby potatoes). So far, the aroma has permeated the inside of the truck, necessitating the need to make a sandwich (to hold us over) so as not to partake of said cuisine "before its time". My wife, Tikvah, has been telling me of a chipotle seasoning she has grown rather fond of, which by the way, she is using the aforementioned seasoning tonight on the chicken that she has put in the crock pot at home.

A little while ago, I received a call from my 21 year old son, Erik. It it also good to hear from my sons. He apologized for not calling in a while, to which I told him, "don't worry about it. You're a grown man now, and have your own life." His reply: "Don't try giving me that Jewish guilt trip thing again." Naturally, I got a kick out of that, and then told him, "you know, I think your Mother missed her calling. She could've been a travel agent for guilt trips."

02 November 2011

Day 305 (Orlando Is Full Of Mice)

Doyle and I made it here to the customer in Orlando, though we were late for the appointment. Fortunately, they were cool about it and almost have us unloaded. Where we head from here is still in the air. The weather here is pretty nice: sunny and 76°.

Now that we are empty, I think I may take us over to a Super Target, not too far from where we are at. Besides, there is sure to be a Starbucks nearby, since the Super Target I saw earlier (on our way here) was in the Millennia Mall area. I'm due for some grocery shopping, and Doyle had never seen one. As I explained to him earlier, it's like a Walmart Supercenter... only better. I don't know when my next trip to the northwest will be. I think it's safe to say it may not be this week. I really hope to get a load heading up that way perhaps next Friday out of Tulsa. For one thing, it's beautiful driving... for another, it make for good mountain training for my students. Oh well, we shall see.

01 November 2011

Day 304 (Meandering Across Alabama)

We got our start today (late this morning) from Olive Branch, MS, which is just outside Memphis. Doyle and I topped off the fuel - and I got some coffee (Pilot coffee, with LOTS of creamer) - and began to make our way on this leg. On the way here to Birmingham, I received a very pleasant call from my "little sister" Kelli (for more about her, you can see my post for Day 18). We talked for a bit. She told me that she has, since our last conversation, moved. She's still in Nebraska, just 20 miles from where she had lived before.

As we make our way through the rest of Alabama and into Florida, I've seen that Doyle handles the truck quite well. When we made a stop here in Birbingham, I had him back into a parking spot. I guided him through his set-up, and found he is very good at straight backing. This may seem like a simple task, but in a truck with a 53' trailer... it's not as simple as it seems. So far he has been doing pretty good; good handling & lane control, frequent use of signals, professional courtesy, etc. This may not be as daunting as I had first thought (seeing as my previous students had some experience with a commercial vehicle of some sort). He says he's still nervous (or as I pointed out, he's as nervous as a pregnant nun in The Vatican), but so far he's doing well. When he first said he was nervous, I told him, "good... that means you will be extra cautious." More updates to come.

More coffee to be had, as well!

31 October 2011

Day 303 (Heading To Florida)

Dotle and I arrived in Ft. Smith, AR last night to unload this morning. At about 0645 we checked in (our delivery appointment was for 0700), then waited... and waited... and waited (also napping in the meantime). Tyson finally put us in a door at about 1230. Once we got unloaded, and had the trailer washed out, I began to take us to our terminal in Ft. Smith. On the way, we received our next load assignment, so I headed there instead. The load was supposed to pick up at 1100 (but as you can tell from the above narrative, that didn't happen), but we headed up to Lowell, AR anyway. This is yet another Butterball load, only this one is heading to Orlando, FL for Wednesday afternoon.

Florida is nice. It also happens to be one of the popular destination for snowbirds.. but this time of year - I prefer going into the colder regions... and the snow. Yeah, and I still plan on going to Starbucks!

30 October 2011

Day 302 (Today Is Almost Over)

I am sitting here in Bald Knob, AR, which is 55 miles north of Little Rock. In about 40 minutes I will be meeting up with my next student, Doyle. He was actually ready for pick-up on Friday, but I was still in Gadsden, AL getting unloaded, then headed to Union City, TN where I picked up this load and (unfortunately) stayed there to get a re-start. I'm meeting Doyle here because this is where he lives, which makes better sense than for him to wait in our North Little Rock terminal all weekend.

Once we met up, I'll give him a brief rundown (a.k.a. a trainer's orientation) then we will continue down the road to Ft. Smith, AR. More than likely, I'll make a stop in Conway to pay a visit to Starbucks, and possibly top off the fuel along the way. From what little I do know about Doyle at this point is he's 33, married, and used to work as a Corrections Officer at a prison in Newport, AR for about 7 years. I'll update you with further progress and/or developments as they occur.

29 October 2011

Day 301 (Almost Made A Quick Trip Home)

I left out of Gadsden, AL yesterday afternoon and headed up here to Union City, TN to pick up my next load. The good thing is, I was able to make a stop in Jackson, TN to top off my fuel AND pay a visit to Starbucks (yes, I had my trademark grande triple Marble Mocha Machiatto). I found out upon arrival that our company no longer has dropped trailers, so I had to wait until this morning to load. Had there been a dropped trailer, more than likely it would have been preloaded, and I would have made an unscheduled stop in Bald Knob, AR and had my wife pick me up, to which I would have been at home to get a re-start on my logbook. Then, once I met up with my student (Doyle) tomorrow afternoon, we both would have had a fresh 70 hours to start on. Instead, I'm getting my re-start at this Tyson plant in Union City.

Not that it's a bad thing. It's been a fairly mild day, temperature wise, though the northeast has been getting their snow early this year. All in all, it has been a peaceful and joyous Sabbath - nothing I could add would make it any sweeter!

28 October 2011

Day 300 (Are We Being Deceived?)

Recently my wife and I had a discussion regarding the Occupy Wall Street situation. There have been many other similar protests that have started around the country as well, but I'll try to put some focus on this OWS. Over time we have seen the erosion of our economy and our culture - some over a period of time, so as not to be noticeable; others more overt. One thing is for sure, I no longer think our current leaders are reliable nor trustworthy. When you look back in history, British economist John Maynard Keynes held an economic theory that, basically, believed a government could spend its way out of an economic slump... much the way our politicians are doing now - also the way Roosevelt did before... as did Mussolini.

When it comes to OWS there are so many facets to the web (source of funds raised, support groups, etc.) that it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep them all in line. Recently there were a couple young men from Cairo that joined, "in solidarity", the OWS movement. This was recently reported by Israel National News. They were part of what became known as the "Arab Spring" - the trouble is, most of those Middle East protests had The Muslim Brotherhood backing them. Also reported by INN back in early September was on how the "Arab Spring" could end up being bad - very bad - for Israel.

This also hold true when Marwan Muasher , a Jordanian, is speaking in support of the Muslim Brotherhood - and also is endorsed by George Soros. According to Matthew Vadum in his article on the Human Events website, Soros provides funding for the Open Society Institute and the Tides Foundation, as well as the Alliance For Global Justice... the organization that is now (coincidentally enough) handling all the donations that are coming in to support OWS.

In this day and age (and with the rampant corruption in our government - in ALL parties) I support the idea - as well as the actual execution - of protests... as long as they are truly against what has been going on. To protest against Wall Street is the same as protesting (nowadays) the government. The only difference is your expecting one facet of the entity to come to your aid to battle the other facet of that same entity! What it comes down to is this: certain people (inside AND outside our government) are pulling the strings in order to get the masses to do what they want, a.k.a. Hegelian Dialectic. If we don't take a real stand against ALL politicians, the result could be a grotesque Socialist/Communist/Fascist hybrid - trust me, the fuel economy on that hybrid really sucks.