30 December 2011
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
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
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
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
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
24 December 2011
Happy Chanukah everyone!!
23 December 2011
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
07 December 2011
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.