30 April 2012

Year 2, Day 121 (This Trip Almost Over)

Our trip yesterday to Kennett Square, PA was interesting, to say the least. Once Dillard and I unloaded, I drove us out of there and took us to where we were loading in Carlisle, PA. Although, whomever it was that submitted directions to the customer into our database, he (or she) was NOT a truck driver. The directions took us down a road that 53' trailers are not supposed to be on, and turning on a road that there was no humanly way possible that a truck with aforementioned trailer was going to fit. When we finally arrived at the customer (I called them and was transferred to their direction line), all Dillard said was, "I'm glad you drove."

Trailer loaded, we made our way back towards the Pennsylvania Turnpike and pulled into a service plaza where both Dillard could take over driving, and I could get some Starbucks. We shut down in Eaton, OH, which is 10 miles from the Indiana state line. This T/A Travel Center we are parked at, I advised Dillard to get us here. Since my truck is overdue on a service, I'll get that done in the morning before we leave to cover the last 100 or so miles left on this trip. What comes after that still remains to be unknown at this present time.

I'm ready to go home!

- Posted by me

29 April 2012

Year 2, Day 120 (A Late Posting)

Today was sort of a long day. Dillard and I started from Kirkersville, OH (just east of Columbus) and I drove us to the customer here in Kennett Square, PA, which, as it seems, is in the middle of almost nowhere. We made a couple of stops along the way, Starbucks being one of them. It's quite beautiful out here, but the way to get here was a bit... interesting. I'm almost expecting to fall victim to an Amish drive-by at any moment. It's been a fairly cool day, mainly in the mid-60's all day.

Tomorrow, once we are dome here, we'll make our way to Carlisle (just south of Harrisburg) to pick up our next load, heading to Franklin, IN for Tuesday evening. By the way it looks, I may not get home until Thursday, but I'll wait to see what happens after we deliver in Franklin.

- Posted by me

28 April 2012

Year 2, Day 119 (Decided To Get A Re-Start)

Yesterday was fairly nice, as far as the weather was concerned. Today turned out to be a little dreary. As I mentioned yesterday, Dillard and I unloaded in Rochelle, IL (about1 1/2 hours west of Chicago) and around noon - when we received our next load - headed to Morton, IL (just east of Peoria) to load. I drove to the customer to load. Once we had the one 2,000 lb pallet put on, Dillard drove from there. We arrived in Kirkersville, OH (just east of Columbus) a little after midnight, where we topped off the fuel and parked for the night.

Once we settled in for the night, I decided to stay here and get a re-start on our logbooks. Not that it was really needed, since I'll be getting home next week, but at least we can run a few days on the same page... literally. I awoke this morning to the sound of rain pattering on the truck's roof. In the few times when I am awakened by this sound, when there are no other trucks idling next to me and the trailer's cooling unit is not running, it's quite a peacefully hypnotic sound... until the bladder wakes up and reminds me what task to take on next.

It's still a little overcast, but still relatively quiet... that is, for a truck stop. All in all, this has been a joyous Sabbath. I am grateful for the times The L-rd allows me to truly rest on this day. It helps to makes the coming week more enjoyable.

- Posted by me

27 April 2012

Year 2, Day 118 (Heading To Pennsylvania)

This morning was an easy drop & hook in Rochelle, IL. It took a little while before our next load came in, but it did. Dillard and I headed to Morton, IL and picked up the load... actually it was just one pallet, with a total weight of 2,000 lbs. This delivers Monday in Kennett Square, PA (just outside of Philadelphia). This turned out to be a very light load. A little while ago, we were pre-planned to pick up Monday in Carlisle, PA and deliver Tuesday in Franklin, IN, which will get me closer to home.

This won't be a very long weekend, but I expect it will be a good one, blessed! As Sabbath approaches may you all be blessed, and may you find joy in all you do.

- Posted by me

26 April 2012

Year 2, Day 117 (A Few More Days, Then Home)

Dillard and I left from Russellville, AR yesterday and made a stop at the terminal in North Little Rock. I mainly had a few errands to run, take care of a few things at the yard, and a couple minor repairs on the trailer. We left out yesterday evening and I brought us here to the terminal in Madison, IL (just outside St. Louis). We got a good night's rest, took a shower, and I went over a few things with Dillard (training related). We will be leaving out of here a little later, since we are not due in Rochelle, IL until tomorrow morning.

I'm hoping to be kept relatively close to Arkansas for the next few days, so it will be easier to get home when the time comes... which is just a few days away. I'm looking forward to getting home. It's been a long stretch this time around. When I get home this next week, I already have some plans; my youngest son, Nathan, is having a gig at the local coffee shop next Friday, and next Sunday will be the Jewish Food Festival in Little Rock, which we will be attending again this year.

I'll try to get some pictures to post.

- Posted by me

25 April 2012

Year 2, Day 116 (The Training Begins)

I met up with Dillard yesterday evening at our Little Rock facility. He seems to be a bright young man, though he makes me feel a bit old, since my oldest son is holder than he is. We all have to start somewhere, right?

We met up at the terminal and left from there about 2230. I would have left 1 - 1 1/2 hours sooner, but my truck went into the shop for a minor repair, which led to another problem, which ended up disappearing when we re-booted the system. The technology in these trucks is pretty amazing, and at the same time, confusing.

We arrived in Russellville, where we are getting ready to depart from. The loading appointment isn't until 1800, but we were fortunate enough to get it loaded already, may HaShem be praised! Which means we will have a little extra time to play with.

Onward and northward, but not without Starbucks.

- Posted by me

24 April 2012

Year 2, Day 115 (Get A New Student Today, Deliver Tomorrow)

Leaving Indianapolis at nearly 2200 (CT) is not what I had planned, but that's what happened anyway. There were some nice gusts of winds blowing through Indiana yesterday, which can make for and interesting driving experience... especially when you have an empty trailer and dealing with a cross wind. This load isn't too bad, weight-wise, only about 35,000 lbs.

Later on today I'll make a stop at my employer's Little Rock terminal to pick Dillard (my new student) up and begin his training. I'll have him for slightly over a week before I go home for a few days, during which he'll be put up in a motel where I live. After we head back out, I'll have him for a couple more weeks. I plan on cramming a lot of knowledge on him this first week, then let him recoup a few days to soak in all in.Then the next few weeks we will both start off refreshed and ready to go, and hopefully get something going out west (what I am really hoping for).

The weather has reverted back to "chilly" mode these past few days, which I won't complain about. Then again, I've never let hot weather stop me from partaking of my daily (sometimes intravenous) allowance of coffee. Even though the weather has chilled off again, there are tell-tale signs that we are officially in Spring... road construction has begun! Be careful out there!

- Posted by me

23 April 2012

Year 2, Day 114 (Westbound On A Windy Day)

The day started off pretty chilly (about 36° at around 0500 ET), and has also gotten windy as the day progressed. I delivered this morning and have sat most of the day. I received my next load around lunch time, but it doesn't pick up until 2000 (ET) tonight. I load in Indianapolis, then head to Russellville, AR for 0500 (CT) Wednesday.

On the way, I'll make a stop at our Little Rock terminal to pick up my next student, Dillard. He sounds like a young lad, and my assumption has been validated by an acquaintance whom went through orientation last week to be a trainer (in our division, of course). Dillard is originally from St. Louis, so more than likely he will be parking his truck (once he gets assigned one, after training) either close to where he lives, or at our terminal in Madison, IL.

You will be reading updates on his progress in the coming weeks.

I should make some coffee.

- Posted by me

22 April 2012

Year 2, Day 113 (The Closing Of A Short Day)

I made it from New Castle, DE all the way to London, OH, where I shut it down last night. I'm glad I arrived there when I did as the available parking was scant, and filling up fast. This morning (or rather this afternoon) left me with about 150 miles left to go on this run. Where I am now parked is at a little fuel stop in Gas City, IN, about 2 miles from where I deliver in the morning. The good thing about this location is there just happens to be a Starbucks right across the street.
It started out as a lazy morning, and I really had to motivate myself to get moving. The weather here is in the mid 40's, so I'll be sleeping tonight with the truck - and the APU - turned off. So, if you will excuse me, I am going to get my coffee on.

- Posted by me

21 April 2012

Year 2, Day 112 (Further Commentary Required)

Today is (so far) quite a nice day. As I make my way through Pennsylvania, I observe the beauty around me; the landscape, the blooming greenery, even the frolicking horses at an occasional farm. The L-rd's handiwork is truly a thing worthy of the awestruck wonder it invokes. I come across many different people from several walks of life. One thing that troubles me is the fact that not only are the Jewish people being vilified by a variety of media outlets, but the fact that people are buying into this. The propaganda that is being passed off is that Israel is a "threat to world peace" (to which PM Netenyahu opined). The last time I checked, it was NOT Jewish people that have been planning terror attacks around the world, NOR pushing for a global mandate of Shariah Law... that would be the Muslims. This diatribe seems to have recently kicked into high gear in the wake of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), a memorial of the travesty known as the Holocaust... which even Mahmoud Ahmadinijad denies ever happened!
It is easy to see that most of history is rewritten by the victors. But in the case of the Holocaust, the true victor is humankind. Yet we still don't learn the lesson, even when our previous generation vowed "never again"... if we did, the tragedies of Darfur, Rwanda, and the recent massacre in France (just to name a few) would never have happened.
When will we learn?
When will we take action?
When will we truly hold our elected "leaders" accountable?
To quote a song title by The Smiths:
"How Soon Is Now?"
- Posted by me

20 April 2012

Year 2, Day 111 (Another Busy Weekend)

I picked this load up yesterday in Quincy, MI, but it doesn't deliver in Manchester, PA until tonight at 2300. Once I do get it unloaded, I'll head to New Castle, DE to pick up tomorrow and take that to Gas City, IN for Monday morning. I had that same load last week, but it was swapped off to another driver, as I would not be able to make delivery on time.

I have a new student waiting to be picked up, but I am not going through our Little Rock terminal anytime within the next few days. An idea that I proposed is to let him go home for the weekend, and I may get a load that could get me through the St. Louis area, when I can pick him up (helpful, since that's the area he lives in).

These past few weeks have had me, more or less, running in the upper midwest and northeast regions. I don't mind that every once in a while, but I don't like being stuck in it for a couple weeks. I've been in those areas since I left out of Texas. I wouldn't mind, however, bouncing around through the northwest region for a couple weeks... but I guess that's more along the lines of wishful thinking.

Sabbath is approaching once again, and I pray it is a peaceful one for all of you. May you all be blessed!

- Posted by me

19 April 2012

Year 2, Day 110 (A Day Of Remembrance)

Today is a reflection of a dark period in history that should never be forgotten. Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Memorial Day as it's commonly known, is today. A time of great tragedy, and one that could have easily been thwarted. It was a time when the lives of millions were taken senselessly by a dictator who felt these people were less than what he deemed as "socially, or economically, acceptable".

Not only were the lives of 6 million Jews heartlessly taken, but also several million of other nationalities and ethnic backgrounds... all because "they didn't fit" in the "standards" of what he considered as "the master race."

This memorial is also important at a time when various "world leaders" claim the Holocaust "didn't happen", or that is is an "historical fraud".

I've heard that the general population of the mid-40's (as well as some of this generation) claimed, "This is absolutely horrible! This must NEVER happen again!" Has it happened? Have we, as a people, truly prevented something so tragic from being repeated?

Does Rwanda ring a bell?

Choose your words carefully.

Search your history diligently!

18 April 2012

Year 2, Day 109 (Back To Michigan)

I've been stuck (more or less) here in the general northeast area, and the past few days I've been from Ohio to Michigan, to Illinois, briefly into Milwaukee, now back to Michigan. What I'm expecting to happen is that once I get this load delivered, I will get sent into Livonia, MI to pick up another load of produce. What I don't like about that is that I will get loaded late at night, then have to run all night to make delivery the next morning (as what happened just recently). I continue to see the gradual demise of highway courtesy: no concern for others, fighting with traffic in order to change lanes, etc, not using a turn signal, etc. We have become a nation that is self-centered, inconsiderate, and just plain rude. There are the occasional courteous driver on the road... more often than not, it's somebody who drives a car, van, or pickup, and less of those that also drive a big truck like myself.

This is one of those loads that I personally don't like. Not so much the product I'm hauling, but the requirement the customer has. To be honest, it's a load of beer. I don't like it because the customer wants the trucks picking up the load to only have a half tank of fuel. The reason being is because (in most cases) when I haul a load a fair distance (600-700 miles), I would prefer to go in with a full tank of fuel, this way if I am over gross (80,000 lbs), then the customer has to remove some of the product. But since I had to go in with my tanks half full, they can get away with loading me with the full 46,000 lbs of the load.

I need TWO trips to Starbucks for this aggravation.

- Posted by me

17 April 2012

Year 2, Day 108 (How Easily People Forget)

As some of you know, I have been driving a truck for many years. I travel around the country, to many different cities, and meet people from all walks of life... with a myriad of viewpoints. I could post for months on these viewpoints, whether they be sound in their logic, or off the charts kooky. One thing I have noticed is how forgetful most people are. How they will spout off "talking points" as if they were indisputable facts, set in stone, without regard to actual truth, or even their own personal experience with a given subject matter.

For example: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Just a few weeks ago someone had shared on Facebook a photo taken of a list of why we, as Americans, should support Obama. One of the reasons listed was that he "overturned the military policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'" For the record, when I enlisted in the Marine Corps (don't ask when that was, because I won't tell... it would show my age), one of the questions asked was "Are you now, or have you ever been involved in a homosexual relationship?" (or something to that effect). That was a standard policy back then. In 1993, shortly after assuming office, Bill Clinton passed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy upon the United States military. This new policy prohibited the asking of the aforementioned question, or anything remotely related to it.

Fast-forward about 19 years. President Obama's administration brought forth legislation overturning this policy... which passed. The point I'm trying to make is the same political party that put it in place, was now erasing it from the books. If you notice from above, this was, in essence a military policy, but one that they were forced to adhere to by the then-Commander-In-Chief whom implemented it, NOT one that was initiated by the military itself. Ironically enough, the same politicians who supported it in 1993, were also the same ones wishing to have it overturned. This further proves that our political process is no longer about Democrat vs. Republican, Liberal vs. Conservative, but instead the slow, gradual takeover of those in BOTH parties pushing us into a Socialist society.

Comments anyone?

16 April 2012

Year 2, Day 107 (Going In A Different Direction, I Hope I Don't Get Lost)

Since I lapsed in doing so yesterday, I would like to extend a very heartfelt "Thank You!" to the guest bloggers whom filled in for me last week. In case you missed any of them, they were (in order of appearance) RebbeSoul, Blanca Raygoza, Chrisinda Lukens, Lauri Rottmayer, Julie Mollins, Natali Heuss, and Ernmander. I am very grateful that each of these fellow bloggers (and in Ernmander's case, vlogger) stepped in and helped out.

This is further proof of the good that can come of social media, in all its various forms, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or InstaGram. Without these platforms, I would not have interacted with each of these people. Driving a truck I do meet a lot of people, but there is a certain level of class and panache that comes with the people you meet through social media, those who have the finesse (not to mention the technological "know-how" of maneuvering through such forums) and the respectable etiquette that were once confined to the ballrooms and gatherings of "high society". Granted there are still the - shall I say - "street rats" that manage to get into the fray, but that's what makes social media social. It is up to the individual to determine what can (or should) be said... and when. If it's deemed to be "inappropriate", there are those out there that will make it known to the offender, even without discrediting their own reputation. This is called "class" and "tact". The best definition of "tact" is one that my best friend, C.J., and I often refer to (and use on occasion):

"Tact is being able to tell someone to 'go to hell' in such a way that they look forward to the trip."

15 April 2012

Year 2, Day 106 (Back In The Saddle)

Now that Passover has passed, I will have to get back in the groove of blogging again. The only downside I've experienced was the fact that I was on the road. I am VERY grateful to those whom posted in my stead this past week, and their offerings of some great posts as well, I might add. After reading the guest posts that went up last week I've realized how much catching up I have to do, as far as content and quality. In the time I've been doing this whole blogging thing I've come to discover just how difficult it can be, as far as coming up with interesting subject matter on a daily basis. This blog is a hobby for me, though it is enjoyable. But it is also quite a task to come up with something even remotely interesting each day. Since there has been a slow down in training (not as much of an influx of student drivers coming in), I have to make time to compose my posts, along with my regular driving duties... with a student, I can write a post while he is driving.

Since all I have is an iPhone, I am a bit confined and limited with what I can post and the research I'm able to do, whereas with a laptop there is more flexibility. But as I learned in the Marines, I have to make do with what I have. Perhaps one day I'll be able to upgrade (lack of capitol being the main reason why that hasn't happened yet), but until then, I guess I'll just continue on with my usual banter.

... and Starbucks!

14 April 2012

Year 2, Day 105 (Guest Blogger: Ernmander)

Ernmander, as he is commonly known, is a vlogger (video blogger), tech enthusiast, IT Specialist, and the 18th pale descendent to some old queen, or other (ok, that last part isn't true... at least, not that I'm aware of). He lives in beautiful - and sometimes rainy - England. In short, he is (as he puts it) "a bloke you may know on Twitter." His vlogs can also be found on YouTube.

13 April 2012

Year 2, Day 104 (Guest Blogger: Natali Heuss)

Bob Marley Cleans My Lawn

Last year at this time I started a tradition. One that has made a HUGE difference in my life. It wasn’t easy, but it was very necessary. That tradition was spring cleaning my life.

We throw open the windows of our home, brush away the cobwebs and pack up the winter clothes. It’s our symbolic gesture of greeting the new season. The season of growth and change. Warmer weather, flowers, sunshine. We restart the diets that we started on New Years and failed already. All that good stuff.

But, what about the rest of our life? Cleaning our house, though most of us secretly hate it, is a rather easy thing to do. Going through clothes, revamping diets- those are mere habits at this point in our lives. Last year I decided to go just a bit further with cleaning. It wasn’t so much as a conscious decision really, life just pointed out my need to take a look at the people in my life. Who I was surrounding myself with, how they made me feel. Who they really were. Who I really was. What impact they had on my life.

Most of my life I have fought for the underdog and put everyone else’s needs before mine. It’s how I almost completely lost myself in an abusive marriage. It’s how I’ve run myself down repeatedly year after year. I always rationalized it as something I was SUPPOSED to do. That putting myself first was selfish and horrible.

And then I got cancer. It started out precancerous. It seemed like just a scare. A little blip that sucked but I would move past it quickly and be just fine. When it came back cancerous and things got dark, I retreated inside. Talking about it made it far too real. And, above all, I didn’t want my girls to know. They had enough on their plate at the time. Their dad had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. A baby half-sister was NOT sitting well with them. It may seem like nothing, but to a 5 and 6 year old that were never a priority to him, having to fight with another for the bare minimal attention they already received was a rough concept. The last thing they needed was to fear losing me.

So, this inner retreat meant I somewhat disappeared from various social media outlets as well. It just kind of happened. It was all just a blur. I was trying to keep up with everything going on in my life and then balancing dr. appointments and lab work and treatments. I was a mess, but didn’t really realize it. Then I had a couple of friends get upset at my disappearance. I took a deep breath and explained the situation. One of their responses “Well, if you don’t tell anyone, we don’t have any way of knowing. So, you can’t expect me to be sympathetic to you not being around when I needed you.” Yet, I had no idea they needed me because their way of showing they were having a rough time was to disappear off of social media. The same social media that I had backed away from. See the lovely double standard there?

Other things happened as well and I just had to sit down and take a really painful look at things. I suck at cutting friends loose. I give people chance after chance after chance. I try to cling to all their good qualities, sometimes to the point of completely blinding myself to the faults. But, there comes a time where you have to step back and look at that friendship. Is it strictly one-sided? Does it balance out? Is that person a stream of constant negativity? How does their role in your life make you feel?

After answering all of that comes the even harder part- what do you do about it? Do you emotionally put up a wall and hold them at a distance? Do you break it off completely? Do you sit down and explain the situation and work on the friendship together?

That part fucking sucks. There’s no sugar-coating that.

You know what though? When you are done, I promise you that you will feel so much better.

This year, still fighting recurring cancer, but this last round finally came back only precancerous. So YAAAY for that! My immune system is completely shot though and my doctors SCREAMED at me about my stress level. To have a doctor tell you “Fuck the cancer, it’s the stress that’s going to kill you” is a pretty big wake up call. And, it is just in time for spring cleaning time this year.

Time for decisions to be made and people removed from my life. It’s never a happy thing, but it is so freeing. A really wise person reminded me recently that when you clean out the negative, you leave so much room for more positive. And I need all the positive I can get right now. We all do. Getting rid of my first weed has already made a huge difference. People that dwell in and thrive off of constant negativity will suck you dry. Their need to be one up in the misery department all of the damn time will leave them alone and bitter one day and it’s not a place you want to be dragged to. If nothing is ever good enough for them- that is their fault, not yours. Get off the train now.

Another really wise person I turn to when deep cleaning? Bob Marley.

"Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for." -Bob Marley

There are people in my life that I love to death. That I know would be there for me if I picked up the phone and uttered one word- help. And they know I would do the same. Shit, a couple would hear it in my voice and I wouldn’t even need to say it. And guess what? We don’t talk every day, every week, maybe even every month. Life gets busy for all of us. It’s understood and that love and support is still there. We fit each other in when we can.

Then there are the ones that I talk to every day, every week, every month that I’ve said help to and they’ve not bothered to be there. And anyone in my life knows me saying “help” is one of the hardest things for me to do. I took wanting to grow up and be Wonder Woman VERY seriously. I can do it all myself, you know. Yeah, not really but that’s another post. :)

In the mean time it is time for me to listen to my man Marley, throw on some Three Little Birds, and clean up the rest of my lawn again.

How does your lawn look?

Natali Heuss is a single mom from Wisconsin raising two daughters to be strong, independent, and proud of their Geek-dom Super Status. The best way to describe her is this, which I "borrowed" from her Facebook page:

Graphic & Web Design/Developer by day, Ninja mom to 2 geekling girls obsessed with Star Wars by night.

Baker of full-size Yoda cakes, teacher of adult Apple BASIC class in the 5th grade, better with any controller than 90% of her guy friends, front line of defense when the Zombie Apocalypse breaks out, wanted to be Wonder Woman and marry Spider-Man when she grew up and daughters are convinced I’m secretly Velma.

Founder of UberDorkCafe. Read: Geek girl on a mission.

I speak quite a few languages, enjoy coed naked underwater basket weaving, have an addiction to Sushi and humor is my defense mechanism.

Stupid people make my right eye twitch.

I'm ambidextrously brained, I will knit for tattoos, I am the friend that everyone comes to for advice and bail money. I pride myself on keeping my eyes, ears, heart and mind open. Making me laugh goes a long way with me, I think the brain is the sexiest organ and I'm the kinda gal you can take anywhere and I'll have a good time.

I'm known for huggles and junkpunches.

Other than that, I'm just me.

The business that she started is the UberDork Cafe, a co-host on The Power Geeks internet show, creator of her own blog, and she can also be found on Twitter.

... oh, and two of her favorite quotes:

“You’re not the kind of mom to be all (in whiny voice) ‘please, please, please give me my children back. You would be all ‘You have exactly 5 minutes to return my children unharmed or I swear on all that is holy and sacred that I will hunt you down and fucking kill you.' And yeah…they’d believe you.” “Hmm…that’s not entirely true because I’d torture them before I killed them- you know, pop out an eyeball, take out a knee cap, make them eat a testicle, that sort of thing.”

"...knock on the door and when he opens it wham! They'll junk-punch him all up in his man business and he'll fall to the floor wailing and crying "why?" and then we'll say "YOU KNOW WHY!"

12 April 2012

Year 2, Day 103 (Guest Blogger: Julie Mollins)

New World v Olde Worlde: a stranger in a familiar land

If my calculations are correct, I’ve moved 31 times.

I’ve moved as a resident between Britain and Canada four times, and between the United States and Canada twice.

I’ve lived in 10 different places in Toronto, where I was born. I’ve also lived in various places in Ottawa, Stratford and Gananoque, Ontario, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In each of Washington, D.C., and Edmonton, Alberta, I had only one abode.

I consider myself fortunate to have moved about so much, although each move has resulted in both gains and losses. Without a doubt, returning to Britain in 2008, where I lived as a child, has been the most disorienting move of all. For some reason, almost everyone assumes I’m an American citizen.


The weirdest thing of all about moving to London has been that I’ve felt more alien in this familiar place than in any of the unfamiliar places to which I’ve moved in the past.
I had been with Reuters for three years when I applied for a position in 2008 and was transferred to work on the online desk in London.
My earliest memories are here.
My mother is from a small village called Grayshott on the Surrey-Hampshire border. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in their home, Bidston, on Crossways Road.

To me, a person without a proper root in any particular geographic location, Britain is a home country, but no one I meet realizes it because of my Canadian accent.

It’s perhaps not so surprising that almost everyone in Britain assumes I’m from “America” because of the similarities between certain U.S. and Canadian English-language accents.
What seems truly funny is the disdainful treatment I receive due to my supposed “American-ness” by the citizens of a country so economically, politically and militarily tied to the United States.


My mother is English, her parents were English and Welsh, and so on up the generations, as far back as I know. My father is Canadian.
My father’s father was born just outside Boston in Melrose, Massachusetts, but lived most of his life in Canada.

During the First World War, my grandfather served from 1915 to 1918 in Horsham, England, and on the battlefields of France as an artilleryman with the 2nd Canadian Siege Battery, which was later incorporated into the 98th Canadian Siege Battery.

His parents, my great-grandparents, were Canadian. Their ancestors, who emigrated to New Brunswick in 1813, were also English, from the region now known as Cumbria. We can trace my Canadian grandmother’s ancestral presence in the New World -- to New England in the United States -- as far back as the 1700s. As Nickersons, Armours, and Sowerbys, we think they were Scottish and English.


Of course, sounding like a foreigner in a society which places a premium on accents -- see George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play “Pygmalion” in which the upper class Henry Higgins teaches Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, to speak “proper” English -- can have its benefits.

Very few strangers can “pigeonhole” me accurately.

There’s a certain amount of freedom in being an alienated, passport-carrying, classless stranger in a familiar land.

The opinions and viewpoints expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of her employer, nor any other professional entity with which she may be affiliated.

Julie, aside from being a London-based journalist working at Reuters (AlertNet) with an interest in the arts, also has a couple blogs of her own: one of various posts & articles she has written, and one of her photography. Clearly, she's a very busy woman, which makes me even more honored that she agreed to cover for me. She can also be found on Twitter, either on her professional (AlertNet) account, or her personal one.

11 April 2012

Year 2, Day 102 (Guest Blogger: Lauri Rottmayer)

Awww, why'd you have to go and do that?

While I am a rule follower in my daily life, when it comes to twitter I don't follow too many rules.

When I first started tweeting, there were rules such as only tweet seven times day, don't tweet photos of your breakfast (lunch, dinner, etc), and there was the whole Follow Friday thing.

I love to tweet. And some days, I tweet a lot more than I do on others but I never feel like I'm tweeting too much. If you think I tweet too much, you should probably follow some more people so you don't think that anymore.

That's a lotta tweets!

When I tweet photos of my food guess what happens? They are the most viewed photos of any that I tweet. This is ALWAYS the case. It turns out, people really do care what I eat or at least they are interested in seeing photos of it.

Back in my early twitter days, my friend


, posted a blog about the whole Follow Friday meme. It was really a great post that, sadly, he has taken down and can't find because I'd love to share it with you. It was the post that made me rarely ever participate in #FF or #FollowFriday.

Mostly, I was afraid of missing someone and hurting their feelings by not mentioning them on #FF. But Patrick's blog post gave me something rational to direct people to when I needed an explanation.

Now people probably just think I'm loopy. And they're probably right.

I think people are kind of getting away from doing the #FF thing with just lists of twitter handles and are gravitating more towards #FF mentions such as this one:

This kind of #FF could actually be helpful to a new person on twitter for their very first Friday and wondering who to follow. I wonder how many people who start twitter on a Friday and just see tweet after tweet after tweet full of nothing but twitter handles quit the day they start?

Anyway, my point is that since twitter is all about establishing relationship, I don't follow all those rules. I just go with the flow. 

However, I do have one twitter rule. And it is hard and fast and if you break this rule I will unfollow you. 

I love new followers. I love the chance to get to know and interact with a new friend. But if I follow you and you direct message me to Like your facebook page, our relationship will be cut short. As in immediately.

I am sad about that. I think, "awwww why'd you have to go and do that?" But unfollow you I will.

As I go through my days on twitter, I see people openly asking to join them on facebook. This doesn't bother me. But the immediate auto-reply direct message just does me in.

So....I really want to get to know you on twitter. Please don't ask me to like your facebook page in a direct message. :-)

Lauri is the trophy wife of David Rottmayer. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her best friend (David). They live with "Boo Boo the Wonder Dog" in Oklahoma. Lauri and David have recently become grandparents to their amazing glambaby, Aniston. They met while serving in the United State Marine Corps and will soon be celebrating their 33rd Anniversary. Lauri can also be found on Twitter, her blog, and her website.

10 April 2012

Year 2, Day 101 (Guest Blogger: Chrisinda Lukens)


We've hit that stage. There is always a stage with kids. But I think we've hit that stage where kids and parents start to act like alien species. What the heck happened?
It seems like just a few days ago I was cuddling J, now 8, while C and K, both 4, were snoozin' with bottles in the playpen. Instead, our days are now filled with fighting over Wii games, fighting over which movie is going in, fighting over who looked sideways at who, followed closely by the 3 of them in a pile laughing, and me ready to force choke the next person that whines.
We clash over everything. I try to make some special meal, and all I get is "why can't I have pizza?" Or I make my own pizza, dough and all, and I get "this doesn't look like from the pizza shop." It's the same with every little situation. Movies? I never buy the right ones. I never buy enough. I bought the wrong color shirt. Someone got something cooler.
And I suppose I am the same way. I'm pretty stubborn. I don't like to give in. Ever. I've tried to lighten up a little. Pick my battles. But anymore it seems like every little thing is a battle. Don't do this. Do this. Why did you do that? Why didn't you do this? Why is this laying here? How do you choose?
I've threatened so many times that they start listening or I am sending them off to military school. Even though they fully do not understand that. They have images of G I Joe. I have images of well behaved children.
When did I become such a grown-up?
I'm sorry, wait. What was I saying? I got momentarily distracted random C and K cuddles. And I'm running out of time. I need to claim my seat for Transformers. No one gets my spot. And I have a lightsaber battle scheduled for after bath. Comic book reading before bed. Hiking plans to make for this weekend.
Hang on. I forget where I was going with this....

So alright. Maybe we are on the same planet after all. Just different continents.

I love being a parent.

"Make no mistake of who I am. I can be good, but I'm no angel. It is a choice, depending on my mood. I am wicked & twisted. Push me hard enough and I'll show you."

This being one of Chrisinda's favorite quotes... and pretty much sums it up. Chrisinda is a single mom of 3 boys (2 of which are twins) and lives in rural Pennsylvania. She works as a Yoga/Zen Meditations Instructor, and also has three blogs: one for poetry, one for recipes, and one for just ranting... or whatever comes to mind. She can also be found on Twitter.

09 April 2012

Year 2, Day 100 (Guest Blogger: Blanca Raygoza)

My Monkeys ... My Life

The Dallas/Fort Worth area was hit with a bad storm with several tornado sightings. Bad weather normally doesn't bother me, but today was different because the bad weather was too close for comfort. Tornados were spotted very close to my kids' schools and near the sitter's house.

I'm a single divorced parent of three awesome boys (My monkeys as I like to call them) I have a dental assistant job during the day and a second job as a Zumba instructor a few nights a week.
Parenting is a hard job and having three monkeys to raise with little or no help is sometimes overwhelming..

It was nerve wrecking to be at work during the storm. The worst feeling to have as a parent is guilt. Guilt, for not being the one to hold them when they are scared. Guilt, for not being able to be at three places at once. Guilt that doing your best isn't good enough.

Minutes seemed like hours and hail hitting the windows at work with the tornado sirens going off nearby, did not make me feel any better. In my heart I knew everything was okay, but I still needed reassurance. I was able to talk to my monkeys as soon as the afternoon patients cancelled their appointment, I was able to breathe better once I knew my monkeys were okay.

My 5 year old monkey: "Mommy! I didn't have to do my ABC's because of the motatos!" (as he smiled from ear to ear)

Me: "Motatos? What's that?"

Monkey: "You know! The scary black wind thingy that sucks you up!"

Me:"That's TORNADOS!"

Monkey: "Oh! Tornados! Ha! Ha! I'm silly right?"

My 9 year old Monkey: "Mommy, no homework tonight, I left my backpack at school because of the tornados ....it was a worthy sacrifice!"

I rolled my eyes trying hard not to laugh at their silliness and turned to my 13 year old...."Nope, no homework" no excuses just facts.

This was the conversation I had with my monkeys after I picked them up after work...and all was right with the world!

Blanca Raygoza is a proud mother of three handsome boys. She works as a dental assistant and she has a job as a Zumba instructor a few nights a week.
She is trying to live life to the fullest while raising her boys to become true gentlemen, all while sharing joy and awesomeness to those around her.

If you live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, sign up for her Zumba classes (you can visit her website for more information). You can also find both her and her class on Twitter.

08 April 2012

Year 2, Day 99 (Guest Blogger: RebbeSoul)

When I got to Israel, I played a lot of weddings as a guitarist/sideman, particularly in Jerusalem. Often the material consisted of Reb Shlomo Carlebach's songs and that's how I learned many of them. He wrote something like 2000 songs, many of which are so popular and common in Jewish culture, people think they are traditional, folk songs. One of the most popular that I played was "Adir Hu." It's from the Jewish holiday of "Pesach" or Passover, the holiday that occurs at this time of year.

I love the scale and I love the groove. Naturally, when it came time to record the new RebbeSoul album, which was to consist entirely of the material of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, his "Adir Hu" was high on my list. Even though, I had played it often, recording it was anything but routine and expected. Here's what happened.

I was recording at the studio of Dan Gil, the Gearer Rebbe in Sharon, MA. Dan is called the Gearer Rebbe because he knows a lot about musical gear and is obsessed with it. He had just acquired some new equipment and instruments and one of them was a Turkish saz, sometimes called a baglama. I was at the studio for a few days and Dan kept telling me about the saz and how I should play it on the new album. "I don't know how to play saz. I don't even know the tuning," I replied. That didn't matter, he didn't stop trying to convince me to play it. At one point, he was setting up 4 mics in an elaborate configuration for something I was about to play and of course while doing so, he carried on about the saz. I finally conceded. "Okay, since you're busy doing this and I'm waiting, why don't you get me the saz and I'll see if I can do something with it?" As soon as he handed it to me, I strummed it once and knew it would be perfect for something. The Gearer Rebbe had quite an insight.

A Turkish saz

"Adir Hu" was exotic sounding to begin with, incorporating the fragish (Yiddish) or hijaz (Arabic) scale so that seemed like the right tune to choose for the saz. I used some of the strings as drones and whether or not that's part of the method of playing or not, it sounded good. So I stayed in the performance room for 3 hours figuring out how to play it and we got it all. I even laid down a 2nd track and the 2 sounded really good together. I was astonished at how well it came out and grateful that the wise Gearer Rebbe, Dan was so persistent.

I went back to Israel and was listening to the tracks. Although they stood well on their own, I wanted to add a few more things. I was just having too much fun with the song and didn't want it to end. I had made a stop in San Francisco on the tour before returning to Israel and went to one of my favorite music stores, Clarion Music, named after little Clara Hsu who is now a fully grown woman, by her loving father who founded the store. It's a wonderful place in San Francisco's Chinatown to explore non-Western instruments. I first discovered it in the mid-90s, with our percussionist in RebbeSoul, Cassio Duarte and both of us were like kids in a candy store. We were in San Francisco to play Great American Music Hall and Cassio heard about this store so we went there and didn't leave for a few hours. I got a dolak from Pakistan and used shortly afterward on "A Narrow Bridge" or "Kol Ha Olam Kulo" in Hebrew, on my Fringe of Blue album.

This time, in 2009, I was in Clarion music with my brother, Scott and his son Steven. We were having fun being tourists in Chinatown and this was one of our stops. I left with a jaw harp and some hand percussion from Viet Nam and China. When it came time to record the additional material for the song. I was tracking on my mobile recording studio in Israel and pulled out these new toys of mine and rolled a few tracks. I added some finger cymbals which I often use. You can hear them all over my recordings. Between the finger cymbals and the newly acquired Asian percussion, the top end was pretty well covered. The only thing missing was a deep sounding drum for the bottom end. All the drums I had to fit the bill were in the United States and I wasn't there at the moment. It was so hot in Israel, I was drinking bottles of water constantly and just polished one off. I gave it a bang and it sounded pretty good so I played "four on the floor" on the water bottle and that's what you'll hear on the track. It comes in toward the end and sounds like a big drum.

I had so much fun with this tune, I decided to do another take on it and record it again, only more techno or electronic as opposed to this version which was entirely organic, with all real instruments.

I jumped on the computer and came up with a short programmed drum part or a loop, as they are fashionably called. I added some synth sounds and created a nice bed for the new lead instruments. But what would they be? I took out my nylon string and it sounded divine, so soothing. I recorded it and didn't want to stop because I was having so much fun with the tune. I spotted my balalaika, sitting in the corner, being ignored so I picked it up and played a track of balalaika which sounded really nice too, totally different, but really nice. I liked them both and decided to use them, the balalaika at the beginning and the nylon string afterwards.

Me and my balalaika in NY; photo by Melissa Stonehill

I wanted an intense, groove-oriented bass part so I called up one of my very favorite bassists, Moran Baron who happens to live on a kibbutz just minutes away from me and he came over slammed a killer bass part. Moran has lots of ideas and usually lays them all down. Then it becomes an editing exercise to decide what to keep and what to discard. One must be brutally disciplined to discard anything he plays because it's always so musical. I loved what he played so much that I lengthened the song by a few minutes with a long ride-out at the end just to accommodate his many ideas. If you listen to the bass on the song, you can hear a variety of different ideas, all working well but all a little different from each other, especially at the end where he play 1/16 note harmonics. The long ride-out also allowed me to indulge myself, playing another one of my new toys, the jaw harp I got in San Francisco.

I called this track, "Adir Hu Revisited" and it's at the end of the album, just before the radio mixes. I liked the way it finished off the album, providing a long, late-night, college dorm kind of mood.

You can listen to "Adir Hu Revisited" on SoundCloud

RebbeSoul - singer, song writer, musician, recording artist, guest blogger:

At first glance, you would not label him as a Rabbi or a Rebbe. In fact, not even at a second glance, but RebbeSoul is a musical brand name who combines Jewish music with soul and jazz. Now he is coming out with a project renewing Carlebach nigunim (melodies) as instrumental pieces, unique from the more prevalent, Carlebach style and just as unique for the soul.

He made aliyah (moved to Israel) about 3 1/2 years ago and lives in Zichron Yaacov and, like many other Jewish, western, music creators, his heart lies in the east but his work originates far in the west. He was born in upstate New York and embarked on his musical career at the age of 22, when he moved to California. At age 12, he had a plastic guitar his parents rented for him "because they didn't believe that I would take the instrument seriously. I played at bars that I wasn't even allowed to enter because I was too young." he tells, "They just looked the other way, and let me play."

Like the classic Jewish mother, his own mother didn't see music as a worthy profession one can make a living at. With a degree in engineering and his guitar in hand, which he was much more attuned to, he traveled across the US to look for a his place. "I went out of my house in a snow storm and drove for 2 weeks until I finally got to sunny California, where I only had on a pair shorts and my guitar in the back of my car. I spent 3 months practicing about 10 hours a day, working on every style of music. I didn't care what it was."

(Excerpt taken from RebbeSoul's press page of his website, rebbesoul.com, where you can see his current touring schedule, or even order his amazing music - yes, that was a plug... and yes, I have several of his CD's).

He can also be found on YouTube, Facebook, and on ReverbNation, both as RebbeSoul, and with Shlomit Levi as Shlomit & The Rebbe.

07 April 2012

Year 2, Day 98 (Passover Begins)

Tonight we are officially in the Passover Holiday, also known as the Feast Of Unleavened Bread. As Scriptural history shows, it is to be observed for 7 days, but it is recognized as 8 in the the Diaspora (outside of Israel). The mandate for this observance was given by The L-rd Himself, to Moses, beginning in Exodus 12:3, where The L-rd tells what preparations must be made... the events leading up to the final plague which were befallen upon Egypt: the Plague of the Firstborn. The L-rd was bringing the plagues as punishment for the severe mistreatment the people of Israel had endured by the hands of the Egyptians. The was the beginning of the Dawn of a New Era: Israel would leave their place of captivity and become their own nation. Therefore, Passover is a remembrance of those times, enduring brutality, and the miracles that The L-rd, Himself, had made known for all; the people of Israel, as well as Egypt. There are many interesting facets when you study those plagues, but I'll just focus a little on this one. For one, a lamb is to be sacrificed for the Pesach meal. During that time, a lamb was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians as a deity, so you can imagine their horror when they found out the purpose the Children of Israel had for the lambs. The blood from these sacrificed lambs was, with the use of hysop, to be put on the doorposts and the lintel (the crossbeam of the door frame), which draws the shape of the Hebrew letter Chai (ה). The letter Chai is very symbolic of the word "life" (for an easy reference point, think of the musical Fiddler On The Roof: there is a song title "To Life", in Hebrew - they they also say in the song - it's L'Chaim).

This is just a very brief synopsis, as one of my readers specifically asked for a little more information. There is a plethora of information on the subject, through a variety of sources. One such source is on the website for Judaism 101, which does expound quite a bit, and for various levels of learning (though the link I added is for the basic level).

Contrary to popular beleif (by "popular" I mean that which "The Church" has mistaught people), Passover is NOT a Jewish Holiday... it IS, in fact, G-d's Holiday. "you shall observe this day for your generations as an eternal decree" (or in some translations: "forever") - Exodus 12:17. So I hope some of you will look into this Holiday/Festival/Celebration, even partake of a Passover Seder. I think it just may change you for the better... and you'll learn something new. May you all be Blessed!l

06 April 2012

Year 2, Day 97 (A Somewhat Busy Weekend)

It's been a long and arduous several days, getting here to Livonia, MI from Laredo, TX. I arrived here yesterday afternoon. As I had suspected (dreaded) I was pre-planned on a load which re-loads at this same place. This load is not due to load until 1900 tonight, then the first drop is due to deliver tomorrow morning in Pittsburgh, PA. The other two drops are on Sunday, also in Pennsylvania: Bethlehem, then Lancaster. Come Monday, I pick up in Dayton, NJ heading to Brampton, ON. I really don't like the fact that I'm working through Passover, but unfortunately, I don't have such luxuries as taking off for the Holy Days (plus it doesn't help that there aren't many Jewish trucking companies).

Starting tomorrow I will be taking a brief hiatus from this blog, but there are some amazing people that will be filling in for me. Tomorrow's post, however, will have been composed by me, but it will be auto-posted. The topic of the post will be a brief explanation of Passover. There have been a few changes to the lineup with in the last week and a half, but their names will be shown in the parenthetical title of each day's post.

May you all have a blessed and joyous time in my temporary absence. Should you be one of those that are observant: Have a joyous Sabbath, and a memorable Pesach... next year in Jerusalem!

Chag Sameach!

05 April 2012

Year 2, Day 96 (This Has Been A Long Trip)

Because of the time crunch I've been under, this run has taken quite a bit out of me. Between driving through rain & hail, missing a tornado, and dealing with people who want to drive 15 MPH through a 45 MPH work zone (not to mention that I've covered over 1500 miles since Tuesday), I'm ready for some kind of break. The weather up in Indiana is a bit cooler than it was in Texas. Down there it was the mid to upper 80's, whereas here just outside of Gary it's upper 30's to lower 40's. It may even get a little cooler as I get closer to the Detroit area.

With Passover approaching ever closer, I'm getting the guest blog posts lined up, although I've had one drop out, so I'm scrambling a little to fill in that gap. I've already had to call in a solid because one other said they would do it... then I haven't heard from them since. This recent loss I'm not upset over. She's filled in for me before, and she's good... but her daily schedule has been a little hectic for her. I'll soon find out if that spot can be covered.

I hope.

04 April 2012

Year 2, Day 95 (Almost Halfway There)

Yesterday afternoon I started off again after shutting down just north of San Antonio. I trudged on north through Austin, Waco, etc... even hitting some rain and hail as I came closer to Dallas. I found out that a tornado hit the south eastern part of Dallas, fortunately that was nowhere near where I was heading. One of the Guest Bloggers whom will be filling in for me next week lives in Dallas, and she may be posting on that very thing.

This is one major downside to hauling produce... regardless how long you wait to get loaded, the receiving customer still wants their product on time. That's one of the good things to having electronic logs: when our time runs out, we shut down. however, I fear that when I do get the and get unloaded, I may be getting re-loaded at the same place I delivered... which means I will have to pull an all-nighter to make my first drop on time.

You win some, you lose some. I will still give The L-rd, my G-d, His praise!

03 April 2012

Year 2, Day 94 (Another Long Day)

This day has turned out to be a long one, so far. By the time I was loaded and leaving the shipper, it was already after midnight... which gave me an 8 hour break on my logbook. I actually don't mind hauling produce, but it's more of a hassle than it's worth when your load gets picked up in areas such as Yuma, AZ, Nogales, AZ, or (as in my case) Laredo, TX. As many other truck drivers will attest to, the big problem with these loads is the freight is booked, but it still hasn't crossed the border from Mexico. There could be wait times up to a day and a half before the product gets to you. As in my case, since I had an 8 hour break (even though I napped), I still had to drive. I made it as far as I could - just north of San Antonio - before I had to shut down for some sleep.

Along the way, I passed a field of some sort (not quite sure if it was an oil well or not) where they were "burning off"... at least I think that's the proper term. It's where you see a large flame burning at the top of what seems to be a smokestack. From a couple miles away (when I had first seen it), it looks like a flickering candle in the dark, open Texas sky. Though such a peaceful representation fades away as you get closer and see it for what it is.

At least I still have a pretty good imagination.

02 April 2012

Year 2, Day 93 (This Load Is A Good Run)

I unloaded this morning in San Antonio, but unfortunately I'm unable to get together with Nemo The Artist. The good thing is this next load is not only a good run, but I also didn't have to wait very long to get it dispatched on me. I'm sitting right outside the customer to load... in Laredo, TX. It's a load of produce (tomatoes, I think) that I will be taking to Livonia, MI. It's set to deliver on Thursday morning, but with my hours as they are currently sitting, 0800 Thursday morning probably won't happen. Either somebody will have to re-schedule it for a later time, or another driver will re-power it and take it on to Michigan.

The weather here right now is in the mid 80's, which for south Texas is considered mild... Summer down here is not for the weak-hearted, or at least those who don't like the hot temperatures. No matter how hot it gets, it still won't deter me from drinking coffee.

01 April 2012

Year 2, Day 92 (Almost Halfway To San Antonio)

I finally left out of Harrisonville, MO at nearly 2000 last night. I stopped in Peculiar, MO to made sure the trailer's fuel was topped off before going in to the Tyson facility in Olathe, KS. Fortunately, the load I was picking up had been pre-loaded. Once I dropped my empty and hooked up to the loaded trailer (and scaled it to make sure all the weights were legal), I was on my way. I made it to just north of Oklahoma City before I shut down... which was nearly 0500 this morning. When I awoke, I decided for a more healthy bill of fare for an albeit late breakfast- fresh strawberries with a cream cheese dip:

I still have over 450 miles to cover yet before I get to the customer in San Antonio, TX. My appointment to deliver is for 0700, and if all works out, I'm hoping to be there around 2300 tonight. But only time - and Ft. Worth traffic - will tell.

I. Need. Coffee.