31 May 2012
That was when it began to get difficult.
LeRoy has a brother who came out for the funeral... a twin brother. I had heard that Leslie was coming out, and I had met him on several occasions. But with all that had been going on, it just didn't register. During the viewing I had been keeping control of my composure, but after looking at Leslie, and after observing him, and how similar his mannerisms are with LeRoy... I just couldn't keep control very longer.
Yes... I cried.
I will miss LeRoy!
There are still a few final issues to tend to before then, but it should all be taken care of by then.
Goodnight, LeRoy... say hello to "Chesty" for me (those who were in the Marine Corps will know exactly what that means!).
29 May 2012
Dillard and I unloaded this morning in Tulsa. About 2 hours later we received our next load assignment. This load (through a broker) picked up there in Tulsa heading to Burlington, NJ. A few hours after that, my fleet manager (Monica) sent me a message to bring it to the North Little Rock terminal. The load didn't have a loading appointment until 1700, but at least I had a load and a positive direction to go. Once we were loaded, I made my way to Little Rock where the other driver (the one re-powering the load) was waiting.
It worked out all the way around; Dillard and I were heading to Little Rock where he was getting released to take his final evaluation (then get his own truck) and I was heading home, and the other driver was getting a load that will get him home, as well. It turns out, the other driver (Steve) lives about 15 miles from where he delivers.
That is winning!
28 May 2012
Memorial Day 2012, and Dillard and I spent it at a truck stop in Tulsa, OK. One thing I noticed, which is quite saddening, is just how much the general populace has forgotten what this holiday is truly about. People go out boating, fishing, have cookouts, etc, maybe they will go to a parade - if there is one going on - but for the most part, to them it's another day added to the weekend. Very few businesses even honor the memory of our fallen heroes. Just recently, a member of MSNBC has said he has trouble calling our military service members "heroes". THAT is not only disrespectful, it's outright contemptuous!
Allow me to throw out this observation: many news sources (our own mainstream media included) try to vilify Israel as an "apartheid state", yet our troops are fighting a "War On Terror" in countries that are Muslim dominated, a war that began from attacks by Muslim extremists, and being constantly confronted by radicals calling for us to be more "tolerant" of their beliefs, while proving that they are the MOST intolerant... but Israel is the bad guy?! Sure, sure... there are some loonies - who can't think for themselves - that will say they have that right... freedom of speech, and all that... but why do you have that right? Exactly who was it that fought for you to have that right? Our military, that's who! If you can't even have the courtesy or the decency to put aside your own lives and political ideology - no matter how radical or pathetic they are - and honor those veterans who fought - and the ones who died - to GIVE you that right, then why don't you LEAVE! Those veterans are honored only 2 days each year... 2 DAYS! You can't even suspend your own miserable agendas and thank those for giving you the freedom and liberty to have those agendas?
I'll close with this saying I've seen on Facebook, and on bumper stickers:
"If you can't stand behind our troops,
Feel free to stand in front of them"
For the record, I SERVED MY COUNTRY!
veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm
27 May 2012
Last night, Dillard and I shut down in Colby, KS, just 53 miles from the Kansas/Colorado state line. It was a good thing we parked there when we did, as it had already been windy, but it became really windy a little later. So much so, that I had heard they were about 80 MPH winds blowing to the north, and about 3 trucks on the interstate were blown over (though how true that is still remains to be seen... you know how much "truth" there is to a story when it comes from a truck driver). The winds were pretty wicked... and being that we were in Kansas, there was no pun intended. The intensity of the winds - and the sand that accompanied them - formed such a dark haze that I couldn't even see the lights from the truck stop fuel pumps & building... and we were parked about 200' from the building itself.
We left this morning at about 1015 (me with a Starbucks in hand) to finish off this trip to Tulsa. We arrived here at the Flying J at 1830 when we topped off the fuel and found a place to park. Anybody who has been here before knows that this truck stop is usually packed by about 1600 on a Sunday, but since this is Memorial Day - and many customers (including ours) will be closed tomorrow - there were still a few spaces left.
After we had fueled, Dillard and I discussed whether we would stay here for the night, or head to the customer. Since (as I explained it to him) we will be getting a re-start on a logbooks later this week, there was really no need to get one now... so we chose to stay here tonight and head over tomorrow evening. I will be releasing Dillard (hopefully) Tuesday, so he can take his final evaluation, then get his own truck. I, on the other hand, will be heading home. As you could tell from yesterday's post, this time I'll be going home for less than pleasant circumstances.
I'm still in a little shock at my Father-in law's passing... plus I've not quite completely dealt with my Dad's passing a few years ago. It's odd how the death of a loved one affects us, where we begin to question our own mortality, even reflect upon our lives now. My wife, Tikvah, is holding up very well, so far. She told me she's trying to stay strong for her Mom. When I get home, though, I may be the one trying to stay strong for her. I fear that it may be harder than it seems, I may end up finally mourning the passing of my Dad as well as hers.
Please keep us all in prayer!
26 May 2012
Today started out pretty nice; moderate weather temperatures, a nice day, and peaceful. Unfortunately, it became a somber time of mourning. This afternoon, at around 1320, LeRoy Baruch Bennett - my father-in-law - passed away at the age of 72. He was a good man. Some would say he enjoyed discussing Scripture, others would say he liked to debate, and still others would say he liked to argue... I say, "all of the above." I first met him when my wife, Tikvah, and I were still dating (while she was separated from her first husband)... around 1991. She had a relative that had just passed away, and LeRoy was coming out for the funeral. On that particular day, we were returning from someplace (probably the grocery store) when we pulled into the drive of her home in Anaheim, CA.
At that time, I was still serving in the Marine Corps, while also being a part of the Goth sub-culture. When we pulled into the drive, she jumped out of the car shouting with excitement, "He's here! He's here!" I had no idea who "he" was. I parked the car, and stepped out - wearing long black pants, 14-hole "ox blood" (burgundy) colored Doc Marten boots, and a black Love & Rockets t-shirt - when she ran back out of the house, saying, "my Daddy's here... you're going to meet my Dad!" So I did what any young man (whether Goth, or Marine, or any hybrid containing the two) dating a man's beautiful daughter would do... I said, "I don't think so!" Needless to say, he accepted me without judgement.
We've had many disagreements over the years, mainly stemming from either Scripture or politics. One thing that never changed was our fondness and respect for one another. He may have been a cantankerous old curmudgeon, but I still loved him.
Something I found rather ironic about his passing is the fact that, though he never fully accepted his Judaic roots, he left this earth on the Sabbath... the day G-d Himself ordained as the "Day of Rest." Today also happened to be the eve of Shavu'ot. In brief, I'll sum up Shavu'ot in this excerpt taken from the website for Judaism 101:
Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah).
The period from Passover to Shavu'ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu'ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. See The Counting of the Omer. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu'ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu'ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu'ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day; however, Shavu'ot has no particular similarity to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after their Spring holiday.
It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of the Torah. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus it is the giving, not the receiving, that makes this holiday significant.
So, basically, LeRoy left this earth on the "Day of Rest" and became both physically and spiritually free from the bondage of this world. Now that's going out with honor!
25 May 2012
At one point, while driving just east of Butte, heading towards Bozeman, the temperature dropped down to 30°, then back up to nearly 70° once we made it to the bottom of the mountain.
Fortunately - as I'm sure Dillard would agree - the snow wasn't too terribly bad; the roads weren't slick nor icy, nor was there enough snow to really be worried about (at least for me, Dillard has never driven a truck in winter conditions).
Either way, it's been a peacefully uneventful ride with a lot of open road, and little traffic (at least compared to the East). With Memorial Day soon to be upon us within the next few days, I hope you will be safe in your travels. Most importantly, please remember the reason why we even have a Memorial Day: those who have served - or are currently serving - in our military services. Without the sacrifices they have made in the past, we wouldn't be free today. Those whom are serving now continue to carry on that legacy of tradition, honor, courage, and pride.
May you have a blessed Sabbath, and a joyous Shavuot!
- Posted by me
24 May 2012
I'm not a sommelier, not do I claim to be one, and though I find the statement, "I'm not a wine expert, but I know what I like" rather absurd, that is the category I find myself in. However, over the years I have found myself leaning towards a greater appreciation of wine, while continuing to steer clear of the "boxed" variety. There may be some of that type that are quite good, but it's still the imagery of a middle-aged man with a "pot belly", clad only in ragged, grease-stained jeans and a stained white tank top t-shirt with a mason jar full of the aforementioned variety sitting on a couch (as equally stained as his previously mention choice of fashion) while watching the current NASCAR race on t.v. Any ideas on how to overcome this hurdle?
But I digress! This posting is one that is quite special itself. It was this day that will forever be remembered among the wine critics and enthusiasts alike.
In 1976, Steven Spurrier (whom also blogs for The Wine Society of India) arranged a wine tasting event - also referred to as the Judgement of Paris - in which a variety of wines from France and the Napa Valley of California were judged in a blind taste test. At this period in time, wines from the "New World" were considered substantially inferior to their French counterparts. One of those selected from California competed in the White Wines category was from a then fledgling vintner/winemaker, Jim Barrett, whom had just purchased Chateau Montelena just 4 years prior. Not only did his Chardonnay make an impression with the judges, it won its category... for a Premier Cru!
I first heard about this event on the NPR program, The Splendid Table , just a few years ago. According to the host, Lynn Rossetto Kasper, many of the judges involved in this tasting event still refuse to talk about it. In 1982, Jim handed over the Winemaker duties to his son, Bo Barrett. This piece of wine history is loosely translated in the film, Bottle Shock.
After hearing about this, then watching the movie, I became very intrigued in the wines of Chateau Montelena. Though I have yet to try their wines, the time to do so will be coming soon, as I plan on purchasing a couple bottles of their 1992 vintage (if they are still available) for my wife and I for our 20th anniversary this October. Since I wrote such a glowing piece for them on this day - their patch of wine history - if they would extend a discount for me? Probably not (nor would I actually expect one)... but one can dream, anyway.
Congratulations, Chateau Montelena!!
23 May 2012
Once we returned, we parked back at the truck stop where I bought the ingredients to make some Pico de Gallo, and to grab a bite to eat at the Hot Spot. Dillard had a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, while I opted for some Chipotle/Garlic Wings:
We made it here to Ellensburg, WA where I topped off the fuel and we are shutting down for the night. Tomorrow Dillard will have full reign... he will be doing it all for his final week... but I may coach him from time to time.
- Posted by me
22 May 2012
As I mentioned yesterday, I made plans to meet up with Scott Schultz. Scott and I first interacted with each other via Twitter, then later on became friends on Facebook. As of today, we finally met face-to-face.
We met up for lunch at a nice little place called Pallino Pastaria. I ordered the Pesto Genovese with Penne, which was very delicious.
We spoke about a variety of things, mainly getting to know each other; family, children, careers, etc. It was a very enjoyable time, I'm glad we finally were able to put real personalities behind the various tweets and random Facebook postings. We'll keep in touch, Scott... may you and your family be blessed!
- Posted by me
21 May 2012
Tomorrow, however, I will be able to meet another person I've become acquainted with, via Twitter; Scott Schultz... but more on that tomorrow.
Dillard and I, as I mentioned earlier, went venturing around. He popped into a Taco Bell to get something to eat. As for myself, I went in search of something different. In the plaza behind Taco Bell, there were several restaurants of varying cultural cuisines. At first I was going to try the Thai restaurant, until I saw Pho Hao... a Vietnamese restaurant. I have had food from many different cultures, and many different cuisines... but not Vietnamese. I had to give it a shot. So I ordered one of the soups (don't ask what the name of it is, I don't remember) and was absolutely delighted!
It was light, yet filling. I will absolutely make another visit in the future.
- Posted by me
20 May 2012
(both of which were taken with my Hipstamatic app).
Before we left, I made some preparations and started the crock pot up to make the roast we are having for dinner. We did, however, have to make a stop at the SuperTarget in Riverdale, UT to get another onion, as the one I had went bad (plus I made a stop in Starbucks). for those who may be curious about my recipe, here it goes:
a 3-4 lb cut of beef (use your own personal preference)
1 bottle Mesquite flavored Liquid Smoke (I use Colgin brand)
1 small or medium red onion
3 garlic cloves
2 pkg powdered brown gravy
1lb baby potatos
fresh green beans
fresh mushrooms (whole or sliced, depending on your preference)
Cut the beef into 4 pieces, marinate overnight in the Liquid Smoke. The next morning transfer the beef and Liquid Smoke into the crock pot, slice onion and chop garlic, add to crock pot (add whichever seasonings you wish) Cook on high about 2-3 hours, then turn to low and add potatoes and gravy mix. Allow to cook for another 4-5 hours, then add green beans & mushrooms for the last 30-60 minutes (this way the green beans will still be crisp when you bite into them).
This will serve 4-6 people, depending on their appetite.
Bon a petit!
- Posted by me
19 May 2012
One of the things I really enjoy about being a truck driver trainer, is the opportunity to capture some good photographs on the road... especially when my student is doing the driving. I have several different photography apps on my iPhone, two of my favorites being Hipstamatic and Instagram. On the former, I'm able to interchange the films, lenses, and flashes. On the latter, I can apply different effects in order to bring out more depth to the shot. Both of these shots were taken today in Colorado, just north of Ft. Collins, using the above apps, in order of their mention:
Photography has always been nothing more than a hobby for me. I would like to get more involved, but for that I would have to get a more suitable device for it. Two cameras I wouldn't mind getting are the Canon Rebel T2i (which is presently a little out of my price range), and the Leica M9 (which is definitely out of my price range). One day I may be able to get one of them, but until then I'll just have to settle with what I can do on my iPhone 3GS.
- Posted by me
18 May 2012
These next few days will be enjoyable, and Dillard will get some good training in for his last week and a half on my truck. He's been doing really well, we are just going to refine his skills in a few areas. Over the next few days I hope to get some stunning pictures (though they could be more stunning if I has a Canon Rebel) to post here.
As Sabbath approaches, I hope you will all be blessed with peace and joy.
- Posted by me
17 May 2012
In other news, just today we mourn the loss of another true musical diva: Donna Summer. Though many refer to her as "The Queen Of Disco", she was so much more. Sure, she received her big break during the disco era, with her sultry voice (especially in the song, "Love To Love You Baby") and sex appeal, but to limit her to just disco is disingenuous. She proved that she could hold her own, long after the discotheques "dimmed all the lights."
Another late news of note is one even I find shocking... especially since I am "fashion challenged". The news I refer to is that of the fashion icon, Betsey Johnson, closing all of her stores. Yes, Tikvah, you read that correctly! If you are a fan of her designs, sales prices are 20-50% off right now. Farewell, Betsey!
- Posted by me
16 May 2012
Dillard had already completed his routing, which may be shorter in miles, but will definitely be longer in time. I recommended that we take U.S. 60 all the way, past Springfield, MO to Monette, then cut down MO 37 into Arkansas that way. It may be a little more miles, but it will save time and fuel (most of that stretch has a 70 MPH speed limit.
Let's see what happens tomorrow.
- Posted by me
15 May 2012
Everything came out ok, as I expected it would. I went back to the terminal, took care of a few other things, and just might have the clearance to install a bike rack on my truck, so I may soon be able to take my mountain bike along with me.
Once everything was taken care of, Dillard and I were getting ready to head out, only to be told that Tyson cancelled the Chicago load. Instead, we are here in Russellville, AR picking up a load going to Union City, TN. This could possibly be positioning me to be able to get a load out of Tulsa, OK on Friday heading to the northwest (I hope, I hope, I HOPE!!).
Now it's just a matter of waiting to get loaded and head down the road.
Starbucks... yeah, had some!
- Posted by me
14 May 2012
Shortly after we left from fueling, I was told to leave room for 7 pallets at the first pick-up of our pre-plan. As it turned out, the load was changed, so now we don't pick up until tomorrow evening in Hope, AR and deliver Thursday morning in Chicago. This is probably because Monica (my Fleet Manager) wants to make sure I get my bi-annual physical done, while I'm at the terminal in N. Little Rock.
Dillard has been doing quite well, and I think he'll make a good truck driver once he gets his own truck. He is really absorbing all the information I throw his way, as well as excelling in the refinement of his current skills. Tomorrow will be another day... let's see what adventures come our way. Oh yeah... I had Starbucks tonight.
- Posted by me
13 May 2012
I made a run to Starbucks a little while ago (my little treat) with a couple other drivers. I tried to resist, but I gave in and got dinner from Qdoba. I'll try to get a good night's rest in preparation for tomorrow's venture.
- Posted by me
12 May 2012
Along the way, we took a little break (about 1 1/2 hours, as it turned out) in Janesville, WI. Yes, I paid a visit to the Starbucks there. The weather has been sunny all day, and traffic was relatively smooth. Popeye's for dinner, milk for tomorrow's cereal... everything is set for the time being.
- Posted by me
11 May 2012
Lately I've noticed that the general dialogue getting the most attention is that of the upcoming Presidential elections. Personally, I've lost my interest in the matter, and, frankly, have become very sickened by it. We DON'T have a real leader in office (that includes Congress), nor do we have any viable candidates anywhere within sight. Our society AND country has digressed into a nation "for the elitists, by the elitists." Yet there are the minions from both parties that will debate the trivial, and sidestep facts. Don't tell me how your party is better, or why your nominee should get elected (or re-elected) when BOTH sides have failed the people whom they represent! Look closely at which legislations have been passed into law and tell me if it's good for THE PEOPLE... chances are, they benefit the politicians and their bank accounts - first and foremost.
Have a blessed and peaceful Sabbath!
10 May 2012
Once our 10 hour break was concluded, Dillard took the helm, did the required pre-trip inspection, and we were on our way. The weather has been relatively clear & sunny, except for one small area where we went through some rain. I stated that this could be a long day for the fact that we have a lot of ground to cover. As long as we at least make it to Gary, IN, we should be in good shape.
As many of you know, I am a proud veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. I am also Jewish, and pro-Israel. So why would I spend my hard-earned money in a business - based here in the U.S. - that donates to a fund-raiser hosted by CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), who then funnels it to terrorist groups? I point this out because of an article I read today. It's quite obvious CAIR is NOT about improving "relations" between Muslims and non-Muslims. One of their primary goals is the implementation of Sharia Law. If you don't believe me, look back at the past mid-term elections, when the people of the state of Oklahoma voted against such legislation. The people voted and their voices were heard. Yet CAIR chose to file a lawsuit against Oklahoma?! I'd say that paints a pretty vivid picture as to what they are really about.
Comments are welcome.
- Posted by me
09 May 2012
After a few hours of waiting, we finally received a dispatch to load in Newfield, NJ at 2300 (ET) tonight and delivering in Tomah, WI for Friday afternoon. With the waiting (while our logbook drive time ticked away), the only way to deliver on time is if we leave out from here first thing in the morning and hammer the miles away tomorrow. If we can get through Chicago (or at least to the terminal in Gary, IN) before we shut down, then we should be good for delivery.
The weather has been quite rainy today. At least I got some Starbucks.
And Dunkin Donuts.
- Posted by me
08 May 2012
How she's put up with me all this time is still unknown to me, yet it's also a testimony to the fact that I have a virtuous woman!
We have a lot of the same tastes in music, in fact, I've introduced her to different artists, such as Miles Davis, Peter Murphy, and The Creatures (whom I happen to be listening to now). Each day I thank The L-rd that He brought her into my life, and that those feelings are equally reciprocated. In this day and society when most marriages rarely last 5 years, we've lasted 20... and still going strong. What's the secret? There's two rules to follow (men, take note):
A) The woman is always right!
B) If the woman is ever wrong, refer to rule A.
I love and miss you, Tikvah!
- Posted by me
07 May 2012
This morning Dillard and I did a drop & hook at the ConAgra cooking plant here in the town where I live. This is the facility that makes the Banquet brand fried chicken, and the Lean Cuisine, among other products. We are presently on our way to deliver Wednesday morning in Manchester, PA. There is no telling what the next couple of weeks will hold for us. Hopefully we can get a load going up to the Seattle area... then Dillard can get a taste of driving through some real mountains.
- Posted by me
06 May 2012
There was even a gentleman whom had a booth set up and giving demonstrations - with audience participation - on how to make homemade Matzo.
My youngest son, Nathan, even got into the act.
Considering he had never made Matzo before (neither have I, for that matter), the end result was well done.
There were also a variety of live bands performing at the Festival. Even though I am usually drawn to music, I was more attentive to the food of the event. There was the usual bill of fare: Falafels, Matzoh Ball Soup, Lox & Bagels, and, of course, Kabobs (which is usually, for events in which the general public is in attendance, a lamb/beef mixture. This is done because most people whom are unfamiliar with Mediterranean cuisine find lamb to have a "wild" taste... therefore it is cut with beef.).
There was also a backdrop on location which has a replicated image of the Western Wall (commonly referred to as the "Wailing Wall" among the non-Jewish populace). My wife, Tikvah, posed in front of this backdrop, which gave this doubly beautiful picture.
05 May 2012
04 May 2012
When she first went in to get this done (a few weeks ago), the tattoo artist was reluctant to do it... until she explained her reasoning. Having understood, he did a little research to get an understanding of what it would look like, realizing that it would be - during that time - not a carefully drawn piece of art, but hastily done.
Today, we originally went to get a bike for her as an early Mother's Day gift. Since Walmart doesn't have the widest range to choose from (and there are no real bicycle shops in this area), we went wandering around town. She then wanted to go to a tattoo shop (a different one) to get an estimate on an idea she had to build upon this memorial. When she shared the idea, the price was $75. She lit up at the price and asked if she could get instead of the bike for Mother's Day. Needless to say, she was VERY happy when I said yes.
As you can see, the artist was very involved in the job, and did a wonderful job on the finished product.
This is Tikvah's way to NEVER forget.
May you all be blessed and have a wonderful and joyous Sabbath!
03 May 2012
Once we arrived here where I live, I made sure Dillard was checked into the motel and settled in before I went home. It's nice to be here. To relax and spend time with family is always a luxury that we should NOT take for granted. When one is away from home as much as I am, being home is second to none. This weekend my youngest son, Nathan, will be playing a gig at the local coffee shop (which I will attend), and we will be going to the Jewish Food Festival in Little Rock.
Yes, I will blog about it.
02 May 2012
We slept in a bit this morning, since we weren't due to pick up until 1530. Before we left, I brought us across the parking lot to the Blue Beacon Truck Wash, where I got the truck & trailer washed, as well as getting the trailer washed out. We arrived here at the ConAgra facility on the west end of Indianapolis. I had been here many times with a previous employer, so I knew the shipping clerk from before. Randy and I chatted a bit, then had us back into a door. I had Dillard back it in, so he could get some training and experience (it was a bit more of a difficult task this time).
By this time tomorrow, I will be chillin' out at home, and Dillard will be resting comfortably in the motel (Comfort Suites... and a pretty nice place, too).
- Posted by me
01 May 2012
Dillard has already been set up with a motel room for the time I'm home, mainly because he lives about 250 miles away. As it looks, I'll finally get home on Thursday instead of Wednesday, plus I will still be able to catch Nathan's (my youngest son) gig at the coffee shop on Friday night.
- Posted by me