31 May 2012

Year 2, Day 151 (This Has Been A Hard Evening)

This had started out as a good day. My wife, Tikvah, and I met up with her sister, Theresa, and her husband, Scott. The four of us went out what we intended to be a breakfast, but since nobody was serving any, it was lunch. Afterwards we headed to my Mother-in-law's so Tikvah and Theresa could go through all the pictures and choose what would be displayed on the Memorial table for tomorrow's Celebration Of Life service. After all that, we headed to the funeral home for the viewing.

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!

Year 2, Day 150 (It's Been A Busy Day)

I went to bed late last night, mainly for the reason that I wanted to get my little bit of laundry done so I would not be bringing any dirty laundry home. I arrived home at about 1145 this morning, only to be on the road again 10 minutes later, heading back to Little Rock. Our oldest sons, Paul and Erik were flying in from California today for their Grandfather's funeral. Several years ago, my Father-in-law, LeRoy, worked for the city where we currently reside, and was still in touch - and had a good relationship - with many of the people he worked with/for... up to and including the current Mayor. As I found out earlier today, the City Hall will be closed Friday until after his funeral so that all the employees will have the opportunity to pay their respects, and bid their final farewell. Now that shows that he was honored and respected by all he came in contact with.

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

Year 2, Day 149 (Almost Home)

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

Year 2, Day 148 (Memorial Day In Tulsa)

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!
USMC 1985-1993
veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm

27 May 2012

Year 2, Day 147 (We're In Tulsa... Now We Just Wait)

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

Year 2, Day 146 (The Passing Of A Good Man)

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

Year 2, Day 145 (The Trip Continues)

As Dillard and I make our way through Montana, the temperature has been brisk at times, and the weather is indecisive. Since we left Missoula, Dillard has driven through three types of conditions: dry & sunny, rain, and snow... not necessarily in that order. The scenery has been stunning (as to be expected), between the miles we've traveled from yesterday's starting point (Ellensburg, WA) to present (somewhere west of Billings, MT).

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

Year 2, Day 144 (A Day In Wine History)

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

Year 2, Day 143 (Heading Back To Tulsa)

After some "down time" and relaxation (as well as quite a bit of walking yesterday), Dillard and I made our way up to British Columbia to finish delivering this load. Before we crossed the border, I had Dillard pull into the truck stop in Blaine, WA (right there by the border) to brief him on what to expect at the crossing and how to handle it. 30 minutes later we made our way across... no muss, no fuss. I navigated him to the customer and back into the U.S. Along the way I was finally able to get some decent pictures of some of the scenery (the previous time the weather was just to bleary).

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

Year 2, Day 142 (Scott Schultz, In Real Life)

Today turned out quite well, despite the drizzling rain... not that there's anything wrong with the rain... this is the Seattle area, after all. The customer that Dillard and I are delivering to (scheduled for tomorrow) unloaded us this morning. This customer I've always enjoyed dealing with... always. The fact that we were unloaded first thing this morning was a plus, because that leaves the rest of the day free.
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

Year 2, Day 141 (Another Trip Done)

As of right now, Dillard and I are sitting in Woodinville, WA, where we will be unloading on Wednesday morning before heading up to Burnaby, BC to finish this trip out. When we arrived we headed out to venture around Woodinville for a little bit. I was hoping I would have been able to shoot into Seattle for an hour or two and drink a coffee with Terri Nakamura, but that, unfortunately, didn't happen. Since Dillard and I were running low on our hours, I wanted to make sure we made it here before we ran out. Terri is someone I initially met through Twitter, then we "friended" on Facebook. We met in person last year, and I hope I can meet up with her again sometime in the near future.

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

Year 2, Day 141 (I'm Always At Peace In The West)

Dillard and I made it to Ft. Bridger, WY where we shut down. Fantastic weather: 45°; even when we left, it was 15° cooler than where I live. Dillard pulled out of the truck stop at around 1245 and we continued our way westward. I've always found a certain solace when driving through the mountain regions. There is such beauty in those areas. Take a look at these pictures I took while traveling through eastern Utah:

(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

Year 2, Day 140 (Great Scenery, Great Weather)

I had Dillard take over the driving duties from Tulsa yesterday, and he brought us all the way to Colby, KS, just a little over 50 miles from the Colorado state line. We arrived there at 0315 this morning and shut down for our 10 hour break. We were up again at around 1130 (due to the call of nature), and milled around until it was time to head out. I went inside to partake of the offerings inside the Starbucks at the truck stop where we parked. The weather was wonderful, especially for lunch time. My WeatherBug app was showing it to be 63°, whereas in the Arkansas town with which I and my family currently reside was gauging at 88°. Though (on a different note) while I was perusing through Facebook and GetGlue last night/this morning, I was shocked to learn - albeit a month late- of the passing of another great musician. On this day just last month was the passing of saxophonist Greg Ham (for those of you unfamiliar with this name, he was the saxophonist - as well as other instruments within his repertoire - for the 80's band Men At Work). This was a surprise for me, as I was a fan of his work.

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

Year 2, Day 139 (Soon To Be On Our Way To The Northwest)

We made it to Tulsa, OK at around 0045 this morning, where I topped off the fuel, and we called it a night. Once we finally got moving today, I went to get the trailer washed out (since Tyson felt too inconvenienced to do so). That done, we headed here to the customer where we are currently waiting to get loaded. Personally, I'm anxious to get loaded and get out of here, because of how much I enjoy going through the mountains and going up to Washington (no sarcasm intended).

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

Year 2, Day 138 (Much Going On)

The Tyson load that Dillard and I picked up yesterday, we were told, would be loaded and billed out around 2100-2200. It was around midnight before we left. With time running out on the logbook, I took the helm. I made it as far as Seligman, MO before I shut down... at 0545 this morning. I sent in my updated ETA to be arriving at the Tyson facility in Springdale, AR at 1700... I pulled up to the gate at 1658. We did, however, get a pre-plan for our next run, which will keep us busy for the next few days; we pick up tomorrow in Tulsa, OK and head to Woodinville, WA & Burnaby, BC for next Wednesday... just the load I wanted!

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

Year 2, Day 137 (Looks Like Another Long Night)

Dillard and I left out of Russellville, AR last night at around 2130, heading to Union City, TN. As it turned out, it was a long night. He drove to W.Memphis, AR where I took over for the last 140 miles. I pulled in to the Tyson facility at 0430 this morning. Yes, I was wiped out. This load we're on now picks up here in Dexter, MO and delivers tomorrow at 1200 in Springdale, AR. After last night, I don't think I'm going to push us as hard this time. This facility said we will probably be ready to go about 2200... but we'll see how that goes. This is Tyson, after all.

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

Year 2, Day 136 (A Different Destination)

The load I was dispatched on was scheduled to pick up between 2000 and 2300 tonight and deliver at 0400 Thursday morning in Chicago. Since there was such a late window, Dillard and I were able to stay at the N. Little Rock terminal last night. This morning when I awoke, I took care of some little things (doing what little laundry I had, for one), then went to get my physical re-certification taken care of. I was sent to the Concentra clinic in N. Little Rock, which was a bit unpleasant, as the LPN's there were not too personable. I had to write some information (like my driver's license number) several times on the paperwork, even though they had my name, address, and phone number printed on subsequent forms after I wrote it the first time (redundancy at its best). Then when I gave them the additional paperwork, the LPN never interrupted the conversation she was having with another LPN in the office... rude, no?

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

Year 2, Day 135 (Another Trip Done)

This morning, Dillard and I left from the terminal in Madison, IL (just outside of St. Louis, MO) and made our way to make the delivery in N. Little Rock, AR. The weather was pretty nice, and the traffic was fairly smooth. We topped off the fuel in Matthews, MO, took a quick break, then back on the road to finish this run.

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

Year 2, Day 134 (A Day Of Relaxing)

It's been a quiet, relaxing weekend, having gotten a few things done (such as laundry). Lazy days are nice to have once in a while. Tomorrow, however, it's back to business as usual. We will be delivering in North Little Rock, AR probably sometime in the mid to late afternoon. Where we go off to after that is still unknown, but I'll worry about that when the time comes.

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

Year 2, Day 133 (Getting A Re-Start)

Dillard and I were able to get unloaded in Tomah, WI in a timely manner, then get re-loaded in Cornell, WI before they shut down for the weekend. Once we scaled the load, we made it back to Black River Falls, WI and shut down at the rest area there. We left out this morning and made our way to Arkansas. I made the decision for us to get to the terminal in Madison, IL and shut down for a re-start. Since the customer is a 24 hour facility, we don't have to be there first thing in the morning on Monday. I felt by shutting down at the Madison terminal, that would be the most advantageous for us and we wouldn't have to be running on our logbook's re-cap for the next week or so.

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

Year 2, Day 132 (A Full Weekend)

Dillard and I made it to our employer's terminal in Gary, IN where we shut down last night (early this morning). Because of the delay with getting dispatched on Wednesday, we were going to be late for our 1445 appointment today in Tomah, WI. When we arrived in Gary, I sent an updated ETA to be in Tomah at 1600... we arrived at 1535. Since I was familiar with the route - and Chicago - (plus being pressed for time), I drove us in. It's a good thing I did since Chicago traffic was its usual cacophony of mayhem (no, not the one from the insurance commercial). We were given a pre-plan to pick up in Cornell, WI delivering Monday in North Little Rock, AR. I'm hoping we can cover some ground tonight, then finish it up tomorrow, then get a re-start on our logbooks.

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

Year 2, Day 131 (This Will Be A Long Day)

After we were finished getting loaded, I made the call to hit the road and cover a little ground. My reasoning was simply this: though I would not be driving for most of today (and it would be good training for him), I chose to leave the customer last night and get us through the Philadelphia area, this way Dillard would have to deal with the headache and madness of this morning's traffic. Once we passed through the toll booth (putting us on the Pennsylvania Turnpike), I pulled off to the side and shut down for the night (with 1 minute left to drive, there was no other alternative).

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

Year 2, Day 130 (Low Productivity Day)

Dillard and I arrived at the customer last night, though we weren't unloaded until this morning. That's not too bad, actually, since we weren't scheduled to unload until this morning at 1000. Yesterday we were pre-planned to pick up a load in Shippensburg, PA this afternoon and deliver tomorrow on the west end of Ohio. When I called the broker, he said the load was rescheduled for tomorrow, so the CSR at my employer cancelled. Then they were working on something that had me re-loading right there where we delivered in Manchester... that, too, cancelled. The next load (a broker load) would have me loading at the Hershey's Distribution Center in Palmyra, PA going to Kentucky; guess what... cancelled.

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

Year 2, Day 129 (Missing Home, And My Angel)

I just left out yesterday, but I'm missing home already. This usually happens. It's not easy being a truck driver when you have a family. I enjoy spending time with my family; listening to music, studying/discussing Torah, watching movies, etc. Though I can't complain, we converse several times a day, plus I have a great relationship with a wonderful woman... one who has put up with me for 20 years (in fact, our 20th anniversary is this October).

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

Year 2, Day 128 (Back To Work)

I had a wonderful weekend at home, but (as the saying goes) all good things must come to an end. I was nice to relax, to watch Nathan's coffee shop gig, and to attend the Jewish Food Festival. Though when we returned home yesterday, both Tikvah and I had a craving for falafel... so I made a double batch.

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

Year 2, Day 127 (Jewish Food Festival)

Today my wife, Tikvah, my youngest son, Nathan, and I went to the annual Jewish Food Festival in Little Rock, AR. This is the 7th year that it's been held, and it was up to par with last year's. It's not just food that is being honored and celebrated, but the culture. There were a variety of several different booths set up, selling goods such as art, music, baked goods, information/history, and a variety of Judaica products.

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

Year 2, Day 126 (Relaxing Is Nice)

This has been a nice day, relaxing, yet able to get a few things done. I had ordered a bicycle helmet about 2 weeks ago, only to realize it was NOT the size I needed, so I sent it back today. Dinner was very delicious, since I made Matzoh Ball Soup and Tikvah made an Israeli Salad. Plus I was also finally able to watch the movie Atlas Shrugged, Part I. I had listened to the audiobook some time back, and the movie was pretty good. Then again, I'm just rambling on, so I should close this and head to bed.

04 May 2012

Year 2, Day 125 (A Personal Memorial)

A couple months ago, my wife, Tikvah, did a little digging around in her family tree. She had already known that she, like myself, have Jewish lineage. This search, however, was for a different purpose: to find if she had any relatives who were victims of the Holocaust. She did find one, unfortunately not a survivor. Her name was Kristina Tawraschite. What really struck home with my wife was that Kristina was sent to the concentration camp in Dachau, Poland on November 18, 1943... my wife's birthday is also on November 18th (obviously not the same year). As a memorial, Tikvah decided to get a tattoo as a memorial to Kristina: the very number that she was marked with by the Nazis.

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

Year 2, Day 124 (Home. Sweet Home)

This morning, Dillard and I started out from the rest area just north of Blytheville, AR and arrived at the North Little Rock terminal at around 1300. When we arrived, I had him drop the trailer (while I supervised) and park a few spots away. I then went in and talked to the shop about a few minor things on the truck. I went in and took a shower and stated my laundry. I usually try to get all my laundry taken care of, so I don't burden my wife, Michelle, with it. There were a few matters of business inside the office I took care of while I was there. Before we left out, I made my usual Starbucks run.

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

Year 2, Day 123 (I'll Be Home Tomorrow)

When Dillard and I unloaded yesterday, he drove us to the Flying J in Whiteland, IN, which was just 5 miles from where we delivered. We shut down there for the night, since this load didn't pick up until 1530 (ET) today. In the evening I had gone in to scan the paperwork and got into a conversation with a couple of other truck drivers... which lasted about 6 hours. Our conversations ran the gamut, from politics, to history,and also including discussions on Scripture. At times, the conversations even went a little deep... not the type of dialogue you would expect to hear from truck drivers.

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

Year 2, Day 122 (This Load Is Done)

This morning Dillard and I got up earlier that what was really needed, only because I had to get a service done on the truck. Once that was done, we made our way to Franklin, IN to unload. This morning we received the pre-plan that will get me home... just a day later than I requested. This load picks up in Indianapolis tomorrow afternoon and heads to Ft. Worth, TX for Friday, but we will be dropping it in the North Little Rock terminal, then going home with an empty trailer.

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