25 October 2012

Year 2, Day 286 (A Long Couple Of Days)

After I left Walmart last night, I headed to Russellville, AR to get my next load. The loading appointment was for 1900, but since I was still at Walmart, it was changed until 2000 (I arrived at 1930). Things started off pretty good, but then went downhill, as I wasn't loaded until 0200 this morning. By then I didn't have the hours to drive. I left this morning at about 0815 and just stuck to the driving, making as few stops as possible. I shut down about 2115, about 40+ miles east of Knoxville, covering about 631 miles today. I still have another 580 to go, but at least I covered more than half the distance.

Once I get this delivered, I'll next head to Sauderton, PA (just north of Philadelphia) to pick up a 3 drop run, which finishes off next Tuesday in Chicago.

The good thing is I was able to make a stop into Starbucks.


24 October 2012

Year 2, Day 285 (I Detest Walmart)

I loaded last night in Granite City, IL, but they weren't in too much of a rush. I checked in at 1930 for a 2000 appointment, to which they promptly put me in a door. The trouble was, they didn't start loading the trailer until after 2230... by then I had ran out of hours. I left out from there this morning at a little after 0700. Since this was headed for Clarksville, AR, that meant I would go to Springfield, MO, then U.S. 65 south to Harrison, AR, then AR 7 south - through the mountains and (20-35 MPH) curves therein. A route like that tends to take a little time. I arrived at the gate for Walmart at 5 minutes past my 1545 appointment. They will let you in the gate up to an hour after your appointment time, but if you check in at the receiving window more than 10 minutes past your scheduled time (sometimes it can take 30-45 minutes before you get there), they consider you late. Yet, if you are early - and (hypothetically) have only 2 pallets to deliver - they won't unload the trailer until just before their 2 hour time limit. Basically, an hour early, a job that will take no more than 10 minutes, and they make you wait for the 2 hours after the appointment time.

One of many reasons I loathe - and refuse to shop at - Walmart.

Besides, I haven't had my Starbucks fix in a couple days.

23 October 2012

Year 2, Day 284 (A Short Run To Arkansas)

This morning something happened that rarely occurs, and something that causes me to be a little irritable when it does happen - I was late for my delivery. Not terribly late, just 20 minutes, but I was still late nevertheless. I can usually cover 650+ miles within the allotted time, but when the routing takes me off the interstate, then delays begin. After this is unloaded, I head to Granite City, IL (just outside of St. Louis) for my next load. That load isn't scheduled to pick up until 2000 tonight, and delivers in Clarksville, AR tomorrow afternoon. What lies ahead after that is anybody's guess.

Last night was the last of the three Presidential debates, which gives me the perfect score of watching none of them (though, when you think about it, either of the debates would still be more time well spend than wasting a perfectly good hour of Honey BooBoo - which I think is a complete loss of valuable television air time... and brain cells). Is there any new developments and/or revelations from this debate? Probably not. They are still playing out this "dog & pony show" to make us think we have a voice and a choice. If we truly utilized the capacity of our power over the government, Romney would not be running... neither would Obama. The sad thing is we have been instilled with the mentality (call it propaganda, brainwashing, etc.) that the choices we are given are what's available... take it or leave it.

I wonder what would happen if everybody wrote in "None Of The Above" on Election Day. Perhaps we should try it!

22 October 2012

Year 2, Day 283 (Heading North)

I finally made it in and out of one of my least favorite states: Louisiana. I delivered yesterday in Robert (just east of Baton Rouge), and picked up this morning in Arabi (just outside of New Orleans). They really do have a lot of roads in bad shape... so much so, that I think the 1/4 gallon of milk I had left in the refrigerator has been churned into butter. Just as well, I was running a little low anyway.

I still have 2 1/2 weeks left on this trip out, and I am hoping to get something this Friday that will send me up to Washington state... I really need to get my bike fixed so I can start riding it again (my front brakes are in need of repair). As I make to way to Salem, MO I have the a/c blowing, and the music playing.

What I really need is some decent coffee, not that swill that Pilot tries to pass off as coffee.

21 October 2012

Year 2, Day 282 (Things Are Getting Ugly)

As I had predicted about 2 weeks ago, things will get very ugly as we draw closer to the Presidential erections (no, that's not a typo). Reading some of the activity being exchanged on Facebook and Twitter is getting sickening and vile. What's even more disturbing is they are defending their respective candidates like they are personal friends. For all we know, Obama and Romney are probably sitting in Camp David, having a couple drinks together, and laughing at all the chatter they're reading from the web. Yeah, they are probably getting a kick out of it, because we are their entertainment. They have the debates, the post-debate analyses, the campaign ads, etc, and meanwhile, you are the dopes that are falling for this dog & pony show of a farce they call "politics". You've bought into it hook, line, and sinker! All I've been seeing is, "The Democrats are covering up the facts!" or "The GOP are resorting to lies and racism!" You have been the pigs led to the slaughter. It doesn't matter whether Romney gets elected or Obama get re-elected, because you have been wallowing selfishly in your own pity, expecting handouts, going to the mall, rather than actually getting involved in the selection process and finding a candidate actually worth supporting.

To Republicans: all the different potential candidates and Romney was the best you can do?!

To Democrats: rather than go off on a tangent and point out that you wouldn't know the truth, even if it prison raped you, I'll use the words of one of your own people:

“Ideologies aren't all that important. What's important is psychology.

The Democratic constituency is just like a herd of cows. All you have to do is lay out enough silage and they come running. That's why I became an operative working with Democrats. With Democrats all you have to do is make a lot of noise, lay out the hay, and be ready to use the ole cattle prod in case a few want to bolt the herd.

Eighty percent of the people who call themselves Democrats don't have a clue as to political reality.
What amazes me is that you could take a group of people who are hard workers and convince them that they should support social programs that were the exact opposite of their own personal convictions. Put a little fear here and there and you can get people to vote any way you want.

The voter is basically dumb and lazy. The reason I became a Democratic operative instead of a Republican was because there were more Democrats that didn't have a clue than there were Republicans.

Truth is relative. Truth is what you can make the voter believe is the truth. If you're smart enough, truth is what you make the voter think it is. That's why I'm a Democrat. I can make the Democratic voters think whatever I want them to.”

- James Carville

20 October 2012

Year 2, Day 281 (A Peaceful Sabbath)

I've been back on the road since this past Monday, and every day since our getaway last weekend, Tikvah and I have been talking about potential homes in Eureka Springs, AR. It's actually quite funny. For the past few months we've been talking about homes in our old hometown of Hemet, CA, and we take one trip to Eureka Springs, and our whole focus has changed. HaShem really does move in mysterious ways. For the past year or so, I have harped on how much I dislike Arkansas, and how I couldn't wait to move back to California, now we are planning on moving to a different part of Arkansas. Of course, if you lived where we do now, you would probably feel the same way.

Eureka Springs is like no other city nor town in Arkansas that I've been... and I have been through many of them. Basically, it's like living in Arkansas geographically, without the common mentality. Needless to say, we are looking at homes, but, more importantly, trusting in The L-rd for guidance, direction, and favor... especially in regards to our future "retirement" home (yeah, once we move, we don't plan on moving again... unless G-d says otherwise).

19 October 2012

Year 2, Day 280 (Another Weekend Is Upon Us)

After getting unloaded yesterday in Conklin, NY, I made my way to Allentown, PA to get this load, which is heading to Robert, LA. It took longer than hoped to get loaded, so I didn't get to cover as much ground as I had hoped. I haven't been to Louisiana in over 2 1/2 years, though that doesn't hurt my feelings in the least.

In less than 3 weeks will be Election Day, more importantly, it will be the day that the impending decision is made whether we keep the Socialist (Obama) in for another 4 years, or if we get the Socialist in sheep's clothing (Romney) for a term. Obviously I'm none too thrilled with either of them. I can honestly say we have absolutely nobody worthy to choose from this time around. The sad part is, too many people are voting along party lines, and the sheeple from both sides are running with the current "catch phrases", such as "War On Women". There's a "war on women" really?! Use a little logic and common sense! I've never seen military troops combing the streets looking for women to place in custody for interrogation; I've never seen women grappling with soldiers. What I have seen is woman, like many of their male counterparts, spewing vile comments in line with the talking points of the day in whichever direction the political winds happen to blow (i.e. spitting on a soldier in an airport, calling them "baby killers", reminiscent of Viet Nam).

Men and women need to open their eyes and wake up to what is going on in America... we are being handed a broken claw hammer and being told it's a power drill. It's interesting how we have either Obama or Romney to choose from, when people like Ron Paul have garnered some major support, yet haven't even gotten coverage from the lame stream media (I'm not a Ron Paul supporter either, so don't take that as an endorsement of his campaign). It's outright pathetic that people support Obama just because he's a Democrat, or Romney just because he's a Republican. If you take to the streets based on your gut (your inner convictions) and demand that our voices are heard, and that we choose the candidate, NOT some polls or Electoral College, then - and only then - can we get the candidate, and, ultimately, President that this country deserves; one that will do the job demanded of him.

With Sabbath approaching, I bid you all farewell, until the morrow.

18 October 2012

Year 2, Day 279 (Looking Forward To Moving)

I delivered this morning in Conklin, NY, which is just south of Binghamton, with one of those dreaded early morning appointments. This next load has me picking up in Allentown, PA and delivering in Robert, LA for Sunday. After the wonderful weekend that Tikvah and I had in Eureka Springs, AR, we are currently looking at homes in that area. We were completely taken by the culture of that area. Ironically enough, the owner/manager of Lookout Lodge (where we stayed for the weekend) just happens to be a licensed realtor. I am also seriously looking at a career change. After much consideration, I may get back to being a DJ. Though I'm in the planning stage, part of which also includes seeking out some financial backers (the equipment will be a bit pricey). It, more than likely, will start off as a side project, but I'm hoping it will take off as a full time job. Should that come to fruition, I'll be able to leave truck driving altogether.

Well, these are my dreams, my musings. Now it's time for a Starbucks run, to get my "designer coffee" - a grande triple Marble Mocha Machiatto.

17 October 2012

Year 2, Day 278 (What Is To Become Of Us?)

Last night was the last of the three debates for the upcoming elections, the second between Obama and Romney. I had not seen any of them, nor did it break my heart to miss them. I am utterly annoyed and appalled at the candidates and the "sheeple" voting for them. Here is why: neither "candidate" has offered any real, tangible solutions for this country, nor have they any intention for setting policies that are designed to push for country first. I do find it interesting that there has been an exodus of the black population leaving the Democrat party.

A fellow Marine whom I served with during Desert Shield/Storm shared with me a quote that another Marine had painted on a wall when he was in Afghanistan:

"America is NOT at war... America is at the mall - the Marines are at war!"

That sums it up. While the majority of Americans are "too busy" going to the mall, or watching their "reality" shows, politicians are eradicating our way of life under our very noses. The people have passively accepted this. Instead of seeing these political "policies" for what they are, Socialism in disguise, they accept them wholeheartedly. What is going on in America is VERY much like Jesus' parable of the wood splinter; the people point out the "lies and deceit" coming from the other party, while there is an abundance of the same in their own political party. We are being manipulated into doing exactly what they want us to do, and we do it happily. We no longer serve as followers of the One True Living G-d, let alone being one nation under Him.

If we were, then why is it "politically incorrect" to put up a manger scene in the public square during christmas?

16 October 2012

Year 2, Day 277 (The Anniversary Weekend Getaway, Part 2)

During our getaway in Eureka Springs, AR, Tikvah and I did a little more sightseeing before we made our way back home. One of the things we paid a visit to was the Crescent Hotel. Built in 1886, it is often known as the most haunted hotel in America, and was even featured on Ghost Hunters. Sometime in the 30's, a doctor had converted it into a hospital and ran it as such for about 3 years. It turns out that it was, basically, just about the money for that doctor. From what the conciergé told me, over the course of that 3 years, there were over 400 people that had died in that hospital.

They have an old pipe organ in the main lobby (and I, like the idiot I can be at times, forgot to take a photo of it) which was originally built to be installed in the Titanic, but the organ wasn't completed in time for the voyage. Also interesting to note is that in December of last year - during their slow "off season" period, they had town out the elevator and have a new one put in, just in time for the "on season". A week after the elevator was torn out, they started getting rooms booked for the weekends... and have been up to 10 rooms shy of full occupancy every weekend since. Needless to say, the new elevator has not been put in yet. The Crescent has daily ghost tours, but if you want to "go solo", you are free to wander throughout the hotel... but the areas that have the signs Registered Guests Only are off limits.

On 31 October of this year, they are hosted a first ever seance (if you're into that) in an attempt to "contact" Harry Houdini.

15 October 2012

Year 2, Day 276 (The Anniversary Weekend Getaway, Part 1)

The weekend that Tikvah and I spent in Eureka Springs, AR was absolutely fabulous! We arrived at our motel Friday night, staying at Lookout Lodge. The lodging was quaint and the hospitality we received from the owners was superb. In fact, this is what our room looked like:

and of course we had an excellent view the next morning, right outside our door:

Of course, that Friday evening, we celebrated 20 years in style, with a bottle of Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon that Tikvah had picked up just for the occasion.

What was fantastic about Lookout Lodge was that any issues or problems that may have arose were quickly addressed and rectified. As part of the Always And Forever package I had gotten with the room, we had a voucher for one of the local restaurants, and the best word I can use for our dinner at Ermilio's (we had opted for Italian) was orgasmic. They are only open from 1700-2100 - and there will, more than likely, be a wait - but it is so worth it! The next pictures are of what Tikvah and I ordered, Fettuccini Alfredo and Fettuccini with Garlic & Olive Oil Sauce, respectively.

The thing I had noticed about Eureka Springs is that it maintains a small-town appeal, while still having enough commerce to attract the tourists, with a little San Francisco feel to it. A very artsy atmosphere is also added to the mix. It was like no other place in Arkansas we had ever been to. It had such an allure to it that Tikvah and I are seriously considering moving there instead of California.

There was also a vast array of different food without getting too outrageous. The local restaurant where we ate breakfast Sunday morning, aptly named Local Flavor Café. I had ordered an Eggs Benedict, was is an english muffin with Canadian bacon, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. The difference with the Local Flavor is they offer different options. Instead of Canadian bacon (or ham), you can choose sausage, bacon, filet migńon, or smoked salmon (I chose the salmon). Tikvah is not a big fan of fish, be she took a bite of it and liked it... really liked it; Tikvah had chosen the Quiche for her selection. So, needless to say, we were very pleased with our trip. We plan on spending a week there next year to get a feel for it off season. This was a fantastic weekend. Tomorrow's post will be about the Crescent Hotel (which is haunted) in Eureka Springs.

14 October 2012

Year 2, Day 275 (Off The Grid, Part 2)

As I had mentioned yesterday, Tikvah and I are out of town for our anniversary escape, so I am re-posting a couple previous blog posts from this past year. This is the second of two of the most popular posts in 2012. this, like yesterday's post, was authored by a guest blogger. Today's re-post comes to you from RebbeSoul: singer, songwriter, musician, and blogger.

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 YouTubeFacebook, and on ReverbNation, both as RebbeSoul, and with Shlomit Levi as Shlomit & The Rebbe.

13 October 2012

Year 2, Day 274 (Off The Grid, Part 1)

Since I am out of town (and, thus, unplugged) for the weekend, I will re-post a couple of the most popular posts that has been on here this year (neither of which were authored by me). Today I am re-posting an entry which went live back in April, when I took a week of for Passover, by 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 October 2012

Year 2, Day 273 (Our Weekend Escape Is Just A Few Hours Away)

Tikvah and I didn't do anything special on the day of our anniversary due to her having to work. I planned on this weeks ago when I had set when I would be home and for how long. Several weeks ago I had already made arrangements that factored this in, so I made reservations for us to have a weekend getaway. We don't make an escape very often, so it's very special when we do. When we had first met, she already had two sons, so obviously we never did get any of that "alone time" that most couples enjoy before starting a family. In our case, I didn't mind it, nor do I regret it. In fact, the two older sons and I are quite close (Paul, the oldest, even joined the Marine Corps because of me).

This weekend, we will be "escaping" to Eureka Springs, AR, which is a fairly popular tourist/vacation spot. I don't follow trends when it comes to "vacation spots", but I knew about Eureka Springs because I've driven through there a couple times. Each time I did, I had always thought "this would be someplace that Tikvah would like." We are booked for a two night stay, with the special Always And Forever package, which includes a bottle of champagne and dinner for two at a local restaurant. After putting up with me for the past 20+ years, she deserves it!

May your Sabbath be as blessed as ours will be!

11 October 2012

Year 2, Day 272 (Our Anniversary Dinner)

Yesterday Tikvah and I celebrated our 20th anniversary, but tonight was when I made our special dinner... and I must say it turned out very delicious. The first thing that happened was when I was getting the preparations lined out, a really rare (and cool) photo opportunity presented itself. Preparing the frying pan to saute the vegetables, I poured olive oil into the pan, and this is what came out about 15 minutes later:

Here's what I made for our dinner: yellow, red, and orange bell peppers, onions, and almonds sauteed in olive oil; lemon-pepper noodles; and seasoned tilapia covered with roasted tomatoes, olives, and garlic:

I - as was Tikvah - was very pleased with the end result. Now it's time to brew up some coffee to go with the cheesecake for dessert.

10 October 2012

Year 2, Day 271 (20th Anniversary)

Today, my wife, Tikvah, and I celebrate 20 years of marriage. Though I could ramble on, I'll instead dedicate this post - in the form of a letter - to my wife:

My Tikvah,

We have had a lot of ups and downs over the past 20 years... I don't regret any of the downs, because through each of them, we have only grown closer together. I've enjoyed all of the ups, because it taught us that we were doing something right. Through each of the experiences we have shared, I would think that things could not get any better, only to be surprised with the next experience. We have laughed together, we had cried together, but through it all... it was together. Before we met, we had each sworn off getting involved in relationships (as we had both, as we were to learn, had been burned). The day we met quickly changed that outlook. I do believe in love at first sight, because you've proven that it's possible. Over the years we have become more than just husband and wife, we became "bestest" friends... something I wouldn't change for the world. I love your smile, your laugh, your eyes, your breath, your touch... and your silliness. I am still perplexed as to how you have put up with me all this time, but you did. Most importantly, in a time of fragmented, even dysfunctional, families, we have set a good example for our sons... but I couldn't have done that without you. You are my love and my life, my purpose for being, and a great companion and soulmate from HaShem Himself. My admiration and adoration for you continues to grow each day. I can still remember the day we met, and I cherish each day with you since. We have raised 4 great sons and soon, we will have an empty nest. Imagine the adventures we will have in that next chapter. I am very blessed and honored to have you as my wife! I love you, my Tikvah!

09 October 2012

Year 2, Day 270 (A Nice Relaxing Day)

It's been nice and relaxing today. Unfortunately, a little boring since Tikvah had to work. But I had been able to catch up on some of the shows that were recorded while I was on the road. I am excited and very much looking forward to this weekend, when Tikvah and I will celebrate our anniversary in Eureka Springs. We don't get away very often, but this, obviously, is a very special occasion.

08 October 2012

Year 2, Day 269 (Made It Home Early)

I made it home yesterday evening, which was a nice little bonus. I actually wasn't expecting to get home until today or tomorrow, since I figured that the customer would be closed on the weekends. As it turned out, security can grant access to the customer's property if one is doing a drop & hook - which I was. Once I dropped the loaded trailer and hooked to an empty, I headed home. After all, I did get prior clearance to do so.

Being home is nice, especially since I haven't been here in 2 months. In fact, I almost didn't recognize it, because Tikvah rearranged the living room.

As usual, it looks awesome.

She is awesome.

07 October 2012

Year 2, Day 268 (Anxiously Awaiting)

As the parenthetic title implies, I am anxiously awaiting until I will be home. It's been a long 2 months. I don't stay out that long long on a regular basis, but I made this an exception because I wanted to make sure I would be home for the 20th anniversary of marriage to my lovely, and awesome, wife, Tikvah.

At Tikvah's urging, I have been listening to some of today's music (which I posted about, I guess a week or so ago), and have discovered some really good gems, some are works of art, and some are quite infectious. One such song, that fits the latter bill, is one of those tunes that - to quote a line from the video for LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" - "gets down in your bones". I've heard it a couple times on satellite radio before I searched for the video. The names of the artist AND the song, to say the least, stand out among a sea of commonality with their peers. It's "Bom Bom" by Sam and The Womp.

As you can see, it definitely stands out, but yet, it's fun. Besides, I could have fun with this song as a DJ, which, by the way, I have been contemplating re-entering into that field. First I will need to find some backers so I can get the required equipment.

Any takers?

06 October 2012

Year 2, Day 267 (A Few More Days Until I'm Home)

Yesterday I had unloaded in Munster, IN (just outside of Gary) and - since my next load didn't have to pick up right away - I went over to Merrillville to do some wishful shopping at Guitar Center. I did this because for the past few months I've been pondering getting back into the D.J.'ing world. Since Panasonic no longer makes the Technics MK 1200 turntables (which were the turntable of choice by many "old school" jockeys), it looks as if I may - albeit reluctantly - be going the digital route.

After looking at a few things, toying with some equipment, and even Darren (one of the guitar Center reps) showing me some of the capabilities of one piece, I think I may be hooked... I was certainly drooling. Though the only setback is the financial aspect. To build from the ground up, the system I was compiling would cost around $10K... and that's not even including a basic lighting setup. At least I can still dream.

This has been a peaceful, and blessed Sabbath. Since I am due to be home on Tuesday, Monica (my Fleet Manager) arranged for a load swap for me, so instead of picking up today in Franklin Park, IL (on the west side of Chicago) and heading to South Carolina, I did a drop & hook last night in Chicago, going to Covington, TN... which will have me closer to home. Yes, HaShem is awesome!

May your day continue to be blessed!

05 October 2012

Year 2, Day 266 (The Torah Cycle Re-Starts)

As the Sabbath approaches, so does the end of the Torah cycle. This last potion of the Torah is the only one that is not read on the Sabbath, but instead next Tuesday, on Simkat Torah (the giving of the Torah), the commemoration of when Moses received the Torah from HaShem on Mt. Sinai. The next Sabbath, 13 October, will be the reading from Parashah Beresheit (the first portion, also known as beginning in Genesis 1:1). Now that I have all the volumes for Daily Dose of Torah (series 1), I'll be able to keep up more with the various commentaries (there were a few times that I was on the road when a volume came in, so I had missed on a few days, sometimes a full week, of commentary). As such, I am contemplating the launch of a once weekly blog post, possibly called Journey Through Torah, or something like that.

Have a blessed Sabbath!

04 October 2012

Year 2, Day 265 (What Are People Being Taught In Church?)

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through the Facebook postings, there was one topic that was being opened in debate: circumcision. There are many different opinions and viewpoints that exist for this topic as it is, but this thread was based more in the Bible, even using Scripture out of context (as is common within "the Church") to support the argument that circumcision is not necessary. At first I wasn't going to get involved in the discussion, but I felt the conviction of The Spirit of HaShem urge me otherwise. First I had pointed out that Yeshua (Jesus) never taught anything that was contradictory of The Torah. One person had even pointed out that circumcision was not required under the "New Covenant", to which I pointed out that in order for there to be a "New Covenant" (or Testament), that implies that the "Old" Covenant was flawed. When pressed further on that comment, I had pointed out that everything taught with the pages of the "New Testament" are there to bring a deeper understanding to what was already in The Tanach... and specifically in The Torah. Therefore to use the terms "New Covenant" or "New Testament" is an inaccuracy that more than likely originated from a poor translation, and that a proper rendering of that portion of the Bible should be "The Apostolic Writings".

Even though I had pointed out a few things, even addressing that circumcision is indeed a Scriptural mandate (the commandment from HaShem can be found in Genesis), I feel that those taking part in the discussion choose to stay firm in their belief (in other words, they are saying to HaShem that they know better than He), one woman even mentioning that, concerning food, she was NOT going to give up her pork and shrimp - which is complete disrespect to HaShem's Commandments).

How was your evening?

03 October 2012

Year 2, Day 264 (Fairly Busy Until Friday)

Yesterday was a little non-productive, but the next few days are looking up. After arriving back at our North Little Rock terminal at around 0030 this morning, I gave the paperwork to the other driver and dropped the trailer. After checking in to the chop for my repair appointment (which was for 0500) I wound down a little then went to bed. As of right now I am sitting at the customer waiting to get loaded. This load will take me to Lebanon, TN for tomorrow. The customer I deliver to is also where I pick up my next load, which will take me to Munster, IN for Friday. What happens from there has yet to be determined.

One thing that has been determined is the fact that I will be making a Starbucks stop once I'm finished here. I may have to wait until I get to the Memphis area, but at least I know that there are two within walking distance of where I will park the truck: one is a "free standing" location, and the other is in the Super Target, which I will park next to.

I can already taste that grande triple Marble Mocha Machiatto, with whole milk, and steamed to 190°.

What's in yourcup?

02 October 2012

Year 2, Day 263 (Shall I Ramble? I Shall)

Today has been a little busy, yet fairly unproductive. After unloading in Covington, TN, I had to take one of the empty trailers to our North Little Rock yard to get worked on, then another trailer to pick up this load in Nashville, AR. This load will be heading to Chicago for Thursday morning, but I will take it back to North Little Rock and a trainer - with his new student - will take it on.

Earlier this evening, I was chatting with a lady (can I call her one of my blog fans?) about this upcoming election. I had mentioned in yesterday's post that we really don't have much of a choice for the next Presidential term. The problem being that we are only given two "choices": either Obama (Democrat) or Romney (Republican). We desperately need a candidate that is a true leader, not just somebody looking for more prestige. There are other candidates from the other political parties, but it seems they are not given fair treatment and the American people afforded the opportunity to choose. Apparently, Democrats and Republicans - with the help of the media - have blocked all other candidates from participating in the election process. If it comes down to the decision of the Electoral College, then the voice of the American people is not really being heard. During the course of the past few elections, the Electoral College has chosen who they want.

Then there's the matter of the various "scandals" and "battleground states" that have been popping up (such as the "hanging chads" in Florida in 2000, various voter fraud, and, let's not forget, voter intimidation). Are we expected to believe that there were enough inept voters in the state of Florida - people that were unable to punch a complete hole in the ballot card - to cause such a major disruption in the election process? Or that there were so many cases of dead people coming back to life just to cast their vote? That sounds as ominous as an E. Coli outbreak each year - at around the same time - on different kinds of produce, and causing a panic across the nation (remember when that happened on green onions, and you couldn't find a restaurant that would have any to add on your baked potato?).

Just a few random thoughts.

01 October 2012

Year 2, Day 262 (Take Time To Think)

Today I'm very hesitant to even log onto Facebook, for the simple fact that with the Presidential election to be upon us in a little over a month, I'm sure the avid supporters of both sides are "kicking it up a notch." Let's face it, if you have an ardent passion to see your candidate win just because he has the same party affiliation as you, then you really are a clueless loon. If you step back and take a look at the broader spectrum, we have played right into their hands. Is Romney the best candidate for the job? No! Is Obama doing a well enough job that he should be given another term? No! What is clear is Democrats and Republicans have joined together and accomplished two goals: they have blocked other parties from getting any footage in the election process, and they have created a massive division in the American people. Not to mention that I've seen the "race card" thrown out more times these past 3 1/2 years than I have ever seen before.

Long ago, black people were seeking to attain a right to vote. During the process, they were intimidated, persecuted, even murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan in order to keep them from getting that right. Many of those KKK members were also involved in local, state, and federal governments, aligning with, you guessed it... the Democrat Party. Yet throughout the past several decades, the majority of the black population have been Democrats. Until recently. I have seen, especially the past year, an exodus of blacks leaving the Democrat Party.

At one time, the Republican Party had aligned with big business and corporations, but over the past decade - perhaps two - the party ideologies have been reversed, so now the Democrats are for big business. Think about this for a moment: this Administration talks about the jobs they have "created", yet when you look at the new jobs that have actually been created, they have been either within the unions (which has become as equally corrupt as the federal Government), or more government jobs. The President cannot force businesses - large or small - to create jobs. What he can do is offer them enticing incentives, such as tax breaks - the very same thing they accuse Republicans of doing. Both sides have been stringing us along, mainly because Socialism has been infiltrating both sides of the aisle. Would we have been better off 4 years ago is McCain was elected? No! We would have been going down the same path. Will we be better off if Romney gets elected? No! Many of the policies in place now will continue. The only difference between our present "choice" is Obama, if re-elected, will bring America to the brink of destruction quicker than Romney. What we need to do is seek out somebody that can make a difference, but yet somebody who doesn't want to run for office. It played out that way for this country's founder, right? He made a difference for the whole of the America that existed then, yet he also didn't want to be President... the people wanted him. For us to reach that point is long overdue, and we need the action NOW!

The fringe group known as "Anonymous" have done a few positive things, but have also engaged in radical activity, as well. This video could bring about a positive change that we - as Americans - desperately need, while simultaneously this video could also be the work of wackos. Either way, think of the potential... if we come together as a nation.