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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Trucks in rest areas
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 02:31:23 -0500
Message-ID: <6i4i12dgemr9vk1sbaq2ukjc5p919auibp@4ax.com>

On Thu, 16 Mar 2006 00:03:06 GMT, "Jack Cassidy"
<Jacapat2@tampabay.rr.com> wrote:

>
>"Tom J" <tomnews@earthlink.net> wrote in message
>news:brZRf.4587$k75.2524@newsread3.news.atl.earthlink.net...
>> Janet Wilder wrote:
>>
>>> I drove a 1992 Freightliner in 1996 and it had GPS. If you look behind
>>> the cobra hoods on the top of cabs and see something that looks like a
>>> mushroom, it's a GPS
>>
>> All engines in over the road trucks since the early '90s have computers
>> that record when they are running, the speed at which the rig is driven
>> (RPM), the idle time, as well as what's going on in the engine. That's in
>> addition of the GPS that's on most rigs these days. I'm glad I'm not still
>> out there trying to deliver loads on time with these new regulations!!
>> With all the cross checks today, it would be hard to avoid getting caught
>> running 2 or 3 log books.
>>
>> Tom J
>
>While it is more difficult, It is still possible to be creative with log
>books, Provided the company hasn't gone to paperless logs. I think that if
>all companies go to that a lot of truckers will seek other employment.

Actually what would happen is the trucking companies would have to
adopt more realistic schedules and/or pay more.

I toy with the idea of driving a truck after I retire from the
restaurant biz to see the country while getting paid.  These new hours
of service regs have just about killed my interest.  I run on 4-6
hours of sleep and always have.  I can't imagine having to sit still
for 8-12 hours a day!

I chat with every long hauler I can and I get the sense that the
multi-log book operator is still out there.  It's harder to do with a
fleet-owned truck but still fairly easy with an OO.

These new HOS are driving everyone batsh*t, from the drivers to
truckstop operators with overflowing lots to cities and counties with
idle trucks showing up on every wide spot.  I just can't believe that
the regs will survive long in their current form.

If there is to be any regulation (and to me the government is far from
demonstrating the need), I'd like to see it be an objective
instrument-based form.  There are a variety of fatigue-detecting
instruments on the market, ranging from a unit that measures the
number of steering wheel adjustments per minute (they decrease as you
tire) to eye blink detectors (they increase as you tire.)  As long as
the driver is alert he should be able to continue driving.

John



From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Trucks in rest areas
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 02:35:45 -0500
Message-ID: <k65i121mjo4ln714bk5ppsrlo5qo1m76id@4ax.com>

On 15 Mar 2006 23:59:31 +0100, "Jon Porter" <jporter@netwalk.com>
wrote:

>
><bill.lederer@verizon.net> wrote in message
>news:brqg12pne05eifl2ifgv79p8vh955pdepi@4ax.com...
>> Al,
>>
>> That sure wouldn't be fair.  I can see truckers not wanting RV's in
>> truckstops, but I don't think restareas were ment for truck drivers to
>> sleep in.
>
>"Fair"? The highway rest stops are for the public, they aren't "truckers
>only."

They're for whatever the state says they're for.  TN has converted
several rest areas to truck parking only.  The THP DOES ticket
non-truckers who park there.  Until the idiotic federal HOS are
changed, the truckers certainly have my sympathies and can have my
parking space.  I'll find somewhere else.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Trucking (was Re: RV lighting
Date: Mon, 01 May 2006 09:25:30 -0400
Message-ID: <2nvb5297vp06mjdknqsd6989jebcf040dr@4ax.com>

On Mon, 01 May 2006 05:28:07 GMT, RichA <richatpa*nospam*@epix.net>
wrote:


>Hi John,
> You might want to go out and talk to some truckers :)  Unless you haul
>local you won't have a whole heck of a lot of time for round tuits.  You
>will either be sleeping, filling out paper work, helping to load or
>unload, driving, sleeping or driving or trying to get loads or driving,
>sleeping trying to get loads...  Driving local you will have nights to
>yourself, but won't be making enough money to own your own truck for
>sure or if you don't have any big expenses at least for a few years.

That's what I've been doing for the last 5 years semi-seriously, the
last year very seriously and since Christmas frenetically.  That
includes as many ride-alongs as I could manage which has been quite a
few.

I'm not interested in OO nor driving locally.  I have nothing tying me
down to a particular spot and part of my goal is to find a new place
to live.  I'm after pretty much the opposite of what most drivers
want. I don't want to be "home on the weekends" or "home at night".
Those guys with a wife and 2.2 kids and a mortgage and car payments
and living from paycheck to paycheck can have those routes.  My ideal
job would be a different route every week.  Just like full-timing,
right now my home is wherever my head hits the pillow.

I have a friend here who owns a little ~50 truck fleet, almost
exclusively terminal-to-terminal grocery hauling in the southeast.  I
have a standing offer to join his operation and not at the bottom.  If
I don't get the cross-country stuff that I want or if it turns out
that I don't like long-haul, I can always join him. I've done a lot of
ride-alongs with his drivers in the last couple of months and I like
the way he runs things and so do his drivers.  Too bad he doesn't do
coast-to-coast.

Or, since I don't have to work for a living now, I ultimately can say
screw it and go off to something else interesting.  I already know
several things that I'm NOT going to do - no northeast or NY, No-touch
only, no LTL, no OO. I'm also not at all interested in team driving
unless one of my close friends decides to do the same thing I did and
get his CDL. I THINK I might want to do HAZMAT as soon as I can get my
endorsement but I'm not even sure of that.

Who knows?  Maybe I won't find what I want.  If not, well then, that
acreage I have with the large private lake on it and my cabin are
always callin' :-)  If I don't earn that first buck, I'll be out, oh,
the $200 difference between the cost of the school and what the TN
lottery is refunding me for tuition. (Don't you just love the concept
of dumb poor people taxing themselves so that I can go to school? :-)

OTOH, I'm already getting recruiting calls, referred from the driving
school and I'm liking what I'm hearing.  The director of the school
was a good restaurant customer so I'm getting a little more than
run-of-the-mill attention :-)  Having owned a popular restaurant and
being fairly visible in community affairs does help grease the skids!

> Good luck with your new vocation.  I think you are in for a little
>learning experience.

Oh, I know that I am and I most certainly welcome yours or anyone
else's advice.  Though I have no desire to be an OO, I am interested
in hearing how guys do it.  I just can't make the numbers add up, at
least not driving solo and not keeping multiple logbooks, something
I'm not going to do. I can't recall talking to a single solo OO who
doesn't keep multiple logs so maybe one really can't make it work
these days.

Something else I'm interested in hearing more about is how, with the
new hours-of-service regs, solo drivers can avoid having to spend idle
time on their butts.  I've always thrived on 4-6 hrs of sleep so
having to "rest" is going to be a drag, I'm afraid.

The new rules don't allow unloading, loading and waiting-to-unload
hours to be counted as rest time, at least according to the handbook
the driving school gave me to study up on, which agrees with the
federal regs I've read.

This is going to be John's Excellent Adventure and not a job so it'll
be interesting whatever happens.  Maybe there'll be a book in it
somewhere.  I know, "How a Nerd went Truckin'" :-)

>
>Take care and Keep Em Between the Lines...

Yepper!

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Verizon Broadband.... any good for full timers?
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2006 21:57:04 -0400
Message-ID: <dfkvd2tv368blbek9k91kds8eumu49d7v4@4ax.com>

On Sun, 13 Aug 2006 14:59:36 -0500, Bob Giddings <bobg@escapees.com>
wrote:

>On Mon, 24 Jul 2006 16:50:36 -0400, Neon John <no@never.com>
>wrote:

>Are you doing the commercial truck driver thing?

Yup.  Been out about 6 weeks now.

>How do you like it?

Lovin' it.  Just like RV travel except that they pay you to drive and
you have to stop for bathroom breaks.  Get comfortable, turn up a good
audio book and before you know it, 500 miles have zipped by.

The company I'm driving for has loose schedules so I've had time to
stop and smell the roses, as it were.  A day on Daytona Beach, a day
knocking around Houston, TX, time to stop by my favorite on-the-docks
seafood wholesaler in Jacksonville, FL, a tour along the beach highway
between Gulf Port and Biloxi to see the hurricane damage
(unbelievable!)  I'm trying to get a run into new england for some
Maine lobster :-)  Because nobody wants to go there, the company pays
a large trip bonus for NY, new england and California.  I'll do NE but
not the other two.

Another good thing about this company is that a lot of their factory
clients are located in small towns served only by secondary highways.
I get to take the scenic routes.  A lot of drivers who live from
paycheck to paycheck gripe about this since they can't rack up miles
as fast as on the interstate but I love it since I'm out there to have
a good time in addition to making a little money.  I have a good
dispatcher who is doing his best to get me varied routes.

I'm staying out about 2 weeks with 4 days off.  That seems about
right, about what I'd do if I were RV'ing.  I can carry enough clothes
for that period so I don't have to do laundry on the road, something I
dislike. Enough time at home to stock the 'fridge and freezer with
more home cookin'.

There's a Qualcomm satellite link in the truck for dispatch,
directions and the like.  I have the laptop with Street Atlas and
wireless broadband internet over Sprint's digital network.  This is
working quite well, about 400kbps in EVDO areas and 120kbps elsewhere.
I've yet to be totally off the net, even on backroads. The company is
set up for working with the "lowest common denominator"-type drivers
so the trip plans include pretty much everything including designated
fuel stops and other details.  Almost no mental work at all on my
part.

The company is a "no touch" freight company so all I have to do is
drive.  Mostly drop-and-hook, with an occasional wait for the trailer
to be loaded or unloaded.  About the hardest thing I have to do is to
slide the tandems to get the axle weights correct.  Even then, most of
the trailers have pneumatic tandem latches so all I do is toggle an
air valve and then pull forward or back as needed.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Verizon Broadband.... any good for full timers?
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2006 13:55:35 -0400
Message-ID: <mpd1e29dpioni7ogf497b4glhe9t85jdp2@4ax.com>

On Mon, 14 Aug 2006 07:10:32 -0700, Dapper Dave <expurgated@gmail.com>
wrote:

>>Neon John <no@never.com> wrote:
>
>>The company I'm driving for has loose schedules so I've had time to
>>stop and smell the roses, as it were.  A day on Daytona Beach, a day
>>knocking around Houston, TX, time to stop by my favorite on-the-docks
>>seafood wholesaler in Jacksonville, FL, a tour along the beach highway
>>between Gulf Port and Biloxi to see the hurricane damage
>
>Do you do your sightseeing in a Class 8 tractor? I thought a long bed
>crew cab duallie F-350 was a pain to navigate in downtown areas, but a
>Peterbilt?

As long as there isn't a height restriction I haven't had much of a
problem.  I could, for example, take the tractor on the beach at
Daytona.  Many cases I end up parking a considerable distance away
from the objective.  In that case, I either get my exercise or get out
my electric scooter, depending on how I'm feeling and how hot it is.

I DO use some discretion.  I'd not try to drive in downtown
Charleston, SC or New Orleans (at least the NO I remember from before
the flood).  That's when the scooter comes out.  I walk a lot too,
which has bucked yet another stereotype of a truck driver - I've
started losing weight again :-)

My truck is a slope nose Freightliner with a high rise sleeper - I can
stand up in it with plenty of headroom. Nice.  Medium length frame
with a fixed 5th wheel.  Not nearly as long as a Peterbilt.  With
pull-in parking against a curb, I can occupy two places and with the
rear wheels against the curb, not have the nose stick out too much.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Another myth busted
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2006 16:37:19 -0400
Message-ID: <lo86g2dektfjeeqbma5s6lph0gn2kr8of7@4ax.com>

On Sat, 09 Sep 2006 18:02:37 GMT, "Mountain Mike^^"
<slackamn@aaahawk.com> wrote:

>
>"Neon John" <no@never.com> wrote in message
>news:kcv5g2982v1gmb3t8dbrq2u9gtjjfifsv5@4ax.com...
>> On Fri, 08 Sep 2006 05:24:44 -0700, Ralph E Lindberg
>
>Still, John, you haven't said WHY you twisted off and went trucking??
>
>Just get away for awhile? See the country? I sure as heck know it's not for
>the money <g>

I wrote a pretty detailed response to your question the first time.
Maybe it hasn't made it to your server yet.  In a nutshell, just for
the sheer joy of it.  I'm one of those guys who LOVES to drive.
Doesn't much matter what.  That includes heavy equipment and in my
younger days, a locomotive.

This is my pre-retirement job.  I got a huge wakeup a couple of years
ago with the diagnosis of diabetes.  I'd always wanted to drive an OTR
truck and I realized that if I didn't do it now I might not get to. It
took me a year of strict diet and exercise to get off the insulin
needle.

Now I'm having an absolute ball.  I figure I'll do this until either I
get bored (not likely) or 5 years passes.  Then I'll retire.  Again.
Or maybe not.  Who knows?

Last week I was tooling along on the eastbound side of I-10 just
across the La line at the first crack of dawn.  There was a beautiful
sunrise.  I had a nice audio book going.  I had the seat adjusted just
right.  I was on the only stretch of highway in the whole state that
is smooth.

I have a nice little electronics workbench set up on the sleeper's
desktop.  I'm actually getting to work on some projects that I've been
putting off for years.  I have both the CB and a ham radio installed.
I have a freezer, a refrigerator and a microwave so I can eat my home
cooking that I fix during home time.  I have the wireless internet for
entertainment.  There's the GPS system to work around the crappy
directions that dispatch sends.

It dawned on me watching that sunrise that life doesn't get much
better than this.  If I had an on-board pisser and shower then life
would be perfect.

My only regret was that I waited so long to do this.  Been thinking
about it for 10+ years.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.autos.driving,misc.transport.road,rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Trailer crackdown; anyone know anything about this?
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2006 15:35:47 -0400
Message-ID: <i6n5g2l4b9cms1kr809vlk13523vioob5c@4ax.com>

On Thu, 07 Sep 2006 15:16:30 GMT, "Mountain Mike^^"
<slackamn@aaahawk.com> wrote:

>
>"Neon John" <no@never.com> wrote in message
>news:os00g2pelm0juota87om98csuvkbrv3l3f@4ax.com...
>> Disclaimer: Yeah, I drive an 18-wheeler for a living.
>>
>
>Why? I quit 14 years ago because of the nits they call enforcement teams
>across the country. It seems every state has them to raise money. It looks
>like it has gotten worse, too. Of course I owned the fleet and paid more to
>the gov't than I even made in gross profit. The net profit was chump change.
>
>With your smarts, you could make a a heckuva lot more money in the field
>you're a genius in. Electrical engineering it seems.........

I feel for ya!  I don't know how an OO makes it.  I spent quite a bit
of time (years) planning this move, including looking at OO.  I
thought it'd be nice to have one of those RV-like sleepers complete
with shower and toilets.  I learned quickly about the hassles of OO.
The numbers just don't work for me, not to mention the government
hassles.

I'm doing this for the sheer enjoyment of it.  I'm a company driver
and the company I'm with does its best to run legal and they run a
fairly loose schedule. No forced routing so I can take the route I
want.  I usually have a day or two after a load if I want it.  A day
or two on Daytona Beach here, a day at the AF museum at Wright
Patterson there, etc.  I've just put in for a run to Maine for some
good lobster, a trip that will pay me a $100 "yankee annoyance" trip
bonus :-)  yeah, the company pays a bonus to drive north of PA because
nobody wants to go there.

  I was taught by my trainer how to cheat their computer system but
I'm not interested in that.  I kick back with a good audio book, drive
my 11, then hit the wireless internet :-)  Life is good.  I'm getting
paid to see the country.  When this gets boring I'll finally retire.
Until then I'm RVing as normal but with a paycheck at the end of the
week.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.autos.driving,misc.transport.road,rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Trailer crackdown; anyone know anything about this?
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2006 20:04:23 -0400
Message-ID: <48l6g2dovddm8pr1bq9jkph4gq2nim57ke@4ax.com>

On Sat, 09 Sep 2006 20:32:31 GMT, "Mountain Mike^^"
<slackamn@aaahawk.com> wrote:

>
>"Neon John" <no@never.com> wrote in message
>news:i6n5g2l4b9cms1kr809vlk13523vioob5c@4ax.com...
>> I'm doing this for the sheer enjoyment of it.  I'm a company driver
>> and the company I'm with does its best to run legal and they run a
>> fairly loose schedule.
>
>Yeah, I've done that, too. I actually took my wife along for a couple of
>years and stopped over whenever we wanted. Back then, we had a 33"
>sleeper<g>
>After that, I bought some new trucks, hired drivers, and later, a heart
>attack.

Sounds like you made the mistake with trucking that I made with BBQ -
turning an enjoyed hobby into a business that spoiled all the fun. I'm
going to do my damndest not to get caught up in "trucking" but to
simply enjoy the ride.  Like I tell friends, I'm not a trucker.  I'm a
tourist who happens to be piloting a very large RV :-)

>
>After that, I became a Class 8 driving instructor, and eventually ran the
>company. (Western out of Sacramento). I've taught many to drive safe, and am
>proud of it. Later on, I couldn't speak enough Spanish to
>teach.........Didn't renew my CDL the last time. Too mcuh $, and too much
>hassle.

Yeah, I'm shocked and amazed at the number of 3rd world people behind
the wheels of trucks.  Not just mexicans either.  The ones from the
former Warsaw pact countries are at least as bad.  I'm learning to
give them wide berths.  A mexican in a truck stop parking lot is like
a lit match in a powder magazine - trouble just looking for a place to
happen.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Laptop opinions?
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 10:28:37 -0400
Message-ID: <sk4gg2t62h0ip4nq9180ipncn5anhl7sa7@4ax.com>

On Tue, 12 Sep 2006 21:47:10 GMT, "Anne Watson"
<anneb3@mindspring.com> wrote:

>I don't have an opinion of brands, just some suggestions for care.
>
>No battery ever lasts as long as you need.
>When you buy your laptop, buy a 12 volt charger designed for that laptop.
>
>\Make arrangements for the laptop to be fastened down tight where it can be
>recharged through the charger
>
>I wired a 12 volt outlet for mine, directedly to the house batteries.
>Recharge as necessary.
>Anne

It's a lot cheaper to use a small inverter, optionally with a second
120vac power supply.  For my Dell I looked online and found a surplus
supply for $30.  Two of those 100 watt enlarged cig lighter inverters
from Vector can be had from Sam's for $24.  Those without a Sam's club
membership can find singles for about $20.

An additional reason why I like this route is that the inverter
isolates the expensive laptop power supply and the laptop itself from
12 volt transients.  If a big ole load dump sends a transient through
the system, only the inverter is smoked.

At least with Dell, there are two identical bays, one to hold a
battery and another to hold a CD/DVD/floppy drive.  I opted for a
second battery.  I keep it installed normally, removing it only when I
need to use the CD or DVD drive.  When the batteries were new, that
was good for about 6 hours.

In my semi truck I have a dorm room refrigerator fastened to the floor
between the seats where the shift lever would have been (Eaton
Autoshifter).  On top of that is some foam rubber and my laptop,
attached with those adhesive TV hold downs sold at RV stores.  These
use the 3M VHB tape to attach to the fridge.  It takes an act of God
to get this stuff loose once it's cured.  The laptop hooks to the
thing via a flex plastic strap and plastic flip-latches.  Much more
stable than bungee cords.

I took one additional step to protect the screen hinge.  I took a
piece of 1/4" plex cut to the size of the laptop with the screen laid
out flat.  I heated it (a propane torch works well) and bent it to the
proper angle to support the screen.  The laptop sits on this plastic
and the screen rests against the upturned part.  A Sticky Pad (TM)
(available from Rat Shack and truck stops, meant to hold a cellphone
securely to the dash) rests on each half of the plex to adhere the
laptop to the plex.

With this setup I can flip two latches and grab the laptop off to take
it with me and yet have it firmly but securely fastened down.  The
refrigerator holds it at the perfect height to see while driving.

I have one other thing to do when I find the material.  I'm going to
get some black posterboard or thin rigid plastic and cut out a sun
hood to go around the screen.  I'll just stick that on with Velcro.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Travel distance, Speed and Time.
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 10:45:12 -0400
Message-ID: <p46gg2lhup34jia65fhn4i6pfhelk64itb@4ax.com>

On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 04:51:27 -0400, "Eisboch" <nothere@nowhere.com>
wrote:

>Every time we did the MA to FL trip (or return) we promised ourselves that
>we would take our time and only do a couple of hundred miles a day.  Never
>happened. We always did the 1500 miles in 2 and a half days.
>
>For me, whether driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer, 500 miles a day is
>my comfort limit, beyond which I start getting tired of driving.  Someday
>I'd like to take a Hunter type trip ... no more than 100 miles a day.

I'm with you on that one.  Especially since I've started trucking I've
learned that I enjoy the drive more than the destination.  A good
leisurely 500 miles a day is what I do in my big rig and my MH.  I
stick the cruise on 65 (both vehicles), sit back and enjoy the ride.

At the end of 500 miles I'm still fresh and am usually in the mood to
do something.  In the big rig that means dropping the trailer
somewhere and bobtailing to a restaurant, mall, museum, tourist trap,
etc.  I try to drive at night because of the light traffic and so that
I can have the day to do stuff.  Four-five hours of sleep and do it
again.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: CB radios
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 21:32:46 -0400
Message-ID: <v5irh2ljgvu3ipdjqmuh9qk5idt7o6tks3@4ax.com>

On Fri, 29 Sep 2006 05:50:43 GMT, "Mountain Mike^^"
<slackamn@aaahawk.com> wrote:

>Anybody still use these tings? I haven't said "We've got a convoy" in 20
>years.................

I have one in my truck because many large shippers direct truckers to
the docks via CB but other than that it stays off.  Out on the highway
it's the same old trash talk as from 20 years ago plus splatter from
cheap-sh*t amplifiers and awful reverb units.

>
>Been thinking it might be good for my spotter, or running with groups. But
>now everybody has cell phones.........

FRS is much better for that.  FM, UHF so no atmospheric noise or skip
and much smaller.

John

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Only in Louisana
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2006 20:59:39 -0400
Message-ID: <g4sui253ufuffbbn3mbsbci4c2v7uh0j0a@4ax.com>

On Thu, 12 Oct 2006 22:17:31 -0400, John Kinney
<jwkinney@smoke-island.com> wrote:

>On Thu, 12 Oct 2006 16:00:14 -0400, Neon John wrote:
>
>> I'm sitting here in Bumfuck, LA with a broken down trailer.  I'm in a
>> little podunk truck stop.  You won't see something like this place
>> anywhere but in La.
>
>Ouch!
>
>There's a nice clean diesel shop near Robert, LA on US 190 north
>of Interstate 12 exit no 47. They came 15 miles to replace the batteries
>in my F-550 on a Sunday morning and gave me good service, good prices, no
>gouging.  I let them do the 55,000 mile service on the truck a few weeks
>later, on an appointment.  I drove in on time, they did the service
>promptly and got me out on time.  Good folk.  If you're interested, I can
>dig the name out of my files for future reference.

Thanks but not necessary.  My company handles all the arrangements for
road-side repair.  They have national accounts so I don't have to
handle any payments or find local resources.  I just message the
problem over the Qualcomm and like magic (maybe a day later), someone
appears.  That's good cuz they don't take very good care of some of
their trailers.  This particular trailer was loaded to the max, had no
brakes to speak of, had a bent rim and a flat and the other tires were
chunking tread.  I had 'em send out road service to fix the brakes
before I'd move the thing.  Then moved about 2 miles to this little
truck stop so I'd have a bathroom handy.  Took the next morning to get
the tires and rim fixed.  Glad this outfit pays breakdown pay :-)

Cat Scales makes a file of coordinates of all their customers
available on their web site.  Crappy file filled with garbage.  I took
the file, cleaned it up, standardized the naming, put it in comma
delimited format and sent it to the Discovery Owner group site.  He
should have it posted by now.

This is valuable because it catches essentially all the major truck
stops, er, travel centers :-)  The only things missing are the little
independents.  I'm mapping them in as I pass 'em and will keep the
file updated on Discovery.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Life on the road
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2006 14:49:11 -0400
Message-ID: <mnnkj2d60pvfl8fjq2btv974j5rs3f9pb5@4ax.com>

On Sat, 21 Oct 2006 00:59:25 -0700, DonLampson@webtv.net (Don Lampson)
wrote:

>John
>  Thanks for a peek into the world of X-country trucking through your
>great communication skills.  It sounds like you're having a real
>adventure....

Thanks a million!

>  Do you use books on tape,  or music to fill all those hours driving?

Audio books.  I have 'em loaded on a wonderful hard-drive player
called an Archos Jukebox.  I have tons of materials, from popular
fiction to educational and on-line college courses.

>  It sounds like a pretty lonely life to me!  Maybe you can use your
>waiting time to write a "self help" book,  on how to deal with difficult
>people,  while being vexed by a phone book of regulations!

I have a book or two in the back of my mind.  "Truckin' for
dummies"...  "A nerd goes truckin'".  Something like that.

As for dealing with difficult people, there are two things involved.
One is the concept of not giving them standing to annoy me.  I was
taught that concept by a grizzled old engineer who took me under his
wing and mentored me when I was still wet behind the ears.  I was
allowing maintenance techs to get under my newbie skin when I got "the
lecture".  He taught me that people could only get under my skin if I
let them, if I give them standing to do so.  Bingo!  That little light
came on.

The other ingredient, closely coupled to the above, is the use of
meditation and self-control techniques.  Some folks make fun of this
stuff and the fundies condemn it because they think it's some sort of
religion but it's neither.  I've listened to all the Dalai Lama's
books on the conduct of life and have learned a bunch.  Also several
other good books or courses on similar subjects.  I've taught myself
to meditate (perhaps some self-hypnosis, not sure) and simply zone
these sorts out.

There's a very good audio book that makes the rounds of Usenet fairly
often called "How to deal with difficult people".  Can't recall the
author.  I learned a lot from that one.

Through experimentation (and listening to mom a bit :-)  I've learned
that for the real *ssholes, nothing beats returning a smile and a nice
word.  It both pisses 'em off and REALLY confuses 'em :-)  At least
most of the time.  If that doesn't work, when I finally do have to
bite their heads off, the stroke is MUCH more effective after having
been nice.

Re: loneliness, not a problem for me.  I've always been a loner.  I
REALLY enjoy my time alone.  Time to think, to write or just rest. I'm
also an avid reader.  And then there's the net.

RE: regulations.  As a company driver I don't have to deal with much
of that.  The company takes care of those things.  If I'm headed to or
through a state with a crazy bridge rule for example, (California), I
get instructions as part of the dispatch as to where to set my tandems
and what axle weights to observe.  All I have to do is keep my axle
weights legal (cargo weight is controlled by the company and the
shippers), keep my logbook up to date and watch my hours of service.

This truck has a really sweet spot right at 65 mph so I don't have to
worry about speeding.  On secondary roads and in podunk little towns,
I just set the cruise to the speed limit and sit back and relax.

My company subscribes to the PrePass system so I don't have to go
through many scales.  This is a transducer that goes on the windshield
that is triggered by those raygun looking antennas you see over the
road in front of weigh stations.  Based on the company's safety record
and a small amount on random chance, the transducer either signals me
to pass or to go through the scale.  I'd say I have to weigh maybe 3-4
times out of every 100.  The transponder is also an EZ-Pass toll
transponder so I don't have to fool with tolls in most states.

I still marvel at the crap the company has to go through to legally
operate a tractor.  I have this zip-up portfolio, my "permit
portfolio" that contains all the paperwork that some DOT cop might
want to see.  Last time I counted there were over 200 separate pieces
of paper in that thing, filed by state.  Many thousands of dollars of
fees involved.  I'd be in a padded cell if I had to deal with that
kind of stuff.

Probably the worst part of this job is the sitting.  Between these
crazy new hours of service rules and my company's sometimes less than
stellar load planning, I end up sitting way more than I'd like.  I get
paid for sitting so it's not the money.  I really do get itchy feet
when my wheels haven't turned in a few hours.  As I expected, sending
a bouquet of flowers to my dispatcher has resulted in MUCH better
runs.  She hasn't left me sitting over the weekend with nothing to do
in a long time :-)

This gig (I just can't call it a job) has become SO enjoyable that
I've spent some time trying to figure out what elements make it so.
I've finally decided that it is a combination of driving which I
dearly love, along with the constant newness.  One might think that
OTR would be repetitive but it isn't.  Especially for someone like me
who's willing to go almost anywhere and who'll stay out for several
weeks at a time.  Always something new.

For instance, I'm sitting here now in a rest area on I-77 on the Blue
Ridge plateau in VA getting ready to take a sleep break.  I don't
believe I've ever seen fall leaves any prettier.  The summer must have
been perfect and I must have hit it just right.

Last night I enjoyed about 3 lbs of the just-off-the-boat shrimp that
I picked up in New Orleans a couple of days ago.  I'll be in Indy
tomorrow with enough time to do the Indy racing museum.

Short of being sufficiently wealthy that fuel costs aren't even a
consideration, I don't know any other way to get around like that.

> You'd make a great guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show!  HawHawHaw!

Ughhh....  I think I'd rather have a rectal exam with a wood rasp!

>  What do you do with "Bob",  and the Honey Gliders when you're on the
>road?

Bob's on the dashboard right now navigating between naps.  He loves to
travel as much as I do.  I found a new home for the Sugar Gliders.  It
really wasn't practical to take 'em on the road and not right to make
'em sit at home for weeks.  A friend has 'em.  When I finish with this
gig I'll get some babies from him and start over.

John

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Two days, three seasons
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2006 12:32:41 -0400
Message-ID: <9jopj2d5qjl99v91972m15ktmrqdvq1v8a@4ax.com>

What I love about this job, don't like the season, wait a day or
two....

I left SC a couple of days ago and the weather was still short sleeve
and AC hot.  Went over the Blue Ridge plateau in Va and saw some of
the prettiest fall colors I've seen in years.  Must have been a
perfect season plus excellent timing.  A day later I'm in Hobart, IN
where it's in the lower 40s and spittin' snow.  I love it!

BTW, US460 from Bluefield, VA up to Lexington, KY is a gorgeous run. I
had plenty of time so I decided to take this route.  Much of it is 45
mph stuff.  Not as tight as US64 in TN and NC and much is 4 lane but
still its mountainous and curvy.  Some of the coal mining structures,
some soaring hundreds of feet up the side of steep mountainsides, was
fascinating.

It was a dark and stormy night (well OK, a dark, overcast cool day but
that doesn't sound as good...) when I left the customer and drove
through Gary, IN on the way to my next pickup.

Damn!

Gary defines rust belt post-industrial blight.  I don't think I've
ever been to a place that looks as bad and isn't a ghetto.  It's like
a dark film of gray covers everything.  Thirty years ago I'd call it
soot or mill film but now that they've run all the industry out of the
area, who knows?

Much of the problem is NO public maintenance.  The streets aren't
swept, litter isn't picked up and public grass isn't cut.  No doubt a
good bit of this is the union-inspired "not my job" lack of civic
pride.

Pick up trash outside your house?  Not my job.

Cut the grass on the sidewalk island?  Not my job.

Pressure wash the concrete retaining wall in front of your home?  Not
my job.

At one place an ambitious but talentless artist had made a wall that
at first blush (and second and third) looked like someone had crammed
bricks into huge cracks in the cast concrete wall.  I had to look
closely to see that the wall was actually made that way.  I'm afraid
that this wall unintentionally typifies Gary.

I'm now in nearby South Bend, IN.  20 miles and 100 years difference.
It's still dark and overcast and spittin' snow but this town is sooooo
much cleaner and hospitable looking.  It still has a functioning
industrial base too.

Something that makes truckin' interesting up here in the snow belt are
the indoor docks.  Down south, a dock is a hole in the wall with some
bumpers and a roll-up garage door.  Up here because of the snow, many
docks are built indoors.  That is, the actual opening to the warehouse
is recessed 50 or 60 feet back into the building.  The whole truck or
in some cases, the trailer is backed to the dock and a roll up door is
closed behind the truck.  There are  usually high powered blast
heaters to warm the truck, keep outgoing cargo from freezing and thaw
the muck off the trucks.

The interesting part is, especially in bright daylight, that dock is
nothing more than a dark hole to aim at.  Even with good lighting, the
contrast between outside and the dock is such that no detail can be
seen.  I just have to center the trailer and back and pray and get out
to look.

The more enlightened places paint a nice yellow line from the dock
fact to outdoors.  I simply put my wheels against that line, back up
and I'm centered perfectly.  Fortunately today's pickup was like that.
For those that don't, one simply backs REAL slow and hopes the dock
has good bumper stops!

I just got the green light that loading is complete so time to roll.

John
One thing that has impressed me is the relative quality of the
interstates, given the northern latitude.  Much of the surfaces are
concrete and they've done only a marginally better job of making the
slabs butt together smoothly but all in all, not a bad ride.  It bucks
the truck around enough that my kidneys give me a little twinge just
to remind me that they're hanging in there but they don't end up in my
shoes like the do on I-10 in eastern TX.

The relative prosperity of the south vs north is evident in the truck
stops.  In say, Atlanta or Birmingham or Nashville or even smaller
cities, if one waits until 6 PM to pull off to sleep, rots o ruck
finding a place to park.  Here, at 11 PM I had half the TA's lot to
choose from.

Headed to Birmingham with this load so shortly I'll have sunny skies
and warmer weather :-)

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Two days, three seasons
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2006 20:36:04 -0400
Message-ID: <linqj2h4f907jfcs0dt3jdapoghufffqo0@4ax.com>

On Mon, 23 Oct 2006 10:09:49 -0700, DonLampson@webtv.net (Don Lampson)
wrote:

>John
>  What types of cargo are you hauling,  anything "interesting"?
>  As usual,  good reporting!

Company policy and common sense that I can't comment on the current
load.  Hijacking/theft is a significant problem.

The load I just dropped was about 75,000 catalytic converter heat
shields. Load before that was 7 rolls of 8 ft wide kraft paper that
went to a cardboard manufacturing plant.  Those 7 rolls had me right
at my weight limit.  over 4 tons a roll.

It was funny watching them load that load.  They didn't have dock
locks (a gadget that catches the DOT bumper on the trailer, keeps the
trailer from bouncing up and down with the forklift and prevents a
careless driver from pulling away with a forklift in the back.  When
the forklift holding the first roll rolled across the deck plate and
onto the rear of the trailer, the entire tractor lifted off the
ground!  The tractor by itself weighs 20,500 lbs, not to mention the
weight of the front of the trailer.  That must have been some heavy
forklift!

My company hauls anything that'll fit in a box van so it may be food
yesterday and metal parts today.  I've even hauled a truckload of
hamburger buns, known as the "bun run".  I'm still not sure how they
can haul bread 500 miles at a time cheaper than baking it locally.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Boom!
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2006 18:03:27 -0500
Message-ID: <o70al2pt2cllcq8ikj3stc8cg6nlabc0lp@4ax.com>

I was on home time last week so not a whole lot to report.  This week
has been interesting.

There are some crazy folks in my company.  Monday evening they
dispatched me bobtail from Cleveland to Atlanta (135 miles) to hook a
trailer from a drop yard and haul it 9 miles (no, I didn't forget a
zero) to a customer.  Then they dispatched me to bobtail back to
Cleveland to pick up a load a half mile from my apartment!  I
suggested that they find an empty trailer for me to haul to the
Cleveland customer to make use of the trip.  What a great idea!  They
did.

So anyway, I hauled a load of stove parts to about 2 miles east of
Lake Michigan.  Very pretty country in the plains around the lake.
Amazing weather too.  Short sleeve in the day, about 45 at night.
Gorgeous sleeping weather.  I can tell just by looking around that
this area gets  hit HARD by winter weather.  kewl seeing snowmobile
crossing signs on the highways :-)

On the way to my next pickup I drove through an Amish settlement near
Middlebury and Lagrange, IN on US 20.  So many buggies about that
they've paved lanes for 'em on the shoulders.  They've gone high tech!
I couldn't at first figure out what the little pinpoints of bluish
white light were off in the distance.  As I got closer, I realized
that they were single LED white lights, one on each side of the front
of each carriage.  Headlights!

After my next pickup I was tooling down I-69 in Fort Wayne when
another trucker hollered on the CB that I'd just blown a trailer tire.
I didn't hear or feel a thing!  He said that the carcass came straight
off the rim and took out a mile marker post.

If it had been on the driver's side it would have taken out the idiot
in the SUV who'd been shadowing my tandems for several miles.  I'd
sped up and slowed down several times trying to rid myself of this
pest but he just hung in there.  Why do people do this?  And why is it
always an SUV or a Honda driver?

This should be a lesson to anyone reading this.  I can understand now
why one occasionally reads about a car being taken out by a truck tire
and the truck driver kept right on going. If this tire had hit a car
I'd have had no indication unless I happen to catch it in my mirrors
and then I probably would not have associated the hairball with my
truck. I neither heard nor felt anything and the tire came off so fast
that it would have been sheer luck if I'd seen it in my mirrors.

Anyway I'm at the truck shop now getting new shoes for my wheels :-)
It's HOT here near Muncie.  Crazy weather.  Headed to Mississippi with
this load.  I bet it's hotter here than it is there.  Lookin' forward
to some more Gulf shrimp :-)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Boom!
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2006 20:58:40 -0500
Message-ID: <d6bal2hjq1cce52vsn3j6grv5atopddih1@4ax.com>

On Fri, 10 Nov 2006 16:30:39 -0800, DonLampson@webtv.net (Don Lampson)
wrote:

>John
>  You sound like you're happier than you've been for the last several
>years!  Being a truck drivin' man must agree with you!
>  Good road reports,  and far more interesting than hearing about the
>howls of some customer with a fly in his soup!
>  Keep the reports coming!
>                                             Don

Thanks.  It's remarkable what having all the pressure and almost all
the responsibilities and paperwork off my back has done for my psyche.
I'd been in business one way or another since 1980 and so much of the
pressure had blended into the background that I didn't realize it was
there.

I've reduced my periodic bills to 4 (electric, gas, phone, cell) and
the gas and phone are about to go away :-)  Only car insurance and
property taxes and of course, the IRS remain as annual hassles.  Now
all I have to do is remember to set the alarm, wake up and start doing
something I really enjoy - driving.

Wish I'd done this years ago.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Day from Hell
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2006 22:48:57 -0500
Message-ID: <4n3dl21267k1hads7dqf97ivg9fbb2up0o@4ax.com>

Yesterday was one of those days where I should have stayed in the
bunk.  I mentioned in my post yesterday that I had twin blowouts on my
trailer.  That was the highlight of the day.  It took me 4 truck stops
to find one that had a tire shop and I lost a couple of hours, time I
had built into my sked so things weren't bad.

About 1am this morning I pulled in to fuel at a stop west of
Nashville.  I always drive very slowly through congested areas like
truck stops, dock yards and the like under the theory that if I hit
something, the damage will be minimal.  So I do my usual idle-in-2nd
gear creep up to the pump.  About the time I get under the shed, the
guy behind me, apparently getting impatient at my speed, apparently
tries to pass and ends up sticking his tractor nose under my trailer.
It cut a tire and bent the rim on my trailer and peeled the nose off
his tractor.

By 4AM the cops had done their thing (couldn't cite the other guy
because it was on private property but they sure wanted to) and I was
ready to find yet another tire shop.  Fortunately one was nearby. When
we got the trailer in the shop I saw that the tire I thought would
throw a tread was well on its way toward doing so.

That's 4 friggin' tires in one day!  That must be some kind of record.

When I finally bedded down about 5AM it was raining sideways and the
temperature was dropping like an anvil off a roof.  Glorious sleeping
weather.

At least the rest of the trip went OK, I got here to MS OK and managed
to get the load there on time.  Things gotta look up.

On the bright side, My second Engel 45 reefer arrived while I was home
last time.  Like the freezer, this thing is wunderful!  Set to 35
degrees, it runs less than 30% duty cycle and only draws about 2 amps
when it does run.  The thigh-high office fridge that it replaced was
stuffed so full that things fell out every time I opened the door and
yet when I transferred the stuff to the Engel, the basket was less
than half full.  Nice!

There is now no question.  I'm going to build two of these things into
the motorhome I'm constructing.  Each will be on a heavy duty ball
bearing slide so that I can simply slide out the unit for access.  I
may even put 3 in the rig, saving one for hauls of shrimp on the gulf,
lobster in Maine, etc.

I have my 12 volt Watts UP monitor connected to the reefer.  I'll be
able to report on power consumption in a few days.

Audio Book of the Day

I never liked reading fiction.  Let me curl up with the Electrical
Engineer's Handbook or a good physics text and I'm content.  But I
LOVE fiction in audio book format.

I just finished the latest installment in the Harry Bosch series by
Michael Connelly, "Echo Park".  Bosch is the aging LA murder
detective, the good cop who sometimes "goes off the plantation" to
solve his cases.  This is the 12th book in the series.  Unlike some
series, one can read the Bosch books out of order without feeling lost
or like he's missing something.

There are some audio books that I like, some I love and some I become
absolutely absorbed in.  This is one of the latter.  It's about a 13
hour book and yet it seems like it just flew by - as did the miles.
Connelly really knows the LA crime and cop scene and he writes about
it superbly.  Equally important is the narration.  I've had more than
one good book spoiled by a crappy narrator.  Len Cariou isn't the best
of the Bosch narrators but he did a superb job this time.  Highly
recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/Echo-Harry-Bosch-Michael-Connelly/dp/1594835896

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Day from Hell
Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2006 23:12:35 -0500
Message-ID: <ikrfl2d7kdpf6mtnkno63bvdh43dsv5cam@4ax.com>

On Sat, 11 Nov 2006 23:41:15 -0800, DonLampson@webtv.net (Don Lampson)
wrote:

>John
>  Your stories of hazzard,  and hardship out on "the road" are  really
>interesting,  and you don't even sound angry about the fools you have to
>suffer now!

Naw, I don't get angry about that kind of stuff.  Too much wasted
energy.  Plus I've taken the AA prayer to heart.  You know, the one
about "give me the strength to change the things I can, the patience
to accept the things I can't and the wisdom to know the difference."

>  You wear your career move well!  I'll bet you're having more fun than
>75% of your fellow truckers!

I am.  I'm amazed at how miserable some of these guys look when they
climb out of their trucks at the truck stops.  Of course, I'm not
living paycheck to paycheck and don't have a bitchy "ole lady" back
home, etc.

>  Are the "Harry Bosch" books contemperay?  The LAPD has changed so much
>from how it used to be.  All PDs have.....

yes.  That one I wrote about just came out.  He seems to do one about
every 18 months or so, so the series has been around for awhile.  I
have 'em all and have to say that unlike some series that get stale
after a few, each one of the Bosch series is better than the last.

One of the later ones, for the life of me I can't recall the title but
it has a midnight blue motif cover, came with a DVD stuck in the back
that Connelly did that covers the modern "true crime" scene in LA.
Very good video.  I bought the dead tree version only to get the DVD.

> The best cop writing I've ever read,  is J. Wambaugh!  He really has
>the cop sense of humor down well...

I haven't seen any of his stuff in audio books.  I'll keep an eye out.

>  Keep the reports coming!
>                                             Don

I will.  I'm in UM (upper Mississippi) right now, headed for McAllen,
TX.  About one size 11 footstep from mexico and as close as I care to
come to that place.  I have til Friday evening to get there (gotta
love these loose skeds) so I'll be doing some sightseeing along the
way.  Only bad part is, I'm REALLY heavy which limits where I can go.
I won't take a 40 ton load onto some little strip mall's 4" thick
asphalt!

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Gonna be a moist back
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2006 03:27:04 -0500
Message-ID: <fd6gl2t4jv0d7ij019db86uu3k55rcc91e@4ax.com>

Moist back is what yew are if you get within a footstep of Mexico but
don't cross over, right? :-)  I are gonna be one shortly.

I'm headed down to McAllen, TX which, for those without street atlas
readily at hand, is about as far south as one can go and still be in
the US!  Looking at the address for the consignee, I might just end up
with my tractor wheels in the Rio Grande by the time I get backed up
to the dock!

That's about as close to mexico as I want to go.  I decided awhile
back that I just don't need to be anywhere that at least the few
shreds of the Bill of Rights that remain aren't in effect.  It'll be
fun to look across and take some pix though.

So I'm sitting here in Grenada, MS and my outside thermometer says
it's 33 degrees out.  I guess that cold front did come through.  My
feet say Brrrrr!

I carry one of those little Bernz-o-Matic Black Cat propane catalytic
heaters with me for when I don't want to listen to the engine idle. As
well insulated as the sleeper is on this rig, it only has to run for a
few minutes to toast the place out.

My feet were getting cold (damn that Renaud's syndrome) so I reached
under the bunk and got it out.  I fired it off and aimed it toward my
feet and Bob the cat.  It was like I flipped his purr switch.  He was
laying on my ankles sorta upside down with a paw over his eyes (Turn
the lights off, daddy!)  When the heat hit him he didn't move a muscle
but the purr motor went into turbo mode.  PURRRRRRR  PUUURRRRRRRR
PPPUUUUUURRRRRR.  Must have been the moment because I seemed to have
LMAO....

Not much to report on the trucking front.  This load has so much time
(3 extra days) built into the sked that I'll just be moseying along.

Mission accomplished

I just walked past the checkout desk at this truck stop where I'm
overnighting and noticed the headline in the paper.  Apparently there
was an election last week and a bunch of Demos won?  I realized that
I've achieved my goal to completely isolate myself from the media and
politics.  And that my RORT filters are working very well :-) Success!
I've not watched a TV in over 3 years nor read a newspaper in a year.
Radio's gone too.  No political blogs or other internet stuff.  The
closest I come to politics is reading the "Day by Day" comic strip on
the net:

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/

Mainly because I love the way he draws the babes :-)  Much of his
political satire is lost on me though, as I don't know a thing about
current events.  Nice.

This is a major ingredient in my new stress-free and very pleasant
life.  I realized that the media crap, almost all of which is either
made up from scratch or so distorted that the truth wouldn't recognize
it, kept me in a low level of being pissed off all the time.  Now,
since I don't know what the scumbags are doing I can't be pissed off
at 'em.  And I have soooo much more time to do other interesting
things.

Munchie of the day.

I've mentioned here before that I'm diabetic.  It took me over a year
to get off insulin so I could get my CDL.  Diet, exercise and
metformin do the trick now.  The diet part is rather strict.  I've
found something that is putting this plan at risk in spite of my best
efforts.

Dilettante brand chocolate covered bing cherries.  Available at Camp
Wallyworld in the candy department.  In a stand-up maroon-colored
plastic bag.  Jesus, these things are good!

These aren't cordial type cherries and there's no liquid inside.  Just
a dried bing cherry covered with about an inch of the best milk
chocolate I've ever had.  I used to say that M&M Mars made the best
milk chocolate but this has it whupped.  This is one of the few foods
that makes me actually crave it.

My self-control just melts when it comes to these things.  I have to
get one or two out of the bag and then lock the bag up in the food
locker where I can't easily reach it.  Otherwise I'd do a bag without
thinking about it.

If you try these, buy only one bag.  Please.  Two bags would send even
a normal person into diabetic shock.  Blissful, wonderful shock but
shock nonetheless.

Restaurant of note

Memphis has a not-wholly-deserved reputation for great BBQ.  I've not
been terribly impressed with Memphis 'Que but then I'm biased :-)
There is one place I can recommend.

Big D's BBQ.  This joint is in the lobby of an old motor inn.  It's
located on US-78 coming south out of Memphis at the intersection of
SR-175/Shelby Drive.  There are two Pilot truck stops on the other
side of 78.  Still hard to see if you're not looking.

The motor inn has parking for several trucks/RVs so it's convenient to
travelers.  "Big D" looks like Wilt the Stilt except that he's only
about my size, maybe 6'6".  He does some good 'Que.  Good enough that
I always load up on ribs and 'Que when I'm in the area.  His sauce
isn't all that hot but the meat makes up for it.  I have 5 lbs of ribs
and a couple of pork sandwiches in the fridge right now :-)

Audio book of the day.

"Law in America - A Short History" by Stanford law prof Lawrence
Friedman.

Non-fiction is a bunch more difficult than fiction to do well in an
audio book.  This one is done well.  I've learned a LOT about the US
legal system, especially its origins and its differences from most of
the rest of the world.

The preface says that this book is derived from lectures he gives to
pre-law undergrads.  If you're a lawyer, this stuff is probably old
hat but to me, even though I've worked within the legal system as an
expert witness, much of it is new.

I didn't realize, for example, that up until the early 1900s, in most
states a corporation was chartered by a private act of the
legislature.  In other words, to form a corporation you had to
persuade the state government to give you a charter.

Or that divorce was not legal in any form in many states until the
late 1800s.  And that in many other states, divorce was only granted
by another private act of the legislature.  That was probably not such
a bad thing.....

Even though I had the old high school history lesson in my mind about
indentured servitude, I didn't really understand how it worked.  Now I
do.  Not a bad idea, actually.  One could sell himself into indentured
servitude to, for example, gain passage to the New World or to settle
debt.  He would become a slave to his owner for the specified
duration.  Then when the time was through and depending on the state,
he received a stake of some sort.  In Mass, for example, he received a
shirt, a pair of pants, a pair of boots, two sets of socks, 4 barrels
of corn and 60 acres of land.  Not a bad stake.

That might be one of those old ideas that could become new again.
Instead of having half my income stolen by the government and handed
out to people to sit around, why not cut 'em off and let 'em sell
themselves into indentured servitude?  Properly regulated, of course.
Personally, I'd love to have a servant around the house, especially if
all he cost me was food and clothes and an exit stake.

That might also work for all the illegals.  "Want to come to the US?
Fine.  Work for me for 5 years and you're here legally and you WILL be
speaking English!"

He spends a lot of time going into detail of the history behind
landmark cases.  For example there was a case involving a
state-chartered toll bridge company that set the precedent that once a
charter is issued the state cannot take it away.

Another example was a popular enterprise during the twenties and
thirties when the only grounds for divorce in NY was moral turpitude.
It seems that there was a lively trade in "divorce consorts".  These
were women who for pay would join a man in a hotel room.  They'd both
partially undress (which meant that they still had on 5 layers of
clothes!) and then sit side by side bolt-upright on the bed while
their photo was taken.  The woman and photographer would then leave.
The wife would present this picture to the court, hopefully with a
straight face, to petition for the divorce.

As a leftist-leaning yankee professor, he can get annoying at times
but overall the piece is very good.  For example, he wastes a whole
chapter excoriating the South about slavery while conveniently
forgetting to mention that almost all the slave traders and importers
were yankees.  Guilty conscience, I guess.  That I can recommend it
despite so-so narration shows that its good parts overshadow this kind
of stuff.  Glad the Archos has a "fast forward" button, though.

Here it is on Audible

http://www.audible.com/adbl/entry/offers/productPromo2.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&productID=BK_RECO_000605

And of course, it's available from the Great Internet Lending Library,
Usenet binaries :=)

Well, Bob's telling me again that it's time for bed so I'm outta here.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Gonna be a moist back
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2006 15:30:30 -0500
Message-ID: <bfkhl2lo3f8b5cvcui5sq82dgdskvk165a@4ax.com>

On Mon, 13 Nov 2006 02:05:30 -0800, DonLampson@webtv.net (Don Lampson)
wrote:

>John
>  How can you be such a strong believer in the Bill of Rights,  when you
>seem to have little respect for the government who says it's real?

That's easy enough.  The two no longer have any connection with each
other.  I prefer to live where there it at least a believable myth of
a bill of rights than none at all.

Funny you'd mention that right now.  I've been on the phone much of
the day with a new client.  I've been hired in a criminal matter as an
expert witness.  This case has all the elements of what I hate about
government - lying cowboy cops that claim things that basic physics
preclude happening and a grandstanding DA trying to base his
re-election on this prosecution.  I'll write about it after it's over.
Let's just say for now that it's egregious enough that I'd consult for
free if the client could not pay.  My civic duty.

I'd bow at the feet of a government that operated according to the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Given that there were forces
trying to shred the Constitution practically before the ink was dry
(the first Sedition Act that made it a federal crime to criticize the
government or politicians passed a scant 12 years after ratification
and the Supremes upheld it for an embarrassingly long time.)  Lincoln,
of course, finished the shredding process and Roosevelt burned the
bits and scattered the ashes.

This is way too political so this ends my participation on the topic.
But you did ask.


>  The weather doesn't sound like it's any good for sight seeing.  What
>good is spare time,  when it's too cold to enjoy anything outdoors?
>  Since you're a B-B-Q fan,  when you get down around the border,  see
>if you can get ahold of some "birria.  It would be interesting to hear
>what you think of it...

OK.  Before I do, does this Birria come from a generally recognized
food animal?

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Petty authorities
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 03:40:04 -0500
Message-ID: <9vnql2phrvlcr4gqa7cl956kq5st8jffjf@4ax.com>

This has been an interesting week.  I've been sitting McAllen, TX
right on the mexican border for the last couple of days waiting on my
delivery appointment (what a way to run a trucking company!)  Had time
to think and work on several personal projects.

It's a familiar problem.  Give a small petty person a little authority
and it goes to his head.  We see this in traffic cops, security
guards, school crossing guards and the like.  I began thinking about
what I've seen in the last week, triggered by an incident at a Texas
weigh station a couple of nights ago.

I must say up front that despite my loathing contempt for petty
authority and solely in furthering my self-interests, I have the "yes
sir" and "no sir" crap down pat when it comes to dealing with cops.
Makes me bite a hole in my tongue but I do it.

So I was tooling down US-281 toward McAllen when I come upon a weigh
station.  Nothing unusual about that.  Most folks have seen the
elaborate facilities the states build for these things.  My company
subscribes to the PrePass system which results in a transponder on my
windshield that lets me bypass most stations.  Not this time.

This thing was an open-sided metal shed like the cheap carport sheds
sold for residential use.  There's a line so I wait and creep forward.
I see in the pavement two weight load cells and beside them is a
little sawed-off half-breed of a smart*ss standing at parade rest with
a flashlight in his hands.

The usual drill with this kind of station is to creep over the load
cells so they get an axle-by-axle weight.  That's what the trucks in
front of me were doing.  I start creeping over the cell while looking
at the little guy to see if he has any signals for me.  Usually when a
guy is standing there, he's going to pick a random truck out for log
book inspections or whatever.  No signals.

As I pass the guy he starts screaming and jumping up and down and
wildly waving his flashlight at my mirrors.  He comes running up.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"  Note the profanity.
me "driving over the weigh scales".
"Don't you know to stop when you see me standing there?"
me "No, none of the trucks in front of me did."
"Haven't you ever been through a weigh station before?"
me "well, yes, many...."
"Don't you know to stop"
me. thinking that they usually put their hands up for a stop "No sir.
What would you like for me to do?"
(still screaming)  Don't you know you're in Texas now, boy?" He
actually said "boy" :-)
me "Sir, I'll do whatever you want if you'll just tell me."

Of course by now trucks are backing up back out onto the highway.
"Gimmie your log.  I'm going to check your log."
me "Sure.  Here it is."

He screwed around for a couple more minutes.  I could see him trying
to count off hours on his fingers.  Ahhh, public education...  I keep
a perfect log so he had to give up and hand it back.

And that was that.  Still trying to figure out why all the hostility
and screaming.  Petty people, petty authority.

Same thing happened a few weeks back when I got stopped at the LA
weight station, but not to me.  I walked in the booth and the clown
behind the window was literally screaming at the driver in front of
me.  Screaming so loud that spittle was splattering on the window.  I
thought (hoped) the guy would stroke out.  The driver's offense -
driving 15 minutes past official sundown with a wide load.

The guy started the same thing with me.  I looked him in the eye while
letting him get a little bit of a look at the digital recorder I
always have with me and said "Why are you screaming at me?  A civil
conversation is so much easier on both of us."  Like I'd stuck a
balloon with a pin.  Instantaneous ego deflation.  My terrible sin
was, of course, being 200 lbs overweight after refueling.

Day in and day out the usual source of this kind of stuff is with the
warehouse workers.  They get to play king-for-an-hour and boss us
truckers around, guys who everybody knows is getting rich from truck
driving.  yeah, right.

Had one like that on Monday.  I'd backed up to the dock, the dock lock
light was red (an arm that locks the trailer to the dock) and I was
sitting there doing paperwork when this dock worker steps out in front
of the truck and gives me a pushing sign with his hands.

WTF?  I roll down the window and he says "You need to sweep out your
trailer".  WTF?  Now, it's the usual duty of a driver to have a clean
trailer but I'd just picked this one up from the drop yard and had
chosen it because it was clean.  So we both walk the quarter mile back
to the dock access door and I take a look.

There are two slivers of wood from a pallet and some dust on the
floor.  Clean by anybody's standards.  I wasn't to be loaded with a
pharmaceutical or something like that but ordinary newsprint.

I do the push broom thing and end up with a pile of dirt like one
would get from sweeping the kitchen floor.  I carefully moved it from
the trailer floor to the dock floor :-) and returned to my truck.

At least a half hour wasted.  On the good side I did get a bit of
exercise.

There are all kinds of things drivers can do to "get even" with dock
workers (such as pulling all the way to the other end of the docks,
forcing the guy to walk that far to apply the seal) so I'm not sure
why they do stuff like this.  Petty people, petty authority.

Enough of that.  On to more interesting things.  I was passing through
Jackson, MS Monday night when I almost got to play Freddy the Fireman.
I saw a large column of smoke rising off the interstate.  As I got
closer I saw that it was a car on fire in the opposite lane.  I
quickly pulled over and retrieved the fire extinguisher from its
storage compartment.  By the time I got there another trucker had
already done the deed and the car was little more than a smoking hulk
forward of the firewall.  At least he saved the contents.  I heard the
sirens so I decided to leave before the circus started.

Has anyone else noticed how many vehicles are burning these days?  On
that 29 mile bridge over the swamp on I-10 near Lake Charles, LA, I
bet there's a burned spot every 10th of a mile.  Most everywhere in
the South one will see a burned spot every half mile or so.

With no evidence to go on, my hunch is that these plastic gas lines
that are so popular these days are at fault in many cases.  Let one
get knocked a little out of place and touch something hot or rub
against something and Voila!  Instant gas leak.

Travel Stops, AKA truck stops.

As every RVer should know, all the major chain truck stops (Pilot,
Flying J, Petro, TA, Loves, etc.) offer showers to truckers and anyone
else who either buys 50 gallons of fuel or pays the price.  This is a
valuable resource even if your rig has a useable shower (mine is for
emergencies only, as I have to squat to keep my head off the ceiling)
because one can save his water and holding tank capacity plus one
doesn't have to take a Navy shower.

These showers are essentially equivalent to a home bathroom, with a
head, the shower, a sink and vanity and some place to sit.  Towels and
washcloths are supplied, as is soap if you want it.  Most are kept
very clean.  I made extensive use of these when RVing and now driving
a truck, it's an every-other-day or more often affair.

I've formed some definite opinions about the various brands.

Flying J is the worst, with small and way-too-often dirty facilities.
I avoid them.  Pilot and Love's are tied for the top spot.  Always
clean and usually roomy.  TA is a close second with Petro not far
behind.  Love's only charges $7 vs everyone elses' $9 which is nice if
one doesn't have the fuel credit.  Pilot clerks will frequently let me
have a free shower if I'm out of credits.  The two are tied for the
lead in my book.

The big problem with TA is that many of their facilities are very old
and some came from acquisitions.  Some, such as the one on I-75 north
of Atlanta, are wonderful.  Others, well, not good.  I don't have
enough experience with Petro to form a strong opinion.  The ones
around Atlanta aren't that hot but the ones near Houston are.

Equally important with showers to us road warriors and hot dog
connoisseurs is the quality and price of hot dogs.  All the major
stops seem to have the very same setup, no doubt supplied by the food
vendors.  Oscar Meyer dogs on roller grills.  Sticks of hamburger meat
and cheese that looks like turds.  Some sort of mexican rolled up gut
bomb of similar dimensions to a weenie.

Pilot gets the head-and-shoulders nod in this area.  They seem to keep
the freshest buns and the price of 2 for $2 can't be beaten.  Many
times there'll be a coupon available that gets one a free drink with
two dogs.  A meal and a drink for $2!  Not bad.

The other guys all charge $1.49, plus or minus a few pennies, for a
dog.  Still not a bad deal but 50% more than Pilot.

I keep a variety of condiments in my refrigerator.  They have the same
ones in the stores but they're in those annoying portion packages so
it's much faster to just grab bun and weenie and do the rest in the
truck.

Eating on the Road.

Awhile back I bought one of those FoodSaver brands of vacuum sealing
machines, the one that Sam's sells.  I've been experimenting with it
since.  I have to say that I'm very pleased.

I love several varieties of veggies.  Fordhook Limas, green peas,
green beans, corn and so on.  I usually buy 'em frozen - next best
thing to fresh.

I've found that I can measure out single portion quantities, add
butter, Splenda and salt and a tiny bit of water and seal each portion
in a pouch.  Everything must be frozen to keep the juice from being
sucked into the machine.  The vacuum and conformal packaging keeps
freezer burn from forming, makes a nice compact package and is
suitable for cooking.

I never got on this half-raw veggie bandwagon fad.  I like mine well
cooked.  How to do that in the rig was the challenge.  I've figured
out how to do it in the microwave.

Place the sealed package in the oven and heat on high until the bag
starts to swell.  Then turn the power down to 10-15% (my el-cheapo
oven has an analog timer so I can trim it in as needed), whatever
power is needed to maintain a steady inflation of steam.  Let it
simmer like that for 10-15 minutes.  When the steam bubble collapses
and the package gets limp again, open and enjoy.  The pouch is sturdy
enough to eat right out of.

For pot roasts, roast beef and similar dishes, I measure out single
portions, put each in a pouch and freeze the bunch.  Then vacuum seal.
Cooking is quite similar to the veggies except that it doesn't take as
long.  During the original cooking, I stop at full rare which results
a nice pink medium after heating.

I make loads of chili and mainly use it on chili-dogs.  therefore I
package it in appropriate single portion packs.  I cook up a big batch
and pour it into empty tin cans.  I freeze it, then wash the can with
hot water so the slug of chili ice will come out.  I let it warm in
the fridge until it can be cut with a knife.  I cut off a
portion-sized biscuit of chili, put it in the bag, freeze it til
there's no loose liquid and vacuum seal it.  Sounds complicated but
the process is actually very fast.

For use, I heat it until it's almost too hot to touch, knead the
package to mix everything up, then heat until the steam bubble forms.
Open and dump on the dogs.

Engel Refrigerator Test

I just concluded a relatively long term energy usage test of my Engel
45 refrigerator.  I ran it for 3 days with a DC Watts Up in the power
line.  Here are the results:

Run time 3 days, 72 hours.
Temperature in fridge - 35.0

Watt-hours - 966.3
Watts peak - 51.7
Amps peak - 4.16
Amp-hours - 12.67
Voltage min - 8.74 (during cranking, no doubt)

instantaneous values

Off
Amps - 0.01
Volts - 12.00
Watts - 0.1

Running
Amps - 2.25
Volts - 11.53
Watts - 25.5

used per day:

amp-hours - 4.22
watt-hours - 322

Approx average duty cycle - 53%

During the test interval, the following items were placed in the
fridge

12-pack of soda, room temperature
6 pieces of fried chicken, hot
1 meatball Sub, hot.
4 bottled sodas, room temperature

----------------------

This is a truly remarkable refrigerator.  Note the 4.22 amp-hour per
day energy usage and that low even though it had a pretty good heat
load applied!  One could run for a week or better on a single Group 29
deep cycle battery.

When I had one Engle and a dorm room fridge/inverter combo in the
truck, I could barely get through the night before the truck's low
voltage alarm went off.  Loudly!  Now I can go several days if I have
to.  This truck has 4 100 amp-hour batteries so there is plenty of
juice.

Another remarkable thing is how much the 45 holds.  When I emptied the
overflowing dorm room fridge into the new 45, the basket was less than
half full.  I expected the chest-type design's packing efficiency to
make a difference but wow!  That dorm room fridge was at least half
again as large as the 45 on the outside.

Yummy of the week

Kozy Snack no-sugar-added Tapioca pudding.

OK, I admit it.  I'm a sucker for anything with a creamy taste and
texture.  Puddings, Flan, etc.  The more actual cream, the better.  My
diabetes has put a severe cramp in that craving.  Then I discovered
this Kozy Snack product.  Sweetened with Splenda.  Available at
Wallyworld right beside the yogurts in packs of 6 single serve
containers.  Only one little slot for each type.  Guess they can't
afford Wallyworld's slotting fees like Jello can.

This product has no preservatives or extenders or unpronounceable
chemicals.  Just milk, tapioca, starch, real vanilla, salt and
Splenda.

As I learned when I bought some bulk sucralose, it's quite an
accomplishment to use the stuff and avoid the bitter after-taste.
yeah, Splenda does that too but not nearly so much as the other fake
sweeteners.  Kozy Snack did a pretty good job on their rice pudding
but they nailed it with the tapioca.  Pure sweet and no after taste.

On a scale of 5 I'd give the tapioca a 5 and the rice pudding a 4.
Highly recommended.

Gotta get up early in the AM, deliver this load and then find out
where I'm headed next.  That's half the fun, not knowing which way I'm
going next.

John


-----

From: Neon John <no@never.com>
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Petty authorities
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 14:29:45 -0500
Message-ID: <b63sl2h5idlkjhsgposlkiau678pvju1mm@4ax.com>


On 17 Nov 2006 07:09:45 -0800, "TwoGuns" <R-D-Lorance@neb.rr.com>
wrote:

>
>Your post brought back a few memories of events that happened to me
>during my 20 + years of driving. I got off the road in 1989 and at that
>time there weren't any microwave ovens suitable for the cab of a truck
>(I had a 7500 watt Onan Diesel generator on my rig but the best
>microwave at that time was bigger than my doghouse). I did have one of
>the little plug-in-coolers though and it was great. I am a fantastic
>cook ( not braggin just fact and I have the belt size to prove it) and
>after many failures I learned the fine art of Turbo cooking. There is
>nothing like the smell of a nice T-Bone cooking on the Turbo while
>motoring down the road. Then there is the flip side of that. . .
>motoring down the road and smelling a horrible stench and realizing
>that that 2 pound T-Bone is probably a lump of charcoal. Lesson
>learned: when the pyrometer reaches 700 or more the steak is probably
>done LOL.

Heh.  I've mastered the art of Jeep manifold cooking but I haven't
figured out a place to put anything on this Kitty engine yet. Compound
turbos take up all the room.  I could get something on the secondary
turbo, probably, but it doesn't get hot enough to even rust. The
primary turbo is hidden in the plumbing.  I'd like to do it just for
old time's sake.

>
>Oh just in case you ever have a really tall truckers tale to tell be
>assured there will be at least one reader on the newsgroup who will
>believe it. After I retired from the road I learned very quickly that
>civilians have no idea what life on the road can be like.

Yup.  I wish I had the authority to pull over every driver who does
something really stupid in my vicinity and make 'em take a run with
me.  Let 'em see how close to death they come everytime they cut off a
truck or do something else stupid.

Hmmm, maybe a 5 day trip with one of these bath-a-month drivers would
be better than a traffic ticket and fine :-)

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: alt.energy.homepower,alt.home.repair
Subject: Re: BEWARE ZILLER ELECTRIC!!
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 01:07:08 -0500
Message-ID: <j335m2pouhv6rv8tppta1n0ld1e10m0f5u@4ax.com>

On Mon, 20 Nov 2006 20:21:34 GMT, "Edwin Pawlowski" <esp@snet.net>
wrote:


>Why are you not taking it up with the carrier?  They are the ones
>responsible and they have insurance to cover damaged goods. While the Ziller
>guy may have been bad mannered, he is correct.  It is your responsibility to
>contact the carrier and make a claim.  Some companies will go the extra mile
>to help you, but they have no obligation to do so.

As a trucker, maybe I can add some info to this.

If this was delivered by motor freight carrier (not UPS, etc), then
the freight carrier's only liability is to deliver an intact package,
that is, the outer package/wrapping/crate is undamaged.  If there is
no damage to the outer package then they have no liability.  Internal
damage is between the shipper and the consignee (the customer).

I almost never do LTL (less than truckload, what the drivers that drop
crates off at your back door do) but I've been to class on the
procedures.  I do not have to wait around for the consignee to inspect
the internals of the shipment.  In fact, I'm told not to.  If the
consignee refuses to sign for the shipment, I simply write on the bill
of lading "signature refused" and send the same message on the
Qualcomm (the satellite system most trucks have nowadays).

Though the industry has been partially deregulated, many regulations
remain.  According to my company, the above relationship is one of the
regulated areas so it will be the same with any motor freight carrier.
Package services like UPS and Fedex fall under different rules.

>That said, you should have opened the crate the same or next day.  Waiting a
>week does make it more difficult to get you point across.  How can you prove
>it was not banged in your garage?

Precisely.  Even if he opened the crate on the spot, as long as the
outside isn't damaged, it's not the carrier's problem.

I suspect that the root of this is that Nate got on the phone and was
an officious prick and the guy at Ziller told him to FO.  His whiny
all-caps subject line says loads.  Speaking as a businessman, we try
not to ever have to tell a customer to FO but sometimes we run into
someone who is so unreasonable that it's better to cut bait and take
the loss.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: alt.energy.homepower,alt.home.repair
Subject: Re: BEWARE ZILLER ELECTRIC!!
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 17:23:33 -0500
Message-ID: <rcu6m2habv5mbebuugeunqa3pih4dfsn2v@4ax.com>

On 20 Nov 2006 22:44:47 -0800, "RicodJour" <ricodjour@worldemail.com>
wrote:


>Thanks for the perspective from the other side of the lift gate, John.

You're most welcome.

>It sounds as if each particular trucking company has some latitude in
>how they handle delivery.  In my experience I've never had a trucker
>refuse to wait and split without getting a signature.  I assumed that
>they couldn't do that.

A driver can leave without a signature.  Unless there are other means
of delivery verification such as UPS's barcode readers, it can become
a "he said, she said" situation.  We try not to do that  if at all
possible.  Speaking only for myself, of course, I go out of my way to
satisfy customers.  That's where repeat business comes from, after
all.  OTOH, there is always that one customer who cannot be pleased
and who can spoil a whole week.

A major factor on the patience level of the driver is his quota and
his pay method.  Many (most? Not terribly familiar with that side)
"City" drivers are paid hourly or on salary.  Over-the-road drivers
like myself are paid by the mile.  We don't get paid while sitting
still. Fortunately we OTR drivers rarely have to do "CITY" work.  The
only time I've had to do it was when the company just flat didn't have
any freight were I was and offered me a day of city work.  It's an
ill-fit because OTR trailers don't have lift gates, hand carts and the
like.

>Maybe I never had a guy leave without a signature because I respect the
>time pressure  the driver (or anyone working for a living) is under, so
>I hustle to make it a quick but thorough inspection.  If I have to pop
>open a crate, I won't let the driver's schedule push me to accept
>something that I shouldn't.  It's my money on the line and I have far
>more to lose than a few minutes of the driver's time.  If I feel it
>took me longer to inspect than it should have I'll drop some cash on
>the driver - and I've never gotten anything other than a thank you.

A few years ago I bought a hotrod electric scooter from a company who
shall remain un-named cuz they eventually made things right.  It came
packaged in a sturdy plywood crate - but was held down inside the
crate with friggin' lawn chair webbing!  Of course the webbing broke
forthwith and the scooter bounced around, spoiling the paint, breaking
the throttle pot and a few other minor items.

The LTL company who delivered the thing said (correctly) "Crate is
intact, not our problem."  I don't know if the shipper had insurance
or if they ate the loss.  In any event, I emailed photos of the damage
and they replaced the damaged parts and refunded me enough money to
get the thing painted.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Shootout at the Love's Corral
Date: Fri, 08 Dec 2006 19:45:18 -0500
Message-ID: <eusjn2pvues8pnhfpb494ttsncatseqk49@4ax.com>

Sorry to have not written lately but I've been running the wheels off
this truck plus I just wasn't in the mood.  Guess the same group.crud
that ran Bob Giddings off had me off my writing feed, as it were.

Been wearing out the interstates of TX, AR, TN, NC and a couple other
states.  Damn, but Texas is big!

I was coming north from Laredo on I-35 south of DFW near Red Oak the
other afternoon.  I had a fuel stop to make at a Love's.  As I neared
I saw a veritable cornucopia of red and blue lights and as the exit
neared I spotted what looked to be a BIG military helo.  Turned out to
be a LifeFlight chopper and it was landing at the truck stop.

I normally have the CB off because of all the potty mouths but I
flipped it on to see what was going on.  Turns out a couple of good
ole boys decided to have 'em a little gunfight out in the parking lot.
One of 'em apparently shot better than the other cuz he was getting a
ride in the chopper.  That's Texas fer ya!

Boom town.

I'd always wondered what it was like in a gold rush or oil boom town.
Never figured I'd even see one.  Then I went to Laredo.  Thanks to
NAFTA and the exporting of the US, Laredo has turned into a trucking
boom town.  Trucks, warehouses, customs brokers and other
transportation services everywhere.  Roads clogged with trucks before
the concrete has even set.  Cow pastures being used a huge marshalling
yards for trailers.  An amazing sight and a vibrant and energized
environment.

As with any explosive growth there are problems.  The roads can't even
come close to servicing the traffic.  The support services haven't
even remotely kept up with the traffic.  There was a line of trucks
over a half mile long waiting to get into the Pilot, the only major TS
in the area.  Street Atlas just makes wild guesses.  I spent a bunch
of time drawing in routable roads to get to where I was going.  I save
each route for when I go back so I want it to be correct.

Speaking of SA, nothing like using a product continuously to discover
the problems.  SA is a bucket full of errors held together by a map!
Probably the most frequent and annoying error is having freeway exits
tagged for the wrong direction.  That results in some interesting
routes and forces one to go over the route turn by turn.

I'm really disappointed that interstate work that has been completed
3-4 years isn't on the map yet.  Someone who has SA 2007, could you
look and see if the I-440 loop around Little Rock extends up past I-40
on the east side?  In SA 2006 it ends at I-40.  I had a delivery a
couple exits north of I-40 last week.  I asked the customer how long
the I-440 extension had been finished and he said about 4 years.  Not
a sign of it in SA.

Hit the Walmart in Hope, AR the other day.  (Is that redneck or what?
:-)  Strangest thing happened.  I got this sudden urge to pick up a
fat chick, then go buy a cigar and a mobile home...... Went away when
I left..... Hmmmm....

Low Sulfur Diesel

The new fuel has been in all the truck stops for a few weeks so far. I
haven't noticed any change in performance or mileage but the stuff is
different.  It doesn't smell like diesel anymore.  Today I fueled at a
stop where the hose was leaking a little.  I got some on my $18
made-by-child-labor Wallyworld special running shoes.  The soles
started melting!  I left black streaks as I walked.  I've gotten fuel
on these shoes before and nothing happened.  Hmmmm......
Book of the week.

I've listened to so many good books in the last couple of weeks that
I'll never catch up reviewing them.  The best of the bunch and one
that should be a must-read for anyone is Michael Crichton's new book
"Next".  For those who aren't familiar with him, Crichton is an MD
with a strong scientific background.  Just as the Bible teaches
important lessons with parables and short stories, Crichton teaches
important lessons using what I call semi-fiction.  Though technically
works of fiction, his books are meticulously researched and even
footnoted.

In his last book, "State of Fear", he ripped open the environmental
movement and exposed it for what it is - a hodge-podge of
pseudo-religion and big money interests.  Also a must-read.

In "Next", he addresses the matter of genetic engineering and
associated issues.  Again, though fiction, it is based on facts such
as court cases, the current state of the art in genetic engineering
and so on.  He addresses explosive issues such as who owns the cells
in one's body? In the book, a guy's cells are stolen by the U of Ca,
patented and sold for a few billion.  Then when the cell line is lost,
the purchaser claims to have the legal right to forcibly remove more
cells from the guy's daughter and grandson.  This is based on some
recent rather disturbing Ca supreme court rulings in the area.

Or what happens when the genes to cause formation of the voicebox are
spliced into an ape egg and the baby has the ability to speak?  Is it
human or animal?

I'm still listening to the book but I thought it important enough to
review anyway.

Goodie of the week

Lipton cold Iced Tea bags.

For someone on the road who doesn't want to have to mess with hot
water, this is a Godsend. Lipton has come up with this new tea blend
that makes tasty iced tea with cold water.  Just dunk the bags in room
temperature water for 5-15 minutes and your tea is done.  I find that
I need to use twice the number of bags as the package recommends but
then again I like my tea strong.

Time to hit the road again....

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Shootout at the Love's Corral
Date: Fri, 08 Dec 2006 22:46:11 -0500
Message-ID: <j6ckn2h453hu88qlunu240vffbij9i6g3o@4ax.com>

On Fri, 08 Dec 2006 20:46:50 -0500, "Don, in Maine" <> wrote:

>On Fri, 08 Dec 2006 19:45:18 -0500, Neon John <no@never.com> wrote:
>
>>In his last book, "State of Fear", he ripped open the environmental
>>movement and exposed it for what it is - a hodge-podge of
>>pseudo-religion and big money interests.  Also a must-read.
>
>I recently read a review that said it was very difficult to keep track
>of all the characters and that the story lacked the excitment of some
>of his other books. Do you agree? I plan to read it in spite of the
>review.

State of Fear or Next?

To me SoF was riveting, particularly since I knew that all the events
and facts he cites were so well researched.  I ended up buying the
dead tree version just to get the biblio.  Next is probably a better
story by a little.  Good narrator in the audio book version.  I highly
suggest the audio book versions of both.  Much more enjoyable and easy
to follow because the good narrators do a good job of changing voices
with the characters and such.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Sharp runup in diesel prices
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 14:08:52 -0500
Message-ID: <g9mon218i7h4nqu31ga3pf23u4vnamp9o2@4ax.com>

On 10 Dec 2006 09:47:59 -0800, "Yukon" <loyza@atlas.cz> wrote:

>
>Neon John wrote:
>> I've been buying >100 gallons a day while running around the South and
>> some midwest.  Prices range from $2.49 (TX) to $2.20 (IN) in the last
>> couple weeks.
>>
>> Sounds like the Californicator effect is in action again :-)
>
>That is at least 800 miles a day,  you cannot possibly put on that many
>miles every day. Or can you?  I drove once, in 24 hour period, from
>Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Anchorage.  About 800 miles and I
>thought I was going to die when I got there! :-)  Yukon


Sure.  First off, my truck gets right at 5.5 mpg running the
legal-limit weights I've been hauling lately so that's only 550 miles
for 100 gallons of fuel.

Second, I LOVE to drive.  DOT gives me 11 hours during a 14 hour
period.  AT 65 mph, my governed speed, I can do 715 miles.  Add some
hilly country where I don't lose any speed going up but can coast
going down, do a little rounding on the hours and the result is I do
that routinely.  The most I've ever done is 915 miles in a day.

A truck is vastly more comfortable for long hauls than anything else
I've ever driven as long as the roads aren't too rough.  The
suspension travel is extremely limited so once the roads roughen up a
little (say, the entire state of LA), it does get bouncy.  But given
good roads, I'm still rarin' to go at the end of 11 hours.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Sharp runup in diesel prices
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 00:51:40 -0500
Message-ID: <jq4vn2lugavkm65shq8ufd3hqsitos730c@4ax.com>

On 12 Dec 2006 17:43:50 -0800, "Yukon" <loyza@atlas.cz> wrote:

>
>Neon John wrote:
>  The
>> suspension travel is extremely limited so once the roads roughen up a
>> little (say, the entire state of LA), it does get bouncy.  But given
>> good roads, I'm still rarin' to go at the end of 11 hours.
>>
>> John
>
>
>I am glad you found LA roads as bad as  I did.  About a month ago we
>were driving along LA freeway ( Interstate 10 ??, don't quite
>remember).  I was pulling our new 37' Montana fifthwheel and we hit
>such a bouncy stretch of road that I was not exactly sure what to do.
>It was awful!  I never pulled that much behind my truck and I was not
>too confident about my newly installed hitch.  It had me worried.

Heck, some of those roads have me worried about the coupling on this
18-wheeler!

>
>I was looking for some byways to drive on but it was getting dark so I
>toughed it out.  Is  that because the state of Louisina doesn't give a
>damn about their roads?  They can't blame it on Katrina,  those roads
>are very old, looked to me like pre-Katrina neglect.  This year I
>traveled around Europe,  went thru Croatia and that country makes
>Louisiana look like a third world country.

2.5 words.  Huey P. Long.  He's dead but his corrupt spirit lives on.

>
>When I was driving the Alaska Highway,  I was amazed how fast you
>professional truck drivers can go on the roads which are not that good.
>   But I must say, there was a poor guy up around Muncho Lake, Canada,
>who went off the road and ended up killing himself at the botttom of
>the canyon.  That happened when we drove there a few hours before.
>Everything burnt up,  so they never found out what the reason was for
>that horrible crash.

Never been there but I can imagine.  I'm not one of those guys.  I'm a
very sedate driver.  After all, I'm out here to have fun.  Neither
wrecks nor extremely rough rides nor tickets are fun.

>
>Oh btw John!  Might as well as the pro.   I want get a CB radio for my
>F350, is there any rather inexpensive set that you would recommend?
>Thanks a bunch    Yukon

I'm the wrong one to ask about that.  My CB stays off except when I
have to use it to talk to a receiving department or something.  Too
many potty mouths on ch 19.  I don't speed so I don't need smokey
reports so other than to inquire about traffic tie-ups, I have almost
no need for the thing.

I have a Uniden PC78LTW.  It's just a basic "classic face" radio but
with the weather channels built in.  That's the main reason I bought
it, to have the NOAA weather channels.  It was about $80, at one of
the chain truckstops, as I recall.  From the looks of the radios in
the showcases, one company must make Uniden and several others.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Wow!
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 14:02:42 -0500
Message-ID: <tuh0o21f4mr5sp3vkefg7ra6kct2u97ge2@4ax.com>

Pardon me a moment while I gush.  This is the first trip west of
Lubbock for this good ole Tennessee hillbilly and I'm awestruck at the
scenery.  I'm sitting at a rest area right now at the Texas/NM state
line on I-10.  Over the last 500 miles I've seen some of the most
beautiful country I've seen in a long time.

I'm making a nice little 1200 mile run from Bogalusa, LA to Santa
Teresa, NM.  A nice, casual 2 day run where they gave me 3 days so
I've been stopping to smell the cactus flowers, as it were.

At about the Tex/LA border I started a gradual but continuous climb
until I reached 4600 feet on the high plains of Texas near Fort
Stockton.  Gorgeous flat plains with {hills, mountains, buttes. what
do they call them around here?) rising up on either side.  True big
sky country.  I'm not sure what Denver has to crow about, as I'm only
a few hundred feet in altitude below 'em.  Both me and my truck can
feel the altitude.  Apparently the engine management system isn't
programmed to maintain sealevel power so the altitude has really
impacted its hillclimbing ability. Mine too.  Reminds me of my trip to
Breckenridge, only not as bad.  Just a very vague and slight shortness
of breath.

My kind of territory.  Straight highways, little traffic, speed limit
of 80 for cars and not a cop in sight for the last 500 miles.  This
area puts the lie to the claim by the control nazis that removing
speed limits would lead to a free-for-all.

I have my radar gun with me and out of curiosity, I've been clocking
traffic that passes me.  The gun reads the difference in speed between
the target and me so I just add my speed to the difference to get
theirs.  The highest speed I've seen in the last 10 hours or so has
been 78.  Most folks are going about 70s.  Just what the traffic
rationalists have said all along.

Last night I came through a pass about 50 miles east of Ft Stockton.
As I cleared the pass and could look out on the plains, a most
remarkable sight presented itself on the north side of the interstate.
A veritable sea of red marker lights.  At first I though I was looking
at runway markers but then I realized that they went from horizon to
horizon and continued on for miles.  I stopped and tried to spotlight
one to see what it was but alas, in haze even the mighty xenon arc
light wouldn't reach that far.  I finally decided they are oil
derricks.

On the south side of the interstate were dozens of oil drilling rigs.
If you've never seen one of these at night, they're spectacular.  The
whole site is lit up like daylight by metal-halide lights.  On the
drilling rig itself are more metal-halide lights spaced so close
together that from a distance it looks like a white light saber
sticking up out of the ground.  The overall effect is that of an
extraordinarily bright white upside-down "T".

I sure wish I'd gone through there in the daytime.  Maybe on the back
stroke!  Anyone know for sure what I was seeing?

I'm quite interested in the flora of the area. The little ground
hugging bushes with the yellowish green foliage is sagebrush, right?
what does mesquite look like?  Back on the eastern side of TX I saw a
bunch of what I'd call live oak back east growing in the sand.  Is
that Mesquite?  What do they call the thing that looks kinda like a
palm tree except it has sharp spiked leaves?

A few miles back there was a long stretch of highway with sod
plantations on either side.  I was amazed until I saw the irrigation
wells and sprinklers.  Who'd 'a thought sod would grow in the high
plains?  The effect of this insane electricity pseudo-deregulation was
starkly evident.  Every quart mile or so was a pair of poles with a
platform between where at some time a 3 phase transformer bank had
been mounted.  Below each is a LARGE well and pump.  The transformers
have been ripped out and the electric motors on the pumps replaced
with diesel motors.  Amazing to see a situation where it's cheaper to
pump water with diesel than electricity!

Driving along this interstate, I just try to imagine what it must have
been like for an easterner to travel this way in a stagecoach.  Must
have boggled their minds!  I also try to imagine what it took to build
the first railroads through here.  People think they have it hard
today...  Just try to imagine the life of a coolie working on the
railroad in the desert.

Well, time to hit the road.  I want to get rid of this load early if I
can and see if I can get something going farther west.  I'm one happy
camper right now :-)

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Wow!
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 21:50:38 -0500
Message-ID: <2od1o252j6hcrh52pcmo5ol0ftlr1b4jr1@4ax.com>

On Wed, 13 Dec 2006 15:56:38 -0600, grizzledbear@webtv.net (Kenn
Smith) wrote:

>They are wind turbines set on ridge tops along there.
>

Interesting.  I thought they were lower down but that could be the
illusion of nighttime.

One thing that made me thing it might be oil derricks was the strong
smell of petroleum all along there.  And at one spot there was what
looked like a 55 gallon drum set in a pad of concrete with about 8 ft
flames burning out the top.  Must have been a vent from some sort of
well or something.  It looked like it'd been there quite awhile.  This
was right on the side of the interstate, perhaps 10 ft off the
shoulder.

>You're in for a thrill tomorrow when you traverse Texas Canyon on I-10,
>some of the most awesome rock formations you'll ever see.

It was.  Gorgeous country.  I stopped several times to climb up little
rises and do some photography.

I'm a couple miles north of Santa Teresa, NM right now, bedding down
for the night.  I just dropped off 40,100 lbs of Kraft paper, the
stuff they make cardboard out of.  In 7 huge rolls!  Glad to get rid
of that heavy-arsed load.

I took a quick tour of the corrugating plant while I was there.  I'm
familiar with the old WestVaCo plant in Cleveland because I used to
consult to them but this plant is much more modern.

Making cardboard is interesting.  Three huge rolls of kraft paper feed
the machine.  The center roll feed into rollers with meshed teeth that
press the kraft into the familiar zig-zag shape of the inner part. The
two outer feeds go through glue dispensing rollers.  They come
together at steam-heated rolls that press the three layers together
and set the glue. Then it passes through a steam-heated section to
finish drying the glue.  The stream of cardboard ("corrugated board"
to the trade) comes out the far end of the machine where it is sheared
into sheet and then taken to the box-stamping machines where it is
die-cut into box forms.  All this is happening at I'd guess about 600
feet per minute.

The customer was located on top of a hill between Santa Teresa and El
Paso.  After a very hazy day, the air tonight is absolutely
transparent and the lights spread out to the horizon below were
spectacular.  I sat up there for quite some time, cooked supper and
just grooved.... (did I really say that?)

It was fascinating going around I-10 in El Paso around mile 188 where
it hammers up against the border.  Interesting to look over the edge
to Mexico. About as close as I'll ever come to crossing the border, I
imagine.

One of the nifty things about this gig is that I get to experience a
change in seasons every week or so :-)  It was 92 degrees and humid
when I left Bogalusa, LA a couple days ago.  It got down below
freezing night before last in mid-state Texas.  About 40 degrees 80
miles from the NM border.  45 right now.  Gorgeous sleeping weather.

>I was eastbound in my motor home a few years ago nearing the rest stop
>at the Arizona-Nex Mexico line when I started picking up on my CB calls
>from a couple of hookers who has set up shop in a Winnebago at the
>eastbound rest stop.  I almos cracked up laughing.  When I did pass
>there I noticed a couple of 18 wheelers parked suspiciously close to the
>Winnebago.

Ahhh, a pickle park :-)  I will say that the whores are good about
honoring the "No Lot Lizards" stickers that many of us have on our
doors.  I've not been awakened once since I got the sticker.  Judging
by the ones who DID wake me up before I got the sticker, all I gotta
say is, some guys must be REALLY hard up to get it from those skank
hoes!  Nasty.

Well, time to sack out.  Maybe they'll have me a load going farther
west in the AM.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Wow!
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 22:02:52 -0500
Message-ID: <a1f1o2pt345dcbspnti4f4i48vjn252dgp@4ax.com>

On Thu, 14 Dec 2006 02:12:44 GMT, AJ <alfieb@att.invalid.net> wrote:

>Neon John wrote:
>
>>
>> Driving along this interstate, I just try to imagine what it must have
>> been like for an easterner to travel this way in a stagecoach.
>
>   Stagecoach nothing..  on my first trip all I could imagine was
>traveling west in a wagon and coming over one of those rises and seeing
>where I would be for the next few days ... and there was nothing there.
>Watch for Texas Canyon if you get through Az. on 10 it is about 20 miles
>east of Benson, AZ. there are rest stops there.
>   I'm sure you already know but the Texas rest stops have WiFi.

Yeah, forgot to mention the WiFi.  All the rest stops and some picnic
areas have it.  Free, but oddly enough, one must log onto the Highway
Connect (the contractor providing the service) website before being
allowed to do anything else on the net.  A teeny tiny bit annoying to
have to fire off the web browser just to fetch email.  Can't bitch too
much about something that's free, though.

I stayed in a rest area last night so I played around some.  The
service is provided by one of the satellite internet providers.
Couldn't tell which one.  Thruput was right at 1.2mb/sec.
Unfortunately they cut you off at about 50mb.  One can reconnect again
right away.  I didn't though, and went ahead and re-connected via my
Sprint wireless Internet.

For anyone considering satellite internet, this is a good way to try
it out.  The round trip delay isn't bad for stuff like web browsing.
One just has to get used to the second delay after every mouse click.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Wow!
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2006 17:03:42 -0500
Message-ID: <ohg3o2l6g0c4e3lngqlctaub5p0bh4ud0t@4ax.com>

On 13 Dec 2006 18:48:27 -0800, yarver@lycos.com wrote:

>
>Neon John wrote:
>>
>> I'm quite interested in the flora of the area. The little ground
>> hugging bushes with the yellowish green foliage is sagebrush, right?
>> what does mesquite look like?  Back on the eastern side of TX I saw a
>> bunch of what I'd call live oak back east growing in the sand.  Is
>> that Mesquite?  What do they call the thing that looks kinda like a
>> palm tree except it has sharp spiked leaves?
>>
>I pretty sure what you see that looks like a palm tree is a Yucca. In
>the spring you would know for sure because the Yucca sprouts a flower
>stem.

Yeah, Yucca.  I saw some with wilted stems when I got out to walk
around.  Vicious looking leaves.  OTOH, everything that grows in this
area looks vicious!  I spotted a purple cactus, the type that is
usually green and flat.  It had thorns as long as the width of my
hand! I'd hate to fall on one of those.

>
>Up close, it's easy to tell the difference between a Mesquite and a
>live oak, a Mesquite has thin long feather leaves and sometimes has
>thorns, especially the younger trees. From a distance, a Mesquite is
>more grey green.
>
>A common bush you'll see is the Creosote Bush, but what you describe
>could be sagebrush.

I think that what I'm talking about is the Mesquite.  It has those
slender leaves similar to a Mimosa back east and the one I looked at
closely had little brown seed pods about the size of a pea with white
hairs sticking out.  This is the stuff that grows literally everywhere
around here.

Why do they call 'em Cresote bushes?  Do they smell like creosote or
something?

>
>Some people see beauty in west Texas and some don't. Glad to see you
>are one of us that does. Enjoyed reading about your latest trip.

Thanks.  Well, I'd never give up the lush greenery of the Eastern
Tennessee mountains but I like this part of the country too.  I need
to figure out how to spend part of the year out here and part back
home when I finally retire for good.

I'm sitting in El Paso right now waiting for a load.  I got in after
dark last night so I didn't get to enjoy the starkly barren mountains
around to the north of the interstate.  Where I decided to park had me
directly facing them from about 10 miles away.  When I pulled back the
curtains this morning, WOW!  Amazing that such mountains can exist
with absolutely no vegetation on them.  At least none visible through
binocs at that distance.

This is a strange town. Given all the space available, I can't figure
out why they've packed everything in so tightly.  This is the first
place I've ever been where I absolutely could not figure a way into
any of the 3 Wal*Marts that I tried to visit.  Relatively small lots
with cramped access and completely full of cars.  I saw the truck
parking and the docks but I'll be darned if I could figure a way in
that didn't involve severe curbing (putting the tandems up over the
curb, in the grass, etc.)  Guess my 'fridge'll be empty for another
day.....

Something else I've not figured out.  The interstate paralleled the
mexican border more or less for a couple hundred miles or so.  I got
up on a hill today close to the border and scanned it with binoculars.
I couldn't see any indication of a fence or anything.

What keeps the illegals from simply walking across?  maybe I'm missing
something but why do they have to hire coyotes or take other desperate
measures when a short stroll would do the job in these parts?

Speaking of the border, I'm seeing something that greatly disturbs me.
I first saw it coming out of Laredo and now again here.  The Homeless
Insecurity Gestapo have closed off the entire interstate and are
forcing the entire flow of traffic through a checkpoint.  There is a
half-dozing guy with what purports to be a drug dog prancing around
the entrance.  At the checkpoint, a similarly dreary-eyed immigration
guy asks if one is an American Citizen.  Duh.  The practical effect is
to back traffic up for a half mile or so.

This would be bad enough at the border but these checkpoints are miles
inland from the border.  Almost 20 miles in Laredo and probably 10
miles east of El Paso on I-10.

The approx coordinates for the checkpoints are as follows, in case
anyone wants to route around them:

El Paso:
Latitude: N31° 11.44'
Longitude: W105° 25.60'

Laredo:
Latitude: N27° 54.361'
Longitude: W99° 23.652'


What I fear the real intent is, is to condition people to being herded
through checkpoints and proving their bona fides.  "Your papers,
Please" will be the next step.  Lots of folks in government want
Soviet internal passports.  I greatly fear that this is part of it.

One of the most useful courses I ever took was on one Change
Management or how to effect major changes with the least resistance.
One of the central concepts is to respect the comfort threshold of
people.  As long as the change is implemented slowly enough that
people don't become uncomfortable, most anything is possible.  The old
frog in the pot of water analogy.  I'm greatly fearful that this is
what is being done now.  Internal passports and major restrictions on
the freedom of travel would not be accepted now but if things are
changed slowly enough....

Anyway, back to travel.  I bet it gets hotter'n blazes out here in the
summer.  I saw something that I've only seen one other place, Phoenix,
and that was an HVAC service van with emergency flashers on the roof.
If it gets anywhere near as hot here as in Phoenix, I can understand
an AC emergency!  The last time I was in Phoenix, it got so hot that
the speaker grills melted in my rental car.

Well, time to clean out the truck cab and change Bob's litter box. One
can't escape ALL the domestic duties out on the road...

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Truck driving (was Re: Finally found some winter)
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2007 09:21:14 -0500
Message-ID: <jhasq2t3ulc4hkb3bem9iqmkqn5j3s3dtb@4ax.com>

On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 23:04:15 -0800, altar nospam <altar@nospam.net>
wrote:

>On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 19:32:09 -0500, Neon John <no@never.com> wrote:
>
>> Sitting here at the Iowa 80 Super Truck stop and it's a
>>crisp 5 degrees out.  NWS says -5 tonight.  I might actually have to
>>let the engine idle tonight :-)
>
>Is there any other source of heat in your truck? Does idling give you
>sufficient heat to stay toasty in the sleeper?
>Secretly, I've always wanted to be a trucker, but it aint gonna
>happen. But I am curious.

I have the Black Cat catalytic heater but in the company's exquisite
wisdom, they won't reimburse me the approx $2/night it burns in fuel
and would rather spend $25-30 on diesel fuel.  (The truck consumes
about a gallon an hour while idling.)

The Black Cat will do the job.  The truck is extremely well insulated.
When it is in the 20s out the sleeper stays in the 40s just from my
body heat and the 50 watts the electric blanket kicks out.  And Bob of
course :-)

The engine makes scads of heat.  Last night I had the tractor heat set
to the neutral zone between AC and heat.  The sleeper was set about
midway into air conditioning.  Ideal sleeping conditions for me are
for the temperature to be somewhere between 55 and 65, preferably on
the colder end, and with a nice warm electric blanket.  Cool head,
warm body.

I really dislike idling.  The engine idles at 600 RPM which is slow
enough that every power stroke vibrates the whole truck.  I can use
the cruise control to boost the idle to up to 900 RPM but then the
engine is making a LOT of noise.  Heck, the thing only turns about
1100 RPM at 60 mph.

I think that I'm going to have to take the reimbursement thing up the
chain of command.  I hate idling and it's foolish to waste fuel like
that so it's a win-win if I can find a rational person to talk to.

My goal is to hang a small diesel generator off the frame rail and
then heat with a ceramic heater in the winter and AC with a portable
AC unit sitting where the passenger seat is now.  I gotta get
permission to take out the seat and to hang the generator.  The
company's too cheap to buy real APUs for the trucks but perhaps if I
supply my own....

So why don't you live your dream like I am and go drive for awhile?
You're not getting any younger.  I'm seeing LOTS of 50-somethings and
60-somethings as new drivers who, just like me, are fulfilling a
life-long dream.

The expense and hassles to get in are minimal.  After lottery fund
tuition reimbursement, tax credits and so on, my net out-of-pocket for
the 7 week driving school at the local community college was about
$50.  My company reimburses me tuition of $2500 at the rate of
$75/week regardless of who actually paid for the school so it's money
in my pocket.  After school, companies fight for us mature people. The
trick is picking a decent one.  Since for you, like me, you'd not have
to live from paycheck to paycheck, pay would not be a major issue.
The companies that pay a little less per mile are also the ones that
are a bit more flexible.  I almost always have an extra day in a run's
schedule.  I can sleep or compute or sight-see or whatever. They don't
say anything about out-of-route miles (sightseeing) as long as they
stay under 10% of the total.

You'd spend 3-6 weeks with a trainer learning the ropes out on the
road and then they assign you a truck and put you to work.  I made the
snap decision to close the restaurant and go trucking on April 1st. By
about the first of August I was in my own truck.

Driving a truck is almost exactly like traveling in my MH except that
I don't get to pick the destination (but many times I just picked one
randomly so that's OK) and I don't have a head in the thing.  I miss
the head!  Even in the MH, I almost always showered at truck stops so
that's the same too.

I stay out a month, then come home for a week.  That gives me time to
wash clothes, cook up and freeze another batch of food, get a hair cut
and relax for awhile.  By that 5th day my feet are REALLY itching to
get moving again.

I eat at a restaurant probably every 4th or 5th meal, again just like
I do in my MH.  The major difference is that I get paid to have all
this fun!

I'm going to do this a couple of years until I get bored and then go
do something else interesting.  I really loved engineering a
locomotive when I worked for TVA so maybe I could wrangle my way into
a locomotive cab again.  I also ran heavy equipment while in college
so that's a possibility.  What could be better than getting paid to
play in the dirt with big powerful machines? :-)

I am kinda disappointed right now, though.  It only got down to -2
here in Cedar Rapids last night.  They were predicting -7 and I was
hoping for a nice round -10.  Spoiled my whole morning :-)

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Electric Space heaters... HELP!
Date: Thu, 01 Feb 2007 11:34:29 -0500
Message-ID: <d254s2tlgei8d03qsg6n1if2sgbrl94g4a@4ax.com>

On Thu, 01 Feb 2007 12:27:25 GMT, SnoMan <admin@snoman.com> wrote:

>On Wed, 31 Jan 2007 19:11:24 -0500, HD in NY
><hbdandvsd@nodamnspamyahoo.com> wrote:
>
>>Ask any of the many guys and gals who post here and have diesel tow
>>vehicles if the they stink like diesel fuel. Of course they don't. I
>>don't and never have owned a diesel vehicle but have ridden in many.
>>None of them smelled like diesel fuel. I worked in a factory and
>>smelled pretty damn bad at work days end, didn't when I went home
>>though. Kinda the same difference.
>
>
>Kinda like asking the pot to call the kettle black. Of cource they
>will not say it stinks even if it does because they do not want anyone
>to know that they are not happy. I know several diesel owners that
>after the first diesel, want no more of them because after the
>honeymoon the noise odor and fuel smell can get old to some people.

They probably need to simply stay at home if they're that delicate.
I'm in a truck 24/7 minus pee breaks.  The only time I smell diesel is
sometimes during refueling.  Like most diesel operators, I have a pair
of "refueling gloves" that go back in the zip-loc bag after fueling.
Exhaust odor?  Even around truck stops the odor is rare unless the air
is very still.  Diesel's not one of my favorite smells but I can live
with it for the superior performance.


>ALso diesel has been running 25 to 40% more a gallon here for last
>several months so any possible economic gains from using them is gone

Temporary anomaly.  I'm sitting here at a Love's in Il.  The big ole
sign overhead says "unleaded 2.099", Diesel "2.299"  I've watched the
price of diesel plunge over the last two weeks while gas has held in
there at $2, plus or minus.  Probably because for the futures markets,
winter is just about over and oil is down.

>especailly when you factor in option cost and maintainance you are
>actually operating at a loss. The days of cheap diels are gone and
>between demand for it and higher processing cost now to remove sulpher
>you will never see cheap diesel again.

I keep hearing that but it sure doesn't jive with my experience.  I've
owned a commercial truck for >4 years now.  The maintenance costs have
been absolutely minimal.  Little more than inspections and oil
testing.  I have >30k miles on the oil and it still tests out like
new.

The company I drive for goes a very conservative 30k between oil
changes and doesn't bother with testing.  Other drivers I talk to say
that regular oil can be good for 100K with testing.  Shell is
advertising their Rotella Synthetic oil as the "million mile oil" and
in the fine print, 250K mile oil change intervals with testing.
Testing using the kits sold at truck stops is under $20.  Hardly a
wallet breaker.

Even though I can afford it, feeding a 5 or 6 mpg RV would take all
the fun out of it.  Offends my southern frugalness.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Can't make this stuff up
Date: Thu, 01 Feb 2007 20:54:33 -0500
Message-ID: <sd15s25u8gerv7phnf77ouv1oc4g8glr41@4ax.com>

I haven't been in much of a writing mood lately but I have a couple
hours to kill so here goes.

I've been keeping a little list of funny place names.  You know, like
"Hollering Woman Gulch" in west Texas.  Today I saw the funniest one
yet.  "Kum Stop Travel Center".  Near Cameron, MO on I-35.  If I
hadn't already passed the exit I'd have had to stop and get my picture
taken by the sign. What were they thinking?  Of course, it's probably
like that Big Ass Fan Company - nobody that sees the sign will forget
it.

I'm also keeping a list of the most unpleasant places I've visited.
The state of La was near the top of my list because of the bad roads
and corrupt cops but I think Illinois has earned the top spot.  Never
in my life was I so glad to see the "welcome to Illinois" sign in my
rear view.

What's there to not like?  Horrible roads.  Yankees.  Crowding.
Yankees. Rude people.  Yankees. Oh yeah, one and the same.  And, of
course, good old home cookin' cop corruption.

I had a load to pick up in the little sh*thole town of Elwood, IL,
south of Chicago.  At about 15 sq blocks It's too small to be more
than a black dot on the trucker's atlas but US 53 going into town is a
designated truck route so after double checking the route my company
sent me, I arrive.  Nice 5 lane street through town to the rather
large industrial park on the other end.  At the far end of town at the
entrance of the industrial park are 4 Elwood cop cars, lights
flashing, out harvesting money from truckers.  I got waved over.

Cop says "the reason I stopped you is you drove on a 4 ton restricted
road"

"Huh?  This 5 lane road? Where was the sign?"

Cop: "Oh, there's no sign.  We just restricted it and haven't had time
to put one up yet."

Now I get it. Good ole fashioned home cookin'.  Rob the
out-of-towners.

Cop: "I know how hard truck driving is so I'm going to give you an
equipment violation ticket so that your company will have to pay it."

Yup, the fix is in.  Driving on a restricted road is a moving
violation that any trucker worth his salt would fight because even one
moving violation greatly restricts employment opportunities.  OTOH, an
equipment ticket goes against the company and is not a moving
violation.  At $50 the company will probably pay it.  Yep, they have
it all figured out.  So I left that cesspool with a ticket for a
fictitious bald tire.  I did take photos just in case the company
decides to contest it.  I also looped back around with the video
camera rolling to confirm no warning signs, just in case the story
changes later.

Illinois is famous for their fee-grabbing cesspool two bit towns, the
same sort that we used to have in the South but mostly have gotten rid
of.  When I talked to my dispatcher about this he told me that they're
getting so many complaints about Il, especially around Chicago, that
they're considering paying "combat pay" to go there like they now do
for NY, NJ and New England.  They pay a $150 trip bonus to go to NY or
NJ (don't know about NE) and still they can't get enough drivers to go
there.

I wonder if it ever dawns on people who live there and support
(tacitly or otherwise) such fee grabbing that all it does is raise the
cost of living?  That "combat pay" doesn't come out of the company's
profits, that's for sure.

Anyway, back to better things.  When I woke up this morning it was
snowing and 20 degrees out and 40 degrees in the truck.  Bob was
snuggled under the electric blanket.  It was REALLY hard to get
moving.  But I love it!  I haven't had a real winter in years.  My
truck does look like a giant saltcicle though.

I saw some cute Burmashave-type signs along US-36 in MO. Each line a
separate sign:

Crooks are many
Cops are few
Crooks have guns
Why not you?
www.gunssavelives.com (I can't get that to work so there may have been
dashes or something - it went by fast)

A modern update on a venerable old format.

I had a few hours to kill so I responded to a billboard and pulled off
Exit 40 on I-35 near Lathrop, MO.  "Gasping Frog Antiques" or
something like that.  Very nice mall.  I was struck by how much
different antiques are from back home.  Seems like most of the
antiques in shops back home are glass of one sort or another.  Pressed
glass, depression glass, antique bottles, that kind of stuff.  I
really don't like this stuff so I've all but stopped antique mall
crawling.

This one was much different.  There was some glass (damned stuff
doesn't rot so I guess it'll be with us forever) but the majority of
the stuff was what I call vintage junk.  Kitchen appliances and
knick-knacks, furniture, books, tools, farm stuff and so on.  I picked
up another vacuum coffee pot and a very nice art deco Westclox clock.
I like stuff that works, is useful and can be used daily.  That means
I'm very particular and try to buy perfect specimens.  Both of these
fit the bill.  Almost like they'd been in storage.  Remember how so
many line-operated clocks used to have that little smoke trail
extending up from where the hands come through the face, probably from
the heat and electric field from the motor?  This one was perfectly
clean.  The dial is still white too.

Audio Book of the week

I'm listening to a book that's had me cheering for the bad guy for
most of the time.  "Wildfire" by Nelson Demille.  Wildfire refers to a
hypothetical program (but as Demille says, if it doesn't exist it
ought to) set up almost exactly copy MAD (mutually assured
destruction.)  MAD retaliation was pretty much hardwired into the SIOP
- if the ruskys had ever attacked en masse, retaliation would have
been automatic.

Wildfire applies to the muslim fanatics.  Basically this plan says
that if the US is ever attacked with a WMD then the presumption is
that the towelheads did it and Sandland would be reduced to Glassland.
In a few years Corning could set up a glass plant right beside Exxon's
oil wells :-)  This Wildfire is (in the book at least) hardwired in so
that no National Command Authority action is necessary to launch it.
The idea is that the states that sponsor this crap will keep their
savages playing around with bombs and airliners and such and leave WMD
out of the picture.

Enter our hero cum villain, a rich oil man and Vietnam vet who devises
Plan Green, referring to the Homeless Insecurity designation of
normal.   The idea is to trigger Wildfire and wipe islam off the face
of the earth.  So far so good.

His idea is to take some suitcase nukes that he's bought from the
ex-Soviets (remember, rich oil man) and detonate them in two cities in
the US while making it look like the towelheads did it.  He picks LA
and SanFran, thinking the radical muslems would pick those two cities
for the twin satans of Hollywood and the queers, respectively.  Still
so far so good.  Interesting quote: "I'm not interested in Hollywood's
salvation; I'm interested in its vaporization".

So anyway, this is where DeMille veers off and turns this guy into a
mad villain.  A fed stumbles onto Plan Green and the oil dude snuffs
him.  The rest of the book has our hero and his wife chasing down this
guy.  Oh well.  Still a good book even if it hasn't (so far) gone the
way I'd like for it too.  I think Plan Green is an excellent plan to
get rid of, as he says, "a couple of warts on the ass of the US" and
at the same time solve the global terrorism problem in one big flash,
so to speak. (I'd, of course, add NYC and the entire state of Mass to
the target list....)  He could have used the book to develop a
blueprint but he didn't.

Of course he commits a common sin of liberal arts majors who try to
write about technology - he gets a lot of it wrong.  The little
suitcase nukes can't "wipe a city the size of LA off the map".  At
ground level it'd do good to get a few square blocks.  Several more
gaffs but still a good read/listen.  Scott Brick is becoming one of my
favorite narrators and he does a fine job here.

I'm at the point where they're closing in on the oil dude so I don't
know if they do the nuke or not.

Power system

The power system in this truck is practically identical to the one in
my MH.  A 120 ah AGM battery (240 in the MH), a 1500 watt inverter and
a 60 amp Intellipower with Charge Wizard.  The Intellipower is
connected to the inverter so it receives power from the engine when
it's running. The battery runs my two Engel fridges, the electric
blanket, various small battery chargers and my cell.  The truck
battery runs the laptop through the inverter and the lights.  Plus the
microwave when it's used.

I've put far more hours on this system than I have the one in my MH. I
am VERY happy with this system.  The AGM runs everything with plenty
of margin to spare.  When I crank the engine and turn on the
Intellipower, the inverter loads up to about 5 bars on the load
indicator and the battery reaches the trickle stage (charge wizard LED
blinking) in about an hour and a half on average.  I don't have an
E-meter on the system yet so I don't know the DOD but I imagine it's
about 60 amp-hours or so.

This is one of the best dry camping setups I can think of.  If the
vehicle's alternator can handle the load (this truck has a 120 amp
continuous rated alternator) then this is one of the fastest ways I
know to fully recharge the house battery from the vehicle.

Well, time to deliver the load so I'm off.  Snow in the forecast so
maybe tomorrow morning will be white too.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: 22 degrees Question
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 21:30:08 -0500
Message-ID: <3sdft2d25vbqtv4vd19f0fopue5ofgpo0d@4ax.com>

On Sat, 17 Feb 2007 18:52:34 -0500, bill horne <redydog@rye.net>
wrote:

>Neon John wrote:
>
>> Daaaaaahhhmmmmnnn, Bruce, how about a Nose Pepsi alert next time.  I
>> was cruisin' down the road when I read that and just about spewed
>> coffee on the windshield.
>
>Goodgod! Reading a newsgroup while driving? It's just a matter of
>time before RORTers will be demanding a copy of your schedule. I see
>that some are already having an acute attack of aghastitis.

hehe.  Actually, I'm practicing at aiming one eye forward and the
other to the side a little to see the screen.  There's a medical name
for people who can do that naturally but I can tell ya that it's HARD
to learn.  Worst part is my left eye is by far my dominant one and
that's the one that looks forward. Aside from being handy for reading
mail, that's a very handy ability to be able to watch Street Atlas as
it dances around while avoiding all the 4-wheelers.

I'm just not up to doing like I used to as a young whipper-snapper.
Then I'd go on road trips in my 280Z with a Rat Shack TRS80 model 100
cable-tied to the steering wheel and connected to the network via
amateur packet radio.  I could tool down the road while
keyboard-chatting with hams along the way and occasionally get on
ARPAnet via the Atlanta gateway.

I don't try to mobile type anymore but I do cast an eye at the screen
every so often.  I have been considering rigging up an interface so I
could type with a Morse code key strapped to my thigh...  Great reason
to brush up on ole Morse again after all these years....

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: 22 degrees Question
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2007 14:32:24 -0500
Message-ID: <q47ht2dicvgmjtlo0nkgs1cmjk2sbuvotf@4ax.com>

On 17 Feb 2007 20:32:15 -0800, "Yukon" <loyza@atlas.cz> wrote:

>On Feb 17, 8:30 pm, Neon John <n...@never.com> wrote:
>
>> I don't try to mobile type anymore but I do cast an eye at the screen
>> every so often.  I have been considering rigging up an interface so I
>> could type with a Morse code key strapped to my thigh...  Great reason
>> to brush up on ole Morse again after all these years....
>
>John,  are a bit crazy?   y

No, not at all.  A thigh mounted Morse key or bug was standard
equipment in aircraft and naval vessels until the not-to-distant past.
Once you're conversant in Morse, pounding out text in the mental
background requires maybe a little less attention than talking.  I've
tried the voice recognition software but the noise in the truck, the
crappy headsets generally available and the still-primitive software
just doesn't work.  I have a set of good aviation headsets and mic and
I've thought about trying that.  Also maybe a Heil mic/headset (the
Cadillac of the genre.)  I think Morse would simply be better.

Back in the beginning of the PC age a little British company whose
name has slipped my mind made what today is called a PDA.  It had a 5
button "chorded" keyboard.  You typed by pressing combinations of the
keys.  I bought one, I think, at COMDEX (about $500 bux back then) and
after several months of learning, let it become attached to my right
hand.  It only recorded text but I was writing a lot back then and had
a secretary so it served its purpose very well.  Damn I miss that
thing.

I've thought about building a replica using a PIC or Atmel processor
but never got a round tuit.  I'm not sure I recall the chords either.
Probably like typing.  I can't tell you where the keys are on the
QUERTY keyboard but I sure can type!

I need to be able to record text for more important purposes than just
chatting on RORT and other groups.  I'm working on a book on trucking.
Now I dictate into a digital recorder.  Unfortunately the voice
recognition software (Dragon Naturally speaking) has the same problem
with the files from the recorder as it does from the PC sound input -
noise and distortion.  I'd love to be able to key in text as I think
of it.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Love that GPS!
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 04:05:17 -0400
Message-ID: <emk903ln36u4deo2it6stpgd6tp527u0ha@4ax.com>

On 23 Mar 2007 22:57:40 -0700, "Yukon" <loyza@atlas.cz> wrote:


>Always wondered how you truck drivers find your way around.  Just the
>other day I watched a program where a bunch of young hoods was
>breaking into parked semis and stealing stuff when the drivers walked
>off to get lunch or something.  Very efficient operation.  So be
>careful out there. :-) y

I'm probably an ex-truck driver.  That was one of those things that
I'd always wanted to do so before I got too old I went to driving
school and did it.  The company I went to work for turned out to be a
fairly bad one so when it came time to quit I decided to take some
more time off. Probably this summer. It seems that so many other
opportunities for new and interesting things are coming in that I
probably won't go back.   Sure was fun while it lasted, though.

Navigation.  Few drivers or companies use GPS.  OTR (Over the road)
drivers like me that go all over the country and tend to go to a new
place on each load end up spending a LOT of time with the Motor
Carrier's Atlas and on the phone with their dispatch and the customer
if they don't have GPS and the net.  And spend a good deal of time
lost. Misery is a road too narrow to turn around on, a 4 way stop and
"no trucks' signs in all three directions! Proud to say that none of
those things happened to me even once.

OTR is a pretty demanding lifestyle for someone with family so the
goal of most drivers is to get on regional or dedicated routes.  In
both cases they tend to go back and forth between the same places.
Severely boring concept to me!

Although there are some companies using modern technology, most
trucking companies are firmly stuck in the dark ages - and proud of
it.  My company's state-of-the-art (sic) system is what is known as
the Qualcomm - a satellite system that communicates with the trucks
while in motion.  Said "communication" appears on a 70s vintage 40
character X 16 line LCD display in all caps.  The keyboard is that
miserable rubber chicklet-style that doomed the IBM-PCjr.  I can still
do 60-80 WPM on a regular keyboard.  Maybe 5 WPM on that miserable
thing.  No "N-key rollover" (N-key rollover means that if a second key
is pressed before the first one is released, the second key is still
registered.  Without NKR, the second stroke is lost) so I had to proof
every single line and fill in the missing characters.  Arrrrggggghhhh.

Qualcomm charges by the character (!) so incoming messages tend to be
so abbreviated as to be practically unreadable.  But the company
advertise "state of the art satellite communications" to their
customers.  I can't believe customers buy it.

At one point during my tenure when I visited HQ (located in a series
of office trailers), I volunteered to, in my spare time, spec out an
inexpensive in-truck GIS (geographic information system) like I put
together for my own use.  The answers varied from thousand-yard-stares
and drool to outright hostility ("In MY day we didn't need no
steenking GPS").  Oh well.

RE: hijacking.  Like anything else the media touches, that is way
overblown.  I don't watch TV so I haven't seen the program but I've
heard and seen the discussions.  Stranger-to-stranger hijacking is so
rare as to be practically off the radar.  Usually missing cargo goes
missing with the help of the crooked driver.

Most all companies have taken at least a few simple precautions to
stop hijacking and drive-offs.  Keeping the trailers locked all the
time so the thieves don't know whether there is cargo or just air in
there is very effective.  Requiring drivers to apply kingpin locks
whenever they have to unhook is another simple precaution.  Short of
an acetylene torch, such locks are practically impossible to remove.

Whenever I needed to leave the truck with it idling (very cold or hot
weather, for instance), I took the simple precaution of installing a
gladhand lock on the red air line.  The gladhand is the name for the
air coupling between truck and trailer.  Pressure has to be in the red
line for the safety parking brakes to release.  Lock that red line and
the trailer ain't goin' nowhere.

Gladhand locks can be busted off if the thief has a little time so
when I left the truck for any period of time, say to go meet a friend
for dinner or whatnot, I took the added precaution of going under the
trailer and disconnecting a part of the air brake system and locking
that part up in the truck cab.  Replacing that part would require a)
them knowing that they needed the part and b) having the time.

The whole idea is to make my tractor less attractive than the one
sitting next to me :-)  My actions were probably overkill, as
according to all sorts of industry sources, most theft is
driver-assisted.  Unfortunately truck driving still attracts society's
scum - where else can someone with no education and a shady criminal
past make a good living while not having a boss breathe down his neck?

I've been "pitched" several times, both from someone wanting what I
was hauling and from guys fencing stuff from their trucks.  As one
would expect, the farther north one goes the more prevalent this
becomes.  And the closer to the mexican border in Texas.

All in all, if you mind your own business, stay out of obvious trouble
spots (the stripper club adjacent to the truck stop is not a good
place to be), don't hang around truck stops and stick to the main
roads, driving a truck is pretty much like driving a very heavy RV.
Hop in and go. Enjoy the ride. Stop when ye get thar :-)

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Love that GPS!
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2007 03:37:26 -0400
Message-ID: <505c031v8a55s4vl2coidge7ge6a92id78@4ax.com>

On 24 Mar 2007 20:02:03 -0700, "Yukon" <loyza@atlas.cz> wrote:


>>Unfortunately truck driving still attracts society's
>> scum - where else can someone with no education and a shady criminal
>> past make a good living while not having a boss breathe down his neck?
>
>Very true.  Your extra precautions make sense to me.  Question:  Do
>you always know what you are hauling or is the truck sealed?

Both.  The law says that I have to have the Bill of Materials within
arm's reach at all times.  If the load is Hazmat then the BOM has to
be visible.  If I leave the truck or go into the sleeper, I'm to leave
the BOM on the seat.

Every load is sealed.  If the shipper chooses not to apply a seal
(such as for 7000 lb rolls of paper) then I apply a company seal.  The
seal number is transmitted on the Qualcomm as part of the "loaded
call", the message sent when loading is complete.

> If
>somebody steals part of your load,  are you at least partially
>responsible or will their insurance take care of it,  not many
>questions asked?

Oh, there'd be questions asked!  Breaking a seal is a major event.  If
the seal has to be broken so, for example, a repair can be made to the
trailer, that event is registered on the Qualcomm and permission given
beforehand.  If a DOT cop orders the seal broken so he can inspect the
load then he provides a form certifying that the seal was officially
broken.  That event is also recorded on the Qualcomm and a new company
seal applied.

The receiving party can refuse the load if it arrives with the seal
broken.  The trucking company is then stuck with the load and has to
compensate the shipper.  The story went around the company about how a
pharmaceutical company refused a multi-million dollar load of OTC
drugs because the seal was broken and how much it cost the company to
reimburse the shipper and then dispose of the load.

For "high value" loads such as pharmaceuticals, it is normal practice
for a shipper dock worker to apply the seal, the gate guard to verify
it, the incoming gate guard to verify that it's still intact and a
dock worker to break it.  Or witness me breaking it.  Other shippers
are a lot more casual.  Many times I'm handed the Bill-of-materials
and the seal and told to put the seal on after I pull away from the
dock.

Preloaded trailers ("drop'n'hook") are almost always sealed
beforehand.  Many times the seal is a "yard seal" that is removed by
the gate guard who applies the transit seal.  Not sure why that
particular practice is done but it's not uncommon.

A driver is supposed to do a pre-trip inspection every morning (or
when he gets a new load) and a post-trip inspection every night when
he stops to sleep.  Most drivers are fairly sloppy about that.  I
wasn't and it saved my cookies once.

It's apparently a somewhat common stunt at truck stop parking lots for
someone to go around cutting seals off trailers while the drivers
sleep.  Most seals are plastic so all it takes is a swipe with a
pocket knife.  Some shippers have gone to seals that have to be
removed with bolt cutters but most haven't.  The pricks who do that
know how much trouble it causes.

I had that happen once.  Fortunately I'd done a post-trip inspection
that night and noted the seal intact and I caught the cut seal the
next morning before I moved the truck.  Also fortunately I'd covered
my butt since the very beginning by keeping a daily journal of my
activities on my computer.  Each night I emailed that journal to a
Gmail account I used for off-site storage and to validate the time
stamp.

I ended up having to call the cops to have the vandalism documented
and faxed a printout of my journal for the day before back to the
company along with a screen dump of the gmail account showing the
time-of-arrival.  This company blames first and asks questions later
so I'd already gotten chewed for breaking the seal when I called it
in.  I richly enjoyed the apology! :-)  After that incident I started
photographing the seal during my PTIs using my camera phone.  Finally
a use for that crappy camera in my cell phone!


>Good read John.  You have an interesting life,  at least I think so.
>See America and get paid for it.  It's different if you do it for fun
>and not because you don't have any other choice. I wouldn't mind to do
>a bit of moonlighting on the side like that.

Yup, quite interesting.  Not HAVING to be a driver is part of what
made it enjoyable.  Always knowing that I had that escape hatch of
turning the truck in and heading to the mountains made several common
annoyances much less bothersome and some outright funny.

>I watched this truck
>driver the other day,  he looked liked he travelled with his
>"significant other".  I watched her checking things on the rig along
>with him and it looked she knew what she was doing.

Probably a husband and wife team operation.  One partner drives while
the other sleeps.  They can keep the truck on the road 20 hours a day
like that.  Lots of money to be made but it's a grueling lifestyle.  I
ran team for most of my training.  I never did get to where I could
really sleep with the truck in motion.  I was tired all the time and
would truly get to sleep only when my body crashed from lack of sleep.
Some drivers say they have no problem sleeping while being tossed in
the air from the rough road.  I wasn't one of those.

>Pretty
>interesting lifestyle and I sort of wish I tried that when I was
>younger. For a while.  I chose construction to make enough money to
>finish college.  Truck driving would have been much more fun! :-)  y

I really enjoyed it despite working for a poor company.  If there
weren't so other very interesting things happening right now I'd
probably go back out.  The big problem for a company driver is that it
is very difficult to find a good company.  One reason is that
many/most drivers are disgruntled with life in general.  Being
expected to get the load there on time may make a company "bad" in the
eyes of a driver you're talking to.

The other reason is that there are so many conflicting goals.  A
driver who wants to make every last dollar he can will want to work
for a company that lets him run 3500-4000 miles a week while keeping
2-3 log books - illegal, of course.  A company that makes him toe the
line is "bad".

OTOH, I wanted to run legal and avoid the stress and hassles and being
pushed to "split log" was one thing that made my company bad.  Company
recruiters are like used car salesmen - if their mouths are moving
they're lying.  They're trained to tell a prospective driver what he
wants to hear.  I'd spent the last few months talking to every driver
I could and trying to zoom in on good companies and I think I'd found
a couple but one can never know for sure.  As of now, going back out
is somewhat of a "plan b" if this summer turns out not to be as
interesting as it's started.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Love that GPS!
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2007 16:42:43 -0400
Message-ID: <rumd035flmqv4ofc8vru6vkllsbk7b06r1@4ax.com>

On Sun, 25 Mar 2007 09:35:03 -0700, wwemu1@mungedhughes.net wrote:


>OK, John,
>
>How about sharing with us which companies you have found to be the
>best.  Who are you driving for? We will keep our eyes open and may see
>you on the road.

The two main candidates are Crete Carrier Corp and CFI (Contract
Freight Inc)  This is based on talking to lots of drivers and
reviewing written material they've sent me.  CFI in particular is
interesting because I've yet to find an unhappy driver.  Unique among
trucking companies.  That's probably who I'll go with if I go back
out.

I'm also looking at some of the smaller companies, outfits where an
owner-operator started buying tractors and now has a fleet of 10 or 20
or 100 units.  There are tradeoffs, as usual.  Most want you to run
illegal with multiple log books.  Just the way things are.  OTOH, they
can't afford the 200+% annual turnover of the big trucking companies
so they tend to take care of their drivers better and appreciate the
good ones.  I've talked to several company owners whom I've liked
except for that multiple log book thing.

I'm not driving now.  When I turned in my truck I had the intention of
taking a month off and maybe the whole summer.  I don't particularly
like working in hot weather :-)  I'm forcing the issue with the month
off but it looks like consulting work is going to thwart my plans for
the summer off.  I work in the areas of industrial instrumentation and
controls, CNC and industrial automation.  I also do power quality and
energy audits and occasionally do a court case as an expert witness. I
hadn't planned on working this summer but hey, like they say, make hay
while the sun shines!

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Out of state reciprocity
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 20:08:27 -0400
Message-ID: <1itt03pu2dmhmh1250oosn8dj6sbr130t9@4ax.com>

On 31 Mar 2007 16:21:50 -0700, soar2morrow@yahoo.com wrote:

>It has been stated in another thread that if you are legal vehicle
>combination in one state, you are also legal in another state so long
>as you are on the Interstate highway. I can find no confirmation of
>this in the law. Quite to the contrary, I found evidence to refute
>that claim.
>
>Here is an example of that: http://tinyurl.com/yt7pkz
>
>I live in Washington, where double trailer combinations are prohibited
>(RCW 46.44.036), as they are in most states.
>
>Don't be lulled into thinking that just because you are legal in
>Nevada you can drive across into California and be legal.

Actually doubles are permitted in most states and triples in some.
Other than that you are most emphatically correct, at least for
commercial vehicles.  I don't have any idea what the rules are for
non-commercial vehicles.  I imagine that unless the combo looks
extremely dangerous, the cops will leave them alone.

As I learned during my day spent working with a DOT commercial truck
inspector during my driving school, it's all a beauty contest.  The
inspector told me that he assumes (probably legitimately) that if the
rig is clean and appears to be in good repair then it probably is, so
no need to waste time on a level 3 or 4 inspection.  OTOH, come
through the coops with a ratted out old nasty tractor with oil spray
all over it, dragging a beat up trailer and yer gonna get the works.

Same with RVs I imagine.  Head down the road with what looks like a
gipsy train and expect to get pulled.  Drive down the road with a
clean and neat, well-put-together triple rig and you're probably fine.
I certainly saw a lot of RV triples out there and can't recall seeing
one pulled by a cop.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Out of state reciprocity
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 20:20:59 -0400
Message-ID: <o1ut03pgcgrseg92dssut4cntvcmjtepav@4ax.com>

On Sat, 31 Mar 2007 16:44:29 -0700, wwemu1@mungedhughes.net wrote:

>On 31 Mar 2007 16:21:50 -0700, soar2morrow@yahoo.com wrote:

>I just discussed this with my CHP son, who was in the Commercial
>Division.  He told me that on Federal Highways, you can be of any
>length and if you home state authorizes you to pull doubles and you
>are properly licensed, you are legal in CA; However, you cannot leave
>the federal highway unless it is authorized by local authority.
>Chances of being caught, unless you have an accident, are very very
>small.  I would guess that, because of the federal laws on the
>subject, other states are similar. The cop on the beat may not be
>familiar with the federal law though so you may have a fight.

Actually, for commercial vehicles, federal law permits commercial
vehicles to exit the interstate and travel up to a mile to reach
amenities.  It's right there in the front of the Commercial Motor
Vehicle Atlas as well as the federal manual.  That atlas also contains
tables of states vs what is legal.

You son MAY be right about CA (my experience with cops knowing the law
is poor) but it is NOT true elsewhere.  There is no provisions to
force, say, Rhode Island to accept triples.  It's a state-level
decision as what to allow.  Michigan, for example allows triples and
over 100k lbs on steel haulers with a suitable number of axles (some
of those trucks look like centipedes with axles almost to the front
landing gear).  Don't step over into Indiana with either of those.

Kentucky allows coal trucks 50 tons but don't ease over into
Tennessee, cuz the limit there is 40 tons without an overweight
penalty.

I doubt that any of this applies to non-commercial vehicles.  I'm
aware of no federal level law.  Indeed, we recall the hubub a couple
of years ago over Ca ticketing 45 ft coaches for over-length.

If I were going to be driving something that might attract attention,
such as a triple RV, I'd call or email the department of safety for
each state I planned to travel through for an opinion.  At least here
in TN, the DOS responds quite promptly to email.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Another fire story.
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 15:16:23 -0400
Message-ID: <7ofc33lfhcvmj2pcan4sbapfmsmu4kkefs@4ax.com>

On Mon, 30 Apr 2007 09:38:44 -0500, MTV <NoSpam_mtvew@netscape.net>
wrote:


>One in Houston yesterday, too. Gas tanker on ramp from southbound US 59
>to eastbound I-10. Huge explosion & fire, nothing left of truck or
>driver. Ramp will be closed at least 2 months. Violated "no hazmat" rule
>inside loop 610.

Did he?  The NO HAZMAT restriction does not apply when the destination
is inside the restricted area.  A gas tanker was probably headed to a
gas station somewhere inside Loop 610.  HAZMAT is generally "force
routed", that is, the driver is given the exact route to take.  The
traffic planning department generates the route, taking into account
all restrictions.  Unless this guy went "off the reservation" then he
wasn't violating the HAZMAT regulation.

Having driven a semi truck a LOT in Houston, I'll make a little bet.
I'll bet that the driver is an imported mexican with little to no
English skills.  Whenever I was in a position to observe, almost
invariably it was one of those types who drove like an idiot and
tempted physics on every ramp.

I know from the experience of carrying some very top-heavy loads (not
as bad as a tanker but close) that the yellow speed limit signs posted
on all such ramps work.  Proceed at that speed and no problems.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: alt.energy.homepower
Subject: Re: small diesel generator
Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2007 17:42:31 -0400
Message-ID: <nupg63tg6bsok9uf1p8kgrbnmh10b4atil@4ax.com>

On Thu, 07 Jun 2007 12:24:06 GMT, "Pete C." <aux3.DOH.4@snet.net> wrote:


>
>While I don't drive a semi (yet, it's plan B), I've spent a fair amount
>of time parked at truck stops / rest areas between semis when traveling
>with a large trailer in tow.

Trucking can be fun but ya gotta be ready to be treated like the scum of the earth. I
thought I was and yet after a year it started getting to me.

I'm going to write something I've given the working name "Trucking for Nerds" to ease
fellow geeks and nerds and others who want the adventure of truck driving but who are
woefully unprepared for what is to come.  That includes pretty much everybody who
didn't grow up in a trucking family.

I though I might do it as a book but more likely, a series of articles on my blog.
You might want to keep an eye out, maybe use that RSS thingie to be notified.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Ping Janet - Fuel Consumption for Freightliner MDT
Date: Sat, 09 Jun 2007 17:27:42 -0400
Message-ID: <rh5m63l4p92phdemgflf1ju4cbrlja4fdi@4ax.com>

In the trucking biz, Freightliner is know for good reason as "Freight Shaker".  The
one that I drove for awhile was the worst riding modern truck I've ever been in.
Driving along the coast through LA on I-10, I'd have to stop periodically and put my
kidneys back in place!

The International that replaced it rode like a limo in comparison.  I-10 was still
rough but at least my air seat wasn't bouncing against the stops.  Just about every
driver I talked to who had multi-brand experience agreed that International had the
best ride, though that was partially offset by other thing such as a very large
turning radius and a lousy sleeper.

RE: reliability.  I had a LOT more troubles with the FreightShaker than I did the
International and both were new when I got 'em.  Neither left me in "walk home" mode
but the 'Shaker sure left me uncomfortable without AC, without power to my 'fridges
and stuff like that.  About the only problem I had with the Intl was a niggling
problem with the digital dash that periodically sent some random alarm or gage off
into the nethersphere.

Re: service.  FreightShaker sucked bilgewater.  Intl only a little less.  The
industry has had some hard times.  There was the boom cycle where every major fleet
tried to buy up pre-emission controlled trucks to avoid the anticipated debacle with
emission controlled engines.  The full-bore production rate combined with a marked
cheapening of many aspects of the trucks, as with cars, ended up putting out less
than top-notch product.  Ergo, the service bays were standing room only and then
some.

I stopped in a FreightShaker dealer in Houston that had to have had 100 service bays
to try to get my AC fixed.  The service writer told me to figure 3 weeks and then
gave me a royal french shrug.  I managed to talk him out of the parts on warranty and
I fixed the damned thing out in the parking lot.  I've talked to other drivers who
were down as long as a month with such catastrophic problems as blown engines.

International was only a little better.  I stopped in to see about getting the gauge
problem fixed.  Three day wait.  My speedo was the main thing I was worried about and
I had GPS so I decided to live with it.

All of this is Class 8-related stuff, of course, but I'd not be surprised to find the
same problems apply to a given brand down the line.  Certainly the wait for service
problem will.

The industry is in a bust cycle right now.  All the fleets are stocked up so very few
new trucks are selling and there is lots of used hardware on the market.  If I were
thinking about a MD truck right now, I think I'd be looking at 1-2 year old trucks
with maybe 100K miles.  Barely broken in but hopefully, with all the factory bugs
worked out.

I bought my MD cube van like that a few years ago.  Just off-lease and only 78K
miles.  Like new.  So far the cab could be welded down, it's so reliable.  Other than
scheduled maintenance, it's just like a car.  Get in and drive.

John

On Sat, 09 Jun 2007 15:17:09 GMT, 617211 <617211@telus.net> wrote:

>I think it was the SKP's mdt group had an interesting discussion on
>the quality of freightliner. If I go for an mdt, it will be an
>International. It's strange because the engines, trannys & rear ends
>are generic to most of them. Maybe it's the way freightliner puts it
>all together & honours their warranty?


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: To Tow or Not To Tow
Date: Thu, 05 Jul 2007 20:40:05 -0400
Message-ID: <dn3r83duqe5gnhq9i8sk9dk4oipve9pgud@4ax.com>

On Thu, 05 Jul 2007 19:20:29 -0400, GingerJools <newsreader@nowhere.com> wrote:

>On Thu, 05 Jul 2007 15:48:01 -0400, Neon John <no@never.com> wrote:
>
>>If you ever get the chance, slip behind the wheel of an autoshifter semi tractor.
>>Amazing what they've done.  Just like a car.  Put 'er in drive, mash the pedal and
>>go.
>
>Huh!  That's something.  I always feel for those poor guys in traffic,
>they've gone through 5 gears just getting across the intersection.

That's probably an autoshifter at work.  Unless it's on an incline and I'm fully
loaded, I'll skip-shift in the low gears to avoid that.  Most drivers do that.  It
takes a little work with timing but I pretty much had the autoshifter computer
figured out and could fool it into skip-shifting when I was in a hurry.  Otherwise I
just sat back and let it do its thing.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Diesel generator
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 14:12:57 -0400
Message-ID: <b1dn93tmnnf2l65k9bneneuqo0qfcn5ink@4ax.com>

On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 09:32:41 -0400, Matt Colie <mc@nospam.net> wrote:

>JerryD(upstateNY) wrote:
>> Most trucking companies are ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away.
>> We have an Idle-Air at a Syracuse area exit.
>> It provides hot or cold air through the driver's window.
>> The problem is, they take up so much room.
>> They would need twice the parking area (in the whole country) they have now
>> and the expense would be huge.
>> An on-board diesel generator is the way to go.
>>
>>
>>
>It this the huge hose thing?

Yep

>The owner mentioned these, but apparently there was no availability
>where he usually traveled.  They also only supplied HVAC and maybe some
>AC power.
>Question:  Why does take up so much more parking space?
>Matt Colie

Look at how they've laid out the lot.  They have trucks parking nose-in and on an
angle.  That alone eliminates a significant number of spaces.  Then there has to be
room between the trucks for the hoses plus maneuvering room.  Plus they just flat
wasted a lot of space.

In many parking lots without Idle-Air, it isn't unusual for there to be less than a
foot between mirrors.  It's that tightly packed.  Idle-Air could have designed their
system around that density of parking but they chose not to.  Most truckers, myself
included, like to back in to park.  It's much more dangerous backing out blind from a
nose-in position than it is backing into a tight spot - something all truckers have
to be good at.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Diesel generator
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 14:08:22 -0400
Message-ID: <iqbn93t3b8tns6b4m0g5sfjr5fhju0o9ar@4ax.com>

On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 08:11:08 -0400, "JerryD\(upstateNY\)" <jerryd@wherever.com>
wrote:


>Most trucking companies are ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away.
>We have an Idle-Air at a Syracuse area exit.
>It provides hot or cold air through the driver's window.
>The problem is, they take up so much room.
>They would need twice the parking area (in the whole country) they have now
>and the expense would be huge.
>An on-board diesel generator is the way to go.

It's a little more complicated than that.  Idle-Air is being turned into another
weapon in the war of the independents vs the mega-corps in the trucking biz.

In most places IA charges a buck and a half an hour.  That's slightly less than the
cost of idling but that's not the whole picture.  Fuel for idling comes out of the
fuel budget and fuel surcharges, some of which, at least, get passed on to the
customer.  IA comes off the bottom line.

The anti-competitive part is that IA is giving huge discounts to the largest fleets.
I don't have any hard numbers but I've heard as much as 2/3 off.  That puts the
independents and the small operators in a difficult spot - pay for IA out of pocket,
pay for idling out of pocket or try to pass along the fuel adjustment and be more
expensive than the large companies.

The less-than-huge company driver (like I was) is in even a more difficult spot.  My
company's attitude was "you're the driver, handle it".  No compensation for IA.  So
we idled.  It got even more complicated when running in a truck-hostile area like
Houston.  I had to either get out of the area while I still had driving hours or else
find a place to hide from the cops while I slept.

IA doesn't address the other, perhaps larger problem - detention at the dock.  Many
shippers (when the trucking company lets them), grocery companies being the worst,
detain a truck for sometimes up to 24 hours.  IA does nothing under these
circumstances.

The APU brings problems of its own.  One is weight.  Major trucking companies allow
shippers to load trailers right up to the 80,000lb limit (many times slightly over).
I handled many a load that weighed >79,000 lbs.  Couple that with fee-grabbing weigh
stations that will write a $500 ticket for being 100 lbs overweight and a difficult
situation is at hand.  I've been instructed to plan a route around weigh stations
(illegal) and hop from one truck stop to another, taking on only 50 gallons of fuel
at a time to stay legal.

In this environment, the 500-1000 lbs that an APU system with all its accessories
weighs is pretty much out of the question.  No major company is going to (appear to)
be less competitive by having a heavier truck. (this notion is mostly a myth - one
trip back to the shipper to have excess freight removed negates the pennies per load
that they make by running that close.)

It seems to me that the situation is shaking out like this.  Small trucking firms and
owner-operators are going with APUs in significant numbers, either ready-made or put
together from parts.  Some of the largest trucking companies are going with IA in a
big way.  The rest - company drivers for the mid-sized companies - are left holding
the bag, left to fend for themselves.

Since anti-idle (really anti-truck) laws are at this point local affairs, I don't see
things changing much.  The feds aren't involved so there'll be no sweeping overhaul
that forces everyone one way or another.

This idling situation and my company's attitude toward it was a major reason why I
didn't put in that second year of driving that I'd planned.

John


Subject: Re: Diesel generator
From: John De Armond
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 19:37:10 -0400
Message-ID: <tdun93t8objiksv3v7bvegl46b7l5m9btr@4ax.com>
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 12:42:16 -0500, Dapper Dave <expurgated@gmail.com> wrote:

>>Neon John <no@never.com> wrote:
>
>>This idling situation and my company's attitude toward it was a major reason why I
>>didn't put in that second year of driving that I'd planned.
>
>You quit your driving job?
>
>Where are we supposed to get authoritative information about the real
>life of the long-haul trucker now?

 :-)  I guess I ought to start posting content from my daily journal.

I resigned back in the spring.  The company was having hard times with not nearly
enough freight for the drivers they had employed.  A couple of weeks before I quit I
spent a weekend in a truck stop in Texas with 11 other company drivers.  Since this
company usually figured a way to get out of paying detention pay, it cost them little
to have us sitting around and so didn't care.  The last two weeks I was with them I
spent more time waiting for a load than driving.  I'd signed on with another company
but the more I thought about my cabin here in Tellico, the harder it got to think
about packing up and going out again.  In the end I didn't.

I've met a guy who's a friend of a friend who operates a very small trucking company
(4 or 5 tractors, I think) who has been talking to me about making a run every so
often with him (he still drives) whenever he needs to do a fast team run.  I think I
might, as long as it isn't too often.

I'm officially retired.  Sort of.  I moved into my vacation home about 3 months ago.
Like most folks who "retire", I'm busier than I have been in a long time.  I'm
friends with the guy who owns the RV park and motel here in Green Cove and I let him
twist my arm (not much twisting involved) to set up my concession stand as John G's
BBQ Rev 2.0 :-)

I'm also doing "Dr John's Fix'em'Up Shop". Tellico is a very hot ORV recreational
area and I've been VERY busy welding up the stuff the off-roaders break.  That and
fixing stuff and generally doing handyman work.  Getting paid to play, as it were.

I set up a little photography stand at the Green Cove store and am offering instant
digital photos to fishermen who come in with their trophies.  I have a full portable
studio setup with a choice of backdrops or framing against the river as background. I
can print pigment ink-based (permanent) inkjet prints, CD or DVD-roms and shortly,
dye-sub printing.

I think I'm about to build a public showerhouse and toilet facility on some land I
own nearby.  There are no facilities within 30 miles so I think that business will be
good.  I'm probably going to include a couple of overnight RV slots.  The RV CGs here
are 100% occupied by long term tenants so there's nothing except forest service CGs
(boring and overpriced) for the weekender.

Some folks in local government who've been friends for years are pestering me to
bring my drive-thru restaurant to Tellico.  Tempting, but I don't think I want to
work that hard again.  Nor deal with employees and all the government and insurance
rot that goes with it.  Still.....

In short, I'm having a ball.

We were sitting around at the general store doing our usual job of shooting the bull
yesterday and the discussion came up of just exactly what is retirement.  I finally
decided that for me, the critical ingredient was tossing the alarm clock in the
garbage.  As long as I can do what I want when I want then it's not work even if I am
exhausted at the end of the day.

My only problem is figuring out how to fit some RVing in with all this other fun. For
years when I've spent time here, I'd hop in the RV, drive to a nearby CG (nearest one
is half a mile away) and spend some quality time dry camping.  'Spect I'll be doing
that a lot..... :-)

If I can find time I'll pull out some of the juicer things from my driving log and
write about 'em on my blog.  I've been neglecting that blog, as I've been too busy
for the last couple of weeks.  I'll try to do better.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,alt.rv
Subject: Re: Travel Warning for Cincinati, OH
Date: Fri, 23 May 2008 10:25:30 -0400
Message-ID: <kikd34p67pq7tmd05a79kkh0ad9povd02f@4ax.com>

On Fri, 23 May 2008 09:33:02 -0400, "Dan Listermann" <dan@listermann.com>
wrote:

>
>"Eregon" <Eregon@Saphira.org> wrote in message
>news:Xns9AA6B4A0C17E1Eregon@208.49.80.60...
>> According to
>> <http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080521/NEWS01/805210387>
>> it would be best to avoid Eastbound I-74 for the next 2-3 months.
>>
>> A bridge will be out of service that long.
>>
>> It was hit by an 80-ton locomotive.
>
>Oddly, the locomotive slipped off a truck.
>

Actually the trailer carrying the locomotive became uncoupled from the
tractor, according to that report.  That looks like a very old and decrepit
locomotive, probably headed for a museum somewhere.

I wonder if there is a truck stop nearby?

When I was driving, the company warned us repeatedly to check the trailer
coupling after stopping at a truck stop.  Seems some folks think it funny to
walk through the sleeping lot and pull the hitch uncoupling levers.  With a
heavy load, the trailer will stay coupled until something like a bump in the
road upsets things.  The company approved procedure which I always used was to
set the trailer brakes, release the tractor brakes and give it a brief but
strong tug.

I never had a handle pulled in a truck stop but I HAVE had a not-fully-locked
kingpin pull loose on my test-tug after backing under a trailer.  I quickly
learned to do the test-tug BEFORE retracting the landing gear :-)

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Trailer tires
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2008 21:44:16 -0400
Message-ID: <n6vt541jjief20iaegfm96kol96cg2s317@4ax.com>

On Sun, 22 Jun 2008 18:30:40 GMT, "RAM" <s31924.nospam@netscape.net> wrote:

>wdukes@fw.private.neotoma.org wrote in
>news:slrng5svts.h99.wdukes@fw.private.neotoma.org:
>
>> Highways have safe speed limits, but drivers regularly exceed them.
>>
>
>You must not have ever towed a trailer in California.
>
>Their lunatics in "Sacto" prohibit towing in excess of 55 MPH, thus
>creating traffic problems since non-towing vehicles that are travelling at
>*their* posted limit are doing 70 MPH.

Ohio does the same thing.  55 for trucks, buses and trailers over a certain
weight.  65 or 70 for everyone else.  Sheer lunacy.  Every time I crossed the
OH border in my semi, I had a flashback to the "double nickel" days.  The CB
got turned on (couldn't stand it otherwise) and truckers gave each other
Smokey reports instead of their usual practicing for the Profanity Olympics.
We (trucks) bunched up into convoys and tried to keep car traffic in front so
that we were poorer radar targets.

I will have to say that most Oh troopers seemed not very interested in
enforcing the speed differential.  Maybe they realized that the more uniform
the speed, the fewer the accidents.  Basic traffic management common sense. It
was the local yokel fee grabbers that one had to watch out for.

>Several Western States have, finally, raised their speed limits to reflect
>actual traffic flow rates and, in many states, a motorist may find himself
>being ticketed for "impeding traffic" and/or "reckless driving" by *not*
>exceeding the speed limit while others are doing so. <G>

I *loved* western Texas and into NM where the speed limit is 85.  It didn't do
me much good in my 65 mph governed truck but I could enjoy watching others
making good time.  Actually, judging by how fast they passed me, I'd
guestimate that few drivers were actually doing the speed limit. Most were
going considerably below it.

That supports what we drivers' rights folks have been saying for years, that
posted speed limits have little effect on the speed of traffic.  People drive
at the speed they're comfortable with.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: sci.electronics.design,alt.energy.homepower
Subject: Trucking [ was Re: Energy 101 [was Re: OT Hydrogen economy, not?]]
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 17:34:54 -0400
Message-ID: <vlph84pk51sjh99sbg5ofpmpdfk9murftk@4ax.com>

On Thu, 24 Jul 2008 07:29:06 -0700 (PDT), mpm <mpmillard@aol.com> wrote:

>On Jul 24, 10:03?am, Neon John <n...@never.com> wrote:
>
>> As far as that "other" thing, like most drivers, I had a sticker on each
>> window that said "no lot lizards".
>
>Thanks John, for the lingo.
>A really good friend of mine (former programmer for American Express
>Card Services) just became a long-haul truckdriver.  Frankly, I never
>quite understood the switch, but I guess he'd had enough of
>cubicles...?

Of all the things I've done, nothing was more enjoyable than being behind the
wheel of that big rig.  I LOVED it.  Unfortunately the company I worked for
spoiled it.  Rather than trying to do something about the industry's current
200% annual turnover, they've decided to live with it.  That means that they
treat every driver like a blithering idiot.  Unfortunately most all the
companies that hire trainees are that way.  If they'd just told me to pick up
this load here and haul it to there in so many days, I'd have been fine.

That's why I retired at the end of a year.  I went in with the intention of
doing a year minimum and an indefinite period max.

>Anyway, now I have some vision of life on the road.
>I did not realize those rigs had mini-kitchens.  I knew they had
>bunks.
>Very interesting...
>Can you elaborate any.

"Corporate" or "Fleet" trucks, those owned by the big companies, don't have
kitchens but they have enough room in the sleeper that I could bring my own
gear.  I have two of these

http://www.advrv.com/engel/engel_45.htm

(they don't cost nearly that much.  He hasn't updated his website since the
Great Flood.)

One was a reefer and the other was a freezer.  I carried a 120 amp-hour AGM
battery to operate them and recharged it periodically from the truck's
electrical system.  They'd run about two days on a charge.

I installed a 1500 watt inverter and that powered my small microwave, coffee
maker, toaster, toaster oven and crock pot.  Many a morning I'd put something
on to cook in the crock pot and strap it to the sleeper table or the upright
of my passenger seat.  At the end of my drive, dinner was served!

For nice weather, I had a pop-open camping table, a Coleman stove, some pots
and pans and this nifty little charcoal grill

http://www.neon-john.com/RV/Misc/Charcoal_grill/Charcoal_grill_home.htm

I did most of my outdoor cooking in rest areas.  Too many drivers pee in the
truck stop parking lots so many of 'em smell like urinals in hot weather.

I cooked up stews, marinara sauce and similar things using this technique

http://www.neon-john.com/RV/Food/Freeze_Vac.htm

and stored them in the freezer.  I had all the Wal-marts mapped in my GPS
system so I stopped often for TV dinners and the like.  Wal-marts invariably
have some place that a big rig can park while shopping, something that I can't
say about any other food store.

Most everything was disposable.  I carried a 5 gallon tank of drinking water
under the sleeper bunk and had a hand pump.  I used it for making iced tea and
coffee and for the occasional pot washing.  Most of the time, a little bit of
water and a paper towel would clean a pot good enough.

I usually stayed out 5-6 weeks at a time.  I carried enough clothes for that
period so that I didn't have to spend time doing coin laundry.  A little trick
that I figured out is to make a roll of a change of clothes.  Pants on the
outside, then the shirt and finally underwear and sox. Rolled up tight, it's
about the size of a newspaper. I rolled 'em all up during my home time so that
I didn't have to fool around, digging for clothes in a dark lot while on the
road.

I carried that roll between the handles of my army surplus ditty bag that
served as my toiletry bag.  That beat the hell out of lugging a gym bag or
worse, a roll-around suit case a half mile from the parking lot to the
showers.  I saw many guys doing both.

Truck stop showers are about like your home bathroom, with a shower, a head, a
sink and somewhere to sit.  They supply towels and toiletries, though I
preferred my own toiletries.  The major chains invariably keep 'em spotless.
Some independents, not so hot.  I never ran into one that was so dirty that
I'd not use it.  The worst was about like a forest service or BLM campground
shower.

As of when I quit driving, most truck stops charged $9 if you didn't buy 50
gallons of fuel.  Anybody can use 'em and not just truckers.  I make frequent
use of them when RVing even though I can't put 50 gallons of fuel in my little
rig.

I tried to hit the showers every 36 hours but sometimes that would stretch out
to 48.  Occasionally I'd get stranded for days waiting on a load.  Two days
without a shower is my absolute limit so I rigged up a makeshift shower
arrangement.  I kept a fold-up plastic tub under my sleeper.  I'd put that on
the floor and line it with a garbage bag.  The 5 gallon tank of water went on
the upper bunk.  A plastic hose attached to a valve.  I got real good at the
"navy shower" (get wet, turn water off.  Soap up.  Turn water on and rinse.
Turn water off.)

I could get clean all over with about 2 gallons of water.  Then I'd haul the
tub outside, dump the water on the grass and toss the bag in the garbage can.
The sleeper heater is under the bunk so the water stays decently warm.  In
very cold weather when it didn't, I could put about a half gallon at a time in
the microwave for a few minutes.

During warm weather and when I could find a dark place to park (abandoned big
box store parking lots were my favorite), I'd take my water jug outside, hang
it from the exhaust stack heat guard, strip down to my birthday suit and wash
under the stars :-)  Shower sandals kept my feet off the rough pavement. Every
time I found a useful spot like that, it got logged in my GPS system so I
could easily find it on future trips.

The last major consideration is the emergency dump.  When a huge grogan
insists on coming out, fueled by that breakfast burrito, you gotta set it
free!  When that happens and you're 50 miles from an exit or rest area,
something has to give.

The first time that happened, I hit the shoulder of the 2-lane road with the
wheels locked before I came to a stop. Dire emergency! I was on the ground by
the time motion ceased.  I dropped trou, suspended myself by my arms between
the tractor wheels and left 'em something to remember me by.  That was NOT
satisfactory!

A lot of drivers simply stretch a few garbage bags, one inside the other,
between the seats and hold 'em in place with those big alligator clips.  Squat
over the bags and let 'er rip.  That's a bit crude for me, plus I'm sure the
workers at the rest areas just loved to gather up those used bags!

I bought a small camping-type chemical toilet and kept it under the sleeper.
Almost all Flying J truck stops and many of the other chains have RV dump
stations where I could take the toilet and dump it.  Clean and sanitary.  If
all else failed, I just took it to a rest area truck stop and dumped it into
the toilet.

One last comment in that regard.  Baby wet wipes are a trucker's best friend!
'Nuff said.

A lot of guys carry TVs and some even have satellite TV.  I don't watch TV so
I was satisfied with my wireless internet connection and audio books.  I did a
couple of engineering consultations and one legal expert witness case while on
the road.  Gotta love technology!

>
>And actually, my friend would probably want a "lot lizards inquire
>within"  Ha!!

Ah, no.  Lot lizards make crack ho's look like beauty queens.  Frankly, I've
never seen such skank anywhere else, including on the streets of NYC.  Many of
'em use a production line technique.  10 or 15 minutes in one truck and then
move right on to the next one.  I wouldn't want one of 'em touching my truck,
much less me.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: sci.electronics.design,alt.energy.homepower
Subject: Re: Energy 101 [was Re: OT Hydrogen economy, not?]
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 10:10:16 -0400
Message-ID: <tt2h84de3u4aap1r6edauob9cpfpgcegie@4ax.com>

On Wed, 23 Jul 2008 16:25:26 -0400, "Michael A. Terrell"
<mike.terrell@earthlink.net> wrote:

>
>John Larkin wrote:
>>
>> I like truck stops; they tend to have good food. Of course, they
>> always serve the truckers first.
>
>
>   And they should.  After all, the truckers are why they are in
>business. They drop $300 or more every time they stop and that is what
>pays their bills.

Ahem.  200 gallon tanks almost empty.  275 gallons of fuel.  $5/gallon.  $1375
for just one fill up.

I sure am glad that I was a company driver and not an owner-operator.  The
fuel card they gave me sure was nice.

> OTOH, if the food is bad, there is always another
>truck stop a ways down the road, and truckers spread the word. I stopped
>at a lot of them over the years, but at one time a lot only sold diesel
>fuel, and had no place to park a car or small truck.  I used to use a
>Chevy Stepvan for my business truck, and it was too big for some of the
>older gas stations.

You really, really, REALLY don't want a 4-wheeler anywhere near where the
trucks move around and park at a truck stop.  Our blind spots are huge and
it's difficult enough to avoid dinging other trucks, much less avoiding all
those little future-grease-spots called cars.  Thing is, the driver up in the
cab won't even feel it if he backs over a car.

Unfortunately with the rise of the chain truck stops (Flying J, Petro, etc.),
the special treatment that drivers used to get is long gone.  Most won't even
give you a free cup of coffee after you've dropped nearly $1500.  Love's still
does, which is why I fueled there whenever I could.

John


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Class A license question
Date: Thu, 02 Oct 2008 17:21:14 -0400
Message-ID: <ek9ae41dt8co5l0qvlm3cqj5ja09v3mbcp@4ax.com>

On Thu, 02 Oct 2008 05:31:52 -0700, Ralph E Lindberg <n7bsn@callsign.net>
wrote:

>In article
><179c5cde-9373-4837-9405-2e54f96f26d1@26g2000hsk.googlegroups.com>,
> "Hustlin' Hank" <ninebal310@aol.com> wrote:
>
>> Has anybody on RORT been ticketed for not having a CDL while driving
>> their MH? I am sure someone has "heard" of someone, but that is not
>> the question.
>>
>> Hank <~~~~ Has CDL
>
>Here, no, elsewhere yes. BUT (and it's a big one) the RV's in question
>had advertising for their business on the side. They where also doing
>business via the rig, thus making it a commercial operation.

True.

During my CDL training, our class went over to Monteagle Mountain (famous to
truckers and RVers alike) to participate in a "Stop for Safety" (sic)
harassment of truckers by the state.  They set up shop at the mandatory stop
at the top of the mountain (makes sure trucks start down the hill at zero
speed.) and flagged in every single trucker for inspections.

Our being there was to help with the inspections and learn about the nature of
roadside shakedow..., er, inspections.  Afterwards, there was a fish-fry and a
social hour.

The Commissioner of Revenue for the state along with the head of the
Commercial Vehicles Enforcement Division was there.  During the social hour I
cornered them and peppered them with questions.  I knew what the law said but
I also wanted to know what they told the cop on the street to enforce.

I asked about untaxed diesel and was told that it could be used for ANY
purpose, including running the generator on a MH, EXCEPT for public highway
propulsion.

(BTW, if you want to watch one of these bureaucrats to go tilt, ask 'em about
using non-taxed fuel to charge the batteries of your EV!  Lots of stuttering
and stuff :-)  I think they finally decided that it was OK.  If so then the
Chevy Volt should be able to use untaxed fuel - at least until they change the
law.)

Then I asked a series of questions to find out how MHs were treated under
various circumstances.  Here's a summary:

- If you have a business sign or decal on the vehicle - even a magnetic
temporary one - then the vehicle is in commercial service.  A CDL isn't
required unless it weighs more than 29,001 lbs OR has air brakes but it must
stop at weigh stations and carry an appropriate commercial tag ("H" tags in
TN).

- If you are using the vehicle in commerce (Hey there, Don :-) then it is a
commercial vehicle and must obey commercial rules including the annual safety
inspection and weigh station stops.

- If you are towing a commercial trailer - say, a concession stand or
competitive BBQ pit (two things I specifically asked about) - both the MH and
the trailer are in commercial service.  Both vehicles have to have the annual
safety inspections (and stickers) and they have to go through weigh stations.

- here's the kicker.  If you're more than 150 miles (as the crow flies) from
home base >OR< you don't punch a time clock then you must keep a commercial
driver's log and obey hours of service rules.  I can write a whole article on
log book "gotchas".  Not on how to cheat but how they can "get" even the most
scrupulous driver.

I asked several questions specific to RVers doing what you might call
part-time work - craft shows, fairs and so on and both men stated that these
qualify as commercial activities and put the driver and vehicle under
commercial rules.

- Here's another kicker.  If the CGVW (truck and trailer, MH and toad, MH and
trailer, etc) is over 29,001 lbs >OR< the vehicle has air brakes then the
driver must have a CDL and a medical card.  One thing I forgot to ask about is
the use of pneumatic-operated toad Brake Buddies.  I bet they'd call those
"air brakes".

- A final kicker.  If you're transporting flammable liquids in anything other
than tanks attached to the vehicle, then you're transporting HAZMAT.  The
vehicle must be placarded and you must have a HAZMAT endorsement on your CDL,
something that requires an FBI background check (politics of fear in the
post-911 era at work.) and the HAZMAT must be in the proper container, be
properly constrained.

A bill-of-lading listing the HAZMAT must be within reach of the driver at all
times.  If the driver leaves the truck then the bill-of-lading must either be
left on the seat or in the door side pocket.  Finally, the driver must observe
HAZMAT-restricted routing.

I asked specifically about carrying gasoline in 5 gallon cans and propane in
20 and 30 lb tanks.  They both confirmed that those qualify as HAZMAT.  The
flammable material must be contained in a DOT-approved UNO Type II container.
A plastic gas can isn't.  Here are the kind of cans they're talking about that
are DOT-approved UNO Type II

http://www.toolstoragewarehouse.com/justrite108415galtypeiitransportanddispensingsafetycanw58.aspx

They gave me a handout used to train inspectors that contains almost this
exact photo.

What they told me backs up what I've read about in "Circle Track" and other
racing magazines where hobbyist racers have been stopped and ticketed for a
wide variety of things from not having CDLs to the wrong gas cans.  Accepting
prize money or sponsorship money makes their hobby racing a commercial
enterprise.  They also beat on the racers for "improper load restraint" (not
enough tie-downs for the race car's weight) and other chickensh*t stuff.

In researching this article I found that some states and agencies have
injected some rationality into the definition.  For instance:

http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=22243
http://www.osha.oregon.gov/interps/1999/gascans.pdf
http://www.ishn.com/Articles/Cover_Story/BNP_GUID_9-5-2006_A_10000000000000393530

The problem is that many other states, including TN, haven't.

I commented that I see a LOT of 5 gallon gas cans on vehicles that meet their
definition of commercial vehicles and questioned how much this provision was
enforced.  "Not much" was the reply.  Interpret: Just something else they can
"get" you with if they decide you need "getting".

According to what I read in the racing magazines, many racers have attached
additional OEM-type tanks to their tow vehicles to contain their racing fuel.

Finally, I asked him about RVs that look like commercial vehicles.  My MD
truck, for example.  Or rigs towed by Class 8 tractors.  They acknowledged
that as long as they're not being used in commercial service, they are not
commercial vehicles.  The inspection chief suggested that it might be a good
idea to go through the scales anyway to avoid being chased down and stopped
for scale bypassing.  99% of the trucks sail right through and if you're ever
pulled out of line for inspection, just show 'em that you're non-commercial
and that'll be the end of it.

Most of the time most of this stuff won't affect RVers using their rigs for
business.  If you don't put a sign on the rig, how would they know?  The big
problem comes if you have a wreck.  The first problem is that your
non-commercial insurance won't cover you.  Then there are all the violations
of commercial vehicle regulations.  Not having a CDL is a huge one.  And God
help you if you hurt or kill someone.

The insurance thing is a biggie.  For example, the last year I insured my
truck as a commercial vehicle in the under-5000-miles-a-year category, it cost
me a touch over $1200 for liability only.  When I converted that same truck to
an RV in the same mileage class, the tab was $84.  When I put my truck on my
USAA policy, because of the VIN, I underwent a mini-Inquisition and had to
download, sign and mail back an affidavit stating that the truck was indeed an
RV.  Geico didn't ask any questions at all, but then that's another story.

Anyway, if you smash up your RV and they find that you're doing business with
it, you're toast.  You don't have any insurance at all and you're going to get
hammered by the state.  "Operating a commercial vehicle without a license"
will be great fodder for the plaintiff's lawyer in the suit that will
invariably follow.

This is one of the end results of the Society of Fear that so many folks have
bought into.  The same folks who cheer every new "protect us from those evil
<fill in the villain of the moment>" government proposal look like deer in the
headlights when they get gored with the laws they've supported.

All the enhanced harassment of the trucking industry that has resulted from
the Feds nationalizing CDL governance has done little to improve "safety" or
"take the bad drivers off the road".  The bad actors figure out ways around
the rules while the rest of us pay the price and occasionally get gored.

That's a major reason I quit driving when I did.  The petty harassments got to
be too much to take.  Just one little example.  My tractor didn't have a fuse
in it.  Everything was protected with circuit breakers.  Yet the rules say
that a truck must be equipped with replacement fuses as part of its safety
kit.  I carried a spare breaker kit, in case one went bad, but that doesn't
count.

One time in Ohio I got pulled out of the weigh scale line for a random
inspection.  My log was perfect, as was my truck so the guy tried to pull the
old "fuse gotcha" so he could write at least one ticket.

Having been forewarned by other drivers, I was prepared.  He asked to see my
replacement fuses.  I told him that my truck had all circuit breakers and
didn't use fuses (the setup).  He told me with a smirk that I still had to
have replacement fuses. I looked worried for a moment (more setup) and then...

I opened up the notebook where I kept my log book and pulled out two little
fuses taped to a piece of paper (the smack-down).  The rule says "fuses"
(plural) so I made sure to have 2. The look on his face was priceless.  The
only thing I regret is that I didn't have video rolling. This kind of crap on
a regular basis is what took the fun out of driving.

John

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