i've got more chins than chinatown

For the first time ever in my life, I am dieting.

I spent most of my adolescence and young adult life underweight; a mere 120-125 pounds in a 5'10" frame. As I approached my thirties, I shot over 150lbs. and have naturally settled around 165lbs. for much of the past decade. I made myself a promise a long time ago that if I ever got upwards of 175lbs. that I would take steps to make sure I didn't go any higher than that. With the exception of children who can't ever remember being anything other than obese, I've always imagined that people serious obesity problems must have had some point (or should have had some point) where they went "Oh, yeah this is getting out of hand". Reaching a weight of 175lbs. was my absolute cut-off point and I would not allow myself to get any heavier than that. I figured at that point I'd be 10-25 pounds overweight and it'd be a lot easier to lose that than let it go any further.

A few years ago, I actually broke the 180lbs. mark, but it's when I was doing flatbed work and I chalked it up to muscle gain. Sure enough, within 3 months of leaving that sort of work, I dropped back down to around 165. A while back, I discovered I weighed 173lbs. and couldn't explain it with muscles. It was time for something to be done.

For my BMI, the estimate for maintaining weight is ~2400 calories per day. The diet I've adopted is pretty simple really. First of all I virtually have cut soda from my diet. I'll have one every now and then, but most days I stay away from it. There was a time when I could easily put away 5-6 cans of soda a day. I was drinking nearly a third of recommended daily allowance! I mostly drink coffee and iced tea sweetened with no-calorie stuff or sugar-free Kool-Aid. Sometimes I'll have orange juice in the morning. The other thing is that I don't eat just because I'm hungry. What we in the first world call "hunger" isn't what most of the people call hunger. Just because I'm hungry doesn't mean I have to eat. It's simply a matter of will power. I try to have no more than two meals per day, and sometimes, only one, when I have regular access to coffee throughout the day. I also don't "graze" on crap throughout the day between meals like candy/crackers/chips. And speaking of chips, I've decided that potatoes are the devil and try limit my consumption of them. Just 10-11 potato chips is like 140 calories. How many times have I plowed through a family sized bag in one sitting? I buy one large bag pf potato ships every couple of weeks and have a few with sandwiches in the truck. I'll have hash browns or mashed potatoes with the occasional diner meal, but otherwise, I stay away from french fries and potato chips as much as possible. I've also stayed away from pizza. After working for Pizza Hut for 10+ years in the 90s, this is no great sacrifice. I can take or leave it. I really never gave it much thought until I was standing in a Pizza Hut Express in a truck stop a few months back and they had a sign listing the calorie content of a personal pan pizza. Depending on what you put on it, it can be anywhere from 1000-1500 for a single personal pan pizza. I used to get two of them and make a meal of it all the time. No wonder I was gaining weight.

I've found that the longer I can can put off eating in the day, the less hungry I get. Once I succumb to the first meal of the day, then I'm only going to be hungry again 6 hours later. So what I try to do is put off having my first meal of the day until 4-5 o'clock in the afternoon. For instance today, all I've had is a 32oz. of coffee. and it's 3:45pm. I plan to have a couple of turkey and cheese sandwiches in the truck in the next hour or so then by the time I start to get hungry again, it'll be time to go to bed. It's easy to ignore the hunger pangs when you're unconscious for 6-7 hours

In all, I estimate my daily calorie intake to be consistently in the neighborhood of 1200-1500 calories per. Sure there are days when it's more, but they're rare and I'm sure there are days where it's less 1000. In the past few weeks, I've averaged about 2lbs. per week of weight loss. As of this morning, I was 164. My goal is to get back down around 150 and then hopefully, between the soda out of my diet (which I don't really miss) and a modest amount of exercise (I try to take 2+ mile walks daily when the weather and time permits), I won't have to worry so much about what I actually eat, or at least, not paying as much attention to it as I am now.

It's weird though how much of a difference 10lbs. makes. The first waistcoat I bought when I committed to dressing the way I have was a large and now it's starting to feel a little too roomy, whereas the past two I bought were medium and fit just fine.

instant karma's gonna get ya

Traversing Missouri the other day, two things transpired worth mentioning .

I was loaded heavy and dutifully scaled my rig. Noting that I was 140 pounds heavy on the drive axles, but still 1500 pounds of room on the trailer axles, I slid the trailer tandems forward a couple of notches and didn't bother with a re-weigh; confident that I was now legal. As I was pulling off the interstate onto the ramp of the first scale house 15 minutes later, it occurred to me that, while I had released the pins, I had neglected to tug on the trailer and lock the pins back in place. Now, what I should have done was continue across the scale, then pull off and lock my pins. Instead, I did something really stupid. In an attempt to lock the pins before crossing the scale, I pulled gently on the trailer brake handle in an attempt to lock it on the fly. The result was the the trailer tandems went sliding all the way to the rear of the trailer. Now here I was rolling toward an D.O.T. officer with an overweight rig. Sure enough, my drive axles were now 2000+ pounds too heavy and over the loud speaker,the officer asked me to pull around back and bring all of my paperwork in the scale house. Once inside, I said, "Here's the part where I beg you for some understanding," and explained what I had just done. He checked my registration and IFTA, then went to a computer to run my driver's license through the system. He soon returned and said that if I fixed the over-weight and crossed the scale again legal, I could go. Whew!

Later that day, I came upon a pair of Werner trucks who were traveling together on I-70. If you've never driven this particular stretch of highway in Missouri, it is 250 miles of continuous hills. On the few flat parts my governed speed of 61 mph was just slightly faster than the Werner twins. On the downgrades we were about even, and on the upgrades, I was somewhat faster than them, as their trucks (or at least the lead truck in this two-man convoy) seemed underpowered. I checked my rear-view mirror and there was some considerable distance between us and the next pocket of faster-moving 70+ mph traffic. I figured I'd get out in the hammer lane and once I got into the pass, the Werner trucks would give it up to me and ease up to let me on by. This is typically considered a courteous thing to do when you drive a slow truck like I, and they, do. Except they didn't give it up. It took me a few minutes to clear the rear truck, and constant battle of changing speeds due to the hills. Since there was only a truck's length between the two of them, and with traffic beginning to pile-up behind me, my only options were to continue with my pass of the lead truck or back-off. I was already half-way past the Werner twins, and it really isn't my fault that they were being a couple of douchebags and not giving it up for me.

As enough space cleared between the back of my trailer and the rear truck, a black Nissan sports car with tinted windows whipped into the space between the two Werner trucks, accelerated down my blind side, then narrowly slipped between the front of my rig and rear of the trailer of the lead Werner truck. Then he hits his brakes right in front of me. He measures his speed with mine, slowing down trying to force me back behind the Werners. With his right turn signal, he gestures at me his opinion that I shouldn't be in the passing lane, y'know, passing. He continues to speed up then hit his brakes repeatedly, trying to punish me for nearly a minute. When he sees I have no intention of backing off, he grows bored and tears on up the interstate at a high rate of speed. Just as his tail lights begin to fade into the night, I see red-and-blue flashing lights pop on in distance. The Werner trucks are now forced to slow and file in behind me in the hammer lane for the officer on the right shoulder, who had just pulled the Nissan over for what I presume will be a hefty speeding fine.

gloooooom despaaaaiirrrrr and agony on me

I'm not superstitious and don't believe in luck as supernatural force. Events which supposedly "bring bad luck" like broken mirrors, walking under ladders, or neglecting to toss the spilled grains of salt over your left shoulder into the eyes of the devil are absurd. Likewise, rituals or special objects don't "bring good luck" to a person. Luck is a phenomenon, though. It is the coincidental recurrence of events which we perceive to be fortuitous or unfortunate within some microcosm. A lucky person recognizes when the former is happening and exploits it. An unlucky person typically makes poor decisions with both. For the average person, the two balance each other out over a life time - something the Chinese observed as Yin Yang centuries ago.

I seem to have bad luck in the proximity of two particular cities in our country, both in the South. Both have struck me a blow in the past two weeks.

It was in Hattiesburg, MS nearly 6 years ago when the clutch went out on my truck. This ultimately resulted in a week of downtime. There were some silver-linings. I got to visit and photograph the New Orleans area 6-months post-Katrina. Also, I had only had the truck for a month, so I wasn't on the hook for the repairs. Bad luck in Hattiesburg struck again in September of 2011 when my company-owned truck broke down on Labor Day weekend. Due to the holiday and shortened business week, I was stuck in a motel room for 9 days on that one. Even more recently than that; remember my entry the other day about the painful experience of having an abscess drained? Guess where the hospital was where that was done.

This week, a new city is beginning to challenge Hattiesburg as my bad luck nexus. In March of 2010, while working as a flat-bed driver, I slipped and fell from the deck of the trailer and badly sprained my ankle in Prosperity, SC. I went to the hospital for this in nearby Columbia and was ultimately out of work for nearly a month. Now this week, I've been sitting in Columbia, SC in a motel room for two days waiting on my truck to be repaired. I was supposed to be home today, with the next four days off.

Thankfully, it seems to be resolving itself in a timely fashion. Assuming the truck is actually ready to roll this afternoon as I've been told, chances are I won't even be able to load onto anything and be Kentucky-bound until morning. Which means I won't even make it home until Saturday at the earliest. I can always extend my home time out the other side, but the whole point of taking my home-time on weekends is that I get to actually spend time with welfy, rather than her being at work all day and tied-up with play rehearsals in the evenings.

Here's to hoping the bad luck streaks in these cities are over.

surprised to see me in your swell joint?

Having watched way too many films from the 30s/40s and having become a fan of the show "Boardwalk Empire", I've found myself wishing men still dressed the way they did 70 years ago. I thought to myself, you know, there's no reason why I can't. So after years of being a T-shirt & jeans slacker, I've begun the process of dressing as a gentleman should.

It began simple enough. I had a flat cap I had bought several years ago and wore from time to time when I was home. I began taking it on the road with me and soon bought a cheap pair of suspenders to go along with my flea market works shirts.

The suspenders began to wear-out fairly quickly. Rather than buckling down on the elastic, the clasps used to adjust the length of them had fairly unforgiving teeth which constantly slipped, and chewed into the fabric with the constant adjustment, causing unsightly strings to appear all over it. I soon acquired some nice suspenders and began adding ties and a variety of long-sleeve colored shirts.

Next came a waistcoat, a nice grey pinstripe one that would go with just about any color pants/shirt/tie. I've since added two more, one brown/twill and one charcoal/herringbone.

Now that I was wearing waistcoats, I needed to accessorize, like a pocket chain (which my keys are on) and...


Since it's winter, I began investing in outer-wear as well as a couple of blazers. The first was a pea coat, to be my primary work coat during the winter months.

I also found a great, full length overcoat at Goodwill, as well as a trenchcoat. Over Christmas, I acquired a vintage full-size fedora from my mother in-law's stash of antiques in PA. Put all together with a blazer, I could've walked right out of a 40s noir flick.

I've also begun delving into the toiletries of this by-gone era. Several years ago I had toyed with the idea of getting a safety razor, mostly because I've always felt that disposable razors and/or cartridges were a bit of a scam, not to mention wasteful. I decided to get one, and complemented it with shaving soap, a boar's hair brush, old-school after shave and hair tonic. It's curious... after years of being the most laid-back, low-maintenance person on the planet... now I just don't feel right until I've had a chance to shave and get cleaned-up in the morning.

I'm largely done with the basics of creating this wardrobe... and basically did it all on about $200-$250. Most of these garments being dry-clean only, the toughest thing I'm finding is keeping them neat and clean since due to my profession, I'm only home once a month or so to take them to the cleaners. Ideally, I need to build a wardrobe that contains a dozen or so waistcoats, with half of them at home cleaned and waiting for my return then swap them out. They're expensive though, at a regular price of $60-$70 each. I've been lucky so far and gotten my current 3 on-sale and haven't paid more than $35 for any of them. I'm going to try and be patient and get more when I can find them on sale. In the meantime, I'm going to conentrate on some additional accessories. Another pocket chain, or a double Albert chain, and put a pocket watch in the other pocket. I'm also going to explore tie chains and stick pins. I'm debating whether or not I want to add bow ties, but that may be a bit too poindexter for the look i'm trying to cultivate.

It's been a lot of fun. I get comments almost daily, especially since I've never seen another truck driver dressed in this manner. But I'm also enjoying the ritual of putting myself together every day. I find that the attention to detail required of this appearnce bleeds over into my attention to everything else, which is a good thing. The real test of this will be when summer gets here and the temperatures start to go up. Currently I'm wearing an undershirt, a long-sleeve shirt buttoned at the neck with a tie, suspenders, and a waistcoat. That's a lot and at the moment I'm having a hard time imagining wearing all this when it's 90+ degrees outside. If it's too unbearble I may have to revert to modern shorts/T-shirt for a couple of months in the year, or figure out some other "look" for the summer months.
back dat ass up

i looked in her eyes and saw the reflection of my wedding band

It appears I have a metal allergy.

For years I've had this weird little group of blisters on the last two digits of my left hand and last fall, I began getting them along the edge of my index finger as well. They didn't hurt, or leak or anything... but they itched from time to time. It occurred to me that perhaps I was allergic to my wedding band. I did some research online about gold allergies and found that gold allergies were very, very rare and in most cases, it was an allergy to an alloy in lower grades of gold. My band is only 10 carat, which means it's filled with a lot of other crap. In a forum, I found one person who described a similar condition to mine; tiny itchy blisters. As an experiment, I stopped wearing my band because clearly, I must be allergic to marriage my ring. After a couple of months, the blisters on my pinky and ring finger cleared-up, however they persisted on the edge of my left index finger, near the knuckle on the hand. I was beginning to suspect that my cheap $10 watch might also be playing a roll in this, and when the band on it broke, I didn't bother fixing it. Sure enough, the remaining blister patch on my index finger cleared-up as well.

I guess on a future doctor visit I will have to inquire about having an allergy test done to see if I can single-out the culprit.

Occupy Wall Street and the coming of the future age

I've largely kept silent about Occupy Wall Street, as I typically don't like to blend things as serious as politics with something that is mostly a leisure activity for me. I first want to to say that in general I support the need for a revolutionary change in our views of economics, the state, and the American Dream. I think the Occupiers have a legitimate claim that Wall Street has had a hand in the global economic disaster because of corruption and greed, but I think it's naive to say it's the only reason.

First of all let me state that I think capitalism is by and large a good concept and would never advocate a system that is wholly state owned. However on a large scale, especially a global one, a strict laissez-fair system would never work either. The inherent checks and balances championed by the ilk of Ayn Rand don't work when a producer can exploit labor and resources in one place for the purpose of selling to a market somewhere else in the world. You know, like Apple and Nike have done in Southeast Asia. I accept that a mixed-economy is necessary, so let's at least use it to better the lives of our citizens and not have a growing majority of them struggling just to survive. In the wake of the protests, there's been a growing movement of the "53%" who are proud that they work a 60-70 hour work week and are self-made, hard-working people. And I'm proud of them, too. I just happen to believe that it doesn't have to be that way. Nor should it.

The primary reason I support a revolution in this country is that I simply think that neoliberalism is not sustainable as we enter the future age. And don't kid yourself that we're not on the brink of it. The job market will continue to shrink simply because traditional working/middle class jobs will continue to disappear. We've been seeing the early rumblings of it for almost 20 years. In modern society, there is almost no sector untouched by computerization, automation, and a growing culture of consumer self-service. The economic downturn has begun to accelerate it with companies forced to become creative, streamline, and automate - replacing costly, inefficient and inaccurate humans with automated systems. In 2010, there was an 87% increase in automation across the board over 2009.

And this is a good thing. It's the future dreamed-of in the The Jetsons. It's the good bits of Logan's Run. It's a society where humans can have lives of relative leisure and luxury while most of the tasks and services of the world are performed for us by machines. You can play video games all day long, paint, travel, spend time with your kids, garden - and you'll have all the time in the world to do it. But an economic system predicated on labor as a means for survival requires a job market to sustain it and is counter-intuitive to that future. As I see it, the producer->worker->consumer relationship is facing eminent demise and we have a choice whether to accept that and figure out a system which not only accepts that inevitability, but actively promotes it.

Take my job for instance. There's no reason that long distance, over the road trucking driving could not be completely automated in under 5 years. The basic technologies already exist: a vast limited-access highway system, global positioning, automated transmissions, on-board satellite/wireless communications, computerized oversight of machinery/freight condition and distribution. All that's missing is infrastructure: freeway sensors for precision guidance, limited-access fueling points, limited-access "switch points" to repower semi-trailers for local access with human drivers or specially outfitted drone trucks, and increased highway shoulders supplemented with strategic parking lots to allow for pullovers when weather or mechanical failure warrants.

But then what do we do with 3-4 million out of work truckers? Think about your own job. Could it be automated? My guess is that unless you work in a professional industry where the collective thought and progress of mankind is at stake (law, medicine, research, education, applied sciences), relies principally on hands-on human creativity (artists/artisans, architects, landscaping, design, beauticians/barbers), high-end/luxury services (personal assistant, spa/massage, etc.) or management (someone will always have to manage systems, whether machines, humans or a mixed system) the chances are that it can be automated if the infrastructure were there to make it so.

I don't know what the answer is. I have thoughts of my own, but it's something that would have to ultimately be decided by the citizenry. Maybe we should move to a negative income tax system supplemented by a public health care system that guarantees a working class/middle class lifestyle for every citizen. It would certainly be one easy way to cut out a lot of social and state bureaucracy like the current welfare system, social security, minimum wage, labor unions, medicare/caid, disability, etc. and raise the standard of living for everyone. Similarly, we could do away with personal income taxes all together and only tax commercial enterprise, distribute a fair portion to the citizenry, and let business compete in the marketplace to gather it back from consumers. French and German democratic mixed-economies have proved resilient and utilize welfare systems which benefit and strengthen the middle class, rather than our system where it is primarily used as a safety net for the poor and elderly. It might be worth examining.

So there you have it. Poke holes in it. Play devil's advocate. My guess is that a work-around can be found to any perceived problem. One of the great attributes of American society is that we CAN solve a problem when we're not mired in rigid ideology and absolutism. As a life long believer in largely unrestricted capitalism, coming to these conclusions hasn't been easy for me. But as it's been said, the times they are a'changin'. We should be proactive about it and step into this future age by ushering in a new era of the American Dream, one where everyone is ENTITLED and it's no longer a dirty word, free to pursue their goals whatever they may be. It's either that, or slowly become a lumbering remnant of the 20th century bithcin' about the good ol' days.
back dat ass up

top five kentucky basketball memories

I was watching the exhibtion game between the Dominican Republic National team and the team of Pros comprised of former University of Kentucky basketball stars tonight and it occured to me that two of the gentleman on the floor are responsible for my personal top 5 most memorable Kentucky games. I thought it'd be fun to share that list with you.

5. Jodie Meeks scores 54 against against Tennessee - January 13, 2009

Meeks broke Dan Issell's single-game scoring record AND Tony Delk's single-game three-point shot record in a single night. He also finished the night perfect from the free-throw line.

4. Tayshaun Prince hits 5 consecutive three pointers against UNC - December 8, 2001

It wasn't just 5 consecutive three pointers. It was on consecutive possessions, in under 3 minutes of uninterrupted play. And the 5th is a monster.

3. The Mardis Gras Miracle - February 16, 1994

At LSU and down 31 points (68-37), with less than 16 minutes left in the second half, Kentucky comes back to win 99-95.

2. The Comeback Cats vs. Duke - March 22, 1998

Tubby Smith's first year at UK got the team a reputation as a come-back squad, hence the nickname. It was the Regional Finals of the NCAA tournament and the Cats were down 17 points with under 10 minutes left to play. They outscored Duke 19-3 in the final 5 minutes of the second half and won by 2, exacting revenge for the #1 on this list. The Comeback Cats also won the Championship game against Utah, becoming the only team in tournament history to win after being down by double digits at halftime (41-31).

1. The Unforgettables vs. Duke - March 28, 1992

The magnitude of this game can't be overstated. Many people who have nothing to do with either program call it the greatest game in the history of basketball. It was the first year Kentucky was eligible for post-season play after its NCAA sanctions and probation. The team was comprised largely of senior, Kentucky-born role players who stuck with the program through this dark time. Duke was the defending National Champion. In the Regional finals of the tournament, Duke and Kentucky played some of the most inspiring basketball you'll ever witness, especially in the second half and over-time. The final Hail Mary lob to Christian Laettner and the unbelievable shot he made to win it for Duke was heartbreaking for Kentucky fans. Unbelievable, yes, but not lucky. Kentucky fans conveniently forget that Laettner played a perfect game that night: 100% from the free throw line and 100% field-goal completion. Everyone who watched this game knows where they were, who was with them, and what they were doing. I was at home with my first wife, jumping up and down on our coffee table. Of course, personally I think Laettner should've been ejected from the game for his technical foul, but that's another story. Duke would go on to repeat as National Champions.

If you follow college basketball at all, I'm sure you've seen the shot... so here's a 40 minute ESPN documentary if you have the time and wanna.


mmmmm, lookin' for a truck!

After spending the July 4th weekend with welfy and her family in western PA, I took a train to Harrisburg, PA. Shaffer Trucking has a terminal in nearby New Kingstown. Shaffer is a subsidiary company of Crete Carrier, with whom I've taken a job. Since Wednesday, I've been in orientation going through the mandatory processes of starting with a new company. In addition to the things which all of you are familiar with when starting a new job, like W-4/I-9, benefits paperwork, company policy, and workplace harassment training there are a host of other things for commercial drivers. We have to pass a Department of Transportation (D.O.T.). physical, a drug screen, a road test, and receive training on things like Hazardous Materials safety.

In a addition to the standard D.O.T. medical examination, we were placed through a test to determine our ability to perform the physical duties of our job. Most carriers simply ask if you can lift 75 pounds, carry 50 pounds over a certain distance, apply 100-150 pounds of force when pushing or pulling, lift 50 pounds above your head, etc. but don't actually test to see if you can. We went to a physical therapy office where we did these things for about 20 minutes. It was a work-out, that's for sure. Some of the bigger guys really struggled but made it through. The big men were also subjected to sleep studies. A body mass index of 33 or higher was an automatic test for sleep apnea. All three of the guys tested were diagnosed as having sleep apnea and prescribed sleeping masks.

On Friday we were given our truck assignments. There was only one company truck on the lot that was available, which meant to rest of us would have to "recover" a vehicle in some fashion. At first I was assigned to recover a truck in North Carolina. A driver there had had a medical emergency. He was cleared to travel but not to drive, and I was to go get him and his truck and drive it to a terminal in Marietta, GA where I would receive a permanent assignment. I was going to go down in a rental car with another driver who was also recovering a truck in NC, so we took a company car over to the airport in Harrisburg and got the rental. When I got back, another guy in our orientation class was uncomfortable with his recovery assignment. He was tasked with taking a former owner/operator truck to the terminal in Lincoln, NE. The truck in question was a long-nosed Freightliner Classic XL.

It's a huge truck that most of the big companies no longer utilize, and therefore most drivers have no experience driving them. This was the case with my former classmate, so I was asked if I minded switching assignments since he wasn't comfortable driving it all the way to Nebraska. I told them that was fine with me. I actually drove a Classic for the first two months of my driving career when I was in training. Later, I drove The Beast exclusively for a year. The story on this truck is that the owner/operator was fired from Crete, and looking through the old messages on the Qualcomm that indeed seems to have been the case. Crete needs to get the truck back to the home terminal in Lincoln, I presume to return it to the lot which owns the title, so there's no chance that I'll get to keep it.

All in all, everything I've heard over the past two days makes me think I'll like working for this company. The corporate culture is very no-nonsense and believes in taking care of their company drivers. They don't sugarcoat anything and give you straight answers, which I respect. The drivers who work for them are experienced, with exemplary driving records, and are paid a premium as a result. In fact, Shaffer is ranked #1 in the reefer industry for safety and Crete is ranked #3 in dry van based on CSA scores. Because of this, they don't play around. If you can accept what they offer as a company you can make a premium pay, if you don't like it you don't have to work here. I appreciate that sort of mentality. Coming from a management background myself, it always annoyed me the sense of entitlement so many employees have about their work environment and the degree to which employers would bend over backward to accomodate them because they pay them shit wages and therefore try to placate them at every turn. By all accounts, Crete works the crap out of their drivers if they're willing to run, which I most certainly am.

There are however two things which might become deal breakers for me, and I'm just going to see how it goes. One of them is an equipment issue, one is a policy issue, and both are related to lifestyle. The equipment issue concerns Auxiliary Power Units (APU). In a country increasingly concerned with carbon footprints and emissions, more and more states are passing anti-idling laws. Along with fuel prices skyrocketing, all of the major carriers are equipping their trucks with APUs to reduce and eliminate idling of the truck engine, which will consume about a galon of diesel per hour. Crete advertised on their website that most of their trucks have APUs, and they do, but not the type I was envisioning. Most of the carriers utilize a small 2 or 4 cylinder diesel engine on the frame of the truck which provides HVAC as well as AC electrical outlets upwards of 1500 watts. This is what I was thinking when I came to work for them, because I wanted to get all high tech inside my cab with a big screen TV, a gaming PC and/or Xbox. Crete has some of those, but they're phasing them out in favor of battery powered APUs. A standard road tractor is outfitted for 4 heavy-duty lead-acid batteries for cranking the engine and powering electrical systems when the engine is not running. Imagine a battery about twice the size of the one in your car, then imagine 4 of them. With battery powered APUs, there are now 8 batteries on the truck - 4 of which are dedicated to providing HVAC for about 8-10 hours during breaks, which then are recharged while you're working. This is fine to an extent, as long as you never are stuck on the road somewhere for more than 8-10 hours. It also doesn't allow for any additional parasitic consumption like coolers, charging phones, running a laptop - so in reality the usable time of these additional batteries is probably much less. Also, there's no way I'll be able to power things like a 32" TV screen or a gaming rig with a 650+ watt power supply.

The policy issue is their rider program. They only allow spouses and minor children/grandchildren. One of the things I loved about working at Werner back in the day was being able to take friends on the road with me. I won't be able to do that with this company. Additionally, I had plans to take my oldest son on the road with me for a couple of weeks at the end of this month before he started college. He just turned 19 last Monday, and that is the cut-off age for children. I'm going to try to get them to make an exception for me in this case, otherwise I'm going to have a very disappointed boy on my hands. If they won't make this exception for me, I might consider a switch to another company before next summer so I can give him this opportunity. I had also planned to take a friend's son, too, but as long as I stay with Crete, that won't be possible unless they change their policy.

This morning I got my first load assignment. I'm taking a loaded trailer out of the yard here and pulling it to Ft. Wayne, IN for a Monday delivery. The trailer is already here, but all the trip info says that early delivery is not an option. I plan to sit here until tomorrow and work-in a 34 hour reset before heading west, and wipe all these useless on-duty hours from orientation off my 70 and start the week off fresh.
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    mmmm hmmmm, keep on ridin'... ridin' on and on and on and on and on and on
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just a stranger on the bus

In addition to trying to get through the rest of my Best Picture list, I've been watching a lot of old television, too. Recently I finished the entire 8 seasons of Newhart. The problem with watching long-running shows in their entirety, especially sitcoms, is that somewhere around season 5 or 6 I start to get burned-out. This was definitely the case with Newhart. It wasn't that there was a drop in quality, it just gets tedious after watching 7-8 episodes per day. I realize television isn't meant to be viewed in this manner, rather sitcoms are intended to be a weekly burst of funny with characters you enjoy.

I've always been a big fan of Bob Newhart. His stammering delivery is very unique in terms of comedic timing. He became famous in the 1960s for his standup comedy which was also very unique: he presented sketches based on the premise of hearing one side of a conversation. He usually did this as a telephone converastion, like you were sitting in a room with him listening to him talk on the phone. Occasionally he would do them as if he was talking to an invisible person in an imaginary location. Whatever the setup, the result was always the same... many of the punch-lines occurred in the collective mind of the audience rather than spoken aloud. It was a gag he used on Newhart quite a bit as well when he would talk on the phone. I'm not sure if I've ever seen an episode of his 70s era show The Bob Newhart Show but intend to get to that one of these days, too. He had another sitcom in the 90s called Bob which I've never seen, but I don't think it even lasted a full season. He once quipped that if he ever made another TV show it was going to be called "B" (buh).

In case you're unfamiliar with Bob's phone bit, here's his classic Sir Walter Raleigh skit:

One of the fun things about watching old television is seeing actors in bit roles who have since become more famous for something else. For instance, in Miami Vice Terry O'Quinn (aka John Locke from Lost) appears as a sleazy lawyer and Helena Bonham Carter shows-up as one of Don Johnson's girlfriends. On Newhart there were a slew of them. Jason Alexander was in an episode, as was Bill Mahr. Frances Conroy, who played the chronically repressed mother on Six Feet Under, was on-screen for a total of maybe 20 seconds with a couple of lines in one show.

After doing a long show I usually go through a phase of short-lived shows. Next on my plate are 3, two-season shows: Eastbound and Down, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and Joan of Arcadia - which I'm in the middle of the second season. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's about a 16 year-old girl who talks to God. The writing is fair, the acting is great, and the story lines are compelling which overall makes for an enjoyable show, even if it's a bit cliche at times. But, it has a quality that has always annoyed me about most teen centered drama, both on television and in film - and it can basically be traced back to The Breakfast Club. The teens are presented as being confused and trying to discover themselves - basically fumbling their way through that awkward phase of life where you're still a kid but you're not really a kid. That's where the drama lies. At the same time though, they're all incredibly self-aware in other ways, and aren't timid about being confrontational. They're all really witty and insightful, too... and there's always one who wears a sheen of cynicism about the world like a 30 year old. I don't know about any of you, but I didn't know any teenagers like that. I'll grant you that teens are more savvy in a lot of ways than when I was a kid, but I have a hard time believing they're more together than most of the adults I know. Of course, teen comedies tend to go to the other extreme. Freaks and Geeks was probably one of the few teen TV shows that had a good balance.

Joan Of Arcadia was on the air less than 10 years ago and only for two seasons, so there's no plethora of people who have become famous in the interim. Though, Zachary Quinto (aka Sylar from Heroes) did show-up in one episode as God. There was one interesting combination of folks who played God in the show though. Curtis Armstrong played God in an episode in Season 1. He's been in LOTS of things, mostly bit roles on TV shows. He played the character "Booger" in the Revenge Of the Nerds movies. More recently he was in Ray as Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. Anyway, he used to have a recurring role on Moonlighting as Bert, a guy who worked at the Blue Moon Detective Agency and sometimes romantic interest of rhyming receptionist Agnes DiPesto, played by Allyce Beasley. Beasley played God in an episode of Season 2.