Saturday, July 29, 2006

I'll get right on that!

We have had our motorhome for seven years and changed several things to make it more "user friendly" for us.

One of the first things we noticed was the kitchen cabinet under the sink did not have a silverware drawer. When you opened the cabinet door there were three plastic ( almost like dish pans ) drawers on plastic runners that pulled out and on top of those was a flat shelf for a silverware tray. The silverware tray spot was very dark and we just sort of felt our way for anything that was in the back. It had no back so things would get shoved off.

I said. " That will be one of the first things I change". Well true to my word "I got right on it", meaning I finally fixed it this week. Hey, at least I got "round 2 it".
I did not stain it because it is hidden when the door is closed plus I didn't want to turn it into another dark hole. Seems as I get older I can not get enough light on anything.

The pictures make it look unlevel but it is not. It has full extention slides rated at 100 pounds. I built it out of 1/2" plywood, with 1/4" poplar dividers and the front out of a scrap piece of 3/4" white pine. We are enjoying this little update. It's nothing special but sometimes the little things make the biggest improvements.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

11 years and counting

I have been with Coleman Dairy 11 years this week. My friend Robin thought it might be a good job for me.

Robin and I used to drive trucks hauling wood chips and sawdust. A female friend from his church got him a job here and he did the same for me. I was 47 years old at the time and he was just a "puppy".

This job was what I had been looking for but could not find in the small town where I was living. It had above average pay, health insurance, and a 401k. Things that I needed even if it meant driving 67 miles one-way to Little Rock.

Robin had been working at the dairy about 6 weeks when I was hired and he was the one that trained me as I would be taking over the run he had been on since being hired. One night on our run I said, "Just give me 15 years on this job and I can retire". He said he would like 25 years. As it turned out he stayed a couple of years bought his own truck and quit.

A couple months after I was hired my supervisor hired his wife's first cousin. Thing were going as planned for about three or four years. Then came the news, the dairy lost one of our major customers and layoffs were being handed out. I didn't think they would reach me as there were several with less seniority. Finely the supervisor called the 1st cousin and myself into his office and told us we were being "let go". He then told me if I wanted to transfer into the vault, there was an opening and if he needed a driver he could just transfer me back.

I wanted to pull a Johnny Paycheck but I was just 8 weeks from my anniversary date and that meant 2 weeks vacation pay (at that time it was $600 a week), plus I still felt like this was the job I needed to stick with.

The transfer to the vault meant a rather large pay cut but I accepted it. I would move to the vault in 2 weeks after the last of the Wal-Mart runs were over.

Three days before the transfer, my supervisor calls me in the office and tells me that he has enough runs that he needs to keep the 1st cousin on part time. Imagine that!!

He gave him 3 good runs a week and even though he would be making less money than before, he was still making more money than I even though I was working some overtime. On paper the supervisor could justify it but I about had a stroke.

The 1st cousin has cows and it is "haying season" and he only wanted to work 3 days a week. Amazing how that worked out. After about 3 months and his farm didn't require his time, he found another job. Funny after his departure those extra runs that he was needed for (and we still had) was covered by the regular drivers. Imagine that!

The supervisor in the vault and I hit it off and he did everything he could for me as he knew I had been shafted. After 3 weeks he put me spotting trailers on the yard. I was still an unhappy camper but I persevered.

After about 2 years I settled in and was making the most of it. My wife transferred to the Bryant Wal-Mart store and we moved the motorhome to Little Rock and started living full-time in it just ouside the dairy's main gate. I had 125 steps to the time clock.

It worked out well for me as we had started serving Wal-Mart again and I was putting in some long hours.

When my former supervisor asked if I wanted to come back I just told him I HAD a job. With the overtime I was now making as much as the truck drivers.

Three years ago we built a new plant and when we moved I transferred back to being a truck driver. My former supervisor has now retired. The former supervisor and I seemed to get along but it was like we were "oil and water".

The Coleman brothers are really great to work for and with. They really care for their employees and even though they don't own the plant anymore, they still work here and do what ever is right for their people.

So after 11 years what do I think of my decision to stay.

The lemonade tastes mighty sweet. I think I am better off today than I would have been if I had quit.

As I get closer to retirement and this latest buyout is still shaking out, I wonder if I can say the same thing in 3 or 4 years or if I will finally say "enough is enough".

Saturday, July 22, 2006

It made me smile

Friday didn't start of very well. The temp was about 100f when I left Little Rock headed to Hooks, Tx. . About 2 hours into my run I blow a tire on my back "pup" trailer down at Hope, Ar. .

Thankfully I had my cell phone or it would have cost me a lot more than the 1 1/2 hours that I lost.
Looney Tire Service does our tires but when we are that far away from Little Rock then Looney calls someone closer to us to handle the job.
GCR Tire Company in Texarkana was called and a nice guy named "Charlie" drove the 30+ miles with a new (recap) trailer tire. Not only did he smash his finger, he smashed it with the part of the carcass that had steel showing. Smashed finger and stuck with the steel cable. It hurts just thinking about it. He was a trooper and finished the job and I was on my way. All things consider, an hour and a half wasn't too bad.

It was dark on my way home and even though I have a "birds eyeview" into passing cars, there is not much to see unless their interior light is on.

A mini-van passed and since it was dark inside the DVD player really was bright.

There playing on the screen was Sylvester and Tweety Bird. If you see something like that then you have to smile. It made my hard day seem a lost less stressful. I don't understand the "crap" they call cartoons today. I guess I am just too "old school".
Looney Tire Service and Looney Tunes Cartoon all in the same day. Weird don't you think?

For those that might be interested, I updated my Sam's Fiero blog. It's a reverse blog so any updates are always on the bottom.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

T-bucket day

I often see several motorcycles or streetrods traveling together as a group. Wednesday in about an hour driving time I saw 3 T-buckets.

For those who don't know. A T-bucket is a hotrod loosely based on a Model T Ford roadster.

All 3 T-buckets were on trailers. They were not traveling together as they were over 25 miles apart. I did not see any other streetrods on the road Wednesday.

I can only guess there was some type T-bucket meet somewhere. I have attended several streetrod meets over the years but never have I seen an all T-bucket meet before.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cell phone

Monday when I left for work I didn't remember to take my cell phone. My car charger had quit and I had it on the home charger.

For the first 18 years of my life we never had a home phone. We used the neighbors phone on the rare occasion we had to place a call.

On my wanderings as a teenager I don't remember if I even had a "contact number" with me as I traveled and I was too young for an ID. Not sure how anyone would have figured out who I was if I could not tell them. I'm sure mom made me take something. I just do not remember.

I survived 50 plus years without a cell phone. So why did I feel "naked" without it on Monday.

The usual things popped in my head. What if I need to contact someone from work about my load or what if I have truck trouble. Or maybe I get hurt at work again and no one will be around to help. Luckily everything went without a hitch.

I want to think I am an independent person but I was unnerved by not having my cell phone. I'm not sure I like that.

On a different note.
Work is progressing on the Fiero. For those interested watch for "update" on the "Sam's Fiero" link.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Busy week

I have been so busy this week I have not had a chance to play with my "little toy",hey, watch it, watch it, you know I was talking about my blue car.

We have a driver on vacation and I am running extra runs with week. By tomorrow night I will have about 70 hours in 6 days. The extra work is not as bad as having someone in the truck with me for 3 days straight. After riding all the time by myself it is a little disconcerting to have a rider.

If you have ever left your watch at home you realize how many times you look at it. That's the way with the mirror on the passengers side. I glance at it a thousand times a day and is strange with I see a person over there. Every time he moved my perifial vision would do a number on me.

The extra money will be nice because my wife says I have to earn enough to put back what I spend on the #*%+#&* thing I call a car in the driveway. She didn't say that in as many words, but we all know wifes "scream" the loudest when they don't say a word.

I also received a new book from paperbackswap that is needing read. Well that is about all the time I have for tonight.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

BIG HEAD, I'm a star!

Our friends we went to see in Ws. took us to Hayward, Ws. to see this outlandish place. Words can not describe the grounds of the museum.

This fiberglass fish is 143 feet long and 45 feet high.

You can walk up the stairs inside and stand in its mouth and have a great view.

While I was standing in the mouth I was interviewed Jim Seida of Here is the link to the interview then click on "roadside attractions", when the map comes up, you click on the arrow that is in the upper right side. That will take you to the interview. I hope you can get it to play. My son can hear it fine but for some reason it will not play for us.

I have used "the bobbers" and the "fawns" but will show the inside of the museum when I have more time.
I promise not to stick my nose too high in the air, but this might cause it to tilt just a little.

"Don't leave home without it"

That was a very popular catch phrase for a credit card. It started me to thinking and you know how dangerous that can be.

What we "don't leave home without" or more simply, what we always have with us really defines who we are.

I have been carrying something in my front pocket for over 35 years. Seven days a week in my front pocket no matter what I am wearing. If it has a front pocket then I am carrying it, no exceptions. It is just part of who I am.

When I first started working on cars, they all have points and condensers. For you youngsters, that was how the spark plugs received their spark. There never seems to be a uniform size for the nut on the point set. Not just a difference in car makes but also in difference brands of the points. They made a kit that had 5 various size small wrenches to fit the nuts. Way to much trouble to carry around all day.

I wanted something I could have in my pocket without having to go to my tool box all the time.

I bought a 4 inch CRESCENT wrench. I capitalized CRESCENT because that is the brand name and not the
nomenclature of it. Ask some to borrow an "adjustable wrench" and they might not know what you are talking about but ask for a "crescent wrench" and everyone knows. The CRESCENT is the standard all others are judged by.
I lost the first wrench and my son (then very young) gave me another as a present. My original wrench appeared again and I can't honestly say which of the 2 that I now carry. Either way this tool has been in my pocket for 25 (the present) or 35 (my original) years.

These photos show the size of this little tool. It's not a "toy tool" that some carry but a serious mechanics tool.

I can't say that in 35 years this CRESCENT has saved my life but it has saved me from walking numerous times. I seldom go a week without using it for something.
I can use it on a nut up 1/2 inch, as a small hammer ( many a jar lid have been picked into submission), and as a tool for forming shapes in plyable materials. I have used it to shape coat hangers to unlock doors more times than I can count.
A sharp angle can be formed in something by putting it in the "jaws" and bending. Passing it thru the round hole in the other end and bends can be made in the middle.
This tool is just who I am.
When they but me 6 feet under, I hope this little CRESCENT goes with me. If I decide I don't like it down there then I know "me and my CRESCENT" can get out. I know that will not be the case. I know my son with have to keep it because " this is my dad".

Monday, July 10, 2006

Better lucky than good

"Numbers" fasincate me but I guess you have figured that out by now. Here is one of the reasons why.

If you are in the stock market in any form or fashion then you know the internet has some wonderful tools to keep track of your investments.
I use to keep track of prices and it also has up to date news on the stocks you have in your portfolios. You can set up as many portfolios as you want and name them anything. They are all "make believe" but they can mirror your real investments if you like.

You can track stocks or mutual funds that are publicly traded. If you have a 401k at work then some or all of your investment choices can be tracked.
I track my 401k, Judy's IRA and our personal brokerage account.

About 2 months ago I bought some Cascade Natural Gas Corp (CGC) stock. It pays about 4.5% dividend. I figured if I can make about 6% profit after commissions in a short period of time I would sell it and not wait to collect 4.5% over a year.

About 2 weeks ago I entered a "limit order to sell" of $21.75 ( limit order means I will not take less than said amount). It is a "good till cancel" order, meaning I can cancel at any time or leave it in place for 30 days. Heck, you already know all this.
Friday it closed at $21.46 and I'm thinking it might get sold today.

Over the weekend it was announced the company was being sold. When the market opened this morning CGC opened for $25.25 and "bang" that is the price I received. How often do you get 15% above your asking price for anything. Sometimes it just pays to be lucky.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Car update

Part 1
The e-bay add reads:

This is a 1985 Pontiac Fiero SE. It has a 2.8 liter V-6 with a 4 speed transmission. It is a rust free southern car. The Fiero runs and drives good. Car has new 16 inch tires. New holley carb. It has a new Acell distributor plugs and wires. The body is straight with no major dings or dents. The interior is in great shape for its age. Odometer shows 85000 miles but could be 185000 I am not sure. Things that need attention are as follows. Paint is dull could use buffing or repainted. Parking brake cable is broke. AC is not working all hooked up just not working. Engine has minor leaks due to age. Clutch safety switch only works part of the time. This would make a great first car, or a good project car. Very light and Quick. Ask any questions before bidding as I may have missed a detail important to you. Happy Bidding.

Runs good, drives good, and new tires. Since I want a project and it is close enough to drive home, I bid on it and win.
We agree I can pick it up on the 4th and it just happens to be one of our cooler days ( no a/c, remember ).

I round the corner and think, " I have seen this car on TV". You know the commercial where they pull the most oxidized and dull car they can find in the junk yard and proceed to demonstrate their Super Duper best ever car polish on a spot and the spot looks better than new. This car has as much shine as concrete.

Upon closer inspection I was disappointed to discover this was not the TV car because it did not have any shiney spots.

Everything was as stated in the add. Just didn't expect it to be quite this dull. I think I can bring the paint back enough to make a daily driver. The inside is very nice for its age. This is after all just something to keep me busy.
Did I ever tell you "that sleep is way over rated".
So with the drivers side window already down, I hit the switch on the console and lower the passenger side window and off we go.
It starts to rain on the way home and I raise the passenger window but leave mine down.

I can't believe how well it runs, drives and rides. We make it home without any problems and the rain has stopped for now.
BTW, it has a remote starter switch to start it because the key does not always crank it.
For not much more than the price of the new parts , it seems like an OK deal. Anything that run is worth what I paid and the fact that it is cute is just a bonus. I can't wait to start tinkering on it.

Part 2= Just too funny

For this part you have to know a little something about me.

I'm a "car guy", been a car guy all my life. For over 25 year I lived and breathed automobiles. Even though I have not made a living turning wrenches for nearly 20 years. I have in the past worked for a Ford dealership, an independent garage, and owned a service station and shop. So I know my way around a tool box.

Now the story.

Upon arriving home I hit the button for the drivers window and nothing happens. The other one works fine. So I do what any red-blooded male would do. I hit the button even harder ( that never works, so why do we do it), nothing.

Has to be the switch. So I take apart the console and find there is not even a connector plug on the button. I take the plug off the other button and attach the wires ( after I expose the ends) to it and still nothing.

Thinking the very worst of the man I bought the car from I proceed to look at the ad on e-bay again. Sure enough the window in the add is rolled up.

I call to ask how this could be and received his voice mail. Being a kind and gentle person ( a little sarcasm here) I just said we made it home alright and thanked him again.
I really need to get the window up as rain is moving our way. I try pulling on the window thanking it might be off its track. Nada.

The only way to raise it is to take off the door panel and do it manually. GM handles are held on with a C clip. Very easy to remove with a little tool that just happens to be with most of my tools in a storage building 60 miles south. Hey, before I had that tool I have been known to use a screw driver to do the job but you run the risk of damaging the door panel.

Still it has to be done. The rain is starting slowly but surely. I try taking the retaining screws off the door panel hoping to gain enough room without having to take off the handle. Then I notice that the panel has not been off from the top. Still wondering how this guy could have pulled off getting the window open. So the only access will have to be made from the bottom of the panel and that means the handle "will" have to come off. I try turning it hoping to get a better position to remove the C-clip.

Damn, the window moved. Yes the drivers side door

has a manual crank. I have never felt so stupid in my life. When I told Judy she said the expression on my face was priceless. Nearly a week later and she is still laughing about it.


Yesterday as I was leaving town I spotted a man on the frontage road walking beside a grocery shopping cart. He was walking beside it because the cart had a very large plastic bag ( large as in sofa or mattress type) filled with aluminum cans. The bag was sticking off of the cart over the head of the man. The only way it was staying in the cart at all was the fact the man was keeping it from falling out.

The funny part was he was just walking beside and not actually pushing the cart even though he was heading up a hill. The had 3 large mongrel dogs leashed to the cart doing the pulling. Doesn't sound nearly as funny as seeing it.

p.s. Did I ever tell you I think long legs, short skirts and convertible Miatas are a great combo? Thanks to the honey in the red one. Nice

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Baby it seems long tonight

When I refer to my "run" I am talking about the trip I make in the milk truck I drive. This is just standard trucking lingo.

Some say I only work about half the time and they could be right. Lets see; 24 hours in a day divided by 1/2= 12 hours. That is about right but most of the time it works out closer to 14 hours. That's the legal limit for a driver to work in a 24 hour period. I say "24 hour period" because if I said "day" most people would think "midnight to midnight" or the standard day.

Our (D.O.T. drivers) 24 hour day is just that. 24 continuous hours even if takes in part of two different days. If I start at 10am Tuesday then my 24 hour day last until 10 am Wednesday. Really a pretty simple concept once you get used to it.

For the last couple of years I have been working a daytime run. Leaving about 6 am pulling a single 48ft. trailer.
Just your usual tractor/trailer combination. Tractor is what a truck that pulls a trailer is called. When you pull the same type trailer you get accustomed to the overall length of your rig.

On my new run I work the night shift. I leave about noon and finish in the night. But the big difference is I am pulling two 28 ft. trailers. They are also known a "pup trailers".

The two 28 ft. trailers and the dolly that connects them have a combined length of over 60 ft. That is a 25 % increase in trailer length.

When you look in the mirrors you have and entirely different look. They can sure seem long after not pulling them in awhile.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

New Toy

I just purchased this little Fiero on E-bay. I will go to Hot Springs on Tuesday to pick it up.

I will post more pictures and give my evaluations of it when I get it home. It is a V-6 with a 4-speed.

I think I just mentioned "being young and reckless, again". Maybe I am just "old and stupid".

I have never even sat in a Fiero but it sounds like a solid little car that might be fun to play with.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

June, 2006 book

On the first of each month I will post a book that I have enjoyed reading. Some you will have heard of and others you will not.

The first is Into the Wild, by Jon Krahauer. A true story about a young man from a well-to-do family that hitchhiked to Alaska in April 1992 and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.

You will not be able to put this book down. You know the out come but the writer does an excellent job of detailing the events that led to this tragedy. Some things still go unanswered. Hope you will check it out. Pardon the pun.

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