Sunday, March 30, 2008

Doing what has to be done

Yesterday I spotted this rig.

This rig is an accident waiting to happen. Besides having a trailer to heavy for the mini-van, the mini-van is front wheel drive, and this rig was being pulled by an old lady (looked to be 80) that could barely walk. She was trying to keep the safety chains from dragging when I first spotted her.

I didn't get to see plates on the mini-van, so I have no idea how far she had already traveled but she entered I-30 heading west. The hitch was near the ground just sitting still. It has to hit the ground when bouncing down the interstate.

We all "do what we have to do", but I hope the u-haul people at least informed her that this would be very unsafe.

Hopefully she makes it without incident.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reluctant Patriarch

I am the youngest of my family of 7 siblings. I had three brothers and three sisters (one died before I was born).

Today I sadly became the patriarch of my family as I lost my last remaining sibling yesterday. Vivian was 17 years old when I was born and had the same number of children as my mom (7 with one passing ).

Viv was a lot of help to mom and I after dad passed away and even though she lived 90 miles away, she came to see us on a regular basis and would often take us to her house for a week at a time. She would come pick us up and would pay for our bus trip home if she could not take us back.

Her children are just a little younger than I and we were more like brothers and sisters than uncle and nieces and nephew.

After my mom died and we didn't spend Christmas together, we drifted apart raising our own families but were always there for each other when needed .

This picture of her and family was taken after the funeral (in 1994) of her husband.

R.I.P., I love you sis.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Texas drivers

Maybe it's the wide open spaces of Texas, but from my observation Texans drive very fast. Even when they are in Arkansas (why would any out of state driver break the law).

They drive fast but they know how to merge in traffic. Most will speed up to get in front of my truck if there is room or slow to merge behind me. Arkansas drivers (for the most part) will wait until they are on the merge lane to look and decide what to do. I have few choices, I can move over (if I could I would have already done so), or slam on my brakes as I can't speed up in a hurry, or keep my speed and hope they don't dart out in front of me doing 50mph. Then they give me "that look" like it is my fault.

The safe way to merge is to look while you are on the "on ramp" and pick an opening in the traffic that suits you best. Either speed up or slow down to blend in.

I used to drive at speeds that would put a Texan to shame but for years I have found traveling at or slightly below the speed limit (I rarely drive 70mph in my personal vehicle and my big truck is governed to 67mph and the cruise control limit is 62mph) is my preferred style.

One of the best articles on driving slower is here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Smart Car

I have always had a fascination with small cars and I was aware of the Smart Car before I went to France last year and knew they were all over Europe and especially the large cities.

Mirco Cars appears in Europe after WWII but proved not to be practical enough for every day use and the small cars replaced them.

Everyone remembers the Volkswagen "Bug", but there were other very popular makes in the late 50's and early 60's. In California the most popular ones included Hillman, Vauxhall, Simca, Renault, Morris Minor, and Austin American. Used models could be bought for $25-$100.

Most wore out long before they should because Americans drove them 60mph or faster, when they were designed more for speeds of 45mph. They would run fast but they just would not hold up.

Along come the "Bug" and it really didn't have enough power to tear itself apart. The valve train was designed so it could not be over rev'd and therefor became the standard for small cars.

The Smart Car is almost a Micro car. While I am sure you have seen news on the car, I thought I would show to one in traffic on the Champs Elysees
in Paris that I took last spring.

Click on the picture to get a true perspective on its size. Almost all the Smart Cars in Paris (as most cars) were diesel.

I could see myself driving one,

but I seriously lust for one of these little diesel panel trucks.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring fever

My favorite flower is the daffodil. When I see them growing in the wild, they mark "springtime" for me.

Every spring I develop a case of wanderlust. Not just a passing fancy but a severe case that really hits hard and I have trouble not quitting my job and pulling up stakes and traveling. I'm not talking about a trip but a whole new address.

This year the urge is stronger because I know I could actually do it. Maybe that is also the reason that makes it more bearable. The unattainable always has more attraction.

Well, it will pass in a couple of weeks as it does every year. I have taken hitchhiking trips, bus trips, car trips, camping trips, motorcycle trips, moved to the coast or back, and even a trip to France to help with the wanderlust. I think traveling is in my DNA., my dad had it and my brothers suffered from it.

I long for the days of traveling Route 66 when it was "The Mother Road". Boy do I remember the sites, sounds and smells of that grand old highway. My family traveled it so often my dad said we could stop and borrow coffee because they knew we would be back through within a few months. A 1941 Reo flatbed truck started our trips to California.

Guess I will drag out my copy of "The Grapes of Wrath" and do a little reading.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Sunday Drive

The Sunday Drive is a term often given for any drive that is just for pleasure. It is one of life's simple pleasures. In the spring and fall, there is nothing that can compare to driving around slowly with the windows down and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells (also one of the main reasons for owning a motorcycle) of the countryside.

Back in the day (before I had a/c in my cars), finding a tree shaded road just before sunset was sheer joy.

With gas prices almost assured of reaching $4 a gallon and diesel almost there, my "Sunday Drives" no longer seem a viable option. We try to drive as little as possible to keep our fuel costs down. We still take an occasional short drive but always incorporate it with a trip to the store.

If I fuel both my trucks the price tag now exceeds $150. While I live about 13 miles from work, we have several drivers that live over 50 miles and one young man with small children that drives over 70 miles, ouch!

If there is one thing that can put us in a depression (we are already in a recession), it is fuel prices. The price of fuel drives up the price of every thing we buy. Diesel prices really compound this as trucks deliver all our goods.

So the next time someone driving too slow (like driving the speed limit) for you, just remember they might be doing so to save a little gas and you might want to consider doing the same.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Snow = money

When we receive snow (or it is even mentioned) in Arkansas, people go crazy. They buy all the "milk and bread" in the stores (it is a known fact that in Arkansas people can't survive 2 days without milk and bread).

Most of the state received snow this week with some getting up to 18 inches but here in Little Rock we received about 2 to 4 inches.

My brother-in-law (about an hour away) sent pictures of their 10 inches of snow. This was taken on their patio by the pool.

Snow means extra work in the milk business. From just extra milk on my loads, to extra drops from my trailer, to extra loads.

Extra milk on the trailer doesn't pay extra, extra drops pay a small amount, and extra loads play very well. This week I had extra drops, extra small runs and working on my off days.

Thank you "Mr. Snow Man"

The B-I-L (the one that looks like crap)
The Snow Man (the cute one)
The niece ( "a real honey" [must take after her mother] and 18 today)

Friday, March 07, 2008


From the seat of my truck I have a nice view inside the vehicles that pass. Though the years I have watched the "little movies" (only recorded in my mind) that appear in my drivers door window.

These little clips can last a few seconds to just a quick blink, depending on how fast the vehicle is passed by. City stop and go traffic can produce longer versions of these little movies. Just like the movies at the theater, mine can be rated as G, PG13, R, X, and even XXX.

After dark when I see a vehicle with the interior light on, I usually see someone eating, reading, or selecting a compact disc.

All this looking is just not voyeurism but also a safety issue, as a car passes the air disturbance caused by my large truck can suck the passing car toward my truck ( that's my story and I am sticking to it).

Wednesday night as I was driving from from Texarkana, I noticed a car approaching and as it reached my side window, the interior light came on. The car contained two college aged girls and the the passenger put on a little show for me, I was obligated to look (can you imagine the years of therapy she would have to endure if she couldn't get an old trucker to look) and after a few seconds they both waved and off they went after turning off their interior light.

So, how did I rate the show? Differently a "D" and quite possibly "DD's", hehe.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

March Book Review

"Pretty Boy Floyd", by Larry McMurty (of "Lonesome Dove" fame) and Diana Ossana.

The true facts of any famous person will always be disputed and the life and times of Charley "Pretty Boy" Floyd has many that can not to proven and this novel is written with the known facts, innuendos, and a certain amount of artistic license.

One fact is certain, times were hard in depression era Oklahoma. The novel conjours up the "Joad" family in "Grapes of Wrath". Charley helps enough poor people with food and tore up land mortgages at banks that his was often refereed as the "Robin Hood Bandit".

Pretty Boy Floyd had a wife and a son, a steady girl friend, plus an older woman (lover and mentor in his criminal live), and George Birdwell (his partner in crime).

Charley and George robbed so many banks in Oklahoma that the bank insurance rated doubled in a year.

This a not a book for the prudish but I found it a very intriguing read. After reading the book, I checked out some of the other facts and legends of Floyd online as I knew very little about him before I read the book.

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