Author: Going. Walkabout

Albuquerque

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Time Runs Out     October 17, 2016   (Reprinted from WordPress – Sept 2,  2019)

You may recall the explanation of the Federal regulations on truck driving that I explained partially in The Unforgiving Clock.  There is yet another onerous burden placed on the driver’s time called the 70 Hour or Eight Day Clock.  That says that I cannot accumulate more than 70 hours of “on duty” time in any eight day period.  That includes not only driving, but also the vehicle inspections, time at shipper or receiver and fueling times.  All of those are watched over by a department back in Purgatory (NTSR) called “Compliance”.  That  organization is exactly as forgiving as its name implies.;-).

If drive times are moderate and on-duty-not-driving is limited, one can expect to spread 70 hours over days one through eight and then gain the hours of the ninth day back.  That would let you continue to earn a pittance for all your time away from home.  If, however, there are some long distance assignments that leave not much spare time,  the day comes that your Eight Day Clock is down to five hours or so and you still have two hour’s worth of driving (and mucking about at the receiver) for the day and exactly zero hours to be regained tomorrow.  Restoring the “fresh 70 hours” is a matter of abstaining from driving for 34 hours.  The result of which is a forced “weekend” of poverty in a place you don’t want to be, when you would rather be earning a living,.  Thanks a bundle, Federal Department of Transportation!

And that is why this post is originating in Albuquerque.

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Above:  The Flying J Truck Stop parking at Albuquerque – whose lights are seen in the distance.

I am once again “Marooned” as in Thirty Four Hours in Ripon  or again in Mostly Wisconsin.  I know from those experiences and others that it is advisable to find some meaningful activity, thus to avoid being dragged down into the swirling maelstrom of desperate depression.  Thus, this narrative becomes Queequeg’s Coffin to my Ishmael.  If that metaphor escapes you, I am afraid you will have to read “Moby Dick” by Hermann Melville.  You will learn more about whales than you ever wanted to know.  The novel will also explain to you the origin of the name of a well-known chain of over-priced coffee houses.

I was obligated to read this in college.  It was a burden at the time, as are most college assignments, but I re-read that same book I had bought for the course years later and actually found it fascinating and interesting.  That was the exact same paperback edition that can be seen (on a shelf as Chekov discovers the “Botany Bay” belt buckle) in Star Trek II – the Wrath of Khan, which was heavily laced with Moby Dick references. The plot involved more than one “Marooning” as well, making it doubly appropriate.  Ricardo Montalban played what I consider to be his greatest role ever.

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Above:  Moby Dick Edition in a library of literary references in Star Trek  II

If you don’t have time to read a bulky classic of literature, you can “cheat” and see the 1956 movie of the same name.  It starred Gregory Peck, who thought himself too young for the “old man” role of Captain Ahab and Richard Basehart who (older than Peck) was too old for the role of “young man” Ishmael.  There was also a well-played supporting role by Orson Wells as Father Maple.  If you view the trailer, Queequeg is the shirtless gent with the elaborate body and facial tattoos.  While I was researching how exactly to spell “Queequeg”, I discovered a restaurant by that name.  While naming establishments after characters in Moby Dick has proven wildly successful in at least one case, I feel I must point out that Queequeg was a cannibal – albeit a fictional one.

Breaking the Seal

When delivering a cargo, it is typical that the Receiver tells the Driver to break the seal, open the trailer doors and back into a warehouse cargo door.  Usually the seals are plastic bands that can be broken with bare hands.  Coca-Cola, however, has seen fit to make their seals with stainless steel cables.  Not with a crow bar and hacksaw could I manage to sever the cable and trucks with impatient drivers were accumulating behind me while I struggled with it.  The yard tractor -atypically – at least twice passed me as I struggled, without stopping. One driver loaned me a pair of wire cutters that made short work of it all.  Her motives were entirely selfless since I was not blocking her rig. I returned the cutters with thanks and resolved to buy a pair before the next load.

The truck stop sells a line of tools and I found a pair of tin snips – the only candidate that might do the job.  I tried them out on the remains of the Coke seal.  You see the results.  Not to worry, I was able to gnaw away at the cable with the pretend-tool until it finally surrendered – in a minute or two. The second photo shows what I knew that I would find on the label.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above:  It is a shame that the Company has to pay for such substandard tools.

Watch Out for That Next Wave

I reckon all of you receive unsolicited ads and promotions.  I got one from LinkedIn that makes me a bit paranoid.  A jackass who wants to replace truck drivers with robots.

Someone at LinkedIn figures that a 61 year-old man who took up truck driving when he was forced out of a professional position to be replaced by thirty-somethings would be interested in this neophyte who wants to drive him out of that occupation as well?

Let me think…NoThankYouVeryMuch!

The Answer is 42

My life has become my job.

Like most sweeping, unqualified statements, that one is full of unexplained circumstances and unexamined definitions of the very words that make up the sentence.

I reckon I had better start with the thoughts in my head when I first typed the words.

I spend all of my physical presence in or around this vehicle.  I sleep in it, eat meals in it and I am mostly never more than a few hours away from it.

When you think about it, that – in itself – is not much more than saying that it is my home.  I don’t own it, but most people do not own their own homes – at least not outright.  This particular home is unusual  in that it moves around the country, which is why its owners let me live in it.  The “rent” I pay is by guiding it around and hauling big trailers (also theirs) that carry stuff to different places for profit.  There is enough value in that pastime that they also pay me a commission based on how far I make this home travel.

My family live in other homes which circumstances allow that I visit occasionally.  Most recently I visited my younger son in Dallas at his home on the University Campus there.   It is unfortunate that there are few opportunities to visit Houston where my wife and older son live in the place I previously could claim was my home.  We own that one!  I will make it home – that particular home – around Thanksgiving for five days.

So, you see that whatever interaction I have now with my family is just something I work into the small gaps in my job.  I can speak to them most any time.  Using Skype or other such facility, we could actually see each other.  I have not done that yet and I am not sure why.

I have noticed that the trip from shipper to receiver is the most pleasant and satisfying part of my life as it has become.  The beginning and end of the trip are fraught with confusion and misspent energy.  The third part is these interludes wherein I am neither loading, unloading nor traveling and that segment is the hardest to endure.  It is made less onerous when I write, so you may expect more of that activity.

I have discovered that I keep writing because it hurts when I don’t.

Deep Thought (see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

A destination is just an excuse for a journey.  It is the journey that gives meaning to existence.  If you doubt me, then:

Will you accept the metaphor that life is a journey?

If so, then what is the destination?

No matter what your answer to that last question, are you in a hurry to get there?

Over The Road,

Steve

 

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Minnesota, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada

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October 13, 2016      “Reprinted” August  31, 2019 from WordPress

Last Chapter, there was a load assignment waiting and it was a good one.  I pick up a load of meat in Sioux Falls South Dakota and deliver it to Stockton, California.  Wyoming, Utah and Nevada are in between.

I am still starting my driving day just after midnight and it is working well.  The roads are clear and the truck stops uncrowded when I arrive.  The deadhead from Roberts Wisconsin goes smoothly.  I made a 30 minute break in a rest area near Blue Earth Minnesota. At 4 AM it was eerily silent and empty.  I have been puzzled about the origin of the name Blue Earth since I encountered it in 1973 while traveling to Minnesota to meet the family of my step mother.  I cannot yet tell you where it comes from, since I cannot manage an internet connection from this dusty little town in Northern Nevada where I am writing.

(From Ripon, California) Blue Earth gets its name from the Blue Earth River that surrounds the town. The river was given the Native American name “Mahkota” (meaning Blue Earth) for the blue-black clay found in the river banks.

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Above: Blue Earth Rest Stop

 

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Above: Blue Earth Parking

 

The stars are particularly bright and the Milky way is plainly visible when I can put the truck between me and the flood lights.  The Astronomer in me is not yet lost, but he does not get much time on the field

 

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Above:  Orion is a constant of the winter sky.  Go see it if you get a chance.  The red star is Betelgeuse.  The three stars down by the “x” are called Orion’s Sword”.  There is a technique called “averted vision” which I will teach you now.  Look at those three stars in Orion’s Sword.  They will look like ordinary dim stars.  Now look away just a little bit – about where the “x” is.  Notice that the middle star will go “fuzzy” on you.  That is the Orion Nebula.  Averted vision works because the light detecting cells in your peripheral vision are more sensitive than in the direct line of view.  Weird, but true.

 

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Above:  The Orion Nebula through a telescope

 

Blind Snapshots

I tried to grab photos by blindly clicking the camera at these majestic sights without taking my eyes off the road.  This is a very inefficient process that produces a lot of reject pictures that are either blurry, full of dashboard reflections or just don’t live up to the scenery.  For each one you see here, there are ten or more that don’t make the cut.

 South Dakota

This state starts off as rolling hills of dry grassland and ends that way.  Even after my vigorous culling, there is a beauty to which this picture still does not do justice.

 

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South Dakota

 

 

 

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Above:  Wyoming starts off in the East looking a lot like South Dakota.  But it begins to change as we go West.

 

 

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Above: Wyoming with Rocks, Trees and Major Hills

 

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Above: Wyoming again.  South Dakota this ain’t.  This geological feature did not last long.

Utah

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Above:  Entering Utah.  Note the boarded fence, far right.  I saw a lot of these. They can’t be to keep livestock in, because there are big gaps in all of them.

 

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Above:  This section of Interstate 80 passes a corner of the Great Salt Lake.  The weather was “overcast”. The view might be more “spectacular” on a sunny day.
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Above:  West of the Lake is a great salt flat.

 

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Above:  I 80 enters a road tunnel in Nevada.  The numbers at the top of the windshield are truck stop and rest area exit numbers.  Don’t worry, it’s  dry erase!

 

There must be a better way to capture images.  I am looking into a time-lapse dash camera.  Recommendations?

Hasta Luego,

Steve

Mostly Wisconsin

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“Reprint” from WordPress site

Ohio “Service Area”    Interstate 80 10/06/2016

From Pennsylvania, the route is a day and a half down Interstate 80.  Since I had only six hours remaining on my 8 day clock, I don’t get my 11 for the first day and then I spent two hours of that drive time dragging a trailer back and forth to the wash shop.  I have yet to figure out why Ohio is permitted to put toll booths on an interstate.  But because it is “limited access”  they have built these “Service Plazas” every 30 miles or so along I80.  There are no other truck stops unless you toll out and go down an intersecting highway.

The “Plazas” are nice though,  with rest rooms and food courts.  They have trucker’s lounges with showers and laundromats.  There are lots of truck spaces but, even so I have seen some of these places overflowing out both entrance and exit with last-chance sleeping trucks, during my night driving.

“I, The Whistler know many things, for I walk by night…”

So, it was an easy first day, if a bit short.

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Above:  The food court at a Service Area on Interstate 80 in Ohio.  

Large Asphalt Parking Lot, Loves* Park, Illinois 10/07

*not associated with the truck stop chain.

On the second day, I “gained” the 9 hours and change that I used up 9 days before.  It still is short of the 11 but with careful management, I’ll make the delivery  on time.  I pushed the time limit to 26 minutes and would have gone on if there had been another possible stop.  I pulled in to the Pilot truck stop I had all picked out and found, to my horror that they had no parking.  I don’t mean that the space were all full, you realize.  I mean to say that they had no spaces at all – it is a fuel-only station.  It says that (“Parking N/A”) on the Pilot/Flying  J App, but I did not manage to notice same.

You may remember I have learned that the answer to these sort of major problems are not to be found by calling “the Company” but rather by asking (nicely!) the people who work where the problem comes up.  They have seen it all!!  Sure enough, the nice lady at the Pilot referred me to a place called “Farm and Fleet”, just down the road.

farmandfleetparkingAbove: Parking at Farm and Fleet.  They do seem to have plenty of room, but I asked first and parked way out on the edge. They are like Home Depot, but they did have a small non-refrigerated food section where I was able to get snack foods and summer sausage and mixed nuts.  No bread, but I bought some rye crisps.

Flying J Truck Stop, Roberts Wisconsin  10/08

The load was delivered and a new assignment was denied me because I am low on service hours.  It means a 34 hour stand down in a truck stop in Wisconsin.  As I have mentioned before, truck stops are usually isolated and boring.  These are the times when depression creeps out of its box.  I try to shake it off, but… “I find myself growing grim about the mouth…it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul” – Mellville

I called my wife to chat for a while, but she is busy preparing for a trade show.  Elder Son has only a few minutes to talk before returning to Professional Cheffery.  Youngest, likewise has College stuff to do after a brief chat with Dad.  Without the road to occupy my mind and time, there is only sleep to break the monotony.  To keep my oddball work schedule, I need to go to bed in the early afternoon. “Morning” is two AM.  No waiting for a shower, at least.  The temperature outside is 35° F.   The truck is still a bit warmer with residual heat from the day.  After a few hours of reading the news and current events, depression has returned in force.  By six AM, I am sleepy, in addition to depressed and bored…and it is getting colder.  Now with jacket and two pair of socks, I settle for a nap.  At eight, I awake shivering.  The climate control I adjust to maximum heat.  I pull on my support socks and cover those with “conventional” socks because my circulation-impaired feet are freezing. After a half hour, let’s see the temperature at the air vent:

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Above:  One of my trucker accouterments* is above pictured. The “pulp thermometer” is to measure produce but can also find out just how cold the “heater” air is.

*Accouterments was indeed the word I was looking for but MS Word said it was misspelled.  For some reason, the Spellcheck function will not give me the correct spelling, but only underlines it in red until I  fix it.  I have never been good at guessing English spellings and I was always among the first to “be seated” at the spelling B preliminaries.  But, I have found a way around that.  One needs only to find the correct spelling of a synonym and then key the Thesaurus.  That did not work when I typed “paraphenalia” or several other attempts at that word.  I had no idea it had an “r” and it never occurred to me to try that!  But “equipment” I could spell and that lead me to “paraphernalia” and from there to “accouterments”.

Spelling aside, please excuse me while I start the really big Cummins Diesel engine to get some heat in here.  There are laws against “idling” here.  There are signs everywhere to that effect.  That is why we have Auxiliary Power Units (APU).  You know, like the one keeping my bunk at a comfortable 48°F.  After all, that is much warmer than the 9 AM temperature outside, i.e., 35° F.  I need to go find one of those signs to see how long a run is defined as “idling”.

Nevertheless, in minutes, the cab is tolerable, if still “crisp” and I can shut off the main engine for a while.  I was going to get you a horsepower number for the engine, but here is what the owner’s manual says under “engine identification”:  “For further information., please refer to the Engine Operation and Maintenance Manual.”  I don’t have one of those.  I don’t have the APU manual, either – in case you were thinking to suggest that I look in that.

Here is the control panel for the APU heating and cooling.

img_1977Above:  Seems easy.  Just put the selector (left) to heat – the wavy lines.  Then turn the thermostat to hot – the thick red zone for the center knob.  Then the fan (right) to medium.  That’s how I got 48° F

I find another cryptic little LCD (Liquid Crystal Display, for the non-Cretaceous readers) panel below that seems to promise a solution:

heaterstoppedAbove: Heater Stopped.  I just have to start it, eh?

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Above:  Just press the middle power button and now it says “heater enabled”.  No problem, right?

heaternoflameAbove:  A short while later: “No flame detect” seems to indicate that this thing burns diesel fuel to make heat.   Could it have a pilot light, like a natural gas water heater?  Note the  extremely useful series of numbers at top.

Despite the error message the air exiting the vent is now up to 59° F.  Progress.

The depression has vanished while I concentrated on telling you this story.  I predict an Epiphany soon concerning this Walkabout.

I am going for a stroll now and to bed soon.  When I awake I will have a “full clock” and be ready to drive.  My new manager promised a prompt load assignment at that time.

Hasta Luego,

Steve

Notes From the Drivers’ Lounge

stevetrucker2 “Reprint” from the old WordPress site…

 

 

November 15, 2016

You may remember that I have been tolerating an air leak that leaves my driver’s seat on the floor after a while (please see the before and after photos below). It started out as an annoyance after a night’s break.  Recently, I  have been finding the seats on the floor after a ten minute fuel stop.  Other drivers have noticed the escaping air noise and I wanted to get this fixed before the Highway Patrol notices. Remember that the brakes and suspension rely on air pressure – so it is not   a trivial problem.

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 Eye-level view from the Captain’s Chair before (left) and after (right) air pressure.

 

 

The Powers That Be in Purgatory (not the ski resort) sent me a satellite mail to the effect that my tractor needed scheduled maintenance.  I took that opportunity of a shop visit to request that the leak be repaired.  So, after completing my last delivery in Harmony, Pennsylvania and before I accept another load I will drive to the TA truck stop near Barkeyville (I didn’t make that up) Pennsylvania.

The shop that performed the service check also changed out those near-bald drive tires that I have been putting up with for four months now.    They were so bare that they would slip when driving on unpaved yards.  The tractor starts out in four wheel drive but I had to shift into eight wheel drive to get any traction.  I had asked the mechanics at Purgatory (NTSR) to change out those tires, but they refused.

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Above: Here is the Clintonville (I didn’t make that up, either) Kenworth shop.  In addition to this car lot, there are two more huge mostly-empty parking areas for trucks and trailers.  This is a far cry from the claustrophobic Peterbilt store in Landover Maryland.

The TA techs sent enough pictures to Purgatory to convince them to cough up for new tires, but they did not have the part to repair the air leak.  Now, here I am in the driver’s lounge.  It is a proper lounge with great big comfy recliners.  You can see below that my fellow driver has found one and it has fulfilled the ultimate destiny of driver’s lounge recliners.

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Above:  Kenworth client demonstrates proper use for driver’s lounge recliners.

I appropriated the only desk in the room to indulge in my therapeutic literary activities.

Over the road trucking is not just an occupation, but rather a complete existential lifestyle.  The truck feels so much like a ship that I cannot help but use such terms as “Captain’s Cabin” and “Ship’s Galley”.  The truck is my mobile and very private domicile  and the world as it passes, along with rest areas and truck stops are all parts of an ever changing but self-consistent existence.

Times like these, when I am “shipwrecked” are moments of alternate reality.  I exist now in a circumscribed zone of quiet idleness while I depend on others to enable the continuance of the road venture.  I know it could get depressing in a hurry.  During those ten days in Maryland, I found diversion in expeditions on foot and mass transit.  Likewise in another sentence to Purgatory I found a way to occupy my time with a visit to my son.  More recently was the Excellent Day in Denver.

This particular interlude will hopefully be brief and I will occupy my time with telling the tale rather than gathering the experiences.  My life on the road may strike you as a lonesome or forlorn existence.  But when I encounter truck stop workers, technicians or service representatives who work in one place, doing basically the same thing every day, I count myself fortunate.  Those people know exactly what tomorrow will bring – or next week or next month.  I cannot say, for certain, where I will go tomorrow.  Perhaps to the mountains of Northern California, perhaps to the Desert Southwest, perhaps to the limitless grassy plains of South Dakota.

As old as I am, I am still learning how to live my life in a meaningful and satisfying way.   My reality as it has become is somewhat solitary, but it is my nature to enjoy solitude.  My only regret is to be so long away from my family.  But, this Walkabout has made me a better, stronger and more thoughtful person and I hope the brief time that I will be with them will be all the better for that development.

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Over The Road,

Steve

Burning Food

Steve Campbell    August 12, 2019

This article was originally published on September 1, 2018 in American Thinker, under a very different title

Mixing ethanol with gasoline is a bad idea – for many reasons. But there is one reason in particular that should worry you.

A recent AT article by S. Fred Singer,  Trump and the end of the ‘Oil Crisis’  reasoned that it might be time to remove the ethanol mandate:

My hope is that Congress, at some point, will remove the requirements for gasoline additives, especially for the corn-based bio-fuel ethanol.

This is long overdue and Singer lists some very good reasons to remove that mandatory blending.  In researching an article years ago, this reporter stumbled over a shattering revelation that make the use of ethanol seem completely unacceptable.  The question was posed,  “Just how much food value are we burning up for the sake of  this federally-imposed silliness?”

The answer was found in a paper by D.K. Albino[1],  published by the New England Complex Systems Institute

The total amount of ethanol produced in the US in 2011 was 13.95 billion gallons, enough to feed 570 million people that year.”

Now that number is so large that it does not seem real. So, your humble narrator made his own research to find “the real number”.  (Don’t worry — multiplication and division is as tough as the math gets — and we will not “show our work”)

Begin with the final product — ethanol.  While it is not your typical staple food, its caloric content is well known – being 20,607 calories per gallon.  A warning is appropriate here that even pure ethanol produced for fuel is “denatured” to avoid taxation as liquor. That is just another way of saying “poisoned”.  So, nobody is actually going to live on ethanol alone.

We know that about 1500 calories are a daily minimum for the average man (1200 for women) allowance. We will average those to at 1350 calories/day.  In that 13.95 billion gallons are enough calories to feed 583 Million people for that year. Thus, we have confirmed the number from Albino, et al. to within 2.2 percent!

The point can be made that alcohol is not food – especially when denatured.  So, shall we look at the corn before it is brewed and distilled?  Each gallon of ethanol requires 2.8 bushels of corn.  Each bushel provides 86,800 calories. The corn used to make those same 13.95 billion gallons — in 2011 — of ethanol would feed 878 million people – again, for that entire year!

Obviously, the process of distillation is far from perfect and one would expect a loss.  The process also has a left-over (about 10% by weight), called distiller’s grain – which is used for cattle feed.

In conversations on this subject, objections are brought up about the type grain used for ethanol.  It is called “field corn” and is, indeed different the ears of corn that you find in the stores.  Nevertheless, field corn is used to make corn meal, corn oil and corn sugar – which people also consume. To quote Mr. Spock, “A difference that makes no difference is no difference.”

There is no way around this conclusion – burning that much food is simply not acceptable and it should stop.  By the way, in 2017 there were sixteen billion gallons of ethanol produced for fuel and those numbers are 669 Million people for ethanol itself and One Billion people for the corn.  Remember, this does not include any other fuels. Biodiesel is made from a variety of other foods – 11.6 billion gallons in 2017.

Destroying food is never a good idea.  Is this reporter the only one whose mother told him (long, long go) “Eat all your food!  People are starving in Europe!”?  This is a horrible statistic!  We are burning (in the U.S. alone) enough food to feed one of every eight people in the world! How can even the “environmentalists” let this go on?

Update – August 2019 – We calculated that food for one billion people was burned – only for US ethanol usage. What is the total of ethanol production worldwide?

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World Production of Ethanol [2}
The total seems to be about 29 billion US gallons.  By all the same formulas above, this is the enough food to feed 1.8 Billion People.  That is about one out of every four people on Earth!

Green politicians are saying that Global Warming is reducing crop yields and expanding deserts.  Their solution includes burning massive amounts of food.  In other words, we should burn food so people won’t starve!

Fortunately, the climate is not warming and even if it did, that would mean greening deserts and longer growing seasons. And, by the way, commercial greenhouses use enhanced CO2 to reduce water use and accelerate growth.

  1. K. Albino, K.Z. Bertrand, Y. Bar-Yam, Food for fuel: The price of ethanolarXiv:1210.6080(October 4, 2012). http://necsi.edu/research/social/foodprices/foodforfuel/ 

 

  1. https://ethanolrfa.org/statistics/annual-ethanol-production/

 

The Truth About Hiroshima

Steve Campbell    August 6, 2019

Hiroshima has a secret.  While it was well known at the time of the city’s sudden rise to fame, it is all but lost in modern times.

Hiroshima is a grim lesson in the nature of war.  The truth of that city has been suppressed from the history of the definitive conflict to salvage world freedom.  A conflict that was fought by our progenitors – in your humble narrator’s case, only a single generation removed – who have been slandered by revisionists as war criminals.

 Atomic vs. Conventional

First, the revisionists pretend that the war could have been won without the atomic bomb.  That concept is proven to be a fallacy simply by the fact that the atomic bomb was indeed used and victory was not forthcoming.  It took two bombs before surrender was attained.

It is certain that the war could have been continued with conventional weapons.  There was already a campaign of firebombing military targets, which were mostly in 67 crowded cities (the Japanese freely intermingled military and civilian activity) ongoing before the atomic bombs became available.  A single such raid on Tokyo was thought to have killed 100,000 and made 375,000 homeless.   Civilian and military deaths and injuries had already exceeded that of the ultimate atomic casualties and further conventional warfare would undoubtedly have sent those numbers far higher had that continued.  A ground invasion would have been next. It is left to the reader to imagine the toll on both Japanese and US personnel.

And suppose that it was discovered — after the carnage — that Harry Truman had been in command of a weapon that could have ended that extended conflict with only two single-bomber missions – and did not use it?  Can we imagine the outrage of the population of the US when that little tidbit came to public light?  Why, they would have had called for Truman’s execution!

Military vs. Civilian Targets

Second, there is a contention that Hiroshima, et al, were civilian targets.  Truth is, Hiroshima was home to a munitions factory, an aircraft parts factory and one of the largest military bases in the Japanese Empire.  Hiroshima was also a staging port for moving troops by sea.  The garrison there was forty thousand and at any given time there were perhaps thousands more in transit to deployment.  Nevertheless, civilians (including women and children) were mandated employees at the war factories.

Quoting:

From:  August 6, 2005, The Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Morning Edition:

 “The population of Hiroshima at the time was about 310,000, plus 40,000 military and 20,000 daytime workers…The entire Second Japanese Army was destroyed to a man…”

“Sixteen hours ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base”.  – Quoting U.S. President Harry Truman  – August 7, 1945

“About 150 eighth graders of Hiroshima Prefectural Daiichi Junior High School (present-day Prefectural Kokutaiji High School), who were contributing to the war effort by working in an aircraft parts manufacturing factory…”

“Kiyoko Yoshida was in fourth year at a girl’s high school when she was exposed to the A-bomb while working at a munitions factory.”

Nagasaki was similarly a military target as was Kokura, the secondary target in the first bombing and the primary — but cloud-covered — target in the second).

Warnings

Also in the arsenal of the revisionists is the accusation that the Japanese people were not warned of their pending fate.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Shortly before the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, the United Stated showered the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, Kokura, Nagasaki and 33 other potential targets with over 5 million leaflets warning civilians of the impending attack.

In Japanese, the leaflet read:


“Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately. “

An American-controlled radio station on Saipan was broadcasting a similar message to the Japanese people every 15 minutes. Five days after the fliers were distributed, Hiroshima was destroyed by the “Little Boy” atomic device. Following the first attack, the U.S. Army Air Forces dropped even more leaflets:

“America asks that you take immediate heed of what we say on this leaflet.
We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate.
We have just begun to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city.
Before using this bomb to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, we ask that you now petition the Emperor to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better and peace-loving Japan.
You should take steps now to cease military resistance. Otherwise, we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war.”

Conclusions

  • The Japanese were not prepared to surrender – before or after the first atomic bomb.
  • Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kokura, et al. were home to military targets of great strategic value. The sad fact is that the Japanese had placed military installations in cities and “drafted” women and children to work in war plants in those cities.
  • The Japanese were warned repeatedly — clearly and simply in their own language — that the US had mighty weapons and intended to use them to end the war.

Bibliography:

Hiroshima, garrison and war industry:    http://www.ww2pacific.com/hiroshima.html

August 6, 2005, The Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Morning Edition:  http://www.asahi.com/hibakusha/english/shimen/happened/happened-01-2.html

 

 

 

The Grim Lessons of Charles Whitman

stevetrucker2

This article was first published in American Thinker on March 15, 2018

By Steve Campbell

The era of mass public shootings began with Charles Whitman in 1966.  He taught us all we need to know to prevent or minimize such events.  We ignored his lessons.

On August first of that year, Whitman rode the elevator to the top of the Clock Tower at the University of Texas at Austin.  He rolled a hand truck along with him that carried a footlocker full of guns and ammunition.  Soon after ensued the first mass murder in a public place in modern America.

Texas Monthly Magazine published an in-depth story for the 40th anniversary of this episode in American history.  It is entitled “96 Minutes” – you know why.  It contains many quotes from individuals who were there or were immediately affected by those events. If, after you read that, Whitman’s Lessons are not then apparent, then come back and read on, because those lessons are here named and explained.  Unless otherwise indicated the quotes in this article are from 96 Minutes.

I. There will be warnings.

Whitman sought out psychiatric help.  He mentioned that the Tower would be a great place from which to shoot people.

From the note he left behind:

“I have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail.  After my death I wish that an autopsy would be performed on me to see if there is any visible physical disorder[.] … Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type.”

II. There are reasons.

This type of behavior does not occur at random.  People see trouble coming, but they don’t imagine the magnitude of consequences.

“Was it his abusive childhood?  His overwhelming anger?  The amphetamines he consumed, observed one friend, “like popcorn”?”

This reporter has seen his type a few times before.  There are tales of more.  They go along, these amphetamine addicts, energetic and good-natured, until they explode.  To reinforce that anecdotal information, the reader is encouraged to research the term “amphetamine psychosis.”

Charles Whitman was:

“… a good son, a top Boy Scout, an excellent Marine, an honor student, a hard worker, a loving husband, a fine scout master, a handsome man, a wonderful friend to all who knew him – and an expert sniper.”

He himself recognized the symptoms (but not the cause) and asked for help that never arrived.  One might doubt that the danger was known at the time.  A bit of research turned this up:

… a letter by P.H. Connell published in the British Medical Journal on March 9, 1957 …

“[a] common result of amphetamine intoxication is the development of a paranoid psychosis indistinguishable from schizophrenia, during which the patient may be a serious social danger,” he wrote.

III. Help will not be in time to save you.

“In the absence of any visible police presence, students decided to defend themselves.”

The police were armed with revolvers and shotguns.  Neither was effective against an enemy atop a 300-foot tower shooting over a chest-high wall.

The populace of U.T. and Austin in 1966 was an armed society.  These people felt every right to defend themselves, and they did so in numbers.  Among civilians, students and police were those who owned high-powered rifles, many with scopes for long-range targeting.  Within 20 minutes, they began to return fire on Whitman, who was forced to give up his place shooting over the wall and from then on shot only through the drain holes at the base of the deck.

In the seventy-odd minutes after that, only one more fatality occurred.  When the Tower deck was “stormed” by two police officers, backed up by a volunteer, Whitman was on the deck, with his rifle’s barrel through a drain hole.  While he was furiously reversing the rifle out to shoot these “intruders,” officers responded with a revolver and a shotgun.  Those turned out to be effective after all – at close range.

Had Whitman been standing to shoot over the wall and undistracted by return fire, it might have been a very different story.  Thanks, armed society!

IV. Do not dwell on the tragedy.

This one is not immediately obvious.

In the aftermath, don’t glorify or name the shooter.  Don’t dwell on the event.  It might be best to just shut up about it – perhaps for many years.  Excess attention to the event makes it, in some twisted minds, an exaltation of the actions of the maniac, and that seems to promote similar events.  It is known that the publication of suicide stories is a stimulus for more suicides.  That once kept people from publishing such stories.  The incident was not spoken of much.

A similar event did not occur until 1984 in San Ysidro, California.  Another disturbed individual went on a rampage in a fast food restaurant.  Among civilians, nobody shot back at all.  The police did have a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, which arrived only after the majority of deaths had occurred.  Whitman’s Third Lesson had been ignored, and the shooter had managed to kill 21 and wound 19 others.

The San Ysidro perpetrator had called a mental health clinic and said he had a problem on the day before the event.  He made an “offhand” comment about hunting humans on the morning of the incident.  Whitman’s First Lesson was ignored as well.

Was the 18-year gap a result of the reluctance to talk about Whitman?  Perhaps.  Whitman’s Fourth Lesson could be said to have been postulated that day.  Ensuing years seem to have confirmed it – in a negative and tragic way – as the rhetoric about shooting incidents increased and the gaps between such incidents shortened.

The current state of affairs: Paralysis

There have been more and more arms restrictions and regulation.  The role of defenders has been taken away from the people and deposited with SWAT teams.  Has it improved the situation?  Not at all!

Perpetrators are being spotted in advance, but their actions and words are ignored by the very authorities charged with defending the public.  Schools are institutionally disarmed and advertised as such.  Crimes that would disqualify perpetrators from purchasing weapons under existing laws are not being prosecuted.  And some of these shooters seem to have been taking drugs with dangerous side-effects.

So how would we solve these problems?

Let’s take the first two together.

The warning and the reason

The answer would have been to take Whitman’s Warning seriously and help him to give up his speed habit.  Medical science knew the reason, even if Whitman himself did not.  If someone had described the problem to him, he might have cooperated with the solution – he wanted to get better!

Don’t wait for help

They didn’t.  How many were saved by the return fire is uncertain, but it is unquestionably “many.”  The armed society also – albeit unknowingly – paved the way for the final assault on Whitman’s “fortress.”

Your defense is your responsibility. Blaming others is denial.  That you were unprepared is tragic, regrettable, forgivable, even understandable – but not correctable.

The stark reality of Whitman’s Third Lesson is this: the best way to deal with a mass shooter is to aim your own gun and shoot back.  Even if you miss, you may save lives.

That last thing

What shall we call it?  Forbearance?  Discretion?  Responsibility?  Don’t talk so much?  If mere chronology is any indicator, keeping quiet about Whitman perhaps delayed for 18 years a repeat of the situation.  These days, not a year seems to pass without one, while the media analyze and accuse for as long as ratings persist.

Perhaps there is a time to shut up about the subject?

Steve Campbell attended the University of Texas at Austin some years after the Whitman Event.  See his writings at Goingwalkabout.blog.

Hydrogen

 

 

 

Occasionally, hydrogen comes up in conversations about energy.  There are a myriad of misconceptions about that subject and I will explain some:

I was only made aware of this misunderstanding recently, but I see what happened.  The term “Hydrogen” is not a contraction for “Hydro-electrical Generation”. 

Hydrogen is an element, like carbon, oxygen or nitrogen.  Hydrogen burns with pale blue flame that is almost invisible in daylight.  You may have seen a blue tint to the flame of your natural gas stove.  That is hydrogen from the mostly methane (CH4) that is natural gas (the part that is yellow or red is from carbon).  It is widely used as rocket fuel because hydrogen packs the most energy for its weight.

Burnt hydrogen “surrounds us and penetrates us”.  It is water.  Hydrogen being burnt creates nothing else.  No mystery then, why the “environmental” cabal wants to use hydrogen as automotive fuel, either burning it directly or in a fuel cell.  Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe.  Stars are made mostly of hydrogen and helium[1].     

  Why not turn to hydrogen for every sort of use since it is so blessed?   

Here’s the deal:  That burnt hydrogen (water) is obviously abundant.  Hydrogen is also in compounds making up plants, animals and life in general.  Hydrogen is in every fuel currently in use, even in coal, which is mostly carbon.  However, free, pure hydrogen is not generally available.  It is all tied up with other molecules and has to be separated from same. 

That takes energy.  To get it out of water takes just as much energy as was liberated in the burning that made the water in the first place.  Practically, it takes much more energy than you can get back because no separation process is 100% efficient. 

For example, water can be split by an electric reaction.  But,  burning that hydrogen to make electricity – even in an efficient fuel cell – will return only a fraction of the electricity used to get the hydrogen in the first place.

Now, some might say that since it is electricity, the hydrogen was “cleanly” produced.  Those are folks who don’t know:

  1. The meaning of the word “clean”.
  2.  Whence Electricity?   (Spoiler: 85% from Coal, Natural Gas and Nuclear)

Hydrogen is industrially produced by “reforming” natural gas (mostly methane (CH4)) that is reacted with water (Steam, actually) and the resulting “synthesis gas” [2] (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) is reacted with some more water to make hydrogen and carbon dioxide.  So, there is a lot of energy input in the process, but you might come out ahead barely, in the energy sense.  That’s because a lot of the energy comes from the chemical reactions themselves.

 As Colombo would say, “There is…just…one more thing, sir.”  Why were you wanting to make pure hydrogen?  If you just want some rocket fuel, then you’re done.  If you wanted to avoid making carbon dioxide, go back and read the products of natural gas reforming.  That’s right, kids, “hydrogen and carbon dioxide.”  You would still be using “fossil fuels” and still be emitting carbon dioxide.  Capture the CO2?  Yes, you can, at great expense and further energy use.

And, when all is said and done:

Let’s say you have some way to produce hydrogen without making CO2 and you are very proud that you are not emitting “greenhouse gas”.  Well get ready for a shock.  Your burnt hydrogen is water vapor, which is the most abundant “greenhouse gas” in the world.  You have not changed much of anything, after all.

Let me say in closing that there is nothing wrong with carbon dioxide, petroleum, natural gas, coal or water vapor, for that matter.  Also, the Globe is not Warming

Ex Sientia, Veritas

______________________

[1] Helium, was first discovered as a spectral signature in sunlight.  Its name comes from “Helios”  (the  Sun – Greek).

[2]  A while back  in South America there was no helium available at anything like reasonable prices to fill toy balloons.  And yet, my brother-in-law would sell balloons with his grandfather in Peru, 50- odd years ago.  Bro-in-law assures me these were synthesis gas balloons which floated because both hydrogen and carbon monoxide are lighter than air (CO, just barely).  They are also, however, both flammable, hydrogen especially so.  Synthesis gas can be used as automobile fuel.  On this one, my own father told of a taxi driver in Southeast  Asia (circa 1950) who heated chicken droppings and piped the output directly to the engine.  I’m thinking this might have been a tuk-tuk (three-wheel motorcycle) as I saw while in that part of the world.

[3]  Water Vapor

Too Briefly, Home

SteveTrucker2
Sign123_Lone

Another Masterpiece from the WordPress site


August 16-21, 2016

Baltimore Washington International Airport

Chicago O’Hare Airport

Home in Houston

In addition to a Driver Manager, I have a “Counselor” who is supposed to represent me in matters of family considerations, personal leave and financial matters.  I will admit that I doubted the effectiveness of this set-up from the start.  It may be that I am too cynical on these matters.  But I insist that I have good reason to be cynical by default.

Nevertheless,  I called and told my tale to my Counselor and she did what someone should have done before they jerked my chain around like they did.  She found a place for me to store the truck and bought me an air ticket home.  So, while I cannot forgive the despicable way they were treating me, I can say (somewhat grudgingly) that they ultimately did the right thing. Since I am managing to get these loads delivered on time and safely (and at bargain prices, I might add), I have every right to expect the right thing.

So let’s move on.    The place where I left the truck is the other Peterbilt shop in Maryland, this one in Baltimore.  I made sure to tell them about my ten-day visit to their sister “Pete Store” in Landover where I was so long a fixture in their shop that they joked about me being put “on the payroll”.

I am in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport  (BWI) with an hour and a half to burn.  If it were anywhere but an airport, I would have a beer.  I vaguely  remember beer. But the fact that the menus don’t mention prices and that this is the Eastern Seaboard North of Virginia tells me that these prices are out of my league.  Besides, I’ve waited over a month and it won’t hurt me to wait until I can have beer at merely retail prices.  On the other hand, I don’t do this often.  These days I almost don’t drink beer at all.  Maybe just one.  In the spirit of investigation, you see. (That wasn’t hard to get over, now was it?).

Well, beer at BWI is seven dollars for a draft pint.  I can’t call it reasonable.  Indeed I  can still call it excessive, but with the understanding that the airport will set the rents for these places knowing that they can charge these excessive amounts and so that is what has to happen for them to meet that rent.  So, I pay the seven bucks for a Samuel Adams draft and tip a Dollar – once.

You may remember that this all came about because they wanted me to go back to Illinois.  In a weird twist of fate, I had a layover in Chicago before the final flight to Houston.  In Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD), the investigative urge comes upon me again and I find that the price of beer went is now in double digits – for the same Samuel Adams draft.    I am an old man of limited means and so I appreciate very much that the bartender selling this expensive brew contributed his tip to the price of my beer.

So, now I am home at that same kitchen table where you saw my “before and after” photos.  I have been to the gym this morning to swim 15 laps and already I have some muscle tone in my upper body that has been so sadly lacking in the last few months.  I also weighed myself to find out that I am still 70 pounds lighter than the end of  last year.  That is a really good thing, since my health was beginning to notice the extra stress!

I have “taken care of business” – most importantly to get my youngest son to college at UT Dallas.  It is a great campus for a University that is gaining a good reputation for Computer Science.   Among their corporate sponsors is Texas Instruments, a company that invented a little thing called the “integrated circuit”.

I dutifully spoke the required phrases that all Fathers must recite.

Like:

“Why when I was in college, we had roommates and a bathroom down the hall with a gang shower.  Not these single bedrooms and private baths. ”

“ We had to lug around big piles of hardcover books, not your fancy-pants ipads.’

“We walked to classes in the snow, uphill – both ways”.

The elder son is now a Chef and I have counseled him to become a restauranteur extraordinaire and create a gastronomic empire on the model of Pappas family – now famously successful in Houston and all of Texas.

http://www.pappas.com/about/pappas-history/

I figure that while I am dreaming, I should dream BIG.

I also was able to make room in the overstuffed garage for the second of four automobiles that will live here with the two resident humans for the near future.  It is perhaps ominous that cats now outnumber human occupants in my remote and fondly remembered home.

And my lovely wife is also busy with her many interests – not least of which is her travel agency where she creates “Dream Vacations”,  arranging cruises and tours worldwide.  I am happy that in my absence, my loved ones are industrious and well-occupied.

Me? I am also well-occupied, back in my truck in North Carolina and bound for Orlando.  This is not what I imagined I would be doing at my age, but it has been challenging and interesting.  I will continue to ply the highways and tell my tales.  I of course appreciate your interest, Dear Readers.

Stay tuned!

P.S., I know you like when I include photos. I don’t have any that relate directly to the text. But, the photos below are from the time in Maryland when I visited the Air and Space Museum.  And, I did mention Maryland.

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