Author: Going. Walkabout

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?

Ethanol_Worldwide_Table.png
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.

IMG_1589
IMG_1590

Fool Me Once…

SteveTrucker2
Sign123_Lone

From the old WordPress site…

Aberdeen, Maryland

August 16, 2016

The 25 hour lay-over completed, I drove to the final delivery, checked in for a door and backed in to be unloaded.  This was a well-laid-out docking area that had widely spaced doors and a long run-out in front of mine.  That did not stop a fellow trucker from parking across my long run-out to make it another high-angle parking situation.  So, again the ordeal of maneuvering the trailer backwards into a gap.  This time the gap was a bit bigger, though.  And, I seem to be getting better at this.

I thought of how to explain this and came up with the following analogy:

ParkingDiagram

Line up two dominoes with a gap between them that will fit a third domino with a small gap on either side. See the diagram above.

Once you have the “Start” laid out, put one hand in your pocket, then push on the center of the end of the third domino where you see the red diamond shape.  No fair pushing on the corners!  Now push that third domino until you have the “End”  configuration.  If the moving domino touches the others, you lose.  It would, of course be much easier if your moving domino were lined up – parallel and straight in front of the gap.  That is what I mean by “long run-out”.   Imagine doing this exercise with three hundred-thousand dollar vehicles (more with cargo), looking back at the trailer through the driver’s window and in mirrors. This from70 feet away.

I have to do that about once every two or three days.

Anyway, I got to the receiver, sent that status to the company and backed in to be unloaded.  They unload the trailer by driving a heavy forklift into it and picking up a multi-ton stack of cargo and exiting.  They do this hundreds of times a day and have gotten very fast at it.  The result is an earthquake-like shaking in the cab for an hour or two. But, in the meantime the long-awaited message will come that will tell me to pick up a load and take it to Texas and home.

Only, the message says go pick up a load and take it to Illinois – delivering on the second day of my pre-planned and approved home time (only Illinois ain’t my home). I put in for this break over a month ago and while I was in Purgatory (not the ski resort) they asked again and I requested the same and they approved it again.  Must be a mistake, right?

I call.

“Well,” they say,. “It will be easy to get you a load out of Illinois to Texas”.

If you read my previous post, you know that I have just come from Chicago.

That’s in Illinois.

I went there from Maryland because they said it would be easy to route me home from there.  Then they said, they had nothing from there and I could get a load home from Maryland.  So, I went to Maryland.

Somebody is being less than honest with me.

The load assignment has an acceptance auto-reply where I answer “yes” to the assignment and have an option to comment.  I answered “NO” and commented the story I just told you.  Some severe editing was needed to get that into the two line comment field. Then I went looking for a place to park.  But, this too shall pass and what else could go wrong?

Severe Thunderstorms.

Parking for big trucks is a critical problem in this part of the country, as my previous post mentioned.  There was a truck stop, nearby and it was one of those where you pay to park, but “any port in a storm”, as they say.  There was not one space left open.  I left.  The first two hours in this place are free (and darned well worth every penny, as it turns out) so, I didn’t have to pay to be turned away.  I drove toward the nearest stop I could find on the “apps” which is fifty miles away.  There is no real hope that they will have space, but what else can I do?

Along the route (North on Interstate 95), there is a rest stop with truck parking, fuel and a big food court called Maryland House.  I’ve been there before.  It is hidden from the road and requires a left exit where the left lane is forbidden to trucks. Truckers often take their 30 minute breaks at places like this, so there was a chance I could find a recently-vacated space.  I did and I am there now.

It is four AM and there is still no word on my load home.  I will probably be denied my home break.  But, it will be denied by a human being on the phone – not by anonymous satellite message.  There are certain levels of decency that I expect out of life and this is one of them.

Then, I’ll go back to Illinois.  But I will remember this shabby treatment for a good long while.

Barrel Racer Mystery

September 3, 2016 (Transplanted from my old WordPress site)  

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The rig is parked in another gigantic lot, but this one is 90% vacant.  All of the spaces are “pull throughs”, i.e.,  no backing involved.  Many Thanks for this much needed relief!  This is a “Service Plaza” on Ohio’s Turnpike which is really Interstate 80.  I don’t know how the state got the right to put toll booths on a Federally funded Interstate, but they have spared no expense on these installations.  Besides the ample and easy parking for cars and trucks alike, there is a well-appointed building with restrooms, a food court some shops and a trucker’s area with showers, laundromat and TV lounge.

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Above:  The Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza Building
Above: Inside the Service Plaza

It has been two days of over ten hours of driving and there is another ten to go before my first of two stops in Massachusetts.  I will split this ten with a ten hour break in the middle.  It is a bit complicated, but given the time of the appointment for deliver and the distance involved, there are ten hours of driving and ten hours of mandatory off-duty between now and then no matter what.  I can drive straight to the receiver and hope there is a place to hide an 80 foot truck for 10 hours or stop in the middle, probably at the fuel stop.  That way, I can arrive, on time at the receiver and drive away when through. It will be a very close thing and I have asked for another hour or two on the appointment.

Just when I am about to give up and stay in a roadside park when word comes that there is on-site parking at the receiver.  I won’t be turned away for being early and be forced creep the streets illegally looking for a place to park.  So, now I can drive straight in and stay until my appointment at 5 AM.  That went well overall, but at the very end, Jill the Navigation voice told me “turn right” where I saw nothing but darkness.  Immediately she added, “Not allowed.  Return to the route behind you.”  It is an ineffective and singularly useless thing to say to a man driving a truck on a narrow country road, with no shoulders to speak of and nothing but narrow residential driveways and tiny commercial parking lots on both sides.  The usual defense of pressing Jill’s Re-route button made her say “Communications Failure”.  In other words, “You’re on your own, Sucker!”

No, I must drive ever onward as my time runs down to the tens of minutes, desperately searching for an area big enough to allow the turning radius I need.  Think of a football field.  If I go straight across on the Fifty yard line, I can turn and come back on the Twenty.  And there I was driving blindly into the night with no idea what I would encounter.  Finally I found a small motel on a corner lot with very few guests.  There was an entrance on both the highway and the cross street.  By using every inch of pavement on the cross street, the highway and the parking lot, I managed to reverse direction.

Jill came back to consciousness and showed me the distance to the turn-off.  The sign on the road was low and unlit, but visible from this direction.  The gate guard  seemed to know the motel I mentioned.  In my experience so far,  Shipping, Receiving and Warehouse staff are polite and helpful people.  The gate guard at this place was exactly that, explaining where I needed to be an when.  He even had a number for pizza delivery straight to the truck.  I had previous plans for peanut butter sandwiches.

At 6:30 the call comes to find a door and be unloaded.  They finish  around 8 and bring me the paperwork.  Part if this was written while I was “hiding” over in the parking area after closing up and sealing the load for the next stop..  I didn’t need to stay, but I have nowhere to be.  I have drive time, but it is limited by the 8 day regulations to 7 hours and 11 minutes.  The next stop is 3 hours from here.  I don’t know if I can go hang out there until my appointment at 7 AM tomorrow.  I transmitted the completion message for this stop and assembled the paperwork for this trip so far.

I looked up a Pilot truck stop (they have an iPhone App) near the final and drove there, saving a couple of hours tomorrow morning.  It was at I 95 exit 40 in Connecticut. Why Pilot?  Because that is where the company has us fuel up and that is where I get a shower credit for each 50 gallons.  I have six left and they expire after ten days, so it behooves me to use them.  I just found a receipt from Loves (the competition) and it says I have 4 showers there.  Those expire as well so perhaps I had better double up on showers.  But, Loves doesn’t seem to have any locations nearby.

This trip I spent two nights at rest stops and missed my chance at a shower.  This particular Pilot is an addition to a general travel shop in what looks like it used to be a hotel.  There is a saddle and some photos of a young barrel-racing cowgirl and her horses on display on the staircase landing.  I can only guess at the story behind this exhibit. Was she the daughter of the hoteliers back in the 60’s?  This is obviously a sentimental shrine to the racer and her horses.  Perhaps she is the elderly owner of the travel stop, these days?

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Above:  This is the display of memorabilia from a young lady’s barrel racing career.

The showers have beautiful pedestal sinks from the 1950’s and ugly rusty metal folding chairs from the 1960’s. The driver’s lounge seems to be a coin-operated pool table and what is labeled a “Theater Room”.  It really is an old-style private theater that might have screened projected movies for VIPs at one time, long ago.  I couldn’t manage to make the camera flash to get a good photo of this darkened studio    The parking lot is off behind the fueling bays and you would not know it was there if not for the signs that point it out and threaten to tow your rig if you park by the fuel island.

All these spaces are accompanied by ancient fixtures with ductwork, built on massive concrete bases.  These were evidently, life support system for trucks in the old days when it was idle your engine or freeze to death in the winter.  These would be necessary in such a setting a half-century ago.  Imagine a capacity crowd of 80 such trucks all gathered in a spot like this and idling  You younger folks, who never knew a world before emission controls on automobiles, cannot imagine what a dismal cloud of unburned hydrocarbons would “surround and penetrate you” in such a scenario. The more ancient of us can see why these things were needed, at the time. As seen in the photo, this one has a history of “incidental contact” that may date back decades.  Most trucks have Auxiliary power units (APU’s) these days. These are clean-running small diesel generators that keep power and heat/AC in the sleepers.

Ancient fixture for big-rig life support

I had three days of decent wages on the Kansas – Massachusetts run.  Each day was about 580 miles.  But there was a twenty four hour wait at the Shipper – common with meat plants,  Also, the double destinations at the Receivers adds another full day of minimal pay.  Today I got unloaded at the first stop and drove about 150 miles.  Oh, and I got $25 for the extra drop (Ka-Ching!*).

*Sarcasm

Tomorrow, I will drive about 60 miles to the last stop and then deadhead 90 miles to the next assignment.

There is a new trip on the horizon for which I only have places and times, so far.  It looks like I will be hauling candy from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania.  This is a short (500 miles) trip spread over three days.  Despite the short mileage, it sounds interesting.

Now, my phone is dead.  I expect it is the cable, because I have replaced same three times now since I have had this iPhone.  They cost about $25 and seem to last just a few months under heavy usage.  Without my phone  cannot use the Apps to find a truck stops at which to buy a new (and overpriced) cable.  I do have the address of the next pick-up.  So, there I will set off that way and see what I stumble across.  I can see that I need a back-up for the iPhone. I have become dependent upon it. Technology has its consequences.

A Brief Fathers’ Day Recollection

   Steve Carroll Campbell was my father.  He was born in January of 1930 near New Boston, Texas.  When he was about ten years old, he suffered from a degenerative bone disease that so attacked his right lower leg that local doctors were ready to amputate.   His father, Louis D. Campbell, took him to Texarkana where there was a Shriner’s Children’s Hospital. The family legend is that his stretcher rode on the back of a flat-bed truck.

 The doctors there tried something desperate.  They carved bone out of a live goat and transplanted (grafted, I suppose) it in the appropriate place in this poor boy’s diseased limb.  A desperate gamble indeed since it was – as far as I know – unprecedented.  But there was nothing to lose – except, of course, the boy’s leg.     

   He walked on crutches for over a year, this tragic figure of a child, until his leg was strong enough to take his full weight.  The leg, though smaller in diameter and severely scarred, it was the roughly the same length as his left and quite capable.  Unless you saw him in shorts, you would never know that anything had ever been amiss.

   You may be old enough to remember when Shriners took one day a year to stand on street corners and collect donations for their charities like that Texarkana Hospital.  As an adult, as often as he was able, my father would scrape together a hundred dollars to buy a crisp, new $100 bill. He would find a Shriner collecting and drop the bill in the little bucket, anonymously.  In those days, a hundred dollars might have been a full week’s pay with which Dad could ill afford to part. 

My father was uprooted from Bowie County and moved to Houston – with his mother and younger brother – in his high school years.  While his mother worked long shifts as an LVN in a maternity ward, he worked as a merchant sailor and later as a letter carrier (on foot – told you that leg was strong!)

   Dad refused to allow me to be a “Junior” because his middle name (it sounds exactly like “Carol”, a girl’s name) was a source of ridicule for him by mean-spirited classmates.  Blake is my middle name and I do not know where it came from.  It is possible that my Uncle Mark (Dad’s brother-in-law) may know.  I’ll ask.

   As far as I am concerned, Carroll is a perfectly acceptable man’s name and I can quote two examples you may have heard of : Carroll O’Connor, the actor famous for portraying Archie Bunker and Carroll Shelby, the automobile designer and racer famous for the Shelby Cobra and other cars.

http://www.carrollshelby.com/

   Shelby was also from Texas, by the way.  While I think Dad’s precaution was overly protective, I recognize that he did it because he loved me and wanted the best for me.

   Dad eventually settled into a career in the glass sales business.  It was he who trained me to clean glass properly.  It takes clean paper towels, two of them.  The first, “the wet one”, is used with a light amount of cleaner to emulsify the spots and loosen dirt.  The second, “the dry one” mops up the streaks left by the first.  Soon, you toss the wet one.  Then the dry one becomes the wet one and you get a new dry one.  To clean windows, the proper way is to use two people, one on each side.  That way if you rub vigorously but can’t get the spot out, you can point it out to your partner since it must be on his side. 

   This “pointing out your partner’s flaws” is much quicker than a single cleaner going from one side to the other – especially on house windows far from the doors – as you know if you have tried it.  These days, I have a truck windshield that I struggle to keep clean of all the bugs that dive like Kamikazes and spatter directly in my forward view.  I always remember my Dad when I clean the windshield and I do the best job I can, in his memory. (This part written while “over-the-road”)

   When I clean the mirrors, I remember Dad’s team method for windows and if there is a spot I can’t tackle, I say, “Hey Dad, that one must be on your side!”.  He looks back with a smile and calls me a “smarty-pants” (or something similar 😉).  He looks a lot like me, these days.

    For most of his life, Dad fought a smoking habit established at a young age.  That and a lung disease that was associated with poultry farming deteriorated his health until he was on continuous oxygen in his early 60’s.  He died on June 30th, 1997 (age 67) of respiratory arrest – he wanted to breathe, but could not.  It has been almost 22 years now that he has been gone.  I miss him terribly to this day.

Happy Fathers’ Day,

Steve

Escaping Newark

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October 6, 2016 (from the WordPress site)

The truck parking situation in the Northeast is now critical.  I am still avoiding much of the whole mess by traveling when most are sleeping and vice versa.  When I leave truck stops or even roadside parks, the mass of trucks is astounding.  They are parked not just in every space, but also in every space that is not a space.  They line the driveways and side streets and even the off ramps from and onramps to the Interstate.  The rest areas are so overflowing that I sometimes have to hop the trailer tires over a curb to get out to the road.  From there, it is smooth sailing because…why?  That’s right – most all the other trucks are off the road!  By the time I am ready for a break it is about six or seven in the morning and there are spaces left by the early risers who have departed.  Sometimes I can roll past the still sleeping trucks lining the on-ramps, avoid the side-liners in the driveway and find a nice vacant pull-through in the main parking lot at those hours.

If parking is crowded at a fuel stop, I can log my fuel stop for the first 10 minutes then go on “break” while I top off the reefer and add DEF (explained later). After that, I must pull forward if there is a truck behind me, but I can still buy some wiper fluid or oil, find the bathroom, get a cup of coffee, etc.  If by that time I don’t have the required 30 minutes, I will watch the mirrors while the guy behind me stalls around for the same reason.  If he gets through fueling, I have to move, but mostly, I manage to kill the 30 and drive on.  Jill stops saying “you have one hour and seven minutes of remaining drive time” to saying “you have four hours and 35 minutes of remaining drive time. The difference would be only three hours but she holds up your on-duty time (fueling, inspections, time at shippers or receivers) until you break, as well.

When I settle for the “night” it is about two or three in the afternoon.  Empty truck stop spaces abound.  Some rest areas are vacant except for my truck and two or three others.  All those empties and far, far more will be occupied when I leave again.  I have some photos of this phenomenon.

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Above:  Trucks parked on the Interstate ramp that leads to a rest area.  I see these by the hundreds on any given “midnight run”.  The law says you have to stop driving and park the truck after 11 hours of accumulated driving.  At times, there is no good choice for that location. The parking situation is critical in the Northeast and getting worse.  I avoid it – for the most part – by my “graveyard shift” driving hours.  By the way, notice the cool “spacecraft-like” appearance of my instrument panel

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Above: This phenomenon is not limited to nighttime hours.  This is not long after dawn.

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Above:  Except for the truck in the fuel line (far right), all of those vehicles are in a “no parking” zone.  Nobody kicks them out because they have little choice.  The drivers will all quickly move their trucks when awakened if they block somebody in.  Those blocked in apologize for awakening them and are quite understanding in a “there but for the Grace of God go I” sort of way.  Ninety-nine percent of truck drivers are polite, thoughtful and helpful individuals.

Newark is a lot like a truck stop in the middle of the night.  There is no extra room to be found.  When there might be some, they start a construction area there.  This applies to warehouse areas and streets in industrial zones.  Where in small towns there are wide open spaces surrounding industrial zones, Newark has shops and houses that border them.  I went down a narrow residential streets to get to the new home for the half-million-dollars-worth of beef.  I had parked on the street to walk my papers to the guard to check in.  I parked right by a fire plug – see photo below

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Above:  I reckon I could talk my way out of this ticket.

They had a vendor parking area that was basically a trailer junk yard with a little extra space. Paved with gravel and diesel oil in a black organic ooze that gets tracked into the truck.  Driving out in the morning, Jill, the Virtual Navigation Girl told me to turn where rigs were parked on both sides, take narrow streets where cars lined the edges, use closed entrance ramps.  Nobody had told her about construction areas or detours.  I wore out my touch-screen finger pressing the “re-route” button.  I was hopping curbs and making sign-language pleas for cars to back up and let me avoid taking out road  signs on the corners.  I went around in circles until I finally worked up an escape velocity and left the orbit of Newark.  (…with apologies to Douglas Adams)

Not far out of town, I picked up a load of plastic bags to take to North Carolina.  This was at another of those obstacle-course yards where I had to back blind-side into a space with a fence in front making life difficult.

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Above:  The offending fence.  Its demise predated my arrival, but I rejoiced in its horizontality nevertheless.  The text at the top of the windshield lists truck stops and rest areas along the planned route.  Don’t worry – it’s dry-erase

I had to scale this load and found a Loves truck stop.  It was easily accessed by making an illegal right turn.  The scale was behind a powerline tower, necessitating a wait in the fuel line, then a diagonal approach to where I could wait for that one driver in a hundred who will leave his truck on the scale while he goes in to get his ticket.  The obstructed approach left me with one trailer wheel off the scale.  While I tried to pull up and back the trailer on to the scale, another one-in-a-hundred driver started pulling on to the scale behind me, thinking (being charitable, there;-) that I was through.  So, I gave it up and went back to the Interstate to the next windshield-noted stop.  It is possible to leave problems behind, occasionally.

While driving through Maryland, Jill told me about a new important message.  She won’t let me read these while I drive.  She does read them to me spontaneously, from time to time.  I sure would like to find out how that happens so I could ask that on demand – but I don’t know.  At a State-border weight checkpoint I stopped in the line long enough to read “Stop where you are! Call me when stopped.”  This panic-inspiring instruction is easier said than done.  The scale screen told me to exit to the Interstate, so I couldn’t stop there.  After 10 miles of no rest stops or obvious truck stops, I exited anyway and looked for big parking lots.  This happened to be a stretch of road with massive construction along both sides of ten more miles that left me no turns and no parking lots.  The road dead-ends into a checkpoint for the Aberdeen Proving Ground –  a Serious and Secure Army Installation.  They would not even let me on to their website to research them for this post, because I was using a WiFi connection.  The link below is Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberdeen_Proving_Ground

It took some explaining about how I was not here to deliver, but was a lost soul looking to turn around and go the other way without being fired.  They finally stopped traffic to let me make a (LEGAL and Company Acceptable) U-turn.

Finally, I found a Target and wove my way through the customer lot, only hopping one curb.  I found my required eight parking places (and the here-to-for-hidden easy back way in) beside the building and called in to find out that the load was to be delayed a week!

Now, I was to drag my trailer to a shop of the refrigeration unit manufacturer in Carlisle, PA (it has a lingering problem)  and drop it, pick up an empty and go to Lemoyne, Pennsylvania to pick up a load of “Freight, all kinds” and take it to Temple, Texas.  Before I left the yard in Carlisle, that load was cancelled and I was assigned to go to Howard, PA, pick up a Coca-Cola load and take it to Minnesota.

This sets my record for number of different destinations in one day.  The day was not over yet, but it ended before another destination could be flown in.

On the morning of the next day, I was reminded of the classic comedy routine by Abbot and Costello. Who’s on First?

  1. I show up at the shipper. He wants my empty trailer and I want a full one.
  2. I open the doors of the empty trailer and put it in a loading door. There, I drop it (uncouple  and drive the tractor away).
  3. I “hook” loaded trailer, i.e., I connect it to my tractor.
  4. I take it for inspection by the shipper.  We find out I have no load locks – extendable aluminum bars that keeps cargo from shifting.  At least one is required to be installed on the load before they seal it and I get my paperwork. My last two locks were in the previous load that I dropped yesterday. It is sealed, so I could not get them back.
  5. So, I drop loaded trailer and bobtail (verb – to drive a tractor-trailer truck with no trailer) to truck stop to buy load locks.
  6. I return to shipper and hook the loaded trailer again.
  7. I drag loaded trailer to the truck stop to scale load. It is heavy on the front, like all Coca-Cola loads.
  8. I shift trailer axles to balance load.
  9. The meat lock (a giant hasp and padlock that locks the trailer’s cargo bay – but good!) is installed.
  10. I go through the “Countdown” to depart. Meds, water, coffee, windshield, pre-trip inspection and so on.
  11. The Countdown is interrupted by message from the Company that Coca-Cola doesn’t like my empty trailer. It needs a wash out.  I had backed the open trailer into a door. They could have looked at it at their leisure while I went to buy load locks. But they waited until I had hooked the load and left.
  12. I return to shipper and drop loaded trailer.
  13. I hook empty trailer and take it 45 miles to wash shop.
  14. I return to shipper and drop the empty trailer.
  15. I hook loaded trailer and depart. No Countdown. It is time to put this town far behind me.

On the bright side, I am getting really good at dropping and hooking trailers.  Darn shame that I was paid exactly nothing for those 15 activities and had to shell  out my own money for the load locks and truck wash.

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Above:  On   the way to the wash shop.  The leaves are turning.