Mostly Wisconsin

stevetrucker2Sign123_Lone

“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:

airventteperature

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?

heaterenabled_set

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.

eyelevelairout

eyelevelairin

 

 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.

clintonvillekenworthshop
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.

driverslounngeclintonville

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.

solitude_2

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 makes 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.

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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)  

Homepage   

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?

saddleblanketbarrelracer
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.