Life Day 24278: Farewell “Today is” Posts

December 31, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Today is Tuesday, December 31, 2013. Good morning faithful readers. It is with mixed emotions that I inform you that this will be the last “Today is” post; at least in this format. Last year, I made a commitment to myself that I would make a “Today is” post every day for the next year, and I have done so. This decision did not come lightly. I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to continue these posts.

I have spent most of my adult life working under the pressure of  “deadlines”; in both my military career and my truck driving career. In writing these, I have learned much about myself: mainly that since retirement, I dislike working under the pressure of deadlines and “having” to get something done each day. What I take away from these is a [better than average] knowledge of holidays and that I can follow through on a commitment (to myself at least). I also take away the knowledge that no matter what life brings, there is something to celebrate every day; if you look hard enough.

For the last 365 consecutive days, I have written the equivalent of a 1200+ word essay — every day, plus an extra one for February 29th, (since 2013 was not a leap year). I endeavored to make these posts both informative and entertaining. If you look at them individually, each post is an essay in and of itself. Hearken back to your days in English Composition class for comparison; when you thought writing a 200 word composition was torture.

I expended a lot of time and effort in writing these “Today is” posts. The longest post was about 2900+ words, and the shortest was in the neighborhood of  800 words. No matter how much one likes to write, that is a monumental task to undertake. The amount of time that I spent on each post each day depended largely upon my inspiration. Some days, they practically wrote themselves; I would sit down at the computer and the words would just begin to flow. Other days, I had to struggle just to come up with a title. In any case, I spent an average of three hours a day writing them, and I am no longer willing to make such a commitment of time each day.

This isn’t a farewell to my presence in the Blogosphere; quite the contrary. In the future, look for posts from me on a wider variety of subjects; only much shorter and less time consuming to write. I am simply not going to commit to posting every day. Feel free to offer suggestions for future topics. I’ll do my best to accommodate you. Oh well, enough of this maudlin mucky-muck. Let me [officially] begin this last “Today is” post.

The holidays for today are:

New Year’s Eve:

New Year’s Eve is celebrated across the globe. The type of celebration varies from culture to culture. The island nations of Kiribati and Samoa are the first to welcome the New Year; while Honolulu, Hawaii is among the last places to welcome the New Year. Many cultures have fireworks displays and other festivities to celebrate the start of the New Year. In Mexico, they celebrate New Year’s Eve by eating a grape with each of the twelve chimes of a clock’s bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. In Brazil, they typically dress in white to bring good luck and peace for the year to come. In the United States, New Year’s Eve is a major social holiday. Huge crowds gather in New York City to watch the ball drop in Times Square, a tradition that began in 1907 after firecrackers were outlawed. Millions more watch this, or another, event on television. At midnight, it is customary to kiss a loved one, toast with champagne, and sing “Auld Lang Syne. To find out more about various New Year’s Eve celebrations, use this link.

Many people celebrate conservatively with a party in their home among friends and family. Others celebrate this holiday with a more festive gathering at a favorite restaurant or bar, consuming copious amounts of alcohol, much to their regret the next day. No matter how you choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve, I hope you do so safely and sanely. Don’t become a statistic.

Make Up Your Mind Day:

To use a phrase from my military days, it’s time to”s**t or get off the pot.” You have been procrastinating all year, putting off those hard decisions, an now it’s time to “pay the piper”. It’s time to clean up those loose ends and begin next year anew with a clean slate. No matter what you’ve been avoiding, it’s time take action to resolve the issues. This is your last chance for this year. Don’t carry any loose baggage into next year. “Git ‘er Done.”

World Peace Meditation Day:

Since December 31, 1986, spiritual communities around the world have come together in hope for world peace through the calmness and serenity of meditation. The day was created in order to unite people under the common bond of love and peace. World Peace Meditation Day is a time in which many come together and live harmoniously as one.

Universal Hour of Peace Day:

In the same vane as the holiday above, Universal Hour of Peace Day started in 1995 as an hour of peace. It soon grew into a yearly event now held as we transition into each New Year. The idea of large groups of people engaging in an activity at the same time is powerful. The vision is for everyone to spend this one hour—the same hour— in a state of peace. Universal Hour of Peace is held each year from 11:30 pm on December 31st to 12:30 am on January 1st; in case you don’t have anything better to do.

Leap Second Time Adjustment Day:

We had another Leap Second Time Adjustment Day on June 30th this year. Leap Second Time Adjustment Day is more of an observance in title only. Some years scientists do not make any adjustments to the Atomic clock. But, if they do, then it’s done on either June 30 or December 31. This year, they will not be making an adjustment.

National Champagne Day:

Because Champagne has long since been associated with celebrations, it’s no surprise it was, and still is, the drink of choice for New Year’s Eve festivities. The tradition of toasting the New Year with Champagne can be found worldwide. But, not all countries can rightfully claim to be serving or producing Champagne.

By law, to accurately be called Champagne, the grapes used in the production of the wine must come from the Champagne region of France. Anything else simply isn’t Champagne. Italians call their bubbles Prosecco and Spain has Cava, while in America we use the term “sparkling wine”. Another stipulation of calling Champagne by that name is that a second fermentation must happen inside the bottle. Méthode Champenoise is a complicated process. Champagne is typically made from pinot noir and/or chardonnay grapes. The second fermentation creates the bubbles, and the smaller the bubbles, the finer the Champagne. Some wine makers have tried adding carbon dioxide to wine, but the result isn’t authentic. The second fermentation takes place with the addition of sugar and yeast to the wine. When the Champagne is ready, some producers add a sugar syrup to sweeten the wine.

Outside of New Year’s, sparkling wine is perhaps most popularly consumed at Sunday Brunch in the form of a Mimosa. However, don’t overlook the “bubbles” portion of the wine list the next time you’re out to dinner. Champagne pairs very well with rich or oily foods.

On this date in:

1687 – The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, where they would later create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.

1695 – The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up.

1775 – The British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec. Montgomery was killed in the battle.

1841 – The State of Alabama enacted the first dental legislation in the U.S.

1857 – Britain’s Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada. 1862 – President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.

1862 – President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.

1877 – President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first President to celebrate his silver (25th) wedding anniversary in the White House.

1879 – Thomas Edison gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting to an audience in Menlo Park, NJ.

1891 – New York’s new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.

1897 – Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.

1923 – In London, the BBC first broadcast the chimes of Big Ben.

1929 – Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played “Auld Lang Syne” as a New Year’s Eve song for the first time.

1946 – President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

1947 – Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were married.

1953 – Willie Shoemaker broke his own record as he won his 485th race of the year.

1955 – General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year.

1960 – The farthing coin, which had been in use in Great Britain since the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.

1961 – In the U.S., the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid to war-torn Europe.

1967 – The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game became known as the Ice Bowl because it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero.

1974 – Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.

1978 – Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, DC. The event marked the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.

1979 – At year end oil prices were 88% higher than at the start of 1979.

1986 – A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, killed 97 and injured 140 people. Three hotel workers later pled guilty to charges in connection with the fire.

1990 – Titleholder Gary Kasparov of the U.S.S.R. won the world chess championship match against his countryman Anatoly Karpov.

1997 – Michael Kennedy, 39-year-old son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.

1999 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president.

1999 – Five hijackers left the airport where they had been holding 150 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane. They left with two Islamic clerics that they had demanded be freed from an Indian prison. The plane had been hijacked during a flight from Katmandu, Nepal to New Dehli on December 24.

1999 – Sarah Knauss died at the age of 119 years. She was the world’s oldest person. She was born September 24, 1880.

Noteworthy Birthdays:

Henri Matisse 1869 – Artist.

George Marshall 1880 – Former Army General, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense.

Simon Wiesenthal 1908 – Holocaust survivor, Nazi hunter.

Rex Allen 1924 – Actor, singer, songwriter.

Ross Barbour 1928 – Singer. (The Four Freshmen)

Odetta 1930 – Singer, actress.

Anthony Hopkins 1937 – Actor.

Rosalind Cash 1938 – Actress, singer.

Sarah Miles 1941 – Actress.

Tim Considine 1941 – Actor.

Andy Summers 1942 – Musician. (The Police)

John Denver 1943 – Singer, songwriter.

Ben Kingsley 1943 – Actor.

Pete Quaife 1943 – Musician.(The Kinks)

Barbara Carrera 1945 – Actress.

Diane von Furstenberg 1945 – Fashion designer.

Tim Matheson 1947 – Actor.

Burton Cummings 1947 – Musician. (The Guess Who)

Donna Summer 1948 – Singer.

Tom Hamilton 1951 – Musician.  (Aerosmith)

James Remar 1953 – Actor.

Bebe Neuwirth 1958 – Actress.

Joe Dallesandro 1958 – Actor.

Val Kilmer 1959 – Actor.

Scott Ian 1963 – Musician. (Anthrax)

Joey McIntyre 1972 – Singer. (New Kids on the Block)

Postmortem: If you still want or need to find out about a particular holiday, you can always refer back to this Blog. The easiest way to do this is to bookmark or favorite this Blog. Once you do that, merely type the date or holiday name you want into the “search this blog” space located on the upper right-hand side of the Blog. The information you are seeking will somehow magically appear before your eyes. It won’t be totally accurate because not all holidays fall on fixed dates: such as Easter, Thanksgiving, and holidays celebrated on “the first Monday of…, the second Friday of…, etc, etc, etc. but it will give you a general idea. Alternatively, you can always do it the hard way and type the date or holiday you seek into your favorite search engine and do the research yourself.

What is a Trillion?

December 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

As 2013 winds down, I began reflecting upon what this year brought us. One fact stood out from all of the “pop culture” phenomenon, the political finagling, and natural disasters which occurred during the last year. America’s debt is rapidly approaching 17 trillion dollars, if not already there. I began to wonder how many people actually realize what a monumental sum $17 trillion is.

How did we accumulate so much debt? The responsibility (or more accurately, the irresponsibility) for amassing such unimaginable debt can not be blamed on one individual or group of individuals. This was a collective effort. Politicians have to accept much of the blame. But these politicians were elected by an apathetic, uninformed, and/or lazy electorate, so they have to accept some of the blame as well.

So, armed with my favorite search engine and the calculator on my computer, I am setting out to illustrate, from a number of different perspectives, the difference between a million, a billion, and a trillion.

Since I mentioned dollars above, I will first illustrate how much  a trillion is from the perspective of $1.00 bills. According to, the dimensions of a $1.00 bill are 2.6 inches by 6.1 inches. Actually the dollar bill is 6.6294 cm wide by 15.5956 cm long. One bill is 0.010922 cm thick so, if new, approximately 232 bills will stack up in an inch. A dollar bill  weighs approximately 1 gram. There are 28.35 grams in an ounce. so a single bill weighs 1/28.35 grams, or .0353 oz. From this data, I extrapolated the following:

One million dollar bills, if lined up end to end, would extend 508,333 feet or approximately 96.3 miles.
One billion dollar bills would extend about 96,275.2 miles; nearly four times the circumference of the Earth.
One trillion dollar bills would extend about  96,275,189.4 miles.
In other words, $1 trillion dollars, lined up end to end, would reach the sun, and beyond. If you multiply that number by 17, you get 1,636,678,219.7 miles. Now, you’re talking “Star Trek” type numbers. If you drove a car at 70 mph 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, it would take you a bit over 157 years to reach the end of that line of 17 trillion dollar bills.

From a different perspective using dollar bills:
One million dollar bills, if stacked atop each other, would reach a height of 4,310.3 inches, or 359.2 feet.
One billion dollar bills would reach a height of  359,195.4 feet, or 68 miles.
One trillion dollar bills would reach a height of 68,029.4 miles.
Multiply that number by 17 and you get 1,156,499.8 miles.The average distance from Earth to the moon is 238,854 (as recently calculated by NASA). Therefore, the distance that 17 trillion dollars stacked atop each other represents is the equivalent of nearly 5 trips to the moon.

One more perspective using the dollar bill:
One million dollar bills would weigh 2202.6 pounds, a bit over a ton.
One billion dollar bills would weigh 2,202,643.2 pounds, or 1,101.3 tons.
One trillion dollar bills would weigh 1,101,321.6 tons.
Multiply that number by 17 and the sum is 18,722,467.2 tons.
The maximum payload of your typical tractor/trailer combination is about 45,000 lbs, or about 22½ tons. Assuming that you could load 45,000 pounds of dollar bills into a trailer without using any dunnage, and using the above numbers, it would take about 832,110  typical tractor/trailer units to be able to haul $17 trillion dollars anywhere.

Time is another perspective to consider. Using the standard of 60 seconds =1 minute, and 60 minutes=1 hour, or 3600 seconds, the average day would contain 86,400 seconds, therefore:
One million seconds would equal about 11.6 days ago.
One billion seconds would equal about 11,574.1 days, or approximately 31.7 years ago.
One trillion seconds would equal about 11,574,074.1 days, or about 31,709.8 years ago.
Multiplying that number by 17 equals 196759259.7 days or 539,066.5 years ago.
To sum up:
1 million seconds ago (from the date of this post), the Christmas shopping season was in full swing.
1 billion seconds ago, Ronald Reagan was in his first term as President.
1 trillion seconds ago, mankind had not quite developed out of the Neanderthal stage.
17 trillion seconds ago, Earth was experiencing the First Interglacial Period (ice age).

The last perspective pertains to speed (of light).
According to, the speed of light in a vacuum is 186,282 miles per second.
To travel 1 million miles, light would take about 5.4 seconds.
To travel 1 billion miles, light would take 5368.2 seconds, or about 1½ hours.
To travel 1 trillion miles, light would take 5,368,205.2 seconds or about 62.1 days.
To travel 17 trillion miles, light would take 91,259,488.3 seconds, or 1056.2 days, or 2.9 years.

The results were astonishing. I hope that your brain isn’t broken from reading all of those big numbers.
I also hope that you now have a better understanding of the magnitude of our $17,000,000,000,000.00 debt. (Yeah, it looks much more ominous when written out numerically, doesn’t it)? There is an economic disaster looming on the horizon, and I don’t know if we will be able to recover from it. One undeniable fact is that we are doomed unless we make some changes; not only to our government officials, but in the criteria we, the voting public, use to select them. A good way to start would be to not, under any circumstances, vote for an incumbent. They have already proven that they are incompetent, and incapable of making sound, reasoned decisions based upon what is best for their constituents rather than what is in their own self-interest. We can not keep borrowing money to finance our future. We need to start a “Pay as you go” approach to government, NOW!!!

Life Day 24277: No Interruptions Day

December 30, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Today is Monday, December 30, 2013. Good morning my busy friends. The holidays today are:

No Interruptions Day:

For most people, today is the last business day of the year. Put your New Years Eve party plans on hold and concentrate on finishing the year with a clean slate. Don’t let anyone, or anything interrupt you. No Interruptions Day is a day for complete focus and a peaceful and quiet work environment. It is a day to renew your energies to prepare yourself for the new calendar year ahead.

Festival Of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute:

Why wait until the new year to begin changing your life? Finish the year with a flourish. Festival Of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute encourages you to spend the whole day making major positive life changes. Eat better today. Take up a new hobby. Start an exercise regimen. Volunteer. Start a book club. These are all examples of positive things you can do, today, to improve your life. I’m sure that you can think of many more.

What changes will you make today that will improve your life?

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day:

Sodium bicarbonate (commonly known as baking soda) is used in baking, cooking, deodorizing, cleaning, polishing, and countless other applications.

Baking soda is a white, odorless, crystalline solid that is completely soluble in water. It is very useful around the home, the kitchen, and for medical purposes. Baking soda can even be used as an antacid to treat indigestion and heartburn.

The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of sodium bicarbonate as a cleansing agent like soap, but it wasn’t until 1791 that French chemist Nicolas Leblanc produced sodium bicarbonate in its modern form. In 1846, two New York bakers named John Dwight and Austin Church established the first factory to make baking soda.

On this date in:

1853 – The United States bought about 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase.

1887 – A petition to Queen Victoria with over one million names of women appealing for public houses to be closed on Sundays was handed to the home secretary.

1903 – About 600 people died when fire broke out at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, IL.

1922 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed.

1924 – Edwin Hubble announced the existence of other galactic systems.

1927 – The first subway in the Orient was dedicated in Tokyo, Japan.

1935 – Italian bombers destroyed a Sweedish Red Cross unit in Ethiopia.

1936 – The United Auto Workers union staged its first sit-down strike, at the Fisher Body Plant in Flint, MI.

1940 – California’s first freeway was officially opened. It was the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena.

1944 – King George II of Greece proclaimed a regency to rule his country, virtually renouncing the throne.

1947 – King Michael of Romania abdicated in favor of a Communist Republic. He claimed he was forced from his throne.

1953 – The first color TV sets went on sale for about $1,175. (In today’s dollars that would be equivalent to about $10,104.).

1954 – James Arness made his dramatic TV debut in “The Chase”. His most memorable role, as Marshall Dillon in “Gunsmoke”, didn’t begin until the fall of 1955.

1961 – Jack Nicklaus lost his first attempt at pro golf to Gary Player in an exhibition match in Miami, FL.

1972 – The United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam.

1976 – The Smothers Brothers, Tom and Dick, played their last show at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas and retired as a team from show business. Both continued as solo artists and they reunited several years later.

1978 – Ohio State University fired Woody Hayes as its football coach, one day after Hayes punched Clemson University player Charlie Bauman during the Gator Bowl. Bauman had intercepted an Ohio pass.

1980 – “The Wonderful World of Disney” was cancelled by NBC after more than 25 years on the TV. It was the longest-running series in prime-time television history.

1993 – Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.

1996 – About 250,000 striking workers shut down vital services across Israel in protests against budget cuts proposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

1997 – More than 400 people were massacred in four villages in the single worst incident during Algeria’s insurgency.

Noteworthy Birthdays:

Rudyard Kipling 1865 – Author.

Simon Guggenheim 1867 – Entrepreneur, philanthropist.

Stephen Leacock 1869 – Writer, humorist.

Hideki Tojo 1884 – Japanese Prime Minister.

Vincent Lopez 1895 – Bandleader, pianist.

Bert Parks 1914 – TV personality.

Marie Wilson 1915 – Radio, TV, and movie actress.

Jo Van Fleet 1922 – Actress.

Bo Diddley 1928 – Guitarist.

Barbara Nichols 1929 – Actress.

Jack Lord 1930 – Actor.

Skeeter Davis 1931 – Singer.

Russ Tamblyn 1934 – Actor.

Skeeter Davis 1934 – Country singer.

Russ Tamblyn 1934 – Actor.

Sandy Koufax 1935 – Baseball pitcher.

Noel Paul Stookey 1937 – Musician. (Peter, Paul and Mary)

Joseph Bologna 1938 – Actor.

Del Shannon 1939 – Singer, songwriter.

Fred Ward 1942 – Actor.

Michael Nesmith 1942 – Musician, singer. (The Monkees)

Davy Jones 1945 – Singer. (Monkees)

Roger Glover 1945 – Bassist. (Deep Purple)

Patti Smith 1946 – Singer, songwriter.

Jeff Lynne  1947 – Musician. (E.L.O.)

Suzy Bogguss 1956 – Singer, songwriter.

Sheryl Lee Ralph 1956 – Actress, singer.

Patricia Kalember 1956 – Actress.

Matt Lauer 1957 – TV journalist.

Tracey Ullman 1959 – Actress, comedienne.

Ben Johnson 1961 – Olympic medalist sprinter.

Tiger Woods 1975 – Pro golfer.

Meredith Monroe 1976 – Actress.

August, 2004

December 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Old Straycat Blog Posts | Leave a comment

August 1st (Sunday): Delivered the load from Pueblo, Co to Billings, MT (661 miles) this afternoon. I got a load from Worland, WY to Ontario, CA (162 miles empty, 1024 miles loaded). Since it doesn’t deliver until the 4th, i’ll probably T-call it in Salt Lake City, and get a load from there. The route for today will be I-90 west to US-310 south to US-20nsouth to Worland, WY. Then US-20 south to US-26 west to WY-789 southwest to WY-28 southwest to US-191 south to Rock Springs, WY. Then I-80 west about 40 miles to Little America, WY. Will finish the trip to Salt Lake tomorrow via I-80 west.
August 3rd (Tuesday): I love it when a plan comes together. I T-called the load from Worland, WY, yesterday afternoon in Salt Lake, and got a pre-plan for a load from Brigham City, UT to Brownsville, TX (52 miles empty, 1623 miles loaded). It picks up this AM as soon as I get there. The planned route today will be I-15 south to I-84 east to I-80 east to Cheyenne, Wy, then I-25 south into Denver,CO.
August 4th (Wednesday): Continuing the trip to Brownsville, TX. The route today was I-25 south all the way through Colorado into Raton, NM. Then US-87 east into Dumas, TX. From there, it’s US-287 south into Amarillo, TX, then I-27 south to I-20 east to Sweetwater, TX. Between Amarillo and Lubbock, I got into a nasty microburst. The rain was so heavy for about 6 miles that you literally couildn’t see 100 feet in front of you. I survived by following another truck through it. I could see that there was no one between us, so I just followed his tail-lights. I have no idea how the heck he was navigating through it. NO FUN at all.
August 5th (Thursday): Continuing the trip to Brownsville, TX. The route today was I-20 east to US-83 south through Laredo into Brownsville.
August 6th (Friday): Delivered the load (from Brigham City, UT) at the “consignee” in Brownsville, TX this AM. The Planner gave me a load that picked up at the Laredo, TX Terminal going to Hayward, CA (201 miles empty, 1725 miles loaded). The route for today was US-83 north to Laredo, I-35 north to US-83 north to Carriizo Springs, TX. Then US-277 west through Eagle Pass, TX to Del Rio, TX. From Del Rio, US-90 west to Sanderson, TX, then
US-285 north to Fort Stockton, TX. As it turned out this was “the load from HELL“!! I arrived in Laredo, picked up the paperwork for the load, and went out to hook-up to the trailer. I coundn’t find it anywhere in the yard. I finally found it in the Shop. They were installing new brake shoes. I finally got hooked to the trailer some 3 hours later. (the Shop has their priorities, & I have mine. They just happened to “collide” on this day). The “laden weight” of the load was 45,354 lbs (quite heavy, but “do-able” if the trailer was properly loaded). I was full of fuel (being the dutiful little trucker that I am, I had fueled upon entering the Terminal). Anyway, I went to the scale in the yard and weighed the load. It was legal according to that scale. Not being a trusting soul, I departed the terminal and went to the Pilot Truckstop and decided that a “certified” weight was needed. I scaled the load there, went inside to pay the fee and get my weight ticket. They couldn’t find it. (must have been a language problem. I speak & understand English, they didn’t). Sooooo, I fight my way through all the traffic in the truck stop and 15 minutes later am back on the scale. The lady takes my company and truck information again. I find another parking spot, go inside, and they can’t find this ticket either. At this point, I “inform” her (using more colorful and less urbane language) that, compared to her, FORREST GUMP was a genius, and trace her lineage clear back to LASSIE. Anyway, I leave the truck stop in disgust, and without a certified weight ticket (after all, it had scaled OK at the terminal). Between Carrizo Springs and Eagle Pass (about 20 miles form Eagle Pass), I have a tire “blow-out” on the left, inboard, forward axle of the trailer. I “limp” into Eagle Pass and call the company for help. This went relatively smoothly, considering the kind of day i’ve had so far. Swift has a network of hundreds of shops that they can call when a driver has mechanical problems on the road. Fortunately, there was a tire shop available right there in Eagle Pass. A half hour later the guy shows up with a new tire and has me ready to roll within a half hour of his arrival. Total time lost about 1.5 hours including getting a bite to eat & walking the doggies. I then continued my “slog” to Fort Stockton with no further problems.
August 7th (Saturday): Continuing the “saga” of the “trip from Hell”. The planned route for today was I-10 east through El Paso,TX; Las Cruses and Lordsburg, NM; into Arizona through Benson and Tucson and into Phoenix. The best laid plans of mice and men, however, are often thwarted by fate. I arrived at the El Paso Terminal at noon. I filled up with fuel, then (as an afterthought) decided to scale the load again. It was a “good thing”,because, sure enough, I was illegal (500 lbs overweight on the “steer axle” and 1700 lbs over on the “drive axles”) with no way to make any adjustments to the weight other than re-working the load. Had I entered the “port of entry” into New Mexico being that far overweight, I would have got a hefty ticket, and spent the week-end in my truck there until I could get help on Monday. I went into the office and told them of my plight. they said to go to the truckstop (10 miles away) and get a certified weight, then come back in to see them. I did so (with considerably less effort than yesterday). I told them that the load had to be re-worked, and asked if the shop could help me. They said that the shop did not work weekends and wouldn’t be in until Monday AM. I asked if they had a key to the shop so that I could use the forklift and re-work the load myself and continue on my way. They said that they had no access to the shop at all. I called my “home Terminal” (Salt Lake City, UT). My driver manager happened to be the “driver manager du jour” for the week-end. After some research, he said that Arizona allows 20,00 lbs on the steer-axle, so if i could “slide the weight forward on the 5th wheel, it would move all the excess weight to the steer-axle and the drives (drive-axles) wound then be legal and I could proceed to Phoenix and re-work the load there (where the shop doesn’t have “bankers hours”). I succeeded in moving the weight and got the drives legal (but just barely). I then asked him about New Mexico’s regulations. New Mexico does not specify a legal weight for the steer-axles. He said that he didn’t know and to use my judgement as to whether I should try to proceed with the “plan”. Being the cautious type I decided that the best plan of action was to call the New Mexico Port of Entry and find out their interpretation of “not specified”. Another “good thing”. The officer at the Port said that the maximum allowable weight was 12000 lbs, and they would write a citation for anything overweight. End of that “plan”. Satan 3, Ernie 0. I called my driver manager back & told him the bad news. The load that was to deliver Monday, would still be in El Paso awaiting re-work, and would have to be re-scheduled (despite my Herculean efforts).
August 9th(Monday): Still on “the load from Hell”. The planned route for this day was I-10 west through Phoenix, AZ, then on into Blythe,CA. This morning, I checked in with the EL Paso Terminal. They informed me that the “yard manager” had not showed up yet, and that I should check with the shop to see if they could help. I did so. When I told them what the problem was, they looked at me like I had just asked them to “throw their puppy into a wood-chipper”. I got no help there. Back to the Drivers Window I went, and not really happy. I asked to see the Terminal Manager. He “shined me on” for about 1 1/2 hours. He was in his office less than 20 feet from me with his door open. I finally got tired of that. I elevated my vocal timbre by about 50% and asked what the He** I had to do to get him to come talk to me about the problem. That got his attention. He came out of his office, obviously not pleased with the disturbance, and the verbal “fisticuffs” began. We traced each others lineage, he inferring that I was decended from the above mentioned LASSIE, and I inferring that he was “unaware of the identity of his paternal parent, and that he suffered from an Odephus complex ( again using the more colorful and less urbane language, much to the amusement of those in the office and the Drivers Lounge as well). He said that he didn’t have time to be dealing with drivers’ “petty complaints”. I said: ” I’ve been here for almost 48 hours waiting to get this load re-worked and that you can either find someone to help me re-work the load, or T-call it and get me on my way with something else, but that you are going to make for time this drivers ” petty complaint”, or that my next phone call would be to the Company President. Before the situation could deteriorate much further, the Yard Manager (who had been at the doctor passing a Kidney Stone) came in and said that he would help me. FINALLY. We had to pull every pallet out of the trailer and re-load it. Since the pallets were similar in weight and number to those of a beverage load, we decided to use the same load plan as a beverage load. Worked like a charm, and I was finally en-route once more. I do not suffer incompetance nor incompetants well, and this place is rife with both. I guess i’m “persona non gratis” in El Paso terminal for a while. Tsk, tsk. tsk. Anyway the rest of the day went well. The lesson learned from this is that you ALWAYS  get a certified scale certificate from a truck stop on any questionable load coming out of Mexico.
August 10th (Tuesday): Still on the Devil Load. The route today was. I-10 west to I-210 west (to avoid the LA grid-lock) to I-5 north to Santa Nella. All went well.
August 11th (Wednesday): The Hell Load will soon be history. It delivers at 0900 this morning and good riddance. All I have to do is navigate the 70 or so miles through the Bay Area traffic without killing any “bone-headed” California drivers. The route is I-5 north to I-580 west to I-880 south to Hayward. Yes, I finally arrived without incident and made the delivery on time (for the re-scheduled appointment), but “par for the course”, there was no freight available. The Planners did eventually find me a load, but it didn’t pick up until the next day, so I just headed to the Lathrop, CA terminal and “kicked back”.
August 12th (Thursday): The load that the Planners found for me picks up in Modesto, Ca at 8:00 AM and delivers today at 5:00 PM in Ontario, CA. The route will be I-5 south to CA-120 east to CA-99 south to Modesto. Then CA-99 south through Bakersfield, Ca (where i mis-spent my youth and can stop for some decent Chinese food) to I-5 south to I-210 south to I-15 south to Ontario, CA. I told my driver manager that I was ready to go “to the house” for a couple of days, so he “stacked” a plan on me that will get me home. All went well with this load. Delivered on time and went to the Fontana, Ca Terminal for fuel and sleep.
August 13th (Friday): Picked up a load in the Fontana yard that I will take to Henderson, NV (70 miles empty , 224 miles loaded) and swap with another driver. He will have an empty trailer for me. All went well. HOME AT LAST. I’ve been out since the 15th of July, almost a month. That’s too long.
August 15th (Sunday): Latched on to a good load this time. It picks up anytime today before 5:00 PM in North Las Vegas, NV and delivers in Denver, PA (not Colorado). It’s near Lancaster, PA (not Califfornia), (14 miles empty, 2384 loaded) on the 19th. The routing was I-15 north to I-70 east (through Utah, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri to I-64 east (to bypass downtown St. Louis) then back to I-70 east through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, an 11 mile portion of West Virginia (through Wheeling), and into Pennsylvania. There i’ll connect with I-76 east (the PA Turnpike). Then on to Denver. The load went without incident except for some fairly heavy rain in eastern Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania which slowed everyone down, There was some “brutal” construction on the PA turnpike too. That, coupled with the rain and the darkness of night made for some “puckering” driving conditions at times. Delivered the load on time on the 19th.
August 19th (Thursday): Due to the late afternoon delivery, there was not much freight available that I could legally deliver on time. The Planner finally found a load for me from Bethlehem, PA to Carrollton (Dallas area), TX (59 miles empty and 1459 miles loaded). It is pre-loaded and I can pick it up this evening. The planned route was US-222 east to PA-61 north to I-78 east to US-22 east empty into Bethlehem. After pick-up the route was US-22 west to I-78 west to I-81 south all the way through Pennsylvaina, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and into Tennessee. There, I-81 ends and merges into I-40. I took I-40 west all the way through Tennessee and into Arkansas. At Little Rock, I took I-30 west into Texas and the Dallas area.
I arrived at our terminal in Lancaster, TX on Sunday evening. I traded this load for a “local delivery” on Monday afternoon, because this load didn’t deliver until Tuesday afternoon, and I want to keep rollin’.
August 23rd (Monday): The local delivery that I traded for delivered at 3:00 PM. It was a “live” unload (meaning that I back the trailer to the dock were it is unloaded and I then leave with the same trailer). All went well. The “back-up” load was a good one. It picked up in Greenville, TX and delivered in Red Bluff, CA (77 empty miles and 1881 loaded miles). The route was I-30 east to Greenville. I arrived at 7:00 PM. and picked up the load. The route from Greenville was US-69 north to US-82 west to US-287 north to Amarillo. Trom Amarillo, I took I-40 west through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into California. At Barstow, CA I took CA-58 west through Bakersfield (where I mis-spent my youth) to Buttonwillow, CA. Then, I-5 north all the way to Red Bluff, CA. I arrived there late on Thursday afternoon. I delivered the load without incident or problems. When I arrived in Red Bluff, I had already used up 6.5 hours of the 11 hours that I had available for the day, plus I only picked up another 5.5 hours for the next day, so I decided to take the night off and consolidate the hours left from Thursday with the hours that I picked up on Friday so that I would have 10 hours total available thew next day.
August 27th (Friday): When I woke up this morning, I discovered that my Qual Com was not working. (Qual Com is the satellite link that I use to communicate with Swift). I had to use my cell-phone to contact my Driver Manager. Anyway, I had a load from Willows,Ca to Las Vegas, NV (46 miles empty and 625 miles loaded). The route was I-5 south to Willows, then I-5 south again to CA-58 east to I-15 north to Las Vegas. The load delivers Monday the 30th , so I’ll get some “home time”. I stopped at our terminal in Lathrop, CA to try to get the Qual Com repaired , but there was no one there who qualified to repair it. I did get both of my “steer” tires replaced. One was way out of balance. The terminal was also having Driver Appreciation Day, or as I call it “free food Friday”. Every Quarter, Swift has the Management personnel Bar-B Q for all the employees. They had brisket of beef with some excellent “ranch” beans and potato salad, chips, green salad, soda, etc. It was really good.
August 28th (Saturday): Finished the load to Las Vegas as planned without incident. Arrived In Las Vegas at 8:00 PM. The load delivers at 5:30 AM on Monday, so I get a day off at home.
August 30th (Monday): Delivered the load on-time and with no problems. The “guys” had a Vet appointment for some shots at 9:00 AM, and a grooming appointment at 11:00 AM, so I just took the rest of the day off.
August 31st (Tuesday): Still no Qual Com, so I called my DM. He had a load from Henderson, NV to Salt Lake City, UT (25 miles empty and 435 miles loaded). The route was I-15 north. The load went well and I arrived in Salt Lake at 9:00 PM.
Comments: All in all a fairly good month (except for the “Load From Hell” (ref: August 6 through 11). I drove a total of 731 miles empty and 12431 miles loaded for a total of 13162 miles.
I like to average between 12000 and 14000 miles a month, so it was a little above average.

Life Day 24276: Tick Tock Day

December 29, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Today is Sunday, December 29, 2013. Good morning . The holidays today are:

Tick Tock Day: is back with another of their off-beat holidays. Tick Tock Day signifies that time is running out for this year, and if you haven’t completed your “to do” list(s), it is time to do so.

If you haven’t achieved all of the goals you set for yourself, you only have a couple more days to work on them. Can you finish them in time? What prevented you from achieving them? Were they realistic, or just “pie in the sky” notions? Only you can answer these questions. Don’t become discouraged if you didn’t, or can’t achieve all that you wanted this year. Instead, take an in depth look at your career, your relationships, artistic dreams, physical goals, your lifestyle, and even your fantasies. Set realistic, achievable, goals for next year, then when the new year comes, begin to work on them immediately.

YMCA Founded Day:

In 1844, twenty-two-year-old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker, was troubled by what he saw around him. Time were tough in London at the time. The streets were plagued with crime and decadence.  He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the street.

Fast-forward a few years. On this date in 1851, a retired Boston sea captain, Thomas Valentine Sullivan, modeled the first YMCA in the United States after the one started by Williams and his friends a few years earlier in London. He wanted to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants without the perils of street life.

Today, the YMCA has locations in more than 10,000 neighborhoods across America. They are the nation’s leading nonprofit organization, and are committed to helping people and communities to learn, grow and thrive.

Pepper Pot Day:

Pepper Pot Day is more than just another food-related holiday. It has historical significance.

Pepper pot is a thick spicy soup first created on December 29, 1777. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army experienced an exceptionally harsh winter in Valley Forge. The soldiers were low on food because the farmers in the area sold all their supplies to the British Army for cash rather than the weak currency that the Continental soldiers could offer.

Christopher Ludwick, the baker general of the Continental Army, gathered whatever food he could find to feed the frail soldiers. The chef was able to find scraps of tripe, meat, and some peppercorn. He mixed the ingredients together with some other seasonings and created the hot spicy soup we now know as pepper pot. It became known as “the soup that won the war.”

To celebrate this holiday, try to recreate this historical dish.

On this date in:

1170 – St. Thomas Becket, the 40th archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in his own cathedral by four knights acting on Henry II’s orders.

1812 – The USS Constitution won a battle with the British ship HMS Java about 30 miles off the coast of Brazil. Before Commodore William Bainbridge ordered the sinking of the Java he had her wheel removed to replace the one the Constitution had lost during the battle.

1813 – The British burned Buffalo, NY, during the War of 1812.

1837 – Canadian militiamen destroyed the Caroline, a U.S. steamboat docked at Buffalo, NY.

1845 – President James Polk signed legislation making Texas the 28th state of the United States.

1848 – President James Polk turned on the first gas light at the White House.

1860 – The HMS Warrior, Britain’s first seagoing, iron-hulled warship, was launched.

1890 – The U.S. Seventh Cavalry massacred over 400 men, women and children at Wounded Knee Creek, SD. This was the last major conflict between Indians and U.S. troops.

1911 – Sun Yat-sen became the first president of a republican China.

1934 – The first regular-season, college basketball game was played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. New York University defeated Notre Dame 25-18.

1934 – Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

1937 – Babe Ruth returned to baseball as the new manager of the Class D, De Land Reds of the Florida State League. Ruth had retired from baseball in 1935.

1940 – During World War II, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London.

1945 – Sheb Wooley recorded the first commercial record made in Nashville, TN.

1949 – KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut became the first ultrahigh frequency (UHF) television station to begin operating on a regular daily schedule.

1952 – The first transistorized hearing aid was offered for sale by Sonotone Corporation.

1972 – Following 36 years of publication, the last weekly issue of “LIFE” magazine hit the newsstands. The magazine later became a monthly publication.

1975 – A bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. 11 people were killed.

1985 – Phil Donahue and a Soviet radio commentator hosted the “Citizens’ Summit” via satellite TV.

1986 – The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL reopened for business after eighteen years and $47 million of restoration.

1989 – Following Hong Kong’s decision to forcibly repatriate some Vietnamese refugees, thousands of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ battled with riot police.

1997 – Hong Kong began killing 1.25 million chickens, the entire population, for fear of the spread of ‘bird flu’.

1998 – Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970’s genocide in Cambodia that claimed 1 million lives.

Noteworthy Birthdays:

Charles Goodyear 1800 – – Inventor. (vulcanized rubber)

Andrew Johnson 1808 – 17th POTUS

William Gladstone 1809 – British politician.

Pablo Casals 1876 – Cellist, conductor.

Viveca Lindfors 1920 – Actress.

William Gaddis 1922 – Author.

Rose Lee Maphis 1922 – Country singer.

Dina Merrill 1928 – Actress.

Tom Jarriel 1934 – TV journalist.

Ed Flanders 1934 – Actor.

Ray Nitschke 1936 – Football middle linebacker.

Jon Voight 1938 – Actor.

Mary Tyler Moore 1938 – Actress, comedienne.

Ed Bruce 1940 – Country singer, songwriter.

Ray Thomas 1942 – Musician. (The Moody Blues)

Marianne Faithfull 1946 – Singer.

Ted Danson 1947 – Actor.

Cozy Powell 1947 – Drummer. (The Jeff Beck Group)

Jon Polito 1950 – Actor, voice artist.

Gelsey Kirkland 1952 – Ballet dancer.

Yvonne Elliman  1953 – Singer.

Paula Poundstone 1960 – Comedienne.

Jason Gould 1966 – Actor.

Jude Law 1972 – Actor.

Shawn Hatosy 1975 – Actor.

Jessica Andrews 1983 – Country singer.

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