Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Home Alone

My wife left me with the kids today. Occasionally, she likes to go out and have a few hours to herself while I'm home.

The funny thing, though, is how hard she acts like this is. She constantly talks about how the kids don't listen and how they walk all over her. I just don't get it. They're great for me. They do as I tell them and they generally seem happy to do it.

Maybe the kids just fear me more, but that never seems to be the case. If anything, I think I'm the calmer and more rational parent. I don't yell often and only do so when something requires it.

I wonder if it would be the other way around if I were the stay-at-home parent. Would they then act well for her and poorly for me? Who knows?

But they're being good right now. Not even fighting amongst themselves.

Either way, at least she can get a break here and there. I get to leave the confines of my truck every so often; it only seems fitting that she should get a little leave occasionally.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My New Blackberry

I recently decided, after much consideration and weighing of the proverbial pros and cons, to discontinue my service with AT&T.  This meant that I also had to give up the full use of my beloved iPhone.  To many, especially those who use this device on a daily basis, such a step is akin to technological sacrilege.  However, I had my reasons.

First, there is the issue of AT&T keeping things from iPhone users.  The big one for me, ironically, was Google Voice.  Now, I only have the one phone that I use on a regular basis.  I drive a truck for a living, so a land line is a bit out of the question.  I have one at my house, of course, but I rarely use it there.  But the fact that AT&T would conspire against its customers to prevent becoming a "portal" for Google usage is criminal.  By the way, AT&T, in case you didn't realize it, customers with the iPhone DO use you as a portal.  They don't buy games or ringtones or anything from you.  Just minutes and a data plan.  The only time they know that they have AT&T is when you're fucking them.  On to reason two.

Since I drive everywhere, I have a pretty decent idea of how well each service provider does on the national level.  I used to drive into California and I knew, for a fact, that I would only have dropped calls in two areas.  One was going under an overpass in Needles where there was just a dead zone; a bit of an anomoly, really.  The second place was along US 395 in the Eastern part of the state.  But I'll give them that one:  it was basically driving through a canyon next to a river.  However, over the past year or so, the service in California has gotten worse and worse.  I can be in the middle of Los Angeles, probably the largest land-area metropolis in the country, and have calls dropped repeatedly.  It's bullshit.  I don't know if anybody's out there giving orders to shut down towers, but you have to wonder when stuff like this happens.

Thirdly, with being in school and having so many documents and spreadsheets and Power Point presentations to make and deliver and edit, I needed a device that could do those things when I was unable to pull out my laptop.  Sure, there is an app that I could buy for around $20 that would do it, but it still has not been updated to work with Microsoft Office 2007.  Now, my school requires me to use the 2007 version; they even let me buy it from them for only $15.  Well, I'm not going to wait around for an app to finally get its shit together.  When I'm on the toilet and need to write in a Word document, I need a device that will back me up.

So, as you might guess, I have resolved all three of these issues.  I went with Verizon Wireless as my carrier and got the latest Blackberry device as my phone.  As much as I loved the iPhone and its sweet, smooth curves and operability, this Blackberry makes for a nice, steady fuck.  It has a Word/Excel/PowerPoint editor built right in for free.  It has so many options for messaging that I can hardly keep up with them all.  It's decently easy to type on and the Verizon Network makes AT&T look sad.  If you look at the coverage maps from both companies, you might consider AT&T's "partly cloudy".  Verizon, though, looks like a nightmare bubonic plague has swept the nation and is killing people by the millions.  Sweet. 

Now, in a perfect world, I would be able to get the iPhone on a Verizon account and those asses would get their Office editing software updated.  But that time is not now.  When AT&T finally loses the exclusivity agreement with Apple, perhaps I'll get another one.  By then all the other shit will have been straightened out, too.  To tell you the truth, based upon what I've seen from AT&T's current pricing plans and phone costs, they'll probably be just as glad to lose the agreement with Apple. 

Oh, and by the way, Verizon gave me a sweet deal on my phones and service.  I bought one Blackberry for $200 and they gave me the second one free.  Both are the same phone.  Also, there's no paying for text and MMS plans.  Fuck that.  It's all unlimited.  They even waived my activation fees.  According to the receipt I got, I saved well over $400.  So fuck AT&T. 

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Session Ended

Well, after a long-winded, yet surprisingly well-accepted, research paper on why Global Warming is bullshit and an extremely in-depth Final Exam on the intricacies of Microsoft Excel, another half-semester has ended for me at school.

Although it's a relief to be done, there's that interim week that makes you feel like you have absolutely nothing to do.  Usually, I have a dozen things on my mind relating school and work.  I have to balance the amount of miles I drive per day with how much time I need to work on a project or simply to check in with my class discussions.  Now, with a week off until my next session starts, I almost feel lazy.

I'm heading home today for a well-deserved week off.  We're going up to the northern part of the state where my in-laws have a tiny weekend place on the ocean.  We're dropping the kids of there and heading to the Best Western.  We rarely get away on our own, so I figured $130 a night was worth it.  My wife wants to go to some joint called Boston Pizza, which is sacrilege to me, since it's a Canadian company.  We're also going to see Inglourious Basterds Saturday night.

But I can't help feeling like I have nothing to accomplish this week.  I've already busted out the books for my next school session to read over some of the introductory things we'll be doing. 

I used to get a knot in my stomach at the thought of taking classes full-time while working the same, but, now that I'm well-entrenched, I can hardly imagine life without such a full schedule.  It's going to be one hell of a shock to me to finally climb down the steps from this truck and waltz into a normal life.  Fortunately, I plan on moving ahead with my Masters.  I hope I don't turn into Pauly Shore from Son In Law and end up taking classes for the rest of my life.  Whoever knew that college could be a crutch?

I suppose I'll get through it.  Every time I grind out two of these courses, I know there are two more waiting in the wings.  One day, though, it'll have to stop.  Do they have rehab for graduate degrees?  Yikes.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Little Things

As of January of this year, I have been enrolled in college full time. I did this because I was tired of thinking of a way to get out of my current employment situation.

Not that I have a bad job. On the contrary, this is the only job I've ever had that I can truly say I fully enjoy. My company, though small, is highly competitive and keeps me busy. I'm well-compensated and I consider most of the people I work with to be my friends.

The only thing missing from this job is time at home. You see, the most successful truck drivers are those that stay out for long periods of time. Logistically, if you have no particular place to be, there are many more options open to you. I normally stay out for five to six weeks before heading home. Twice a year, I stay out for ten weeks.

But being home with my family has always been something I've had to miss out on. It comes with the territory, sure; but the territory is what has to change.

I always had it in the back of my mind to find a way out, but most of my ideas were fleeting at best. They usually involved civil service tests in the hopes of landing some cushy government job with a nice pention for the back forty.

However, I also knew that the chances of landing such a gig were slim. There are thousands of people with the same ideas as mine. Even if I could beat out the majority of them on the testing, there would be the long wait and the painful transition. I would rather have a bit more control.

So, remembering that I still had a couple years to claim my GI Bill money, I made a few inquiries. After a lot of faxes and phone calls, I got in.

It'll be 2011 before I have my degree. I'll be 31. But I'll have a degree. I'll be able to search a whole new area on the job listings. If I'm really lucky and steadfast, I might even land a gig teaching school, which would be my ultimate goal.

Then, it would be the little things that I could appreciate once again. It's been so long since I've had the opportunity to look forward to the weekend. It's been so long since I've not had to worry about leaving. It's been so long since I've had a guaranteed amount of time for myself and my family. That is what I'm looking forward to.

Sure, I'll moss the road. "White Line Fever" is a real thing that a lot of guys get. But I can deal with that. Every time I wake up on a Saturday morning knowing I have the day off just like every other normal person out there, I'll know it was all worth it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

1,000,000 Mile Reset

Last Friday I learned an interesting thing. Actually, the lesson was not learned until Monday, but the event that sparked the thing happened on Friday. The lesson is one of those that you never want to learn or ever pursue the answer for. You have to just learn it the hard way.

The lead dispatcher on the other end of the phone, I asked the only question that had been left unanswered the entire weekend. I wanted to know if I was going to lose my job for what had happened.

It was a good question. You cannot just lay a 40-ton machine on its side and keep your job. That is, unless you were a statistic.

"Never even entered my mind, Barry."

That was what he told me. Now, I have one hell of a rapport with my company. I am still the #1 driver over nearly 200 others. I drive further, better and more consistently than any other guy in the company. I have nicknames that reflect my status and the stories of my seemingly insane deeds float around the circles of conversation on a regular basis. Those facts might have helped me, but they were certainly not the deciding factor.

"Some companies give out awards to guys with a million or two million miles without an accident. Not us. Here, we say, 'This mother fucker's due.'"

I was due. That was all it was. Sure, there were some issues that came up mechanically. Yes, I was at the end of my prescribed 11-hour driving time and I was a bit tired; I was awake, but tired. The moon was full and that does things to people. You can try to throw in all the why's and wherefores that make an accident make sense, but it really came down to a statistical answer: You cannot drive for years and rack up millions of miles without having your number pulled eventually. Just like dice, you roll them until you lose. I lost. I dumped a truck like I was center screen in a Terminator movie. There were noises and dust and flying metal and flying french fries and me trapped in my seat belt like a fly waiting for the returning spider. But it all came down to a flick of the wrist and a pair of snake eyes when the dice hit the velvet. A statistic.

Fortunately, I was not killed. Hell, I was barely injured. I walked out of the truck like I had just parked it too fast; a little giddy and high-strung, but none the worse for wear. I have some nice bruises from the seat belt and I later got myself one hell of a sunburn while the rescue crews removed my fallen rig. (Fourteen hours in the Nevada sun with a bald head - not a pretty picture.)

It's kind of funny how people rationalize things. My first thought when I got to my feet was that this was going to require some explaining. I thought the explanations would take days and that people - experts - might even be brought in to determine exact causes of things. I have worked for companies that do things like that; fortunately, this is not one of those companies.

When you run hard you have to expect some setbacks. You have to keep in mind that this is not a job for the simple and less-than-dedicated driver. The trucking industry loses more people every year than any other industry. Sure, we're further down on the list percentage-wise, but we number well into the tens of millions. They may have us on the percentages, but we have the higher numbers. This job is not one for the weak of fortitude. It seems easy: pointing an over-sized car down the road and getting paid for it. But there are so many factors that people do not remember. That is why those dummies cut us off in traffic and dive across three lanes to hit an exit ramp just off the nose of tractor-trailer. They are ignorant.

Anyway, it's been one hell of a week. I have a new truck, just like the one I wrecked - also a perk of being the #1 guy. I hope that my luck will stand and that I can get over a million miles more before something like this happens again. Fortunately, I won't hit another million before I hang it up for good. But I just hope the luck holds.

Take care; and be good to one another.

Here's a look at my little accident:

Friday, May 8, 2009

On Cowardice

I have always prided myself on having courage. Like many boys, it took me years to start standing up for myself. I got pushed around many times in school. One day, I pushed back. Now, I do the pushing.

No, I'm not a bully. Not in the everyday sense at least. I am pushy, though. When we moved into our current place, I pushed the landlord around until I got what I wanted. I got a phone line put in. I got cable run in. I even got a fence built. Most of it wasn't his responsibility. But my backbone just happened to be thicker than his, so he did what I asked.

Being this way, I despise people who lack courage or even a general sense of standing up to another.

I was recently attacked by someone who misconstrued something I had written. When I had explained the basis of my writing and that he had been wrong to accuse me, he didn't even acknowledge it. Then, in an unrelated incident, he had some other writing of mine removed because someone else took it the wrong way. Is it my fault that people are sensitive? Should I change my outlook to suit weaker versions of men?

After these two incidents, I sought conference with this man. Both through email and telephonically. No response. Why? Because he's a fucking coward. He read my email and knew he couldn't compete. Why not, doctor? All that education left you with zero ability to have a verbal row with a lowly truck driver? I find the irony here just aglow. You can put all the letters you want behind your name; and maybe that makes you somebody. But you'll never forget the time a gear-jamming asshole out-smarted and out-reasoned you multiple times in one day. You'll also never forget the dick-shrivelling feeling that such knowledge gave you. You're not a man. You're just a fucking chump.

You're my bitch now, mother fucker.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Been quite a while...

Okay, so I haven't written in quite some time. In fact, this is my first posting for this year. There has been little outcry from what I can see on the news, so I guess everyone did alright without my gibberish.

I have had a lot of things going on lately; most of it I cannot talk about just yet. Certain people deserve the right to know before I post it on an open forum such as this.

However, I will try to throw a few things up occasionally to try to quench your insatiable thirst for horse shit.

Anyway, I was watching a clip on CNN today about that girl who hit the toll booth in southern California a few years back. Unless you've been sleeping under a rock for a while, you have seen the horrific pictures on the internet. Her parents, it seems, want them all taken down and have hired a lawyer to help get it done. Fine, great. I can understand where they are coming from.

What I have a problem with, however, is the fact that they're allowing the news to re-exploit this entire ordeal. Those pictures have been up forever and everyone has seen them. In fact, most people have, if not forgotten about them, at least let them die away. The parents should be pleased that their little girl is no longer plastered all over the internet on a daily basis. What did they think was going to happen when they took this story public? I guarantee that most of the sites that cater to that sort of entertainment will be more than happy to repost them on their front pages. Why not? Every time somebody that hasn't seen them punches that girl's name into Google, their site might get a hit from it.

I suppose some people just don't have the foresight that I have.