Saturday, September 5, 2009

JSI’s first micro loan recipient is all smiles

Michael just hauled his first load for Jane Lew Hot Shot Trucking Co., thanks to a micro loan arranged by JSI and a local trucking co. The barrier to employment had been in seeking to have his commercial drivers license reinstated. He had been unemployed for over a year and a half after working in the trucking industry for more than 20 years.

Victim of an unscrupulous trucking company, Michael spent all his savings trying to have his former employer resolve his license problems, but to no avail.

". . . companies may promise to ensure that their drivers are always driving legally, within the federal regulations for driving-time limits and allowable load weights. The reality, however, is that unscrupulous companies often set up loads and time limits that cannot be humanly accomplished unless a driver does drive illegally. Furthermore, if you are that unfortunate driver and you get caught, these companies will take no responsibility for making you break the law. In most instances, you can be stuck with huge fines to pay out of your own pocket."

"Nowhere is this more evident than in the trucking industry where unscrupulous companies often take advantage of drivers, forcing them to work beyond what is safe for both the driver and the public.There is a reason that trucks are often called sweatshops on wheels."

At the same time, the severe downturn of the economy made finding a job in another line of work near impossible. Michael could have applied for disability benefits due to non combat related injuries sustained in military service, and other health issues, but “I just didn’t want all the baggage that comes with having a disability”. This attitude is not uncommon among persons with health barriers to employment.

JSI recognizes that persons seeking employment, or starting a small business, often have an immediate need for funds to help overcome a relatively small obstacle that stands between them and their goal. Hence, a micro loan fund for such purposes was recently established, with Michael being the first recipient who is now back doing the work he loves. Without this loan, he would still be desperately looking for a job.

Keep on trucking, Michael!

Super Tight

When it takes you 45 minutes to move your trailer 2 dock doors, you know the spot is very tight. This place will rank among my top 3 toughest backing jobs. 73 feet of vehicle and maybe a parking lot that was 50 feet deep! It was unreal, but mission accomplished.

I got into Murray, KY at about 6:00 pm. Dropped my trailer and went to the Wally World, where I currently sit. No new loads as of yet. If they can't get me something because of the holiday weekend, then I will request to go home. I am sure that will go over well. I am only 1 1/2 hours from the house, can't see sitting here and not being home. Hopefully I will get something tomorrow.

Pretty much a routine drive today, after I cleared Chicago. I hate that place. 440 miles, so a pretty short day.

Not much else. Will get into all the college football games tomorrow, and hope for a load or a trip to the house.

All is good at the house. Sara is working hard on the other half of the kitchen, made lots of progress today. All is well with the dogs.

Present day....trucking along

I realized I haven't really talked about what my husband has been doing since getting furloughed. A year ago when the furlough first occurred, he came up a plan. He decided to get his real estate license. At first I was against it, because I am and have always been a person that likes that guaranteed bi-weekly paycheck. I didn't (and still don't) like the idea of going indefinite amounts of time before a pay check comes in. It's too unstable and nerve-racking. In the end, he convinced me it was a reasonable idea. For one thing, he had already taken a real estate class in VA (he never got licensed). He also owned a rental property and and gone through the process of buying and selling 3-4 houses himself, so he was pretty familiar with everything about real estate and knew a lot about it. It would be a quick process to get licensed and he even did his research in talking to brokers in our area and finding out more about how everything was going. He got offered a job with one broker and decided to go ahead and try things out. Also, since he was collecting unemployment, he was able to stay on it until he actually made a profit, so aside from the cost of getting licensed and some other real estate agent fees he wouldn't be out a ton of money. He tried it for a couple months and nothing was happening. He did countless open houses, put out flyers, went to some of those "business people of *insert name of town here*" gatherings, etc... I think the market was just too crappy. Nothing was moving. Finally he threw in the towel realizing he wasn't going to make money doing that job. Back to the drawing board. I realize I'm biased being that I'm his wife, but I'm convinced my husband is very very smart. He has very mechanical mind, he just understands how things work. I know a lot of people are like this, but I'm not one of them, so I admire this quality. Anything mechanical, he just kind of automatically gets, can fix, can improve, etc... I've seen him change out light fixtures and ceiling fans, rewire cable, install wireless internet, change the touch screen on his phone, etc... He also knows a lot about computer stuff. He's been able to walk me through many many computer issues, including ones at work that I doubt I could have gotten IT people in my own office to figure out. He also writes music software as a hobby and knows how to build radio control cars, planes, and helicopters. It's not even just that he knows how to do the basic functions of these hobbies, but he also knows how to improve them. Like with writing software, in addition to the music software he writes, when he was flying he also wrote software that sorts pilot scheduling bids. When doing real estate he came up with a program that matched up owner addresses/phone numbers with for-sale-by-owner listings. With his RC hobby, he can actually improve the speed and different aspects of the maneuvering because he just understands how do it. I just think not everyone thinks outside the box like his does and can come up with these ideas and successfully implement them. I think he's brilliant.
Anyway, that being said, my husband was applying for any and every kind of job and by this time had dropped his standards quite significantly and was actually applying for any old lowly job (we're talking warehouse worker at Lowe's, Autozone clerk, Sprint phone salesmen, etc...). He wasn't get any offers. Which was sad. And also depressing for him. As if it's not hard enough to lose your career, you can't even get a lowly job. It's the most depressed and low I've ever seen him. To the point that I actually went and talked to an EAP counselor at my job because after a while I didn't know how to deal with him like that. I went back and forth between cheerleader and getting frustrated/tired of him being so dumpy about it all and feeling like enough was enough. He was just sooooooo down and depressed. It was hard.
Eventually he heard about some pilots talking about doing truck driving. He started looking into it and started thinking about doing it. This was a similar scenario to the whole real estate scenario in that he slowly justified it as being a logical idea to me. He would be traveling/away (we're already used to that from him flying), the pay sounded potentially decent from what he could deduce, it was something he was capable to getting trained to do quickly and fairly easily and would be able to start doing it soon. Also, he didn't want to wait around for something better to come along because eventually there would come a time when unemployment would run out and he didn't want to be stuck in a panic without a job. So he signed up for CDL school (about 5 weeks long) and began truck driving. First off, if it's not already completely obvious, aviation and trucking are two VERY different industries. Different kinds of people, different "culture" etc... It is/was comical. The process at the company Greg chose was actually fairly rigorous. He chose a flat-bed semi company because the pay was supposed to be better with more work involved (tarping and strapping the loads) and because this company tried to give you weekends off, were as a lot of companies kept the drivers out for weeks at a time. He's been doing the job about 6 months now and absolutely hates it. The pay is not what he thought it would be. He's gone at least 5 days a week and sometimes only gets to come home for like 30 hours. It's been a hot summer and he sleeps in a truck he's not allowed to keep running at night that gets sweltering hot. The labor part of the job is really hard, especially in the heat. He gets drenched in sweat daily tarping and strapping the loads on to the flat bed. He's lost between 15-20 lbs since he started. It's also dangerous, a lot of guys fall, get hit with something, etc... The company has completely unrealistic expectations on how long it takes to tarp and strap and drive to the destination his loads get delivered to. They frequently ask him to cheat on his log book and lie about how long he has rested or how long it's taken him to load in order to give him more drive time. This is a problem not only because it's illegal, but also because if he ever did cheat and get caught and get a ticket, it could affect his aviation career, since pilots can't have violations on their driving records and he fully intends to go back to flying. He's EXHAUSTED every day. He's miserable every day.
I want to tell him to quit, but I saw the months he tried finding another job before resorting to this and he could not find anything. And that's when we had his unemployment, which now we wouldn't have if he were to quit. I can't support us on my salary alone. He's been looking/applying for other jobs, but so far hasn't heard anything. He really doesn't have a ton of time to dedicate to searching and applying though because he barely has any downtime. It's a catch 22. So that's where we're at right now.

Eastbound And Down, Loaded Up And Trucking...All Roads Lead Right Back To NoMi...(Part Two Of Four)

All Photos In This Post By John Hoff

I thought it would be a good time to talk more about my trip out of town and how--while it's fun to travel--the real adventure is home ownership and turning my neighborhood around. I'm constantly telling friends in their 20s that home ownership doesn't TIE YOU DOWN. Rather, it frees you because you have a base of stability to strike out from, seeking various economic and travel opportunities made possible by--oh gee--having equity instead of being a RENT SLAVE.

I'm just saying.

The picture at the top of the post is... state, once again, that I only take "micro vacations" when I have a moment of my own time in the course of paid work for my employer, driving a truck. The vast majority of my day looks like this: trying to keep it between the lines, hour upon hour, but no more than the number of hours allowed.

But when you travel--even in the course of hard work--you see things you've never seen before like a magnolia tree, or retired racehorses living large on Kentucky bluegrass behind 3-rail, creosote dipped fence posts. When you eat somewhere, you can pull in someplace local and order something unique, almost like a tourist.

So here's something I saw in a small town in Illinois (I think) while I was waiting at a railway crossing. It's an old caboose and it's BLUE. When I was a kid in rural Minnesota, trains still had cabooses--it's complicated why they usually DON'T have them anymore, check out this informative article from Wikipedia, click here--and I'd heard the legend of cabooses that were BLUE. I don't think I'd ever seen one before, ever. A few that weren't RED, but BLUE? No, never. Maybe in the dark we once THOUGHT we saw one, but who can tell in the dark?

Anyway, I had my camera handy in the cab, so I snapped this photo:

Later I was driving along and I saw a prison. I think I saw a total of three prisons on my trip, maybe four. When I drive by I wonder if there are prisoners inside who spend long periods of time looking out the window, watching the vehicles go past, envying my that song Folsom Prison Blues, when Johnny Cash sings about the train going by and how "They're probably drinking coffee and smoking big cigars."  

Here's a picture of something that always bothers me when I'm driving: a motorcycle, right in front of me. I am a fanatic about maintaining a safe following distance. I'm always thinking about some scenario where a tire blows or something malfunctions on the vehicle ahead, and it slows down rapidly. What's a fender bender in a car or truck is DEATH OR PERMANENT INJURY on a motorcycle. I swear, I don't even know why people drive them. Seriously. They were fine for soldiers to carry messages in World War One and risk their life in the endeavor, but after that...just a bad idea.

There, I said it.

I have a little verbal talisman I say whenever a motorcycle is in front of me: GET OFF MY FRONT BUMPER YOU BUZZING INSECT!!! 

When I say these words, I never have an accident with the motorcycle.

Try it. It works.

This last photo shows signs that are placed at some rest stops reminding commercial drivers about the limits on the number of hourssss allowwwwwed on.........


Geez, nodded off for a second, there. Good thing the truck knows the way.

No, seriously, I always stay within my allotted hours of driving and get enough sleep.

Oh, one more thing about the photo at the very top of the post: Illinois has the WORST ROADS and the MOST TOLLS. You can literally see the state line because there's a row of potholes right there, just before you get to the Welcome To Illinois sign to let you know you've OFFICIALLY arrived.

And, for the record, Abraham Lincoln was born in KENTUCKY. True fact. So when the signs in Illinois say "Land of Lincoln," well, that's not entirely true, either, but I'm sure they're finding a way to charge you a toll for the billboard.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Teddy Kennedy the Hollow Champion By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Teddy Kennedy the Hollow Champion
Teddy Kennedy's disasters were vivid. His legislative triumphs, draped in this week's obituaries with respectful homage, were far less colorful but they were actually devastating for the very constituencies – working people, organized labor – whose champion he claimed to be.
He had the most famous car accident in political history when he drove off a wooden bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in July 1969, saying later that he had failed in several attempts to dive down 10ft to rescue Mary Jo Kopechne, a former aide of his dead brother Robert. She was in the back seat and drowned.
Ted quit the scene and called in standby Kennedy speechwriters instead of the police, a misdemeanor which cost him a two-month suspended sentence and any chance of ever following his brother Jack into the White House.
He made only one overt bid for the presidency and that was a colorful disaster too. He challenged the Democratic incumbent, Jimmy Carter, then seeking20re-election in 1980. After three years, the left in the Democratic Party was bitterly disappointed in Carter's cautious centrism and Kennedy placed himself in the left's vanguard, declaring in a famous speech that "sometimes a party must sail against the wind".
In those days I was reporting on national politics for the Village Voice and Rolling Stone and covered Kennedy's bid. It got off to a shaky start when Roger Mudd of NBC, a well-known political r eporter and TV newscaster, asked Ted on prime time why he wanted to be president. The thirty seconds of silence that followed this easy lob didn't help Kennedy's chances.
The campaign plane shot backwards and forwards across America, seeking photo opportunities. On one typical morning we left Washington DC at 6am and headed for the rustbelt where Kennedy stood outside a shuttered Pittsburgh steel mill and pledged to get the steel industry back on its feet. We shot west to Nebraska so Kennedy could stand in front of a corn silo and swear allegiance to the cause – utterly doomed - of the small family farmer. Then we doubled back to New York so he could stand on a street corner in a slum neighborhood in the Bronx and promise a better deal for urban blacks and Hispanics.
I asked one of Kennedy's campaign people why they didn't simply equip a studio in20Washington with the necessary backdrops – steel mill, silo, urban wasteland – but he said it wouldn't be honest. As things were, the locations we flew to may have been genuine, but the campaign pledges were as dishonest as a studio backdrop, which is why Kennedy – bellowing out his speeches like a mammoth stuck in a swamp - sounded utterly fake.
By 1980 the die was cast. Disdaining the leftward option offered by George McGovern in 1972, the Democratic Party had thrown in its lot decisively with Wall Street, and the big players across the American corporate landscape. The labor unions and the other foot-soldier constitu encies of the Party, would be flung rhetorical bouquets with decreasing fervor every four years.
Though the obituarists have glowingly evoked Kennedy's 46-year stint in the US Senate and, as 'the last liberal', his mastery of the legislative process, they miss the all-important fact that it was out of Kennedy's Senate office that came two momentous slabs of legislation that signalled the onset of the neo-liberal era: deregulation of trucking and aviation. They were a disaster for organized labor and the working conditions and pay of people in those industries.
The theorists of deregulation were Stephen Breyer who was Kennedy's chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Alfred Kahn, out of Cornell. Prominent on Kennedy’s dereg team was David Boies. Breyer now sits on the US Supreme Court, an unswerving shill for the corporate sector.
In the mid to late 1970s these Kennedy rent-a-thinkers began to tout deregulation as the answer to low productivity and bureaucratic and corporate inertia. Famous at that time was a screed by Breyer, then a Harvard Law School professor, quantifying such things as environmental pollution in terms of assessable and fungible “risks” which could be bought and sold in the market place. (The Natural Resources Defense Council, adorned by Ted’s nephew, Robert Kennedy Jr., has long espoused this disastrous approach.)
The two prongs of Kennedy’s deregulatory attack – later decorated with the political label “neo-liberalism” – were aimed=2 0at airlines and trucking, and Kennedy’s man, Alfred Kahn was duly installed by Jimmy Carter at the Civil Aeronautics Board to introduce the cleansing winds of competition into the industry. By and large, airline deregulation went down well with the press and, for a time, with the public, who rejoiced in the bargains offered by the small fry such as People’s Express, and by the big fry striking back. The few critics who said that=2 0within a few years the nation would be left with five or six airlines, oligopoly and higher fares, were mostly ignored.
No one ever really wrote about the terrible effects of trucking deregulation outside the left press. It was certainly the most ferocious anti-labor move of the 1970s, with Kennedy as the driving force. Some of Kennedy’s aides promptly reaped the fruits of their legislative labors, leaving the Hill to make money hand over fist trying to break unions on behalf of Frank Lorenzo, the Texan entrepreneur who ran the Texas Air Corporation and its properties, Continental Airlines and its subsidiary, Eastern.
Did Kennedy fight, might and main, against NAFTA? No. As Steve Early relates in his piece on this site today, he was for it and helped Clinton ratify the job-losing Agreement. Then he put his shoulder behind GATT, parent of the World Trade Agreement.
We also have Kennedy to thank for 'No Child Left Behind' – the nightmarish education act pushed through in concert with Bush Jr's White House, that condemns children to a treadmill of endless tests contrived as "national standards".
And it was Kennedy who was the prime force behind the Hate Crimes Bill, aka the Matthew Shepard Act, by dint of which America is well on its way to making it illegal to say anything nasty about gays, Jews, blacks and women. "Hate speech," far short of any direct incitement to violence, is on the edge of being criminalized, with the First Amendment going the way of the dodo.
The deadly attacks on the working class and on organized labor are Ted Kennedy’s true monument. But as much as his brothers Jack and Bobby he was adept at persuading the underdogs that he was on their side. If it hadn’t been for Kennedy, a lot more people would have health coverage . In 1971 Nixon, heading into his relection bid, put up the legislative ancestor of all recent Democratic proposals, but Kennedy shot it down, preferring to have this as his campaign plank sometime in the political future.
After reelection, Nixon did promote a health plan in his 1974 State of the Union speech, with a call for universal access to health insurance. He followed up with his Comprehensive Health Insurance Act on February 6, 1974. Nixon said his plan would build on existing employer-sponsored insurance plans and would provide government subsidies to the self-employed and small businesses to ensure universal access to hea lth insurance. Kennedy went through the motions of cooperation, but in the end the AFL-CIO, with a covert nudge from Kennedy, killed the bill because Nixon was vanishing under the Watergate scandal and the Democrats did not want to hand the President and the Republicans one of their signature issues. Now the Republicans scream “socialism” at exactly what Nixon proposed and Kennedy killed off 38 years ago, in 1971.
To this day there are deluded souls who argue that Jack was going to pull US troops out of Vietnam and that is why he was killed; that Bobby, who worked for Roy Cohn and supervised a "Murder Inc" in the Caribbean, was really and truly on the side of the angels; that Ted was the mighty champion of the working people, even though he helped deliver them into the inferno of neoliberalism.
By his crucial endorsement last year he helped give them Obama too, now holidaying six miles from Chappaquiddick, on Martha's Vineyard, another salesman for the inferno. But because his mishaps were so dramatic, few remember quite how toxic his political “triumphs” were for those who now foolishly mourn him as their lost leader.

Steve Early
Kennedy's Sins Against Labor

Sunday, August 30, 2009

HotShot part Duex

How does LTL and standard Trucking differ? First of all is the size of truck. Most , not all but most LTL freight is moved by smaller trucks. From class 4 , 5, and 6 trucks. Second is the GVW of loads, that are mostly 26,000 or less. Which means no CDL required to run LTL freight. Dedicated runs, and less fuel and taxation requirements means a few more green stamps in your pockets. Next there are a albeit limited but a few major carriers specializing in LTL JIT freight. One being Jones Motor Freight. What if you could combine both towing and trucking? The first thing you'll think of is a carrier(rollback) , but what about a trailer on the back of a standard boom style tow truck. Likewize hauling cars and scrap from and too salvage yards? You still need to keep a drivers log if you run over 100 nautical miles, you still need to stop at chicken coops and still need a medical card. Commercial base plates and insurance , occasionally you'll need to get a DOT inspection. But that's the limit of restriction. If you can maintain that your income can be better than the usual OTR trucking. What are the limitations? That in my next blawg.


Quote of the day:
If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. - Anatole France

Galatians 3:28“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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A fast driving crazy cop chase starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, and Ernest Borgnine

Its over 30 years old and still truckin! This cult classic was re-mastered and re-packaged for its 30th Anniversary. Citizen Band radio takes to the freeways for fast-lane thrills and fly-over spills. Trucker "Rubber Duck" (Kris Kristofferson) signals the big 10-4 when he and his unsuspecting ride along (Ali MacGraw) are chased through three states by a corrupt traffic cop named "Dirty Lyle" (Ernest Borgnine). The green light is sent out over the American CB airwaves for a convoy of truckers to help keep the police off his trail. Acclaimed and award winning director Sam Peckinpah steps on the gas for an all-action adventure jam-packed with sensational stunts and truck crashes around every turn!

Available from See of Sound

More than just another pretty truck attended the Dallas,TX truck show known as GATS. (see banner above)We were very pleased to see the topic of safety as the key point of interest this year. We were able to network and expand our panel of experts who will be providing information for us to disseminate to our visitors. Thanks to Nate of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Nate shared with me the newest concerns of truck safety and how his organization helps truckers and trucking companies get information to the manufacturers about safety issues on new and existing truck models. He explained, they [NHTSA] have had success in correcting some defects and safety concerns presented to them by drivers, company mechanics and safety personnel. appreciates an organization like this, even if it is a government agency, who truly cares about ALL drivers safety on the highways.

Another special group we spoke to was BT Friendly. BT (Be Trucker) Friendly spreads 5 key points to driving safely around trucks. Kelvin Spencer of BT Friendly says these 5 tips are:
1. DO NOT tailgate
2. DO NOT cut me off
3. DO NOT ride in my blind spots
4. DO NOT drive into my left or right turns
5. DO NOT make sudden stops in front of me
AND adds this reminder- DO NOT DRINK and DRIVE

Kelvin says, that when people demonstrate their knowledge of these safety measures, they provide them with a window decal to display in their rear window. This lets approaching trucks know they are around a driver that knows how to operate safely around them. This is a great idea and we wish them continued success.

We were pleased to speak to some of the members and staff of the Ol' Blue team, Texas State Troopers and Texas DOT Commercial Vehicle Division. This organization allows drivers to "ask the law" about current driving regulations and new legislation affecting the legal operation of trucks and driver compliance's. The ol' Blue team travels the country teaching auto drivers about trucks and how to maneuver safely around them. They set up a truck with autos parked around it, to show just how difficult it is for truck drivers to see them. Most who attend are astounded at the blind spots drivers must contend with. We recommend you visit Ol' Blue whenever you get a chance to.

Truck shows like GATS are a re great place to see and learn more about the trucking industry. These shows are labeled as conventions, but offer a great deal more such as custom trucks on display, a pride and polish truck competition, including some trucks with some fabulous lighting. Many vendors and organizations like and the others mentioned in this post, take these opportunities to meet the public and spread the word of the great contribution trucking plays in our economy and to educate the motoring public about safely operating around the big rigs. these shows keep a regular schedule and are located in places like Louisville, KY, Las Vegas, NV, Dallas, TX and there is even a Latino truck show in California. Google "trucking shows" to get more information.

Thanks for visiting our blog and please educate yourself about big trucks, it could save your life.

On closing the deal eight years later, Chicago Motor Speedway, and improving the racing in the CWTS

Kyle Busch again dominated the Truck Series, this time in the series inaugural series race at Chicagoland Speedway. It's no surprise to see Busch in victory lane in a Truck but this win had to be especially sweet as it was redemption from 2001. Busch was within a handful of laps away from winning in just his second series start, as a 16-year-old, at the old Chicago Motor Speedway before fuel and eventually tire problems derailed his bid for victory. Not that Busch needs a redemption - afterall, he's since gone on to score 56 total wins among the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck series - but it puts a nice end to a story that was started just over eight years ago.

Seeing the highlight footage from the two truck races at Chicago Motor Speedway during the SPEED broadcast brought back memories. The track was wedged into property between a residential neighborhood and a solid waste transfer station in Cicero, just a couple of miles from Midway Airport. The track packed them in for a couple of CART Champ Car races, and drew a decent crowd for the first Truck race in 2000. But the attendance for the second Truck race in 2000 set an unofficial record for the smallest crowd to ever witness an official Truck Series event. Some veteran observers trackside estimated attendance at less than a thousand, making the cavernous grandstands that were capable of holding upwards of 60,000 to appear absolutely desolate. One joke going around on race morning in 2001 was that the drivers would go up into the grandstands and shake hands personally with the fans in attendance, and since there were so few of them there it wouldn't take any longer than the traditional driver intros do. It is a real shame the event didn't gain any traction because, despite its location, it was a cool racetrack. It was a tight paperclip, more of a Martinsville clone than even New Hampshire, and the racing was pretty good. It looked like a decent crowd was on hand Friday night at Chicagoland.

NASCAR's best kept secret has been the quality of the racing in the Truck Series. But rules changes in the engines and on pit road have degraded that competition this year. The tapered spacer that restricts horsepower means that drivers can run wide open around virtually every 1.5-mile track on the schedule. So rather than drivers testing themselves to see how deep they can run into the corner, they simply hold it to the mat and guide the truck - almost like a slot car. At Chicagoland, cameras caught some side-by-side racing (usually after restarts), but there was a lot of single-file running with very little racing for position. The pit stop rules that don't allow tire changes and refueling on the same pit stop hurt the quality of the on-track product too. If a team needs tires after a 60-lap green flag run, they must make two pit stops - one for tires and one for fuel. If a caution falls during a round of green flag stops, someone's night is essentially ruined. Hopefully things will change in 2010 and teams won't have to make the choices they are forced to make now. There are plenty of changes NASCAR can make that will improve the quality of the show without increasing the number of people that the teams need to take to the track. Allow four tires and fuel and eliminate the tire carriers. Only allow two tire changes during any one pit stop. Or go back to the way it was with full-blown four-tire changes.

I have some decisions to make.

It seems that I may be discharged from the hospital this weekend, my IV drip has been removed and the nurses are constantly checking me as well as the lab techs who are taking an obscene amount of blood for analysis. The future is looking rosy.
My Doctor has advised that I will be off work for a month as I have numerous tests still to be done as well as visits to the heart clinic.
My predicament is as follows and is really a warning to all drivers over here especially with families.

I have basically a heart illness and because of this I do not qualify for "Workers Compensation Board" which only covers work related injuries. So lets give you a random scenario that you should all be able to relate to:

Nice and easy, I am getting out of the truck and slip causing my ankle to twist.
I need a few weeks off work as a doctor says I have sprained the ankle. Now is the time to start rubbing your hands together as you qualify for 90% of your wages to be paid to you, plus in my case a hotel would be paid for, plus any additional costs related to the injury. Not bad worries, cash coming in and the perfect enviroment for a stress free recovery.

Like I said I do not qualify for WCB which is a shame.
I possibly do qualify for employment Insurance. Now get this....remember I now have a chronic illness, its very serious and I may never be at 100% fitness.
At the time of writing this I qualify for a weekly payment of $450 which is subject to tax......dont bother waiting for me to add to this amount because thats it !!!!!!
My hotel bill alone swallows this amount, thats before any travel costs with getting to and from the hospital oe even eating.

So, to all of you married men, individuals with commitments......if you had a small stroke say......could you pay your bills, eat, pay the rent and generally support your family for the indefinite period that you may be ill ?

So the decision I have is do I stay in Canada for my remaining treatment which will financially hit me hard or do I fly home and get treatment where I am around family and living in a stress free enviroment ?

And just one more thing, this is aimed at people who are employed at the same company as me .......I have never been insured by Alberta Health Care since arriving in Canada. The health care system required more information when my application was submitted and contacted my employer who according to Alberta Health Care ignored the request. I dread to think what would of happened had my hospital visit been in the USA, especially the cost. Trust me, it was bad enough laying on a stretcher waiting for the Surgeons to decide if they were going to give me the Angiogram when I was at Calgary, especially when you have a weak heart to begin with !!!!!!!!!!!!

Libertarian Ted

Kennedy's Forgotten Legacy

It's seems like it's been all Ted all the time on TV these past days, but is anybody watching? Nielson ratings are in and according to the New York Times ABC's special Remembering Ted Kennedy drew four million viewers. The CBS special The Last Brother earned 4.6 million viewers. However NBC crushed them both with the nearly 11 million viewers it drew to the America's Got Talent reality show, which is more viewers than both Kennedy specials got combined.

Am I being rude or just realistic when I say that many Democrats secretly hoped that Ted would die next month, when Congress is in session, instead of now, when congress is on vacation and any emotional outpouring is of little use in ramming through the Obamacare plan?

Oh well, at least we're seeing some good Pioneer Valley memorabilia surfacing regarding Kennedy. Amherst writer Mary Carey shares this picture of herself and Kennedy in 2004.

And this picture of her sister-in-law's sister in 1987 at the Holyoke Saint Patrick's Day parade. Waving beside Ted is former Springfield Congressman and local Democrat machine boss Eddie "House Mouse" Boland.

My sister Beverly once waited on Ted Kennedy in 1992 when she was working as a waitress at the Friendly's that used to be located in downtown Springfield across from the courthouse.

One day Ted stopped in with then Springfield Mayor Robert Markel. Both men ordered a coffee, a bill which in those days came to only a dollar and a half for both cups. Ted paid with a ten dollar bill, telling my sister to keep the change, resulting in an $8.50 tip on a buck and a half purchase. Hey, say what you will about Teddy - he was a good tipper!

We've heard a lot in the last several days about how Ted Kennedy was the "Liberal Lion" who fought relentlessly for the leftist cause. However, little has been noted about Kennedy's occasional libertarian tendencies. According to Reason Editor Nick Gillespie:

There is, buried deep within Kennedy's legislative legacy, a different set of policies worth exhuming and examining, precisely because they were truly a break with the normal way of doing business in Washington. During the 1970s, Kennedy was instrumental in deregulating the interstate trucking industry and airline ticket prices, two innovations that have vastly improved the quality of life in America even as—or more precisely, because—they pushed power out of D.C. and into the pocketbooks of everyday Americans.

We are incalculably richer and better off because something like actual prices replaced regulatory fiat in trucking and flying. Because they do not fit the Ted Kennedy narrative preferred by his admirers and detractors alike, these accomplishments rarely get mentioned in stories about the late senator. But they are exactly the sort of legislation that we should be celebrating in his honor, and using as a model in today's debates about health care, education, and virtually every aspect of government action."

That Ol' River

You just can't beat the gorgeous view of the mighty Connecticut that you get as the river passes through Hadley.

Of course you have to stick to the public paths.

I'm jealous of the people who have homes right on the river.

Today's Video

Electric Kool-Aid Obama.

Fire Trucking

(in the spirit of full disclosure these pictures are from Heidi's camera. I was supposed to email them to her about 2 weeks ago. But come on, like SHE is EVER going to blog this. Not judging. Just saying.)

On our way to the museum one day we stopped to watch the fire department doing some drills. They generously invited us to come over and take a tour of the truck. Max's head nearly exploded he was so excited.

Fire fighter Tino





Getting fitted with the mandatory ropes. Tino and Mateo took a ride up 110 feet in the ladder. It was so great for them.

I love Mateo's face.


And Up. We enjoyed the view from the safe ground below. 110 feet is a long way up. I think the cats in Lehi who get stuck in a tree will be just fine.

The Ted Kennedy you may not know

Ted Kennedy:"The task of leadership in 1980 is not to parade scapegoats or to seek refuge in reaction, but to match our power to the possibilities of progress. While others talked of free enterprise, it was the Democratic Party that acted and we ended excessive regulation in the airline and trucking industry, and we restored competition to the marketplace. And I take some satisfaction that this deregulation legislation that I sponsored and passed in the Congress of the United States."Steve Early:In several key industries—trucking, the airlines, and telecom--nothing has undermined union membership and bargaining power more than de-regulation. Kennedy embraced de-regulation with gusto and, despite his other differences with Jimmy Carter thirty years ago, helped ram through industry restructuring harmful to hundreds of thousands of workers and their union contracts. By 1985, as Kim Moody describes in U.S. Labor in Trouble and Transition, the number of workers covered by the Teamsters' biggest trucking contract had been halved. Today, fewer than 100,000 work under the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA)—down from 450,000 before Carter and Kennedy transformed the role of the Interstate Commerce Commission and codified that regulatory change via the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. The business-backed policy agenda "that would become known as ‘Reaganomics' or more generally as neoliberalism," had its roots in the Carter Administration, Moody points out. Two of its key objectives were deregulation and free trade; the first having been accomplished under Carter, the second was pursued with equal fervor and Kennedy vigor after Clinton became president.


In a cover piece for Newsweek last month, entitled "The Cause of My Life," Kennedy proudly recalled his backing for Medicare in 1965. After that vote, he continued to advocate expanded public health insurance coverage for another decade or so. But just as more Americans—like the NYNEX strikers in 1989—began to gravitate toward his "Medicare for all" position, Kennedy abandoned it. As he explained in Newsweek, "I came to believe that we'd have to give up on the idea of a government run, single-payer system if we wanted to get universal care."


In 1993, Kennedy embraced Hillary Clinton's ill-fated "managed competition" plan, helping to deflate grassroots organizing for social insurance instead. He did lend his name to a 2006 bill to expand Medicare coverage but devoted most of his time, lately, to promoting the Massachusetts model of subsidized private insurance coverage, which utilizes individual and employer mandates to prop up our dysfunctional system of job-based benefits. Cooked up as a bi-partisan solution with Republican governor Mitt Romney (who now criticizes the Massachusetts plan), this budget-busting scheme is the current inspiration for "Obamacare."