Monthly Archives: April 2012

Technology is not all it is cracked up to be

The Feds are cracking down on truck drivers. We have to use hands free devices to make calls. No more dialing numbers.

I’m okay with this. Trying to keep one of these behemoths between the lines is hard enough to do. Toss in the distraction of holding the cell phone in one hand while steering with the other is not an easy feat. Not to mention looking down at the cell phone key pads to dial a number. Take your eyes off the road for that length of time is just asking for trouble.

Joe and I have iPhones and Blue Parrot headsets.

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When I need to make a call I press the large button on the headset once and my phone brings up a voice recognition thing that will dial the number of the person I want to talk to.

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This feature works great when I need to call our dispatch office or one of the many banks we use.

Not so much when I want to call Joe. He is listed in my contacts as “ICE Joe Bockenstette” – ICE is “In Case if Emergency.

Press the button on my headset and wait for the sine waves to to appear after the beep then speak the name – a lovely computerized female voice is heard in my ear saying “Calling …”. The dot dot dot is replaced with the name of the person I’m calling.

So to get Joe I have to speak the whole contact name. ICE Joe Bockenstette. If I just say “Ice Joe” the female voice says “Calling Heidi Jo” then I have to quickly cancel the whole thing by pressing the large button on my headset once again.

One truck I drove was quite noisy. Trying to get my dispatch office I heard “Calling Cliff Gibbs” on one attempt. The next attempt met with “Calling PDI”.

So much for being totally hands free 😦

Last Wednesday, while home, we went to a T-Mobile center to purchase a Mobile Hot Spot for protected Internet access while in hotels. So far the blasted thing only works in large metropolitan areas. The little Podunk towns we have stopped in on this last trip to Wilmer, Texas has proven to be too much for the little device.

Technology can be over rated at times.

Give me things that work well and I appreciate them. Like these daisies growing beside the road.

Dang! Pressed the wrong button.
Published this post before I was even ready.

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The mysteries of Nature

We stayed at the Red Roof Inn, Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday night.  Friday morning as Joe was getting the check out receipt I spotted this shrub.  I had to walk around it to see if this shrub was more than one plant.  Surprisingly, it is only ONE.

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The flowers are a mix of colors.  According to one man that drove in while I was taking photos, this shrub is “self hybridizing”.  Last year it was only two different colors.

There are blue, pink, yellow, and light lavender blooms on this shrub.  As you look through the pictures you will see some of the blossoms are a mix of pink and yellow.  I’ve never seen such an amazing thing.

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Hope you enjoy this wonder of nature.  Have an awesome weekend.

Leslie


Rice fields in Arkansas

One of the major food crops in Arkansas is rice.

Unlike regular fields with their even narrow rows, that stretch to the horizon lines at times, rice fields are widely spaced curving rows with berms dividing the rows.

A satellite view of rice fields in Hazen, Arkansas shows the wide and curvy rows.

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From the highway this is what the fields look like.

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These fields are generally under water for several weeks to a month or two. The dirt berms hold the water in the sections acting like dams.

Later in the summer months the green rice fields will show the curving landscape better.

Someday I hope to see how rice gets harvested. I’m told it is done with tractors fitted with either tank like conveyor belt tread or by tractors with huge balloon tires. I don’t know if the tractors are fitted with some kind of combine to lop off the heads as with wheat or if the crop is cut with a swather as is used to cut alfalfa.

I’m sure I will find out one day this fall or next. Just thought you might like to know about rice fields and a different crop than corn, wheat, or soybeans.


Toad Suck, Arkansas

We are bouncing and jostling on the rough stretch of I-40 in Oklahoma heading to Arkansas then onward to Tennessee.

Several times I’ve tried to get a photo of the road sign for Toad Suck Park and have failed miserably.

Next best thing is to look it up using Google. Everything you ever want to know about this subject can be found at toadsuck.org.

There are festivals, 5k and 10k runs, plus tons of family things to do there.

Oddly named towns in the US are fun to learn about.


Star Trek Convention in Denver, Colorado

Our daughters, Tiffany and Loreli,  are Trekkies 😀  I fondly remember their young teen years and our entire family of nine sitting in the living room watching Next Generation episodes in the early 1990’s.

I received a text from one of our daughters stating she and her sister were going to get autographed photos from Commander Riker last Sunday.

The next time I see my girls I will be taking home with me my very own autographed photo of Commander Riker signed by the Commander himself, Jonathan Frakes.

Signed photo from Jonathan Frakes

Signed photo from Jonathan Frakes

I now have a personalized autograph from one of the shows “Hotties” 😀

My daughter received compliments on her tattoo.  How much further the art work has gone on her arm I don’t know.  The last time I saw it a green glow around the graveyard scene had been added making the headstones look quite eerie.  I’ll have to get a good photo of it the next time I see her.

My daughter, Tiffany, with Jonathan Frakes

My daughter, Tiffany, with Jonathan Frakes

Of course my daughter’s day would not be complete at the Star Trek Convention without getting a great shot of my grandson with a couple of the characters.  He is just so adorable.

My grandson, Simon.

My grandson, Simon.

To cap the exciting events off.  On Tuesday my other daughter, Loreli, called to announce her engagement to a wonderful young man – Chad.

The engaged couple

The engaged couple

Loreli and Chad took part in the “Warrior Dash” last year and had a great time.  These two are avid hikers and runners.

Chad – you did good!

On their two year anniversary of dating he planned an outing near Colorado Springs, Colorado for a bit of mountain hiking.  Chad led Loreli to a resting spot that overlooked a beautiful valley, got down on his knee and proposed marriage to her and she accepted.  This “Momma” is so proud of these two wonderful people and I wish them the happiness that Joe and I have together.

This has been one eventful week for my girls and my grandson.  Time at home is at an end and the business of moving trucks is getting back underway.  We are heading out to Nashville, Tennessee for the final four trucks being delivered to Wilmer, Texas.

The next adventure will be from near Tulsa, Oklahoma at the Port of Catoosa moving trucks to Las Vegas, Nevada.  That will begin Tuesday after Wilmer, Texas is finished.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

Leslie


My Daughter-In-Law keeps me laughing

Senior Love…….

I was in my back yard trying to launch a kite.
I threw the kite up in the air, the wind would catch it for a few
seconds, then it would come crashing back down to earth.
I tried this a few more times with no success.

All the while, my wife Linda is watching from the kitchen window,
Muttering to herself how men need to be told how to do everything.

She opens the window and yelled to me,
‘You need a piece of tail.’

I turned with a confused look on my face and yelled back,
‘Make up your mind. Last night, you told me to go fly a kite

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Hope this little bit of humor starts your Monday off on a good note.

😀 Leslie


Health issues of OTR truck drivers

Day before yesterday Joe strained his right knee getting out of his truck. He is gimping around like Chester of the old Gunsmoke television show.

I keep a supply of various heat wraps by Therma-Care always at hand for his many arthritic aches and pains. The knee and elbow wraps came out of our suitcase pockets.

With our sedentary life style I thought a bit of research into health issues of truck drivers might be something to look into.

After reading the horror stories, using Google as a search platform, I have come to the conclusion that Joe and I number among the very few lucky ones.

Why are we so lucky? Because Dr. appointments are made a priority and we schedule our work around them. Some appointments get pushed back occasionally but we do get in to see the doctors.

Yes, Joe and I are both considered obese. Joe has high blood pressure, which he takes medicine daily for. Walgreens and Wal-Mart have nation wide stores that have all of Joe’s prescriptions on file and he can have access to refills any where we travel.

Joe has a machine for his sleep apnea that goes with us everywhere and is plugged in at hotels each night.

We have the advantage of getting around in small places, such as Walgreens Pharmacy because of our pickup after we deliver.

The majority, about 95% of truck drivers on the roads and highways of America don’t have this luxury.

We are not under constant pressure from dispatchers to stay moving with no time off as the regular OTR drivers are forced to contend with.

Truck stop food is another matter all together. While a number of them have salad bars laden with vegetables the rest of the food fare is deep fried or swimming in sauces.

The word “Buffet” took on a totally different spin as I read one article in my research. “Big-Ugly-Fat-Fellows-Eating-Together” which is, unfortunately, appropriate.

Time and again we see mostly men with severely swollen calves and ankles that are an unsightly purple with vicious looking red streaks running up the back of the knee.

This is caused, not only from the bad eating habits of us drivers, from the constant hours in the seat in one position for hours on end. A 500 mile day means 10 hours in the seat.

Another complication of being a truck driver is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from holding our hands and fingers in the same position for as many hours as we sit.

Joe and I tell each other “This time we are going to walk a half hour at night before we go to bed”. That lasts only one time. The next night, and the next, we are so tired and lethargic from the days driving to do nothing more than flop in the hotel room.

Love’s Travel Centers, where we do most of our fuel and stopping business, have added fresh fruit cups chilled in ice for snacking on the road. Petro Truck Stops have a salad bar like no other on the road. Packed with fresh fruit and vegetables to give the driver better choices in food.

From my personal experience out on the road breakfast is usually passed on until around 11 in the morning then eaten at a truck stop offering fried foods, burgers, and little in the way of healthy foods. A quick stop later in the afternoon for a bag of chips or a small pack of chocolate donuts then either a late dinner at another truck stop or none at all.

We are guilty of not eating healthy and getting no exercise. The little we do get is in hooking and unhooking our trucks.

I think a change is in order before we become one of the statistics.

I’ll start today with a walk across the street from this hotel to the truck stop for breakfast.