Monthly Archives: January 2013

I’m SERIOUSLY going to rethink this Flu Shot thing!

All of Joe’s “ologists” (doctors) have been asking him for months “Have you had the flu shot?” to which Joe has answered “No”.  The reactions are mixed.  A single eyebrow raise and a “hmmm” from the cardi”ologist”, an empahtic “Why Not?” demand from the pulmin”ologist”, a slight shake of a lowered head by the neur”ologist”, and a recitation of the benefits of having the flu shot to protect him from the virus by his nephr”ologist”.  Our very own ICU Trauma Nurse daughter has asked when her Dad will be getting a flu shot.

Okay, the writing was on the wall.  Personally.  I’m not going to get the flu shot or any kind of SHOT!  Maybe I’ve mentioned, at least 50 times in previous posts, my fear of needles.  I will not be the first person in line for any kind of shot.  The further back I can keep in the line and make my quiet escape is fine with me.

Joe’s health issues have gone all pear shaped the past few years.  Maybe it is time for me to just “Put my big girl panties on and just do it”.  Friday evening, January 11th, we both got flu shots from our local grocery store pharmacy.  Yep.  It hurt like he**.  I had a swollen area with a hard knot the size of a golf ball at the injection site for two days.  The golf ball went away, finally, by Tuesday.

This past Friday, January 18th, Joe and I returned home from our Nashville, Tennessee to Wilmer, Texas trip.  We would be leaving on Monday afternoon for Charlotte, North Carolina….that is until we were both stricken with THE FLU!

Friday night we both had tickles in our throats that coughing would not ease.  We went to bed about 10 p.m. and awoke at nearly 11 a.m. on Saturday.  I had to send a text message to Carissa to “sing” her Happy Birthday song because we were too sick to actually call her.  That sucks!  By 4 in the afternoon on Saturday we were back in bed and were there through Sunday evening.  Long enough for me to stagger out of bed to hunt up the thermometer.  Both of us had fevers of 102.3.  Drink some water, take some acetaminophen then go back to bed.

All the time we spent in bed we had fitful bouts of sleep interrupted by spates of coughing which made us see stars and walk like we were drunk trying to make it to the bathroom before we peed the bed from all the hacking.  Both of us were trying to get the bed linens wrapped around us in an attempt to get warm when the cold chills had us shaking and jerking the covers away from each other.  Blanket hogs is what we became.  Then the covers would be flung off as we searched for a spot in bed that was cool while our bodies seemed to be on fire.

Monday we went to our family physician.  He has also been on the flu shot bandwagon and harping at us.  I was sent to get my chest x-rayed since our doctor feared I may  have pneumonia and we were both sent to a lab to have blood drawn.  A prescription for a tetracycline antibiotic for each of us and a note to get Mucinex DM Maximum Strength.  This was followed by an admonition to drink lots and lots of water.

Joe is not handling this well.  He is lamenting about how tired he feels and that he just doesn’t have the energy to move.  I tell him to get his butt out of the chair and get it moving.  Walk to the bedroom closet and back to your chair.  Then walk into the kitchen and back.  I get lip from him.  He was even so fraught with frustration at my harping at him to get his butt moving I was rewarded with the “finger”.  I’m still rolling on the floor laughing at that one.  He’s rather chagrined and mortified by his outburst and I’m about to bust a gut.  He is moving though.  You want to know what did it?  His hospital stays.  Walk the halls of the hospital before you can think about getting home.  I also told him “Awful Nurse Leslie isn’t bringing you water.  You have to go get it yourself.”

Today, I’m feeling better.  Got the bedding all washed up and put back on so we have a clean bed to go to tonight.  Some grocery shopping yesterday for fresh fruit and soups.  A small steam vaporizer today from our local drug store to help me to be able to breathe easier.  I tell you, there have been times that I felt like a fish out of water.  Gulping and gasping to draw in air.  My oxygen levels  at the doctor office were not good, in the high 80’s, which was why I was sent for chest x-rays.  My ribs and neck muscles are sore from all the coughing and subsequent straining to get air in my lungs.  Between the nasty and foul Mucinex and the vaporizer I am back to breathing freely.

Will I be getting another flu shot next year?  Not just NO, but HELL NO!

Maybe tomorrow I will get in my craft room and do something in there instead of watching way too many YouTube videos of other crafters.


Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Leaving Nashville, Tennessee this morning going west on I-40 the forecast was for freezing rain and snow along western Tennessee. We didn’t encounter the rain or snow. All along the I-40 corridor west of Nashville the trees were bejeweled with ice. Stopping at our regular haunt, the I-40 Truck Stop in Holladay, Tennessee, the stop sign at the end of the exit ramp had a necklace of ice. The trees at the truck stop were covered in ice.


A beautiful sight to see. More forecasts of rain and snow for this evening making us get off the road before the storm reaches us.

If we knew these trucks and all their virtues we would probably keep going on past dark and west of Memphis on into Arkansas. Not having confidence in how these trucks work after dark and in wet road conditions we don’t take chances. Besides, these trucks belong to someone else and we have to respect that. Slow going but getting to the destination safely is our one concern.


A little clue to look for when traveling toward icy conditions.

Living in areas of the US, with snow and ice during winter, drivers learn how to cope with freezing temperatures and bad road conditions.

In my job I will travel through states that don’t get much in the way of a freeze followed by a state that does have severe winter conditions. Sometimes in the same day.

I will let you in on a little secret that can make your travel safer and let you know when to start looking for a place to get off the road.

The secret is in the mirrors of big trucks.

If you want to know what is ahead of you on the highways you know to look at the oncoming traffic. When you see them coming at you covered in snow while your vehicle has been relatively dry you can be assured you are going into snow.

Today we traveled through Tennessee on I-40 from Memphis toward Nashville. The forecasts have been for rain and freezing rain turning to ice. Looking at the outside mirror on my side it wasn’t freezing yet.


When it is safe for you to do so, look at the outside mirror housing and bracket of big trucks as they pass you, or coming at you from the opposite direction if they are close enough.


The left of the two photos is the mirror bracket. The top and bottom brackets hold the mirror to the truck’s frame or door. This piece is metal, usually aluminum. Metal will get colder more quickly than the plastic housing of standard car and pickup truck mirrors.

The trucks are higher than the cars and are in the slip stream or air currents more than cars are. This means the aluminum is exposed to the cold air more than you are. When the outside air temperatures are freezing, or below, you will see a rim of ice form on the metal bracket. Wet snow and rainy conditions can cause the mirror bracket to have an ice build up of nearly half an inch.

The photo on the right in the above picture is the mirror housing. In big trucks there are electric bundles to power the mirrors to adjust. There is also a heating element in the housing to keep the mirrors dry. The electricity used to power each component does not give off heat.

Like the metal brackets the mirror housing, although plastic, is in the wind. Ice will build up on the housing. Sometimes just on the leading edge and other times the entire piece will be covered in a thick coat of ice or snow.

When you see the build up increasing as you are passed by big trucks it is time to begin thinking about getting off the road. In some cases it may already be too late.

If you have to drive in freezing conditions give the vehicle in front of you lots of room. Maybe now would be a good time to remind you of the “Three Second Rule”.

As the back end of the vehicle in front of you passes a bridge abutment, speed limit sign, or exit marker sign begin counting ….. one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand. If the hood of your vehicle reaches the bridge abutment, or speed limit sign you used as a marker, BEFORE you can count to three one thousand back off. Slow down until you safely count to three one thousand at the next marker.

You have a choice. Drive safely and arrive at your destination a little ticked at me for slowing you down. Or find yourself waiting in the median or in the trees, in a very cold vehicle, while you wait for the tow truck to get you hauled out and the ambulance to carry you to a hospital.

I can live with you being PO’d at me. I see way too many wrecks. I seriously don’t want to pass you all wadded up somewhere on the roads I travel.

Drive safely. You have a spouse or significant other waiting at home for a hug and some love to shower you with. You might also have some children that are waiting to hear your voice as you read the bed time story to them.


I found a new photo app for my phone do drive you guys crazy.

Here the little app is. A collage type app to feature several photos of a common theme. The app is the far right one.


We had a front tire go bad on us during this deadhead trip to Nashville, Tennessee yesterday. A little more than half way through the state of Arkansas near the town of Hazen was where we stopped last night to locate a tire shop this morning.

Taking copious photos, as usual, to bore you all to tears I assembled a collage of pictures showing a tire being taken off a rim.


With this photo app, once opening it, you are given many choices of frame styles to use. How many photos do you want to use? Me, too many!


Once you select the frame you select photos from your iPhone photo gallery to go in each area.



Move the photo around in the designated area until it is to your liking.


Continue selecting photos for each area of the collage. Make adjustments as you wish.




When you are happy with what you see then press the “Finish” button. You will get a list of choices to save the new photo to your album, email, text, or something else I don’t remember. I saved it to my photo album.

I took photos of a cute restaurant we had lunch in. Having waited for the tire service from 9:30 in the morning until the actual repair was finished at 2 in the afternoon. Oh, never mind. Long day. Here is the little restaurant.


And our dinner at another restaurant once we got off the icy slick roads today.


Those of you that make scrapbooks may find this a useful tool. Save the photos you put together with this app to your computer. Copy them to a disk and have them printed off or do the printing at home from your own equipment.

I’m thinking a bit more seriously about creating a calendar of my travels now that I can get some of my photos assembled into neat little groupings.

Good night all. Tomorrow will be a slick and white knuckle journey for me. I need to get some sleep.


Stand Up and Condo trucks

We have eight trucks to move from Nashville, Tennessee to Wilmer, Texas.  Wilmer is just south of Dallas a few miles on I-45.  This is the first “Full Hook Up” we have done since November and Joe’s appendectomy.  Our most recent trip from Dallas, Texas to Dixon, Illinois was only taking two trucks.  This time we are taking four.

Usually…and I do mean USUALLY, it takes us just a few minutes over two hours to fully hook up and be ready to  hit the road.  Last week at the pick up site in Nashville it took us most of the day.  Headlights were out, turn signals didn’t work, a wiper blade flew off mid swipe.  These trucks were supposed to be fully ready with no extra work to be done to them.  So we got to cool our heels while the work was being done.  We arrived at 9:00 a.m. and left at 3:00 p.m.  Long day just waiting around.

Hooking up at the pick up location

2001 was the first time one of Joe’s trailers was ready to hit the road.  Every time I see our pickup suspended in mid-air on the trailer I am amazed by Joe’s skill and talent.  I’m not the only one that is in awe.  People that walk up to watch the process gasp and take many steps backward as the pickup is raised in the air.  Then the questions fly out of their mouths faster than we can keep up with.  Did I ever tell you how proud I am of Joe?

This always amazes me

As you can see, from the photo below, there is a difference in the truck heights between the two of these.  The one of the left is a “Stand Up” sleeper truck and the one on the right is a “Condo” sleeper truck.  All four of these trucks are manufactured by Freightliner.  They are the Columbia class.

Stand Up and Condo trucks

What this means is that the “Stand Up” sleeper has enough height a person can stand up inside the cab to get to the sleeper section behind the driver’s seat.  There is only one bed (or bunk as it is called).  There are “closets” (loosely used term) to hold the driver’s clothing and other things that will be stowed during travel.  There are shelves in the sleeper area to hold a television and a microwave.  Some trucks have a designated area for a small refrigerator.  These trucks are, literally, moving homes.

Stand Up sleeper trucks are designed for solo (single driver) or teams (two drivers).  In “team” driving one is sleeping in the bunk while the other is driving.  After eight or ten hours they switch to keep the truck in motion.  Fuel stops, bathroom breaks, and quick grabs at food are the only times that team drivers stop.  Rough life that is.

For the team drivers they have to share the small storage spaces.  Generally husband and wife are team drivers so the antics and fight over shared space is normal operating procedure.  For teams that are not related, by marriage or family, there is always the possibility of having one slob and one neat nick within the cramped confines.  Can you imagine the banter that ensues?!

My boom set up

“Condo” sleepers are taller, have a window at the top of the sleeper cab, and have two beds (bunks).  Bunk beds to be exact.  The closet spaces are taller, although  narrow.  The shelf space is about the same as in other trucks.  Just enough space for a small television and a small microwave.

Condo sleepers were created to give the team drivers more space and comfort.  Not much comfort, especially on the top bunk, but the space is roomier.  For solo drivers they have tons of space to cram their junk.  Have more junk than closet space….chuck it up on the top bunk.

Years ago, back in 2001 and 2002 we used to have to go to places to pick up trucks that had been repossessed and stored at dealerships or storage lots.  Some of the trucks we picked up were beyond mind boggling with the junk left behind.  Condo sleeper trucks were crammed with so much stuff from the roof down to the floor.  The bottom bunk had a very small area for the driver to sleep.  I wondered if that person ever feared being smothered by the junk as they rolled around in bed.  Creepy!  I won’t even tell you about the smell 😦

One day, I will figure out how to take a good photo of the inside of one of these trucks to show you the closet space and the shelves.  I’ve tried on numerous occasions and have failed at each attempt.

When I began riding with Joe in 1998 the standard sleeper truck had no head room.  The bed, or bunk, was just behind the driver’s seat.  Closet space was a shaped piece of metal tubing to hold hangers and storage was under the bunk.  For the driver to get undressed for the night he/she had to sit on the bed to disrobe.  Often banging their knuckles on the ceiling as they took off shirts.  Stooping to keep from banging their heads on the ceiling to take off their pants or jeans.  When the higher roof heights were manufactured in the early 2000’s the truck driver’s that got the first Stand Up sleeper trucks were the envy of the road.

One day I may tell you about a trip from Vermont to Florida with a big honkin’ hairy spider that appeared and disappeared, all the while I drove, from different areas of the dashboard.

Climate Change is my normal.

Wear a winter coat? Need a light jacket? Don’t need a coat or a jacket?

This time of year, and depending on where we are, that question is an hourly query.

We left Oklahoma with temperatures that required only a light jacket to ward off the occasional brisk breeze. Texas the jacket came off and a long sleeved shirt would suffice. Eastern Oklahoma was cooler and the jacket went back on. Missouri was quite a bit nippier which required the jacket to be zipped up over the long sleeved shirt. Illinois, northern Illinois, the coat zipped was necessary with freezing temperatures and snow. The breezes were cold enough to make fingers ache.

Leaving Illinois and entering Indiana the cold and biting winds were enough to make me put on the woolen hat with ear warmers. Yesterday, traveling from Indiana with the snow covered ground….


Crossing over into Kentucky the coat was off….


Snowy fields were replaced by verdant green pastures.


In Tennessee it is back to the light jacket which will be shed later as we travel across I-40 through Arkansas and Texas tomorrow where the temperatures will climb to the high 50’s.

Never quite sure how to pack for the winter in this job.

Have a great week.


Crop husbandry and grain storage.

Through our travels across the lower 48 states of the US we see just about everything. Metropolitan areas teeming with traffic and bustling industrial sectors. We also go through rural areas to find a traffic jam caused by a combine slowly making its way to the next field to harvest.

Being a city girl and not well versed in the ways of farmers I’ve often wondered where all the harvested crops go as the fields are cleared.

I know where all the harvested fruits and vegetables in California end up. Giant warehouse buildings where produce is boxed and palleted to be made ready for shipping to your local grocer.

What happens to millions of acres of corn and soybeans, sunflower seeds and millet, milo and wheat, to name a few?

Joe has “schooled” me over the years of our truck driving as we pass fields. He can tell me what crop is growing in the fields we pass. From his many years as a crop duster he can pick out fields that have been infested by insects that destroy crops and the pesky growths that invade crops, such as “Shatter Cane” that will suck the life out of healthy fields.

Listen up, now. Joe will now commence schooling you.

It takes 5 to 7 barrels of water to make one bushel of corn. Water is the lifeblood of our agriculture.

Throughout the Midwest, and we are presently driving through Illinois, they have had it bad here. Last year the drought ruined most of the farmers yields, unless they were fortunate to have irrigation. Most did not have irrigation in this area.

My flight instructor, who taught me to fly, made the statement “Farmers are the only people I know that make a living accidentally”. Think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent preparing and planting the land. And then it doesn’t rain. Three months after all that work you end up with nothing. You want to talk about a bummer!

Farmers are the original “Optimist”. Their glass is always half full. So from Joe, remember, the next time you sit down at a meal and are full; thank a farmer. He got up before the crap of dawn to make sure you had good bread, fresh cornflakes, and good milk. All without you having to kill something to eat it. So don’t holler about the cost of food with your mouth full.

(Did I ever tell you Joe is just a smidgen opinionated?)

Joe’s normal day began at 2 a.m. getting his plane checked and ready, seeing which fields were to be sprayed, mixing chemicals necessary for each crop, then before sunrise he would be in the air on his way to the first field. He would finish spraying around 10 a.m. Then head to the local cafe to drum up business chatting with the farmers.

Farmers gathered to talk about the weather, or who has started planting, or who has started harvesting. Joe says it was always contentious. He remembers one farmer looking physically ill in the cafe so he asked him what was wrong? “I just lost $25,000”! Joe asked how he had lost that amount of money. The farmer responded with “I sold 25,000 bushels of wheat yesterday at $4.27 per bushel. I was going to sell it the day before when the price was $5.27 per bushel.”

In all innocence and without thinking about the consequences of his words Joe said “How can you lose what you never had?” To which the response was “Do we lynch him now or tar and feather him first?!”

Joe still stands by his statement but he has not made that faux pas since.

The farmers store their grain waiting for a better price. The price of grain, or a farmers crop, is always lowest at the start of harvest. Those farmers who have the money to be able to stockpile have a better opportunity to control their prices. There are other factors that dictate the farmer’s return.

For instance, wheat. If the farmer does not have to sell it immediately upon harvest he can usually get a higher price at a later market. If he has the time to test the quality of his wheat crop, and it has a higher than normal “protein average”, he can sell that wheat with the higher protein content for a significantly higher price. He can also put the wheat up for bid to increase his price that way.

In some areas local businesses will determine the farmer’s pay. For instance, when Monfort was in business in Greeley, Colorado he was the largest purchaser of corn in three states to feed the thousands of head of cattle in his feedlot. Monfort literally set the price for corn in the Weld County area.

The Budweiser plant, near Fort Collins, Colorado, actually had farms under contract to grow specific hybrids of barley and other grains that went into making their beer. In some cases Budweiser supplied the seeds and required the farmers to husband the crop in a specific manner. Fertilizers were tailored by specifications for soil types. Farmers were told when to plant, when to water, when to fertilize, how much fertilizer per acre to use, and when the moisture content was optimum for harvest.

For all this work the farmers knew exactly how much they would be paid.

Sugar beets in the Weld County area of Colorado, around Greeley, returned in 1986. There had been quite an infrastructure for handling sugar beets. There was a local railway called The Great Western Railway which connected all of the beet dumps with the beet processing facilities. A list of the beet processing facilities included Longmont, Loveland, Jamestown, Greeley, Brighton, Fort Morgan, Eaton, Pierce, and Sterling. All of these facilities were closed for years.

In 1986 the plants in Greeley and Fort Morgan were reopened. There were to be jobs for 700 people. Over 5,000 applied.

Even with updated methods of processing sugar beets the harvest campaign was planned for only 90 days. A campaign begins when the first sugar beet is delivered to the plant, and later, the last bag of sugar has been sacked and palleted for delivery.

Beet dumps are areas where machines on crawling tracks stack sugar beets. This machine has a place where the beet trucks dump the beets into a bin. The beets are cleaned of the dirt. The cleaned beets are weighed and the farmer is paid by the pound, or hundred weight, and the dirt is loaded back into the farmers truck.

The beet machine has a swiveling conveyor belt. The beets are dumped in a pile averaging 150 to 250 feet wide and the height goes up 50 to 75 feet. These piles can be half a mile long. Some beet dumps will have two or more piles.

When the plant is geared up for operation, front end loaders will be stationed at each pile loading semi tractor trailers going to the two plants. There is a master beet dump at each plant.

(Side note. My one finger can hardly keep up with Joe’s dictating his knowledge. Forgive typos and run on sentences, please.)

This master beet dump is kept in operation by continually refilling from all the other beet dumps until the campaign ends. This insures a continuous supply of beets so the production line is never stopped due to a lack of product. This process goes 24/7 for the duration of the campaign.

Personally I, Leslie, know that one of the bi-products of sugar beet processing is anhydrous lime which was used as a filler in asphalt for roadways. Don’t know if it is still in use today or not.

All this because I made a comment about grain silos and storage buildings such as these.