Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oily drips, thingamijiggies and low risk of engine fire

My beloved Mack, with his 452,000 miles, has sprung some leaks. (Can I get a collective, sympathetic "Awwww!" from my 8 blog followers?)

I hope it isn't serious. One is caused by a loose bolt (not an original bolt, but one that was wrenched on at some point in my Mack's long life) at one of the 6 ports where the exhaust manifold bolts to the black square thingamijiggy that I think of as an engine block, but the mechanics called something else.

Have I mentioned that being trained as a driver is very very different from being trained in diesel tractor mechanics ... need I say we're not trained in thorough parts' identification?

My bad.

We're trained to look for connections, leaks, erosion, breaks, mysterious wetness, etc. Which led me to notice wet bolts and drips on the asphalt.

So the other leak, apparently, is a fuel leak. What I took for an oily drip was really a fuel drip that melted oily build up and made 2 black 1 inch puddles on the asphalt under my truck. Sooooo eeeeeasy to overlook. But, um, sort of important.

I mean, like the Soop said, the mechanics are going to look at my Mack on Friday. They'll blast off the gunk and drive it to try to find where the fuel leak is. In the meantime (as the mechanic told me) it's not really a red-tagging kind of problem. And (as the Soop told me) the risk of an engine fire is small, based on its general location.


Did I mention I'm off Wednesday and Thursday? Meaning the other class A driver gets to drive my Mack? No worries, gentle readers. He should read the DVIR. (That's the official log where we pass notes to one another.) Should.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Betty Bulldog's Sing-Along Blog

Okay, so Sweety Babboo accepts that I'd have a hard time choosing between him and Stephen Sondheim (or John Goodman or Aaron Sorkin), if pressed. I accept that he'd pause over a decision between me and Jeannine Garafolo or Noomi Rapace. We live comfortably with these, our celebrities, between us. (Notice, the celebs weren't given any choice in the matter.)

Ahhh, but Sondheim. He's an ex-academic trucker-grrrl's hummable philosopher-companion.

Choice. Now there's a theme ~ the thing that can galvanize us and paralyze us. To quote Marie, of Sondheim's gorgeous play, Sunday in the Park with George:

"Stop worrying where you're going. Move on.
If you can know where you're going, you've gone.
Just keep moving on.

...I chose and my life was shaken. So what?
The choice may have been mistaken. The choosing was not.
You have to move on.

...Stop worrying if your vision is new.
Let others make that decision. They usually do.
You keep moving on."


To me, the grrrl who belts out Sondheim and gets to enjoy the glorious context of all his musical numbers as I drive through some of the most beautiful country on the planet ... well, damn, ... what a beautiful world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Off-Topic shift with no segue. Christmas.

The thoughts I'm having about Christmas, tonight, are too long for facebook, so here they are.

My two sisters and I have been exchanging Christmas ornaments for twenty plus years now. Most years, the ornaments I choose for them are the most important gifts I give or make. I know the same is true for them.

Our trees are filled with our love for each other and powerful symbols of our intimate knowledge of one another. Some years, I give or receive ornaments that reflect memories or our childhood. Some ornaments speak of the receiving sisters' personalities, characters, crazy idiosyncrasies. Some reflect the giver's qualities. Some are just beautiful. or charming. or worthy of a good laugh. The moose in the outhouse ornament comes to mind.

From T, a Mickey Mouse snowglobe ornament ~ she loveslovesloves Disney. (We all pitched in and got her one share in Disney stock one Christmas, so she's an owner, don'cha know.) A paper heart from Solvang, harkening to our Danish roots and family travels. A blown glass nutcracker, reminiscent of the ballet we love and T's own collection of these toothy holiday perennials.

From the beautiful, dramatic D, a string of glittery packages, about 6 inches long, which brings her to mind each time I hang it on the tree. A fragile and lovely stained glass poinsettia, made for us by a client of hers. A tiny stuffed sock monkey, a memory of two days before my wedding when we sat around making red-heeled sock monkeys. Oh my God, we laughed and laughed that day in our crazy sowin' bee.

This year, I received two that I will fondly hold, and think about, and hang on the tree with care each Christmas. They are already among my favorites.

From T, a handmade paper, wire and bejeweled ornament that evokes her passion for scrapbooking. Her artistry, too. T is the one who has no ability to see herself truly, while she lives for others, particularly our family. She's a matriarch in training. 

From D, I received the charming and pugnacious blue witch faerie of Sleeping Beauty. To us, those faeries have long represented my great aunts and grandmother, three women who could finish each other's sentences, who probably enjoyed one another's company above all other. Bless my sister for bringing those beloved women back to us. and to our Christmas tree, each year for years to come.

I sent them, just so's you know, corn husk angels. But I can't take the credit. I asked my mother, Momala, the Mothership, to get ornaments in Brea, Kentucky on her recent visit to the home place. My dad was from Kentucky. and the corn husk angels she found? ... In my mother's china hutch for some 30 years or so, she has displayed a trio of corn husk dolls, three girls holding hands and standing in a ring. My two sisters and me.

...I can't say that I have felt the spirit of every Christmas. I know it's evaded me now and again. But in the main, I love Christmas. I love thinking of the people I love and choosing a gift or card that I think will touch them. I love making apple butter for gifts, a tradition in my family and one that my neighbor M and I have adopted over the last three years. I love that I don't have to spend a dime to give (although I usually do) ~ I just have to give my effort to think of loved ones. Really think of them.  I love making Christmas about the people I love and about mankind's better self and about a beautiful pacifist soul who lived 2000 years ago or so.

and when I look at our tree, I love seeing how others love me.

Torque & Tool


"1. Mechanics. something that produces or tends to produce torsion or rotation; the moment of a force or system of forces tending to cause rotation. 2. Machinery . the measured ability of a rotating element, as of a gear or shaft, to overcome turning resistance." (Random House via dictionary.com) 

Torque helps a girl be a grrrrl when muscling the trucks. 

Wanna look tough? Single handedly woman-handle the landing gear of a 48 foot trailer, setting it down so that it takes the burden off the truck so you can pull out from under the trailer, or lifting it so the trailer can come to rest on the truck's rear axles. How's it done? Long poles. Long poles are the key. Short poles won't do. Size matters. Length, if not girth.

The longer the rotating handle that rotates the gears that lift and lower the landing gear, the easier it is. Try this. Use a 1 inch bottle opener on your Sam Adams. Then use a 3 inch bottle opener. ... See what I mean?

I love torque. 

Which is why the academic in me does not understand the 'verb' torqued, commonly used to mean, "Angry, mad, upset. [As in,] I have to stay after school, I am so torqued!" (urbandictionary.com) 

The same goes for "tool." ... Shouldn't a tool be a good thing? So why was I calling the rat-b*stards who were doing lunatic car ballets around my rig today 'tools'? ... I mean, it was Martha Graham choreography, but without any dance training. and in a 4,000 pound tutu. Sounds heavy, but FYI, my tutu weighs a good 30,000+ pounds. 

As my Sweet Babboo says, "Let's play a game. It's called, Who ends up fired and who ends up dead? I bet I can find a new job faster than you can come back to life."

But to return to torque. Torque is a trucker grrrl's best friend. 6 inches on a wrench or landing gear bar can make all the difference. Love your torque. Stroke your tools and thank them for their usefulness. Wrap your hands around the girth and give thanks for the length. Then, raise that trailer high.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

learned learned learned learned...

Wah hoo!!! I was cleared to drive at about 1:30pm this afternoon, and OMG, I had Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues to learn my lesson. The lesson being that driving is, ironically, sooo much easier while being sooooo much better paid than any warehouse or operations gig.

I spent 3 1/2 days on the dock after my forklift mishap. 2 1/2 of those days, begging, "I've learned my lesson. Pleeeease let me drive again!"

Our dock lead / truck dispatcher walks the warehouse, the entire warehouse, for 8 solid hours per day, unloading and loading trucks. And has the unenviable job of standing on the necks of all the drivers, monitoring runs and break times, and pacing out the available equipment/supplies.

Plus, the dock lead maps out the dispatch day -- about 20 locations with 6 trucks and 5 drivers in an 11-hour spread. Plus plus, 2 trash trucks that run from 5:30am to about 9am, picking up illegally dumped donations/garbage at all our sites, every day, 7 days per week.

I had a 4 for 4 all-done dock week, and I got approval to return to the truck (thank you, clean urine sample, I love you!) ... I have learned my lesson!!! I promise.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

While I Wait for my Urine

So I was on the forklift yesterday. The one with three levers (up/down, tilt, and rotate 180 degrees). And I meant to hit the up lever, but hit the rotate lever. Thus dumping a pallet of shrink wrap on the warehouse floor. oops.

The Soop drove me to the pee-test place (what a job) where I failed to pee on my first try. 45 minutes and 30 ounces of water later, success! Me and People magazine for 45 minutes, plus the Soop dozing in the lobby ~ snoring. Really. and both of us on the clock.

Love my job.

Today and for a few more days, I will be working on the dock (no heavy equipment), waiting for my urine to tell me and them whether I was stoned. ... Maybe I'll have a cosmo while I wait?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All Grrrrrl

Clear up until I was 30 or so, I saw my role as supporting cast. Side kick. It's funny to think of, now, because of course, I had always been the protagonist of my own life drama. I just didn't embrace it.

I was a really really good wing-girl to many a good friend. Oh, wow. Backing up my grade-school best-friend, A. She was beautiful and confident and tough. The alpha female of Lillian Larsen Elementary. (She'll laugh when she reads this, but it's true.) And when we hit the roller rink in the rival town, wheels gliding to Cool and the Gang, and she was copping rival-town girls' crushes, I was there when it came to the face-off ... there I was, just behind her right shoulder, promising to have her back if she needed to kick some preppy girl ass.

Of course, we never did come to scratching, hair-pulling physicality. Still, I was a ready wing-girl. And it felt good seeing the preppy girls' fear of two girls from the poor end of the county.

...Everyone should have an epic, my good friend K taught me. Several epics, if they're smart.

Somewhere along the line, I realized I am the central figure in my own passion play. I'm the hero. The protagonist. And my life, wow, it has been and is one hell of an epic adventure.

Academics was its own epic, certainly. Ah, but that wannabe-tough girl from the military/ag/oil fields town. That physical girl. I've missed her. And in becoming a driver, I feel like I've regained her a bit.

Let's put it this way. I am more physically fit than I've ever been in my life. And to me, that means more ready to kick ass (if put on the defensive, only, of course) and take an ass kicking than ever before in my life. Hah!

Girls, you wanna get fit, lose weight, build muscle, work on your swagger? Get a physical, physically challenging, and technically stimulating job. Class A? Postal Delivery? whatever. Just get physical. And excited.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dr Horrible

"The world is a Mess ..and I just ... uh... need to Rule it."

Amen, Dr Horrible and your fabulous "Sing Along Blog," available on both youtube and netflix.

Driving is going well, my blog-followers. Still, the end of the world awaits. At all times. Despite love and heroics. My sweety babboo vows to await me, promising to wait on the bench outside the pearly gates until I arrive. Who waits for you?