Sunday, October 26, 2014

Making a Difference

I had gone this morning with my Lady and friends to the breakfast buffet on 23rd Ave. here in Greeley, aka "The Trough", for the Sunday morning brunch. 

While cruising the line for food, a young lady popped up into my field of vision and asked with a big smile on her face: "Remember me?"  She proceeded to tell me that she was part of the group the Drive Smart Weld County coalition presented to at Valley High School in Gilcrest.  I chatted with her for a couple of minutes and she told me that we had been quite an influence on her and her classmates.  She then referenced a lady standing there and said: "I've gotten after her about some of the things she does!"  It turned out to be the young lady's Mother.  Mom told me that the girl had made her change some of her habits! 

It's a start.

Drive Smart Weld County is a group of people, or coalition, from various organizations that give presentations to High School Freshmen and Sophmores (and other groups) who are either going to get their driver's license or already have.  We tell them about the dangers and pratfalls of being a driver on todays roads.  My being a Professional Driver with oodles of years and miles, I give the presentation of "Driving and Surviving Around Big Rigs".  

Over the years I have admonished a number of people about their reckless driving, although I do try to be civil.  

One guy, a fuel tanker driver, told me, in no uncertain terms, where I could go.  A couple of days later the same guy came walking up to my truck at the loading dock.  I figured "Oh boy, here we go", expecting the worst.  He told me that he had been thinking about what I had said, and wanted to thank me for probably saving his life!  He shook my hand and walked away.

Another person I had admonished got me a ticket for harassment! 

But I won't stop.
I had read a book called "The Five People You Will Meet In Heaven".  The gist of it was that we may never know the impact we have had on a person's life. 

It's good to know that Drive Smart Weld County is making a difference!

Have a Great week and keep the rubber side down.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's Been A While

My daughter, Tanya, text me the other day and asked if I had not posted since February, or if she had missed getting the blog notifications.  I told her that I had not posted.

Life has a way of getting in the way.

At my job as a Fuel Tanker Driver, I work long, hard hours.  Then, with having a house to take care of, there is always something that needs to be done.  Top it off with being in a FANTASTIC relationship with a FANTASTIC Lady, well, when there is available time, I'd rather spend it with her than doing much of anything else!  As I have said, I waited 35 years to find her, and she has been worth the wait.

So let me update all y'all with what happened today, and work my way backwards.

This time of year is great, what with being harvest time, et al.  The local apple trees are shedding their fruit, and I, being a Professional Scavenger, look for the opportunity to gather the apples for cooking and eating.  Now I digress a bit.

My Lady didn't have much of a childhood, and you can read about her melodrama in her book:
FATLASH! Food Police & the Fear of Thin   So when I told her about taking my kids, Tanya & Terence, when they were young, out to the parks and gathering apples with them, she was intrigued.  The kids were small and nimble enough to be able to climb most trees without hurting themselves.  But there were many apples that they couldn't reach.  And besides, other kids had the same idea.  So I had made an apple picker with two pieces of aluminum tubing so that one slid down inside the other for easy transport, but had a  reach of about 15 feet.  Add that to my height, and there were a lot of apples that we could get.  When I unhooked the apple and it fell, the kids would try to catch them.  Great eye-hand coordination exercise!  If you didn't catch the apple, you got bonked on the head.  Hmmmmm, that explains a lot.....   So I made another one on Tuesday, and My Lady and I went out apple gathering.  I have apple butter simmering in a crock pot as I write this!

For a couple of years now, Gray Oil Company has been wanting me to go to work for them, but I've declined.  They run bobtails, or as we call them, "short trucks".  As the joke goes, I used to have to ride the short bus to school, so why would I want to drive a short truck for work?  Well, they merged with Rex Oil in May and had a transport, or tractor-trailer combo, come available, so they asked me to go to work for them.  They made me an offer I couldn't refuse!  So I put in my two weeks notice with Brad, and started working for them.

I took a week off before starting with Gray Oil to build a shed that we desperately needed for storage.  Since I had built the "chicken coop from hell" at the ranch, I had a good idea what to do.  We had checked in to buying a kit from the big box stores, but then you had additions such as paint, shingles, floor, etc.  For what we would pay for a kit, I built ours from scratch using steel siding, such as they use on big industrial buildings.  There was/is a concrete slab which I built upon.  It's a combination quonset hut and conventional steel building.

I decided to take my years and miles of driving experience and put them to good use, so I joined a coalition called Drive Smart Weld County  Just click on the link and it will take you there.  We go to schools and give presentations to the Freshmen about the dangers and pratfalls they will encounter when they get their Drivers License.  Since I am the Professional Truck Driver, I get to tell them about the etiquette of driving around big rigs.

Then, before all this came down, I acquired a '98 Jeep Wranger!!!  I missed my Jeep of yore.

Back in February, My Lady & I went to Florida to visit my Sister, my Nephew and his wife, and to thaw out.  While there I was able to eliminate one of the items on my "bucket list"; we went deep sea fishing.  Caught lots of fish and had a great time!  Had a wonderful visit.  Always too short.

I have pictures of most of what I've told you about, but for some reason they don't want to download.  If I can get it done, I'll update the blog.  Or E-mail me and I'll do what I can to send them to you.

In the meantime, keep the rubber side down and your head up!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Diet

At 250 pounds, I should have been about six-foot tall instead of my 5 foot 9 inches. Or as I’ve heard, “I’m not over weight, I’m under tall!” Regardless, news came out that the Department of Transportation (DOT) was going to pass regulations for truck drivers to be height-weight proportional. So I started praying for help.

I’d been stable at 250 pounds for years, and an attempt at losing weight failed miserably. I went on a vegetarian diet for thirty days. At the end I had lost a grand total of two pounds! I went out and got me a Big Mac.

I considered myself healthy. My job wasn’t sedentary and I was otherwise active. I thought I ate well, and drank lots of tea that I heard was good for me. My blood pressure was a bit high, but my cholesterol was excellent. So the DOT news didn’t really faze me. But, getting up in years, it probably wouldn’t hurt me to lose a few pounds.
This isn’t the first time: a number of years ago a doctor told me that I had to lose 125 pounds. The divorce was almost painless! (joke!)

For the past couple of years I would occasionally have what felt like gas, with gut pressure that wouldn’t go away no matter what I did. But after a few hours it would, and all would be well again. Then one day it all came to a quick halt.

It was a Sunday in October, and I had gotten up at my usual late afternoon time. The night before I had the gut pressure while working and had ignored it. As I was coming home I ate the raw carrots that I had with me. But when I got up, I felt worse than before, and it quickly escalated. There were three indicators that I was in bad shape: I didn’t want to cuddle with my Lady, I was considering going to a doctor, and was bad enough to call in sick. With no immediate care center open at that hour, I opted for the hospital emergency room.

I don’t know about anybody else, but my opinion of a hospital is that when you go there, they are supposed to help you feel better. That’s not what happened; the things the doctor did to me made me feel worse, and I even told her so! My apologies to women, but I felt like I was giving birth, to something.

Eventually the meds took effect, I calmed down, and the doctor figured out that the half-inch-size gallstone didn’t cause the pain.

I was put on “the diet”. No red meat; drink juices, no soda, caffeine, tea; no greasy foods like potato chips and no popcorn; no spicy foods; nothing with tomatoes, such as Italian and Mexican food. The objective was to avoid foods that would irritate my stomach or were acidic. I should eat chicken, turkey, fish, and pork sparingly, with lots of veggies; no onions, peppers or carrots.

I told my Lady to “Shoot me now and get it over with!”

The first four weeks I lost 20 pounds! “At five pounds per week”, I proclaimed, “y’all would be rid of me in less than a year!” My Lady didn’t think that was funny.

I then had to get my DOT physical. My blood pressure was perfect, and I felt good. My pants were baggy, but that’s what belts are for.

Then phase two of the diet kicked in: I got the flu. That week I lost another ten pounds. I have no butt, which is a blessing in disguise. While delivering a load of fuel, I had made a customer mad because I was blocking the driveway with my truck. He threatened to kick my butt. I grabbed the back of my pants and told him: “I’ve lost 30 pounds in the last two months. I have no butt for you to kick!” He just walked away shaking his head. When life gives you lemons…

I now weigh 220 pounds! I haven’t weighed that since third grade!

I hadn't intended to be so compliant, but God had other ideas!

(Submitted to Prairie Times & Rejected!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Drivers License Renewal

It's that time again where I have to renew my Drivers License.
Having a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) means that every four (4) years I have to jump through the hoops to get 'er done. It probably wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have the Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement on my license. But, I do, so let the games begin.

First off, I had to go online and register with the Transportation Safety Administration, or TSA. Here is where the fun begins. There are two, count 'em, TWO websites! The olde one and the new one. The olde one is supposed to direct you to the new one, but it doesn't. They ask all kinds of questions and for $86.50 give you the right to then go down to one of three fingerprinting stations in Colorado: Denver, Colorado Springs, and someplace on the Western Slope.

Part of my frustration is the fact that the rules have changed, which the olde website doesn't reflect. Case in point: they require two forms of identification; I chose to use my Drivers License and Birth Certificate. Nowhere in the olde site does it stipulate that on the two forms of ID the name has to be EXACTLY THE SAME. That wasn't an issue four years ago, but it is now.

So after paying my $86.50, I drove my personal vehicle down to Denver to do the fingerprinting. I was denied, because my two forms of ID didn't match, and they advised me of such. So back to Greeley I go to the Department of Revenue to get things corrected. I actually did that a couple of days later because I was so mad!

At the Department of Revenue, I decided that while there, I would also take the HazMat written test. This has to be done to renew said Drivers License also. I missed four; not bad for not having studied! Considering what transpired at the Fingerprinting place, they were somewhat stumped as to how to give me an updated Drivers License with the correct information. It seems that there are a lot of considerations that have to be dealt with to accomplish what I needed done. BUT... They did.

The next day I drove to Denver early with the truck, had a friend pick me up and play chauffer, and got the fingerprinting done.

Now I wait for my letter from the TSA that says I'm a good boy. When I get that, I can OFFICIALLY get my Drivers License renewed for another four years.

Considering what I went through, it is no wonder that so many drivers are giving up their HazMat endorsement on their Drivers License. For many, the hassle just isn't worth having it.

Oh yeah! I forgot! I've got hair! There's a story behind it. You want the long version, the short version, or the Reader's Digest version? How about the latter: It's warmer and I can!