Saturday, April 29, 2006

Have a Nice Day

Another day in the life. I woke up after 5 hours. I endured another late night repair marathon at the shop. Pulled in the drive at 1:30 AM, staggered into the house, sat on the couch and passed out. At 6:30 AM my my black girlfriend, Stubby, woke me licking my face and batting those beautiful brown eyes at me. No concern over my late night, she was ready to play. Damn dog!

Well, I am now up and almost clear eyed after that 3rd cup of coffee. I had the urge to share some poignant and startling revelations that crossed my mind yesterday. I am sure they would be of interest, but dammit, once again, retreival seems beyond my reach. So what we have here is just another meaningless and pointless waste of internet band width. But since I sat down to write I am writing. Have a nice day. I know I will. Going for a night ride tonight.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Couple of Tidbits in the News

A Golden Parachute for him, a Golden Shower for the rest of us

I did not catch the whole report, but it seems the retiring CEO of Exxon is going to bank about $686 million dollars as a retirement package. I'm guessing they were impressed with his performance. The news guy broke it down in this way.
~ $144 thousand something / day
~ $100.00/minute - asleep or awake

Now that's some serious jingle. Serious even at half the amount. And there are some folks who believe the oil companies are not involved in price gouging? Then what do we call the obscene profits posted over the last 2 years? An uptick in productivity and efficiency? No, they are making it the ole fashioned way, they are robbing us blind.

Sex Offenders Murdered

An odd story just unfolded in my home state the other day. It seems a man was shot to death in his home. This is not remarkable in and of itself, but a short while later not 25 miles from the first murder, another man was gunned down when he answered a knock on his door. Two murders in Maine on one day in close proximity is a big deal up here. The story became more bizarre as the day turned into night and the cops began sniffing around. Both men were convicted sex offenders. And the same colored pick up was seen at both locations. About 4 hours later a pickup was found abandoned near Bangor, Maine. It belonged to a man whose nephew, cousin or somehow related young man from Canada had borrowed it. And he was missing.

Fast forward a few hours. The Maine State Police put out an all points bulletin to New Hampshire and Massachusetts that this guy was "A person of interest in an ongoing investigation" and that he should be detained if he was located. Two cops got on a Greyhound bus in Boston and spotted him. Before they could even reach him, he killed himself.

This tragedy has all the earmarkings of a future A&E "City Confidential" written all over it. Real Life drama no TV wrter could have done a better job with. Real Life mystery Ellery Queen would be envious of. The first question is did he do it? And if so, why come down from Canada just to off a couple of convicted pedophiles in the US? Does not Canada have it's share also? Odd goings on.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dear Bonehead

This is a letter I added to one my wife wrote to a young relative suffering the indignities and pain of detoxing from opiate addiction.

Dear Bonehead ( Name changed to protect the stupid)

I won't get up on my high horse, my pulpit to preach about the evils of substance abuse. For I have walked in your shoes myself. You did the drugs and now you pay the price. Been there, done that. If you are smart you will only put yourself through this one time. But if your previous lifestyle is any indication, the odds are against you. They were certainly stacked against me when I was young and dumb like you. I eventually prevailed and walked away from that loser lifestyle I was trapped in back in my teens and 20s. You will too. Or you won't. It is up to you and you alone.

When I decided to quit, at first I was all hung up about hurting and disappointing the friends and family who were concerned about me. I would anguish about letting them down. I would beat myself up. Then I felt so bad, I'd go get high to forget it. I was trapped into thinking I was a loser, Life sucked, Life was unfair, blah blah, blah. I hit rock bottom and I knew it. I finally decided that proving my worth to someone else was stupid if I couldn't prove it to myself first. So I did. I quit for myself. And for the next 30 years I have been relatively calm and stable. Of course your Aunt , my wife, might have a different opinion on the calm part. Maybe the stable part also.

What you are going through sucks. I would not wish it on anyone. But it is self inflicted stupidity. The solution needs to be self inflicted also. Good luck. But you don't need luck. You need a stronger backbone. It appears you are well on the road to finding one.

Keep it 'tween the ditches,

Uncle Mike

Friday, April 14, 2006

Instead of Sleeping

Well it's 2:30 AM. Here I sit in front of the 'puter after a particularily grueling 18 hour day at the bike shop. The spanking I am getting from the business this Spring and the first tick of Spring I just pulled off my leg is a sure sign this Spring is going better than last year. And that's cool. The steady cha ching of the register these past few weeks is awful reassuring.

Last year Spring was an eight week wet fest. Cold and dreary outside, I watched full shelves gather dust. Another one like that and I would probably throw in the towel.

And even though I will pay for this consistent midnight to dark-thirty clock punching, I am enjoying this business again. I'm pumped, stoked, jazzed and out of control. Anyway, not sure why I decided to share, but I did. Life is good at the moment.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Page Cannot be Displayed

"The page cannot be displayed." Five words that will drive any net addict out of their mind. Especially after that 5th attempt to refresh. If a page doesn't come up in 5 seconds, they can get right pissy. If the download drags more than a second or two, many will lose their cool. A favorite site crashed will cause the bile to rise, the muscles tense and eyes bug out.

And to think a scant 15 years ago, the net was what geeks did instead of going to bars and pickin up women. Now your grandma is the queen of Ebay. Your Aunt Betty is gettin ready to retire to Vera Cruz after selling her 1 millionth cabbage patch knock off out of the garage next to her double wide.

It sure didn't take us long to take the Internet for granted. Instant information on an infinite number of places,people and things. The einsteins have made it almost idiot proof. I say almost because the great struggle to defeat stupidity is a never ending crusade. For every fool proof computer innovation some idiot will find a way to circumnavigate it and lock his computer up so bad, the hard drive is fried. There is a reason for those error messages bonehead.

Huffing Diesel Fumes

A driver delivered some bikes to my shop this past week. He blindsided his 45 foot freight trailer off Main St in about 10 seconds and stopped right at my door. While we off loaded the boxed bikes, I let him know how I thought every tractor trailer driver should learn their trade in the East. He looked at me and I could tell he was trying to figure out what I meant. I went on to say that I had driven for many years and how I was always grateful that I learned to drive on the tight twisty streets of the Eastern seaboard. I said I would guess not many drivers from west of the Mississippi would have been able or willing to back in on the blind side from a main drag. He just smiled. He knew. And so did I.

I signed the bill and he left. As I inventoried the drop, our conversation lingered in my mind. I began to reminisce about the life I lead as a long haul trucker. The countless days, countless miles and countless truckstops. Nostalgic feelings swept in and I missed that life for a moment. All the good memories of a time when I was footloose and full of piss and vinegar. When I thought nothing of pounding out 1000 miles without more than a fuel stop or two. I dwelled on the successful trips when I ran criminally overweight snaking my way around scales and cops. The beauty of driving East into the dawn on a clear Spring morning. The satisfaction from nailing a tough back in. The comedy of trying to keep two or more sets of logs running like they made sense. My rose colored glasses were fully engaged.

Nothing good lasts. About 5 minutes into my trip down memory lane, the reasons I left that life came flooding back. The 24/7 aspect of it all. The cops and rules. The grifters and sleazy brokers ripping me off. But mostly the loneliness finally got to me. I proved after many years on the road, I was not the loner I thought I was. It took a million plus miles of sleep deprived existence to wake me up to the fact that my life was more than getting from here to there and back.

It has been over 15 years since I sat behind the wheel of a tractor trailer. When I stepped down, I was sad. I was sure I would never find anything to replace it. Now I wonder why I suffered that life for so long. It had it's moments, but they passed. Trucking is a tough and thankless existence. But I am grateful have no regrets. We were a good fit for 17 years. Everytime I smell diesel fuel I am reminded of this.

What's up with That?

The crux of the matter is I am over tired and unable to string enough words together in coherent unison so a clear point can be made. Yet I insist on sitting here, banging away at these keys. I am sure that if can just keep my eyes open long enough and my fingers dancing around the keyboard, some special nugget I thought of earlier today will magically appear and make my day.

I am on a fool's errand. I am out of cerebral gas. The cranial void is not just empty, a cold wind is bouncing off the walls. Driven by the vacuum created from a tough day of labor. Exhaustion of body and mind.

It is odd. I enjoy the feeling of being drained. I savor the moments I am completely wasted. Especially if my depleted state was the result of fruitful endeavors. Today was such a day. I am content I gave today my best effort.

Yes, as I sit here peering through slitted eyes and numb brain, I am savoring and replaying the productive little bunny I was today. I did this. I did that. I caught up on old business and created new. 16 plus hours chock full of unbridled energy. And now I can relax. Instead I sit here and continue to rack my brain. What's up with that?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


My mom's family hail from California. They have been there so long (since the 1840s, pre Gold Rush) they are downright snobbish about their California-ness. Anyway, I grew up with a very skewed and prejudiced view of anything Mexican. I do not deny it. I have since successfully relegated Mexicans and their situation to nothing more than anyone else's situation. The blanket of prejudice has been discarded. I don't look at Mexicans now and think "wetback" or worse. They are just people trying to get by the best way they can. And because they have the freedom to make choices, many choose to enter this country without going through the proper channels. Good for them. I tend to admire scoflaw attitudes. But that's just me.

But if they get caught and are shipped back - oh well. They knew the risks going in. At least we don't shoot them. Yet, anyway.

What bothers me the most is the hypocritical and arbitrary policies of the power structure in this country. We turn a blind eye to their presence for years and years. And now in a knee jerk response tied to our paranoid over the top reaction to 9/11, Mexicans are all of a sudden a problem. The problem has existed for a long time and any solution tied to fence building, physical or otherwise, is an exercise in futility. The tide will not be turned back through legislation and harsh treatment. As long as we seem to offer something better they will find a way in.

I admit something needs to be done. But instead of concentrating on keeping them out, we should be concentrating on helping them to not even want to come. Why we cannot figure out a way to work with Mexico to better their situation in Mexico is beyond me.

The only answer I can come up with is the head honcho business and government types in this country have no real interest in keeping them out. They really want the cheap pool of labor that flys under the legal radar. Illegals are good for the bottom line. So all we get is periodic lipservice and a token uptick in enforcement and then it is back to business as usual. No one in control on either side of the border is interested in lifting these folks out of the poverty they have experienced for generations.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I am a tool fiend. I love tools. All tools. Implements made by Man to fix, build, or tear down the objects of Man. I am not an anthropoligist, and most likely do not fully appreciate tool usage as one of those important dividers between us and the rest of the animal kingdom. But I do recognize that I can use them and my dog can't. All my dog can do is chew on them and make them all slobbery.

My infatuation with tools has created a sizable collection. I just love a project that means I have to buy or make a new tool. I have definitely graduated from the ordinary tool box. I now seek single purpose tools with obscure and odd intents. The special sheet metal cutter I bought many years ago to cut sheet metal in curves and leave the edges clean was used for one project. It now sits in a box in almost brand new condition. I should sell it. It would probably bring a good chunk of jingle, but I cannot. A tool bought by me, remains bought. I only rid myself of them once they are worn out. And even then I agonize. A major pile of dead and decrepit tools lie around waiting for me to rob the handles or think of a new use for their worn out condition.

I would say that this tool fetish is a man thing, but I cannot. My wife has the same sort of interest. Her collection differs from mine, but is nevertheless as complete as mine is. Her sewing machine is top of the line and is supported by a huge drawer of tools, bobbins, specialty needles, and countless doodads I have no idea what they are for. Her basket making toolkit includes tools I drool over but know I cannot have. I can borrow them when needed, but that is not the same as ownership.

To counter my love of tools, I hate cheap tools. Or tools that do not deliver as promised. My daughter was headed out camping with some other kids her age. Up to that point, she had always relied on one of my knives to see to her knife needs when we camped together. My wife, woefully ignorant of what a good pocket knife is, came home with one of those last minute pick it up impulse knives that sit on the counter of the hardware store. A cheap knock off of a better, well known knife. I almost tossed it. A child's first pocket knife is a big deal. Their first knife needs to be well made and simple. Forget the gee gaws and extra spoon for eating.

I went right back to the hardware store and plopped that poor excuse of a knife on the counter and gave my hardware guy Hell. He had not sold the knife to my wife, but he agreed with me. A child's first knife should not have been that one. It was way too big and had entirely too much going on. We both went back to the glass enclosed boutique knife section and spent 20 minutes coming up with just the right one. Not too big, but with at least 2 blades. Afterall she wasn't looking for a means of self defense or skinning a moose, she just needed something to whittle with and maybe cut a twinkie in two.

My daughter still has that knife 10 years later. Having been raised by both parents to appreciate a good tool, she keeps it sharp and clean. And she uses it when the situation warrants a sharp knife. Unlike me, she will most likely have it forever. But like me, she appreciates it's simplicity and dependability.