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August 5, 2016 Garland, Texas homepage
I have been instructed to report to the “Yard” in Dallas and turn in my truck. It has apparently been sold. I asked how long it might take to get a new truck. The answer was “Depends”. I should have replied, “No, Fruit of the Loom – briefs” but my comedic reflexes are slow these days.
The last time I was issued a truck, I expected a worst case scenario. Specifically, since I had driven and was familiar with Kenworths and Freightliners in training, that I would be issued a Peterbilt. Good instincts, as it turns out. The clutch gave me trouble from the start, with what is called “clutch chatter”. Not severe and the only other Peterbilt I had driven (only for a half hour or so) had the same problem. In any case, the clutch was a body-builder tool and I was soon walking with a limp because of all the excess muscle in my left leg. Not a big problem, until it was a big problem.
The last episode of mechanical adversity cost me ten days of poverty. The company pays an insulting $25 per day for breakdowns after the first two days. The company wanted to nickel-and-dime the hotel. I would have to call and get authorization every day. We tried that on check-in and they refused the company card so I covered the hotel with my own credit card and expensed it back to avoid looking like a deadbeat every afternoon. They have at least reimbursed me for that. They tend to treat drivers as people with no financial means whatsoever. That is probably appropriate considering the level of remuneration. 😉
One wonders what delays are in store for the next truck.
Above is the Peterbilt in question as we “sit in a door” in Garland, Texas. The “lumpers” unload for hours while the driver kills time…taking photos, say. This receiver was mercifully quick and I left no more than three hours after arrival. From here I go to the “Yard”…Company Headquarters. There, to put the old mare out to pasture (tractors are female and trailers, male by virtue of their “connecting equipment”).
July 29, 2016
Foreword: I am moving old posts from my former wordpress site to Goingwalkabout.blog. I have never found a way to do this in “Bulk” transfer so it is bit-by-bit and provides a stream of “new” posts that readers may not have seen.
Fonda, New York (We decided it was named for Henry, not Jane)
The phrase “in irons” is used in sailing. I had a sailboat once. Actually, I had two. The first was an 18 foot boat on a trailer that would not fit in the garage. I spent a lot of time, effort and money on this boat and got a few hours of pleasure out of it. It would have been far cheaper and far less trouble to rent a boat every few months for a few hours of sailing. Unless you live on a lake where you could leave the boat in the water and unless you are comfortably retired and can spend some time actually sailing, I would advise you to do the same.
The far better solution for wannabe sailors is to have a friend with a boat. That way you can make day trips on a sailboat or maybe even spend a weekend, sleeping in the tiny little guest bunk, while the owner enjoys the Captain’s cabin. He’s entitled to the luxury, of course since he has to pay for and maintain this white elephant. I had a friend with a boat and it was a bit of fun. He was dating my wife’s friend and the four of us spent a few days hanging around the boat in dock and we made a day trip on Galveston Bay… before Hurricane Ike. With the insurance money, he bought an apartment on the Seawall in Galveston. Notice he did not buy another sailboat. He learned his lesson and went looking for a friend with a boat, as well.
Where was I? Oh yes – “in irons”. As you may know, sailboats can “sail close to the wind” by tacking – actually moving opposite to the wind direction at about a 45 degree angle. By reversing in a zig-zag fashion, the boat can move upwind. After the “zig” the sailor will turn by 90 degrees and the boat will turn to swing around and, having passed directly into the wind and then, carried by momentum , it will “come about” and the wind will fill the sail on the opposite side (the zag).
If, however, the helmsman is slow off the mark and does not pull off this maneuver sharply, the boat can wind up pointed directly into the wind, having lost all momentum. Steering is now useless, because there is no moving water for the rudder to bear against and turn the boat further. The boat is now “in irons” and will slowly begin to be pushed backward, losing the progress made by tacking. It is something that is difficult to remedy. Much progress can be lost. At the end of this post, I will tell you the secret to getting “out” of “in irons”.
Now, I went through all that to describe why I am where I am now. I am learning that shipping industry has participants that demonstrate the worst qualities of humanity. They are hostile and vindictive. They are petty and arbitrary. They can be that way because they represent a lot of business to the freight companies. The freight companies will put up with this abuse for the business. Or, rather I should say, they will allow their drivers to be abused for that reason.
This cannot be assigned to companies in general, it has more to do with particular installations. I arrived early at this particular receiver and was turned away because that is what they do. Now, I have to go park at a truck stop and wait. Unfortunately, the Federal Regulations say I have to stop driving before I will be welcome at the receiver. So I try to arrange a new time. The management at this installation prefers not to do that, but to sarcastically call me a “no-show”.
So, I terminated that conversation and reported as “late” (while I was still early) and requested a “repower” on the satellite communication unit. A repower is where someone could come and get my load and take it to the installation on time. That did not work and that is understandable, because there are only so many trucks in the company and besides, they operate with a skeleton crew at night and things seldom happen then. So, finally, “dispatch” tells me to go in the morning to the same gate. When I arrive, the gate guard makes a call and sure enough they can use this shipment to put meat on the shelves on the weekend. So they assign a door for unloading. But…one last check shows that the order has been cancelled. I guess it is more important for the management to punish a driver for being early than to put product on the shelves for the weekend.
So, I am “in irons” making no progress and no money for at least 19 hours more. I took this opportunity to scan in my trip sheet with the previous load (with 8 days of hotel expenses – you can’t sleep in the truck while it is in the shop) so that some money will actually come in next week. Breakdown pay is only $25 per day, so that is welcome.
I also taped up the frayed and bared cable on the satellite radio/computer that sends assignments, swept out the truck, made some instant chicken soup and cleaned all the glass and mirrors very well (yes, I remembered Dad).
And then, of course, I wrote this for y’all.
Oh, wait! How to get “out” of “in irons”
To review, you are in your sailboat which is pointed directly into the wind. You are making no progress and in fact are beginning to drift backward. What you need to do is go and push the boom. That is the horizontal pole at the bottom of the sail.
Someone asked me once why they call it the boom. Well, what you were trying to do when you got ”in irons” was called “coming about” you were going from zig to zag by passing through an attitude directly into the wind by momentum, carrying over to tack on the other side. The other way to turn is downwind. Your sail will be on one side of the boat, going downwind and when you turn through the direct-downwind direction, the sail will suddenly go from one side to the other. Now, that pole at the bottom of the sail will whip from one side to the other very suddenly. This is called making a “jibe”. The pole, generally speaking is right about at head level for people riding in the boat. So the “boom” is named for the sound it makes when it collides with your skull. This is called “onomatopoeia” where words are made directly from sounds. Other examples of this are “wham” and “hiss”.
By the way, there is usually a rope-and-pulley system between the boom and the base of the mast to cinch the boom down tightly and make better speed. It is called the “boomvang”. Once, back in my Geophysicist Days, there was a seismic project called “Boomvang” and nobody else in the company knew what the heck that meant.
Where was I?
The boom…to get out of “in irons” you go and push the boom to one side to “back wind”. That pushes your boat backward. At the same time, you put the rudder over to the other side, which turns the boat until wind can again fill the sail and you can tack once more on the “zag”. This is easy on a small boat or on a big one when you have a crewman. Otherwise, it requires agility and creativity.
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Once, I accepted – without examination – the idea that human activities might cause Global Warming.
A Geologist colleague did not debate me, but rather challenged me to research the topic and come to an informed conclusion.
He was right and I am a Geophysicist with the tools, talent and temperament to do such research. That was over twenty years ago and I have since “done the math”, “paid my dues”, “done the due diligence” and examined the facts.
My conclusion is that the idea of Man-made climate change is a political fiction.
If I can get people to sit still and listen to me present the facts for an hour or so, I can show them (with facts, charts, graphs, data, references and quotes) exactly how I came to that conclusion. That has happened a few times. But, most people do not or will not willingly sit in a room and listen to a lecture. It’s too much like going to school and they spent a large fraction of their youth doing that and most of them don’t want anything to do with further such activity.
So, I have come up with this idea. Take ONE FACT about the subject and present it with clarity and completeness. Then, do that again with another fact.
*Millennials: Ask a Boomer what that means. 😉
The entire Alarmist Fraud of Global Warming is based on computer models that predict that temperatures will rise catastrophically as Carbon Dioxide emissions from human activities continue. This is absurd on the face of it, because:
None of these, however, is the One Fact that we are here to discuss, which is:
The computer models that the Alarmists have come up with have been proven WRONG by REALITY.
As the title states these are 44 computer climate models all predicting warming of more than one degree Centigrade by 2025. The blue and red lines are plots of actual experimental temperature measurements made by satellites and high altitude balloons. Please notice that with the exception of 1998 (an “El Niño” year), every year was measured to be in a flat trend – not a catastrophic increase.
Let me quote Renowned Physicist and Acknowledged Genius Dr. Richard Feynman:
“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
Ladies and Gentlemen: The idea that Human activities are causing the world to warm is WRONG.
Flying J #513, Interstate 15 exit 1, Primm, Nevada
The next assignment took me back across Wyoming to California (LA again). It turns out that the spot I have chosen to settle tonight is directly adjacent to Wiskey Pete’s Hotel and Casino. Pete has a parking garage:
Whiskey Pete’s Free Parking Garage
I took a walk over to Pete’s Garage and climbed the stairs to the top floor. Yes, there was an elevator and it didn’t show up when I called it.
“ How do you call the elevator?”
“We call it ‘the elevator’”
I climb the stairs anyway, for exercise, but today I am looking for a vantage point to photograph what happens to be next to Pete’s – Ivanpah.
This is the North Tower, surrounded by its mirrors. We see the backsides of the near mirrors and the sky is reflected from the far ones. This was about 1400 (2PM), local. The mirrors oriented straight up are seen as a dark zone (their edges) that separates the near and far zones.
The middle tower seems to be completely abandoned. They have removed the mirrors from around it – so now they have plenty of spares for the other two towers. The incinerated bird count has dropped by a third, but the loss of revenue has made what will inevitably be a Federal bail-out. Perhaps those missing mirrors can be cut into small handheld units so the taxpayers can catch a glimpse of the real losers in this whole debacle.
The “Green” community is in Denial about the disaster this project has become. Leaving alone the financial cataclysm, just look at the bird slaughter. I found this quote at a notoriously hypocritical and biased news source that shall be nameless:
“I always want people to put issues like this in context. In talking about something like avian mortality, we must ask — how many birds are killed every year because of office buildings and residential houses in the U.S. compared to how many are killed by energy projects?”
First off: The builders of office buildings and residential houses do not go around tooting their horn about how “green” they are. Secondly, while office buildings do take bird strikes, the only dead birds around my house come from the middle cat, Pepper (Tuxedo is too old for that foolishness) and she never brings me falcons or golden eagles…a la Ivanpah. Lastly, the Greenies would CRUCIFY ExxonMobil if they killed as many birds. If, Hell! EM has been fined millions for “bird mortality” around their plants (about $6000 per bird, as I recall) but they took remedial action and solved the problems. Ivanpah has a 30 year “permit” to incinerate protected birds with no fines. Just as well, the whole project is broke and any fines would be paid with US Tax Dollars, anyway.
Back at Windswept Wyoming:
The winds finally did abate in the evening and I was able to launch back through Cheyenne to Grand Island Nebraska for a load of “frozen foodstuffs”. There was an elephant in the room about the powers that be who might be unhappy with my call to stand down. My conscience is clear on the subject since I was the one being shaken awake in the stationary truck – even while parked snugly between two other trucks.
Westbound back on Interstate 80, a decaying metal building with picture windows appeared between mile markers 256 & 257, still in Nebraska. The place looked abandoned but was full of Classic cars. I didn’t catch a photo., but just got the impression of 30’s and 40’s model cars. Old Car Junkies, take note!
I arrived back at the Pilot in Lexington, a few hours from Grand Island only to discover , while fueling that an air hose from the tractor to the trailer had parted. There are redundant air hoses. The emergency line was he only thing keeping the trailer brakes from locking up. I would have to fix the service line or risk the brakes locking up on the road. I have seen evidence of such incidents many times (really long skid marks that eventually swoop over to the shoulder), but never had I come so close to experiencing it firsthand.
I bought a new hose, without advice in the Pilot, struggled with that for a while, then went across the street to the Loves where they sold me the correct hose. It took a while to install and I decided to start out again in the morning after only six hours on the road and three fueling and repairing (an Easy Day, that is).
Wyoming was calm in the morning, around Cheyenne, but the winds picked up again as the day wore on. Even with a load on, the buffeting was becoming fierce and at about 2/3s the way across the state, I passed a truck on its side off the right shoulder. There were no seals or locks visible on the trailer – which is to say it was an empty. I reported this as a road condition – which incidentally negated any criticism of my self-shutdown two days earlier. Especially since the word “Extreme” was absent from the programable road signs on this particular Blustery Day.
Carl Jr.’s Parking lot – Azusa, California
Unloading has been accomplished at Carson, California, near Long Beach. With well over 2 hours of drive time I should be able to make the truck stop at Hesperia (83 miles), right? Sure! How bad could traffic be in the heart of the Los Angeles Metroplex on a Friday afternoon at 3 PM, when everybody is taking off early for the weekend?
Creeping out Interstate 605, it became obvious that I was about to end my duty clock and be out of “Compliance” while still stuck on the highway. A very dark mood descended. This is that grim, lost, panicky mood that I have experienced a few times before.
Once was in Virginia, on a State highway when I discovered that I was 24 minutes from the nearest truck stop with 16 minutes remaining. It was then that I “founded” the Ad Hoc Truck Stop #1. Another was at Hollyrood, Kansas where I found a bar parking lot and a nice old man who told me that the bar would not open until the weekend. That became Ad Hoc Truck Stop #2.
I was just practicing Primal Scream Therapy about the situation, when I happened to see a big Beer sign and recognized the giant Miller Distribution Center where a third clock disaster had occurred.
In October of last year (2016) I was in LA and felt a similar desperation. I was frantically scanning for something like a big parking lot. But little is visible from the Freeway. I saw the Miller plant. You know they must have lots of trucks in and out. Somebody there will know something, right? That was the hope as my truck entered the Miller Receiving Gate. They were not very helpful, but with some coaxing, they did give me vague directions to a Walmart and a Costco and let me turn around to exit the plant. After chasing the figment Walmart for ten minutes, I found a turn-around and went for the Costco. There, a guard in a golf cart came to chase me away. Under my withering “Guilt Trip” (I deliver to Costco Distribution Centers…I’ll be thrown into Federal Prison if I leave…that sort of thing) he finally admitted that the Carl Junior’s next store allows trucks to park overnight. I had to pry it out of him, but I thanked him nonetheless. Over at Carl’s, the cleaning crew told me they see trucks there all the time, so I stayed the night.
Well, that Miller’s sign that appeared out of the blue was a welcome relief and some semblance of Sanity returned. As Yogi Berra has been quoted as saying, “It was Déjà Vu, all over again.”. I avoided the stop at Millers, the pursuit of the wild goose called Walmart and the plea in the Court of the Costco Golf Cart. It is there, at Junior’s lot where I am, now relating the strange tale to you, my Loyal Readers. I don’t want to wear out my welcome and it is past 6 AM here and people are showing up for work, so I will get a photograph to show you and depart for the elusive Hesperia, now that my drive hours have been recovered and traffic has abated to merely annoying.
Carl’s sign is over-exposed, but the big yellow star is recognizable.
Pilot Truck Stop, Hesperia, California, March 11, 2017
I have found parking, scanned my trip sheets to Dallas (That’s how I get paid), had a shower and eaten some 2 for $3 hot dogs for breakfast. If you tack together this with all the disjointed pieces of the narrative above, they form a more or less complete story, so I’ll stop while I am ahead.
Over The Road,
Flying J, Interstate 25 exit 7, Cheyenne, Wyoming March 6, 2017
A trailer needs to be washed out after a Meat load – despite all the packaging and -10° F temperature – before it carries a Produce load. There are truck wash shops scattered over the United States that you may never have noticed – I didn’t either, until recently. They are not on every street corner, however and I drove about an hour to find one. Before the dawn’s early light, I was pulled up in front of a wash bay in Hesperia, California. The first order of business is to locate the office and pay. I was about to walk through the wash bay to find same when I realized that the equipment being washed here were livestock trailers (“slaughter buggies” in the vernacular). You may imagine the debris associated with this activity – or not, if you prefer. 😉 So, I walked clear around the building instead – not to belittle the “smell of money”, as ranchers call it. I asked about the situation at the desk and, as I had suspected, Produce trailers are washed in another bay – in another building.
This shipper operates in that near-perfect mode called “drop-and-hook”. Upon entering, the driver locates the “empties” area and parks the trailer. Then a short “bobtail” drive to the office where he is assigned a pre-loaded trailer full of various salad vegetables. These have been assembled at the shipper from various suppliers. The connection is made and the road trip commences. This is vastly superior to the sometimes-days-long process of assembling a load by driving around to various providers. The poster child for inefficiency are those such sojourns.
The battle with the Clock continues on this load. Upon arrival at St. George, Utah and after logging out of drive mode, there is just enough time for the 30-minute post-trip inspection. As the truck creeps around looking for an empty space Jill, the Navigation Computer is harping, “Continuing to drive may invalidate your break, which is not complete.” Finally settled, the post trip inspection is done and logged and Jill can now complain, “You have zero hours and zero minutes of remaining drive time.” That’s OK Sweethart – I ain’t goin’ nowhere for ten hours!
A few hours before, near the California/Nevada border, I had passed what I think must be a legendary Faux Pas of Industrial Folly called Ivanpah. I will have to look it up.
I am waiting for a load assignment and more sleep is the wise course of action while waiting. So, please excuse me for a while. Tune in again for an explanation of Ivanpah.
Truck Parking Area, I-80 about 40 miles west of Cheyenne, WY March 6, 2017
The wind is sustained at 30 mph and gusting to 40. I heard that on the radio shortly before leaving the truck stop. My hours appeared at midnight and I waited for a load assignment. Finally, at 0900, I got a phone call which is in itself unusual – the satellite communicator is the normal. They wanted me to run 150 miles to Rawlins and swap my empty for a load to Denver. The radio had warned that high profile, lightweight vehicles (like, say, a truck towing an empty high cube trailer) are at risk. They mentioned that traveling on North-South highways was especially dangerous. I only had a few miles up I-25 North to get to I-80 and go West. As I swung on to 25, I noticed the truck ahead of me was diagonal in his lane. A glance in the mirror informed me that he was not the only one. I had the tractor square in the middle of my lane, but the trailer wheels were over the line on the shoulder. How much depended on the gust.
On I-80, things were better – a little better. I passed the Distribution Center where I delivered yesterday and there was a brown cloud blowing onto the road. Sand, not dust it was and bordering on “gravel”. Once I clean the windshield, I will not be surprised to find some new pits in it.
The Distribution Center in the sand cloud.
I passed some of those “renewable” windmills. They should be especially efficient in this weather, no? NO. All of them are feathered to the wind and locked down motionless. They would be ripped to shreds in this gusting wind. Coal keeps the lights on in situations like this.
Windmills in a windstorm. You will – of course – have to take my word for it that these were unmoving in a 30 mile per hour sustained wind.
Just after I passed this parking area (defined as no facilities – at all) I saw one of those programable road signs that said, “Extreme Blow-over Risk”. If they had left off the “Extreme” bit, I would have “pressed on with all dispatch”. Yes, I had a two-handed Death Grip on the wheel and the truck was all over the road, but a mere “blow-over risk” would not have stopped me. That word was the difference between Adventure and Folly. I had this vision of an accident investigator asking me, “What part of “Extreme Risk” did you not understand, Mr. Campbell?”
I turned around at the first overpass and high-tailed it back here. The Captain’s Office is shaking persistently, but I can manage to type. Sleep would be appropriate, but I’ve had my fill of same in the last 21 hours at the Flying J in Cheyenne.
The narrative returns to Nevada, now. Ivanpah is a very large, very expensive “renewable” solar power project in the Nevada Dessert. This is what they call a solar thermal plant, where a large array of adjustable mirrors are deployed on the desert floor. They reflect the sunlight onto a tower where the intense heat makes steam that powers turbines that run generators to make power which is then sent along to join the electrical network that we all take for granted. Like many such ideas, it works fine in theory. In practice, major problems begin to show up as the engineering goes along.
Here is what I saw near Primm, Nevada:
What I know of Ivanpah is this: Three Solar Thermal Towers – one of them inactive, surrounded by large arrays of mirrors, in a valley in the Nevada desert. If this is not Ivanpah, then I found its twin.
First and most obviously, the sun disappears behind the Planet for half of every day. If you are not a Science* Nerd like me, you might imagine that batteries could store electric power for that part of the day’s electrical demand. It turns out that batteries are not nearly as capable as you may have been led to believe and they are simply not up to the task. I’ll quote some figures later.
The un-solar period is longer than twelve hours. The sunset and sunrise are at a very low angle to the mirrors, so the effective area of sunshine is very much reduced. Also, the sunlight is passing through thousands of miles of atmosphere in the morning and evening – instead of a hundred or so at noon. So, maybe ten hours of power may be optimistically expected on average per day.
I looked it up and sure enough, this was none other than Ivanpah!
The Ivanpah concept had in mind to replace the Sun’s heat with Natural Gas for the fourteen remaining hours of the day and that works just fine. Consider: we have just established that the majority (a minimum 58 percent) of Ivanpah’s power comes from Natural Gas – a “Fossil Fuel”!
I could go on for many pages about the problems with Ivanpah, but I’ll try to sum them up in this short list:
Some of this is covered in the article linked below.
Back at the Parking Area near Cheyenne: Winds have increased from 30 to 40 mph sustained and gusting to 58. I can see trucks going by on the highway, but I am sure that all are full. I will not take this empty out there until something changes. A lull in the winds is forecast for tonight. After that, Tuesday will be another Blustery Day. I will have to take a nap, soon – despite my total lack of sleepiness, thus to be ready to move when the lull finally comes. The truck is still shaking severely despite being between two other trucks. One is directly upwind, but doing little to “protect” me.
The NOAA conditions at 2 PM for Cheyenne have winds at 48, gusting to 63. My new route goes right through Cheyenne.
I will pick up the story later.
Over the Road,